Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Holy Eucharist

I've been following an online debate, discussion, between a Catholic and a non-catholic. The topic is centered mostly on 'Authority'. Who has the authority to interpret the Bible. Who's right and who's wrong if both come up with different interperetations and both claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit?

This interpretation issue has focused on the John 6 interpretation of the Holy Eucharist. This being the essential core of the Catholic faith and this being the Lenten season, I thought this would be a topic worth of more than a few post.

I was on my way home from work the other day and since I'm blessed with being able to listen to EWTN on my Sat-Radio (I have a 2hour commute, each way), I was able to listen to Father Mitch Pacwa and Father O'Connor talk about this subject. This show was followed by a Lenten Mission given by Very Reverend Casey, C.P.M., Superior General of the Fathers of Mercy. Again the topic was the Holy Eurcharist.

Even Pope Benedict is heading the march on reminding us of the sacredness of this prescious gift with his new post-synod document on the Eucharist, which will be released on March 13.

So first, a collection of Early Church Father quotes on the Eucharist:

"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. In order, however, that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah, who asks, 'Who is this that cometh from Edom, from Bosor with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of his might? Why are thy garments red, and thy raiment as his who cometh from the treading of the full winepress?' The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood. Much more clearly still does the book of Genesis foretell this, when (in the blessing of Judah, out of whose tribe Christ was to come according to the flesh) it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying, 'He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes'--in His garments and clothes the prophecy pointed out his flesh, and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood."Tertullian,Against Marcion,40(A.D. 212),in ANF,III:418-419

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