Church Fathers on the Holy Eucharist

Hey! So I came across these couple of sites that claim the early fathers did not believe in the Eucharist the way we do now, and show quotes. Unfortunately, I am not learned in the writings of the early church fathers, so I am feeling unable to answer these points within myself. I am seeking help with this, as I know many people here are far more learned than I.

Here is what I found:


  • Hi,

    There are so many errors, I do not know where to begin.

    The last link has a statement by the council of Ephesus which you will do well to read as it clearly states the consensus of the one, holy, catholic [universal], and apostolic faith.

    The meaning of symbol expressed by the fathers does not mean 'symbol' in the way we understand it today. The Greek word is actually "σύμβολο" [symbolo] which means the joining of two things together; earthly elements and God's grace uniting together to allow us to participate in holiness. Here is a nice video by the Greek Archdiocese that sheds more light on it: 

    Also, in a nicely written article by Catholic man by the name of Steve Ray, he mentions the following: "Some Protestants (e.g.,
    William Webster,
    The Church of Rome at
    the Bar of History
    ) tend to
    approach the Church Fathers in one of two ways. First, they may just ignore or
    disregard the Fathers as “uninspired” or irrelevant—why study the Fathers when
    we have the Bible? Second, they may search for perceived contradictions. The
    perceived contradiction is then presented as a false dilemma that forces an
    either/or dichotomy. For example, “The
    Eucharist is
    either a symbol of the Body of Christ or
    is the Body of Christ.”  The
    Fathers rejected such contrasts and espoused the
    both/and approach, understanding that the Eucharist was both a symbol (but never merely as a
    and the Real Presence. If the
    Real Presence was an illicit teaching or unorthodox teaching, wouldn’t we
    expect to find early orthodox Christians condemning it? Instead, we see the
    earliest and most respected Christians consistently promoting both the sacrificial
    nature of the Eucharist and the reality of the Real Presence. Never is this
    teaching condemned or forbidden."

    In another part of the first link it states: "This is the very definition of the Eucharist – a celebration of the remembrance of the Lord’s passion in which Christians offer thanks and prayer. "

    One key thing the author if failing to understand is that the Greek word for 'remembrance' is 'ἀνάμνησις' [anemnesis] means more than just keeping the memory of something; it is to re-live an experience. 

    Fr. Matthew the poor puts it perfectly when he says "it is equivalent to create a living memory of His invisible presence, not merely in though, as if we were remembering Christ who has died and gone, but a remembrance of Christ's ever-living presence. The Eucharist thus became an invocation of the Lord's presence, both slaughtered and present in an invisible condition, by means of the bread eaten and the wine drunk, that goes beyond natural reasoning. This is indeed the true bread and true drink, there being no other truth than Christ."

    He also stated: "Justin first referred to the eating of human flesh a shameful deed; then he explained that the Eucharist celebration does not involve consuming human flesh in any way."

    We do not understand the Eucharist this way, clearly his mind is still thinking carnally. We are not cannibals, nor were the early Christians. We partake of the holy mysteries in a spiritual sense. As a wise man once said 'we are not annihilating the living Christ by receiving Him into our mouths and bodies; it is much more like a marriage union, where two bodies and souls come together.'

    I find it extremely ironic that he used this quote: If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]. Take ye 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.” (Letter to the Philadelphians, Chapters 3 and 4)

    It is actually quite funny because he is literally going against this statement by separating himself from the true doctrine of the church which it has held for centuries and, instead, is following his own teaching of what HE thinks the fathers meant.

    The last thing i want to say is "spiritual" does not mean symbolic in today's context. God is Spirit, does that make Him just a symbol? Is the Holy Spirit just a holy symbol? Is the spiritual life just a symbolic life? Since when has the church ever ascribed the meaning of spiritual to symbol?

    I hope this has been edifying.

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