Do We Really Know What It Means In The Holy Eucharist Liturgy To Literally Have Our Lord Jesus Christ "Present" In Our Midst?
Within the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist, at the time when the Bishop or Priest, invoking the Holy Spirit upon the offered Gifts of bread and wine, blesses them with the prayer to God the Father.
this bread the precious Body of Thy
and that which is in this chalice, the precious Blood of Thy Christ;
changing them BY YOUR MOST HOLY SPIRIT. Amen"
The bread and the wine actually are changed into the Body and Blood by the coming down/invocation of the Holy Spirit, through the power and Glory of God. After this moment, although our earthly eyes see bread and wine on the Holy Altar, in their very essence, invisibly for our eyes, this is the True Body and the True Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, only under the "forms" of bread and wine. The sanctified Gifts of bread and wine in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist are changed in a union without confusion or "transmutated," into the True Body and True Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, confirmed in the Gospel of John 6:55. "For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed."
The truth is expressed in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in the following words:
"We believe that in this sacred rite (i.e. The Holy Eucharist) our Lord Jesus Christ is present not symbolically, (Typikos), not figuratively (eikonikos), not by an abundance of grace, as in the other Mysteries, not by simple descent, but indeed truly and actually, so that after the sanctification of the Bread and wine, the bread is changed (i.e. via Transmutation), converted, transformed, into the actual True Body of the Lord, which was born in Bethlehem of the Ever-Virgin, was Baptized in the Jordan, suffered and was buried, resurrected, ascended, Who sits at the right hand of God the Father, and is to appear in the clouds of heaven; and the wine is changed and transmutated into the Actual True Blood of the Lord, which at the time of His suffering on the Cross was shed for the life of the world. 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 our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, under the appearance and form of the bread and the wine."
After the transformation/transmutation of the bread and wine in the
Mystery of the Eucharist into the Body and Blood of our Lord and
Savior and God, Jesus Christ, they no longer return to their
former nature, but remain "The Body and Blood of the Lord,
forever," whether or not they are consumed by the
faithful. The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church therefore
preserves the custom/tradition of
preserving the sanctified Gifts in sacred vessels in order to
give Holy Communion to the dying and to the sick and for
communion of the faithful as might be deemed necessary.
"And this food is called among us Eucharistia (The Eucharist) , of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels have delivered unto us which was enjoined upon them.." (First Apology, Ch LXVI)
"For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptable, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity" (Against Heresies, Book 4, Ch XVIII)
"Our flesh eats the body and blood of Christ so that our soul is filled with God. Therefore what He joins together in His work cannot be separated in His reward"
"Receive in this bread that which was hanged on the cross; receive in this cup that which was poured from Christ's side. For he will gain death, not life, who thinks Christ is a liar" (Ad neophytos)
"We however, take into our believing hearts and mouths the Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ with His flesh given us to eat and His blood given us to drink" (Contra aversarium legis et prophetarum, Bk 2, Ch 9)
"The table of the Lord takes the place of the manger, for in it lies the body of the Lord, not indeed wrapped in swaddling clothes but clothed with the Holy Spirit" (Oratio de philogonio)
(Regarding 1 Cor.10:16).."That which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and that is what we participate in" "When we hold that cup in our hands we glorify God and stand amazed at the ineffable gift, namely, that He shed this very thing, and not only shed it but also distributes it to us all" (Homily 24 on First Corinthians)
It is therefore most fitting that as we offer Divine Worship to our Lord Jesus Christ, both according to His Divinity and His humanity, as a consequence of their inseparable union, therefore we need also offer that same worship to the Holy Mysteries of the Eucharist as we give to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This Holy Eucharist, then, for us - is not a repetition of the Savior's Sacrifice on the Cross, but it is indeed an offering of the sacrificed Body and Blood once offered by our Redeemer on the Cross, by Him Who "is ever eaten, though never consumed." It is offered without suffering, without the shedding of blood, without death, although it is performed in remembrance of the sufferings and death of the Divine Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior and God, Jesus Christ.
So, my beloved, within the Holy Eucharist, CHRIST TRULY IS IN OUR MIDST, and so shall it be forever and even unto ages of ages. AMEN.
Peace and blessings to all of you as you receive this Holy
Teachings of the Church Fathers within our Apostolic Orthodox
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