There are many today (Catholic and non-Catholic) who argue the Church’s teachings about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist are erroneous. Others maintain they are exaggerations. Still, others suggest the Church’s teachings are fantasies of over-zealous ancient and modern-day theologians. Yet, there is an enormous body of evidence that proves otherwise. Many of those who lived in the time of Christ, those who knew Him, and all the Church leaders in the first few hundred years after the Resurrection, that is, the early Church Fathers, are remarkably clear about what they believed to be the truth about the Eucharist as taught by Jesus, Himself. A “Cliff-Notes” style article by the online resource, Catholic Answers, summarizes critical teachings of a dozen spiritual giants of our faith from the first four and a half centuries of the Church’s history (including Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr and Augustine), and the benchmark conclusions of the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. (A link to the article is provided below.)
Some modern-day “deny-ers” of the Real Presence argue the early Church Fathers did not believe in the Real Presence, rather they believed that the Eucharist was just symbolic. But they ignore the reality that the early fathers of the Church unconditionally believed the words of Christ, Himself. Jesus’ words at the Last Supper are identical in all three synoptic Gospels, “This is My body…This is My blood.” His words are direct, precise, and most importantly, creative. They are not symbols. They are not suggestions. They are reality. They are the truth! And those closest to Jesus believed those truths because all are substantiated in Holy Scripture.
The “Bread of Life Discourse,” in Chapter 6 of St. John’s Gospel is the very substance of Jesus’s teaching about the Eucharist. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51). And: “Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” (John 6:53-57).
But, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, is also extremely clear: “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Please click the link and read more about what the early Church Fathers believed and taught.
The Real Presence
“Do this in remembrance of me.”