My Daily Eucharist – Reflection for February 21, 2018
The testimony of the Fathers of the Church follows… upon that of the apostles. The earliest witness is St. Ignatius, who was a disciple of two of the apostles–St. Peter and St. John–and who saw Our Lord Himself after the Resurrection… eight of his epistles are still extant… “I desire no perishable food. I desire the divine Bread, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I desire His blood, the celestial drink, which is never failing charity, life eternal.”
St. Irenaeus, bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who in his turn was a scholar of St. John the Evangelist… “We offer to God the bread we have blessed and the chalice we have blessed and call upon the Holy Ghost, that He may cause this oblation of bread to become the body of Christ, this wine His blood, in order that he who receives these gifts may obtain remission of sin and everlasting life.”…
… the Fathers who assembled, to the number of three hundred, at the first Council of Nicea… solemnly declared: “We must not confine our attention to the bread and the chalice offered upon the altar, but raise our hearts upward and perceive by faith the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is sacrificed upon that altar in an unbloody manner by the priest; and when we truly receive His precious body and blood we must firmly believe that this is the actual pledge of our resurrection. For this reason a small portion only is given to us to remind us that it is intended for the sanctification of our souls, not the stilling of our hunger.”
… the beliefs of the early Church differed in no respect from the truths which she now teaches and which we hold steadfastly.
Rev. H. Rolfus, D.D.