Catholicism-Early Examples

The Catholic Church claims that the church was around at the time of Christ. However, how early in history do we actually see this in action in written documents or history accepted by the average historian?

Example–How early do we see the word “pope” applied to an actual individual after Christ was gone?

Example-How early do we see Mary as co-redemtrix?

Example-How early do we see confession of sins to priests?

Roman historians catalogued a Christian (Catholic) worship service which details the portions of the mass as early as 80 AD.

The term Pope is also the Italian word “Papa,” it means father. What I think you’re looking for is the primacy of the chair of Peter, which is recorded in the book of Acts.

Mary as co-redemtrix is not a doctrine of the church.

Private confession as it is today emerged in the middle ages. Previously it was done en masse and only available ONCE in a person’s lifetime. I don’t know when the first recorded instance of this was, but it was almost immediately after Jesus’ assumption.

This isn’t true. St. Leo the Great encourages private confession instead of public confession, because it is more merciful to the penitent–this is way before the middle ages.

I’d just look in the New Testament! Unless you’re looking for specific dates, it’s all right there.

If you want to see whether or not the early Church was Catholic, start reading :smiley: :

Where can I find the Roman examples in print?

As far as Acts and other Biblical examples, I am only interested in examples that would be post Bible and accepted by historians.

Where does Mary as co-redemtrix come from? I often hear that as being related to the Catholic Church.

The term co-redemtrix, I think is a way of saying that she had a much more important role in salvation history so much more than any other creature. It doesn’t really mean anything specific as far as I know. If this is some dogma of the Church you’re referring to, could you tell us which one?

Thanks for the references from a Catholic perspective. What about examples accepted by most historians who don’t have a theological leaning? Example-It doesn’t matter what your faith is to know that the Reformation got underway in the 1500s. What are early documented examples that show current church teachings in ancient cultures? How far back are the earliest examples recorded as part of general history?

I have just heard this and wondered how early it was used. Protestants use this term to “show” that Catholics think Mary saves them. I know it’s not true, but wondered where the term originated. I always thought the term was used by the church.

I’m not sure where it originated, but regardless of that the word doesn’t mean any more than what I stated above. The term itself may be used by individual Catholics every now and then (and this is fine) but I’m not sure if it appears in any Church document that is declared as doctrine of some sort…

There is a great deal of Catholic teaching and doctrine accepted by secular historians in the art and writing found in the catacombs. Studying the catacombs can be helpful. You can start here:

and here:

The office of Pope, in the first century, was referred to just as the episcopacy. “Pope” is not really an official term, but rather an affectionate nickname for the office derived from the Latin for “papa”.

The earliest surviving reference to confession to a priest, besides the biblical references, is from the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) which dates from around 70 AD.

Don’t know about the Marian question. Could look it up.

A problems with the standard you propose is that the early historical sources about Christian teaching come from – you guessed it – Christians! So if you want to know how Christians worshiped and what they believed about the Eucharist, you go to the Didache. The fact that it is a Christian resource should not disqualify it as a historical document. In fact, that should be considered a credential.

The Early Church Fathers are just WHO they are. Early on, you get some heretical writings against which Irenaeus of Lyons writes with clarity around 185 A.D. So that sets up what the mainstream teaching is against the heretical teaching.

As for believing in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, you could refer to Roman accusations that the Christians were cannibals.

Confession appears in the Epistle of James. 2 Cor 2:10 indicates something about priests forgiving sins, where Paul refers to having *himself *forgiven the incestuous man. I like the KJV translation best because I believe it sums up the purpose of sacramental confession best: " . . .for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ." The Priest in Confession acts “in the person of Christ.” In 2 Cor 5:20, Paul suggests the role of the priest in reconciliation: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,” We view the term “ambassador” as meaning someone who functions with the authority of the king. Forgiveness of sin is the central message of the Gospel. So very early on, people knew that forgiveness, in the body of Christ meant repentance and confession.

Early references to confession indicate that one confessed not just to a Priest, but to the ENTIRE congregation – with the priest always in attendance, of course, because he is the one to whom is entrusted the power of absolution: “he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:22-23.

One poster mentioned the Didache…but the Didache doesn’t necessarily “prove” the “real presence” or that it was seen as 'body and blood"…but echos back to Passover…


The Eucharist – The Cup – The Bread

1 And concerning the Eucharist, hold Eucharist thus: 2 First concerning the Cup, "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child, which, thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy child; to thee be glory for ever."
3 And concerning the broken Bread: "We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever.

4 As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy Kingdom, for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever."

5 But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord’s Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

The final prayer in the Eucharist

1 But after you are satisfied with food, thus give thanks: 2 "We give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which thou didst make to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever. 3 Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name’s sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child. 4 Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty. To thee be glory for ever.

5 Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever. 6 Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come! if any man be not, let him repent: Maran atha, Amen."

7 But suffer the prophets to hold Eucharist as they will.

Nothing in the “sacrifce of the mass” is even hinted at in the prayers…just an observation.

Good point. THe Didache is definitely an example of how people worshiped, though. For the real presence, you need Justin Martyr (ca 135).

At first, for confession to be valid, the bishop had to give absolution and, therefore, had to be present. As the Church grew, the bishop was able to assign it to his priests.

Here is an example:

St. Ignatius of Antioch
Born in Syria around A.D. 50, he died at Rome a martyr between 98 and 117. It is with great probability, that, with his friend St. Polycarp, he was a close aquaintance of the Apostle St. John. If we include St. Peter, Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch.

Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8:1-2 (about 40 miles north of Ephesis)

 "You must follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, 
 and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. 
 Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. 
 Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. 
 Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, 
      or by one whom he appoints. (see Romans 10)
 Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, 
      just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the ***Catholic Church.***"

I believe that was written around A.D. 110 but don’t quote me on it.:slight_smile:

Traditionalgal, the references Genesis gave you were not both “from a Catholic perspective”. The first one was from Calvin College - definitely not Catholic! But, all the same, those writings whether they are posted on a Catholic or Protestant site are the same translations and illustrate the Catholicity of the early Church. Many Protestants, for instance Marcus Grodi who formed the “Coming Home Network”, say that in reading the Early Church Fathers they came to see the early Church was Catholic.

St. Justin Martyr, a Christian from the 2nd century, recorded in a letter to the Emperor Antoninus Pius the basic framework of the Mass. It is almost identical to the Catholic Mass as it has been for 2,000 years up to today:

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 (today we give the “sign of peace”, which is usually shaking hands)

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.169
1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:

  • the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;

  • the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.

The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form “one single act of worship”;170 the Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.171

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