Helen Weir
Truth is truth
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By Helen Weir
December 17, 2009

From the First Apology of St. Justin Martyr:

We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration, and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and blood of the Incarnated Jesus.

From the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and Wine as simply that: for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste but be fully assured by the Faith.

From the Letter to the Smyrnaeans of St. Ignatius of Antioch:

Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ, which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist . . . because they do not believe that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.

From De Trinitate by St. Hilary of Poitiers:

When we speak of the reality of Christ's nature being in us, we would be speaking foolishly and impiously had we not learned it from Him. For He Himself says, "My flesh is truly food, and my blood truly drink". . . . As to the reality of His flesh and blood, there is no room left for doubt, because now, both by the declaration of Our Lord Himself and by our own faith, it is truly flesh and it is truly blood. . . . Let those who deny that Jesus Christ is true God be free to find these things untrue.

From the Catechetical Homilies of Theodore of Mopsuetia:

When Christ gave the Bread He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Body," but "This is My Body." In the same way when He gave the Cup He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Blood" but "This is My Blood," for He wanted us to look upon the Eucharistic elements after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the Body and Blood of our Lord. We ought not regard (them) merely as bread and cup, but as the Body and Blood of Christ, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit.

From the Homilies of the Gospel of Matthew of St. John Chrystostom:

Let us therefore in all respects put our faith in God and contradict Him in nothing, even if what is said seems to be contrary to our reasonings and to what we see. Let His word be of superior authority to reason and sight. . . . When the word says, "This is My Body," be convinced of it and believe it. . . . How many now say, "I wish I could see His shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals." Only look! You see Him! You touch Him! You eat Him!

From De mysteriis of St. Ambrose of Milan:

Perhaps you may be saying, "I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the Body of Christ?" It remains for us but to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! Let us prove that this is not what nature has shaped it to be, but what the blessing has consecrated: for the power of the blessing is greater than that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. Christ is in the sacrament, because it is the Body of Christ; it is not . . . corporeal food, but spiritual.

From the Explanation of the Psalms of St. Augustine of Hippo:

He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he first adores it.

And from St. Augustine's sermons:

You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, that which is in the chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. . . . if you have received worthily, you are what you eat. For the Apostle says, "Because the Bread is one, we, though many, are one body". . . . What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the Body of Christ and the chalice the Blood of Christ. . . . Be a member of Christ's Body, so that your "Amen" may be the truth.

From the sermons of Pope Leo I:

When the Lord says, "Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His Blood, you shall not have life within you," you ought to so communicate at the Sacred Table that you have no doubt whatever of the truth of the Body and Blood of Christ. For that which is taken in the mouth is what is believed in faith.

From The Source of Knowledge of St. John Damascene:

The bread itself and the wine are made over into the Body and Blood of God. If you inquire into the way this happens, let it suffice for you to hear that it is through the Holy Spirit, just as it was through the Holy Spirit that the Lord took on (flesh) Himself from the Holy Mother of God . . . . so too the bread and wine through the epiclesis and the coming of the Holy Spirit are supernaturally changed into the Body of Christ and into His Blood, and they are not two but one and the same.

Merry Christmas to all especially my fellow RA columnist Tim Dunkin.

© Helen Weir

 

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