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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Eucharist, Alms, and Pope Leo the Great


In searching through the Fathers for some material the other day, I ran across this section that I found quite interesting. It's amazing how Lancelot Andrewes saw what Pope Leo says here to be the very heart of the Eucharistic celebration.

III. The Truth of the Incarnation is Proved Both by the Eucharistic Feast and by the Divine Institution of Almsgiving.

Dearly-beloved, utter this confession with all your heart and reject the wicked lies of heretics, that your fasting and almsgiving may not be polluted by any contagion with error: for then is our offering of the sacrifice clean and oar gifts of mercy holy, when those who perform them understand that which they do. For when the LORD says, “unless ye have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man, and drunk His blood, ye will not have life in you5 ,” you ought so to be partakers at the Holy Table, as to have no doubt whatever concerning the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood. For that is taken in the mouth which is believed in Faith, and it is vain for them to respond Amen6 who dispute that which is taken. But when the Prophet says, “Blessed is he, who considereth the poor and needy7 ,” he is the praiseworthy distributor of clothes and food among the poor, who knows he is clothing and feeding Christ in the poor: for He Himself says, “as long as ye have done it to one of My brethren, ye have done it to Me8 .” And so Christ is One, True GOD and True Man, rich in what is His own, poor in what is ours, receiving gifts and distributing gifts, Partner with mortals, and the Quickener of the dead, so that in the “name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the LORD Jesus Christ is in the glory of GOD the Father9 ,” living and reigning with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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