Appendix: The Real Presence And Testimonies from the Church Fathers

The following section will consist primarily of a selection of passages spanning the first five centuries of Christian history. For the sake of identification, a star has been placed by the names of the Eastern Fathers to separate them from the Western Fathers for the sake of showing the true universality of this doctrine. Catholics refer to the process of transformation as transubstantiation. (This is also an acceptable term amongst the Orthodox Churches.)

Lutherans and Anglicans prefer the term consubstantiation. The argument in posting these proofs is not to provetransubstantiation or consubstantiation. (Strictly speaking, neither position can be decisively proven from the Fathers.) However, both transubstantiation or consubstantiation take into account a realist interpretation of the Eucharist. Those that claim otherwise need to present some evidences for their assertion and not just assume that they are correct. Of course since there is no evidences anywhere in the first millennium (except among a few stray heretics), the objectors to the Real Presence as understood by the Apostolic Churches (and Ecclesial Communities such as the Anglicans and Lutherans) have nothing to base their claims on. Nothing of course except the assertion that all of antiquity erred both consistently and universally for fifteen hundred years. Bearing in mind the Apostle Paulís anathematizing of novelties (Gal. 1:8-9), consider the words of antiquity please and the witness that they bear:

Assemble on the Lord's day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until they have been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice (Matt. 5:23-24). For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, "Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations". (Mal. 1:11, 14). [Didache 14 (c. 80 AD)]
POPE CLEMENT I (r. 88-97 A.D.)
Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release. [Letter to the Corinthians 44:4-5 (c. 96 AD)]
Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice --even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God. [Letter to the Philadelphians 4 (c. 110 AD)]
I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible. [Letter to the Romans 7:3 (c. 110 AD)]
[The Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. [Letter to Smyrn 7:1 (c. 110 AD)]
*ST. JUSTIN MARTYR (100 - 165 A.D.)
We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has beenwashed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [Baptism], and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.  [First Apology 66 (c. 151 AD)]
God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: "I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles ..." (Mal. 1:10-11). He then  speaks of those Gentiles, namely us who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist that He speaks at that time; and He says that we glorify His name, while you profane it. [Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 (c. 155 AD)]
ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS (140 - 202 A.D.)
He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, "This is my body." The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: "You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty" (Mal. 1:10-11). By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles. [Against Heresies 4:17:5 (c. 185 AD)]
But what consistency is there in those who hold that the bread over which thanks have been given is the Body of their Lord, and the cup His Blood, if they do not acknowledge that He is the Son of the Creator...How can they say that the flesh which has been nourished by the body of the Lord and by His blood gives way to corruption and does not partake of life?...For as the bread from the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, consisting of two elements, earthly and heavenly... [Against Heresies 4:18:4-5 (c. 185 AD)]
But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption. But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body. For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins." And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills ). He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.
When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? -- even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh; but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones -- that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body. [Against Heresies  5:2:2-3 (c. 185 AD)]
TERTULLIAN (160 - 240 A.D.)
Likewise, in regard to days of fast, many do not think they should be present at the sacrificial prayers, because their fast would be broken if they were to receive the body of the Lord...the body of the Lord having been received and reserved, each point is secured: both the participation in the sacrifice. [Prayer 19:1 (c. 206 AD)]

The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord commanded to be taken at meal times and by all, we take even before daybreak in congregations...we offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries....We take anxious care lest something of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground. [The Crown 3:3-4 (c. 208 AD)]

[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed...the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also maybe illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God. [The Resurrection of the Dead 8 (c. 210 AD)]
A woman, after the death of her husband, is bound not less firmly but even more so...Indeed, she prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice. [Monogamy 10:1,4 (c. 214 AD)]
ST. HIPPOLYTUS (c. 170 - 236 A.D.)
"And [Wisdom] has furnished her table" (Prov. 9:1)...refers to [Christís] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper. [Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs (c. 217 AD)]
Calling her children about her, she [the Church] nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word...The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. "Eat my flesh,í [Jesus] says, Ďand drink my blood.í The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children. O incredible mystery! (Instructor of Children 1:6:42,1,3)
*ORIGEN (185 - 254 A.D.)
But if that text (Lev 24:5-9) is taken to refer to the greatness of what is mystically symbolized, then there is a 'commemoration' which has an effect of great propitiatory value.  If you apply it to that 'Bread which came down from heaven and gives life to the world,' that shewbread which 'God has offered to us as a means of reconciliation, in virtue of faith, ransoming us with his blood,' and if you look to that commemoration of which the Lord says, 'Do this in commemoration of me,' then you will find that this is the unique commemoration which makes God propitious to men.  [Homilies on Leviticus 9 (c. 244 AD)]
You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know how, when you have received the Body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall, and lest anything of the consecrated gift is it that you think neglecting the word of God a lesser crime than neglecting His Body? [Homilies on Exodus 13:3 (c. 244 AD)]
Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view,now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as He Himself says: "My flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly drink." [Homilies on Numbers 7:2 (c. 248 AD)]

We give thanks to the Creator of all, and, along with thanksgiving and prayer for the blessings we have received, we also eat the bread presented to us; and this bread becomes by prayer a sacred body, which sanctifies those who sincerely partake of it. [Against Celsus 8:33 (c. 248 AD)]

You see how the altars are no longer sprinkled with the blood of oxen, but consecrated by the precious blood of Christ. [Homilies on Josue 2:1 (c. 251 AD)]

And we ask that this Bread be given us daily, so that we who are in Christ and daily receive the Eucharist as the food of salvation, may not, by falling into some more grievous sin and then in abstaining from communicating, be withheld from the heavenly Bread, and be separated from Christ's Body...
He Himself warns us, saying, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you." Therefore do we ask that our Bread, which is Christ, be given to us daily, so that we who abide and live in Christ may not withdraw from His sanctification and from His Body. [The Lord's Prayer 18 (c. 251)]
[Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, "Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord'. All these warnings being scorned and contemned--[lapsed Christians will often take communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord. [The Lapsed 15-16 (c. 251 AD)]

Also in the priest Melchisedech we see the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord prefigured...The order certainly is that which comes from his [Melchisedech's] sacrifice and which comes down from it: because Melchisedech was a priest of the Most High God; because he offered bread; and because he blessed Abraham. And who is more a priest of the Most High God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when He offered sacrifice to God the Father, offered the very same which Melchisedech had offered, namely bread and wine, which is in fact His Body and Blood! [Letters 63:4 (c. 253 AD)

If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ. [Letters 63:14 (c. 253 AD)]
It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters, whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer sacrifice should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer." (Canon 18 [A.D. 325]).
*ST. ATHANASIUS (c. 295 - 373 A.D.)
You will see the Levites bringing the loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers and invocations have not yet been made,it is mere bread and a mere cup. But when the great and wonderous prayers have been recited, then the bread becomes the body and the cup the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ....When the great prayers and holy supplications are sent up, the Word descends on the bread and the cup, and it becomes His body. [Sermon to the Newly Baptized, from Eutyches (c. 373 AD)]
With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink. [Treatises 12:6 (c. 340 AD)]
*ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (c. 315-386 A.D.)
Then, having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before him, that he may make the bread the Body of Christ and the wine the Blood of Christ, for whatsoever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then, upon the completion of the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim we call upon God for the common peace of the churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted; and in summary, we all pray and offer this sacrifice for all who are in need. [Catechetical Lectures 23:7-8 (c. 350 AD)]
This one teaching of the blessed Paul is enough to give you complete certainty about the Divine Mysteries, by your having been deemed worthy of which, you have become united in body and blood with Christ. For Paul proclaimed clearly that: "On the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ, taking bread and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying: "Take, eat, This is My Body." And taking the cup and giving thanks, He said, "Take, drink, This is My Blood." He Himself, therefore having declared and said of the bread, "This is My Body," who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has afformed and said, "This is My Blood," who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood? [22 [Mystagogic 4], 1 (c. 350 AD)]
Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and the Wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Masterís declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but -- be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ. [22 [Mystagogic 4], 6 (c. 350 AD)]

Then, upon the completion of the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim we call upon God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted; and in summary, we all pray and offer the sacrifice for all who are in need.

Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep; for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out.

For I know that there are many who are saying this: "If a soul departs from this world with sins, what does it profit it to be remembered in the prayer?"...[we] grant a remission of their penalties...we too offer prayers to Him for those who have fallen asleep though they be sinners. We do not plait a crown, but offer up Christ who has been sacrificed for our sins; and we thereby propitiate the benevolent God for them as well as for ourelves. [23 [Mystagogic 5], 8, 9, 10 (c. 350 AD)]

Accept therewith our hallowing too, as we say, "Holy, holy, holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth is full of your glory." Heaven is full, and full is the earth, with your magnificent glory, Lord of virtues. Full also is this sacrifice, with your strength and your communion; for to you we offer this living sacrifice, this unbloody oblation. [Prayer of the Eucharistic Sacrifice 13:12-16 (c. 350 AD)]
ST. HILARY OF POITIERS (c. 315 - 368 A.D.)
The words in which we speak of the things of God must be used in no mere human and worldly sense, nor must the perverseness of an alien and impious interpretation be extorted from the soundness of heavenly words by any violent and headstrong preaching. Let us read what is written, let us understand what we read, and then fulfil the demands of a perfect faith. For as to what we say concerning the reality of Christ's nature within us, unless we have been taught by Him, our words are foolish and impious. For He says Himself, My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him. As to the verity of the flesh and blood there is no room left for doubt. For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is verily flesh and verily blood. And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this true? Yet they who affirm that Christ Jesus is not truly God are welcome to find it false. He therefore Himself is in us through the flesh and we in Him, whilst together with Him our own selves are in God. [The Trinity 8:14 (c. 358 AD)]
*ST. EPHRAIM (c. 306 - 373 A.D.)

Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit. And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: "Take, all of you eat of this, which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread [of life], and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven." But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as a certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body.

After the disciples had eaten the new and holy Bread, and when they understood by faith that they had eaten of Christ's body, Christ went on to explain and to give them the whole Sacrament. He took and mixed a cup of wine. Then He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy, declaring that it was His own Blood, which was about to be poured out...Christ commanded them to drink, and He explained to them that the cup which they were drinking was His own Blood: "This is truly My Blood, which is shed for all of you. Take, all of you, drink of this, because it is a new covenant in My Blood. As you have seen Me do, do you also in My memory. Whenever you are gathered together in My name in Churches everywhere, do what I have done, in memory of Me. Eat My Body, and drink My Blood, a covenant new and old." [Homilies 4:4; 4:6 (c. 360 AD)]

We see that the Savior took in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: "This is really Me." And He gave to His disciples and said: "This is really Me." And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, "This is really Me"; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of Savior. [The Man Well-Anchored 57]
*ST. BASIL THE GREAT (c. 330 - 379 A.D.)
It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, 'He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.' And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord's day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time. [Letter of Basil to a Patrician Lady Caesaria (c. 372 AD)]
ST. AMBROSE OF MILAN (c. 333 - 397 A.D.)
Then He added: "For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink [indeed]." Thou hearest Him speak of His Flesh and of His Blood, thou perceivest the sacred pledges, [conveying to us the merits and power] of the Lord's death, and thou dishonourest His Godhead. Hear His own words: "A spirit hath not flesh and bones." Now we, as often as we receive the Sacramental Elements, which by the mysterous efficacy of holy prayer are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood, "do show the Lord's Death". [The Christian Faith 4:10:124 (c. 380 AD)]

We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself that is offered in sacrifice here on Earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered. [Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David 38:25 (c. 389 AD)]

Perhaps you will say, "I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?" And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed...The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: "This is My Body." Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks. [The Mysteries 9:50; 9:58 (c. 391 AD)]
*ST. GREGORY OF NAZIANZEN (c. 330 - 389 A.D.)

Cease not to pray and plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when in an unbloody cutting you cut the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for a sword. [Letter to Amphilochius 171 (c. 383 AD)]

*ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA (c. 335 - 394 A.D.)
If the subsistence of every body depends on nourishment, and this is eating and drinking, and in the case of our eating there is bread and in the case of our drinking water sweetened with wine, and if, as was explained at the beginning, the Word of God, Who is both God and the Word, coalesced with man's nature, and when He came in a body such as ours did not innovate on man's physical constitution so as to make it other than it was, but secured continuance for His own body by the customary and proper means, and controlled its subsistence by meat and drink, the former of which was bread,--just, then, as in the case of ourselves, as has been repeatedly said already, if a person sees bread he also, in a kind of way, looks on a human body, for by the bread being within it the bread becomes it, so also, in that other case, the body into which God entered, by partaking of the nourishment of bread, was, in a certain measure, the same with it; that nourishment, as we have said, changing itself into the nature of the body. For that which is peculiar to all flesh is acknowledged also in the case of that flesh, namely, that that Body too was maintained by bread; which Body also by the indwelling of God the Word was transmuted to the dignity of Godhead. Rightly, then, do we believe that now also the bread which is  consecrated by the Word of God is changed into the Body of God the Word.

For that Body was once, by implication, bread, but has been consecrated by the inhabitation of the Word that tabernacled in the flesh. Therefore, from the same cause as that by which the bread that was transformed in that Body was changed to a Divine potency, a similar result takes place now. For as in that case, too, the grace of the Word used to make holy the Body, the substance of which came of the bread, and in a manner was itself bread, so also in this case the bread, as says the Apostle, "is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer"; not that it advances by the process of eating to the stage of passing into the body of the Word, but it is at once changed into the body by means of the Word, as the Word itself said, 'This is My Body.' Seeing, too, that all flesh is nourished by what is moist(for without this combination our earthly part would not continue to live), just as we support by food which is firm and solid the solid part of our body, in like manner we supplement the moist part from the kindred element; and this, when within us, by its faculty of being transmitted, is changed to blood, and especially if through the wine it receives the faculty of being transmuted into heat. Since, then, that God-containing flesh partook for its substance and support of this particular nourishment also, and since the God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, viz. that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be deified, for this end it is that, by dispensation of His grace, He disseminates Himself in every believer through that flesh, whose substance comes from bread and wine, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, to secure that, by this union with the immortal, man, too, may be a sharer in incorruption. He gives these gifts by virtue of the benediction through which He transelements the natural quality of these visible things to that immortal thing. [The Great Catechism 37 (c. 383 AD)]

*ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (c. 344 - 407 A.D.)
Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings. For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That hath never failed, but this in most things goeth wrong. Since then the word saith, "This is my body," let us both be persuaded and believe, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ hath given nothing sensible, but though in things sensible yet all to be perceived by the mind. So also in baptism, the gift is bestowed by a sensible thing, that is, by water; but that which is done is perceived by the mind, the birth, I mean, and the renewal. For if thou hadst been incorporeal, He would have delivered thee the incorporeal gifts bare; but because the soul hath been locked up in a body, He delivers thee the things that the mind perceives, in things sensible. How many now say, I would wish to see His form, the mark, His clothes, His shoes. Lo! thou seest Him, Thou touchest Him, thou eatest Him. And thou indeed desirest to see His clothes, but He giveth Himself to thee not to see only, but also to touch and eat and receive within thee! [Homilies on Matthew 82:4 (c. 370 AD)]

When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven? [The Priesthood 3:4:177 (c. 387 AD)]

Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon! [Homilies on Romans 8:8 (c. 391 AD)]
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the blood of Christ?" Very trustworthy and awesomely does he say it. For what he is saying is this: What is in the cup is that which flowed from his side, and we partake of it. He called it a cup of blessing because when we hold it in our hands that is how we praise him in song, wondering and astonished at his indescribable gift, blessing him because of his having poured out this very gift so that we might not remain in error; and not only for his having poured it out, but also for his sharing it with all of us. "If therefore you desire blood," he says, "do not redden the platform of idols with the slaughter of dumb beasts, but my altar of sacrifice with my blood." What is more awesome than this? What, pray tell, more tenderly loving?" [Homilies on 1 Corinthians 24:1(3) (c. 392 AD)]
"In ancient times, because men were very imperfect, God did not scorn to receive the blood which they were draw them away from those idols; and this very thing again was because of his indescribable, tender affection. But now he has transferred the priestly action to what is most awesome and magnificent. He has changed the sacrifice itself, and instead of the butchering of dumb beasts, he commands the offering up of himself. [ibid., 24:2]
What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice. [Homilies on Hebrews 17:3(6) (c. 403 AD)]
ST. JEROME (c. 340 - 420 A.D.)
Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the Apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ, and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians... [Letter of Jerome to Heliodorus 14:8 (c. 373 AD)]
After the type had been fulfilled by the passover celebration and He had eaten the flesh of the lamb with His Apostles, He takes bread which strengthens the heart of man, and goes on to the true Sacrament of the passover, so that just as Melchisedech, the priest of the Most High God, in prefiguring Him, made bread and wine an offering, He too makes Himself manifest in the reality of His own Body and Blood. [Commentaries on Matthew 4:26:26 (ante. 400 AD)]
ST. AUGUSTINE (c. 354-434 A.D.)
In the sacrament he is immolated for the people not only on every Easter Solemnity but on every day; and a man would not be lying if, when asked, he were to reply that Christ is being immolated. For if sacraments had not a likeness to those things of which they are sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all; and they generally take the names of those same things by reason of this likeness. [Letters 98:9 (c. 412 AD)]
For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, "There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink" [Eccles. 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say than what belongs to the participation of this table which the Mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come. . . . Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it. [The City of God 17:20 (c. 419 AD)]
A bishop gives the blessing, he does not receive it. He imposes hands, he ordains, he offers the sacrifice...A deacon does not bless. He does not bestow blessing, but he receives it from bishop and presbyter. He does not baptize; he does not offer the sacrifice. When a bishop or a presbyter offers the sacrifice, he distributes to the laity, not as a priest, but as one who is ministering to priests. [Book VIII:28:2-4]
He did not say,"This is the symbol of My Body, and this, of My Blood," but, what is set before us, but that it is transformed by means of the Eucharistic action into Flesh and Blood. [Commentary on Matthew 26:26 (c. 428 AD)]
It is proper, therefore, that when [Christ] gave the Bread He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Body," but, "This is My Body." In the same way when He gave the Cup He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Blood," but, "This is My Blood"; for He wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought...not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit. [Catechetical Homilies 5 (c. 428 AD)]
[If we have sinned], the Body and Blood of our Lord...will strengthen us...if with diligence we do good works and turn from evil deeds and truly repent of the sins that befall us, undoubtedly we shall obtain the grace of the remission of our sins in our receiving of the holy Sacrament. [Catechetical Homilies 16 (c. 428 AD)]
We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving. [Letter of Cyril to Nestorius (c. 431 AD)]
This selection was taken originally from a diversity of sources back in 1999 - most of them being available online. It is worth noting that the selection list could have been much more comprehensive than it is - indeed originally there were more citations in this essay than those above. (The list was pruned solely for the sake of economy.) But examining them and considering the countless others that are out there, there is no solid reason to doubt the realist view of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by the Fathers of the Church in the earliest centuries. To summarize the view of the first eight hundred years - and with two exceptions the first millennium, we can consider what the Lutheran scholar Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan noted in the book The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) the following about the Real Presence in the Fathers of the Church:
By the date of the Didache [anywhere from about 60 to 160, depending on the scholar]...the application of the term 'sacrifice' to the Eucharist seems to have been quite natural, together with the identification of the Christian Eucharist as the 'pure offering' commanded in Malachi 1:11...

The Christian liturgies were already using similar language about the offering of the prayers, the gifts, and the lives of the worshipers, and probably also about the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass, so that the sacrificial interpretation of the death of Christ never lacked a liturgical frame of reference...

[T]he doctrine of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, which did not become the subject of controversy until the ninth century. The definitive and precise formulation of the crucial doctrinal issues concerning the Eucharist had to await that controversy and others that followed even later. This does not mean at all, however, that the church did not yet have a doctrine of the Eucharist; it does mean that the tatements of its doctrine must not be sought in polemical and dogmatic treatises devoted to sacramental theology. It means also that the effort to cross-examine the fathers of the second or third century about where they stood in the controversies of the ninth or sixteenth century is both silly and futile...

Yet it does seem "express and clear" that no orthodox father of the second or third century of whom we have record declared the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist to be no more than symbolic (although Clement and Origen came close to doing so) or specified a process of substantial change by which the presence was effected (although Ignatius and Justin came close to doing so). Within the limits of those excluded extremes was the doctrine of the real presence...

The theologians did not have adequate concepts within which to formulate a doctrine of the real presence that evidently was already believed by the church even though it was not yet taught by explicit instruction or confessed by creeds...

Liturgical evidence suggests an understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, whose relation to the sacrifices of the Old testament was one of archetype to type, and whose relation to the sacrifice of Calvary was one of 're-presentation,' just as the bread of the Eucharist 're-presented' the body of Christ...the doctrine of the person of Christ had to be clarified before there could be concepts that could bear the weight of eucharistic teaching...[Jaroslav Pelikan: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) pgs.146-7, 166-8, 170, 236-7 Chicago - University of Chicago Press (c. 1971)]

Almost twenty years after the above text was written, Dr. Pelikan ended up converting to the Eastern Orthodox faith whose understanding of the Eucharist is virtually identical to that of the Catholic Church. It is possible that the position of antiquity on the Real Presence was central to this decision. Nonetheless, I will let the above reference stand as yet another non-Catholic and non-Orthodox scholarly affirmation of the Church's understanding of the Eucharist as both sacrament and sacrifice.

Appendix Addendum:

In closing this section, consider the following quote from an encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II which was promulgated on the very day that the final touches on this revision are taking place:

When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord's death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and "the work of our redemption is carried out". This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia §11 (April 17, 2003)]

This summarizes the importance of the Eucharist in the faith of the Apostolic Churches so succinctly that no more needs to be said on the subject.

©2003, 2000, "On the Real Presence", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. This text may be downloaded or
printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published,
electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

To All Visitors, Grace of Christ to you

Page created by: Matt1618. Send email with questions on this article to I. Shawn McElhinney


Return to Index Page "On the Real Presence" Essay


Go to Eucharist Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page