The Mystery (Sacrament) of the Holy Eucharist


My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Savior Jesus Christ,


[Source: The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky]


The Eucharist (literally "thanksgiving") is the Mystery (Sacrament) in which the bread and wine of offering are changed by the Holy Spirit into the True Body and True Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and then the believers receive communion of them for a most intimate union with Christ and eternal life. This Mystery (Sacrament) is composed, thus, of two separate moments: 1) the changing or transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the 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 the "Bread of heaven and the Cup of life" or the "Cup of salvation"; they are called "Holy Mysteries," "the Bloodless Sacrifice." The Eucharist is the greatest Christian Mystery (Sacrament)...

"...The Eucharist is a sacrifice which in the most intimate fashion united all the faithful in one body in Christ. Therefore, after the transformation of the Holy Gifts as also earlier at the proskomedi, the priest remembers the Most Holy Lady Theotokos and all the Saints, adding: "by their prayers visit us, O God"; and then he goes over to the commemoration of the living and the dead--the whole Church of Christ...

"...From the accounts in the Gospels and in the writings of the Apostles, and from the practice of the ancient Church, one must make the following conclusions:

a)     In the Eucharist, as the Apostles were given at the Mystical Supper, so also all the faithful should be given not only the Body of Christ but also the Blood of Christ. "Drink ye all from it," the Savior commanded (St. Matthew 26:27). "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of that cup" (I Corinthians 11:28).  

b)     "We are partakers of that one Bread" (I Corinthians 10:17), writes the Apostle. In the ancient Church every community partook of one single bread, and in the Orthodox Liturgy, there is blessed and broken one bread, just as one cup is blessed.

c)     In all the passages of Holy Scripture where the bread of the Eucharist is mentioned, the bread is called artos in Greek (St. John, Ch. 6, The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, in the Apostle Paul and the Acts of the Apostles). Artos usually signifies wheat bread which has risen through the use of leaven ("unleavened" is expressed in Greek by the adjective azymos). It is known that in Apostolic times--that is, from the very beginning, from its institution--the Eucharist was performed during the whole year, weekly when the Jews did not prepare unleavened bread; this means that it was performed, even in the Jewish-Christian communities, with leavened bread...

"...To receive communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord is the essential, necessary, saving, and consoling obligation of every Christian. This is evident from the words of the Savior which He uttered when giving the promise regarding the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Eucharist: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath eternal life" (St. John 6:53-54).

The saving fruits or effects of the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Eucharist, if only we communicate them worthily, are the following:

It unites us in the most intimate fashion with the Lord: "He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him" (St. John 6:56).

It nourisheth our soul and body and aids our strengthening, increase, and growth in our spiritual life: "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me" (St. John 6:57).

Being received worthily, it serves for us as a pledge of the future resurrection and the eternally blessed life: "He that eateth of this bread shall live forever" (St. John 6:58).

However, one should remember that the Eucharist offers these saving fruits only to those who approach it with faith and repentance, but an unworthy partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ brings all the more condemnation: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body" (I Corinthians 11:29).

"...How is it that believers will eat His Body and drink His Blood? But 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) that he who partakes of them will enter into the most intimate communion with Christ. His words speak not of life in the flesh, but of life in the Spirit. "The Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Life; taste and see that the Lord is good"--these are words we hear at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. This Communion of His Body and Blood is important not for the quenching of physical hunger, as was the feeding with manna in the desert, or the feeding of the five thousand--but it is important for eternal life.





"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George