Joseph Martos
Part Three of the Course, Second Assignment, Question 1
by Dr. Joe Martos - Friday, 17 February 2012, 1:55 AM
Reflect on the history of the eucharist, and explain why you believe that various developments in theology or practice were either positive or negative. If possible, select at least one development from each of the following periods: the apostolic and patristic periods (AD 30-500), the medieval period (AD 500-1500), and the modern period (AD 1500-1960).
Picture of arnetta sims
Re: Part Three of the Course, Second Assignment, Question 1
by arnetta sims - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:45 PM

The history of the Eucharist under went numerous changes in developmental practices. In the sacrament of the Eucharist we celebrate the presence of Christ in a manner that He is real and available to us.

In the presence of Christ in the Eucharist we partake of the Incarnate One. The Eucharist is shared as a sacrifice performed in ritualistic celebrations. We enter into a relationship with God though Christ as we become convenant people.

The sacred meal originates from Jewish roots as the Feast of Passover . This meal was symbolic of saving power of the Messiah. The meals became a common meal in the time of Christ consistent of bread and wine at small meetings. At large gatherings it became a communal worship setting. Later on this practice subsided because of the growth in the communities. As the communal meals subsided the sacrifical understanding in which the Roman community was familar as in Jewish worship became accepted. Early Christians did not realize Jesus as the Eucharist, but the ritual of breaking of bread and libation of wine was most recognized.

The second and third century the Gnosticism brought Jesus humanity under question. Arius argued that Jesus was the incarnation of God's word, no ordinary man and not divine. The Church began to stress the divinity of Jesus and His real presence in the Eucharist. This is where the Church began reverence before the real presence of Christ. In order to preserve an appreciation for the divine presence. To enhance the effectiveness of the reverence of the divine presence, the Church improved upon the following: 1.Purification and absolution of the clergy. 2. Tabernacles became very ornate. 3. People where seperated from altar by rails. 4. Communion was received on the tongue because it was irreverent to touch the host. 5. Mass became known as the sacrificial offering. Christ was active in the Eucharist.

In the Middle Ages votives masses were offered for intentions. The focal point of the mass became a sacrifice rather than the sharing of a meal. The presence of the congregation became less important. The practice of private masses were developed, but this would lead to abuse addressed by the protestants.

Late Middles Ages theology was impacted with continuing emphasis of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Scholars began to study what they throught happened. Aquinas introduced the term "trannsubstantiation" to explain the process of Eucharistic theology. Aquinas also used Aristotle's philosophical concepts to describe change of substance or essence of the elements from bread and wine to Christ: substance change and the visible form of bread and wine remained unchanged. Aquinas described Christ presence in the Eucharist as His metaphysical presence. Christ was present in heaven and in the Eucharist.

The Middle Ages developments can be summarized by the way the mass is perceived and the divine presence in the Eucharist: 1 lay receptiom of communion subsided. 2 laity felt unworthy because of the real presence of Christ. 3 The mass became center and reception of the Eucharist seem less important. The spiritual benefits were granted by the priest offering mass.

Vatican II shifted the direction while holding on to sacramental theology. The development of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy used bublical concepts rather than scholastic terminology: 1 Altars were turned so that the priest faced the people. 2 laity shared in the prayers and scriptures. 3The language of Latin was changed to the vernacular. 4 The language of the Eucharist as being a meal returned.5 The mass became a communal celebration of a meal. Christ presence is to revered in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a sacrament of initiation and is an effective symbol of admission. This function has its roots in the Jewish practice of having a convert offer a sign of full membership in the community.

I witnessed the changes in the historical development of the Eucharist. I was around the age of 12 when Vatican II took place. I can recall kneeling at the rails for communion, then standing to receive communion. In my spirit I can hear Kyrie, Sanctus, and other Latin words. I proably can follow a mass in Latin. I appreciate the vernacular where I can sing Negro spirituals in mass.I love embracing the Body of Christ in my throne. But the reverence that I once experienced is gone.

GRADE 3 (Thorough treatment. Some spelling issues. Little evaluation.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Tuesday, 24 July 2012, 06:59 PM)

Picture of Eileen Rettig
Re: Part Three of the Course, Second Assignment, Question 1
by Eileen Rettig - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:41 PM

While the issue of what the exact mechanism by which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ can fill volumes of theology books and scholarly papers the evolution of the Eucharistic and Eucharistic devotions will be the central theme of this discussion.

It appears that during the Apostolic age Christians had an understanding that something special happened when the community assembled to “Break the Bread.” It was a continuation of that Last Supper Jesus had with his Apostles. Almost everyone present in the congregation shared in the Eucharistic meal. Joining in the community celebration was such an important element of Christianity that those who had not formally entered the community were not permitted to even witness the event until their Baptism. This practice continued at least through the first part of the Patristic age when persecutions were still common.

The real emphasis on the nature of the Eucharistic did not start until the Middle Ages. At that point the areas that had comprised the old Roman Empire appeared to be united in a single Christendom. Theologians began to look more closely at the commonly held belief that Jesus was really present in the bread and wine after the Consecration during the Mass. In the late patristic era much of theological debate centered on the nature of Jesus, was he just a man, was he just God or was he a unique combination of both. Once the church fathers determined that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, it became possible for the theologians to study the nature of the Eucharist.

Unfortunately, as the stress on the divinity of Jesus grew the common people began to feel less worthy of approaching Communion. For example, how could a man who had beaten his wife on Saturday feel he could approach his God on Sunday? Most of the people in that era, including many of the clergy were poorly educated and illiterate. In addition to this emphasis on the divinity of Jesus much of the Mass was said in a language only the most educated could understand, Latin. The numbers of those approaching Communion dwindled dramatically, to a point where only the celebrant of the Mass normally received the Eucharist.

By the time of the Protestant Reformation a number of abuses had developed regarding Eucharist. Some priests were expecting large donations to say Mass for special intentions. With the Mass being celebrated by a priest with his back to the people in a language they did not understand many of the common people failed to understand what was happening. Some developed the practice of using the time for private prayer, only paying attention to what was happening on the altar at the Consecration. Others said their Rosary, again only paying attention at the Consecration.

The Council of Trent attempted to address the abuses of the clergy but it did very little to bring to the laity any sense of what was happening during Mass. And so the people developed other devotions to Jesus in the Eucharist. People were able to enter a church building at any time and spend time praying before the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved for emergencies. Special feasts developed like Corpus Christi to honor the Eucharist. Benediction services began with special prayers and using the Host in the Monstrance to bless those in attendance. Certain religious orders were founded dedicated to perpetual adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist.

In the eighteenth century a movement spread through Europe that said no human was really worthy to receive the Eucharist particularly without going to Confession immediately before going to Mass. This movement, Jansenism, further discouraged Catholics from receiving Communion. The practice of giving Eucharist to very young children had vanished and the age for receiving First Communion had gradually increased to the mid-teens. It took a Pope in the early twentieth century to lower the age for the reception of Communion to seven, hoping to encourage more frequent reception of the Sacrament of Eucharist.

Many of these new methods of devotion while born out of love were misplaced. But they still have a place within the Catholic religious experience. Their development can be considered a positive development to counter the negative development of separating the people from the liturgy. If the Holy Spirit is the moving force in the development of spirituality within the Church these practices need to continue to be honored while the changes brought about by Vatican II help in understanding what Eucharist means.

Grade 3.5 (Accurate summaries, but only implicit evaluations of most developments.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Saturday, 28 July 2012, 04:16 PM)

Picture of Marvin Fitchett
Re: Part Three of the Course, Second Assignment, Question 1
by Marvin Fitchett - Monday, 6 August 2012, 5:37 PM

The history of the Eucharist is just as rich as the sacrament of baptism, because it too is well documented. The Catholic historical evidences recorded depict how the theologians progressed and transitioned in their thinking concerning the sacraments of the Eucharist.

The Sacrament of Eucharist, I’ve often wondered why the Catholic Church changed the name from the Lord’s Supper to the Eucharist. I have a better understand the change as I progressed through these assignments. Partially, the change has to do with the concept of give thanks for what the Lord Jesus Christ has done, that we may experience this spiritual reality and share in his Last Supper. The words that Jesus Christ used during the Last Supper, the communal setting where the meal was shared, and his multiple re-appearances are the initial developments of the Eucharist.

I shall consider and comment on the additional significant developments in the theology or liturgy of the Eucharist from the apostolic/ patristic through the modern periods.

Apostolic/ Patristic Periods

In the years following Jesus Christ’s death, the early believers kept the model of the original Last Supper, and their reasoning was based on Jesus Christ’s words, “this do in remembrance of me”. They gather together around a meal, presented the bread and wine, prayed, and sang. Their celebration of the last meal was positive because they kept the ordinance. Next, what followed were the efforts of Ignatius of Antioch, and Justin. Ignatius ended the practice where the communal meals where held in homes. His act moved the Eucharis celebration into churches where the bishops presided over the celebration, and he introduced the reality of the bread and wine. Justin set the structure for two types of Eucharist services, a low and high mass. He echoed Ignatius ideas about the reality of the bread and wine. The ending of the communal services and establishing structure for the celebration are viewed as positive actions in themselves because they were necessary. However, the introduction of the reality of Jesus Christ blood and body in the bread and wine had a negative connotation because it was theory and did not follow the apostolic model. In this period, the formation of the Eucharist as a sacramental action with consecrated bread and wine were nearly established.

Medieval Period

What was significant from the medieval era was the change in Eucharistic practice and the introduction of Berenger of Tours’ theology. The change to the Eucharistic practice was the development from congregational mass to private mass where the Eucharist was administered on a daily basis for normal life events. This development deviated from the primary reason for its institution by Jesus Christ, and invited the manipulation of it. Next, there was the theological development of Berenger of Tours, his logical theology about the consecrated elements disputed the theology of Ignatius of Antioch, and Justin on the point of the reality of Jesus Christ body and blood being physically present during the Eucharist. Berenger of Tour theology had a positive effect on the Eucharistic theology and gave way to increased realism and the sacramental reality of the consecrated elements.

Modern Period

The Reformers of the modern era cause some instability to the development of the sacrament of Eucharist. The reformer, Martin Luther was concerned with righting the abuses that were endorse by the Catholic hierarchy. Specifically, “masses were sold to people who believed that their spiritual benefits could applied to…release of souls from purgatory, and bequeathed funds for masses to themselves after death”(247). Next, it was a development that had a collective effect. Two of the three reformers, Calvin and Zwingli objected to the reality of Jesus Christ’s blood and body being physically present during the mass. Zwingli presented a competing theology of substance, where he postulated that the Lord’s Supper was to be memorial service, remembering every aspect of Jesus Christ’s life until he returned. Both developments have a positive effect associated with them, because it prompted the Roman Catholic Church to correct its abusive conducts and refine their Eucharistic theology and liturgy.

Grade 3 (Some inaccuracies, but good critiques from a biblical perspective.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Sunday, 29 July 2012, 10:08 PM)