Catholic Corner - How First Christians Worshipped
In A.D. 155, a scholarly convert from Samaria, wrote to the Roman emperor describing what we can, even now, recognize as the Mass. It’s worth quoting in length:
“On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . . And for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: “Amen.” When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and take them to those who were absent.”
Justin begins his description by placing it squarely on “the day of the sun” - Sunday, which was the day Jesus rose from the dead. This identification of “the Lord’s day” with Sunday is the universal testimony of the early Christians. As the primary day of worship, Sunday had fulfilled and replaced the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Jews.
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