Lord's Supper, Or Eucharist (Gr. thanksgiving), a sacrament instituted by Christ on the night before his death. The former appellation is most common among Protestants, the latter among Roman Catholics. It is also called "holy communion," and its celebration the " communion service." The Greeks name it blessing or praise. Luther in his catechism designates it as " the sacrament of the altar," and various phrases in the New Testament are regarded as referring to it, as " the table of the Lord," " the cup of the Lord," and "the breaking of bread." In the Latin church the name eucharist is given to the consecrated elements of bread and wine which constitute the sacrament; the consecration service is called " mass," and the receiving of the sacrament is the communion. - From the earliest times the vast majority of Christians have celebrated the Lord's supper as an ordinance instituted by Christ and enjoined expressly by the words, " This do in remembrance of me." The Manichaeans and Gnostics in the first centuries denied that it was of divine institution, because they regarded wine as coming from the evil principle and its use as sinful; in our own times it has also been set aside by the society of Friends. The institution of this sacrament is recorded in the first three Gospels, and in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians (xi. 24-20). The words of institution, as well as the language of the early fathers in speaking of this ordinance, have given rise to various and opposite interpretations.
The chief difficulty has been and is still in determining the exact meaning of Christ's words, " This is mv body," " This is my blood." Ignatius, Justin, and Irenaeus laid great stress on the mysterious connection existing between the Logos and the elements. Other fathers spoke of the elements as the symbols of the body and blood of Christ; thus Tertullian and Cyprian, both of whom, however, occasionally call the Lord's supper the body and blood of Christ. It was especially the Alexandrian school (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc.) that advocated the symbolical sense, and even opposed those who made no distinction between the external sign and the thing itself. The church writers became more explicit on the subject of the Lord's supper when after the 3d century the liturgical part of divine service was more developed. Chry-sostom called it an "awful mystery." Some of the fathers spoke of "a real union" of the communicants with Christ; others of "a real change" from the visible elements into the body and blood of Christ. The idea that the Lord's supper was also a sacrifice was propounded as early as the end of the 2d century. - The first great eucharistic controversy was called forth by a book of Paschasius Radbertus in 831 (De Corpore et Sanguine Domini), in which he advanced the doctrine that the substance of the consecrated bread and wine in the eucharist was changed into the very body of Christ which was born of the Virgin. He was especially opposed by Ratramnus, a monk of Corbie, who adhered to the view that in the Lord's supper there is a communion of the earthly with the heavenly.
The controversy was brought before the highest ecclesiastical authorities, when Berengarius, archdeacon of Angers, maintained that there was a change in the sacramental elements only in a figurative sense. He contended that not the earthly elements themselves, but their influences, were changed by their connection with Christ in heaven, who was to be received not by the mouth but by the heart. These views were in particular expressed in a letter to Lan-franc, afterward archbishop of Canterbury, who was the first to propound in formal thesis the theory that after the consecration the bread and wine retained their sensible properties or " accidents," although their " substance " or " subject " had been changed into the flesh and blood of Christ. Several synods in succession, between 1050 and 1080, condemned the views of Berengarius. The scholastics who came after Lanfranc maintained this distinction between accidents and substance. Finally the term " transubstantiation " was used in the 12th century by Hildebert of Tours, and was soon generally adopted. The fourth council of Lateran, in 1215, declared transubstantiation an article of faith, and in 1267 a special holy day (Corpus Christi) was instituted, to give annually a public manifestation of the belief of the church.
Long before it had become customary in the Latin church to give to the laity the Lord's supper only under the form of the bread, though, as the church declared, solely from reasons of expediency. The council of Basel expressly confirmed the doctrine that Christ exists wholly in either of the elements (for which doctrine the theologians used the term " concomitance "). Abbot Rupertus Quotiensis, in the 12th century, had advanced the doctrine of the union of the body and blood of Christ with the bread (im-panation), and was followed by several theologians, even after the definition of the dogma of transubstantiation by the Lateran council. Wycliffe opposed both transubstantiation and impanation. The Greek church, when it separated from the Latin, also believed in a change of the elements into the body and blood of Christ; and in the efforts for a union of the two churches, the question of leavened or unleavened bread was the only point of difference with regard to the Lord's supper.-With the reformation of the 16th century the controversy respecting this doctrine began anew. The reformers agreed in rejecting the mass and transubstantiation, and demanded, as the Hussites had done before them, that the sacrament should be given to the laity under both forms.
But they differed among themselves concerning the true sense of the words of institution and what constituted the essence of the sacrament. Luther maintained the real and substantial presence of the body and blood of Christ, taking place, not by a transmutation of the external elements, but by a supernatural and inconceivable union (unio sacra-mentalis) of the body and blood of Christ with the consecrated bread and wine. Christ is present, according to the words of the larger catechism of Luther, in, with, and under the bread, and is received not only by the good, but also by the wicked. In connection with his doctrine of the Lord's supper Luther maintained the ubiquity of the body of Christ. The objective effect of the Lord's supper, according to Luther, is the remission of sins; the subjective consists in the confirmation of the regeneration which commenced in baptism. Zwingli regarded the bread and wine only as signs of remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, which are in heaven. The effect, in his opinion, consists in a confirmation of our faith in the redemption of mankind through the death of Christ. He explained the "is" in the phrase "This is my body" in a figurative sense, as synonymous with "signifies." CEcolampadius differed from Zwingli only in the grammatical construction of the words of institution, taking not the word " is," but the whole phrase, and in particular the words "my body," in a figurative sense.
Calvin agreed with Zwingli in taking bread and wine only as external signs, but with Luther he believed in a real though only spiritual participation of the body and blood of Christ. This participation does not consist in the infusion of a divine substance, but in a spiritual, animating power which from the glorified body of Christ streams over into our souls. As the glorified body of Christ is now only in heaven, the soul, in order to partake of it, must be elevated in a mysterious manner, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, to heaven, where it receives the body of Christ not with the mouth, but by faith. Unbelievers do not receive the body of Christ, but only the sign to their own condemnation. When, in the second half of the 16th century, some Lutheran theologians inclined, after the example of Melanchthon, to the doctrines of Calvin, the Crypto-Calvinistic controversy arose in the electorate of Saxony; it ended with the banishment of the Crypto-Calvinists. Most of the other Protestant denominations which arose in and after the 16th century adopted the views of Zwingli. The modern German theology of the United Evangelical church aims generally at a compromise between the views of Luther and Calvin, emphasizing real, objective communication of Christ to the worthy receiver, but dropping Luther's doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ's body.
In the Lutheran church and the Protestant Episcopal church eucharistic controversies have often occurred, as one party in each church still lays great stress on the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Lord's supper, while another party strenuously opposes it. Those divines of the Lutheran church who adhere to Luther's views concerning the real presence, are generally opposed to an admission of members of the Calvinistic or Zwinglian confessions to the celebration of the Lord's supper in Lutheran churches, and still more to Lutherans receiving the sacrament in Calvinistic or Zwinglian churches. A similar question (open or close communion) is agitated in the Baptist churches (see Baptists), where one party maintains that none can be admitted to the Lord's supper save those who have been baptized (immersed) on a personal profession of their faith in Christ, while others admit all evangelical Christians. - The elements used at the Lord's supper are generally bread and wine. Christ, when celebrating the passover with his disciples, used unleavened wheaten bread. The apostolic church took the leavened bread which Christians used to bring with them for offerings.
When these offerings ceased together with the agapae, the Greek church retained the leavened bread, while in the Latin church since the 8th century unleavened bread has been used. At the separation of the Greek church from the Latin, the use of unleavened bread by the latter formed one of the principal charges brought against them by the Greeks, and proved afterward one of the greatest obstacles to a reunion of the two churches. The council of Florence, in 1439, which attempted this reunion, determined that either leavened or unleavened bread might be used; but the eastern church soon rejected this compromise together with the union of the churches. The Latin church gave to the bread the form of a wafer, which received the name "host" from the Latin hostia, offering. On one side of it symbolic signs are stamped, but the ritual prescribes nothing on this point. The Lutherans retained the wafer, but the Reformed and other Protestant denominations declared themselves against it, and took again common bread, and most of them also reintroduced the custom of breaking it. The question whether the wine used by Christ in the institution of the eucharist was fermented or not, is quite modern. The Roman Catholic church holds that the valid matter should be vinum de vite, wine of the grape.
Its color is held of no account, though white wine is generally used. The custom of mingling water with wine is said to have been introduced by Pope Alexander I.; it was expressly enacted in the 12th century by Clement III., and regarded as a symbol of the blood and water which streamed from Christ's side on the cross. The Roman Catholic church mingles water with wine once before the consecration; the Greek church twice, cold water before and warm water after the consecration. The Armenian and Protestant churches take unmixed wine. - It is admitted by all that in the primitive church the Lord's supper was always celebrated under the two forms of the bread and the cup, and that sects like the Manichaeans, who rejected the wine, were strongly censured. It was, however, an early custom to carry to sick persons merely the bread dipped in wine. In the 13th century Robert Pulleyn of Oxford declared it a good custom to give to the laity the bread only, to avoid the danger of spilling any of the wine. This view was very soon adopted by all the scholastics, who maintained that Christ was wholly present under either form, and that one form was sufficient for a valid communion, while for the celebration of the mass, or a true sacrifice, both elements were required.
Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura especially recommended the universal introduction of the communion under one form, and this soon became the practice of the entire church. All the sects and reformers of the middle ages, as the Waldenses, Huss, Wycliffe, and Savonarola, protested against this withholding of the cup from the laity. The Protestant churches agreed in regarding the use of both forms as essential both for communion and for the celebration of the ordinance. The practice of the Roman Catholic church was confirmed by the council of Trent in 1563, and has always since been adhered to by the church. Those portions of the eastern churches which have acknowledged the supreme jurisdiction of the pope (United Greeks, Armenians, Copts, etc.) have been permitted to retain the communion under both forms, and the same was offered to the Protestants in the attempts to effect a corporate union between them and the Roman Catholic church. - In the ancient church bread and wine were consecrated by the bishops and presbyters and distributed by the deacons. What change is effected by the consecration is, like the essence of the Lord's supper itself, a subject of controversy among the various Christian denominations.
The Roman Catholic and the eastern churches believe that the consecration was the change of the elements into the body and the blood of Christ; the Protestant denominations think that, in general, the consecration was regarded in the ancient church, as it is by them now, as a setting apart for and devoting to sacred use, without any substantial change in the elements. The formulas used at the distribution of the Lord's supper were early fixed in liturgies. All the old liturgies contain the words of institution and a prayer; that of the Greek church a prayer to the Holy Spirit to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. - The place where the Lord's supper was celebrated was at first the dwellings of the believers. In times of persecution they often had to celebrate it in hidden places, such as the tombs of the martyrs. As ecclesiastical architecture was developed, special altar tables or altars were introduced for its celebration. The time of celebration was at first, in accordance with the name and the institution of the ordinance, the night or evening; but it soon became a practice to connect it with the morning service, and so it is still in most churches; the Moravians, however, celebrate it always at the evening service.
Communion was generally very frequent in the first ages, but became gradually rarer. In the 5th century several ecclesiastical writers complained of the remissness of Christians in this respect. Later synods prescribed that all the faithful should receive it on the high festivals of the church (Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas). The fourth council of Lateran, in 1215, commanded that all adults should receive communion at Easter time, under pain of mortal sin. All the writers of the church strongly recommended to the faithful frequency of communion. The same was urged by the reformers of the 16th century. The Protestant churches in former centuries in some cases punished those who had not appeared at the communion table for a long time or who despised the eucharist with banishment, excommunication, and refusal of Christian burial. The free Protestant churches have generally in their constitutions and statutes some provision for the proceedings to be observed toward church members who refrain from the celebration of the Lord's supper. - The ancient church excluded the catechumens and the lapsi from the Lord's supper, and often gave it to children. Infant communion lasted in the Latin church till the 12th century, and still exists in the Greek church.
The deacons used to carry it to those who were prevented from being present at divine service. The apostles received it from Christ, according to eastern custom, reclining; in the 4th century the custom of standing, and later that of kneeling, was introduced. Kneeling is still the general or prevailing practice among Roman Catholics, the eastern churches, the Protestant Episcopal church, the Methodists, and the Lutherans; in the other churches, sitting prevails, as being a more Scriptural posture. In a few denominations it is customary to sit round a table, and in some places 12 always sit down at a time. At first bread and the cup were given into the hands of the communicants; later the distributing clergyman sometimes placed the bread in their mouth, and held the cup to their lips. The self-communion of the laity is prohibited by all the Christian churches; the self-communion of clergymen is generally practised in the Roman Catholic and the eastern churches, and is also customary in the Protestant Episcopal church and among the Moravians. In some churches various ceremonies, as burning of candles, etc, accompany the celebration; in most of the reformed churches nothing is changed in the usual form of the divine service, except that a special communion service is used.
The Protestant churches generally have allowed a great liberty with regard to the mode of celebration, and there is accordingly a great variety of usages, which it would require too much space to describe. - Histories of the doctrine of the Lord's supper in the Christian church have been written by Schulz (rationalistic), Die Christliche Lehre vom Abendmahle (2d ed., Leipsic, 1831); Ebrard (evangelical), Das Dogma vom heili-gen Abendmahle und seine Geschichte (2 vols., Frankfort, 1845-'6); Kahnis (High Lutheran), Die Lehre vom Abendmahl (Leipsic, 1851); Ruckert (rationalistic), Das Abendmahl, sein Wesen und seine Geschichte in der alten Kirche (2 vols., 1856); Wilberforce, "Doctrine of the Eucharist" (London, 1853); J. Taylor, "True Doctrine of the Eucharist" (1856); and E. B. Pusey, "Real Presence" (1853-7). An account of the mode of its celebration by the various denominations is given by Scheibel, Kurze Nachricht von der Feier des heiligen Abendmahls bei den verschiedenen Religions-parteien (Breslau, 1824).