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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)