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The meal which preceded the Eucharist, called in Greek an agape, which means literally ‘self‐giving love’. These meals, mentioned in Jude 12, and possibly 1 Cor. 11: 17 ff., were continued in the early Church (cf. Acts 20: 7 ff.) in the evening of the Lord's Day, and were intended, as the name suggests, to be a time for God‐centred community love. However, it is clear that this admirable intention was gradually eroded by the acids of unrestrained paganism and by the 4th cent. ce it was deemed advisable by the Western Church that the meal, in spite of being an occasion for acts of charity, should be disconnected from the Eucharistic commemoration of Christ's living presence. There then grew up the contrasting custom of fasting before communion.

Subjects: Religion

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