The Mystery Of
The Holy Eucharist...

This is My Body. This is My Blood.
Matthew 26:26-28

In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoar frost on the ground.
On seeing it the Israelites asked one another, "What is this?"
For they did not know what it was. But Moses told them,
"This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat."
Exodus 16:14-15

What sign, then, do you, that we may see and believe you?
What work will you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert,
even as it is written, Bread from Heaven He gave them to eat."
Jesus then said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
Moses did not give you the bread from Heaven,
but My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven.
For the bread of GOD is that which comes down from Heaven
and gives life to the world."
John 6:30-32

But Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life.
He that comes to Me shall not hunger,
and he who believes in Me
shall never thirst."
John 6:35

"I am the bread that has come down from Heaven."
John 6:41,51,58

1. The Israelite community grumbled against Moses that they might die
   of famine. Exodus 16:1-3
2. GOD provided 'manna' from Heaven to feed their bodies. Exodus 16:4-18
3. This prefigures the Holy Eucharist.
4. Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist when He said, "This is
   My Body and this is My Blood." This 'Last Supper' was the first Mass.
   Matthew 26:26-28
5. Jesus Christ said that He was the Bread come down from Heaven.
6. He said, "The Bread that I will give is My flesh." John 6:51.
7. Jesus repeated Himself over and over that we must eat His flesh and
    drink His Blood in John 6:51,53,54,55,56. Why did He repeat Himself?
8. Name another area in the Bible where Jesus repeated Himself anywhere
    near that number of times? Why does anyone repeat himself? To drive
    home a point, that's why. This 'Bread' is His Body and this 'Cup' is His
9. GOD gave the Israelites food for their bodies. Jesus Christ gave all people
    His Body and Blood as food for their souls.

Jesus Christ ordered the Apostles to perpetuate the 'Last Supper'
when He said to them, "This is My Body which is given for you:
do this in remembrance of Me."
Luke 22:19
Did you notice that as Jesus said these words, He was holding His own body in His hands?
See Psalms 119:109 and Job 13:14

This 'Last Supper' is recreated at every Mass, as the priest acting
'In Persona Christi' or in the 'Person of Christ' (2Cor 2:10),
draws down 'The Word' by his word, 'This is My Body',
and 'This is My Blood'.
As these words are spoken, the Holy Spirit changes the bread and wine
into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Thus Jesus Christ in his entirety is made visible upon the altar
under the appearance of bread and wine.

This is the term that the Church uses to describe the changing of bread
and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

The substance of bread is turned into the substance of His Body.
The substance of wine is turned into the substance of His Blood.

'Accidents', are the properties or characteristics in the material itself,
its color, shape, size, texture, etc, all the physical attributes it has.

In the 'Transubstantiation' of the bread and wine, the 'substance' changes,
but the 'accidents' remain the same.

This then is the 'Mystery of the Holy Eucharist'.

What then did the Early Church Fathers have to say about the
'True Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist?

The Didache (Did-Ah-Key), or teaching of the Apostles, 9:1-5
Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except those who have
been baptized in the Name of the Lord; for it was in reference to this that
the Lord said, "Do not give that which is Holy to dogs." Matthew 7:6

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, 7:3, 106AD
I desire the bread of GOD, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrneans, 6:2, 106AD
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not
confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of Our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh
which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 22(Mystagogic 4)6, 350AD
Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and the Wine as simply that; for they
are, according to the Masters declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, 37, 383AD
Rightly then, do we believe that the bread consecrated by the Word of GOD
has been made over into the Body of GOD the Word.

St. Ambrose of Milan, The Sacraments, 4:4:14, 390AD
You may perhaps say: "My bread is ordinary." But that bread is bread
before the words of the Sacraments; where the consecration has entered
in, the bread becomes the Flesh of Christ.

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the First Corinthians, 24:4:7, 392AD
When you see the Body of Christ lying on the altar, say to yourself,
"Because of this Body I am no longer earth and ash, no longer a prisoner
but free...This is that Body which was blood-stained, which was pierced by
a lance, and from which gushed forth those saving fountains, one of
blood, the other of water, for all the world. This is the body which He gave
us, both to hold in reserve and to eat, which was appropriate to intense love.

St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons, 227, 393AD
The Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the
Word of GOD, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in
that chalice, having been sanctified by the Word of GOD, is the
Blood of Christ.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Matthew, 26:27, 428AD
He states demonstratively: "This is My Body," and "This is My Blood,"
lest you might suppose the things you see are a figure. Rather, by some
secret of the all-powerful GOD the things seen are transformed into the
Body and Blood of Christ, truly offered in a sacrifice in which we, as participants, receive the life-giving and sanctifying power of Christ.

Macarius, Bishop of Magnesia, Apocriticus, 3:23, 400 AD
Christ took the bread and the cup, each in similar fashion, and said,
"This is My Body and this is My Blood." Not a figure of His Body nor
a figure of His Blood, as some persons of petrified mind are wont to rhapsodize, but in truth the Body and the Blood of Christ, seeing that His
Body is from the earth, and the bread and wine are likewise from the earth.

Holy Eucharist. The True Presence of Our Lord...
Many more references from the Early Church Fathers:
These writings of the early Fathers can be downloaded:
or Here

*Didache, 9:1. J6
*Ignatius, Letter to the Romans 7:3. J54a
*Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians 3:2. J56
*Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrneans 6:2. J64
Justin Martyr, First Apology 66. J128
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4:18:4. J234
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4:33:2, 5:2:2. J240,249
Tertullian, Prayer 6:2, 19:1. J300a,301
Tertullian, The Crown 3:2. J367
Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition 21. J394i
Clement of Alexandria, Instruct Children 2:2:19:4. J410
Origen, Homilies On Exodus Hom 13:3. J490
Origen, Homilies on Numbers Hom 7:2. J491
Cyprian, The Lapsed 15. J551
Aphraates, Treatises 12:6. J689
*Ephraim, Homilies 4:4,4:6. *J707 J708
Athanasius, Sermon to the Newly Baptized J802
*Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Letters 21-23 Mystagogic 1:7,4:3,6,9   J840-846,848,850,853j
Hilary, The Trinity 8:14 J870
*Gregory of Nyssa, Great Catechism 37. J1035
*Gregory of Nyssa, Day of Lights Jaeger Vol 9, p225. J1062
*Theodore of Mopsuestia, Comment on Matt 26:26. J1113e,f,n
Chrysostom, Homilies on Penance 9. J1137
*Chrysostom, Homilies on Judas 1:6. J1157
Chrysostom, On Matthew 82:4. J1179
*Chrysostom, On First Corinthians 24:4:7. J1195
*Chrysostom, On Second Timothy 2:4. J1207
Ambrose, The Faith 4:10:124. J1270
*Ambrose, The Mysteries 9:50,58. J1333-1334, *J1339-1340
Jerome, Commentaries on Matthew 4:26:26. J1390
Augustine, Letter to Boniface 98:9. J1424
*Augustine, Sermons 227+. J1519-1520, *J1524, J1633, J1716
*Augustine, Homilies on John 26:13. J1824
*Cyril of Alexander, Commentary on Matthew 26:27. J2101
*Macarius the Magnesian, Apocriticus 3:23. J2166
Damascene, Source of Knowledge 3:4:13. J2371

Please see the companions to this document,
Sacrifice of the Mass", "The True Presence in the Holy Eucharist",
Body and Soul", and "John Chapter Six".

Written by Bob Stanley, December 8, 1998, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Updated May 25, 2005

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