Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sententiae Patristicae: Body and Blood of the Lord, Year C

The Fathers of the Church on the Readings of the Lectionary

First Reading Genesis 14:18–20
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 11:23–26
Gospel Luke 9:11b–17

St. Cyprian of Carthage--the sacrifice of Melchizedek prefigures the Eucharistic Sacrifice:
‎Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, according to what divine Scripture testifies, and says, “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine.” (Ge 14:18) Now he was a priest of the most high God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying from the person of the Father to the Son: “Before the morning star I begat Thee; Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek;” (Ps 110:4) which order is assuredly this coming from that sacrifice and thence descending; that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God; that he offered wine and bread; that he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood? (Cyprian, Ep. 63.4, ANF, vol. 5, pg. 359)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem--Christ's word should suffice for belief that the Eucharist is his body and blood:
Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, lie said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. (1 Cor 11:23) Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? (Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. Lect. 22.1, NPNF2, vol. 7, pg. 151)

St. John Damascene--Christ's body and blood are made present by the power of the Holy Spirit:
‎If then the Word of God is quick and energising (Heb 4:12), and the Lord did all that He willed(Ps 135:6); if He said, Let there be light and there was light, let there be a firmament and there was a firmament(Gen 1:3, 6); if the heavens were established by the Word of the Lord and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth(Ps 33:6); if the heaven and the earth, water and fire and air and the whole glory of these, and, in sooth, this most noble creature, man, were perfected by the Word of the Lord; if God the Word of His own will became man and the pure and undefiled blood of the holy and ever-virginal One made His flesh without the aid of seed, can He not then make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood? He said in the beginning, Let the earth bring forth grass (Gen 1:11), and even until this present day, when the rain comes it brings forth its proper fruits, urged on and strengthened by the divine command. God said, This is My body, and This is My blood, and this do ye in remembrance of Me. And so it is at His omnipotent command until He come: for it was in this sense that He said until He come: and the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit becomes through the invocation the rain to this new tillage. For just as God made all that He made by the energy of the Holy Spirit, so also now the energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural and which it is not possible to comprehend unless by faith alone. How shall this be, said the holy Virgin, seeing I know not a man? And the archangel Gabriel answered her: The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (Lk 1:34, 35). And now you ask, how the bread became Christ’s body and the wine and water Christ’s blood. And I say unto thee, “The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.” (John Damascene, De Fide Orth. 4.13, NPNF2, vol. 9, pg. 82)

St. John Chrysostom--the Eucharist is the same mystery whenever it is celebrated:
‎The Mystery at Easter is not of more efficacy than that which is now celebrated. It is one and the same. There is the same grace of the Spirit, it is always a Passover. You who are initiated know this. On the Preparation, on the Sabbath, on the Lord’s day, and on the day of Martyrs, it is the same Sacrifice that is performed. “For as often,” he saith, “as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” (1 Cor. xi. 26) No time is limited for the performance of this Sacrifice, why then is it then called the Paschal feast? Because Christ suffered for us then. Let not the time, therefore, make any difference in your approach. There is at all times the same power, the same dignity, the same grace, one and the same body; nor is one celebration of it more or less holy than another. And this you know, who see upon these occasions nothing new, save these worldly veils, and a more splendid attendance. The only thing that these days have more is that from them commenced the day of our salvation when Christ was sacrificed. But with respect to these mysteries, those days have no further preëminence. (Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Tim. 5, NPNF1, vol. 13, pg. 425)

St. Bede the Venerable on the feeding of the five thousand:
Now our Saviour does not create new food for the hungry multitudes, but He took those things which the disciples had and blessed them, since coming in the flesh He preaches nothing else than what had been foretold, but demonstrates the words of prophecy to be pregnant with the mysteries of grace ; He looks towards heaven, that thither He may teach us to direct the eye of the mind, there to seek the light of knowledge ; He breaks and distributes to the disciples to be placed before the multitude, because He revealed to them the Sacraments of the Law and the Prophets that they might preach them to the world. (Quoted in Cat. Aur. 3.2, pg. 309)

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