... Lord Jesus Christ,Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner-Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ,Υιέ Θεού, ελέησόν με τον αμαρτωλό...

Σάββατο, 16 Ιουλίου 2011

Eucharist - Holy Communion

Communion CupThis is the Mystery where the bread and wine are changed by the Holy Spirit into the true Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. This gift is distributed to all Orthodox Christians who choose to partake for the most intimate union with our Lord. This is seen as the greatest of all the Mysteries. It is the climax of our main worship service the Divine Liturgy.
This was promised by the Christ on the occasion of the feeding of the five thousand.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:53-56)
Since the Apostles did not believe this, he told them about His future Ascension. Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:61-63)
Christ knew that these words were hard to understand.
The Eucharist was established as recorded in three of the Gospels.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26-28)Same is said in Mark.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
It is repeated by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. (1 Cor 11:23-25)
This wording is very clear and does not allow for any other interpretation. He does not say this is a symbol of my body, but that this is my body. It is not figurative, not by the abundance of grace, not by a simple descent of the Holy Spirit and not through a penetration of the bread. It is truly and actually changed, transubstantiated, converted, transformed into the true Body and Blood of Christ. This had been the understanding of the Church from the beginning of Christianity. There has never been any other interpretation in the Church. Changes to this view in many Protestant churches are due to the denial of the mystery that grows with it. This is the result of a scientific world view and creative reinterpretation of the Scripture.
Having given communion to His disciples, the Lord commanded, Do this in remembrance of Me. This must be performed until He comes (1Cor 11:25-26). We can see this act performed in Apostolic times in Acts (2:42, 46, 20:7) and in 1Cor (10,11). The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17)
It is in the Eucharist that the believer is united with Christ. It also unites believers with each other. We being many, are one body, for we are all partakers of that one Bread. (1Cor 10:17)
In the Divine Liturgy, the congregation kneels and the priest lifts up the paten and the cup praying, “Once again we offer you this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray and entreat You; send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here offered. And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ. And that which is in this Cup the precious blood of Your Christ. Changing them by Your Holy Spirit. Amen, Amen. Amen.”
The priest continues, “So that to those who partake of them they May bring vigilance of soul, forgiveness of sins, communion of Your Holy Spirit, fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven, confidence before You, not judgment or condemnation.”
This is called the Epiclesis, yet there is not considered to be any single moment that the change occurs.
Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council said:
“At the Divine Table we should not see simply the bread and the cup which have been offered, but raising our minds high, we should with faith understand that on the sacred Table lies the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, Who is offered as a Sacrifice by the priests; and truly receiving His Precious Body and Blood, we should believe that this is a sign of our Resurrection.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in this Mystery with all His being. He is present totally even in the smallest particle. All who receive the Holy Communion receive the entire Christ. And even though there are many liturgies it is the same Christ in each one. After the transformation takes place the Body and Blood do not return to their former nature.
The bread which is used is wheat bread which has risen through the use of leaven. In the Scripture the word “artos” is used for bread which is a leavened bread. The Eastern Orthodox Church has always used leavened Bread. (In the Western Church they use unleavened bread. While the source of the difference is not clear, some believe that until the 10th century both used leavened bread.)
The Holy Eucharist by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald