My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
GREAT AND HOLY THURSDAY: THE INSTITUTION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Troparion Hymn. Plagal Fourth Tone
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed You, the Righteous Judge. Behold, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord Who deals righteously with all, glory to You!
Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your Mystical Supper. I will not reveal Your mystery to Your adversaries. Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom.
On Thursday of Holy and Great Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Mystical Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
COMMEMORATIONS OF GREAT AND HOLY THURSDAY
The Institution of the Divine Eucharist
At the Mystical Supper in the Upper Room Jesus gave a radically new meaning to the food and drink of the Sacred Meal. He identified Himself with the bread and wine: "Take eat; this is my Body. Drink of it all of you; for this is My Blood of the New Covenant" (St. Matthew 26:26-28).
We have learned to equate food with life because it sustains our earthly existence. In the Eucharist the distinctively unique human food-bread and wine-becomes our gift of life. Consecrated and sanctified, the bread and wine become the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ. This change is not physical but mystical and sacramental. While the qualities of the bread and wine remain, we partake of the True Body and Blood of Christ. In the Eucharistic meal God enters into such a communion of life that He feeds humanity with His Own Being, while still remaining distinct. In words of Saint Maximos the Confessor, Christ, "transmits to us divine life, making Himself eatable." The Author of life shatters the limitations of our createdness. Christ acts so that "we might become sharers of divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) The Eucharist is at the center of the Church's life. It is her most profound prayer and principal activity. It is at one and the same time both the source and the summit of her life. In the Holy Eucharist the Church manifests her true nature and is continuously changed from a human community into the Body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit and the people of God. The Divine Eucharist is the pre-eminent Mysterion. It completes all others and recapitulates the entire economy of salvation. Our new life in Christ is constantly renewed and increased by the Holy Eucharist. The Divine Eucharist imparts life and the life it gives is the life of God.
In the Holy Eucharist the Church remembers and enacts sacramentally the redemptive event of the Cross and participates in its saving grace. This does not suggest that the Divine Eucharist attempts to reclaim a past event. The Divine Eucharist does not repeat what cannot be repeated. Christ is not slain anew and repeatedly. Rather the Eucharistic food is changed concretely and really into the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, "Who gave Himself up for the life of the world." Christ, the Theanthropos, continually offers Himself to the faithful through the consecrated gifts, i.e., His very own risen and deified body, which for our sake died once and now lives (Hebrews 10:2; Revelation 1:18). Hence, the faithful come to Church week by week not only to worship God and to hear His word. They come, first of all, to experience intimately the passion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Holy Eucharist we receive and partake of the resurrected Christ. We share in His sacrificed, risen and deified Body, "for the forgiveness of sins and life eternal" (Divine Liturgy). In the Divine Eucharist Christ pours into us--as a permanent and constant gift--the Holy Spirit, "Who bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God--and if children--then heirs with Christ (Romans 8: 16-17).
The Washing of the Feet
The events initiated by Jesus at the Mystical Supper were profoundly significant. By teaching and giving the disciples His final instructions and praying for them as well, He revealed again His Divine Sonship and authority. By establishing the Holy Eucharist, He enshrines to perfection Himself as communion and life. By washing the feet of His Disciples, He summarizes the meaning of His Ministry, manifested His perfect love and revealed His profound humility. The act of the washing of the feet (St. John 13:2-17) is closely related to the Sacrifice of the Cross. Both reveal aspects of Christ's kenosis. While the Cross constitutes the ultimate manifestation of Christ's perfect obedience to His Father (Philippians 2:5-8), the washing of the feet signifies His intense love and the giving of Himself to each person according to that person's ability to receive him (St. John 13:6-9). (Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
THE MYSTERY OF THE DIVINE LITURGY
(Source: Empirical Dogmatics: Of the Orthodox Catholic Church, according to the spoken teaching of Father John Romanides, Vol. 2. Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS)
Part 5: The Church as the Body of Christ and a Community of Glorification.
The Divine Liturgy is at the centre of ecclesiastical life. The Incarnation of the Son and Logos (Word) of God came about in order that human nature might be glorified and Christ might be offered to mankind, so that they could take communion of His Body and Blood. This is the ultimate aim of the Mysteries (Sacraments). The purpose of all the Mysteries is participation in Christ's Body and Blood. Christ said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you (St. John 6:53). We are baptized and chrismated in order that we may take Holy Communion as members of the Body of Christ.
"It is clear from the basic principles of the baptismal services, the prayers in the Liturgy and the Canons of the Church, that being a member of the Body of Christ means not only sharing in the common prayers of the Church, but also taking Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ. Any sort of distinction between prayer and Holy Communion is inconceivable, because the whole body of the local Church prays 'with one mouth and one heart', the whole Church says 'Amen' at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, and the whole body of the Church is called by Christ to Holy Communion..."
"Man does not have his own life. He can only have life if he dies with regard to the elements of this world and lives the life of love in the Eucharistic life of the community. His salvation cannot come from a moralizing, individualistic piety. It is accomplished only through grace, according to how much he struggles against the devil and empties himself in the life of Christ, who body is made up of real human beings, the Church."
Holy Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ, however, is not without preconditions. Clear preconditions must be met in order for Holy Communion to act unto life and not death.
As human beings have a rational faculty and a noetic faculty, there is rational worship and noetic worship. Rational worship takes place using words, whereas noetic worship is performed inwardly through prayer in the heart. The Divine Liturgy is rational worship, but within it neotic worship is also offered by the one who has developed his noetic faculty. For that reason, someone who also offers noetic worship participates in the Divine Liturgy in the best possible way.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!
KALI ANASTASI! BLESSED RESURRECTION!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God