Hi there. I recently I discovered a blog post written by a protestant who makes an attempt to refute the Catholic claim that the Early Church Fathers unanimously agreed that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Now, he goes through a few Eucharistic quotes from various Church Fathers, and most of his claims are obviously too much of a reach, but there is one in particular that is slightly troubling to me. He starts off with several quotes by Clement of Alexandria. I will include the link to the blog below, but here is the quote that is nagging at me:
“And if we who preside over the Churches are shepherds after the image of the good Shepherd, and you the sheep, are we not to regard the Lord as preserving consistency in the use of figurative speech, when He speaks also of the milk of the flock?… Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood; ” describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,–of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle.”
This excerpt is from Clement of Alexandria’s “Book I - Peadagogus Chapter 6” I did a little reading of it myself just to make sure he wasn’t taking anything out of context, and he doesn’t seem to be. Now my only guess for why Clement would say this is that, in all of his quotes about the Eucharist, he never actually says “the bread figuratively represents the flesh” but instead the flesh represents faith. That would be my only defense for this in dialogue with a protestant, but I’m not sure if that is good enough. Nor am I certain if that is good enough for me in my own belief of the Eucharist. I’m not saying my faith in the sacrament is lacking, it’s just that when I am sitting in Mass, trying to comprehend the mystery of this sacrament, I prefer to have 100% confidence in our belief. So if I ever find any objections given by protestants, I want to make sure I know the answer myself.
So, I have a couple of questions.
- Do you think Clement of Alexandria believed in the True Presence?
- If not, then why is he held in such high respect by the Church?
Sorry for writing an essay. If anyone has read this far, then I appreciate it. I would really love it if you could give me your opinion on this.
Here is the link to the blog I found: