History of the Eucharist

By mowa01
  • The Early Church

    For the first three centuries the Eucharist was celebrated in the houses and homes of Christians in secret. The liturgy around the core of the Eucharist, the re-enactment of Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper, developed gradually. The earliest language of the Mass was generally Koine Greek, the common tongue of the Greco Roman Empire, though other vernacular languages such as Aramaic/Syriac and Latin were also used.
  • 2nd & 3rd Centuries

    In the second century, the Eucharist was never viewed in isolation. It was always linked to the entire mystery of the faith, and indeed represented a synthesis of it. If an essential aspect of the faith is called into question, then the Eucharist will serve as the reference-point to show whether we are on the right track or not.
  • 4th - 8th Centuries

    Latin became the standard language of the liturgy (384C.E.), as it was now the common language of the Roman world. The increase in the numbers led to a move out of the homes. At first, the assemblies met in basilicas (imperial buildings); later they built and dedicated churches. The clergy grew in numbers. During this era, they began to wear special clerical clothes. The need for liturgical books grew.
  • 9th - 15th Centuries

    Theologians of this era debated the meaning of the "real presence" of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine. Large churches, the stress on the sacrificial nature of the mass and the growing sense that the laity were spectators to a drama unfolding on the altar, all led to a feeling that the Consecration was the high point of the mass. Emphasis fell not on receiving Jesus in communion, but on seeing and adoring Christ in the Bread and Wine. The meaning of Eucharist as meal was all but lost.
  • Reformation to Twentieth Century

    The sixteenth century brought about the Protestant Reformation. The Council of Trent (1545-1563 C.E.) convened to correct some of the abuses that had crept into the church. It also defended some Catholic beliefs attacked by the Reformers. In the area of the Eucharist, the church fathers reaffirmed the real presence of Jesus and the adequacy of the theological term transubstantiation. They also defended the sacrificial nature of the mass against the Reformers. Mos
  • The Eucharist Today

    Developments in the understanding and celebration of Eucharist sanctioned by church authority since Vatican II have sought to acknowledge both the rich history of the Eucharist and its celebration through 2000 years while acknowledging contemporary emphases on the nature of Church as People of God and on the need to connect Eucharist with the life of individuals and communities.