In the comments to this post, a Protestant calling himself “meyu” claimed that there wasn’t any consensus in the early Church on the Real Presence. Since I’ve actually written on this subject before, I challenged him on this. After all, I’ve shown Church Fathers explicitly affirming the Real Presence in the first and second century, the third century, and the fourth century. Even the Jews and Romans were aware that the Christians believed that the Eucharist was actually Jesus.
Of course, if these Church Fathers are wrong, they’re blasphemously wrong: they’re either encouraging people to worship Jesus or to worship an idol of bread and wine. Yet nobody in the Church disagrees with them: no remotely-orthodox Christian writes against the Eucharist as idolatry. Everyone who writes on the subject writes in a way that’s compatible with Catholicism, oftentimes in ways that are undeniably explicit in teaching the Real Presence.
Meyu’s initial response was to try to get me to read every early Church Father in order to verify that none of them disagreed with the Church. Obviously, that’s an absurd burden shift, so I told him to come back when he had actually read the Church Fathers for himself, and found a place where any of them disagreed with the the doctrine of the Real Presence. Instead, he just copy-pasted (without attribution) someone else’s list of proof-texted quotations by the Fathers who allegedly deny the Real Presence:
Tertullian“Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)Bread and wine are offered, being the figure of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. They who participate in this visible bread eat, spiritually, the flesh of the Lord. (Macarius, Homily xxvii.)For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. (Theodoret, Diologue I, Eranistes and Orthodoxus.)
For the Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body. (Augustine, Against Adimant.)
He admitted him to the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood. (Augustine, on Psalm 3.)We have received a memorial of this offering which we celebrate on a table by means of symbols of His Body and saving Blood according to the laws of the new covenant. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica.)”
|Stained glass window,
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish, Findlay, Ohio
1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.
Therefore a sacrament is a sign that commemorates what precedes it – Christ’s Passion; demonstrates what is accomplished in us through Christ’s Passion – grace; and prefigures what that Passion pledges to us – future glory.
“Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)
|Justus van Gent (Joos van Wassenhove),
The Communion of the Apostles (1470)
When He so earnestly expressed His desire to eat the passover, He considered it His own feast; for it would have been unworthy of God to desire to partake of what was not His own. Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion’s theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: “I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread,” which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body.
He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed “in His blood,” affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood. […]Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood.
- Marcion denied that Christ had a true Body of Flesh and Blood. If that were true, then we would have to believe that the Eucharist was just bread, and that Christ on the Cross was just bread.
- He says that Christ explained exactly what He meant by “Bread” when He described it as His Body. According to Tertullian, the question now is why Christ referred to His Body as “Bread,” rather than something else (like a melon). He answers this by saying that Christ’s Body is referred to throughout Scripture as Bread.
- He quotes a passage from the Septuagint version of Jeremiah to show that Christ’s Crucified Body is rightly called “Bread.”
- The Eucharistic Bread and Wine affirm the reality of Christ’s Flesh, since He couldn’t give us His Body or Blood if He didn’t have actual Flesh. Christ’s Flesh, in turn, proves that He had a true Body.
- Christ consecrates the wine, fulfilling the Old Testament typology.
Similarly, too, touching the days of Stations, most think that they must not be present at the sacrificial prayers, on the ground that the Station must be dissolved by reception of the Lord’s Body. Does, then, the Eucharist cancel a service devoted to God, or bind it more to God? Will not your Station be more solemn if you have withal stood at God’s altar? When the Lord’s Body has been received and reserved each point is secured, both the participation of the sacrifice and the discharge of duty.