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The Early Church Fathers on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97)
    The Didache, (A.D. 80-90)
    St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    St. Serapion of Alexandria, (A.D. 190-211)
St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 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— 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 [A.D. 110]

Let only that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated under [the presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted it.

Letter to the Smyrnaeans. 8:1;SCh 10,138
Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC 1369

Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97), Roman; Pope from A.D. 88-97; martyr. That St. Clement was honored by the friendship of the great Apostle, St. Peter, is not doubted. There are good reasons to believe that he was designated by that Apostle as his successor in the see of Rome. The authenticity and genuineness of St. Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians are acknowledged. We learn from Eusebius and from other writers, that it was publicly read in many churches. This second epistle is the oldest extant Christian homily we have attributed to him, (A.D. 150).

Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and in a holy manner have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release.

Letter to the Corinthians 44:4-5 [A.D. 95]

The Didache, (A.D. 80-90) the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache means "Teaching") is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century.

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 [Matthew 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" [Malachi 1:11, 14]

Didache 14 [A.D. 70]

St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163), Samaritan; born in Sichem (Naplousia) in Palestine; a platonic philosopher, apologist, and martyr for the faith; he was a convert to Catholic Christianity in A.D. 133. He wrote two Apologies for the Christian religion, one addressed to Antoninus, the other to Marcus Aurelius. He was martyred at Rome in the year 163.

St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161) around the year
A.D. 155, explaining what Christians did:

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'

When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.

Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC 1345

God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor 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 to 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" [Mal. 1:10-11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist.

Dialogue with Trypho 41 [A.D. 155]

"The oblations of wheaten flour prescribed to be offered for those who were purified from the leprosy (Leviticus 14:10), was a type of the bread of the Eucharist which our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to offer for a commemoration of the passion which He endured, that we may, at the same time give thanks to God for having made the world and all things in it for the sake of man. Whence God in speaking of the sacrifices mentioned by the prophet Malachi, then foretold concerning the sacrifices offered unto Him in every place by us Gentiles, that is of the bread of the Eucharist and of the cup in like manner of the Eucharist.

Quoted from Cabinet of Catholic Information, a collection of lectures and writings of eminent prelates and priests of the Catholic Church in America and Europe, by Rev. J.M. Lucey. Copyright Duggan Publishing Company, Buffalo, New York, 1904, page 97.

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, "This is my body." The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: "You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will no accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting 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 Almighty" [Mal. 1:10-11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles.

Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. I89]

"Most manifestly the Lord Almighty means by these words of the prophet, Malachy, that the olden people shall cease to offer to God; but that in every place, a sacrifice and that a pure one, shall be offered to Him. Wherefore the church's oblation, which the Lord taught to be offered throughout the whole world, is reputed a pure sacrifice before God, and is acceptable to Him."

Quoted from Cabinet of Catholic Information, a collection of lectures and writings of eminent prelates and priests of the Catholic Church in America and Europe by Rev. J.M. Lucey. Copyright Duggan Publishing Company, Buffalo, New York, 1904, page 97.

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

"Salem is interpreted peace, of which our Saviour is described as the king, whom Moses calls Melchisedech, king of Salem, that priest of the Most High God, who gave the wine and the bread, that sanctified food, as a type of the Eucharist."

Strom. L. t iv. n. 25, jp. 637.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 402

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

"What sacrifice is that from which we withdraw without the peace?" . . . In like manner also, very many think that, on the days of the stations, they ought not to be present at the prayers of the sacrifices, because when the body of the Lord has been received, the station must be broken up. Does then the Eucharist break up a service devoted to God? Does it not the more bind to God? Will not thy station be the more solemn, if thou standest also at the altar of God? When the body of the Lord has been received and reserved, both are saved, both the participation of the sacrifice, and the fulfilment of the service. If the station taketh its name from the model of war (for we are also soldiers of God), surely no joy, or sorrow, that comes upon the camp, cutteth short the stations of the soldiers."

De Orations, n. 14, pp. 135-6.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 403-404

"But to you be there no ground for going forth which is not solemn. Either one sick among the brethren is visited, or the sacrifice is offered, or the word of God is ministered. Any of these is matter of gravity and sanctity, for which there is no need of any remarkable dress, at once studied, and unrestrained."

De Cultu Femin. I. ii. n. xi. p. 155.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 404

St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236), Roman; bishop and martyr, probably a scholar of St. Irenæus of Lyons.

"It is not lawful for a deacon to offer up sacrifice. Christ, having become man for our sakes, and offering up to Him, the God and Father, the spiritual sacrifice before His passion, to us alone did He give commission to do this after His ascension; we offering up according to His appointment, a pure and unbloody sacrifice, set apart bishops, and priests, and deacons."

Quoted from Cabinet of Catholic Information, a collection of lectures and writings of eminent prelates and priests of the Catholic Church in America and Europe by Rev. J.M. Lucey. Copyright Duggan Publishing Company, Buffalo, New York, 1904, page 97-98.

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"We offer up to the God of all, our prayers through His only-begotten Son: to whom we first address them, beseeching Him, who is a propitiation for our sins, to present, as a high priest, both our prayers, and sacrifices, and intercessions to the God who is above all."

T. i. l. viii. Adv. Cels.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 405

"When thou shalt see the Gentiles come unto the faith, churches being built, altars being sprinkled, not with the blood of animals, but hallowed with the precious blood of Christ; when thou shalt see the priests and Levites ministering, not the blood of goats and oxen, but the word of God through the grace of the Holy Spirit, then say that Jesus, after Moses, has received and holds the headship."

T. ii. Hom. ii. in Jos. p. 400, col. 2.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 405

"I will not gather together their meetings for blood-offerings" (Psalm 15:4)

These words are manifestly those of one above the many, and of no other than Christ; for when He gathers, He gathers not meetings for blood-offerings. . . . Another (Aquila) interprets thus: "I will not pour forth their libations of blood-offerings, but I will deliver over to all men new mysteries, and an unbloody sacrifice."

T. ii. Sel. in Ps. 15, p. 598.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 405


St. Serapion of Alexandria, eighth bishop of Antioch, (A.D. 190-211), known principally through his theological writings.

Accept therewith our hallowing too, as we say, "Holy, holy, holy Lord Sabaoth, Heaven and earth is full of your glory." Heaven is full, and full is the earth, with your magnificent glory, Lord of virtues. Full also is this sacrifice, with your strength and your communion; for to you we offer this living sacrifice, this unbloody oblation.

Prayer of the Eucharistic Sacrifice 13:12-16 [A.D.350]



Our Savior, in leaving to us His Body and Blood, under two distinct species or kinds, instituted not only a sacrament, but also the sacrifice; the commemorative sacrifice, distinctly showing His passion and death until He comes in glory. As the sacrifice of the cross was performed by a distinct effusion of His blood, so is that sacrifice is commemorated and re-presented on the altars in Catholic parishes symbolically. The separate acts of the priest [consecrating the leavened wheat bread into His Body, then subsequently consecrating the grape wine into His Precious Blood] represent death because if you separate your body from your blood, you will die. The actions of the priest at Mass bring forth the reality of Calvary. Jesus, therefore, is here given not only to us, but for us; and the Church is thereby enriched with a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice. We say propitiatory because it re-presents, in a lively manner, the passion and death of our Lord, and is peculiarly pleasing to our eternal Father, and thus more effectually applies to us the all-sufficient merits of the sacrifice of the cross.



The Church's Scriptures that support the [Eucharist or the Mass]:

The Mass foretold in the Old Testament:

10 Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you," Says the Lord of hosts, "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations," Says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 1:10-11

Matthew's Account of the Last Supper:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

Matthew 26:26-29

Mark's Account of the Last Supper:

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

Mark 14:22-25

Luke's Account of the Last Supper:

13 And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover. 14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Luke 22:13-20

St. Paul proclaims and catechizes on the Mass.

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?


1 Corinthians 10:16-21

Abuses of the Lord's Supper

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you meet together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

St. Paul proclaims and catechizes on the Mass.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.


1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Partaking of the Lord's Supper unworthily.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.


1 Corinthians 11:27-30

If the Eucharist were just a symbol, why does Paul say, "That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." If the Eucharist is just a symbol it shouldn't have effected them.

From the author of Hebrews.

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.

Hebrews 5:1-4


10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

Hebrews 13:10-12


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