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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Eucharist Through the Centuries: The Second Century


Eucharistic Adoration Blessed Sacrament Chapel Carmel, California


"The main purpose of this work is to trace elements of Eucharistic  doctrine from the day our Lord Jesus Christ announced it for the first time in the synagogue in Capernaum (John, Chapter 6) down to our day."  Rev. Roberto de la Vega, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Eucharist Through The Centuries. 


The first historical period after the Apostolic times is called the Patristic Period.  These men lived between 100 a.d. and 800 a.d., known for their orthodoxy, the time period was called the period of the Church Fathers. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 110) 

St. Ignatius, the second successor of St. Peter was condemned to death by wild beast during the Roman persecution of the Church.  On his way to his death in the amphitheater in Rome, St. Ignatius wrote seven letters to Christian communities along the route. Here is a selection of his writings: 

"Where the bishop is, there let the people be, just as where Jesus is, there is the catholic (universal) Church." 

St. Ignatius calls the Eucharist "the medicine of immortality," "the antidote against death," and "everlasting life in Jesus Christ." 

"Take care, then, to partake of one Eucharist; for one is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with his blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the priests and the deacons." 

St. Justin, Martyr (died c. 165) 

St. Justin was a layman, born in Palestine of pagan parents.  While walking along the shore he met a man who told him to read from the prophets of the Bible.  This in turn led him to accept Christianity.  For his writing, which was in defense of Christianity, he was put to death. 

It is from his writings that we have a description of the Mass as celebrated in Rome in the year 150. 

"On the day we call the day of the sun (Sunday), 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,...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...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...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...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.

And this food is with us called 'Eucharist' and it is not lawful for anyone to partake of it but him who believes our teaching to be true, and has been washed with the washing which is for the forgiveness of sins and unto a new birth, and lives as Christ commanded.

For it is not as common bread or common drink that we receive these, but just as by God's word Jesus Christ our Savior became flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food made Eucharist by the word of prayer that comes from Him is both flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." 

St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, France (died c. 202) 

St. Irenaeus was born in what is now Turkey.  He was a pupil of St. Polycarp, who was in turn a pupil of St. John, the last of the twelve Apostles.  

Concerning the Eucharist, St. Irenaeus writes:  "When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receive the word of God and the Eucharist becomes the body and blood of Christ, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported..."


Blessed be the Lord our God, blessed from age to age.  

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Eucharist Through the Centuries: 90 a.d. - 165 a.d.

Holy Eucharist El Dorado Hills Holy Trinity Church

"The main purpose of this work is to trace elements of Eucharistic  doctrine from the day our Lord Jesus Christ announced it for the first time in the synagogue in Capernaum (John, Chapter 6) down to our day."  Rev. Roberto de la Vega, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Eucharist Through The Centuries. 


Didache (90 - 100 a.d.) 

The oldest Christian document is the Didache written between 90 and 100 a.d. in the Middle East.  In writing about the Mass the Didache says: 

"Regarding the Eucharist,  Give thanks as follows:  'First, concerning the cup: "We give thee thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David thy servant, which thou hast made known to us through thy Servant Jesus.  To thee be glory forever." 

Next, concerning the broken bread:  "We give thee thanks, our Father, for our Father, for the life and knowledge thou hast made known to us through Jesus thy Servant.  To thee be glory forever. 

As this broken bread was scattered over the hills (as grains of wheat) and then, when gathered, became one mass (of dough), so may thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom.  For thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.'"

The Didache communion prayer after receiving Communion: 'We give thee thanks, O holy Father, for thy holy name which thou hast enshrined in our hearts, and for thee knowledge and faith and immortality which thou hast made known to us through Jesus thy Servant. To thee be glory forever...but to us thou has given spiritual food and drink and eternal life through (Jesus) thy Servant...'

St. Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 110) 

St. Ignatius is the first to apply the word "catholic" to the Church established by Christ.  He uses the term in its original meaning of "universal". "Where the bishop is, there let the people be, just as where Jesus is, there is the catholic (universal) Church." 

St Ignatius of Antioch calls the Eucharist "the medicine of immortality,"...he writes "Take care, then to partake of one Eucharist; for one is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with his blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the priests and the deacons."

St. Justin, Martyr (died c. 165)

In St. Justin's written defense of Christianity to the Emperor he gives us what is the earliest known description of the Mass, as it was celebrated about the year 150 in Rome.  

(That in parenthesis below
 is my addition to the writing of  St. Justin.) 

"On the day we call the day of the sun (Sunday), 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 (readings and Gospel), as much as time permits.  When the reader has finished, he (priest or bishop gives homily) 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 (Prayer of the Faithful), 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 (Sign of Peace).  Then someone brings bread and a cup of water mixed together to him who presides over the brethren (Prepare the altar and the offering). 

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 that we have been judged worthy of these gifts (Eucharistic Prayer). When he has concluded the prayers and the thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying 'Amen' (The Great 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 (Holy Communion). 

And this food is with us called 'Eucharist'; and it is not lawful for anyone to partake of it but him who believes our teaching to be true, and has been washed (Baptized) with the washing which is for the forgiveness of sins and unto a new birth, and lives as Christ commanded.  For it is not as common bread or common drink that we receive these, but just as by God's word Jesus Christ our Savior became flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food made Eucharist by the word of prayer that comes from Him is both flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.  For the Apostles in the memoirs they composed, which are called Gospels (John Chapter 6), have thus recorded that they were given command...that Jesus took bread...and said, 'This is my body' and took the cup and said, 'This is my blood.'" 


All Glory and Honor to the Lord. 


Friday, February 21, 2020

The Faith Pilgrimage - "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Adoration Mission Santa Cruz, California 

By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #142)

Our faith life is a grace, a gift from God, that brings us into a personal, loving union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

1. Faith is a personal and communal relationship - It is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed, a personal relationship with the Triune God.  But is is not just private, as we profess our faith together as the Body of Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

2. Faith is a gift of Grace from God - God not only speaks to us, he also gives us the grace to respond.  Growth in understanding God's Revelation of faith is a lifelong process. 

3. Faith is necessary for salvation - "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned." (CCC #183) 

4.  Faith is a free, human act - God never forces his truth and love upon us.  He reveals himself to us as free human beings, and our faith response to him is made within the context of our freedom.   

Faith is both a relationship with God as well as an engagement with the truths that he reveals.  Like any other relationship, our faith communion with God develops in stages.  It is a day by day process of growth, a journey, a pilgrimage.  Our ultimate goal of a life of faith, eternal union with God in heaven.  

 "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Our Universal Desire For God - "As a deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God." (Psalm 42:2)



The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #27)  

1. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Why do I need to struggle to achieve my goals?  

These questions of human existence reflect an inner longing for God.  God has planted in every human heart the hunger and longing for the infinite, which is nothing less than God. 

"Our heart is restless until it rests in you."  Saint Augustine  

2. How is our quest for God awakened?  First God pursues us, this spurs us to search for Him for whom we were made.  

3. Where do we find God?  Through His creation.  Which is subject to change, but He who made all is not subject to change.  

"The heavens declare the glory of God." (Psalm 19:2)

"Ever since the creation of the world his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made."  (Romans 1:20) 

The fact that all visible things come to be and eventually pass out of earthly existence points to an eternal Creator who has no beginning and no end and who sustains all that he has created.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 32) 

4. Where do we find God?  Through our human person. 

 "That I may know myself, that I may know you." Saint Augustine 

"I praise you, so wonderfully you made me." (Psalm 139:14) 

5. Why are so many uninterested in finding God? a. The presence of so much suffering and pain in the world disheartens them.  b. They have never heard the good news.  c. Scandalous behavior by some believers, priests and bishops drives honest seekers away. d. Personal sinful conduct weakens many and they hide from God. e. Some resist acknowledging God because they do not wish to follow His commandments. f. Others may just be distracted with all the clutter and noise of life.  

6. What causes one to once again search for God?  Secularism proves unsatisfactory.  God never ceases to pursue us. Only in God will we find the truth, peace, and happiness for which we never stop searching.  Created in God's image, we are called to know, serve and love the Lord. 

"God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love." Saint Augustine 

"As a deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God." (Psalm 42:2) 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Walk for Life San Francisco 2020








The following is a montage of photos and videos from the 16th Annual Walk for Life San Francisco January 25, 2020.  With the numerous volunteers and the help of the SFPD, this walk was a peaceful procession down Market from the Civic Center to the Embarcadero. Much different than our last experience in 2012

We arrived early in the day.  But by the time the speakers started the Civic Center Plaza was packed wall to wall.  


San Francisco City Hall 




Security watching from surrounding buildings. 





SFPD checks for bombs. 




Fr. Frank Pavone and Georgette Forney of Priests for Life lead the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  



Mother Tabitha a speaker who regrets
 her abortion and will be Silent No More 



Most powerful speech of the day.  



Walk for Life in Pictures 


Sunday, January 5, 2020

Feast of the Epiphany - Catholic Tradition to Bless the Lintel of your Front Door for the New Year

Adoration of the Magi - Domenico Ghirlandaio 


The Epiphany of the Lord
We Three Kings of Orient Are

 We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Adoration of the Magi - Peter Paul Rubens

To orient ourselves means to get our bearings, to know where we are, or to find ourselves. Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord, the day when Tradition tells us, that Magi bearing gifts traveled from the Orient following a star seeking the “newborn king of the Jews” in Bethlehem. As they gazed upon this newborn king, the baby Jesus, they “found themselves” suddenly aware that what they were witnessing, what had been “made known” to them, was the manifestation of Christ not only to themselves, but to all peoples. The Magi had experienced an epiphany; or rather they experienced The Epiphany.
Adoration of the Magi - Hieronymus Bosch

House Blessing on the Epiphany
It is a Catholic custom to gather as a family and ask God’s blessing on their home on the Feast of the Epiphany by marking the lintel of the front door with chalk blessed by a priest.
We were first introduced to this at Mass in Winters, California in 2012.  It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows all year long.  It has been our tradition ever since.
Use white chalk blessed by your parish priest, and write the numbers and letters 20 + C + M + B + whatever the year is on the lintel of your front door frame. This year we write 20 + C + M + B + 20.  Then offer a simple prayer to God asking for His blessings such as:
Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of thy law, and thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  And may this blessing remain upon our home and upon all who enter or dwell herein.  This we pray through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 
The letters C, M, B have two meanings:

They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. 

They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless this house.”

The “+” sign represents the cross and the number the year, 2020. 
May God bless you and yours during this new year. 
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Religious Art - Public Domain



Monday, December 30, 2019

Adoration of the Magi

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)




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Adoration of the Magi - Giorgione (1477/78 - 1590)



Matthew 1: 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" 


Adoration of the Kings - Gerard David (1460 - 1523)

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."  

Adoration - Jan Gossaert (1478 – 1532)


After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.   They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.



The Adoration of the Magi - Peter Paul Rubens (1577- 1640)

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Picture Source - Public Domain


The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index