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Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the Early Church--St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Resources ffor RCIA on the Eucharist and Real Presence


The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the Early Church


 St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church


Bread of Life - Cup of Salvation, Saint Cyril of JerusalemThis reading on the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist as it was taught in the Early Churh is used in the Roman Catholic liturgy's Office of Readings on the Saturday in the Octave of Eastertide (Cat. 22 Mystagogica 4, 3-6 PG 33. 1098-1106)  Its author, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, was bishop of Jerusalem in the middle of the fourth century and one of the most important sources we have for how the early church celebrated the sacraments during this era as well as what the early Church believed about the sacraments.  In his Jerusalem Catecheses, from which this excerpt comes, he instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil.  For this reason, many excerpts from his Catecheses are used in the Church's liturgy from Easter to Pentecost. 


On the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is my body”. He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take, drink: this is my blood”. Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore, it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and blood with him. Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Once, when speaking to the Jews, Christ said: Unless you eat my flesh
and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. This horrified them and they left him. Not understanding his words in a spiritual way, they thought the Savior wished them to practice cannibalism.

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came to an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged. Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word, to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

Bread of Life - Cup of Salvation - Cyril of Jerusalem
You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to man’s heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that be contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


For more readings from the Fathers on the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, see also:

Sunday Eucharist in the Early Church, Saint Justin Martyr

Eucharist as a Pledge of Resurrection by Saint Irenaeus

This is My Body by Saint Ambrose


And of course be sure to check out the Crossroads Initiative Eucharist Library! for more on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrament of the altar.


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This reading is featured in the Early Church Fathers and the Easter Season sections of The Crossroads Initiative Library.   Its author, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, was one of the Early Church Fathers.  For an introduction to the Early Church Fathers, click here.




Fathers of the Early CHurch, Early Church Fathers, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Catholic ChurchThe Fathers of the Church - Who They Are and Why They Matter - In a single, upbeat talk, full of examples and quick snapshots of some of the Church's most intriguing personalities, Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers.  Though the ranks of the fathers include a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most important questions of our day.  In this talk, Marcellino makes clear just how much these figures have to teach us today. 

Retail - $ 9.00


Feast of Faith - The Transforming Power of the Eucharist

Feast of Faith, Resource on EucharistPope John Paul II, decreed the last year of his pontificate a special "year of the Eucharist."  Make the most of this opportunity with "The Feast of Faith," an enlightening, four-part adult faith formation series on the theology of the Roman Catholic Mass and the eucharistic sacrament of the altar .  The Feast of Faith is guaranteed to answer the question "What is the Eucharist?" and unlock the life-changing power of the Blessed Sacrament in your life and in the lives of those you teach. Be sure to order the Feast of Faith Workbook, full of engaging activities on the Holy Eucharist, so you can get the most out of this amazing Series dedicated in honor of John Paul II, the Pope of the Eucharist!  The series contains four lesson plans on the Sacrament of the Eucharist:

 Lesson OneSacrificehow the Mass is a true sacrifice, the “re-presentation” of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

 Lesson TwoReal PresenceThe uniqueness of the real presence of Jesus Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine is contrasted with the other ways he is present in the world. Out need to be properly prepared to receive Jesus in the Eucharist is discussed in…

 Lesson ThreePreparationto get more out of the Mass, we need to bring more to it-- more faith, more appetite, more repentance, and more forgiveness. Finally…

 Lesson FourAdoration puts personal prayer together with Sacrament of the Eucharist, explaining the meaning and purpose of Eucharistic adoration and offering practical ways we can spend fruitful time before our Eucharistic Lord. 

A must-have series for teen religion, RCIA and Parish Adult Faith Formation programs!

 Feast of Faith DVD - $49.95                                 Feast of Faith – CD - $19.95

       Feast of Faith Workbook - $6.95 

Don't forget to purchase the work book/study guide which is designed for individuals, study groups, and religious education classes. It is chock- full of quotes from Scripture, Church teaching, and great saints on the meaning and power of the Holy Eucharist.  


Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Feast of Faith DVD and Workbook Set    

Feast of Faith CD and Workbook Set

Feast of Faith Audio Tape and Workbook Set  


Bring Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio to your Parish to for a Mission with a the full-day Feast of Faith: Eucharistic Seminar Retreat or two night Feast of Faith: The Year of the Eucharist Parish Mission. Please call 1-800-803-0118 or e-mail to schedule your event today!

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