Justin Martyr and The Mass

The following is a portion of the “First Apology” written by Justin Martyr (who calls himself “Justin, the son of Priscos, son of Baccheios, of Flavia Neapolis, in Palestinian Syria”).

He was a Christian apologist, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome.

The amazing thing about this writing, written 150ish AD, is how similar the activities are to today’s mass, including the Real Presence.

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Chapter 65. Administration of the
sacraments

But we, after we have
thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring
him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order
that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized
[illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted
worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good
citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an
everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a
kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of
wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father
of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers
thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these
things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings,
all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen
answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the
people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to
each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over
which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry
away a portion.

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist

And this food is called
among us Εὐχαριστία [the
Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that
the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing
that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living
as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive
these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh
by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise
have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word,
and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh
and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs
composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what
was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks,
said, “This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body;” and that,
after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is
My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in
the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread
and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of
one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

Chapter 67. Weekly worship of the
Christians

And we afterwards continually remind each
other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always
keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker
of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day
called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one
place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are
read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president
verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we
all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended,
bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers
prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent,
saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that
over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is
sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each
thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours
the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are
in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and
in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we
all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having
wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ
our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day
before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is
the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught
them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

Chapter 68. Conclusion

And if these things seem to you to be
reasonable and true, honour them; but if they seem nonsensical, despise them as
nonsense, and do not decree death against those who have done no wrong, as you
would against enemies. For we forewarn you, that you shall not escape the
coming judgment of God, if you continue in your injustice; and we ourselves
will invite you to do that which is pleasing to God. And though from the letter
of the greatest and most illustrious Emperor Adrian, your father, we could
demand that you order judgment to be given as we have desired, yet we have made
this appeal and explanation, not on the ground of Adrian’s decision, but
because we know that what we ask is just. And we have subjoined the copy of
Adrian’s epistle, that you may know that we are speaking truly about this. And
the following is the copy:—

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