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Quote Archive: The Sacrifice of the Eucharist

The “Becoming Catholic” series presents the biblical, philosophical, and historical evidence for why Eternal Christendom Founder, Joshua Charles, became and remains Catholic. The series table of contents is here.

This Quote Archive on the Sacrifice of the Eucharist is part of the Becoming Catholic series. Each archive of quotes is intended to serve as a reference source on the various topics addressed in the articles. They are periodically updated as more research is completed.

Apostolic Era Documents

The Didache (§14) (c. 50)

(§14) But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. [Matt. 5:23-24] For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: “In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.” [Mal. 1:11, 14]

St. Pope Clement I (died 99) (WEST)

St. Pope Clement I, Letter to the Corinthians (§44) (c. 70-85)

(§44) …For it will be no small sin in us if we depose from the office of bishop those who blamelessly and piously have made the offerings. Happy are the presbyters who finished their course before, and died in mature age after they had borne fruit; for they do not fear lest anyone should remove them from the place appointed for them.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 107) (EAST)

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians (§4) (c. 107)

(§4) Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God.

St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) (EAST)

St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (§41) (c. 155)

(§41) …Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it.” [Mal. 1:10-12] [So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it].

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130-c. 202) (EAST/WEST)

St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies (Book 4, Ch. 17, §5) (c. 189)

(§5) Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things—not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful—He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, “This is My body.” [Matt. 26:26, etc.] And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Omnipotent” [Mal. 1:10-11]—indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles.

St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210-258) (WEST)

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 62 (§14) (253)

(§14) …But if we may not break even the least of the Lord’s commandments, how much rather is it forbidden to infringe such important ones, so great, so pertaining to the very sacrament of our Lord’s passion and our own redemption, or to change it by human tradition into anything else than what was divinely appointed! For if Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is Himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of Himself, certainly that priest truly discharges the office of Christ, who imitates that which Christ did; and he then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father, when he proceeds to offer it according to what he sees Christ Himself to have offered.

St. Serapion of Thmuis (died c. 360) (EAST)

St. Serapion of Thmuis, Bishop Sarapion’s Prayer-Book (c. 350)

Lord of Hosts, fill also this sacrifice with thy power and thy participation: for to thee have we offered this living sacrifice [Rom. 12:1], this bloodless oblation. [cf. Eph. 5:2] To thee we have offered this bread the likeness of the body of the only-begotten. This bread is the likeness of the holy body, because the Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which he was betrayed took bread and broke and gave to his disciples saying, “Take ye and eat, this is my body which is being broken for you for remission of sins.” Wherefore we also make the likeness of the death have offered the bread, and beseech thee through this sacrifice, be reconciled to all of us and be merciful, O God of truth…We have offered also the cup, the likeness of the blood, because the Lord Jesus Christ, taking a cup after supper [Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25], said to his own disciples, “Take ye, drink, this is the new covenant, which is my blood, which is being shed for you for remission of sins.” Wherefore we have also offered the cup, presenting a likeness of the blood.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386) (EAST)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 23 (§§7-8) (c. 350)

(§7) 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.

(§8) Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succor we all pray and offer this sacrifice.

St. Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329-390) (EAST)

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, Letter 171: To Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium (c. 383)

…For the tongue of a priest meditating of the Lord raises the sick. Do then the greater thing in your priestly ministration, and loose the great mass of my sins when you lay hold of the Sacrifice of Resurrection…But, most reverend friend, cease not both to pray and to plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when with a bloodless cutting you sever the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for the glaive.

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-397) (WEST)

St. Ambrose of Milan, Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David (Ch. 38, §25) (c. 389)1

(§25) We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, because we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself who is offered in sacrifice here on earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) (EAST)

St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood (Book 3, §4) (c. 388)

(§4) …For when you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that precious blood, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway translated to Heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, do you not with disembodied spirit and pure reason contemplate the things which are in Heaven? Oh! What a marvel! What love of God to man! He who sits on high with the Father is at that hour held in the hands of all, and gives Himself to those who are willing to embrace and grasp Him.

St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans 8 (c. 391)

Reverence now, oh reverence, this Table whereof we all are partakers! [1 Cor. 10:16-18] Christ, Who was slain for us, the Victim that is placed thereon! [Heb. 13:10] Robbers when they once partake of salt, cease to be robbers in regard to those with whom they have partaken thereof; that table changes their dispositions, and men fiercer than wild beasts it makes gentler than lambs. But we though partakers of such a Table, and sharers of such food as that, arm ourselves against one another, when we ought to arm against him who is carrying on a war against all of us, the devil.

St. John Chrysostom, Homily on First Corinthians 24 (§§3-4) (c. 392)

(§3) “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?” [1 Cor. 10:16]

What do you say, O blessed Paul? When you would appeal to the hearer’s reverence, when you are making mention of awful mysteries, do you give the title of cup of blessing to that fearful and most tremendous cup? Yea, says he; and no mean title is that which was spoken. For when I call it ‘blessing,’ I mean thanksgiving, and when I call it thanksgiving I unfold all the treasure of God’s goodness, and call to mind those mighty gifts. Since we too, recounting over the cup the unspeakable mercies of God and all that we have been made partakers of, so draw near to Him, and communicate; giving Him thanks that He has delivered from error the whole race of mankind; that being afar off, He made them near; that when they had no hope and were without God in the world, He constituted them His own brethren and fellow-heirs. For these and all such things, giving thanks, thus we approach. How then are not your doings inconsistent, says he, O you Corinthians; blessing God for delivering you from idols, yet running again to their tables?

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the Blood of Christ?” Very persuasively spoke he, and awfully. For what he says is this: “This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake.” But he called it a cup of blessing, because holding it in our hands, we so exalt Him in our hymn, wondering, astonished at His unspeakable gift, blessing Him, among other things, for the pouring out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error: and not only for the pouring it out, but also for the imparting thereof to us all. “Wherefore if you desire blood,” says He, “redden not the altar of idols with the slaughter of brute beasts, but My altar with My blood.” Tell me, What can be more tremendous than this? What more tenderly kind? This also lovers do. When they see those whom they love desiring what belongs to strangers and despising their own, they give what belongs to themselves, and so persuade them to withdraw themselves from the gifts of those others. Lovers, however, display this liberality in goods and money and garments, but in blood none ever did so. Whereas Christ even herein exhibited His care and fervent love for us. And in the old covenant, because they were in an imperfect state, the blood which they used to offer to idols He Himself submitted to receive, that He might separate them from those idols; which very thing again was a proof of His unspeakable affection: but here He transferred the service to that which is far more awful and glorious, changing the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures, commanding to offer up Himself.

(§4) “The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body of Christ?” Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to him by this bread.

But why adds he also, which we break? For although in the Eucharist one may see this done, yet on the cross not so, but the very contrary. For, “A bone of Him,” says one, “shall not be broken.” But that which He suffered not on the cross, this He suffers in the oblation for your sake, and submits to be broken, that he may fill all men

St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Hebrews 17 (§§6-7) (c. 403)

(§6) What then? Do not we offer every day? We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of His death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one, and not many? Inasmuch as that [Sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and this remembrance of that. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? But Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one Body.  As then while offered in many places, He is one body and not many bodies; so also [He is] one sacrifice. He is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted. This is done in remembrance of what was then done. For (says He) “do this in remembrance of Me.” [Luke 22:19] It is not another sacrifice, as the High Priest, but we offer always the same, or rather we perform a remembrance of a Sacrifice.

(§7) But since I have mentioned this sacrifice, I wish to say a little in reference to you who have been initiated; little in quantity, but possessing great force and profit, for it is not our own, but the words of Divine Spirit. What then is it? Many partake of this sacrifice once in the whole year, others twice; others many times. Our word then is to all; not to those only who are here, but to those also who are settled in the desert. For they partake once in the year, and often indeed at intervals of two years.

St. Augustine (354-430) (WEST)

St. Augustine, Letter 98 (§9) (408)

(§9) …Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood, in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith.

St. Augustine, The City of God (Book 17, §20) (c. 419)

(§20) …For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, “There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink” [Ecc. 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say [prophetically] than what belongs to the participation of this table, which the mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come…Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it.

St. Sechnall of Ireland (died c. 447/448)

St. Sechnall of Ireland, Hymn in Praise of St. Patrick (c. 444)

Boldly he blazons the name of the Lord to the infidel races, giving them grace without end, out of the laver of life [baptism]. Day after day for their sins unto God he makes his petition, slaying for health of their souls victims worthy of God.

Footnotes

  1. Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 302. ↩︎
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