22 June 2020

“Take Care to Participate in the Eucharist”

What a blessing to have a full schedule of worship once again!  We are now gathering in limited numbers for daily Mass and all three weekend Masses. We even publicly celebrated a First Eucharist and the Sacrament of Baptism this weekend. 

The Katharine Konnection is moving from a daily to special occasion news. It’s been a pleasure these past two weeks to prepare with you to once again receive the Body of Christ for the first time in weeks.  Thank you for your many questions and encouraging comments.  Let’s keep the conversation going!  I will continue to post articles on my own website, www.JoyoftheWord.org.  Please be patient, it is still in the construction phase, but it contains previous articles, and more.  You can “like it,” “share it,” “comment” on it, even “subscribe” to it … all the usual New Media stuff. I look forward to seeing you there!  If you have a question or topic, you may comment on the website, or send me an email at SKDDeacon@aol.com.

In the past two weeks we have reflected on the Words of consecration, and Jesus’ own teaching on the Eucharist.  This week we prayerfully examine the teachings of the earliest catechists and theologians of our young Church, those who received the faith direct from the Apostles, or from the immediate successors of the Apostles.

St. Justin the Martyr, writing in about the year 150, reaffirms the early Church taught the Eucharist is no mere symbol, but the Body and Blood of Christ. He reasons if the Word became incarnate to redeem us, so also the Word becomes incarnate in the bread and the wine to redeem the Church. St. Justin writes, “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 the blood of that incarnated Jesus.[i]

St. Irenaeus, second bishop of Lyons, tells us he received his instruction in the faith from Polycarp, who received his instruction from John the Apostle.  Irenaeus, writing in about 180, reminds us the Eucharist, as the Body and Blood of Christ, unites us to Christ, and His Resurrection.  He says, “When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life – flesh which is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of Him. …. So also our bodies nourished by the Eucharist, shall rise up in due season, the Word of God favoring them with resurrection in the glory of God the Father.[ii] (249, 99)

Finally, St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, teaches us the utmost urgency of receiving the flesh and blood of Christ, for the Eucharist unites us both to Christ and to one another, the Church.  In about the year 100, on his way to martyrdom, St. Ignatius instructs his Christian brothers and sisters, “Take care therefore to participate in the one Eucharist, for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup, which leads to our unity through His blood; there is one altar, just as there is one bishop, together with the presbyters and deacons, my fellow servants.”[iii] (107)

Blessings!  I look forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions on other topics that we may explore together as the one Body of Christ!  See you on the website www.JoyoftheWord.org.

Jeff

[i] Jurgens, William A., The Faith of the Early Fathers, (Volume 1), The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, (Article 128, page 55).

[ii] Jurgens (Article 249, page 99).

[iii] The Apostolic Fathers, (Volume 2), Translated by Lightfoot, J.B. and Harmer, J.R., Holmes, Michael W. editor, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, (page 748).

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