Saturday, 22 April 2017

Early Church Father on the Eucharist

The Last Supper the Institution of the Holy Eucharist

The Bread of Heaven

and the Cup of Salvation

St. Cyril of Jerusalem 313-386 A.D.
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church

From the Jerusalem Catecheses

On the night He was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is my body.”  He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take drink: this is my blood.” 

Since Christ Himself has declared the bread to be His body, who can have any further doubt?  

Since He Himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not His blood?

Therefore, it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ.  His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and blood with Him.   Having His body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Christ speaking to His Disciples
Once, when speaking to the Jews, Christ said: 

Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. 

This horrified them and they left Him.  Not understanding His words in a spiritual way, they thought the Savior wished them to practice cannibalism.

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came to an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged.  Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation.  These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word, to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as He Himself has declared.  Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ.  You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to man’s heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness.  Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

Christ's Body & Blood Present in the Eucharist

May purity of conscience 
remove the veil 
from the face of your soul 
so that by contemplating 
the glory of the Lord, 

as in a mirror, 
you may be transformed 
from glory to glory 
in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

To Him be glory 
forever and ever. 


Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, Saturday within the Octave of Easter

Read more from the Jerusalem Catecheses