Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril.: On the Mysteries. IV: On the Body and Blood of Christ.
p. 151 Lecture XXII.
(On the Mysteries. IV.)
On the Body and Blood of Christ.
1 Cor. xi. 23
I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, &c.
1. Even of itself 2445 the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body 2446 and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood 2447 . Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?
2. He once in Cana of Galilee, turned the water into wine, akin to blood 2448 , and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? When called to a bodily marriage, He miraculously wrought 2449 that wonderful work; and on the children of the bride-chamber 2450 , shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood 2451 ?
3. Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure 2452 of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mayest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ 2453 in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed 2454 through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature 2455 .
4. Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood, ye have no life in you 2456 . They not having heard His saying in a spiritual p. 152 sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.
5. In the Old Testament also there was shew-bread; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word 2457 appropriate to our soul.
6. Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lords declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to thee, yet let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to thee.
7. Also the blessed David shall advise thee the meaning of this, saying, Thou hast prepared a table before me in the presence of them that afflict me 2458 . What he says, is to this effect: Before Thy coming, the evil spirits prepared a table for men 2459 , polluted and defiled and full of devilish influence 2460 ; but since Thy coming. O Lord, Thou hast prepared a table before me. When the man says to God, Thou hast prepared before me a table, what other does he indicate but that mystical and spiritual Table, which God hath prepared for us over against, that is, contrary and in opposition to the evil spirits? And very truly; for that had communion with devils, but this, with God. Thou hast anointed my head with oil 2461 . With oil He anointed thine head upon thy forehead, for the seal which thou hast of God; that thou mayest be made the engraving of the signet, Holiness unto God 2462 . And thy cup intoxicateth me, as very strong 2463 . Thou seest that cup here spoken of, which Jesus took in His hands, and gave thanks, and said, This is My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins 2464 .
8. Therefore Solomon also, hinting at this grace, says in Ecclesiastes, Come hither, eat thy bread with joy (that is, the spiritual bread; Come hither, he calls with the call to salvation and blessing), and drink thy wine with a merry heart (that is, the spiritual wine); and let oil be poured out upon thy head (thou seest he alludes even to the mystic Chrism); and let thy garments be always white, for the Lord is well pleased with thy works 2465 ; for before thou camest to Baptism, thy works were vanity of vanities 2466 . But now, having put off thy old garments, and put on those which are spiritually white, thou must be continually robed in white: of course we mean not this, that thou art always to wear white raiment; but thou must be clad in the garments that are truly white and shining and spiritual, that thou mayest say with the blessed Esaias, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with a garment of salvation, and put a robe of gladness around me 2467 .
9. Having learnt these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ 2468 ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, And bread strengtheneth mans heart, to make his face to shine with oil 2469 , “strengthen thou thine heart,” by partaking thereof as spiritual, and “make the face of thy soul to shine.” And so having it unveiled with a pure conscience, mayest thou reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord 2470 , and proceed from glory to glory, in Christ Jesus our Lord:—To whom be honour, and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
αὐτή found in all mss. is changed for the worse into αὕτη by the Benedictine Editor.151:2446
Introduction, “Eucharist.” The word σύσσωμοι has a different sense in Eph. iii. 6, where it is applied to the Gentiles as having been made members of Christs body the Church.151:2447
1 Cor. xi. 23. The clause “and gave to His disciples” is an addition taken from Matt. xxvi. 26. The part relating to the cup does not correspond exactly either with St. Pauls language or with the Evangelists.151:2448
οἰκεῖον αἵματι. Cod. Scirlet. (Grodecq), Mesm. (Morel), Vindob.; Ben. Ed. οἰκείῳ νεύματι, Codd. Monac. 1, 2, Genovef. Vatt. (Prevot.). Rupp. The whole passage is omitted in Codd. Coisl. R. Casaub. owing to the repetition of αἷμα
The reading οἰκείῳ νεύματι, “by His own will,” introduces a superfluous thought, and destroys the very point of Cyrils argument, in which the previous change of water into an element so different as wine is regarded as giving an a fortiori probability to the change of that which is already “akin to blood” into blood itself.
If Cyril thus seems to teach a physical change of the wine, it must be remembered that we are not bound to accept his view, but only to state it accurately. See however the section of the Introduction on his Eucharistic doctrine.151:2449
ἐθαυματούργησε τὴν παραδοξοποιίαν. Cf. Chrysost. Epist. I. ad Olympiad. de Deo, § 1, c.: τότε θαυματουργεῖ καὶ παραδοξοποιεῖ.151:2450
Matt. ix. 15.151:2451
Ben. Ed.: “That the force of Cyrils argument may be the better understood, we must observe that in Baptism is celebrated the marriage of Christ with the Christian soul; and that the consummation of this marriage is perfected through the union of bodies in the mystery of the Eucharist. Read Chrysostoms Hom. xx. in Ephes.” Chrysostoms words are: “In like manner therefore we become one flesh with Christ by participation (μετουσίας).” But the participation expressed by μετουσία does not necessarily refer to the Eucharist. From the use of the word in Cat. xxiii. 11, and in Athanasius (Contra Arianos, Or. i.; de Synodis. 19, 22, 25) the meaning rather seems to be that we are one flesh with Christ not by nature but by His gift.151:2452
See Index, Τύπος, and the references there, and Waterland, On the Eucharist, c. vii.151:2453
Χριστοφόροι γινόμεθα. Procat. 15.151:2454
Ben. Ed.: “᾽Αναδιδομένου. The Codices Coisl. Roe, Casaub. Scirlet. Ottob. 2. Genovef. have ἀναδεδεγμένοι, which does not agree well with the Genitives τοῦ σώματος and τοῦ αἵματος. It is evident that it was an ill-contrived emendation of ἀναδιδομένου, the transcribers being offended at the distribution of Christs Body among our members. But Cyril uses even the same word in Cat. xxiii. 9: Οὗτος ὁ ἄρτος.…εἰς πᾶσάν σου τὴν σύστασιν ἀναδίδοται, εἰς ὠφέλειαν σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς, This Bread is distributed into thy whole system, to the benefit of body and soul.” ᾽Αναδιδομένου is the reading of Milles and Rupp. For similar language see Justin M. Apol. i. 66; Iren. V. ii. 2.151:2455
2 Pet. i. 4.151:2456
John vi. 53.152:2457
Ben. Ed.: “Here we are to understand (by ὁ Λόγος) the Divine Word, not the bare discourse of God, but the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Christ Himself, the Bread of Heaven, as He testifies of Himself, John vi. 51: Him Cyril contrasts with the earthly shew-bread in the O.T.; otherwise he could not rightly from this sentence infer, by the particle οὖν, “therefore,” that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. And since he says, in Cat. xxiii. 15, that the Eucharistic food is “appointed for the substance of the soul,” for its benefit, that cannot be said of Christs body or of His soul, but only of the Word which is conjoined with both. Moreover that the Divine Word is the food of Angels and of the soul, is a common mode of speaking with all the Fathers. They often play on the ambiguity of this word (λόγος), saying sometimes that the Divine Word, sometimes the word and oracles of God, are the food of our souls: both statements are true. For the whole life-giving power of the Eucharist is derived from the Word of God united to the flesh which He assumed: and the whole benefit of Eucharistic eating consists in the union of our soul with the Word, in meditation on His mysteries and sayings, and conformity thereto.”152:2458
Ps. xxiii. 5.152:2459
ἠλισγημένην, a good restoration by Milles, with Codd. Roe, Casaub. Coislin. The earlier printed texts had ἠλυγισμένην, “overshadowed.” Cf. Mal. i. 7: ἄρτους ἠλισγημένους ,.…Τράπεζα Κυρίου ἠλισγημένη ἐστίν152:2460
Cyril refers to the idolatrous feasts, which St. Paul calls “the table of devils,” 1 Cor. x. 21.152:2461
Ps. xxiii. 5.152:2462
Ex. xxviii. 36; Ecclesiasticus 45.12. The plate of pure gold on the forefront of Aarons mitre was engraved with the motto, Holy unto the Lord. This symbolism Cyril transfers to the sacramental Chrism, in which the forehead is signed with ointment, and the soul with the seal of God.152:2463
Ps. xxiii. 5: My cup runneth over. Eusebius (Dem. Evang. I. c. 10, § 28) applies the Psalm, as Cyril does, to the Eucharist.152:2464
Matt. xxvi. 28.152:2465
Eccl. 9:7, 8.152:2466
For προσέλθῃς (Bened.) we must read προσῆλθες, or, with Monac. 1, προσελθεῖν.152:2467
Is. lxi. 10.152:2468
On this passage see the section of the Introduction referred to in the Index, “Eucharist.”152:2469
Ps. civ. 15.152:2470
2 Cor. iii. 18.
Next: On the Mysteries. V: On the Sacred Liturgy and Communion.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at