And now, as
wickeder things advance more fruitfully, and abandoned manners creep on day
by day, those abominable shrines of an impious assembly are maturing
themselves throughout the whole world. Assuredly this confederacy ought to
be rooted out and execrated. They know one another by secret marks and
insignia, and they love one another almost before they know one another;
everywhere also there is mingled among them a certain religion of lust, and
they call one another promiscuously brothers and sisters, that even a not
unusual debauchery may by the intervention of that sacred name become
incestuous: it is thus that their vain and senseless superstition glories in
concerning these things, would intelligent report speak of things so great
and various, and requiring to be prefaced by an apology, unless truth were
at the bottom of it. I hear that they adore the head of an ass, that basest
of creatures, consecrated by I know not what silly persuasion, a worthy and
appropriate religion for such manners. Some say that they worship the
genitals of their pontiff and priest, and adore the nature, as it were, of
their common parent. I know not whether these things are false; certainly
suspicion is applicable to secret and nocturnal rites; and he who explains
their ceremonies by reference to a man punished by extreme suffering for his
wickedness, and to the deadly wood of the cross, appropriates fitting altars
for reprobate and wicked men, that they may worship what they deserve.
story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it
is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the
unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this
infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless
blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds. Thirstily - O
horror! they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this
victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they
are covenanted to mutual silence.
Minucius Felix, Octavius, R. E. Wallis, trans. in The Ante-Nicene
(Buffalo, N. Y.: The Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), Vol. 4, pp.
charge of ritual cannibalism was probably based on confused accounts of the
Christian eucharist. Hippolytus of Rome tells us what actually went on at a
Christian service. This early eucharistic prayer still used in some churches
dates from the beginning of the third century.
Hippolytus. Apostolic Tradition
When one has
been consecrated bishop all give him the kiss of peace . . . and the deacons
bring him the offering . . . he lays hands upon it with all the priests and
gives thanks, saying, "The Lord be with you." And all answer, "And with your
spirit." "Lift up your hearts." "We have lifted them up to the Lord." "Let
us give thanks to the Lord." "It is right and just."
And he thus
continues, "We give thanks to you O God through your beloved son Jesus
Christ whom in these last times you have sent to us as the redeemer and
savior and messenger of your will. He is your inseparable Word, through whom
you created all things and who was acceptable to you. You sent him from
heaven into the Virgin's womb and in her womb he was made man and was
manifested your son, born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin. Fulfilling
your will and buying for you a holy people, he stretched forth his hands
when he suffered, that by his Passion he might deliver those who believed in
you. When he was delivered over to his Passion of his own will, to destroy
death, to break the bonds of the devil, to trample upon Hell, to enlighten
the just, and to manifest his resurrection, taking bread and giving thanks
to you, he said: Take and eat, this is my body which shall be broken for
you. And taking likewise the cup, he said: This is my blood which shall be
shed for you; when you do this, do it in memory of me.
therefore of his death and resurrection, we offer you this bread and cup,
giving thanks to you because you have found us worthy to stand before you
and serve you. And we beg you to send the Holy Spirit upon the offering of
the holy church and gather into one all who have received it . . . that we
may praise and glorify you through your son Jesus Christ, through whom is
glory and honor to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in your holy
church both now and forever. Amen."
Achelis, Die Canones Hippolyti (Leipzig, 1881), pp. 48-55.
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