Consecration of the Eucharist in the early church


#1

Acts 2

44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Doesn’t this passage imply that “breaking of bread” (communion) was performed separately to worship (Mass) in the temple? Doesn’t it also imply that they were breaking bread without the need for a priest, It would seem that it is implied that each individual household was performing the consecration???

I’ve always believed (and still do) that the early Church worshiped as Catholics do, but this doesn’t sound very Catholic.

Any thoughts?
Thanks.


#2

Several possibilities come to mind.

1.) They were coming together for a meal and not for Eucharist. (I don’t think I buy that one completely, though this may be the case as the very early Church may not have celebrated the Eucharist on a daily basis. And the passage seems to indicate this was a daily occurence.)

2.) They were coming together in “a” home, not each to their own home to celebrate Eucharist, without worship. Since they were Jews they would still want to worhip at the temple, but they’d certainly have a hard time celebrating eucharist there. (Not sure this one makes sense either.)

3.) They gathered in the temple area for Evangilization purposes and retired to a home for Worship and Eucharist.

4.) They gathered in the temple area for Evangilization purpose and retired to a home together for a “normal” meal.

I think I’m inclined to go with 3 or 4. Most likely 4. But then again I didn’t read the rest of the context and somebody else more knowlegable then me wil get it right.

:o

Chuck


#3

The Temple was still standing and the Early Christians were still Jews. So they both attended the Jewish services and celebrated Mass (broke bread) amongst themselves. Probably “in their homes” is intended to mean “not on Temple premises”, rather than “in family groups”.
It is unlikely that the father of the family would have consecrated the bread, because we know that by the time St Paul was writing this was not the practise. However it is hard to be entirely 100% sure. One thing the passage implies is that Mass was daily, not, like the Shabbat dinner, a weekly event.


#4

Couldn’t this have been the Agape’s that Paul condemned?


#5

All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

To start with, Temple worship can in no way be equated with the Mass. The first was Jewish ceremonial worship. The breaking of the the bread, or early Mass, was a Christian celebration of and Communion with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. These are two seperate things.

What the early Jewish Christians apparently did is to attend the Temple and synagogue, taking the opportunity, no doubt, to talk about the Gospel to their fellow, but unbelieving, Jews. Afterwards they would gather together in their homes for the Christian mysteries.

This was the pattern until the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Christians were later driven out of the synagogues by the Jews. After that, there was only the Mass.

Doesn’t it also imply that they were breaking bread without the need for a priest, It would seem that it is implied that each individual household was performing the consecration???

I think you are reading too much into the phrase “in their homes.” Note what it does not say: it does not say “in each of their own homes apart from everyone else.” It just means that when they gathered together, it was in one or another of their homes --probably sometimes in one home, sometimes in another. Whoever the bishop or priest was would travel around to whichever home was being used.


#6

May I recommend How Christ Said the First Mass by the Reverend James Meagher. Available at amazon.


#7

Thanks for clarifying; that really makes sense :thumbsup:

I think you are reading too much into the phrase “in their homes.” Note what it does not say: it does not say “in each of their own homes apart from everyone else.” It just means that when they gathered together, it was in one or another of their homes --probably sometimes in one home, sometimes in another. Whoever the bishop or priest was would travel around to whichever home was being used.

Fair point, but can you imagine the logistics!? Assuming the capacity of a residence in ancient Jerusalem was relatively small, and that the Catholic community was relatively large, the church at Jerusalem must have required a highly disproportionate number of priests to service the community.


#8

Has the Church always required ordained priest to consecrate the Eucharist? I know that there have been a number of instances throughout history in which lay persons have been authorised to hear sacramental Confession. Have lay persons ever been authorised to consecrate the Eucharist?


#9

But it wasn’t an American city of distant suburbs connected by roads. No house would have been more than a few minutes’ walk from any other. Then social inequality was very large - a rich man would have a “household” with many servants, and a large property.


#10

I would recommend reading, The Early Christian Mass by Mike Aquilina

This books explains the develop of the Mass and how it came into being.


#11

Original Latin Translation explain it better:

42*** And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers. *43 And fear came upon every soul: many wonders also and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all. 44 And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. 45 Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need. 46 And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart; 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.
**


#12

and to breaking bread in their homes… Acts 2:46

This must be compared with:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: … Likewise greet the church that is in their house

. Romans 16:3,5

In Romans, the house of Priscilla and Aquila acted as a parish church for a number of Christians, not just the homeowners themselves. By implication, it is evident that there were other such parishes throughout the city of Rome…this was not the only “house church” in Rome.

So whatever the custom at the very first after Pentecost, by Paul’s time a parish system was established with several houses acting as churches in each city. It WAS NOT each Christian family meeting in their own homes by themselves.


#13

Same here:

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, KJV


#14

Our Mass today is comprised of two liturgies, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Most Christian scholars of liturgy, scripture and early Christian writings believe that the first Christians [being mostly Jewish] continued to observe the Sabbath. They worshiped in the synagogues on the Sabbath, with a Liturgy of the Word. Jewish synagogue worship even today resembles the first part of the Mass We have Jesus illustrating the synagogue liturgy when he read from the prophet and declared to the people of Nazareth “Today, this reading has been fulfilled in your presence”.

Those same early Christians gathered on the Lord’s day [the first day of the week, Resurrection, Easter, 8th day celebrations [a Jewish concept as in circumcision on the eigth day] to cellebrate the Breaking of Bread [the Liturgy of the Eucharist]. They came together to “Do this in remebrance of me”

When the Christians were expelled from the Jewish community [ceased to be a sect - like the Sanhedrin, Pharisees or the Essenes, etc] around the time of the Roman destruction of the Temple, these early Christians combined the celebration of scripture readings [Liturgy of the Word] with the Breaking of Bread [Liturgy of the Eucharist] on the Lord’s Day [the first day of the week - Sunday] We have a referecnces to this in Paull’s writings and in Revelation. By this time there were many gentile converts to Jesus [probably more than there were Christianized Jews].


#15

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