Is the Eucharist pagan?

My friend is reading The Da Vinci Code and has asked me some questions about the Catholic Church as a result. I should note that I’ve already read the CA tract on the novel, but it did not touch on the subject my friend is asking. Apparently the book claims that Constantine basically fused the Roman sun-god worship with Christianity, perverting true Christianity. As a result, the book says, that is why Catholics have “wafers” (Eucharist), it’s why we believe we are “eating” God, and it also accounts for the sacrificial aspect of the Mass. I’ve also heard the exact same stuff from anti-Catholics like Jack Chic, but I have never found a Catholic rebuttal. Can you help? This is really affecting my faith! God bless!

Dear UK,

Historians put the date of Constantine as early as 274 AD and as late as 288 AD.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died in 115 AD, wrote: “”(Heretics) abstain from Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ…" (from a Letter to Smyrnaens 6, 2, 2).

St. Justin Martyr, who died in 165 AD wrote: “…not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but…as we have been taught, the food that has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and Blood of that incarnated Jesus (from Apology 66,22).”

St. Irenaeus, who died either at the end of the second century or the beginning of the third, wrote: "He (Jesus) has declared the cup, a part of his creation, to be His own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.: (From “Against Heresies” 5, 2, 2)

These Church Fathers confirm that the early Church taught and firmly believed what the Catholic Church teaches and believes today about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Your friend needs to upgrade the kind of books he or she reads.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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