In light of a recent article by pew research it says that only three out of ten catholics believe in the real presence, I thought I would go back to early church fathers and try to understand what they believed when it came to the real presence. Now the pew research company does take in account many factors when they conducted this research, for example do people (catholics) really understand what transubstantiation means? And are they regular churchgoers, do they come weelky, Monthly, every other month, or just on holidays?

I’m going to post findings from early church fathers, so we can understand what they gave up (their life most of them) for the church and what Jesus taught through the Apostles.

In 110 AD, St Ignatius of Antioch, disciple and co-worker of St John the Apostle:

wrote (and recall that St John was the inspired human author of Jesus’ great “Bread of Life” talk in John 6): “Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions…. see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God… They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.”

“Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.”

“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.”

St. Justin Martyr (148 AD):

“This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

“First Apology”, Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

“God has therefore announced in advance that all the sacrifices offered in His name, which Jesus Christ offered, that is, in the Eucharist of the Bread and of the Chalice, which are offered by us Christians in every part of the world, are pleasing to Him.”

“Dialogue with Trypho”, Ch. 117, circa 130-160 A.D.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (177 AD):

[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies.”

Source: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 180 A.D

“So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ’s Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ and ‘invisible’ man, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh an bones’ (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and ‘the grain of wheat falls into the earth’ (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

-“Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely

St. Clement of Alexandria (200 AD):

“So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ’s Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ and ‘invisible’ man, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh an bones’ (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and ‘the grain of wheat falls into the earth’ (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

-“Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely

“The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. ‘Eat My Flesh,’ He says, ‘and drink My Blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!”,

-“The Instructor of the Children” [1,6,41,3] ante 202 A.D..

These are just a few of the early Church Fathers teaching on the Eucharist. My brothers and sisters we cannot let the secular world Tell us what Jesus truly taught. It is in the Gospels and in the early Church.

This is part 1 of a 3 parts series

In Christ

Jeff Kassab