The Guardian Angel: Didache and the Eucharist
The Early Christians Believed in the Real Presence "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thes. 2:15) "And what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2) Many Catholics and non-Catholics alike think that the Roman Catholic Church invented the doctrine of transubstantiation.
Transubstantiation means that the bread and wine presented on the altar at the Mass become the the Body and Blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit at the consecration.
The consecration is the time when the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood. However, the Body and Blood retain the appearance of bread and wine.
The Roman Catholic Church, that is, the Latin Rite Catholic Church, and other Catholic Churches in communion with Rome believe that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity.
The Orthodox Churches and most other Churches of the East do so as well. Anglican [Episcopalian] and other Protestant denominations have interpreted Christ's presence at the celebration of the Lord's Supper or Eucharist to be either only spiritual, or symbolic, or non-existent.
Thus, I decided to research what the Early Christians believed on this issue. I searched the indices for "Eucharist" in many volume sets on Early Christian writings, and I was astonished at my discovery.
The Early Christians actually took the Real Presence for granted. It doesn't even seem as if there was much debate. I could not find anyone who denied the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament before the year 500 A.D.
Following are the results of my search. Some Christians, e.g. St. Augustine, had very much to say about the Real Presence of Our Lord, so I did not include everything.
Also, I want you to know that I did not include other Christians who believed in the Real Presence in this article because they later fell away from the Church for different reasons. Therefore, even though these Christians defended the Real Presence, e.g. Origen, Tertullian, Theodore of Mopsuetta, etc., I did not include their statements.
I pray that this research article will inspire lukewarm Catholics to become excited about their Faith which has faithfully been passed on for over 2000 years. I pray that the Holy Spirit will grant you Faith to believe in Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to receive Him at Mass and visit Him in the tabernacle. He is patiently waiting for you because he loves you and wants you to come home.
Also, I pray that this research article will motivate non-Catholics to ask questions about the Blessed Sacrament to learn more. Our Lord is still with us in the flesh, and He is awesome! I pray that someday you will be able to experience the joy of receiving Him in the Mass and of praying at his feet.
THE BIBLE "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." -1 Cor. 10:16-17 "For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which 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 Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord." -1 Cor. 11:23-27 THE DIDACHE
The Didache or "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" is a manuscript which was used by 2nd century bishops and priests for the instruction of catechumens. Many early Christian writers have referenced it making this document relatively easy to date. "Let no one eat and drink of your Eucharist but those baptized in the name of the Lord; to this, too the saying of the Lord is applicable: 'Do not give to dogs what is sacred'". -Ch. 9:5 "On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled. For here we have the saying of the Lord: 'In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a mighty King, says the Lord; and my name spreads terror among the nations.'"
This excerpt from the Didache, provides a fascinating glimpse into how the Eucharist was celebrated on Sunday’s the Lord’s Day, by Christians of the late first or early second century as both sacrifice and meal and considered holy, spiritual food and drink.
Celebrate the Eucharist as follows: Say over the cup: “we give you thanks, Father, for the holy vine of David, your servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be glory for ever”.
Over the broken bread say: “we give you thanks, Father, for the life and the knowledge which you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant. To you be glory for ever. As this broken bread scattered on the mountains was gathered and became one, so too, may your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For glory and power are yours through Jesus Christ for ever.”
EUCHARIST AS HOLY IN THE DIDACHE
Do not let anyone eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For the statement of the Lord applies here also: Do not give to dogs what is holy.
When you finish the meal, offer thanks in this manner: “We thank you, holy Father, for your name which you enshrined in our hearts. We thank you for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be glory for ever.
SPIRITUAL FOOD & DRINK
“Almighty ruler, you created all things for the sake of your name; you gave men food and drink to enjoy so that they might give you thanks. Now you have favored us through Jesus your servant with spiritual food and drink as well as with eternal life. Above all we thank you because you are mighty. To you be glory for ever. “Remember, Lord, your Church and deliver her from all evil. Perfect her in your love; and, once she has been sanctified, gather her together from the four winds into the kingdom which you have prepared for her. For power and glory are yours for ever. “May grace come and this world pass away! Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come. If anyone is not, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.”
PURE SACRIFICE ON THE LORD’S DAY
On the Lord’s day, when you have been gathered together, break bread and celebrate the Eucharist. But first confess your sins so that your offering may be pure. If anyone has a quarrel with his neighbor, that person should not join you until he has been reconciled. Your sacrifice must not be defiled. In this regard, the Lord has said: In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice. I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is great among the nations. [Malachi 1:11] The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles better known as the Didache, caused a sensation when it was discovered around 1885.
Lost for over a thousand years, this anonymous Greek writing appears to have taken its final form around AD 125 in Alexandria Egypt. However, the Didache is composed of two earlier documents that could date back to the time of the apostles themselves. Though the author pf the Didache is not known, the work itself is reckoned among the Apostolic Fathers, the earliest Fathers of the Church. This excerpt focuses on the celebration of the sacrifice and meal of the Eucharist, with its broken bread as true and holy spiritual food and drink (9:1 – 10:6; 14:1-3). It appears in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Wednesday of the fourteenth (14th) week in Ordinary Time. The Didache 8-10 VIII 1. Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
2. And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory for ever."
3. Pray thus three times a day.
IX 1. And concerning the Eucharist, hold Eucharist thus:
2. First concerning the Cup, "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy servant, which, thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy servant; to thee be glory for ever."
3. And concerning the broken Bread: "We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy servant. To thee be glory for ever.
4. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom, for thine is the, glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.
5. But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptized in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs." X
1. But after you are satisfied with food, thus give thanks:
2. "We give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which thou didst make to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Servant. To thee be glory for ever.
3. Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name's sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Servant.
4. Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty. To thee be glory for ever.
5. Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever.
6. Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come! if any man be not, let him repent: Maranatha, Amen." 7. But suffer the prophets to hold Eucharist as they will.