Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Feast of St. Justin Martyr

One of my favorite saints, Justin Martyr was a philosopher converted from paganism who wrote extensive apologetics for the Christian faith in the 2nd century.
In one of his writings he described the mass of the early Christians. What he describes reveals to us that the Catholic Mass of today is almost 2000 years old. Based on his writings, we know that some of the same prayers the priest used this morning at Mass were used in the early Christian liturgies on the "day of the Sun."

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

Could someone so close to the apostles have gotten it wrong regarding what is the true meaning of the Eucharist ?
How is it that all the early Church fathers describe the bread and wine as the actual body and blood of Christ yet 2000 years later we wave our hands and say "It's just symbolic?"

9 Comments:

Blogger Brooke H. said...

Amen!

June 01, 2009 7:27 PM  
Blogger Owen said...

Exactly Russ. Well said.

Could someone so close...have gotten it wrong? This is something I always think about when I reflect on the sect I used to be a minister of and its claim to be the most authentic "New Testament" church. A claim made by thousands of protestant sects and yet they deny the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is not to say there were not those who very early on denied this reality as well because we read, in the earliest of the Church Fathers, rebuttals and warnings to heretics and dissenters.

May God grant us wisdom and humility over pride in having been blessed to come in accord with the teachings of the Church and sacred scripture.

June 01, 2009 8:13 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Exactly. It was my reading of the Church Fathers that convinced me of the true nature of the Eucharist.

June 02, 2009 8:21 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Yes, yes that's what he said, but see, that's not what he meant........but I know what he meant, let me explain......

June 02, 2009 2:55 PM  
Blogger George Weis said...

Russ,

It was Justin who I first opened up when examining the ECFs because I had heard his name tossed about. I first read his description of the service, which didn't throw me for any loops, but then I hit this!

I read it... and read it again. I felt like someone just whacked me over the head with a fold up chair!

I asked my own pastor at the time (I still respect Him as a godly man) who has his doctorate and masters and so forth... His answer was empty. "There is just no way that Justin Martyr in the second century believed anything close to the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation..." HUH?

Well, that wasn't what the text was telling me! Justin was the door I stepped through to see a different angle on the early believers. I since continued on and I'm regularly finding the same thing.

-g-

June 03, 2009 7:31 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

When I was reading Crossed the Tiber by Steve Ray, I too was floored when his quotations from the ECF made me realize there was no getting away from it. The early believers believed that Jesus was truly made present in the celebration of the breaking of the bread. The water closest to the source of the stream is the purest. If they had it right then, well...
Once I read this, a chill went through me and I said "I have been desiring to be close to you for most of my life, and here you have been all my life!" Shortly after I returned to the Catholic Church, now over 5 years ago.

I feel the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is such a strong attraction to the faith and very easy to see historically. It takes tremendous "handwaving", denial, whatever, for the reformers to have brushed away 1500 years of a steady enduring truth of the Church that was and still is its chief doctrinal cornerstone.
Most of my blog posts keep coming back to the Eucharist because He is truly the "source and summit of our faith."
I didn't want to become Catholic, believe me, but I wanted to be as close to Jesus as possible, and the Church that he started, yes, filled with wheat and tares, allows me to have Him, Soul, Body and Divinity.

June 03, 2009 8:58 AM  
Blogger Owen said...

A portion of a prayer I recently came across, germane to this comment thread and for the month of June:

"O Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus! The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind! The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus! The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus! ..."

June 03, 2009 9:28 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

What a great excerpt! The one about the particulars of the Mass is pretty cool too- since we do things pretty much exactly the same was as 2,000 years ago. Wow!

June 04, 2009 4:39 PM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

As Dr.Ray Guarendi brilliantly says occassionally: "We shouldn't be so quick to judge a certain past president for parsing the word "is." That's what so many Christians do when it comes to parsing the statement declared by our Lord: "This IS my Body..."

HOW can it be parsed? Like kkollwitz wrote, that's exactly what so many say. For me, it's like I'd never read John 6 before! Reading it now and the past 4.5 years,since my conversion, my eyes SEE and my understanding of that discourse has been illumined...by grace, I guess. it's still "too hard a saying" for some after 2000 years.

June 09, 2009 7:25 AM  

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