Soon after the year 100, Ignatius of Antioch refers to the agape or love-feast. In Letter 97 to Trajan, Pliny the Younger perhaps indicates, in about 112, that the meal was normally taken separately from the Eucharistic celebration: he speaks of the Christians separating after having offered prayer, on the morning of a fixed day, to Christ as to a god, and reassembling later for a common meal. The rescheduling of the agape meal was triggered by Corinthian selfishness and gluttony. Tertullian too seems to write of these meals, though what he describes is not quite clear. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-211/216) distinguished so-called "Agape" meals of luxurious character from the agape (love) "which the food that comes from Christ shows that we ought to partake of". Accusations of gross indecency were sometimes made against the form that these meals sometimes took. Referring to Clement of Alexandria, Stromata III,2, Philip Schaff commented: "The early disappearance of the Christian agapæ may probably be attributed to the terrible abuse of the word here referred to, by the licentious Carpocratians. The genuine agapæ were of apostolic origin (2 Pet. ii. 13; Jude 12), but were often abused by hypocrites, even under the apostolic eye (1 Corinthians 11:21). In the Gallican Church, a survival or relic of these feasts of charity is seen in the pain béni; and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church in the ἀντίδωρον or eulogiæ, also known as prosphora distributed to non-communicants at the close of the Eucharist, from the loaf out of which the bread of oblation is supposed to have been cut.
Augustine of Hippo also objected to the continuance in his native North Africa of the custom of such meals, in which some indulged to the point of drunkenness, and he distinguished them from proper celebration of the Eucharist: "Let us take the body of Christ in communion with those with whom we are forbidden to eat even the bread which sustains our bodies. He reports that even before the time of his stay in Milan, the custom had already been forbidden there.
Canons 27 and 28 of the Council of Laodicea (364) restricted the abuses. The Third Council of Carthage (393) and the Second Council of Orleans (541) reiterated this legislation, which prohibited feasting in churches, and the Trullan Council of 692 decreed that honey and milk were not to be offered on the altar (Canon 57), and that those who held love feasts in churches should be excommunicated (Canon 74).
John Wesley the founder of Methodism travelled to America in the company of the Moravians and greatly admired their faith and practice. After his conversion in 1738 he introduced the Love Feast to the Methodist Church. Due to the lack of ordained ministers within Methodism, the Love Feast took on a life of its own, as there were few opportunities to take Communion.
Spiritual practices surrounding food subject of conference; Breaking bread: 3-day affair set will take place at UD and Wartburg
Mar 05, 2002; Producing, preparing, eating and sharing food can be spiritual practices. Organizers of an upcoming conference hope to "re-...