We see St. Paul chastising the Corinthians for improper behavior during the Eucharistic meals, in 1 Cor 11:21-29 (NRSVCE):

When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? ......... Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.

One is inclined to believe that the Eucharistic celebration of the Early Church consisted of an entire meal, and not just receiving of small pieces of sacramental bread as we do today. Acts refers to the custom as “breaking of the bread” (2:42 and 20:7).

My question therefore is: According to Catholic Church, did the Eucharistic celebration of Early Church consist of an entire meal?


1 Answer 1


Catholics do not receive "small pieces of sacramental bread", but the Body of Christ (i.e., consecrated Hosts), under the appearances of bread.

Cornelius à Lapide, S.J., on 1 Corinthians 11:21:

at the time of S. Paul, in imitation of Christ, who, after the common meal* on the Passover lamb, instituted the Eucharist, the Christians instituted before the Eucharist a meal common to all, rich and poor alike, in token of their mutual Christian charity.

*1 Cor. 11:25: "In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped…"
Cornelius à Lapide on that verse: "the heathen offer their sacrifices after a banquet, as giving thanks to God for their feast, and offered Him libations and sang His praises crowned with garlands. […] The ancient ritual records of the Hebrews show that they did the same in the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb. […] Christ supped first and instituted the Eucharist last of all. Now, however, through reverence for so great a sacrament, the Eucharist, by Apostolic tradition, is always received fasting."

St. Paul is condemning those who do not believe in the Real Presence but think the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is no different than a common meal of ordinary food.

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