EUCHARIST

I. In the Fathers – II. Iconography. I. In the Fathers. The Greek term Eucharist, thanksgiving, for Christians came to designate the sacred meal the Lord’s Supper, the consecratory blessing, the sacramental elements and finally the eucharistic action itself. The earliest Christian terms seem to have been fractio panis, a gesture which by metonymy designated the entire action Lk 24:35; Acts 2:42, later taken up by Act. Pauli et Thec. 5; Serap., Eucol. 14,15, and Lord’s supper 1 Cor 11:19. Ignatius uses Eucharist as a technical term Eph. 13,1; Phil. 4; Syrm. 8,1 to indicate both the celebration by which Christ is made really present and the mystery that reactualizes Christ’s redemptive incarnation and creates unity in the church. With this term Justin indicates both the eucharistic liturgy and the eucharistic food 1 Ap. 65-67; he also uses the term anamnesis Dial. 41,1; 70,4; 117,3, which sometimes recurs in John Chrysostom and in the liturgies Der Balyzeh: Trad. Ap. 4,10; Lit. Johannis Chrys.. In the 4th c. Greeks often use the term mysterion, and esp. its plural, mysteries, holy mysteries. Also very frequent are the terms to offer and offering: in Greek prosphora Latin oblatio, which for the Syrians became kurbons, gift. The term synaxis, which ordinarily indicates the holy assembly gathered to offer the Eucharist, can mean the celebration itself.

The Greek terms were transliterated into Latin: the common term eucharistia, a formal borrowing from the Greek; mysteria Vita Ambr. 23; Ambrose, Comm. in Luc. 7,11; Innocent, Ep. 25 and the sacramentaries, a term also translated as sacramenta Tertullian, De cor. 3; Cyprian, Ep. 74,4; also Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine. Cyprian also uses the term dominicum celebrare Ep. 63,16; De opere 15; cf. Act. Saturn. 7. The expression sacrum or sacrum facere is general, analogous to actioagere see in Ambrose, which expresses the effectuation par excellence of sacred action. The term Missa, the dismissal at the end of a celebration, appears already in the 4th c. Egeria, Itin. 25,10; Ambrose, Ep. 76 20,4. The fractio panis was the action that Jesus performed at the Last Supper and repeated after his resurrection. The first Eucharist was passed down as a complete Paschal event: Christ, the suffering servant, becomes the victorious Lord. This was part of the worship of the first Christians: it was dominated by the joy of remembering the resurrection and simultaneously a proclamation of the Lord’s death until he comes 1 Cor 11:26.

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