Compiled by Maximus Scott
Philip Schaff 1819-1893
The Catholic church, both Greek and Latin, sees in the Eucharist not only a sacramentum, in which God communicates a grace to believers, but at the same time, and in fact mainly, a sacrificium, in which believers really offer to God that which is represented by the sensible elements. For this view also the church fathers laid the foundation, and it must be conceded they stand in general far more on the Greek and Roman Catholic than on the Protestant side of this question. (History of the Christian Church, Vol. III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 311-600, § 96. The Sacrifice of the Eucharist)
J.N.D. Kelly 1909-1997
[T]he Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice from the closing decade of the first century, if not earlier. Malachi’s prediction (1:10 f.) that the Lord would reject the Jewish sacrifices and instead would have ‘a pure offering’ made to Him by the Gentiles in every place was early seized [did. 14,3; Justin, dial. 41,2 f.; Irenaeus, haer. 4,17,5] upon by Christians as a prophecy of the eucharist. The Didache indeed actually applies [14, 1] the term thusia, or sacrifice, to the eucharist, and the idea is presupposed by Clement in the parallel he discovers [40-4] between the Church’s ministers and the Old Testament priests and levites, as in his description of the function of the former as the offering of gifts. Ignatius’s reference [Philad. 4] to ‘one altar, just as there is one bishop’, reveals that he, too thought in sacrificial terms. Justin speaks [Dial. 117,1] of ‘all the sacrifices in this name which Jesus appointed to be performed, viz. in ther eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are celebrated in every place by Christians’. Not only here but elsewhere [Ib. 41,3] too, he identifies ‘the bread of the eucharist, and the cup likewise of the eucharist’, with the sacrifice foretold by Malachi. For Irenaeus [Haer. 4,17,5] the eucharist is ‘the new oblation of the new covenant’… It was natural for early Christians to think of the eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, ‘Do this’ (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood [1 apol. 66,3; cf. dial. 41,1] them to mean, ‘Offer this.’If we inquire what the sacrifice was supposed to consist in, the Didache provides no clear answer. Justin however, makes it plain [Dial. 41,3] that the bread and the wine themselves were the ‘pure offering’ foretold by Malachi. Even if he holds that prayers and thanksgivings are the only God-pleasing sacrifices, we must remember that he uses [1 apol. 65,3-5] the term ‘thanksgiving’ as technically equivalent to ‘the eucharistized bread and wine’. The bread and wine, moreover, are offered ‘for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,’ a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord’s body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection. Altogether it would seem that, while his language is not fully explicit, Justin is feeling his way to the conception of the eucharist as the offering of the Savior’s passion. (Early Christian Doctrines pp. 196-197)
Jaroslav Pelikan 1923-2006
By the date of the Didache – although the date is itself a controversial issue- 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. But even without an answer to the question of the Christian sacrifice, the description in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the death of Christ as a sacrifice seems to have been based on the Jewish liturgy.When the Jewish liturgical context of this sacrificial language could no longer be taken for granted among Christian hearers and readers, 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.
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 Emergence of Catholic Tradition pp. 146-147,170)
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
It was also widely held from the first that the Eucharist is in some sense a sacrifice, though here again definition was gradual. The suggestion of sacrifice is contained in much of the NT language…the words of institution, ‘covenant,’ ‘memorial,’ ‘poured out,’ all have sacrificial associations. In early post-NT times the constant repudiation of carnal sacrifice and emphasis on life and prayer at Christian worship did not hinder the Eucharist from being described as a sacrifice from the first…From early times the Eucharistic offering was called a sacrifice in virtue of its immediate relation to the sacrifice of Christ. (F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, 475-476)
The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology
In patristic writing the Eucharist is above all a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” rooted in the memorial of the Lord’s saving passion and resurrection. The celebration of the eucharistic mysteries was approached eschatologically: the consecratory power of the Holy Spirit who once again made present the Lord of Glory in the eucharistic forms opened up a timeless window within the time-bound earthly church whereby believers, both individually and collectively, were caught up into the single redemptive work of Christ that had been accomplished within history but now applied beyond all time and history. The Eucharist celebrated the Christ who through His sacrifice (as re-presented in the church’s mystery) restored life to the faithful. (Fr. J. McGuckin: Eucharist, pg. 126)
The Didache ca. 70
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 he has 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)
Liturgy of St. James arranged 1st-4th cent. a.d.
Priest: O Sovereign Lord our God, contemn me not, defiled with a multitude of sins: for, behold, I have come to this Your divine and heavenly mystery, not as being worthy; but looking only to Your goodness, I direct my voice to You: God be merciful to me, a sinner; I have sinned against Heaven, and before You, and am unworthy to come into the presence of this Your holy and spiritual table, upon which Your only-begotten Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice for me, a sinner, and stained with every spot. Wherefore I present to You this supplication and thanksgiving, that Your Spirit the Comforter may be sent down upon me, strengthening and fitting me for this service; and count me worthy to make known without condemnation the word, delivered from You by me to the people, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom You are blessed, together with Your all-holy, and good, and quickening, and consubstantial Spirit, now and ever, and to all eternity. Amen. (Prayer of the Standing Beside the Altar)
Liturgy of St. Mark arranged 1st-4th cent. a.d.
Priest: We offer this reasonable and bloodless sacrifice, which all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the north and the south, present to You, O Lord; for great is Your name among all peoples, and in all places are incense, sacrifice, and oblation offered to Your holy name. (The Anaphoral Prayer)
Pope St. Clement of Rome fl. 96
These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined sacrifices and liturgies (Grk. prosphora kai leitourgia) to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. (Letter to the Corinthians 40)
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. (ibid., 44)
St. Ignatius of Antioch ca. 45-107
Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice (Grk. en thysiasterion) —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)
The term ‘sacrifice’ is first linked to the Eucharist in Did. 14.1 but the exact meaning is not clear. The same applies to the use of thysiasterion in Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 5.2-3, Trall. 7.2, Magn. 7.2; Phild. 4. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Vol. 4 By Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley pg. 812
St. Justin the Philosopher ca. 103-165
And the offering of fine flour, sirs, which was prescribed to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank God for having created the world, with all things therein, for the sake of man, and for delivering us from the evil in which we were, and for utterly overthrowing principalities and powers by Him who suffered according to His will. Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [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 unto 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, says the Lord: but you profane it.’ Malachi 1:10-12
[So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41)
Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him. But He utterly rejects those presented by you and by those priests of yours, saying, ‘And I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles (He says); but you profane it’ Malachi 1:10-12. (ibid., 117)
Athenagoras of Athens ca. 133-190
And what have I to do with holocausts, which God does not stand in need of?—though indeed it does behoove us to offer a bloodless sacrifice and
“the service of our reason” (Rom. 12:1).
(A Plea for Christians, Chap. XIII: Why Christians do not Offer Sacrifices)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons ca. 2nd cent-202 a.d.
Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things— not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful— He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said,
This is My body. (Matt. 26:26) And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand:
I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], 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 Omnipotent;(Mal. 1:10-11)
— indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles. (Against Heresies Bk. IV, 17:5)
Tertullian ca. 160-220
She who is bound (to another) has not departed (from him). But (will she say),
In peace? In that case, she must necessarily persevere in that (peace) with him whom she will no longer have the power to divorce; not that she would, even if she had been able to divorce him, have been marriageable. Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversaries of his falling asleep. (On Monogamy 10)
St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235
The Word prepared His Precious and immaculate Body and His Blood, that daily are set forth as a sacrifice (Grk. epitelountai thyomena) on the mystic and Divine table as a memorial of that ever memorable first table of the mysterious supper of the Lord. (Fragm. in Prov., ix, i, P. G., LXXX, 593)
St. Cyprian of Carthage died ca. 258
For if Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is Himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of Himself, certainly that priest truly discharges the office of Christ, who imitates that which Christ did; and he then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father, when he proceeds to offer it according to what he sees Christ Himself to have offered. (Epistle 62,14)
St. Athanasius of Alexandria ca. 293-373
By these things Israel of old, having first, as in a figure, striven for the victory, came to the feast, for these things were then foreshadowed and typified. But we, my beloved, the shadow having received its fulfillment, and the types being accomplished, should no longer consider the feast typical, neither should we go up to Jerusalem which is here below, to sacrifice the Passover, according to the unseasonable observance of the Jews, lest, while the season passes away, we should be regarded as acting unseasonably ; but, in accordance with the injunction of the Apostles, let us go beyond the types, and sing the new song of praise. For perceiving this, and being assembled together with the Truth , they drew near, and said unto our Savior,
‘Where will You that we should make ready for You the Passover Matthew 26:17?’
For no longer were these things to be done which belonged to Jerusalem which is beneath; neither there alone was the feast to be celebrated, but wherever God willed it to be. Now He willed it to be in every place, so that
‘in every place incense and a sacrifice might be offered to Him Malachi 1:11.’
For although, as in the historical account, in no other place might the feast of the Passover be kept save only in Jerusalem, yet when the things pertaining to that time were fulfilled, and those which belonged to shadows had passed away, and the preaching of the Gospel was about to extend everywhere; when indeed the disciples were spreading the feast in all places, they asked the Savior,
‘Where will You that we shall make ready?’
The Savior also, since He was changing the typical for the spiritual, promised them that they should no longer eat the flesh of a lamb, but His own, saying,
Take, eat and drink; this is My body, and My blood.
When we are thus nourished by these things, we also, my beloved, shall truly keep the feast of the Passover. (Letter 4,4)
Fr. Dion Dragas: Particularly interesting to note here is Athanasius’ understanding of the ‘sacrifice’ mentioned in Malachi’s prophecy in Eucharistic terms, which is, of course, in line with the whole patristic tradition. The real import of this is that the celebration of the Eucharist, involving the partaking of or communion in the humanity of Christ – which is called ‘spiritual’ [i.e., true or inner] in contrast to ‘typical’ [i.e., figurative or outer] – is now the only way to celebrate the Passover properly, which is now completely renewed, inasmuch as it is no longer related to the deliverance of the ancient Israelites from a human bondage and an entry into an earthly land, but to the salvation of all humanity from death and the devil, and entry into heaven. As a consequence, Jewish sacrifice and celebration of the Passover is now impossible.
It should be noted here that the fulfillment of the Jewish Passover by the Eucharist does not imply that the eucharistic meal which Jesus ate with his disciples was, for Athanasius, a Passover meal. If that was the case, then the shadow would determine the reality of the truth. For Athanasius, however, as for the unanimous tradition of the Fathers, the Eucharistic meal acquired its meaning from the new and unique event of the sacrifice of Christ which was effected through His acceptance of the Cross. This view is derived from the crucial Pauline statement
“Our passover, Christ, is sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7),
which is central to Athanasius’ teaching concerning the Christian sacrifice in his Festal Letters. (Saint Athanasius: Original Research and New Perpsectives. Chap. 4: Saint Athanasius on Christ’s Sacrifice pp. 108-109)
Council of Nicea 325 (1st Ecumenical)
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 the canon nor custom have handed down to us, that those, who have not the power to offer sacrifice (prospherein) may give Christ’s body to those who offer (prospherousi). And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them. Furthermore, let not the deacons sit among the presbyters, for that is contrary to canon and order. And if, after this decree, any one shall refuse to obey, let him be deposed from the diaconate.
Strong’s definition prosphora
presentation; concretely an oblation (bloodless) or sacrifice: – offering (up).
1) the act of offering, a bringing to
2) that which is offered, a gift, a present. In the NT a sacrifice, whether bloody or not: offering for sin, expiatory offering.
St. Serapion of Thmuis ca. 339 a.d.
Heaven is full, the earth is also full of thy sublime glory, O Lord of hosts. Extend thy power upon this sacrifice, and grant thy aid to its fulfillment; for it is to thee that we have offered this living victim, the unbloody sacrifice. To thee have we offered this bread, the likeness of the body of thine only Son. This bread is the image of His holy body; for ‘the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: Take and eat, this is my body, which shall be broken for you,’ for the remission of sins. Therefore have we, by repeating the figure of His death, offered the bread and pray:
By this sacrifice reconcile thyself with us all and have mercy upon us, O God of truth. And as this bread was scattered upon the hills and brought together into one, so do thou unite thy holy Church from every people and every land and every city and every village and house, and build up one living Catholic Church. We have also offered the chalice, the symbol of the blood; for the Lord Jesus, ‘after He had supped, took the cup and said to His disciples: Take, drink, this is the new covenant, which is my blood, which shall be shed for the remission of sins.’
Therefore have we also offered the chalice, because we have consummated the symbol of the blood.
Let thy holy Word (Logos), O God of truth, come down upon this bread, so that the bread may become the body of the Word, and on this chalice, so that the chalice may become the blood of Truth. And grant that all who partake of them, may receive the medicine of life, as a cure for all sickness and as an increase and progress in virtue, not, however, as judgment, O God of truth, nor as punishment and disgrace. (The Anaphora of Serapion)
St. Ephrem of Syria ca. 306-373
From the moment when He broke His Body for His disciples, and gave it to them, one begins to count the three days during which He was among the dead. Adam practically, after eating of the fruit of the tree, lived a long time, even though he was counted among the dead for having disobeyed the commandment of God. God had spoken to him thus
‘The day when you eat of it, you will die.’
Thus it was for Our Lord. It was because He had given them His Body to eat in view of the mystery of His death that He entered into their bodies as He entered later on into the earth. (Commentary on the Diatessaron 19, 4[translated from the Armenian version])
St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386 a.d.
Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat 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 a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice. (Catechetical Lecture XXIII, 7-8)
Gregory Nazianzen 329-390 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)
Liturgy of St. Basil ca. 4th. cent. a.d.
Priest: Lord, our God, You created us and brought us into this life. You have shown us the way to salvation and have bestowed upon us the revelation of heavenly mysteries. You have appointed us to this service by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Grant, therefore, O Lord that we may be accepted as servants of Your new Covenant and ministers of Your holy mysteries. Accept us as we draw near to Your holy altar, according to the multitude of Your mercy, that we may be worthy to offer You this spiritual sacrifice without the shedding of blood, for our sins and for the transgressions of Your people. Grant that, having accepted this sacrifice upon Your holy, heavenly, and spiritual altar as an offering of spiritual fragrance, You may in return send down upon us the grace of Your Holy Spirit. Look upon us, O God, and consider our worship; and accept it as You accepted the gifts of Abel, the sacrifices of Noah, the burnt offerings of Abraham, the priestly offices of Moses and Aaron, and the peace offerings of Samuel. As You accepted this true worship from Your holy apostles, accept also in Your goodness, O Lord, these gifts from the hands of us sinners, that being deemed worthy to serve at Your holy altar without blame., we may obtain the reward of the faithful stewards on the fearful day of Your just judgment. (The Petitions)
St. Gregory of Nyssa ca. 335-394
He offered Himself for us, Victim and Sacrifice, and Priest as well, and
“Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
When did He do this? When He made His own Body food and His own Blood drink for His disciples; for this much is clear enough to anyone, that a sheep cannot be eaten by a man unless its being eaten be preceded by its being slaughtered. This giving of His own Body to His disciples for eating clearly indicates that the sacrifice of the Lamb has now been completed. (Sermon One on the Resurrection of Christ)
St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397 a.d.
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. And even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. For even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offer 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. (On Twelve Psalms 38,25)
St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407 a.d.
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)
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 )
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom ca. 4th cent.
Priest: Lord, God Almighty, You alone are holy. You accept a sacrifice of praise from those who call upon You with their whole heart. Receive also the prayer of us sinners and let it reach Your holy altar. Enable us to bring before You gifts and spiritual sacrifices for our sins and for the transgressions of the people. Make us worthy to find grace in Your presence so that our sacrifice may be pleasing to You and that Your good and gracious Spirit may abide with us, with the gifts here presented, and with all Your people. (Prayer of the Proskomide)
St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444 a.d.
He states demonstratively: “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood“(Mt. 26:26-28) “lest you might suppose the things that are seen as 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. (Commentary on Matthew [Mt. 26:27]; Jurgens, III, 220)
St. Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430 a.d.
You know that in ordinary parlance we often say, when Easter is approaching,
Tomorrow or the day after is the Lord’s Passion, although He suffered so many years ago, and His passion was endured once for all time. In like manner, on Easter Sunday, we say,
This day the Lord rose from the dead, although so many years have passed since His resurrection. But no one is so foolish as to accuse us of falsehood when we use these phrases, for this reason, that we give such names to these days on the ground of a likeness between them and the days on which the events referred to actually transpired, the day being called the day of that event, although it is not the very day on which the event took place, but one corresponding to it by the revolution of the same time of the year, and the event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before, it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood, in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith.
Now believing is nothing else than having faith; and accordingly, when, on behalf of an infant as yet incapable of exercising faith, the answer is given that he believes, this answer means that he has faith because of the sacrament of faith, and in like manner the answer is made that he turns himself to God because of the sacrament of conversion, since the answer itself belongs to the celebration of the sacrament. Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism:
We are buried with Christ by baptism into death.Romans 6:4
He does not say,
We have signified our being buried with Him, but
We have been buried with Him. He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.
Apostolic Constitutions ca. 400
He has in several ways changed baptism, sacrifice, the priesthood, and the divine service, which was confined to one place: for instead of daily baptisms, He has given only one, which is that into His death. Instead of one tribe, He has appointed that out of every nation the best should be ordained for the priesthood; and that not their bodies should be examined for blemishes, but their religion and their lives. Instead of a bloody sacrifice, He has appointed that reasonable and unbloody mystical one of His body and blood, which is performed to represent the death of the Lord by symbols. Instead of the divine service confined to one place, He has commanded and appointed that He should be glorified from sunrising to sunsetting in every place of His dominion. (Bk. VI, XXIII)
St. Columba of Ireland ca. 521-597
At another time, as the saint was staying in that part of Scotia (Ireland), named a little before, he came by chance on the Lord’s day to a neighboring little monastery, called in the Scotic language Trioit (Trevet, in Meath). The same day a priest celebrated the holy mysteries of the Eucharist, who was selected by the brethren who lived there to perform the solemn offices of the Mass, because they thought him very pious. The saint, on hearing him, suddenly opened his mouth and uttered this fearful sentence: “The clean and unclean are now equally mingled together; that is, the clean mysteries of the holy sacrifice are offered by an unclean person, who just now conceals within his own conscience a grievous crime.” The bystanders, hearing these words, were struck with terror; but he of whom they were said was forced to confess his sin before them all. And the fellow-soldiers of Christ, who stood round the saint in the church, and had heard him making manifest the secrets of the heart, greatly wondered, and glorified the heavenly knowledge that was seen in him. (St. Adamnan, The Life of St. Columba Chap. XXXII)
Pope St. Gregory the Great ca. 540-604 a.d.
And here also we have diligently to consider, that it is far more secure and safe that every man should do that for himself whiles he is yet alive, which he desireth that others should do for him after his death. For far more blessed it is, to depart free out of this world, than being in prison to seek for release: and therefore reason teacheth us, that we should with our whole soul contemn this present world, at least because we see that it is now gone and past: and to offer unto God the daily sacrifice of tears, and the daily sacrifice of his body and blood. For this sacrifice doth especially save our souls from everlasting damnation, which in mystery doth renew unto us the death of the Son of God: who although being risen from death, doth not now die any more, nor death shall not any further prevail against him: yet living in himself immortally, and without all corruption, he is again sacrificed for us in this mystery of the holy oblation: for there his body is received, there his flesh is distributed for the salvation of the people: there his blood is not now shed betwixt the hands of infidels, but poured into the mouths of the faithful. Wherefore let us hereby meditate what manner of sacrifice this is, ordained for us, which for our absolution doth always represent the passion of the only Son of God: for what right believing Christian can doubt, that in the very hour of the sacrifice, at the words of the Priest, the heavens be opened, and the quires of Angels are present in that mystery of Jesus Christ; that high things are accompanied with low, and earthly joined to heavenly, and that one thing is made of visible and invisible? (Dialogues Bk. 4, 58)
St. Isaac the Syrian died ca. 700
For lo, we observe that when we are offering the visible sacrifice everyone has made ready and has taken their stand in prayer, seeking mercy from the Deity, making supplication and and concentrating their intellect upon God, then the Holy Spirit come upon the bread and wine which are set upon the altar table. (The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 23)
Celtic Liturgy: Stowe Missal ca. 650
In the Mass for Living Penitents
O Lord, pardon us Thy penitents, Thy pretentious servants, that with untroubled mind we may be able to offer this Sacrifice for, that by the dictates of Faith, they may obtain forgiveness and health, through Thee O Holy Father. May Thy followers be able to make the offering and attain to the Salvation of eternal grace by Thine aid. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Who reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit throughout all ages of ages.
O Lord we beg Thee to graciously attend these sacrificial offerings here present that our devotions may be profitable to salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ Who reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit throughout all ages of ages.
Bede the Venerable 673-735
So devout and zealous was he (St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne ca. 634-687) in his desire after heavenly things, that, whilst officiating in the solemnity of the Mass, he never could come to the conclusion thereof without a plentiful shedding of tears. But whilst he duly discharged the Mysteries of our Lord’s Passion, he would, in himself, illustrate that in which he was officiating; in contrition of heart he would sacrifice himself to the Lord; and whilst he exhorted the standers-by to lift up their hearts and to give thanks unto the Lord, his own heart was lifted up rather than his voice, and it was the spirit which groaned within him rather than the note of singing. (Life of St. Cuthbert Chap. XVI)
St. John Damascene ca. 676-749
With bread and wine Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God, received Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the Gentiles. (Gen. 14:18) That table pre-imaged this mystical table, just as that priest was a type and image of Christ, the true high-priest. (Lev. 14:19-20) For you are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. Of this bread the show-bread was an image. This surely is that pure and bloodless sacrifice which the Lord through the prophet said is offered to Him from the rising to the setting of the sun (Mal. 1:11). (The Fount of Knowledge 3.4)
St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022
Therefore, it is with the desire to satisfy your charity about this matter that I should wish to pose this question, as if I were addressing those who speak in this way: “Tell me, most excellent brethren, why is this impossible?” They say, “It is because some are readily and easily brought to compunction, while others are hard-hearted and have hearts of stone so that even when they are beaten they are without compunction. How are those who are o disposed able to mourn and weep, and how can they always communicate with tears? Even the very priests who celebrate the divine and bloodless liturgy, how are they able to weep?” (The Discourses, Chap. IV On Tears of Penitence)
Synod of Blachernae in Constantinople 1157
Convened regarding Basilakes and Soterichus. Condemned those who say Christ offered His sacrifice to the Father alone, and not to himself and to the Holy Spirit; those who say the sacrifice of the Divine Liturgy is only figuratively the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood; those who deny that the sacrifice in the Liturgy is one and the same as that of Christ on the cross; those who say men were reconciled to the Son through the incarnation and to the Father through the passion; those who think the deification of Christ’s humanity destroyed his human nature; those who deny that his deified human nature is worthy of worship; those who say that, since the human nature of Christ was swallowed up into Divinity, his passion was an illusion; those who say that characteristics of Christ’s human nature (creaturehood, circumscription, mortality, and blameless passions) exist only hypothetically, when one considers Christ’s human nature in abstraction, and not really and truly.