Eucharist / Metaphysical

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Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Oct 3 2021 7:29 PM

Does anyone have a reference or book for the Orthodox teaching that the Eucharist is changed metaphysically as noted here? Thanks in advance

"Eucharist: from the Greek eukharistiā (thanksgiving). The central act of Christian worship. Also called Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament, the Divine Liturgy, or Mass according to tradition. The rite celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples (Mark 14 and parallels) and is one of Christianity’s earliest institutions (see 1 Corinthians 11). The taking of bread and wine in commemoration of Jesus giving his body and blood has been a source of much controversy as to the exact nature of the elements and their meaning. For Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, at the point of consecration the bread and wine undergoes a metaphysical transformation (transubstantion) and becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ. For many Anglicans and Lutherans, the event instead signifies the real or spiritual presence of Jesus with the communicants. Other Protestant groups see it as a memorial event with only symbolic significance. All Christian traditions regard the Eucharist as an important event in the communal life of the Church."

Backhouse, Stephen. Zondervan Essential Companion to Christian History. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019. Print.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 3 2021 10:31 PM

QUESTION 106.

What is the third Mystery?


ANSWER.

The holy Eucharist, or the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the visible Species of Bread and Wine: Wherein, really and properly, and according to the Thing itself, JESUS CHRIST is present. This Mystery is in an eminent Degree above all the other Mysteries, and conduceth unto our Salvation in a more especial Manner than they all do; for in this Mystery the whole Grace and Benefits of our Lord Jesus are manifested and imparted to all the Faithful; as will more fully appear hereafter.


QUESTION 107.

What is to be observed in this Mystery?


ANSWER.

First, That no man do presume to administer this Mystery, on any Occasion whatsoever, although ever so urgent; but only a Priest lawfully ordained. Secondly, It must be provided, that where the Priest is to celebrate this Sacrament there be a fit and proper Altar, or at least a consecrated Cloth, without one of which he may not, by any means, offer the unbloody Sacrifice. Thirdly, Let him take heed that he be provided with the proper necessaries, namely, the purest leavened Bread, made of Grain, and the purest Wine, unmixed with any other Liquor: whereto, in the Time of Celebration, let Water be added; that the Scripture may be fulfilled, which sayeth (John 19:34), One of the Soldiers pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout Water and Blood. Fourthly, In the Moments of Consecration of the holy Gifts, the Priest must firmly and undoubtingly resolve within himself that the Substance of the Bread and the Substance of the Wine are changed into the very Substance of the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, by the operation or working of the Holy Ghost, whose Power and Influence let the Priest invoke in these Words, in order to the due Performance of this Mystery: O Lord, send down from Heaven thy Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these Gifts now lying before thee; and 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. At these Words there is wrought a Change in the Elements, and the Bread becomes the very Body of Christ, and the Wine his very Blood; the Species only remaining, which are perceived by the Sight; In the first Place, that we might not behold the Body of Christ with our Eyes, but by Faith, only, believe it to be so; because Christ said, “This is my Body,” and “This is my Blood,” depending and trusting rather in the Words and Power of our Lord than on our own Senses; and so becoming Partakers of the Blessing which is the Reward of Faith (John 20:29), Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And farthermore, secondly, because that human Nature would abhor and be shocked at the eating of raw Flesh; and yet, nevertheless, by the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ in this Mystery, a Christian is most closely united with Christ. Therefore, to the End that our Weak Nature might not abominate and reject this necessary Partaking, the divine Goodness hath taken this Method to familiarise and conciliate it unto us, and imparteth unto the Faithful the very Body and the very Blood of Christ for Meat and Drink, under the Covering of Bread and Wine. Hereof St. Gregory Nyssene and St. Damascene fully treat.
Moreover, the Communion of this Mystery ought to be alike received and partaken by the Clergy and the Laity, by the Priest and the People, in both kinds; namely, of both the Bread and the Wine. For so Christ commanded, without making any Distinction (John 6:54), 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, dwelleth in me, and I in him. Wherefore the holy Apostles have delivered this Mystery unto others, as they themselves received it of Christ; namely, to the joint and equal use of both secular Persons and Persons in the Priesthood; and in both kinds, both of the Bread and of the Wine: As St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:23), For I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you; that the Lord Jesus, in the same Night in which he was betrayed, took Bread; and when he had given Thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my Body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same Manner, also, he took the Cup, when he had supped, saying, This Cup is the New Testament in my Blood; this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. Farthermore, the Honour which is due to these awful Mysteries ought to be the same and equal to that which is rendered to Christ himself (as we have before said in the fifty-seventh Question), and as St. Peter, speaking in the Name of all the Apostles, and, as it were, with their Mouth, said, (Matth. 16:16), Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God; so we, in like manner worshipping him, do profess, saying, “I believe, Lord, and confess, that thou art the very Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the World to save Sinners, of whom I am chief.” This holy Mystery is also offered as a Sacrifice for all orthodox Christians, as well living as those who sleep in hopes of a joyful Resurrection; and this Sacrifice shall never fail, nor be discontinued, even unto the End of the World. The Fruits of this Mystery are chiefly these:—First, A Commemoration of the Sufferings and of the Death of Christ; wherewith he was afflicted, not for his own, but for our Transgressions: As saith the Scripture (1 Cor. 11:26), As often as ye eat this Bread and drink this Cup, ye do shew the Lord’s Death till he come. Secondly, This Mystery is a Propitiation, or Atonement with God, for our Sins, both of the Living and also of the Dead: Wherefore the holy Liturgy is never solemnized, but there are always Prayers and Supplications made unto God for our Sins. Thirdly, The devout Christian, who frequently partakes of this Sacrifice, is hereby delivered from the Snares and Temptations of the Devil; for that Enemy cannot prevail against him whom he findeth to have CHRIST dwelling in him. Lastly, A Man should rightly prepare himself for the receiving of this awful Mystery, according to the Precepts of our orthodox Church; namely, by a sincere Confession of his Sins, by Fasting and Mortification, by a perfect Reconciliation with all Persons, and the like.


Peter Mogila, The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church, ed. J. J. Overbeck and J. N. W. B. Robertson (London: Thomas Baker, 1898), 79–82.

DECREE XVII

We believe the All-holy Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist, which we have enumerated above, fourth in order, to be that which our Lord delivered in the night wherein He gave Himself up for the life of the world. For taking bread, and blessing, He gave to His Holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: ‘Take, eat ye; This is My Body.’* And taking the chalice, and giving thanks, He said: ‘Drink ye all of It; This is My Blood, which for you is being poured out, for the remission of sins.’†
In the celebration‡ whereof we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace,§ as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation,ǁ so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically,¶ as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose, but truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord,* Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin, was baptised in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sitteth at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord,† Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world.‡
Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remaineth the substance§ of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and formǁ of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread.¶
Further, that the all-pure Body Itself, and Blood of the Lord is imparted, and entereth into the mouths and stomachs of the communicants, whether pious or impious. Nevertheless, they convey to the pious and worthy remission of sins and life eternal; but to the impious and unworthy involve condemnation and eternal punishment.
Further, that the Body and Blood of the Lord are severed and divided by the hands and teeth, though in accident only, that is, in the accidents of the bread and of the wine, under which they are visible and tangible, we do acknowledge; but in themselves to remain entirely unsevered and undivided. Wherefore the Catholic Church also saith: ‘Broken and distributed is He That is broken, yet not severed; Which is ever eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those that partake,’* that is worthily.
Further, that in every part, or the smallest division of the transmuted bread and wine there is not a part of the Body and Blood of the Lord—for to say so were blasphemous and wicked—but the entire whole Lord Christ substantially,* that is, with His Soul and Divinity, or perfect God and perfect man. So that though there may be many celebrations in the world at one and the same hour, there are not many Christs, or Bodies of Christ, but it is one and the same Christ that is truly and really present; and His one Body and His Blood is in all the several Churches of the Faithful; and this not because the Body of the Lord that is in the Heavens descendeth upon the Altars; but because the bread of the Prothesis set forth in all the several Churches, being changed and transubstantiated, becometh, and is, after consecration, one and the same with That in the Heavens. For it is one Body of the Lord in many places, and not many; and therefore this Mystery is the greatest, and is spoken of as wonderful, and comprehensible by faith only, and not by the sophistries of man’s wisdom; whose vain and foolish curiosity in divine things our pious and God-delivered religion rejecteth.
Further, that the Body Itself of the Lord and the Blood That are in the Mystery of the Eucharist ought to be honoured in the highest manner, and adored with latria.* For one is the adoration of the Holy Trinity, and of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Further, that it is a true and propitiatory† Sacrifice offered for all Orthodox, living and dead; and for the benefit of all, as is set forth expressly in the prayers of the Mystery delivered to the Church by the Apostles, in accordance with the command they received of the Lord.‡
Further, that before Its use, immediately after the consecration, and after Its use, What is reserved in the Sacred Pixes§ for the communion of those that are about to depart [i.e. the dying] is the true Body of the Lord, and not in the least different therefrom;ǁ so that before Its use after the consecration, in Its use, and after Its use, It is in all respects the true Body of the Lord.
Further, we believe that by the word ‘transubstantiation’* the manner is not explained, by which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord,—for that is altogether incomprehensible and impossible, except by God Himself, and those who imagine to do so are involved in ignorance and impiety,—but that the bread and the wine are after the consecration, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, nor by the communication or the presence of the Divinity alone of the Only-begotten, transmuted into the Body and Blood of the Lord; neither is any accident of the bread, or of the wine, by any conversion or alteration, changed into any accident of the Body and Blood of Christ, but truly, and really, and substantially, doth the bread become the true Body Itself of the Lord, and the wine the Blood Itself of the Lord, as is said above.
Further, that this Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist can be performed by none other, except only by an Orthodox Priest, who hath received his priesthood from an Orthodox and Canonical Bishop, in accordance with the teaching of the Eastern Church. This is compendiously the doctrine, and true confession, and most ancient tradition of the Catholic Church concerning this Mystery; which must not be departed from in any way by such as would be Orthodox, and who reject the novelties and profane vanities of heretics; but necessarily the tradition of the institution must be kept whole and unimpaired. For those that transgress the Catholic Church of Christ rejecteth and anathematiseth.


Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheus, The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, ed. J. J. Overbeck, trans. J. N. W. B. Robertson (London: Thomas Baker, 1899), 143–150.

OF THE EUCHARIST

The Eucharist, or Communion, is a mystery in which the believer, under the form of bread, receives the Body itself of Christ; and under the form of wine, the Blood itself of Christ; for the remission of sins, and unto eternal life.
This mystery was ordained by our Saviour Christ Himself, in the following manner, as the Apostle Paul writes (1 Cor. 11:23–27): “The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.”
The ordinance of this mystery is common to all the Church; for the commandment of the Saviour, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” which was given to the disciples, is common to all Christians; especially since our Saviour distinctly announced that this sacred act will be celebrated in his Church until his coming to judge the quick and dead. From hence it is manifest that the Church of Christ should not celebrate this mystery in any other manner than that in which it was celebrated by her Head and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He took bread into his pure hands, and likewise the cup with wine, and having prayed He blessed, and gave thanks to his heavenly Father; then breaking the bread into pieces, He gave to his disciples; and in the same manner He commanded them all to partake of the cup. Our orthodox Church proceeds in exactly the same way without alteration.
Consequently, every true Christian ought to be persuaded that in this sublime mystery he does not receive simple bread and simple wine; but that, under the form of the hallowed bread, he receives the true Body itself of Christ, which was offered as a sacrifice upon the Cross for our salvation, and, like bread, was broken by many sufferings; and that, under the form of the hallowed wine, he receives the true Blood itself of Christ, which was poured forth from his pure side, and became the propitiation for all our sins. For when He gave the bread to his disciples the Lord said: “This is my Body;” and giving the wine He said, “This is my Blood.”
The motive which the Saviour had in instituting this mystery is clearly shown us by the Evangelists and the Apostle Paul; namely, that we might be reminded in this sacred rite of all his benefits, and the love which He showed in our Redemption, and that it is through his death that we are vouchsafed the tender mercy of God and eternal life.
Considering the greatness of this benefit of Christ, every Christian ought frequently to receive this mystery. The Christians of the early Church partook of this spiritual food every week, and the Liturgy was never celebrated without there being some to communicate. At a later period, they at least approached this mystery on the principal feasts. We, on our part, ought also to imitate their pious example, so that the infrequency of our communions may not be a sign of the coldness of our hearts towards Christ.
The benefits whereof we are partakers in the holy Communion are these:
a. Through the Communion we become one spirit with the Lord;
b. Through the Communion we receive the forgiveness of our sins, and the right of inheritance of eternal life.
But for the spiritual food of the mystic Supper, a previous preparation is necessary. This preparation, according to the teaching of the Apostle, consists in self-examination; that is, in the scrutiny of ourselves, how we have passed our life, whether we have been solicitous about our salvation, and whether we have performed the duties which we vowed to do at our baptism. And if we find ourselves guilty in many things, we ought to cleanse ourselves from our sins by repentance and sincere confession to the priest; for if any one approaches this mystery out of custom merely, or from hypocrisy, without a previous preparation, he will the rather bring the divine anger upon himself, as despising the holy things of the Lord.


John Thomas Seccombe, trans., The Great Catechism of the Holy Catholic, Apostolic, and Orthodox Church, Katechesis (London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., 1867), 29–32.

see also:

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Orthodox Church – Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (ancientfaith.com)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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