Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist – Fulgentius

Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist

When we offer the sacrifice the words of our Savior are fulfilled just as the blessed Apostle Paul reported them: On the same night he was betrayed the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and said: ‘This is my body, which is for you: do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

So the sacrifice is offered to proclaim the death of the Lord and to be a commemoration of him who laid down his life for us. He himself has said: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. So, since Christ died for us, out of love, it follows that when we offer the sacrifice in commemoration of his death, we are asking for love to be given us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We beg and we pray that just as through love Christ deigned to be crucified for us, so we may receive the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that by that grace the world should be a dead thing in our eyes and we should be dead to the world, crucified and dead. We pray that we should imitate the death of our Lord. Christ, when he died, died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God. We pray, therefore, that in imitating the death of our Lord we should walk in newness of life, dead to sin and living for God.

The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to us. When we share in the Lord’s body and blood, when we eat his bread and drink his cup, this truly means that we die to the world and have our hidden life with Christ in God, crucifying our flesh and its weaknesses and its desires.

Thus it is that all the faithful who love God and their neighbor drink the cup of the Lord’s love even if they do not drink the cup of bodily suffering. Soaked through with that drink, they mortify the flesh in which they walk this earth. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ like a cloak, their desires are no longer those of the body. They do not contemplate what can be seen but what is invisible to the eyes. This is how the cup of the Lord is drunk when divine love is present; but without that love, you may even give your body to be burned and still it will do you no good. What the gift of love gives us is the chance to become in truth what we celebrate as a mystery in the sacrifice.

This reading, taken from a treatise against Fabianus by Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, tells us that we are made holy by sharing in the offering of the holy sacrifice of the mass and by sharing in Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist. It is used in the Roman Catholic Office of readings for Monday in the 28h week in ordinary time with the accompanying biblical reading taken from the prophet Haggai 2:11-24.

Fulgentius of Ruspe, St.

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe was born in Carthage, a city in modern day Tunisia, a generation or so after the barbarian Vandals conquered North Africa from the Roman Empire.  His mother taught him both Latin and Greek, and prepared him well for a political career.  After a short time in government service, Fulgentius grew tired of the world and entered monastic life.  After becoming bishop of Ruspe, a city near Carthage, Fulgentius tirelessly battled against the Arian heresy which denied Christ’s full divinity and which was favored by the state.  For this he was twice exiled to Sardinia.  On this in other matters, He found great inspiration in the writings of an earlier N. African bishop, St. Augustine of Hippo.  He died around AD 530, about 100 years after the death of his master, St. Augustine.