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Part of the series on

also known as
"The Eucharist" or
"The Lord's Supper"


Real Presence
Sacramental Union
Words of Institution

Theologies contrasted
Anglican Eucharistic theology
Eucharist (Catholic Church)
Eucharist (Lutheran Church)

Important theologians
Paul · Luther
Aquinas · Calvin
Chrysostom · Augustine

Related Articles
Sacramental bread
Christianity and alcohol
Catholic Historic Roots
Closed and Open Table
Divine Liturgy
Eucharistic adoration
Eucharistic discipline
First Communion
Infant Communion
Mass · Sacrament

The Eucharist, also called Holy Communion, Sacrament of the Table, the Blessed Sacrament, or The Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance, generally considered to be a commemoration of the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and eventual crucifixion. The consecration of bread and a cup within the rite recalls the moment at the Last Supper when Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying, "This is my body", and wine, saying, "This is my blood".[1][2]

There are different interpretations of the significance of the Eucharist, but "there is more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, and the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated."[1]

The phrase "the Eucharist" may refer not only to the rite but also to the consecrated bread (leavened or unleavened) and wine (or, in some Protestant denominations, unfermented grape juice) used in the rite,[3] and, in this sense, communicants may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist".

Names and their origin

Eucharist from Greek εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning thanksgiving. The verb εὐχαριστῶ, the usual word for "to thank" in the Septuagint and the New Testament, is found in the major texts concerning the Lord's Supper, including the earliest:

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." (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

The Lord's Supper (Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον) derives from 1 Corinthians 11:20-21.

When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.

Communion is a translation - other translations are "participation", "sharing", "fellowship"[4] - of the Greek κοινωνία (koinōnía) in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The King James Version has

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?[5]


Christ with the Eucharist by Vicente Juan Masip, 16th century

Biblical basis

The Last Supper appears in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,[1][6][7] while the last-named of these also indicates something of how early Christians celebrated what Paul the Apostle called the Lord's Supper. As well as the Eucharistic dialogue in John chapter 6.

Paul the Apostle and the Lord's Supper

In his First Epistle to the Corinthians (c 54-55), Paul the Apostle gives the earliest recorded description of Jesus' Last Supper: "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'." [8]


The synoptic gospels, first Mark,[9] and then Matthew[10] and Luke,[11] depict Jesus as presiding over the Last Supper. References to Jesus' body and blood foreshadow his crucifixion, and he identifies them as a new covenant.[12] In the gospel of John, the account of the Last Supper has no mention of Jesus taking bread and wine and speaking of them as his body and blood; instead it recounts his humble act of washing the disciples' feet, the prophecy of the betrayal, which set in motion the events that would lead to the cross, and his long discourse in response to some questions posed by his followers, in which he went on to speak of the importance of the unity of the disciples with him and each other.[12][13]

Agape feast

The expression The Lord's Supper, derived from St. Paul's usage in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, may have originally referred to the Agape feast, the shared communal meal with which the Eucharist was originally associated.[14] The Agape feast is mentioned in Jude 12. But The Lord's Supper is now commonly used in reference to a celebration involving no food other than the sacramental bread and wine.

Early Christian sources

The Didache (Greek: teaching) is an early Church order, including, among other features, instructions for Baptism and the Eucharist. Most scholars date it to the early 2nd century,[15] and distinguish in it two separate Eucharistic traditions, the earlier tradition in chapter 10 and the later one preceding it in chapter 9.[16][17] The Eucharist is mentioned again in chapter 14.[18]

Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Apostolic Fathers and a direct disciple of the Apostle John, mentions the Eucharist as "the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ",[19] and Justin Martyr speaks of it as more than a meal: "the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving, the word received from Christ, has been said ... is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh ... and the deacons carry some to those who are absent."[20]

Eucharistic theology

Many Christian denominations classify the Eucharist as a sacrament.[21] Some Protestants prefer to call it an ordinance, viewing it not as a specific channel of divine grace but as an expression of faith and of obedience to Christ.

Most Christians, even those who deny that there is any real change in the elements used, recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present.[22] Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy teach that the consecrated elements truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Transubstantiation is the metaphysical explanation given by Roman Catholics as to how this transformation occurs. Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus are present "in, with and under" the forms of bread and wine, a concept known as the sacramental union. The Reformed churches, following the teachings of John Calvin, believe in a spiritual (or "pneumatic") real presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and received by faith. Anglicans adhere to a range of views although the Anglican church officially teaches the real presence. Some Christians reject the concept of the real presence, believing that the Eucharist is only a memorial of the death of Christ.

The Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document of the World Council of Churches, attempting to present the common understanding of the Eucharist on the part of the generality of Christians, describes it as "essentially the sacrament of the gift which God makes to us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit", "Thanksgiving to the Father", "Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ", "the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us", "the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence", "Invocation of the Spirit", "Communion of the Faithful", and "Meal of the Kingdom".

Ritual and liturgy

Catholic Church

The Eucharist in a traditional Latin Mass

The Catholic Church teaches that when the bread and wine are consecrated in the Eucharist, they cease to be bread and wine, and become instead the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ. The empirical appearances are not changed, but the reality is. The consecration of the bread (known as the host) and wine represents the separation of Jesus' body from his blood at Calvary. However, since he has risen, the Church teaches that his body and blood can no longer be truly separated. Where one is, the other must be. Therefore, although the priest (or minister) says, "The body of Christ", when administering the host, and, "The blood of Christ", when presenting the chalice, the communicant who receives either one receives Christ, whole and entire.

The Catholic Church sees as the main basis for this belief the words of Jesus himself at his Last Supper: the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20) and Saint Paul's 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 recount that in that context Jesus said of what to all appearances were bread and wine: "This is my body … this is my blood." The Roman Catholic understanding of these words, from the Patristic authors onward, has emphasized their roots in the covenantal history of the Old Testament. The interpretation of Christ's words against this Old Testament background coheres with and supports belief in the Real Presence.[23] In 1551 the Council of Trent officially defined that "by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation." [24] The attempt by some twentieth-century Catholic theologians to present the Eucharistic change as an alteration of significance (transignification rather than transubstantiation) was rejected by Pope Paul VI in his 1965 encyclical letter Mysterium fidei In his 1968 Credo of the People of God, he reiterated that any theological explanation of the doctrine must hold to the twofold claim that, after the consecration, 1) Christ's body and blood are really present; and 2) bread and wine are really absent; and this presence and absence is real and not merely something in the mind of the believer.

On entering a church, Roman Catholics genuflect to the consecrated host in the tabernacle that holds the consecrated host, in order to acknowledge respectfully the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a presence to which a red votive candle or sanctuary lamp kept burning close to such a tabernacle draws attention.

Eastern Christianity

Eucharistic elements prepared for the Divine Liturgy

Among Eastern Christians, the Eucharistic service is called the Divine Liturgy. It comprises two main divisions: the first is the Liturgy of the Catechumens which consists of introductory litanies, antiphons and scripture readings, culminating in a reading from one of the Gospels and often, a homily; the second is the Liturgy of the Faithful in which the Eucharist is offered, consecrated, and received as Holy Communion. Within the latter, the actual Eucharistic prayer is called the anaphora, literally: "offering" or "carrying up" (ἀνα- + φέρω). In the Byzantine Rite, two different anaphoras are currently used: one is attributed to St. John Chrysostom, and the other to St. Basil the Great. Among the Oriental Orthodox, a variety of anaphoras are used, but all are similar in structure to those of the Byzantine Rite. In the Byzantine Rite, the Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom is used most days of the year; St. Basil's is offered on the Sundays of Great Lent, the eves of Christmas and Theophany, Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday, and upon his feast day (1 January). At the conclusion of the Anaphora the bread and wine are held to be the Body and Blood of Christ. Unlike the church of Rome, the Eastern churches use leavened bread, as a symbol of the New Testament offered by God, which replaced the former one.[citation needed]

Conventionally this change in the elements is understood to be accomplished at the Epiklesis (Greek: "invocation") by which the Holy Spirit is invoked and the consecration of the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ is specifically requested, but since the anaphora as a whole is considered a unitary (albeit lengthy) prayer, no one moment within it can be readily singled out.


In most of the national or regional churches of the Anglican Communion, the Eucharist is celebrated as the principal service. The rites for the Eucharist are found in the various prayer books of Anglican churches. Wine along with wafers or bread are used. Daily celebrations are now the case in most cathedrals and many parish[citation needed] churches. There are now only a small minority of parishes with a priest where the Eucharist is not celebrated at least once each Sunday. The nature of the ceremony with which it is celebrated, however, varies according to the orientation of the individual priest, parish, diocese or regional church.



A Lutheran pastor distributing the Eucharist at a typical Sunday service.

Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms" of the consecrated bread and wine (the elements), so that communicants eat and drink the body and blood of Christ himself as well as the bread and wine in this sacrament.[25] The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence is more accurately and formally known as the "sacramental union". It has been inaccurately called "consubstantiation".[26] This term is specifically rejected by Lutheran churches and theologians since it creates confusion about the actual doctrine and subjects the doctrine to the control of an non-biblical philosophical concept in the same manner as, in their view, does the term "transubstantiation".[27]

In the Lutheran Book of Concord, in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, article 24, paragraph 1 it is asserted that among Lutherans, the Eucharist is to be celebrated weekly: "In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved." This was the Lutheran response to those who accused them of abolishing the Eucharist. Lutheran congregations are to celebrate the Eucharist in formal rites similar to the Roman Catholic and "high" Anglican services.[28]


In the Reformed Churches the Eucharist is variously administered. Most commonly, the celebration is not held on every Lord's Day. Most churches serve it the first Sunday of the month. The Service for the Lord's Day is found in the Book of Common Worship. The following would be standard during that service. Some churches use bread without any raising agent (whether leaven or yeast), in view of the use of unleavened bread at Jewish Passover meals. The Presbyterian Church (USA), for instance, prescribes "bread common to the culture". While the majority of Presbyterians use a small biscuit brickette during Holy Communion (Eucharist), the linkage to unleavened bread (also known as matzah) is not lost. The cracker-like unleavened bread better underscores the symbolism attributed to Christ's words, "this is my body, broken for thee." Matza is scored with ridges or stripes and has small perforations.(Christ's body was whipped producing stripes and open wounds and, like the bread, was broken). The wine served might be true alcoholic red wine or grape juice, from either a chalice or from individual cups. Harking back to the regulative principle of worship, the Reformed tradition had long eschewed coming forward to receive communion, preferring to have the elements distributed throughout the congregation by the presbyters (elders) more in the style of a shared meal. Now many Presbyterian Churches have reappropriated a High Church liturgy in the spirit of Philip Schaff's Mercersburg theology, which held ancient traditions of the Church in higher esteem than did much of the Reformed world. The high esteem of Holy Communion on the tradition of John Calvin and John Knox and the Reformed church of that day in France and Scotland was much more 'high church" The Presbyterians hold that Christ is spiritually present in the Bread and Wine and we do share the body and blood of the Lord spiritually. The elements may be found served separately with "consecration" for each element or together. Communion is usually open to all baptized believers (open communion) for those that profess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

United Methodist

United Methodists in the United States are encouraged to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, though it is typically celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, while a few go as long as celebrating quarterly (a tradition dating back to the days of circuit riders that served multiple churches). In the United Methodist church grape juice is used instead of wine. The current Book of Worship of the United Methodist church says that "the pure unfermented juice of the grape, or an equivalent, shall be used during the service of Holy Communion."[29] The elements may be distributed in various ways. Communicants may receive standing, kneeling, or while seated. Gaining more wide acceptance is the practice of receiving by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in the blessed wine, and consuming it). The most common alternative to intinction is for the communicants to receive the consecrated juice using small, individual, specially made glass or plastic cups known as communion cups.[30] United Methodists practice open communion, inviting "all who intend a Christian life, together with their children" to receive Communion. [31] Undergoing Baptism is not a prerequisite for receiving Communion, but if unbaptized people "regularly participate in Holy Communion, it is appropriate for pastors to talk with these people" about the possibility of them being baptized. [32]

The standard liturgies for the Eucharist (as well as other services) are found in The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship. The standard "Service of Word and Table" is set in a fourfold movement of Entrance, Proclamation and Response, Thanksgiving and Communion, and Sending Forth. The Eucharistic Prayer, as found in the Thanksgiving and Response section, is prayed by an authorized minister as set forth in The Book of Discipline. Generally speaking, the ministry of presiding at the Eucharist is given by the church to the Elders (presbyters, priests, or pastors in other traditions). The Eucharistic Prayer of the United Methodist Church takes on an ancient pattern that begins with the "Dialogue" (The Lord be with you/and also with you) and Sursum Corda (Lift up your hearts). Following is a Preface that gives thanks to the Father and ends leading into the "Sanctus et Benedictus" (Holy, holy, holy Lord...Blessed is he who comes....). Then there is a "Post-Sanctus" Prayer which praises the Father for the gift and ministry of Jesus Christ which leads into the Words of Institution (the recalling of the Last Supper). The anamnesis follows, leading into the Memorial Acclamation (Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again). The presiding minister then prays the epiclesis (pour out your Holy Spirit...) and closes with a Trinitarian doxology. The congregation joins in a final "Amen" and recites the Lord's Prayer. Different proper prefaces are provided in the Book of Worship that are appropriate for Holy Days and Seasons of the Church Year.

Variations of the Eucharistic Prayer are provided for various occasions, including communion of the sick and brief forms for occasions that call for greater brevity. Though the ritual is standardized, there is great variation amongst United Methodist churches, from typically high-church to low-church, in the enactment and style of celebration. United Methodist clergy are not required to be vested when celebrating the Eucharist, though it is most often the case that they are vested either in a Geneva gown and stole or an alb and stole.


The bread and "fruit of the vine" indicated in Matthew, Mark and Luke as the elements of the Lord's Supper[33] are interpreted by many Baptists as unleavened bread (although leavened bread is often used) and, in line with the historical stance of some Baptist groups (since the mid-19th century) against partaking of alcoholic beverages, grape juice, which they commonly refer to simply as "the Cup".[34] The unleavened bread, or matzoh, also underscores the symbolic belief attributed to Christ's breaking the matzoh and saying that it was his body. Baptists do not hold Communion, nor the elements thereof, as sacramental; rather, it is considered to be an act of remembrance of Christ's atonement, and a time of renewal of personal commitment.

Since Baptist churches are autonomous, Communion practices and frequency vary among congregations. In many churches, small cups of juice and plates of broken bread are distributed to the seated congregation by a group of deacons. In others, congregants proceed to the altar to receive the elements, then return to their seats. A widely accepted practice is for all to receive and hold the elements until everyone is served, then consume the bread and cup in unison. Usually, music is performed and Scripture is read during the receiving of the elements.

Some Baptist churches are closed-Communionists (even requiring full membership in the church before partaking), with others being partially or fully open-Communionists. It is rare to find a Baptist church where The Lord's Supper is observed every Sunday; most observe monthly or quarterly, with some holding Communion only during a designated Communion service or following a worship service.


Traditional Mennonite churches have with footwashing and the serving of the bread and wine two parts to the Communion service. In the more modern groups, Communion is only the serving of the Lord’s Supper. In the communion meal, the members of the Mennonite churches renew their covenant with God and with each other.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses commemorate Christ's death as a ransom or propitiatory sacrifice by observing The Lord's Evening Meal, or Memorial, each year on the evening that corresponds to the Passover, Nisan 14, according to the ancient Jewish calendar. They believe that this is the only annual religious observance commanded for Christians in the Bible. Of those who attend the Memorial a small minority worldwide will partake of the eating of the unleavened bread and the drinking of the wine.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will receive heavenly salvation and thus spend eternity with God in heaven, as underpriests and co-rulers under Christ. Paralleling the anointing of kings and priests, they are referred to as the "anointed" class and are the only ones who should partake of the bread and wine.

The celebration of the Memorial of Christ's Death proceeds as follows: In advance of the Memorial, Jehovah's Witnesses, in addition to their regular offer of in-home Bible studies also invite anyone that may be interested to attend this special night. The week of the Memorial is generally filled with special activity in the ministry, such as door-to-door work. A suitable hall, for example a Kingdom Hall, is prepared for the occasion.

The Memorial begins with a song and a prayer. The prayer is followed by a discourse on the importance of the evening. A table is set with red wine and unleavened bread. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the bread stands for Jesus Christ's body which he gave on behalf of mankind, and that the wine stands for his blood which redeems from sin. They do not believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation. Hence, the wine and the bread are merely symbols (sometimes referred to as "emblems"), but they have a very deep and profound meaning for Jehovah's Witnesses. A prayer is offered and the bread is circulated among the audience. Then another prayer is offered, and the wine is circulated in the same manner. After that, the evening concludes with a final song and prayer. Only those who are anointed partake as the emblems are passed around the room to all who are present. This does not minimize the importance of the Memorial event as far as the rest in attendance are concerned. All present view this as an opportunity to show that they accept the belief that Jesus Christ is the one who sacrificed himself in behalf of redemption for all mankind, becoming the only mediator between Jehovah God and mankind (John 3:16). At the same time, it is an opportunity to publicly show thanks for that worldwide redemption.

Latter-day Saints

In the Latter Day Saint movement (also known as Mormonism), the "Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper",[35] more simply referred to as the Sacrament, is held at the beginning of Sacrament meeting. The Sacrament, both bread and water, is prepared by priesthood holders prior to the beginning of the meeting. At the beginning of the Sacrament, priests say specific prayers to bless the bread and water.[36] The bread is passed first after the priests have broken slices of bread into small pieces. All in attendance are provided an opportunity to partake of the Sacrament as it is passed row-by-row to the congregation by priesthood holders (typically deacons). The bread is then returned to the priests, who then replace the bread trays and cover them, while uncovering the water which is held in trays in small individual cups. In a manner similar to the bread, the priests say the second prayer and the water is then passed to the congregation.[citation needed]

The prayer recited for the bread is found in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It reads: "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath* given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." (Book of Moroni 4:3, Doctrine and Covenants 20:77--*in the Doctrine and Covenants, the verse reads "which he has given them"). The version of this prayer on the water is as follows: "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine [water] to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." (Book of Moroni 5:2, Doctrine and Covenants 20:79).

Seventh-day Adventists

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church the Holy Communion service customarily is celebrated once per quarter. The service includes the ordinance of footwashing and the Lord’s Supper. Unleavened bread and unfermented (non-alcoholic) grape juice is used. Open communion is practised: all who have committed their lives to the Saviour may participate. Children learn the significance of the service by observing others participating. After receiving formal instruction in baptismal classes and making their commitment to Jesus in baptism, they are thereby prepared to partake in the service themselves. Seventh-day Adventist Church holds opinion that "Christ’s example forbids exclusiveness at the Lord’s Supper. It is true that open sin excludes the guilty. This the Holy Spirit plainly teaches. 1 Cor. 5:11. But beyond this none are to pass judgment." The communion service must be conducted by an ordained pastor, minister or church elder.[37][38]

Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists

The Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists hold to the position that it is the believers, themselves, the "body" of Christ, are the only things thereby consecrated, and that alone by the presence and infilling of the Holy Spirit by which they are sanctified as they continue to abide in the grace of God by living in love one for another for Christ's sake. Thus, they are the "living sacrifice"[39], and each member a "priest"[40], ministering God's love one to another.

Open and closed communion

Christian denominations differ in their understanding of whether they may receive the Eucharist with those with whom they are not in full communion. The famed apologist St. Justin Martyr (c. 150) wrote: "No one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true...." For the first several hundred years, non-members were forbidden even to be present at the sacramental ritual; visitors and catechumens (those still undergoing instruction) were dismissed halfway through the Liturgy, after the Bible readings and sermon but before the Eucharistic rite. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used in the Byzantine Churches, still has a formula of dismissal of catechumens (not usually followed by any action) at this point.

The ancient Churches, such as the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox exclude non-members from Communion under normal circumstances, though they may allow exceptions, e.g., for non-members in danger of death who share their faith in the reality of the Eucharist and who are unable to have access to a minister of their own community.[41] Some Protestant communities including Lutheran churches in the ELCA, LCMS, and WELS practice closed communion and require catechetical instruction for all people before receiving the Eucharist.[42][43][44]. Most Protestant communities, including Reformed, Evangelical, Methodist, the Church of Sweden, and some ELCA Lutherans[45] and Anglicans practice open communion in the sense of not limiting it to members of their own Church alone, but some of them require that the communicant be a baptized person.

Some Progressive Christian congregations offer communion to any individual who wishes to commemorate the life and teachings of Christ, regardless of religious affiliation.[46]

Other issues


Roman Catholic churches encourage their members to participate in Confession, called the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as the Sacrament of Penance, or Penance and Reconciliation), before taking communion, though the mode of such differs in the Western and Eastern traditions. Many Protestant congregations generally reserve a period of time for self examination and private, silent confession just before partaking in the Lord's Supper.


Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites, and some other groups participate in "foot washing" (cf. John 13:3-17) as a preparation for partaking in the Lord's Supper. At that time they are to individually examine themselves, and confess any sins they may have between one and another.

Health issues

Roman Catholic interpretation

The Roman Catholic Church believes that the matter for the Eucharist must be wheaten bread and fermented wine from grapes: it holds that, if the gluten has been entirely removed, the result is not true wheaten bread,[47] and that grape juice that has not begun even minimally to ferment cannot be accepted as wine. It allows in certain circumstances low-gluten bread and mustum (grape juice in which fermentation has begun but has been suspended without altering the nature of the juice), and it permits Holy Communion to be received under the form of either bread or wine alone, except by a priest who is celebrating Mass without other priests or as principal celebrant.[48]

Other traditions

Alternatives to fermented wine

Many Protestant churches allow clergy and communicants to take mustum instead of wine. In addition to, or in replacement of wine, some churches offer grape juice which has been pasteurized to stop the fermentation process the juice naturally undergoes; de-alcoholized wine from which most of the alcohol has been removed (between 0.5% and 2% remains); or water.[49]

Alternatives to wheaten bread

Many mainline Protestant churches offer communicants gluten-free alternatives to wheaten bread, usually in the form of a rice-based cracker or gluten-free bread.[50]

Terminology for the Eucharist

  • "The Lord's Supper", the term used in 1 Corinthians 11:20. Most denominations use the term, but generally not as their basic, routine term. The use is predominant among Baptist groups, who generally avoid using the term "Communion", due to its use (though in a more limited sense) by the Roman Catholic Church.
  • "Communion" (from Latin communio, "sharing in common") or "Holy Communion",[51] used, with different meanings, by Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, and many Protestants, including Lutherans. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans apply this term not to the Eucharistic rite as a whole, but only to the partaking of the consecrated bread and wine, and to these consecrated elements themselves. In their understanding, it is possible to participate in the celebration of the Eucharistic rite without necessarily "receiving Holy Communion" (partaking of the consecrated elements. Most groups that originated in the Protestant Reformation usually apply this term instead to the whole rite. The meaning of the term "Communion" here is multivocal in that it also refers to the relationship of the participating Christians, as individuals or as Church, with God and with other Christians (see Communion (Christian)).
  • In Oriental Orthodoxy the terms "Oblation" (Syriac, Coptic and Armenian Churches) and "Consecration" (Ethiopian Church) are used. Likewise, in the Gaelic language of Ireland and Scotland the word "Aifreann", usually translated into English as "Mass", is derived from Late Latin "Offerendum", meaning "oblation", "offering".

See also

Eucharistic theology

Eucharistic practice

Views of different churches

Sacramental theology


Related topics


  1. ^ a b c Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. Eucharist
  2. ^ Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine (1937).
  3. ^ cf. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition 2000
  4. ^ Parallel Translations
  5. ^ 1 Corinthians 10:16
  6. ^ Tyndale Bible Dictionary / editors, Philip W. Comfort, Walter A. Elwell, 2001 ISBN 0-8423-7089-7, article: Lord's Supper, The
  7. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church / editors, F. L. Cross & E. A. Livingstone 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3, article Eucharist
  8. ^ (1 Corinthians 11:23-25
  9. ^ And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed (εὐλογήσας - eulogēsas), and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας - eucharistēsas) he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:22-25
  10. ^ Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed (εὐλογήσας - eulogēsas), and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας – eucharistēsas) he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matthew 26:26-29
  11. ^ They prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας – eucharistēsas) he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας – eucharistēsas) he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. ..." Luke 22:13-20
  12. ^ a b Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  13. ^ Tyndale Bible Dictionary / editors, Philip W. Comfort, Walter A. Elwell, 2001 ISBN 0-8423-7089-7, article: "John, Gospel of
  14. ^ Lambert, J. C. (1978 reprint). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. ISBN 0-8028-8045-2. 
  15. ^ Bruce Metzger. The canon of the New Testament. 1997
  16. ^ "There are now two quite separate Eucharistic celebrations given in Didache 9-10, with the earlier one now put in second place." Crossan. The historical Jesus. Citing Riggs, John W. 1984
  17. ^ 9.1 Concerning the thanksgiving (tēs eucharistias) give thanks thus: 9.2 First, concerning the cup: "We give thanks to you, our Father, For the holy vine of David your servant which you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant. To you be glory for ever." 9.3 And concerning the fragment: "We give thanks to you, our Father, For the life and knowledge, which you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant." But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs." 10.1 After you have had your fill, give thanks thus: 10.2 We give thanks to you holy Father for your holy Name which you have made to dwell in our hearts and for the knowledge, faith and immortality which you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant. To you be glory for ever. 10.3 You Lord almighty have created everything for the sake of your Name; you have given human beings food and drink to partake with enjoyment so that they might give thanks; but to us you have given the grace of spiritual food and drink and of eternal life through Jesus your servant. 10.4 Above all we give you thanks because you are mighty. To you be glory for ever. 10.5 Remember Lord your Church, to preserve it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love. And, sanctified, gather it from the four winds into your kingdom which you have prepared for it. Because yours is the power and the glory for ever. ...
  18. ^ 14.1 But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. 14.2. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. 14.3. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.
  19. ^ " ... (t)he eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which flesh suffered for our sins, and which in His loving-kindness the Father raised up. ... Let that eucharist alone be considered valid which is under the bishop or him to whom he commits it. ... It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize, or to hold a love-feast. But whatsoever he approves, that also is well-pleasing to God, that everything which you do may be secure and valid." Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 6, 8 "Give heed to keep one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup unto union with His blood. There is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants; that whatsoever you do, you may do according unto God."Letter to the Philadelphians, 4
  20. ^ There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body"; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood"; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn. ... And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. First Apology, 65-67]
  21. ^ For example, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglo-Catholics, Old Catholics; and cf. the presentation of the Eucharist as a sacrament in the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document of the World Council of Churches
  22. ^ "Most Christian traditions also teach that Jesus is present in the Eucharist in some special way, though they disagree about the mode, the locus, and the time of that presence" (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online).
  23. ^ "Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Prophetic Foundations of the Eucharist." Inside the Vatican 16, no. 4 (2008): 102-105.
  24. ^ Session XIII, chapter IV; cf. canon II)
  25. ^ Augsburg Confession, Article 10
  26. ^ F.L. Cross, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, second edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 340 sub loco.
  27. ^ J.T. Mueller, Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, (St. Louis: CPH, 1934), 519; cf. also Erwin L. Lueker, Christian Cyclopedia, (St. Louis: CPH, 1975), under the entry "consubstantiation".
  28. ^ see "Divine Service"
  29. ^ United Methodist Church, 1992, The United Methodist Book of Worship, Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House. p. 33
  30. ^ Communion Cups, 1000 from Broadman / Holman Church Supply. Accessed 5 July 2009.
  31. ^ UMC 1992, 29.
  32. ^ Felton, Gayle. 1998 By Water and the Spirit., Nashville: Abingdon Press. P. 44
  33. ^ Matthew 26:26–29, Mark 14:22–25, Luke 22:19
  34. ^ See, e.g., Graves, J. R. (1928). What is It to Eat and Drink Unworthily. Baptist Sunday School Committee. OCLC 6323560. 
  35. ^ See, e.g., Roberts, B. H. (1938). Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Deseret News Press. OCLC 0842503005. 
  36. ^ "Doctrine and Covenants 20:75". The LDS church. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  37. ^ Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 17th edition, 2005, pp. 81-86. Published by the secretariat, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
  38. ^ Seventh-day Adventists Believe: An exposition of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 2nd edition, 2005. Copyright Ministeral Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Chapter 16: The Lord's Supper
  39. ^ "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1.
  40. ^ "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" 1Peter 2:9; "And hath made us kings and priests." Revelation 1:6
  41. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 843 §4
  42. ^ At what age do ELCA congregations allow members their first Communion?. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  43. ^ "Closed Communion" @ Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  44. ^ WELS Closed Communion FAQs. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  45. ^ At what age do ELCA congregations allow members their first Communion?. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  46. ^ In most United Church of Christ local churches, the Communion Table is "open to all Christians who wish to know the presence of Christ and to share in the community of God's people." (Book of Worship). Holy Communion: A Practice of Faith in the United Church of Christ
  47. ^ McNamara, Father Edward (2004-09-14). "Gluten-free Hosts". ZENIT International News Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  48. ^ A 24 July 2003 letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith details the circumstances in which low-gluten bread and mustum are permitted.
  49. ^ Compare John Howard Spahr, I Smell the Cup, Christian Century, 12 March 1974, pp. 257-259.
  50. ^ Jax Peter Lowell, The Gluten-Free Bible, p. 279.
  51. ^ Many, especially Anglicans, prefer the fuller term "Holy Communion" rather than just "Communion".
  52. ^ Pope Benedict XVI (2006). Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. USCCB. pp. 275. , and Catholic Church (200). Catechism of the Catholic Church. 1328–1332 (Second ed.). ISBN 0–385–50819–0. 

Further reading

  • Chemnitz, Martin. The Lord's Supper. J. A. O. Preus, trans. St. Louis: Concordia, 1979. ISBN 057003275X
  • Dix, Dom Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. London: Continuum International, 2005. ISBN 0826479421
  • Cabrera de Armida, Concepcion. I Am: Eucharistic Meditations on the Gospel, Alba House Publishing 2001 ISBN 0818908904
  • Elert, Werner. Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries. N. E. Nagel, trans. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1966. ISBN 0570042704
  • Felton, Gayle. This Holy Mystery. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2005. ISBN 088177457X
  • Father Gabriel. Divine Intimacy. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1996 reprint ed. ISBN 0895555042
  • Grime, J. H. Close Communion and Baptists
  • Hahn, Scott. The Lamb's Supper: Mass as Heaven on Earth. Darton, Longman, Todd. 1999. ISBN 0232525005
  • Henke, Frederick Goodrich A Study in the Psychology of Ritualism. University of Chicago Press 1910
  • Jurgens, William A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970. ISBN 0814604323
  • Kolb, Robert and Timothy J. Wengert, eds. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000. (ISBN 0800627407)
  • Lefebvre, Gaspar. The Saint Andrew Daily Missal. Reprint. Great Falls, MT: St. Bonaventure Publications, Inc., 1999
  • Macy, Gary. The Banquet's Wisdom: A Short History of the Theologies of the Lord's Supper. (2005, ISBN 1878009508)
  • Magni, JA The Ethnological Background of the Eucharist. Clark University. American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, IV (No. 1–2), March, 1910.
  • McBride, Alfred, O.Praem. Celebrating the Mass. Our Sunday Visitor, 1999.
  • Neal, Gregory. Grace Upon Grace 2000. ISBN 0967907403
  • Nevin, John Williamson. The Mystical Presence: A Vindication of the Reformed or Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. 1846; Wipf & Stock reprint, 2000. ISBN 1579103480.
  • Oden, Thomas C. Corrective Love: The Power of Communion Discipline. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995. ISBN 0570048036
  • Rasperger (Raspergero), Christopher (Christophorus, Christoph, Christophoro, Christophe) Two hundred interpretations of the words: This is my Body, Ingolstadt, 1577 [1]Latin text. (Latin title: Ducentae paucorum istorum et quidem clarissimorum Christi verborum: Hoc est Corpus meum; interpretationes, [2]; erman title: Zweihundert Auslegungen der Worte das ist mein Leib [3].)
  • Sasse, Hermann. This Is My Body: Luther's Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001. ISBN 1579107664
  • Schmemann, Alexander. The Eucharist. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. ISBN 0881410187
  • Stoffer, Dale R. The Lord's Supper: Believers Church Perspectives
  • Stookey, L.H. Eucharist: Christ's Feast with the Church. Nashville: Abingdon, 1993 ISBN 0687120179
  • Tissot, The Very Rev. J. The Interior Life. 1916, pp. 347–9.
  • Wright, N. T. The Meal Jesus Gave Us

External links

Liturgical texts and services

History, theology, practice

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EUCHARIST (Gr. EiAapcvria, thanksgiving), in the Christian Church, one of the ancient names of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. The term eiAapun-La was at first applied to the act of thanksgiving associated with the sacrament; later, so early as the and century, to the objects, e.g. the sacramental bread and wine, for which thanks were given; and so to the whole celebration. The term Mass, which has the same connotation, is derived from the Lat. missa or missio, because the children and catechumens, or unbaptized believers, were dismissed before the eucharistic rite began. Other names express various aspects of the rite: Communion (Gr. Kocvcovia), the fellowship between believers and union with Christ; Lord's Supper, so called from the manner of its institution; Sacrament as a consecration of material elements; the Mystery (in Eastern churches) because only the initiated participated; the Sacrifice as a rehearsal of Christ's passion. In this article the history of the rite is first traced up to A.D. 200 in documents taken in their chronological order; differences of early and later usage are then discussed; lastly, the meaning of the original rite is examined.

St Paul (i Cor. xi. 17-34) attests that the faithful met regularly in church, i.e. in religious meetings, to eat the dominical or Lord's Supper, but that this aim was frustrated by some who ate up their provisions before others, so that the poor were left hungry while the rich got drunk; and the meetings were animated less by a spirit of brotherhood and charity than of division and faction. He directs that, when they so meet, they shall wait for one another. Those who are too hungry to wait shall eat at home; and not put to shame those who have no houses (and presumably not enough food either), by bringing their viands to church and selfishly eating them apart.

It was therefore not the quantity or quality of the food eaten that constituted the meal a Lord's Supper; nor even the circumstances that they ate it " in church," as was assumed by those guilty of the practices here condemned; but only the pervading sense of brotherhood and love. The contrast lay between the Dominical Supper or food and drink shared unselfishly by all with all, and the private supper, the feast of Dives, shamelessly gorged under the eyes of timid and shrinking Lazarus. By way of enforcing this point Paul repeats the tradition he had received direct from the Lord, and already handed on to the Corinthians, of how " the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed " (not necessarily the night of Passover) " took bread and having given thanks brake it and said, This is my body, which is for your sake; this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant through my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." Paul adds that this rite commemorated the Lord's death and was to be continued until he should come again, as in that age they expected him to do after no long interval: " As often as ye eat this bread and drink the cup, ye do (or ye shall) proclaim the Lord's death till he come." The same epistle (x. 17) attests that one loaf only was broken and distributed: " We who are many, are one loaf (or bread), one body; for we all partake of the one loaf (or bread)." As a single loaf could not satisfy the hunger of many, the rehearsal in these meals of Christ's own action must have been a crowning episode, enhancing their sanctity. The Fractio Panis probably began, as the drinking of the cup certainly ended, the supper; the interval being occupied with the common consumption by the faithful of the provisions they brought. This much is implied by the words " after supper." If, in any case, all present had eaten in their homes beforehand, the giving of the cup would immediately follow on the breaking and eating of the one loaf, but Paul's words indicate that the common meal within the church was the norm. Those who ate at home marked themselves out as both greedy and lacking in charity. There is no demand that they should come fasting, or Paul could not recommend in (xi. 34) that those who were too hungry to wait until all the brethren were assembled in church, should eat at home and beforehand.

Mark xiv. 22-25, Matt. xxvi. 26-29, Luke xxii. 14-20, are, in order of time, our next accounts, Mark representing the oldest tradition. They all in substance repeat Paul's account; but identify the night on which Jesus was betrayed with that of the Pascha. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus says of the bread " Take ye it, this is my body," omitting the idea of sacrifice imported by Paul's addition " which is for you "; but in them Jesus enunciates the same idea when he says of the cup: " This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many," Mathew adding " for the remission of sins," a phrase which savours of Heb. ix. 22: " apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission." It is a later addition, and so may be the words " which is poured out for many." But the words which follow have an antique ring: " Amen, I say unto you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." For here Jesus affirms his conviction, in view of his impending death, which unlike his disciples he foresaw, that, when the kingdom of God is instituted on earth, he will take his place in it. But this is the last time he will sit down upon earth with his disciples at the table of the millenarist hope. These sources do not hint that the Last Supper is to be repeated by Christ's followers until the advent of the kingdom. Luke's account is too much interpolated from Paul, and the texts of his oldest MSS. too discrepant, for us to rely on it except so far as it supports the other gospels. It emphasizes the fact that the Last Supper was the Pascha. " With desire have I desired to eat this Passover, before I suffer and places the bread after the wine, unless indeed the Pauline interpolation comprises the whole of verse 19.

The fourth gospel, written perhaps A.D. 90-100, sublimates the rite, in harmony with its general treatment of the life of Jesus: " I am the living bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die " (John vi. 51). As in i Cor. x. the flesh of Christ is contrasted with the manna which saved not the Jews from death, so here the latter ask: " How can this man give us his flesh to eat? " and Jesus answers: " Amen, Amen I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.. .. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him." In an earlier passage, again in reference to the manna, Jesus is called " the bread of God, which cometh down out of heaven, and giveth life unto the world." They ask: " Lord, ever more give us this bread," and he answers: " I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." This writer's thought is coloured by the older speculations of Philo, who in metaphor called the Loges the heavenly bread and food, the cupbearer and cup of God; and he seems even to protest against a literal interpretation of the words of institution, since he not only pointedly omits them in his account of the Last Supper, but in v. 63 of this chapter writes: " It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life." In Acts ii. 46 we read that, " the faithful continued steadfastly with one accord in the temple "; at the same time " breaking bread at home they partook of food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." All such repasts must have been sacred, but we do not know if they included the Eucharistic rite. The care taken in the selecting and ordaining of the seven deacons argues a religious character for the common meals, which they were to serve. Their main duty was to look after the duty of the Hellenistic widows, but inasmuch as meats strangled or consecrated to idols were forbidden, it probably devolved on the deacons to take care that such were not introduced at these common meals. The Essenes, similarly, appointed houses all over Palestine where they could safely eat, and priests of their own to prepare their food. Some Christians escaped the difficulties of their position by eating no meat at all. " He that is weak," says Paul (Rom. xiv. I), " eateth herbs "; that is, becomes a vegetarian. Rather than scandalize weaker brethren, Paul was willing to eat herbs the rest of his life.

The travel-document in Acts often refers to the solemn breaking of bread. Thus Paul in xxvii. 35, having invited the ship's company of 276 persons to partake of food, took bread, gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and brake it and began to eat. The rest on board then began to be of good cheer, and themselves also took food. Here it is not implied that Paul shared his food except with his co-believers, but he ate before them all. Whether he repeated the words of institution we cannot say.

In Acts xx. 7 the faithful of Troas gather together to break bread " on the first day of the week " after sunset. After a discourse Paul, who was leaving them the next morning, broke bread and ate. This was surely such a meeting as we read of in z Cor. x., and was held on Sunday by night; but long before dawn, since after it Paul " talked with them a long while, even till break of day." In i Cor. xvi. i Paul bids the Corinthians, as he had bidden the churches of Galatia, lay up in store on the first of the week, each one of them, money for the poor saints of Jerusalem. This is the first notice of Sunday Eucharistic collections of alms for the poor.

Here seems to belong in the order of development the Cathar Eucharist (see Cathars). The Cathars used only the Lord's prayer in consecrating the bread and used water for wine. The next document in chronological order is the so-called Teaching of the Apostles (A.D. 90-1 10). This assigns prayers and rubrics for the celebration of the Eucharist: - " t. Now with regard to the Thanksgiving, thus give ye thanks.

" 2. First concerning the cup: - We give thanks to thee,our Father, for the holy vine 1 of David thy servant, which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy servant; 2 to thee be the glory for ever.

" 3. And concerning the broken bread: - We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy servant; to thee be the glory for ever.

" 4. As this broken bread was (once) scattered on the face of the mountains and, gathered together, became one,' even so may 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 no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this the Lord hath said, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs.' X.

" I. Then, after being filled, thus give ye thanks: " 2. We give thanks to thee, holy Father, for thy holy name, which thou hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus Christ thy servant; to thee be the glory for ever.

" 3. Thou Almighty Sovereign,didst create all things for thy name's sake, and food and drink thou didst give to men for enjoyment, that they should give thanks unto thee; but to us thou didst of thy grace give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through thy servant.

" 4. Before all things, we give thee thanks that thou art mighty; to thee be the glory for ever.

" 5. Remember, Lord, thy church to deliver it from all evil, and to perfect it in thy love, and gather it together from the four winds,' the sanctified, unto thy kingdom, which thou bast prepared for it; for thine is the power and the glory for ever.

" 6. Come grace, and pass this world away. Hosanna to the God of David! If any one is holy, let him come. If any one is not, let him repent. Maranatha. 6 Amen.

" But allow the prophets to give thanks as much as they will." From a subsequent section, ch. xiv. r, we learn that the Eucharist was on Sunday: - " Now when ye are assembled together on the Lord's day of the Lord, break bread and give thanks, having first confessed your transgressions, so that your sacrifice may be pure." The above, like the uninterpolated Lucan account, places the cup first and has no mention of the body and blood of Christ. But in this last and other respects it contrasts with the other synoptic and with the Pauline accounts. The cup is not the blood of Jesus, but the holy vine of David, revealed through Jesus; and the holy vine can but signify the spiritual Israel, the Ecclesia or church or Messianic Kingdom, into which the faithful are to be gathered.

The one loaf, as in Paul, symbolizes the unity of the ecclesia, but the cup and bread, given for enjoyment, are symbols at best of the spiritual food and drink of the life eternal given of grace by the Almighty Father through his servant (lit. boy) Jesus. The bread and wine are indeed an offering to God of what is his own, pure because offered in purity of heart; but they are not interpreted of the sacrifice of Jesus' body broken on the cross, or of his blood shed for the remission of sin. It is not, as in Paul, a meal commemorative of Christ's death, nor connected with the Passover, as in the Synoptics. Least of all is it a sacramental eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of Jesus, a perpetual renewal of kinship, physical and spiritual, with him. The teaching rather breathes the atmosphere of the fourth gospel, which sets the Last Supper before the feast of the Passover (xiii. i), and pointedly omits Christ's institution of the Eucharist, substituting for it the washing of his disciples' feet. The blessing of the Bread and Cup, as an incident in a feast of Christian brotherhood, is all that the Didache has in common with Paul and the Synoptists. The use of the words " after being filled," in x. r, implies that the brethren ate heartily, and that the cup and bread formed no isolated episode. The Baptized alone are admitted to this Supper, and they only after confession of their sins. Every Sunday at least they are to celebrate it. A prophet can " in the Spirit appoint a table," that is, order a Lord's 1 Ps. lxxx. 8-19. Acts iv. 25, 27.

I Cor. x. 17; Soph. iii. Io. Matt. vii. 6.

Matt. xxiv. 31.6 I Cor. xvi. 22.

Supper to be eaten, whenever he is warned by the Spirit to do so. But he must not himself partake of it - a very practical rule. The prophets are to give thanks as they like at these " breakings of bread," without being restricted to the prayers here set forth. In xv. 3 the overseers or bishops and deacons, though their functions are less spiritual than administrative and economic, are allowed to take the place of the prophets and teachers. The phrase used is AELTOvp'yEl y T 7 V XeLrovpyLav, " to liturgize the liturgy." This word " liturgy " soon came to connote the Eucharist. The prophets who normally preside over the Suppers are called " your high-priests," and receive from the faithful the first-fruits of the winepress and threshingfloor, of oxen and sheep, and of each batch of new-made bread, and of oil. Out of these they provide the Suppers held every Lord's day, offering them as " a pure sacrifice." Bishops and deacons hold a subordinate place in this document; but the contemporary Epistle of Clement of Rome attests that these bishops " had offered the gifts without blame and holily." The word " liturgy " is also used by Clement.

Pliny's Letter (Epist. 96), written A.D. 112 to the emperor Trajan, about the Christians of Bithynia, attests that on a fixed day, stato die (no doubt Sunday), they met before dawn and recited antiphonally a hymn " to Christ as to a god." They then separated, but met again later to partake of a meal, which, however, was of an ordinary and innocent character. Pliny regarded their meal as identical in character with the common meals of hetairiae, i.e. the trade-gilds or secret societies, which were then, as now, often inimical to the government. Even benefit societies were feared and forbidden by the Roman autocrats, and the " dominical suppers " of the Christians were not likely to be spared. Pliny accordingly forbade them in Bithynia, and the renegade Christians to whom he owed his information gave them up. These suppers included an Eucharist: for it was because the faithful ate in the latter of the flesh and blood of the Son of God that the charge of devouring children was made against them. If, then, this afternoon meal did not include it, Pliny's remark that their food was ordinary and innocent is unintelligible.

Ignatius, about A.D. 120, in his letter to the Ephesians, defines the one bread broken in the Eucharist as a " drug of immortality, and antidote that we should not die, but live for ever in Jesus Christ." He also rejects as invalid any Eucharist not held " under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it." For the Christian prophet has disappeared, and with him the custom of holding Eucharists in private dwellings.

In the Epistle to Diognetus, formerly assigned to Justin Martyr, we read (v. 7) that " Christians have in vogue among themselves a ta:ile common, yet not common " (i.e. unclean). In Justin's first apology (c. 140) we have two detailed accounts of the Eucharist, of which the first, in ch. 65, describes the first communion of the newly baptized: " After we have thus washed the person who has believed and conformed we lead him to the brethren so called, where they are gathered together, to offer public prayer both for ourselves and for the person illuminated, and for all others everywhere, earnestly, to the end that having learned the truth we may be made worthy to be found not only in our actions good citizens, but guardians of the things enjoined.

" We salute one another with a kiss at the end of the prayers. Then there is presented to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of water (and of a mixture,) ' and he having taken it sends up praise and glory to the father of all things by the name of the Son and Holy Spirit, and he offers at length thanksgiving (eucharistic) for our having been made -;'orthy of these things by him. But when he concludes the prayer and thanksgiving all the people present answer with acclamation ` Amen.' But the word ' Amen ' in Hebrew signifies ' so be it.' And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have so answered, those who are called by us deacons distribute to each of those present, for them to partake of the bread (and wine) 8 and water, for which thanks have been given, and they carry portions away to those who are not present. And this food is called by us Eucharistia, and of it none may partake save those who believe our teachings to be true and have been washed in the bath which is for remission of sin and rebirth, and who so live as We should probably omit the words bracketed.

The codex Othobonianus omits the words bracketed.

Christ taught. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink. For as Jesus Christ our Saviour was made flesh by Word of God and possessed flesh and blood for our sake; so we have been taught that the food blessed (lit. thanked for) by prayer of Word spoken by him, food by which our blood and flesh are by change of it (into them) nourished, is both flesh and blood of Jesus so made flesh. For the apostles in the memorials made by them, which are called gospels, have so related it to have been enjoined on them: to wit, that Jesus took bread, gave thanks and said: This do ye in memory of me, this is my body, and the cup likewise he took and gave thanks and said, This is my blood; and he distributed to them alone. And this rite too the evil demons by way of imitation handed down in the mysteries of Mithras. For that bread and a cup of water is presented in the rites of their initiation with certain conclusions (or epilogues), you either know or can learn." The second account, in ch. 67, adds that the faithful both of town and country met for the rite on Sunday, that the prophets were read as well as the gospels, that the president after the reading delivered an exhortation to imitate in their lives the goodly narratives; and that each brought offerings to the president out of which he aided orphans and widows, the sick, the prisoners and strangers sojourning with them. These contributions of the faithful seem to be included by Justin along with the bread and cup as sacrifices ^cceptable to God. But he also particularly specifies (Dialog. 345) that perfect and pleasing sacrifices alone consist in prayers and thanksgivings (thusia). The elements are gifts or offerings. Justin was a Roman, but may not represent the official Roman church. The rite as he pictures it agrees well with the developed liturgies of a later age.

Irenaeus (Gaul and Asia Minor, before 190) in his work against heresies, iv. 31, 4, points to the sacrament in proof that the human body may become incorruptible: " As .-read from the earth on receiving unto itself the invocation of God is no longer common bread, but is an Eucharist, composed of two elements, an earthly and a heavenly, so our bodies by partaking of the Eucharist cease to be corruptible, and possess the hope of eternal resurrection." There is a similar passage in the 36th fragment (ed. Harvey ii. p. 50o), sketching the rite and calling the elements antitypes: " The oblation of the Eucharist is not fleshly, but spiritual and so pure. For we offer to God the bread and the cup of blessing (€ Xoyia), thanking him for that he bade the earth produce these fruits for our sustenance. And therewith having finished the offering (7rpovqSopa) we invoke the Holy Spirit to constitute this offering, both the bread body of Christ and the cup the blood of Christ, that those who partake of these antitypes (avrtruira, i.e. surrogates) may win remission of sins and life eternal." Here we note the stress laid on the Invocation of the Spirit to operate the transformation of the elements, though in what sense they are transformed is not defined. This Epiklesis survives in the Greek liturgies, but in the Roman a prayer takes its place that the angel of the Lord may take the oblation laid on the visible altar, and carry it up to the altar sublime into the presence of the divine majesty. We must not forget that the church of Irenaeus was Greek.

To the second century, lastly, belongs in part the evidence of the catacombs, on the walls of which are depicted persons reclining at tables supporting a fish, accompanied by one or more baskets of loaves, and more rarely by flasks of wine or water. The fish represents Christ; and in the Inscription of Abercius, bishop of Hierapolis about A.D. 160, we have this symbolism enshrined in a literary form: " In company with Paul I followed, while everywhere Faith led the way, and set before me the fish from the fountain, mighty and stainless, whom a pure virgin grasped, and gave this to friends to eat always, having good wine and giving the mixt cup with bread." This representation of baskets of loaves and several fishes, or of one fish and several loaves, seems to contradict the usage of one loaf. It may represent the agape or Lord's Supper as a whole, of which the one loaf and cup formed an episode. Or the entire stock of bread may have been regarded as flesh of Jesus in virtue of the initial consecration of one single loaf.

To the second century also belong two gnostic uses. Firstly, that of Marcus, a Valentinian, of South Gaul about i 50, whose influence extended to Asia Minor. Irenaeus relates (Bk. I., ch. vii.

2), that this " magician " used in the Eucharist cups apparently mixt with wine, but really containing water, and during long invocations made them appear " purple and red, as if the universal Grace xapes dropped some of her blood into the cup through his invocation, and by way of inspiring worshippers with a passion to taste the cup and drink deep of the influence termed Charis." Such a rite presupposes a belief in a real change of the elements; and water must have been used. In the sequel Irenaeus recites the Invocation read by Marcus before the communicants: " Grace that is before all things, that passeth understanding and words, replenish thy inner man, and make to abound in thee the knowledge of her, sowing in the good soil the grain of mustard seed." The Acts of Thomas, secondly, ch. 46, attest an Eucharistic usage, somewhat apart from the orthodox. The apostle spreads a linen cloth on a bench, lays on it bread of blessing (eNv yia), and says: " Jesus Christ, Son of God, who hast made us worthy to commune in the Eucharist of thy holy body and precious blood, Lo, we venture on the thanksgiving (Eucharistia) and invocation of thy blessed name, come now and communicate with us. And he began to speak and said: Come Pity supreme, come communion of the male, come Lady who knowest the mysteries of the Elect one,. .. come secret mother. .. come and communicate with us in this Eucharist which we perform in thy name and in the love (agape) in which we are met at thy calling. And having said this he made a cross upon the bread, and brake it and began to distribute it. And first he gave to the woman, saying: This shall be to thee for remission of sins and release of eternal transgressions. And after her he gave also to all the rest that had received the seal." In the 2nd century the writer who nearest approaches to the later idea of Transubstantiation is the gnostic Theodotus (c. 160): " The bread no less than the oil is hallowed by the power of the name. They remain the same in outward appearance as they were received, but by that power they are transformed into a spiritual power. So the water when it is exorcised and becomes baptismal, not only drives out the evil principle, but also contracts a power of hallowing." In the Fathers of the first three or four centuries can be traced the same tendency to spiritualize the Eucharist as we encountered in the fourth gospel, and in the Didache. Ignatius, though in Smyrn. 7 he asserts the Eucharist to be Christ's " flesh which suffered for our sins," elsewhere speaks of the blood as being " joy eternal and lasting," as " hope," as " love incorruptible," and of the flesh as " faith " or as " the gospel." Clement of Alexandria (c. 180) regards the rite as an initiation in divine knowledge and immortality. The only food he recognizes is spiritual; e.g. knowledge of the divine Essence is " eating and drinking of the divine Word." So Origen declares the bread which God the Word asserted was his body to be that which nourishes souls, the word from God the Word proceeding, the Bread from the heavenly Bread. Not the visible bread held in his hand, nor the visible cup, were Christ's body and blood, but the word in the mystery of which the bread was to be broken and the wine to be poured out. " We drink Christ's blood," he says elsewhere, " when we receive His words in which standeth Life." So the author of the Contra Marcellum writes in view of John vi. 63 as follows (De eccl. Theol. p. 180): " In these words he instructed them to interpret in a spiritual sense his utterances about his flesh and blood. Do not, he said, think that I mean the flesh which invests and covers me, and bid you eat that; nor suppose either that I command you to drink my sensible and somatic blood. Nay, you know well that my words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and life. It follows that the very words and discourses are his flesh and blood, of which he that constantly partakes, nourished as it were upon heavenly bread, will partake of the heavenly life. Let not then, he says, this scandalize you which I have said about eating of my flesh and about drinking of my blood. Nor let the obvious and first hand meaning of what I said about my flesh and blood disturb you when you hear it. For these words avail nothing if heard and understood literally (or sensibly). But it is the spirit which quickens them that can understand spiritually what they hear." But these views were not those of the uninstructed pagans who filled the churches and needed a rite which brought them, as their old sacrifices had done, into physical contact and union with their god. Their point of view was better expressed in the scruples of priests, who, as Tertullian (c. 200) records (De Corona, iii.), were careful lest a crumb of the bread or a drop of the wine should fall on the ground, and by such incidents the body of Christ be harassed and attacked!

Table of contents

The Eucharist as a Sacrifice

Before the 3rd century we cannot trace the view that in the Eucharistic rite the death of Christ, regarded from the Pauline standpoint as an atoning or redemptive sacrifice for the sins of mankind, is renewed and repeated, though the germ out of which it would surely grow is already present in the words " My blood. .. which is shed for many " of Matt. and Mark; yet more surely in Paul's " my body which is in your behoof " and " this do in commemoration of me," where the Greek word for do, Gr. rroce7TE, Lat. facite, could to pagan ears mean " this do ye sacrifice." In the first two centuries the rite is spoken of as an offering and as a bloodless sacrifice; but it is God's own creations, the bread and wine, alms and first-fruits, which, offered with a pure conscience, he receives as from friends, and bestows in turn on the poor; it is the praise and prayers which are the sacrifice. In these centuries baptism was the rite for the remission of sin, not the Eucharist; it is the prophet in the Didache who presides at the Lord's Supper, not the Levitically conceived priest; nor as yet has the Table become an Altar. Among Christians, prayers, supplications and thanksgivings have taken the place of the sacrifices of the old covenant.

In Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250) we first find the Eucharist regarded as a sacrifice of Christ's body and blood offered by the priest for the sins of the living and dead. We cannot drink the blood of Christ unless Christ has been first trodden under foot and pressed.. .. As Jesus our high priest offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father, so the human priest takes Christ's place, and imitates his action by offering in church a true and full sacrifice to God the Father (Ep. 63). He speaks of the dominical host (hostia), and takes the verb to do in Paul's letter in the sense of to sacrifice. As early as Tertullian prayers for the dead, who were named, were offered in the rite; but there was as yet no idea of the sacrifice of Christ being reiterated in their behalf. After Cyprian's day this view gains ground in the West, and almost obscures the older view that the rite is primarily an act of communion with Christ. In harmony with Cyprian's new conception is another innovation of his age and place, that of children communicating; both were the natural accompaniment of infant baptism, of which we first hear in his letters. In the East we do not hear of the sacrifice of the body and blood before Eusebius, about the year 300. In the Armenian church of the 12th century the idea of a reiterated sacrificial death of Christ still seemed bizarre and barbarous.' But as early as 558 in Gaul the bread was arranged on the altar in the form of a man, so that one believer ate his eye, another his ear, a third his hand, and so on, according to their respective merits! This was forbidden by Pope Pelagius I.; but in the Greek church the custom survives, the priest even stabbing with " the holy spear " in its right side the human figure planned out of the bread, by way of rehearsing in pantomime the narrative of John xix. 34.

The change from a commemoration of the Passion to a reenacting of it came slowly in the Greek church. Thus Chrysostom (Ham. 17, ad Heb.), after writing " We offer (rocoup€v) not another sacrifice, but the same," instantly corrects himself and adds: " or rather we perform a commemoration of the sacrifice." This was exactly the position also of the Armenian church.

Wine or Water ? - Justin Martyr perhaps contemplated the use of water instead of wine, and Tatian his pupil used it. The Marcionites, the Ebionites, or Judaeo-Christians of Palestine, the Montanists of Phrygia, Africa and Galatia, the confessor Alcibiades of Lyons, c. A.D. 177 (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. v. 3.2), equally used it. Cyprian (Ep. 63) affirms (c. 250) that his predecessors on the throne of Carthage had used water, and that many African bishops continued to do so, " out of ignorance," he says, " and simplemindedness, and God would forgive them." Pionius, the Catholic martyr of Smyrna, c. 250, also used water. In the Acts of Thomas it is used. Such uniformity of language ' See Nerses of Lambron, Opera Armenice (Venice, 18 47), pp. 74, 75, 101, &c.

has led Prof. Harnack to suppose that in the earliest age water was used equally with wine, and Eusebius the historian, who had means of judging which we have not, saw no difficulty in identifying with the first converts of St Mark the Therapeutae of Philo who took only bread and water in their holy repast.

Abercius and Irenaeus are the first to speak of wine mixt with water, of a krama (Kpaya) or temperamentum. In the East, then as note, no one took wine without so mixing it. Cyprian insists on the admixture of water, which he says represented the humanity of Jesus, as wine his godhood. The users of water were named Aquarii or hydroparastatae in the 4th century, and were liable to death under the code of Theodosius. Some of the Monophysite churches, e.g. the Armenian, eschewed water and used pure wine, so falling under the censure of the council in Trullo of A.D. 692. Milk and honey was added at first communions. Oil was sometimes offered, as well as wine, but it would seem for consecration only, and not for consumption along with the sacrament. With the bread, however, was sometimes consecrated cheese, e.g. by the African Montanists in the 2nd century. Bitter herbs also were often added, probably because they were eaten with the Paschal lamb. Many early canons forbid the one and the other. Hot water was mixt with the wine in the Greek churches for some centuries, and this custom is seen in catacomb paintings. It increased the resemblance to real blood.

Position of the Faithful at the Eucharist. - Tertullian, Eusebius, Chrysostom and others represent the faithful as standing at the Eucharist. In the art of the catacombs they sit or recline in the ordinary attitude of banqueters. In the age of Christ standing up at the Paschal meal had been given up, and it was become the rule to recline. Kneeling with a view to adoration of the elements was unheard of in the primitive church, and the Armenian Fathers of the 12th century insist that the sacrament was intended by Christ to be eaten and not gazed at (Nerses, op. cit. p. 167). Eucharistic or any other liturgical vestments were unknown until late in the 5th century, when certain bishops were honoured with the same gallium worn by civil officials (see Vestments).

In the Latin and in the Monophysite churches of Armenia and Egypt unleavened bread is used in the Eucharist on the somewhat uncertain ground that the Last Supper was the Paschal meal. The Greek church uses leavened.


In the primitive age no one asked how Christ was present in the Eucharist, or how the elements became his body and blood. The Eucharist formed part of an agape or love feast until the end of the 2nd century, and in parts of Christendom continued to be so much later. It was, save where animal sacrifices survived, the Christian sacrifice, par excellence, the counterpart for the converted of the sacrificial communions of paganism; and though charged with higher significance than these, it yet reposed on a like background of religious usage and beliefs. But when the Agape on one side and paganism on the other receded into a dim past, owing to the enhanced sacrosanctity of the Eucharist and because of the severe edicts of the emperor Theodosius and his successors, the psychological background fell away, and the Eucharist was left isolated and hanging in the air. Then men began to ask themselves what it meant. Rival schools of thought sprang up, and controversy raged over it, as it had aforetime about the homoousion, or the two natures. Thus the sacrament which was intended to be a bond of peace, became a chief cause of dissension and bloodshed, and was often discussed as if it were a vulgar talisman.

Serapion of Thmuis in Egypt, a younger contemporary of Athanasius, in his Eucharistic prayers combines the language of the Didache with a high sacramentalism alien to that document which now only survived in the form of a grace used at table in the nunneries of Alexandria (see Agape). He entreats " the Lord of Powers to fill this sacrifice with his Power and Participation," and calls the elements a " living sacrifice, a bloodless offering." The bread and wine before consecration are " likenesses of his body and blood," this in virtue of the words pronounced over them by Jesus on the night of his betrayal. The prayer then continues thus: " O God of truth, let thy holy Word settle upon this bread, that the bread may become body of the word, and on this cup, that the cup may become blood of the truth. And cause all who communicate to receive a drug of life for healing of every disease and empowering of all moral advance and virtue." Here the bread and wine become by consecration tenements in which the Word is reincarnated, as he aforetime dwelled in flesh. They cease to be mere likenesses of the body and blood, and are changed into receptacles of divine power and intimacy, by swallowing which we are benefited in soul and body. Cyril of Jerusalem in his catechises 5 1 enunciates the same idea of µeTa/30Xil or transformation.

Gregory of Nyssa also about the same date (in Migne, Patrolog. Graeca, vol. 46, col. 581, oration on the Baptism) asserts a " transformation " or " transelementation " (AeraarotXfiwo ) of the elements into centres of mystic force; and assimilates their consecration to that of the water of baptism, of the altar, of oil or chrism, of the priest. He compares it also to the change of Moses' rod into a snake, of the Nile into blood, to the virtue inherent in Elijah's mantle or in the wood of the cross or in the clay mixt of dust and the Lord's spittle, or in Elisha's relics which raised a corpse to life, or in the burning bush. All these, he says, " were parcels of matter destitute of life and feeling, but through miracles they became vehicles of the power of God absorbed or taken into themselves." He thus views the consecration of the elements as akin to other consecrations; and, like priestly ordination, as involving " a metamorphosis for the better," a phrase which later on became classical. John of Damascus (c. 750) believed the bread to be mysteriously changed into the Christ's body, just as when eaten it is changed into any human body; and he argued that it is wrong to say, as Irenaeus had said, that the elements are mere antitypes after as before consecration. In the West, Augustine, like Eusebius and Theodoret, calls the elements signs or symbols of the body and blood signified in them; yet he argues that Christ " took and lifted up his own body in his hands when he took the bread." At the same time he admits that " no one eats Christ's flesh, unless he has first adored " (nisi prius adoraverit). But he qualifies this " Receptionist " position by declaring that Judas received the sacrament, as if the unworthiness of the recipient made no difference.

Out of this mist of contradictions scholastic thought strove to emerge by means of clear-cut definitions. The drawback for the dogmatist of such a view as Serapion broaches in his prayers was this, that although it explained how the Logos comes to be immanent in the elements, as a soul in its body, nevertheless it did not guarantee the presence in or rather substitution for the natural elements of Christ's real body and blood. It only provided an avTLTUnrov or surrogate body. In 830-850, Paschasius Radbert taught that after the priest has uttered the words of institution, nothing remains save the body and blood under the outward form of bread and wine; the substance is changed and the accidents alone remain. The elements are miraculously recreated as body and blood. This view harmonized with the docetic view which lurked in East and West, that the manhood of Jesus was but a likeness or semblance under which the God was concealed. So Marcion argued that Christ's body was not really flesh and blood, or he could not have called it bread and wine. Paschasius shrank from the logical outcome of his view, namely, that Christ's body or part of it is turned into human excrement, but Ratramnus, another monk of Corbey, in a book afterwards ascribed to Duns Scotus, drew this inference in order to discredit his antagonists, and not because he believed it himself. The elements, he said, remain physically what they were, but are spiritually raised as symbols to a higher power. Perhaps we may illustrate his position by saying that the elements undergo a change analogous to what takes place in iron, when by being brought into an electric field it becomes magnetic. The substance of the elements remain as well as their accidents, but like baptismal water they gain by consecration a hidden virtue benefiting soul and body. Ratramnus's view thus resembled Serapion's, after whom the elements furnish a new vehicle of the Spirit's influence, a new body through which the Word operates, a fresh sojourning among us of the Word, though consecrated bread is in itself no more Christ's natural body than are we who assimilate it. Other doctors of the 9th century, e.g. Hincmar of Reims and Haimo of Halberstadt, took the side of Paschasius, and affirmed that the substance of the bread and wine is changed, and that God leaves the colour, taste and other outward properties out of mercy to the worshippers, who would be overcome with dread if the underlying real flesh and blood were nakedly revealed to their gaze !

Berengar in the i ith century assailed this view, which was really that of transubstantiation, alleging that there is no substance in matter apart from the accidents, and that therefore Christ cannot be corporally present in the sacrament; because, if so, he must be spatially present, and there will be two material bodies in one space; moreover his body will be in thousands of places at once. Christ, he said, is present spiritually, so that the elements, while remaining what they were, unremoved and undestroyed, are advanced to be something better: omne cui a Deo benedicatur, non absumi, non auferri, non destrui, sed manere et in melius quam Brat necessario provehi. This was the phrase of Gregory of Nyssa.

Berengar in a weak moment in 1059 was forced by the pope to recant and assert that " the true body and blood are not only a sacrament, but in truth touched and broken by the hands of the priests and pressed by the teeth of the faithful," and this position remains in every Roman catechism. Such dilemmas as whether a mouse can devour the true body, and whether it is not involved in all the obscenities of human digestive processes, were ill met by this ruling. Each party dubbed the other stercoranists (dung-feasters), and the controversy was often marred by indecencies.

As in the 3rd century the Roman church decided in respect of baptism that the sacrament carries the church and not the church the sacrament, so in the dispute over the Eucharist it ended, in spite of more spiritual views essayed by Peter Lombard, by insisting on the more materialistic view at the fourth Lateran Council in 1215, whose decree runs thus: - " The body and blood of Jesus Christ are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the species of bread and wine, the bread and wine respectively being transubstantiated into body and blood by divine power, so that in order to the perfecting of the mystery of unity we may ourselves receive from his (body) what he himself receives from ours." In 1264 Urban IV. instituted the Corpus Christi Feast by way of giving liturgical expression to this view.

- Up to about 1100 laymen in the West received the communion in both kinds, and except in .a few disciplinary cases the wine was not refused. In 1099, by a decree of Pope Paschal II., children might omit the wine and invalids the bread. The communion of the laity in the bread alone was enjoined by the council of Constance in 1415, and by the council of Trent in 1562. The reformed churches of the West went back to the older rule which Eastern churches had never forsaken.


Theterm mass, which survivesin Candlemas, Christmas, Michaelmas, is from the Latin missa, which was in the 3rd century a technical term for the dismissal of any lay meeting, e.g. of a law-court, and was adopted in that sense by the church as early as Ambrose (c. 350). The catechumens or unbaptized, together with the penitents, remained in church during the Litany, collect, three lections, two psalms and homily. The deacon then cried out: " Let the catechumens depart. Let all catechumens go out." This was the missa of the catechumens. The rest of the rite was called missa fidelium, because only the initiated remained. Similarly the collect with which often the rite began is the prayer ad collectam, i.e. for the congregation met together or collected. The corresponding Greek word was synaxis. After the catechumens were gone the priest said: " The Lord be with you, let us pray," and the service of the mass followed. In the West, says Duchesne (Origines, p. 179), not only IX. 28 catechumens, but the baptized who did not communicate left the church before the communion of the faithful began (? after the communion of the clergy). In Anglican churches non-communicants used to leave the church after the prayer for the Church Militant. Ritualists now keep unconfirmed children in church during the entire rite, through ignorance of ancient usage, in order that they may learn to adore the consecrated elements. For this moment of homage to material elements ritually filled with divine potency may be so exaggerated as to obscure the rite's ancient significance as a communion of the faithful in mystic food.

Ideas of Reformers

The 16th-century reformers strove to avoid the literalism of the words " This is my body," accepted frankly by the Roman and Eastern churches, and urged a Receptionist view, viz. that Christ is in the sacrament only spiritually consumed by worthy recipients alone, the material body not being actually chewed. This is seen by a comparison of other confessions with the Profession of Catholic Faith in accordance with the council of Trent, in the bull of Pius IV., which runs thus: " I profess that in the Mass is offered to God a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice, for the living and the dead, and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly really and in substance the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there does take place a conversion of the entire substance of the bread into the body, and of the entire substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church doth call Transubstantiation. I also admit that under one of the other species clone the entire and whole Christ and the true sacrament is received." The 28th Article of Religion of the Church of England is as follows: " The Supper of the Lord. .. is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death; insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ, and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.

" Transubstantiation. .. cannot be proved by holy writ. .

" The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten, in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

" The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." At the end of the communion rite the prayer-book, in view of the ordinance to receive the Sacrament kneeling, adds the following: " It is hereby declared, that thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental Bread or Wine, there bodily received, or unto any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood. For the Sacramental Bread and Wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored (for that were idolatry, to be abhorred of all faithful Christians); and the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural Body to be at one time in more places than one." These monitions and prescriptions are rapidly becoming a deadletter, but they possess a certain historical interest.

The Helvetic Confession' of A.D. 1566 (caput xxi. De sacra coena Domini) runs as follows: " That it may be more rightly and clearly understood how the flesh and blood of Christ can be food and drink of the faithful, and be received by them unto eternal life, let us add these few remarks. Chewing is not of one kind alone. For there is a corporeal chewing, by which food is taken into the mouth by man, bruised with the teeth and swallowed down into the belly.. As the flesh of Christ cannot be corporeally chewed without wickedness and truculence, so it is not food of the belly. ... There is also a spiritual chewing of the body of Christ, not such that by it we understand the very food to be changed into spirit, but such that, the body and blood of the Lord abiding in their essence and peculiarity, they are spiritually communicated to us, not in any corporeal way, but in a spiritual, through the Holy Spirit which applies and bestows on us those things which were prepared through the flesh and blood of the Lord betrayed for our sake to death, to wit, remission of sins, liberation and life eternal, so that Christ lives in us and we in him... .

" In addition to the aforesaid spiritual chewing, there is also a sacramental chewing of the Lord's body, by which the faithful not only partakes spiritually and inwardly of the true body and blood of the Lord, but outwardly by approaching the Lord's table, receives the 1 This represents the views of Calvin.

visible sacrament of his body and blood.. But he who without faith approaches the sacred table, albeit he communicate in the sacrament, yet he perceives not the matter of the sacrament, whence is life and salvation.. .. " The Augustan Confession presented by the German electors to Charles V. in the section on the Mass merely protests against the view that " the Lord's Supper is a work (opus) which being performed by a priest earns remission of sin for the doer and for others, and that in virtue of the work done (ex opere operato), without a good motive on the part of the user. Also that being applied for the dead, it is a satisfaction, that is to say, earns for them remission of the pains of purgatory." The Saxon Confession of Wittenberg, June 1551, while protesting against the same errors, equally abstains from trying to define narrowly how Christ is present in the sacrament. Consubstantiation. - The symbolical books of the Lutheran Church, following the teaching of Luther himself, declare the doctrine of the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the eucharist, together with the bread and wine (consubstantiation), as well as the ubiquity of his body, as the orthodox doctrine of the church. One consequence of this view was that the unbelieving recipients are held to be as really partakers of the body of Christ in, with and under the bread as the faithful, though they receive it to their own hurt. (Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctr. ii. 300.) Of all the Reformers, the teaching of Zwingli was the farthest removed from that of Luther. At an early period he asserted that the Eucharist was nothing more than food for the soul, and had been instituted by Christ only as an act of commemoration and as a visible sign of his body and blood (Christenliche Ynleitung, 1523, quoted by Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctr. ii. 296, Clark's translation). But that Zwingli did not reject the higher religious significance of the Eucharist, and was far from degrading the bread and wine into " nuda et inania symbola," as he was accused of doing, we see from his Fidei ratio ad Carolum Imperatorem (ib. p. 297).

Original Significance of the Eucharist

It is doubtful if the attempts of reformers to spiritualize the Eucharist bring us, except so far as they pruned ritual extravagances, nearer to its original significance; perhaps the Roman, Greek and Oriental churches have better preserved it. This significance remains to be discussed; the cognate question of how far the development of the Eucharist was influenced by the pagan mysteries is discussed in the article Sacrament.

That the Lord's Supper was from the first a meal symbolic of Christian unity and commemorative of Christ's death is questioned by none. But Paul, while he saw this much in it, saw much more; or he could not in the same epistle, x. 18-22 assimilate communion in the flesh and blood of Jesus, on the one hand, to the sacrificial communion with the altar which made Israel after the flesh one; and on the other to the communion with devils attained by pagans through sacrifices offered before idols. It has been justly remarked of the Pauline view, that- " The union with the Lord Himself, to which those who partake of the Lord's Supper have, is compared with the union which those who partake of a sacrifice have with the deity to whom the altar is devoted - in the case of the Israelites with God, of the heathen with demons. This idea that to partake of sacrifice is to devote oneself to the deity, lies at the root of the ancient idea of worship, whether Jewish or heathen; and St Paul uses it as being readily understood. In this connexion the symbol is never a mere symbol, but a means of real union. ` The cup is the covenant ' " (Prof. Sanday in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, 3, 149).

Paul caps his argument thus: - " Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy ? Are we stronger than he ? " And these words with their context prove that Paul, like the Fathers of the church, regarded the gods and goddesses as real living supernatural beings, but malignant. They were the powers and principalities with whom he was ever at war. The Lord also is jealous of them, if any one attempt to combine their cult with his, for to do so is to doubt the supremacy of his name above all names. Both in its inner nature then and outward effects the Eucharist was the Christian counterpart of these two other forms of communion of which one, the heathen, was excluded from the first, and the other, the Jewish, soon to disappear. It is their analogue, and to understand it we must understand them, not forgetting that Paul, as a Semite, and his hearers, as converted pagans, were imbued with the sacrificial ideas of the old world.

" A kin," remarks W. Robertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, 1894), " was a group of persons whose lives were so bound up together, in what must be called a physical unity, that they could be treated as parts of one common life. The members of one kindred looked on themselves as one living whole, a single animated mass of blood, flesh and bones, of which no member could be touched without all the members suffering." " In later times," observes the same writer (op. cit. p. 313), " we find the conception current that any food which two men partake of together, so that the same substance enter._ into their flesh and blood, is enough to establish some sacred unity of life between them; but in ancient times this significance seems to be always attached to participation in the flesh of a sacrosanct victim, and the solemn mystery of its death is justified by the consideration that only in this way can the sacred cement be procured, which creates or keeps alive a living bond of union between the worshippers and their god. This cement is nothing else than the actual life of the sacred and kindred animal, which is conceived as residing in its flesh, but specially in its blood, and so, in the sacred meal, is actually distributed among all the participants, each of whom incorporates a particle of it with his own individual life." The above conveys the cycle of ideas within which Paul's reflection worked. Christ who knew no sin (2 Cor. v. 21) had been made sin, and sacrificed for us, becoming as it were a new Passover (1 Cor. v. 7). By a mysterious sympathy the bread and wine over which the words, " This is my body which is for you," and " This cup is the new covenant in my blood," had been uttered, became Christ's body and blood; so that by partaking of these the faithful were united with each other and with Christ into one kinship. They became the body of Christ, and his blood or life was in them, and they were members of him. Participation in the Eucharist gave actual life, and it was due to their irregular attendance at it that many members of the Corinthian church " were weak and sickly and not a few slept " (i.e. had died). As the author already cited adds (p. 313): " The notion that by eating the flesh, or particularly by drinking the blood, of another living being, a man absorbs its nature or life into his own, is one which appears among primitive peoples in many forms." But this effect of participation in the bread and cup was not in Paul's opinion automatic, was no mere o, ', us operatum; it depended on the ethical co-operation of the believer, who must not eat and drink unworthily, that is, after refusing to share his meats with the poorer brethren, or with any other guilt in his soul. The phrases " discern the body " and " discern ourselves " in i Cor. xi. 29, 31 are obscure. Paul evidently plays on the verb, krino, diakrino, katakrino (Kplvw, S&aKplvw, KaraKpivw). The general sense is clear, that those who consume the holy food without a clear conscience, like those who handle sacred objects with impure hands, will suffer physical harm from its contact, as if they were undergoing the ordeal of touching a holy thing. The idea, therefore, seems to be that as we must distinguish the holy food over which the words " This is my body " have been uttered from common food, so we must separate ourselves before eating it from all that is guilty and impure. The food that is taboo must only be consumed by persons who are equally taboo or pure. If they are not pure, it condemns them.

The " one " loaf has many parallels in ancient sacrifices, e.g. the Latin tribes when they met annually at their common temple partook of a " single " bull. And in Greek Panegureis or festivals the sacrificial wine had to be dispensed from one common bowl: " Unto a common cup they come together, and from it pour libations as well as sacrifice," says Aristides Rhetor in his Isthmica in Neptunum, p. 45. To ensure the continued unity of the bread, the Roman church ever leaves over from a preceding consecration half a holy wafer, called fermentum, which is added in the next celebration.

VG'ith what awe Paul regarded the elements mystically identified with Christ's body and life is clear from his declaration in 1 Cor. xi. 27, that he who consumes them unworthily is guilty or holden of the Lord's body and blood. This is the language of the ancient ordeal which as a test of innocence required the accused to touch or still better to eat a holy element. A wife who drank the holy water in which the dust of the Sanctuary was mingled (Num. v. 17 foil.) offended so deeply against it, if unfaithful, that she was punished with dropsy and wasting. The very point is paralleled in the Acts of Thomas, ch. xlviii. A youth who has murdered his mistress takes the bread of the Eucharist in his mouth, and his two hands are at once withered up. The apostle immediately invites him to confess the crime he must have committed, " for, he says, the Eucharist of the Lord hath convicted thee." It has been necessary to consider at such length St Paul's account of the Eucharist, both because it antedates nearly by half a century that of the gospels, and because it explains the significance which the rite had no less for the Gnostics than for the great church. The synoptists' account is to be understood thus: Jesus, conscious that he now for the last time lies down to eat with his disciples a meal which, if not the Paschal, was anyhow anticipatory of the Millennial Regeneration (Matt. xix. 28), institutes, as it were, a blood-brotherhood between himself and them. It is a covenant similar to that of Exodus xxiv., when after the peace-offering of oxen, Moses took the blood in basins and sprinkled half of it on the altar and on twelve pillars erected after the twelve tribes, and the other half on the people, to whom he had first read out the writing of the covenant and said, " Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." But the covenant instituted by Jesus on the eve of his death was hardly intended as a new covenant with God, superseding the old. This reconstruction of its meaning seems to have been the peculiar revelation of the Lord to Paul, who viewed Christ's crucifixion and death as an atoning sacrifice, liberating by its grace mankind from bonds of sin which the law, far from snapping, only made more sensible and grievous. This must have been the gist of the special revelation which he had received from. Christ as to the inner character of a supper which he already found a ritual observance among believers. The Eucharist of the synoptists is rather a covenant or tie of communion between Jesus and the twelve, such as will cause his life to survive in them after he has been parted from them in the flesh. An older prophet would have slain an animal and drunk its blood in common with his followers, or they would all alike have smeared themselves with it. In the East, even now, one who wishes to create a blood tie between himself and his followers and cement them to himself, makes under his left breast an incision from which they each in turn suck his blood. Such barbarism was alien to the spirit of the Founder, who substitutes bread and wine for his own flesh and blood, only imparting to these his own quality by the declaration that they are himself. He broke the bread not in token of his approaching death, but in order to its equal distribution. Wine he rather chose than water as a surrogate for his actual blood, because it already in Hebrew sacrifices passed as such. " The Hebrews," says Robertson Smith (op. cit. p. 230), " treated it like the blood, pouring it out at the base of the altar." As a red liquid it was a ready symbol of the blood which is the life. It was itself the covenant, for the genitive -rijs Siat4173 in Mark xiv. 24 is epexegetic, and Luke and Paul rightly substitute the nominative. It was, as J. Wellhausen remarks,' a better cement that the bread, because through the drinking of it the very blood of Jesus coursed through the veins of the disciples, and that is why more stress is laid on it than on the bread. To the apostles, as Jews bred and born, the action and words of their master formed a solemn and ' Das Evangelium Marci, p. 121.

intelligible appeal. It belongs to the same order of ideas that the headship of the Messianic ecclesia in Judea was assigned after the death of Jesus to his eldest brother James, and after him for several generations to the eldest living representative of his family.

To the modern mind it is absurd that an image or symbol should be taken for that which is imaged or symbolized, and that is why the early history of the Eucharist has been so little understood by ecclesiastical writers. And yet other religions, ancient and modern, supply many parallels, which are considered in the article Sacrament.


- Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites; Goetz, Die Abendmahlsfrage; G. Anrich, Das antike Mysterienwesen (Göttingen, 1894); Sylloge confessionum (Oxford, 1804); Duchesne, Origins of Christian Culture; Funk's edition of Constitutiones A postolicae; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, vol. ii.; Geo. Bickell, Messe and Pascha; idem. " Die Entstehung der Liturgie," Ztsch. f. Kath. Theol. iv. Jahrg. 94 (1880), p. 90 (shows how the prayers of the Christian sacramentaries derive from the Jewish Synagogue); Goar, Rituale Graecorum; F. E. Brightman, Eastern Liturgies; Cabrol and Leclercq, Monumenta liturgics, reliquiae liturgicae vetustissimae (Paris, 1900); Harnack, History of Dogma; Jas. Martineau, Seat of Authority in Religion, bk. iv. (London, 1890); Loofs, art. " Abendmahlsfeier " in Herzog's Realencyklopddie (1896.) Spitta, Urchristentum (Göttingen, 1893); Schultzen, Das Abendmahl im N.T. (Göttingen, 1895); Kraus, Real-Encykl. d. christl. Altert. (for the Archaeology); art. " Eucharistic "; Ch. Gore, Dissertations (1895); Hoffmann, Die Abendmahlsgedanken Jesu Christi (Konigsberg, 1896); Sanday, art. " Lord's Supper " in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible; Th. Harnack, Der christl. Gemeindegottesdienst. (F. C. C.) Reservation Of The Eucharist The practice of reserving the sacred elements for the purpose of subsequent reception prevailed in the church from very early times. The Eucharist being the seal of Christian fellowship, it was a natural custom to send portions of the consecrated elements by the hands of the deacons to those who were not present (Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 65). From this it was an easy development, which prevailed before the end of the 2nd century, for churches to send the consecrated Bread to one another as a sign of communion (the EbX apu ria mentioned by Irenaeus, ap. Eus. H.E. v. 24), and for the faithful to take it to their own homes and reserve it in arcae or caskets for the purpose of communicating themselves (Tert. ad Uxor. ii. 5, De oral. 19; St Cypr. De lapsis, 132). Being open to objection on grounds both of superstition and of irreverence, these customs were gradually put down by the council of Laodicea in A.D. 360. But some irregular forms of reservation still continued; the prohibition as regards the lay people was not extended, at any rate with any strictness, to the clergy and monks; the Eucharist was still carried on journeys; occasionally it was buried with the dead; and in a few cases the pen was even dipped in the chalice in subscribing important writings. Meanwhile, both in East and West, the general practice has continued unbroken of reserving the Eucharist, in order that the " mass of the presanctified " might take place on certain "aliturgic" days, that the faithful might be able to communicate when there was no celebration, and above all that it might be at hand to meet the needs of the sick and dying. It was reserved in a closed vessel, which took various forms from time to time, known in the East as the aproc 6ptov, and in the West as the turris, the capsa, and later on as the pyx. In the East it was kept against the wall behind the altar; in the West, in a locked aumbry in some part of the church, or (as in England and France) in a pyx made in the form of a dove and suspended over the altar.

In the West it has been used in other ways. A portion of the consecrated Bread from one Eucharist, known as the " Fermentum," was long made use of in the next, or sent by the bishop to the various churches of his city, no doubt with the object of emphasizing, the solidarity and the continuity of " the one Eucharist "; and amongst other customs which prevailed for some centuries, from the 8th onward, were those of giving it to the newly ordained in order that they might communicate themselves, and of burying it in or under the altar-slab of a newly consecrated church. At a later date, apparently early in the 14th century, began the practice of carrying the Eucharist in procession in a monstrance; and at a still later period, apparently after the middle of the r6th century, the practice of Benediction with the reserved sacrament, and that of the " forty hours' exposition," were introduced in the churches of the Roman communion. It should be said, however, that most of these practices met with very considerable opposition both from councils and from theologians and canonists, amongst others from the English canonist William Lyndwood (Provinciale, lib. iii. c. 26), on the following grounds amongst others: that the Body of Christ is the food of the soul, that it ought not to be reserved except for the benefit of the sick, and that it ought not to be applied to any other use than that for which it was instituted.

In England, during the religious changes of the 16th century, such of these customs as had already taken root were abolished; and with them the practice of reserving the Eucharist in the churches appears to have died out too. The general feeling on the subject is expressed by the language of the 28th Article, first drafted in 1553, to the effect that " the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped," and by the fact that a form was provided for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the sick in their own homes. This latter practice was in accordance with abundant precedent, but had become very infrequent, if not obsolete, for many years before the Reformation. The first Prayer-Book of Edward VI. provided that if there was a celebration in church on the day on which a sick person was to receive the Holy Communion, it should be reserved, and conveyed to the sick man's house to be administered to him; if not, the curate was to visit the sick person before noon and there celebrate according to a form which is given in the book. At the revision of the Prayer-Book in 1552 all mention of reservation is omitted, and the rubric directs that the communion is to be celebrated in the sick person's house, according to a new form; and this service has continued, with certain minor changes, down to the present day. That the tendency of opinion in the English Church during the period of the Reformation was against reservation is beyond doubt, and that the practice actually died out would seem to be equally clear. The whole argument of some of the controversial writings of the time, such as Bishop Cooper on Private Mass, depends upon that fact; and when Cardinal du Perron alleged against the English Church the lack of the reserved Eucharist, Bishop Andrewes replied, not that the fact was otherwise, but that reservation was unnecessary in view of the English form for the Communion of the Sick: " So that reservation needeth not; the intent is had without it" (Answers to Cardinal Perron, &'c., p. 19, Library of AngloCatholic Theology). It does not follow, however, that a custom which has ceased to exist is of necessity forbidden, nor even that what was rejected by the authorities of the English Church in the 16th century is so explicitly forbidden as to be unlawful under its existing system; and not a few facts have to be taken into account in any investigation of the question. The view has been held that in the Eucharist the elements are only consecrated as regards the particular purpose of reception in the service itself, and that consequently what remains unconsumed may be put to common uses. If this view were held (and it has more than once made its appearance in church history, though it has never prevailed), reservation might be open to objection on theological grounds. But such is not the view of the Church of England in her doctrinal standards, and there is an express rubric directing that any that remains of that which was consecrated is not to be carried out of the church, but reverently consumed. There can therefore be no theological obstacle to reservation in the English Church: it is a question of practice only. (2) Nor can it be said that the rubric just referred to is in itself a condemnation of reservation: it is rather directed, as its history proves, against the irreverence which prevailed when it was made; and in fact its wording is based upon that of a pre-Reformation order which coexisted with the practice of reservation (Lyndwood, Provinciale, lib. iii. tit. 26, note q). (3) Nor can it be said that the words of the 28th Article (see above) constitute in themselves an express prohibition of reservation, strong as their evidence may be as to the practice and feeling of the time. The words are the common property of an earlier age which saw nothing objectionable in reservation for the sick. (4) It has indeed been contended (by Bishop Wordsworth of Salisbury) that reservation was not actually, though tacitly, continued under the second Prayer-Book of Edward VI., since that book orders that the curate shall " minister," and not " celebrate," the communion in the sick person's house. But such a tacit sanction on the part of the compilers of the second Prayer-Book is in the highest degree improbable, in view of their known opinions on the subject; and an examination of contemporary writings hardly justifies the contention that the two words are so carefully used as the argument would demand. Anyhow, as the bishop notes, this could not be the case with the Prayer-Book of 1661, where the word is "celebrate." (5) The Elizabethan Act of Uniformity contained a provision that at the universities the public services, with the exception of the Eucharist, might be in a language other than English; and in 1560 there appeared a Latin version of the Prayer-Book, issued under royal letters patent, in which there was a rubric prefixed to the Order for the Communion of the Sick, based on that in the first Prayer-Book of Edward VI. (see above), and providing that the Eucharist should be reserved for the sick person if there had been a celebration on the same day. But although the book in question was issued under letters patent, it is not really a translation of the Elizabethan book at all, but simply a reshaping of Aless's clever and inaccurate translation of Edward VI.'s first book. In the rubric in question words are altered here and there in a way which shows that its reappearance can hardly be a mere printer's error; but in any case its importance is very slight, for the Act of Uniformity specially provides that the English service alone is to be used for the Eucharist. (6) It has been pointed out that reservation for the sick prevails in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the doctrinal standards of which correspond with those of the Church of England. But it must be remembered that the Scottish Episcopal Church has an additional order of its own for the Holy Communion, and that consequently its clergy are not restricted to the services in the Book of Common Prayer. Moreover, the practice of reservation which has prevailed in Scotland for over 150 years would appear to have arisen out of the special circumstances of that church during the 18th century, and not to have prevailed continuously from earlier times. (7) Certain of the divines who took part in the framing of the Prayer-Book of 1661 seem to speak of the practice as though it actually prevailed in their day. But Bishop Sparrow's words on the subject (Rationale, p. 349) are not free from difficulty on any hypothesis, and Thorndike (Works, v. 578, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology) writes in such a style that it is often hard to tell whether he is describing the actual practice of his day or that which in his view it ought to be. (8) There appears to be more evidence than is commonly supposed to show that a practice analogous to that of Justin Martyr's day has been adopted from time to time in England, viz. that of conveying the saLred elements to the houses of the sick during, or directly after, the celebration in church. And in 1899 this practice received the sanction of Dr Westcott, then bishop of Durham. (9) On the other hand, the words of the oath taken by the clergy under the 36th of the Canons of 1604 are to the effect that they will use the form prescribed in the Prayer-Book and none other, except so far as shall be otherwise ordered by lawful authority; and the Prayer-Book does not even mention the reservation of the Eucharist, whilst the Articles mention it only in the way of depreciation.

The matter has become one of no little practical importance owing to modern developments of English Church life. On the one hand, it is widely felt that neither the form for the Communion of the Sick, nor yet the teaching with regard to spiritual communion in the third rubric at the end of that service, is sufficient to meet all the cases that arise or may arise. On the other hand, it is probable that in many cases the desire for reservation has arisen, in part at least, from a wish for some thing analogous to the Roman Catholic customs of exposition and benediction; and the chief objection to any formal practice of reservation, on the part of many who otherwise would not be opposed to it, is doubtless to be found in this fact. But however that may be, the practice of reservation of the Eucharist, either in the open church or in private, has become not uncommon in recent days.

The question of the legality of reservation was brought before the two archbishops in 1899, under circumstances analogous to those in the Lambeth Hearing on Incense. The parties concerned were three clergymen, who appealed from the direction of their respective diocesans, the bishops of St Albans and Peterborough and the archbishop of York: in the two former cases the archbishop (Temple) of Canterbury was the principal and the archbishop of York (Maclagan) the assessor, whilst in the latter case the functions were reversed. The hearing extended from 17th to 10th July; counsel were heard on both sides, evidence was given in support of the appeals by two of the clergy concerned and by several other witnesses, lay and clerical, and the whole matter was gone into with no little fulness. The archbishops gave their decision on the 1st of May 1900 in two separate judgments, to the effect that, in Dr Temple's words, "the Church of England does not at present allow reservation in any form, and that those who think that it ought to be allowed, though perfectly justified in endeavouring to get the proper authorities to alter the law, are not justified in practising reservation until the law has been so altered." The archbishop of York also laid stress upon the fact that the difficulties in the way of the communion of the sick, when they are really ready for communion, are, not so great as has sometimes been suggested. See W. E. Scudamore, Notitia eucharistica (2nd ed., London, 1876); and art. " Reservation " in Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol. ii. (London, 1893); Guardian newspaper, July 19 and 26, 1899, and May 2, 1900; The Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Reservation of the Sacrament (London, 1900); J. S. Franey, Mr Dibdin's Speech on Reservation, and some of the Evidence (London, 1899); F. C. Eeles, Reservation of the Holy Eucharist in the Scottish Church (Aberdeen, 1899); Bishop J. Wordsworth, Further Considerations on Public Worship (Salisbury, 1901). (W. E. Co.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Late Latin eucharistia from Ancient Greek εὐχαριστία (eukharistia), gratitude, giving of thanks)


  • IPA: /ˈjuːkəɹɪst/, SAMPA: /"ju:k@rIst/



  1. The ceremony of Holy Communion. This meaning is synonymous with service of the Mass or Eastern Divine Liturgy.
  2. The sacrament of Holy Communion.
  3. The substances received in Holy Communion, viz. the bread and wine, seen as Christ’s body and blood.

Related terms


Simple English


The Eucharist, also called holy communion, the sacrament, or the Lord's Supper, is a kind of religious ritual in many Christian churches. It started when Jesus Christ told his followers to eat bread and drink wine in memory of him, at the Last Supper.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the true presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. During a Mass, through the act of transubstantiation, the bread and wine offered change, and are no longer bread and wine. They truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine do not change appearance, but they truly are the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which Catholics in good standing (not in the state of mortal sin) come and receive Christ--they consume Him. This follows what was said by Christ "Eat my Body and Drink my Blood".

Many Protestant churches believe that this was meant to be simply a symbol. However the Catholic Church bases its beliefs off of the tradition handed down through the hierarchy of the church. Amongst many references, this understanding of Eucharist as True Body and True Blood of Christ finds its basis in Scripture concerning the Old Testament Passover, Christ's own words particularly the bread of life discourse in John 6 where Christ four times commands "eat my body" and "drink my blood", the writings of St. Paul, and the writings of the early Church Fathers.

First century St. Ignatius of Antioch, disciple of the beloved disciple John, in speaking of the heretics plaguing the church in their day, wrote: "They abstain from the Eucharist because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ." (Smyrnaeans, 7)

From the second century, St. Justin Martyr wrote: "This food we call Eucharist, which no one is allowed to share except the one who believes that our teaching is true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and so lives as Christ has handed down. For we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, and by which our blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus." (The First Apology)

Eucharist in different churches

In most Protestant churches, not including Lutheranism, the sacrament of holy communion also involves eating small wafers and drinking wine, but do not believe that it is the actual body and blood of Jesus. They do, however, see it as a very important symbol.

Unlike the Catholic teaching, Lutherans teach that the bread and wine is Jesus' Body and Blood, but is bread and wine also.

In the Latter Day Saints or "Mormon" Church, followers eat small pieces of bread and drink water. They believe that this is a symbol of the body and blood of Jesus, and they call it the Sacrament. They also believe that it helps them to make the promises of baptism all over again.

In some other Christian churches, the Eucharist may be different. Some churches offer it daily, others weekly, some once a month.

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