Let us consider this on how the early Christians worshipped: It can be clearly proved that the manner of celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass was from the first in all essentials the same as it is now. The Apostle Paul writes: "We have an altar whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle." (Heb. xiii. 10.) Now everyone knows that in the Christian religion there is not, and never has there been, any sacrifice but the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Justin Martyr gives a description of the manner of celebrating Christian worship in his time: "On the prayers being ended the kiss of peace is exchanged. Then bread, together with a cup containing wine and water, is given to the bishop. Taking it in his hands, he gives praise and glory to the Father in the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and recites an expressive prayer of thanksgiving for the gifts bestowed on us. At the conclusion of this prayer the people answer aloud: Amen, i. e., so be it. Thereupon the ministers, whom we call deacons, distribute the bread, the wine and water, that has been consecrated by the giving of thanks, to all present, and they also carry it to those who are absent. This food we call the Eucharist; none may partake of it except those who have been baptized for the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance of eternal life, and who live in accordance with the precepts of Jesus Christ. For we do not receive this as if it were common bread or common drink, but, as Jesus Christ by the word of God was made man, and took human flesh and blood for our salvation, so, we are taught, this food, which by change of substance is the nourishment of our spiritual life, through the command expressed in His words, becomes the body and blood of the God made man. For the apostles in their writings, which are called the gospels, tell us that Jesus Christ commanded them to do what He did; that, after He had taken the bread and given thanks, He said to them, Do this for a commemoration of Me: this is My body. Likewise, after He had taken the chalice and given thanks, He said: This is My blood, and gave it to them all. It is curious to observe how the very same prayers which the priest now recites at the altar are to be found in the most ancient liturgies or orders of divine worship. We will give a few prayers taken from the oldest liturgy, that of the apostle James, who for twenty-nine years was bishop of Jerusalem. They are as follows: "Send upon us and upon these Thy proposed gifts, Thy most holy Spirit, that, coming upon them with His holy and good and glorious presence, He may hallow and make this bread the holy body of Thy Christ, and this cup the precious blood of Thy Christ." At the breaking of bread, while the priest holds the one half of the sacred Host in his right hand and the other in his left, and dips in the chalice that which he holds in his right hand, he says: "The communion of the most holy body and blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It hath been united and sanctified and accomplished in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever." The celebrant then continues: "Behold the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, sacrificed for the life and the salvation of the world." The thanksgiving runs thus: " We give Thee thanks, Christ Our God, that Thou hast vouchsafed to make us partakers of Thy body and blood for the remission of sins and eternal life." Hence it will be seen that the prayers appointed for the celebration of holy Mass in the early Church coincide not merely in their meaning, but in their very wording, with those in use at the present time; thus they afford unquestionable proof of the truth of the Catholic doctrine concerning the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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