The Liturgy of the Eucharist and Lord’s Supper

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The early church celebrated a very different liturgy of the eucharist than that created by the Roman Catholic church. The original liturgy consisted of two parts: the Eucharist (a sacrifice) and the Lord’s Supper (a consecrated memorial meal). Usually the Eucharist was immediately used in the Lord’s Supper, but as the Didache implies, this was not always the case. In the late 4th century, the Roman Catholic church reordered the liturgy—moving up the Epiclesis—to make the  Lord’s Supper (a consecrated memorial meal) into a sacrifice, thus offering Christ’s body and blood as a sacrifice to God.

Here are the two liturgies with short explanations:

Early Church

The early church liturgy was thus:

  1. Dismissal — of the unbeliever, the catechumen, and the backslider.
  2. Eucharist — The offering of praise, thanksgiving, tithes, and firstfruits for the poor.
  3. Oblation — The presentation and sacrifice of the Eucharist to God with prayer and spoken “Amen.”
  4. Epiclesis — The Consecration of the bread and wine: “this is my body” and “this is my blood.”
  5. Lord’s Supper — Meal; Communion; Consumption of the bread and wine mixed with water.

Roman Catholic

The Roman Catholic liturgy is thus:

  1. Epiclesis — The Consecration of the bread and wine.
  2. Eucharist — “Jesus” is offered as the sacrifice.
  3. Oblation — The “Amen” is spoken; transubstantiation is affirmed.
  4. Lord’s Supper — Meal; Communion; Consumption of the bread and wine mixed with water.
  5. Dismissal — Believers are dismissed

For more information on the early church liturgy and how it compares to the Roman Catholic liturgy, see “The Original Meaning of Eucharist.”


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