The Shepherd, April 2005
PASCHA FALLS THIS YEAR IN THE VERY MIDDLE OF THE CHURCH MONTH OF APRIL, AND SO WE HAVE DEVOTED THIS ISSUE LARGELY TO THE PASSION AND THE INSTITUTION OF THE MYSTERY OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST, BUT MAY WE ALSO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY OF GREETING OUR READERS WITH THE JOYOUS NEWS OF THE RESURRECTION?
Christ is Risen!
Truly, He is Risen!
FROM THE FATHERS
“NOT AS COMMON bread and common drink do we receive these [i.e. the Holy Gifts]; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the Food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh are by transmutation nourished, is the Flesh and Blood of that Jesus who was made flesh, for the Apostles, in memoirs composed by them which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them.”
Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher, + 165 A.D.
“HE [Christ] has declared that this Chalice, which is His creature, is His Blood, by which our own blood is renewed, and that this Bread, which is His creature, is His Body, by which He makes our own bodies flourish.”
Holy Hieromartyr Irenæus of Lyons, + 202 A.D.
“PARTAKE of the immaculate Body and Blood of your Lord with the fullest faith, certain that you are receiving wholly the Lamb Itself. The mysteries of Christ are an immortal fire. Take care you do not rashly search into them, lest you be burned partaking of them. Abraham the Patriarch placed earthly food before the heavenly angels, and they ate of it. A truly great wonder: to behold incorporeal spirits on earth eating the food of corporeal men. But what surpasses all wonder, all understanding, all speech: what Jesus Christ our Saviour, the Only-begotten Son, has done for us. For He has given us who are clothed in flesh fire and spirit to eat and to drink: namely His own Body and Blood.”
Ven. Ephraim the Syrian, + 373 A.D.
“HE ONCE in Cana of Galilee turned the water into wine, akin to blood; and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into Blood? When called to a bodily marriage, He miraculously wrought that wonderful work, and on the children of the bridechamber (Matt 9:15), shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood?”
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, + 386 A.D.
“WE DO NOT EAT God simply, God being impalpable and incorporeal; nor again, the flesh of man simply, which would not profit us. But God having taken flesh into union with Himself, that flesh is quickening. Not that it has changed its own for the Divine Nature; but just as heated iron remains iron, with the action of heat in it; so our Lord’s flesh is quickening, as being the flesh of the Word of God.”
Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid, eleventh century.
“RECEIVING the Holy Mysteries serves as an admission ticket to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to Paradise. Without this we shall remain outside the Bridal Chamber of Christ. Listen to the Lord Who says, ‘Amen. Amen, I say unto you, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you’(John 6:53).”
Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos of Longovarda, + 1980 A.D.