The Primitive Church
But, then I read the writings of the Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Irenaeus etc. Just as cave paintings give us a unique snapshot of the life of primitive man, the writings of the Early Church Fathers proide a unique snapshot of what the worship life and times were for the early primitive church. These early Christians were writing extensively about the Church before the end of the 2nd century. Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of Saint John and possibly Saint Peter! Turns out that the primitive Church worship was centered around a thing now known as the mass. (What? What about bible studies and prayer meetings?) These early Christians believed and wrote extensively that the Lord’s table was actually partaking in the true body and blood of Christ, not just a memorial meal. The belief in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist has been a part of Christian theology since the time of the apostles. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the reformers decided that Jesus was speaking symbolically when he said “Take and eat, this is my body.”
When I discovered this truth, I had to make my way back to the true “primitive church.” In the Eucharist, celebrated daily in Catholic Churches throughout the world, one cannot get any closer to the breath of God than eating his real body and drinking his real blood. If Christians of good will want to be as close to the breath of God as possible, they will find that intimacy with Jesus in the Catholic Church.
“Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” Ignatius of Antioch 110 AD