My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"Receive me today, O Son of God, as a partaker of Thine
Mystical Supper; for I will not speak of Thine Mystery
to Thine enemies, nor will I give Thee a kiss as did
Judas. But as the thief, I confess to Thee: LORD
REMEMBER ME IN THY KINGDOM." (Communion Prayer)
THE MYSTERION (SACRAMENT) OF THE DIVINE EUCHARIST
THE MYSTICAL SUPPER
"Τού Δείπνου Σοθ τού Μυστικού σήμερον, Υιέ Θεού,
κοινωνόν με παράλαβε ού μή γάρ τοίς έχθροίς Σου
τό μυστήριον είπω ού φιλημά Σου δώσω καθάπερ ο
Ιούδας, αλλ’ ώς ο ληστής ομολογώ Σοι, Μνήσθητί μου,
Κύριε, έν τή Βασιλεία Σου."
"Of Thy Mystic Super receive me today, O Son of God,
as a partaker; for I will not speak of the Mystery to
Thine enemies; I will not kiss Thee as did Judas but as
the thief, I will confess Thee Lord, remember me in
The Divine Eucharist (Η ΘΕΙΑ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΊΑ) has its very beginning to the Eucharistic meal Jesus Christ the Lord has with His Disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem before His betrayal.
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to
them and said, ‘TAKE, EAT; this is My body.’
Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed
for many" (Saint Mark 14:22-24).
This Passover Meal is the beginning or first Divine Eucharist. It is the very heart of Christian worship, which celebrates the New Covenant and the mystical union with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Orthodox Christian teaching has since then affirmed the Truth of our Lord’s Divine words without scrutinizing or theorizing about this awesome mystery of faith.
It is the Mystery in which the bread and wine of offering ARE CHANGED BY THE Holy Spirit, (The Consecration) INTO THE TRUE Body and TRUE Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then the Orthodox Christian believers receive of them for a most intimate UNION WITH CHRIST and Eternal Life. This Mystery is composed of two separate events: 1) the CHANGING or TRANSFORMATION of the bread and wine into the Precious Body and Sacred Blood of our Lord, and 2) the Communion of these Holy Gifts. It is called "the Eucharist," "the Lord’s Supper," "the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ." The Body and Blood of Christ in this Mystery (Sacrament) are called "Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Life" or the "Cup of salvation." They are also refered to as the "Holy Mysteries," and "the Bloodless Sacrifice." The Divine Eucharist is the greatest Christian Mystery. It is the Sacrament of all Sacraments.
The Lord’s Disciples understood His words literally: "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" (St. John 6:60). Even His Disciples found it hard to comprehend. Jesus, Who knows the thoughts of men, knew that His Disciples were perplexed with His words. "There are some of you that do not believe." "For Jesus knew from the beginning WHO THEY WERE WHO DID NOT BELIEVE, AND WHO WOULD BETRAY HIM." (St. John 6:64). "From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (St. John 6:66).
By His words, Jesus indicates that His words are difficult to believe. What does it mean that His followers will eat His Body and drink His Blood? He confirms that He speaks of His actual Body. His words concerning His Body and Blood are "spiritual life." They testify that a) he who partakes of them will have ETERNAL LIFE AND WILL BE RESURRECTED for the Kingdom of Glory in the Last Day, and b) he who partakes of them WILL ENTER INTO THE MOST INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH JESUS CHRIST. Holy Communion is important for Eternal Life. As the Orthodox priest gives Holy Communion to the Orthodox faith, he says, "The servant of God receives (Name) the Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ for THE REMISSION OF SINS AND LIFE ETERNAL!"
The Orthodox Christian must approach the Divine Eucharist with profound reverence and maintain that reverence after he or she has participated in the Mystery of Repentance/Confession. The faithful must believe truly that this is not simple or ordinary food, but the Very Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. During the Divine Liturgy, the celebrant priest invokes the Holy Spirit, our God, upon the offered Gifts, and blesses them with the prayer to God the Father: "Make this bread the Precious Body of Thy Christ, and that which is in this cup, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ, CHANGING THEM BY Thy Holy Spirit." The bread and wine ACTUALLY ARE CHANGED INTO THE Body and Blood BY THE COMING DOWN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (THIS IS THE CONSECRATION OF THE HOLY GIFTS BY GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT.) After this solemn moment, although our eyes see bread and wine on the Holy Table, IN THEIR VERY ESSENCE, INVISIBLY FOR SENSUAL EYES, THIS IS THE TRUE BODY AND TRUE BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, ONLY UNDER THE "FORMS" of bread and wine.
In the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, it is stated: "We believe that in this Sacred Rite Our Lord Jesus Christ IS PRESENT NOT SYMBOLICALLY (typikos), not figuratively (eikonikos), not by an abundance of grace, as in the other Mysteries…after the SANCTIFICATION OF THE BREAD AND WINE, THE BREAD IS CHANGED, CONVERTED, TRANSFORMED INTO THE ACTUAL TRUE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD…YET AGAIN WE BELIEVE THAT AFTER THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE BREAD AND WINE THERE REMAINS NO LONGER THE BREAD AND WINE THEMSELVES, BUT THE VERY BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD, UNDER THE APPEARANCE AND FORM OF BREAD AND WINE." (source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George