Friday, May 09, 2014

The Real Presence, Part 2

Last week we learned that we do in fact have extra-ordinary events, by that I mean unexplainable by scientific means, that prove the message of the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. But as the Lord said to ‘doubting’ Thomas when he finally touched the wounds of Christ and believed: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Many have done just that, they have believed even when their senses tell them otherwise.   And so I come to my second reason to believe, its history.  We find in the writings of the early Christians, people throughout history who believed in the actual presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  This belief is a continuous belief from the very first generation of Christians to today.  Those writings where they speak of others who do not believe in the True Presence are the beliefs of those who no one from today would even consider being Christians.  For 1500 years, until the Reformation, all Christians believed in the True Presence.  Here are a few quotes for your consideration…

A quote from St Ignatius of Antioch who heard the Apostle John speak and was the second successor of the Apostle Peter at Antioch.  He wrote in c.110 AD:

Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us.  They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty.  They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness raised from the dead.” (Letter to the Ephesians, par. 20)

Here is a second quote from Ignatius:

I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life.  I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.”

St Justin Martyr was born a pagan but converted to Christianity after studying philosophy.  He was beheaded with six of his companions some time between 163 and 167 A.D.  He said:

This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.  For we do not receive these things as common bread and common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from Him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”(First Apology, Ch. 66, c. 150 AD)

Cyril of Jerusalem at 350 AD said:
He once in Cana of Galilee, turned water into wine, akin to blood, and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? 

Here’s another by Cyril:
Then having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual Hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth His Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before Him; that He may make the Bread the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ; for whatsoever the Holy Ghost has touched, is surely sanctified and changed.

I could go on but in the interest of time I will give you one last quote from an early Christian considered a saint and hero by many in the Protestant community.  St Augustine lived in the late fourth century at a time where great discussions were under way in determining which books actually belonged in our Bible.  He had no small part in cementing the canon of Books for the whole Christian community.  What he said on how he understood the words of our Lord at the Last Supper when He said “This is my Body” is my favorite quote on the Eucharist by an Early Church Father.  He said: “And was carried in His own hands: ‘how was He carried in his own hands’?  Because when He commended His own Body and Blood, He took into His hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said: ‘This is my Body’” (Augustine, on the Psalms, 33:1, c. 400 AD)

We can find this belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist in all 2,000 years of written Christian history from its first years after the Apostles to today.  No one can make that claim for a symbolic presence only.  In fact, you can’t find this understanding of a symbolic presence only about the blessed bread beyond 500 years ago.  Why is that?   Could it be because it simply wasn’t a belief the early Christians entertained, let alone accept in the early years of Christianity?  If that is the case then the belief in a symbolic presence only in the Eucharist should be rejected as the invention of man that it is.  Let us keep to the teachings of the early Christians who learned the faith from the Apostles and ultimately from God incarnate, Jesus Himself.

 

God Bless
Nathan

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