The feeding of those five thousand was not a Mass, but it prepared the way for the Mass.

Friday, 4/12/13

The multiplication of the loaves is the only miracle found in all four Gospels. They all agree on what actions Our Lord took. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the same sequence of his actions:  Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave. In all likelihood they recorded him doing it that way, because  that was the way it went in the Sunday Eucharist they had been celebrating for half a century.

As lovers of the Eucharist, we are fortunate in the past hundred years to be reading  documents on the Mass that were lost for fifteen hundred years.

From the First Century scholars have recovered a handbook called the “Teaching of the Apostles,” but commonly referred to by the Greek word for “the teaching,” which  is the Didache. It makes the strong point that the Eucharist is the people’s sacrifice, for which they should prepare by cleansing their consciences.

From the Second Century we have St. Justin’s account of our Sunday service that began with readings from the Prophets and the Apostles, followed by a homily, and then by Eucharist prayers over bread and wine. (There was even a collection.)

From the Third Century we have an account from Rome that gives the wording of the Mass that is quite similar to our Eucharistic Prayer Two.

In the Sixteenth Century these documents had not been recovered, so Martin Luther abandoned the Mass, preferring a reputation of the Gospel readings from the Last Supper; but modern Lutherans, benefiting from newly recovered documents from the first centuries, have brought back a Sunday liturgy almost identical with ours.

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