In my discussions with Protestant brethren, I continue to hear the idea that crazy things such as praying to Saints for intercession, venerating the dead pieces of human bodies, a process of post mortem pains to satisfy residual purgatorial punishment, and the Altar of the Church upon which Christ is sacrificed as a propitiation on behalf of the living and the dead are late Medieval inventions which have no place in the early Christian church. However, the historical record would strongly refute this erroneous conception. Here below I will provide statements from extremely credible early Church Fathers who lived in far distant regions from each other, showing how universal and traditional these beliefs and activities were already beginning in the middle of the 4th-century. In so doing, we capture the beliefs of Christians in North Africa, Egypt, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, Syria, Rome, and Milan. Continue reading
In the 3rd century, there were a group of Christians who began to try and celebrate the Eucharist with water instead of wine, and they were known as the Hydroparastatae or Aquarians. During the Decian persecution, they would substitute water for wine. St. Cyprian’s refutation of this erroneous practice comes to us in a letter to a certain Caecilius and it affords us the opportunity to see a 3rd century Saint expose the realism of the sacrifice of the holy Mass. I strongly encourage the readers to visit the full letter at the link after the citation to read the whole thing. Its priceless. Notice, most particularly, two things: how Cyprian describes the priest who offers the Eucharist to be doing what Christ himself did during the Last Supper, and how drastically important it is to get the Eucharistic tradition right in all its particulars.
Alegory of Eucharist with Pope saint Pius V (16th-century)
For us Catholics, we are dogmatic that the Holy Mass involves the real presence of our Lord’s Body and Precious Blood, and that a real propitiatory sacrifice takes place in the celebration of the Eucharist. But what is the nature of the sacrifice? Does Christ undergo a new transition from being a heart-pulsing human body & soul, to losing all the oxygen in his heart and lungs through asphyxiation, all over again and again as we celebrate the Last Supper? Though I doubt anyone would assert this openly, and while the title of this article was meant to catch attention, some of us still have a difficult time explaining just how the Mass brings into the present moment the veritable death of our Lord. Curious minds care to know!
XPH308470 Luther in front of Cardinal Cajetan during the controversy of his 95 Theses, 1870 (oil on canvas) by Pauwels, Ferdinand Wilhelm (1830-1904); Lutherhaus, Eisenach, Germany; (add. info.: Luther vor dem Kardinal Cajetan nach Anschlag der 95 Thesen, 1870); Belgian, out of copyright
The Reformed Protestant blog Triablogue offered an attempt to rebut my previous article, Why All Bible Believing Christians Must Believe In the Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass . Please access that rebuttal at this link. Below is my response. I will refer to the interlocutor as SH, and his statements are within <<>> and italicized.
St. Gregory the Great (600 AD)
Christians throughout the world who are actively seeking to join the original “Church” which Christ founded are confronted with the myriad of communities and denominations which compete with each other. Each of these entities professes to faithfully pronounce the doctrine of the Gospel as handed down from our Lord Jesus to the Apostles, and from the Apostles onward. How to ascertain who is right? One could spend a million years picking through all the arguments, debates, claims, books, articles, journals, monographs, academic reviews, commentaries, and histories before they can boil the options down to 10 or 5 competitors. This is because there are truly so many intelligent minds that enter into the work of scholarly apologetics, and most of them are at least touching the surface, if not appropriating the whole, of the absolute truth of the content of Christ’s divine revelation. Most competing apologists grasp at least *something* true, and this is what makes it difficult to choose who is right over and against the others. X has a good point. Oh, Y has a good point. Ah, X has a good counter point to Y. <yawn> Y has a good counter point to X. On and on. Who has time for all of this? It is a truly daunting, even grueling, task for the average theologian, let alone lay person whose responsibilities allow only a sliver of time to devote to these matters.