(Nardostachys jatamansi, Valerianaceae),
also known as nard or
(Nepalese meaning spirit incarnate),
is a small, tender herb with an aromatic rhizome,
native to the mountain areas
of north India.1,2 It has been used in anointing oils for millennia
in the Ancient Near East and was mentioned in
Egyptian perfume texts and biblical texts, such
Song of Songs
a much-valued perfume
(Cant 1:12 ; Deuteronomy 4:13Deuteronomy 4:14 ).
It was "very precious", i.e., very costly
( Mark 14:3 ; John 12:3 John 12:5 ).
In the New Testament
this word is the rendering of the Greek nardos pistike.
The margin of the Revised Version in these passages
has "pistic nard," pistic being perhaps a local name.
Some take it to mean genuine, and others liquid.
The most probable opinion is that the word pistike
designates the nard as
genuine or faithfully prepared.
Spikenard was an expensive perfume mentioned in
the Song of Solomon
and in the
gospels’ accounts of women anointing Jesus
(Mark 14:3; John 12:3).
The word spikenard is found in the King James Version;
other translations simply say
Spikenard had a strong, distinctive aroma, similar to an essential oil,
that clings to skin and hair and continues to give off its heady perfume.
It was also thought to have medicinal properties.
It is distinguished by its having many hairy spikes
shooting out from one root.”
The ointment prepared from the root
was highly valued.
Spikenard symbolized the very best in
ancient cultures the way that
"Tiffany diamond” or the “gold standard”
does to us.
Spikenard had a unique fragrance,
and the presence of its aroma was an
that the very best had been offered.
In the Song of Solomon,
spikenard is mentioned in reference to the love between
bride and groom.
In Song of Solomon 1:12, the bride says,
“While the king was at his table,
my perfume spread its fragrance.”
Those words imply that,
despite all other fragrances in the room,
only his bride’s would matter to the groom.
The presence of spikenard represented
their passion for each other
and their desire to have only the best define their love.
When Mary of Bethany
alabaster jar of spikenard
bathed the feet of Jesus
with the oil, she, too,
wanted only the best to define her love for Him.
It has been speculated that this jar may have been
Mary’s dowry or her inheritance.
In other words, this jar of spikenard ointment may
have been all she had of value, and she
poured it out on Him.
Her extravagant gift is a picture of the
of offering expected of each of us.
Only the best was
worthy of her Lord,
and she was willing to give everything as an
Act of worship.
The same should be true of us (see Numbers 18:29).
When Judas rebuked Mary for wasting such a
Jesus silenced him:
"Leave her alone. . . . It was intended that
she should save
for the day of my burial”
Only Jesus truly understood what He was saying.
that in a few days He would be arrested, tried, and crucified.
It may well have been that, as He felt the whip lacerate His flesh,
as He felt the nails pierce His hands and feet,
He could also inhale the fragrance of
that gift of spikenard and remember why He was doing this.
Mary’s gift may have strengthened and encouraged Him,
even throughout His horrific ordeal,
as its strong scent still clung to His skin.
Mary had not known it at the time she offered her valuable gift,
but she was the first to
The Son of God
as He became no longer simply their teacher but
sacrifice for the sins of the world
(John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:12)
Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume,
and gold as a valuable.
The three gifts had a spiritual meaning:
gold as a symbol of kingship on earth,
frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity,
myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death
Matthew records that as Jesus went to the cross,
“They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall:
and when he
had tasted thereof, he would not drink”
Mark described the drink as wine
mingled with myrrh
Myrrh is most commonly known as one of the gifts
(along with gold and frankincense)
the three wise men
brought to Jesus in the New Testament.
In fact, it was actually mentioned in the Bible 152 times
because it was an important herb of the Bible,
used as a spice, natural remedy and to
purify the dead.
Myrrh oil is still commonly used today as a remedy for a variety of ailments.
Researchers have become interested in myrrh due to its potent antioxidant activity
and potential as a cancer treatment. It has also been shown to be
effective in fighting certain types of parasitic infections.
Myrrh is a resin, or sap-like substance, that comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree,
common in Africa and the Middle East.
It is one of the most widely used essential oils in the world.
The myrrh tree is distinctive due to its white flowers and knotted trunk.
At times, the tree has very few leaves due to the dry desert conditions
where it grows.
It can sometimes take on an odd and twisted shape due to the
harsh weather and wind.
In order to harvest myrrh,
the tree trunks must be cut into to release the resin.
The resin is allowed to dry and begins to
look like tears all along the tree trunk.
The resin is then collected, and the essential
oil is made from the sap via steam distillation.
Myrrh essential oil has been used for thousands of years
in traditional healing therapies and religious ceremonies.
Common myrrh oil uses historically include
- Flavoring for food
- Treating hay fever
- As an antiseptic to clean and treat wounds
- As a paste to help stop bleeding
The Chinese frequently used myrrh as a medicine, and it remains a part
of traditional Chinese medicine to this day.
The main myrrh oil use by the Egyptians was for embalming,
and Jewish people used it to make the
holy anointing oil that was used in worship services.
The most common historical myrrh oil use was to burn the resin over hot coals.
This would release a mysterious, spiritual quality
into any room before a religious ceremony.
The smell of myrrh has been traditionally thought of as a
symbol of suffering,
burned at funerals or other solemn events. At times, however, it is blended with citrus oils to help produce a more uplifting aroma. These lighter blends have been used to help promote inspiration and emotional insight.
Topical application of myrrh oil helped elevate white blood cells
skin wounds, leading to faster healing.
The drink offered to Jesus
was a cheap Roman vinegar wine,
which had a drug mixed in
to dull the senses.
It was the custom of the Romans to offer a man
being crucified drugged wine
so that he might more easily
endure his cross.
Jesus refused the wine, however, apparently so that He could go through
his suffering with a clear mind.
As He neared death, Jesus said,
One of the prominent effects of crucifixion was overpowering thirst
because of the loss of body fluids through open body wounds and perspiration.
David prophesied this Messianic event,
saying They gave me also gall for my meat; and in
thirst they gave me vinegar to drink
John understood that Jesus was conscious of
Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished,
that the scripture might be fulfilled,
saith, I thirst
One of the great heresies in the early church was the idea
Jesus was not really human,
Jesus fulfilled this scripture,
He showed that
He was truly human and truly deity.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar:
and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop,
and put it to his mouth.
When Jesus therefore had received the
he said, It is finished:
and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost
Being at the point of death,
Jesus wished to say His final words.
His parched lips and throat needed moisture,
he accepted the vinegar.
The vinegar wine was offered to Jesus as they
filled a sponge with vinegar,
and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
Hyssop was of extreme significance to the Jews,
because it would remind the Jews of the first Passover night
when each household among the Israelites in Egypt
slew a perfect lamb and put the blood on the doorpost
so that the death angel
would pass over the houses of the Israelites.
Moses had commanded the Israelites, Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop,
and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the
two side posts with the blood that is in the basin;
and none of you shall go out at the door of his
house until the morning
It was the blood of the Passover lamb
that saved the Israelites from death.
On the cross,
the perfect Lamb of God gave His life’s blood
to save mankind
His last words from the cross were It is finished.
Jesus came to serve and to carry out the
will of the Father.
His life, ministry, and death,
perfectly fulfilled the will of His heavenly Father,
and made the
perfect sacrifice for mankind.
Angels before the throne of God praise Christ’s sacrificial love, Saying with a loud voice,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and
and strength, and honour, and
glory, and blessing
was common in hymns and sermons
of the late medieval period
rarer in the visual arts.
Christ in the winepress or the mystical winepress
is a motif in Christian iconography showing
Christ standing in a winepress, where
The Grapes in the Press
Isaiah 63:3, taken as spoken by Christ,
"I have trodden the winepress alone",
wine-stained clothes are mentioned
This passage was closely echoed in
"He Treads the Winepress of the Fury
Wrath of God Almighty",
and the clothes are also soaked,
this time with blood
Revelation 14:19–20 says:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth,
gathered the vine of the earth,
and cast it into the great winepress
Wrath of God
And the winepress was trodden without the city,
blood came out of the winepress,
even unto the horse bridles, by the space of
a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
In Genesis 49:10–11, Jacob tells his sons:
The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
He will tether his donkey to a vine,
to the choicest branch;
he will wash
his garments in wine, his robes in
blood of grapes
The idea of
Christ as both the
treader and the trodden wine
Saint Gregory the Great:
"He has trodden the winepress alone
which he was himself pressed,
with his own strength he
It is also found in typology: in Numbers 13:23,
who came back from the Promised Land
bunch of grapes carried on a
(As the Romans and Spiked Sponge Pole at the crucifix.
JESUS was up on the Cross, out of Reach.)
resting on their shoulders
were also used as a
type prefiguring the antitype of the Crucifixion;
following Justin Martyr and Augustine
the pole was understood as the cross,
grapes as Christ,
and the two bearers as Ecclesia and Synagoga.
The Klosterneuburg Altar, made in 1181 by Nicholas of Verdun,
includes the scene with this meaning.
Another biblical theme linked
to the winepress
"Vineyard of God" or "True Vine",
in Isaiah 27:2–5, John 15:1 and Matthew 21:33–45,
understood as a metaphor for the church.
All these elements came together in the
image of Christ
Christ in the winepress appears
in the 14th century poetry of English Benedictine John Lydgate,
and the metaphor is used by two important English 17th-century poets.
One of the best known poems of the Anglican Vicar George Herbert is The Agonie, included in The Temple (1633), where the second stanza (of three) is an extended conceit on the
metaphor in its Man of Sorrows form,
followed by the
third on the Eucharist:
Who would know Sinne, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skinne, his garments bloudie be.
Sinne is that presse and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruell food through ev’ry vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.
John Milton uses the metaphor in an extended simile to
harassing Christ in Paradise Regained
(1671, Book IV, lines 5-17).
[...] as a swarm of flies in vintage time,
About the wine-press where sweet moust is powrd,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound
The motif of Christ coming in judgement
as treader of the winepress is found
in the lyrics of
German Protestant baroque cantatas in the 18th century.
The apocalyptic biblical motif
Christ treading the grapes in the winepress
Christ returns as the victor treading his enemies
is traditionally connected in Protestant exposition with
a Messianic interpretation of Old Testament
passages such as
"Who is this that
comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah"
Er ists, der ganz allein
Die Kelter hat getreten
Voll Schmerzen, Qual und Pein,
Verlorne zu erretten
Durch einen teuren Kauf.
Ihr Thronen, mühet euch
Und setzt ihm Kränze auf!
It is He, who completely alone
has trod upon the winepress
full of sorrow, torment and pain,
to save the lost ones
You Thrones, stir yourselves,
and set a
wreath upon Him!
The first verse of the 1861 song "Battle Hymn of the Republic"
Mine Eyes have Seen
Glory of the Coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out
the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible
truth is marching on
The passage reflects Isaiah 63, Revelation 19, and other passages
feeding the "winepress" tradition and was reflected
in the title of
John Steinbeck's 1939 novel
The Grapes of Wrath
At some point, after
Jesus was born in Bethlehem,
traveled to see him by following a
unique star or light in the sky
(otherwise known as “Wise Men”)
were a special class of priests in the Persian Empire
that had been around for a long time, at least since
Daniel was appointed to be their leader by King Nebuchadnezzar
religious professors, philosophers, and scholars
highly educated in many fields,
including religion, astronomy, and even
(which is why they were paying attention to the stars in the first place)
It is very possible that while Daniel was overseeing these
Magi, he taught them
prophecies about the Coming Messiah
(such as in Numbers 24:17 and Micah 5:2)
Quite possibly, they had been
Jesus’ birth for a long time
Because of their knowledge and influence,
they also served as political advisors and
which is a very interesting connection considering that
the Book of Matthew
Jesus as the rightful king in the line of Judah
is the only gospel account that mentions this story
But these men did not risk their lives to
make this journey
(especially considering their interaction with the evil King Herod)
in order to make
political move, teach a seminar, or advise a king
— they were
traveling from the Far East to worship
“he who has been
born king of the Jews”
When the Magi finally found the house
where the Christ Child was staying,
"rejoiced exceedingly with great joy,”
fell down on their faces before
Jesus and Mary
an appropriate reaction to being in the
presence of the King of Kings
Then they opened their treasures
and presented to the young Jesus three types of gifts:
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
These were not random gifts that they had lying around,
they were each significant at the time,
and they have important meanings for us today.
The Holy Sponge
is one of the Instruments of the Passion of Jesus.
It was dipped in vinegar
Ancient Greek: ὄξος, romanized: oxos; in some translations
most likely posca, a regular beverage
of Roman soldiers, and offered to
Jesus to drink from during the Crucifixion,
Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36, and John 19:29.
An object thought to be the
Holy Sponge was venerated in Israel,
in the Upper Room
of the Constantinian basilica, where Sophronius of Jerusalem
spoke of it c. 600 AD:
And let me go rejoicing
to the splendid sanctuary, the place
where the noble Empress Helena
found the divine Wood;
and go up,
my heart overcome with awe,
and see the Upper Room,
the Reed, the Sponge, and the Lance.
Then may I gaze down
upon the fresh beauty of the Basilica
where choirs of monks
sing nightly songs of worship.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia
a message was revealed to Daniel,
who was named Belteshazzar;
and the message was true and one of great conflict,
but he understood the message and
had an understanding of the vision.
In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for
three entire weeks
I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth,
nor did I use any ointment at all
until the entire three weeks were completed.
On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by
bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold,
there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was
girded with a
belt of pure gold of Uphaz.
His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning,
his eyes were like flaming torches,
his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of
his words like the sound of a tumult.
Now I, Daniel,
alone saw the vision,
while the men who were with me
did not see the vision;
nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they
ran away to hide themselves.
So I was left alone and saw this great vision;
yet no strength was left in me,
for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor,
and I retained no strength.
But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon
as I heard the sound of his words,
I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my
face to the ground.
Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling
on my hands and knees. He said to me,
“O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that
I am about to tell you and stand upright,
for I have now been sent to you.”
And when he had spoken this word to me,
I stood up trembling.
Then he said to me,
"Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day
that you set your heart
on understanding this and on humbling yourself
before your God,
your words were heard,
and I have come in response to your words.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me
for twenty-one days;
then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me,
for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.
Now I have come to give you an understanding of
what will happen to your people in the latter days,
for the vision
pertains to the days yet future.”
When he had spoken to me according to these words,
I turned my face
toward the ground and became speechless.
one who resembled a human being was touching my lips;
then I opened my mouth and spoke
and said to him who was standing before me,
“O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me,
and I have retained no strength.
For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord?
As for me, there remains just now no strength in me,
nor has any breath been left in me.”
Then this one with human appearance
touched me again and strengthened me.
He said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid.
Peace be with you;
take courage and be courageous!”
Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said,
“May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Then the drink offering with it shall
But he said to me,
‘Behold, you shall conceive and
give birth to a son,
and now you shall not drink wine
or strong drink
nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a
Nazarite to God from the womb to the
day of his death.’”
Isaiah 29:9-14 - Disregarded Warnings
Be delayed and wait,
Blind yourselves and be blind;
They become drunk, but not with wine,
but not with strong drink.
For the Lord has
poured over you a spirit of deep sleep
He has shut your eyes, the prophets;
He has covered your heads, the seers.
The entire vision will be to you
words of a sealed book,
which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying,
"Please read this,”
he will say,
“I cannot, for it is sealed.”
Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying,
“Please read this.” And he will say,
“I cannot read.”
Then the Lord said,
“Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me consists of tradition
learned by rote,
Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people,
And the wisdom of their wise men will perish,
And the discernment
of their discerning men will be concealed.”
Act stupid! Be astonished!
Act blind, and be blind! Be drunk,
but not from wine;
stagger around, but not from strong drink.
1 Samuel 1:11-18 - Hannah And Eli
She made a vow and said,
“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed
look on the affliction of Your maidservant and
and not forget Your maidservant, but
will give Your maidservant a son,
then I will
give him to the Lord all the days of his life,
and a razor shall never come on his head.”
Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord,
that Eli was watching her mouth.
As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart,
only her lips were moving,
but her voice was not heard
So Eli thought she was drunk. Put away your wine from you.”
But Hannah replied,
“No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit;
I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink,
have poured out my soul before the Lord.
Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman,
for I have spoken until now
out of my great concern and provocation.”
Then Eli answered and said,
“Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition
that you have asked of Him.”
“Let your maidservant find
favor in your sight.”
So the woman went her way and ate,
and her face was no longer sad.
Micah 2:6-11 - God's Word Rejected
'Do not speak out,’ so they speak out
But if they do not speak out concerning these things,
Reproaches will not be turned back
“Is it being said, O house of Jacob:
‘Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?
Are these His doings?’
Do not My words do good
To the one walking uprightly?
'Recently My people have arisen as an enemy--
You strip the robe off the garment
From unsuspecting passers-by,
From those returned from war
“The women of My people you evict,
Each one from her pleasant house
From her children you take My splendor forever
'Arise and go,
For this is no place of rest
Because of the uncleanness that brings
A painful destruction
'If a man
walking after wind and falsehood
Had told lies and said,
‘I will speak out to you concerning wine and liquor,’
He would be spokesman to this people.
Isaiah 10:1-4 - Woes On The Wicked
Woe to those who enact evil statutes
And to those
who constantly record unjust decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans
Now what will
you do in the day of punishment,
And in the devastation which
come from afar?
To whom will you
flee for help?
And where will you leave your wealth?
Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives
Or fall among the slain
In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out.
Woe to those who
add house to house and join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
In my ears the Lord of hosts has sworn,
“Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
Even great and fine ones, without occupants.
'For ten acres of vineyard will yield
only one bath of wine,
And a homer of seed will yield
but an ephah of grain.”
Woe to those who
rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink,
Who stay up late in the evening that
wine may inflame them!
Their banquets are accompanied by
lyre and harp,
by tambourine and flute, and by wine;
But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord,
Nor do they consider the
work of His hands
Therefore My people go into exile for their
lack of knowledge;
And their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude is parched with thirst.
Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened
its mouth without measure;
And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude,
her din of revelry and the jubilant within her,
descend into it
So the common man will be humbled and
of importance abased,
of the proud also will be abased
Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment,
holy God will show Himself
holy in righteousness
Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture,
will eat in the waste places of the wealthy.
Woe to those who drag iniquity with the
cords of falsehood,
And sin as if with cart ropes;
"Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work,
that we may see it;
And let the purpose
Holy One of Israel draw near
And come to pass, that we may know it!”
Woe to those
who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light
and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their
And clever in their
Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine
And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
Who justify the wicked
for a bribe,
And take away the rights
of the ones
who are in the right!
Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble
And dry grass collapses into the flame,
So their root
will become like rot and their blossom
blow away as dust;
For they have rejected the law of the
Lord of hosts
And despised the word of the
Holy One of Israel
On this account the anger of the Lord
has burned against His people,
And He has stretched out His hand against them
and struck them down.
And the mountains quaked,
corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets
For all this His anger is not spent,
His hand is still stretched out
"we went to an early morning Eucharist"
(from the Greek eucharistia for “thanksgiving”)
is the central act of Christian worship and is
practiced by most Christian churches in some form.
Along with baptism it is one of the
two sacraments most clearly found in the
Is Christian service, ceremony, or sacrament commemorating
The Last Supper,
which bread and wine
are consecrated and consumed.
in Christianity, the change by which the substance
(though not the appearance)
bread and wine in the Eucharist becomes
Christ’s real presence—that is,
body and blood
The story of the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus on the night before his Crucifixion is reported in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; and Luke 22:17–20) and in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians(I Corinthians 11:23–25).
According to the Gospel accounts,
Jesus established the practice at the Last Supper,
a traditional Passover-seder, when he blessed the bread,
which he said was his body,
shared it with his disciples.
He then shared a cup of wine with his disciples and told them that
"this is the blood
of my covenant, which is poured out for many.”
According to St. Luke, Jesus called on his followers to repeat the ceremony in his memory,
and the letters of the Apostle Paul and the Acts of the Apostles
in the New Testament demonstrate that
early Christians believed that they were to continue
the celebration as an anticipation
in this life of the joys of
the banquet that was to come in
the kingdom of God.
It is clear that the earliest Christians regularly enacted the Eucharist.
Originally, the rite was a repetition of the common meal of the
local group of disciples
with the addition of the bread and
the cup signifying the
presence of Jesus
St. Paul’s earliest record of the ordinance in his first letter to the Corinthians,
written about 55 CE, suggests that some abuses had
arisen in conjunction with the common meal,
or agapē, with which it was combined.
The eucharistic formula was set in a framework
biblical readings, psalms, hymns, and prayers
depended in form somewhat on the synagogue service.
This remained one basis of the
various liturgies that arose,
including the Roman rite.
The “presence” of Jesus
in the elements of bread and wine has been variously
in actual, figurative, or symbolic senses,
but the sacramental sense, as the anamnesis, or memorial before God,
of the sacrificial offering on the cross
once and for all,
has always been accepted.
A eucharistic theology gradually took shape in
the apostolic and early church without
controversy or formulation
Not until the beginning of the Middle Ages did
controversial issues arise that found expression
in the definition of the doctrine of
transubstantiation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.
This definition opened the way for the Scholastic interpretation of the
eucharistic presence of Christ and of the
in Aristotelian terms. Thus, St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that
complete change occurred in
of each of the species, while the “accidents,”
or outward appearances,
remained the same.
Furthermore, different denominations disagree on whether access to the Eucharist should be open to all Christians or restricted to members who have fulfilled initiation requirements and thus are in full communion with a particular church.
for example, the practice of “close communion”
has restricted the ordinance to those who are
baptized properly—i.e., as adults upon a
profession of faith
Roman Catholic theology preserves the early understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice in its teaching on the mass, and it has firmly insisted that the mass repeats the rite that Jesus told his disciples to repeat. The rite is the memorial of the original sacrifice of Christ. It is an effective commemoration of his death that also makes present the sacrifice on the cross.
Roman Catholics believe in the
an issue that has dominated Catholic-Protestant controversies about the Eucharist.
According to the eucharistic doctrine of Roman Catholicism,
elements of the consecrated
bread and wine are transubstantiated
the body and blood of Christ:
substance is converted into the
substance of the body and blood,
although the outward appearances
of the elements, their “accidents,” remain.
This teaching of the real presence
to emphasize the intimate relationship between
Jesus and the communicant.
Although Catholic theologians developed new ways
to interpret the mystery of the sacrament of the Eucharist
in the period after Vatican II, the
doctrine of transubstantiation
remains the fundamental understanding
of all Catholics.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the Roman Catholic liturgical movement
put new emphasis on the frequency of communion, the participation of the
entire congregation-in the priestly service,
and the real presence of Christ
in the church as the fundamental presupposition for the real presence in the Eucharist.
Church law obliges Roman Catholics to receive Holy Communion
at least once a year (during the Lent-Easter season) but encourages
them to take it at mass every Sunday, on feast days, and even every day.
In this way the faithful
can receive the many benefits of the Eucharist.
In addition to strengthening community,
frequent communion also strengthens contact with
and allows the faithful to participate in
Jesus’ sacrificial work.
focuses attention on the ultimate goal,
Return of Jesus Christ
Communion is the anticipation of
Glory of Heaven