Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Lord's Supper

Lord's Supper, the name given in the Book of Common Prayer to the Sacrament which is also called Holy Communion, Eucharist, or Liturgy. In the primitive Church it seems to have been celebrated either daily or weekly in connection with the Agapae (q.v.), but before their abolition the Communion Service had become entirely distinct from them. At an early period the ordinances of the Church required its members to receive the Sacrament at the great yearly festival, and it was also usual to partake of it on all occasions of more than ordinary solemnity. The practice has been maintained by all Christian bodies up to the present time, with the single exception of the Society of Friends; but from an early date widely divergent views have existed as to the exact meaning of the rite and the manner in which it should be administered. The source of the controversy regarding the "real presence" may be placed at least as far back as the 3rd century, when Origen maintained that the bread and wine are merely symbols, in opposition to the mystical view which then prevailed throughout the Church. Neither view, however, was distinctly formulated until the 9th century, when Paschasius Radbertus put forward the doctrine that by a miraculous process attending the consecration the substance (q.v.) of the bread and wine is transformed into that of the very body and blood of Christ. This doctrine received official sanction at the Council of Rome (1079), and is taught by the Roman Catholic Church at the present time. [Teansubstantiation.] The reformers of the 16th century regarded this view as superstitious, but they differed widely amongst themselves. Luther, putting a literal interpretation on the words "This is My body," maintains that the body and blood are supernaturally present in the bread and wine, although not identical with them (consubstantiation). Zwinglius, on the other hand, declared that the words "this is "are equivalent to "this represents," so that the Sacrament is merely an act of commemoration, and the elements have only a symbolic significance. Calvin took up a position midway between the two, asserting that although the body and blood are not actually present in the elements, yet the faithful partaker is, in the act of receiving them, brought into union with Christ, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, This is the view now held by most Protestant Churches. The 28th Article of the Church of England asserts that "the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner." The forms observed in the celebration of the rite, which vary greatly in different Churches, mostly have a doctrinal origin. Thus, the denial of the cup to the laity in the Roman Catholic Church is grounded on the belief that the bread as well as the wine is converted into the blood of Christ; and the elevation of the Host (q.v.) is intended not only to represent the exaltation of Christ after His death, but to display His body and blood as objects of worship to the congregation. [Lituegy, Mass.]