- Dear Mr.Thomas Samuel,
Coining of certain terms, words, phrases may not contain the depth of the whole meaning of what it ought to be. We say that the Word became flesh, but we don't know how the Word that came through the ear materialised as flesh. The Incarnation of the Word is a fact, yet not able to comprehend the mysteriousness of the process that became transparent. The world was created through the Word, an utterance that translated into action which impregnated as visible forms. So also the Resurrection of the Lord is a mystery and nobody knows what triggered into translating the dead body into an enlivened state/life. Great things happen without our knowledge, for we are only insignificant creatures only. Creation of anything is not within our limit; that which is created is revealed to man by different body senses.Though the material effect is revealed, the process of the same is unknown to man. In other words man has no right to create or destroy. In this universe, nothing can be created or destroyed by man, but translating the material from one stage to another is only within our perimeter.
Similarly, translation of the bread into the living Body and Blood of Jesus is a process that man has no authority to penetrate into it. Bread turns as Body by the utterance of the celebrant, the ambassador of God, but how it is becoming is a big uunanswerableanswer to the earthling. The celebrant becomes a medium or a catalyst, but the catalytic process is a dead end for the celebrant also. The bread doesn't change into the Body of cChrist but the receiver get the effect of the vibrant Body. It is the Word that comes through the tongue of the authorised celebrant plays the role of the conversion. But how? A big mystery. Here is the limitation of man who is only an agent of God in everything. In the procreation process also, man gives and woman
receives the raw material; the totality of the process of the embryo is a mystery. The celebrant's tongue that utters the forgiveness of sins open the narrow gate to Heaven, so also the bread does the work of the Body within the body of the receiver. We can't call it as transubstantiation or consubstantiation, but the apt one seems to be consubstantiation, occurring simultaneously. All such hidden work is done by the Spirit of God who works in everything because He broods in everything."It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and Life", Jn.6: 63. So the words are spirit and life. Now brood over the meaning of the tongue of the priest that has the authority of opening the gates of Heaven. Let my Protestant readers understand the Body and Blood of Christ that work in our body for our salvation, and the heavenly roles played by the tongue and the hands of priests that carve out our
salvation. The Kingdom of God starts for our salvation at this moment when our sins are forgiven by the tongue, key to the door of Heaven, of the priest. Thus it is a continuous process of gathering as many gold coins for our journey. This life is a pilgrimage to the Heavenly Canaan,as explained in John Banyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'. The Kingdom of Heaven doesn't start at the narrow gate of Heaven after the death because the narrow gate and its opening now, sins and its opening by priestly absolution; it starts straight from the door of baptism. Sin is the narrow gate and its opening by the priestly absolution is the continuous process of salvation. Forgive others and help others are the gold coins that are accumulated in the accompanying angel's, guardian angel's bags. Forgiving and taking part in sharing the Blood and Body of Christ and loving others is the process of salvation. 'Jesus has no hands, but ours; Jesus has no tongue, but ours'. Our tongues and hands must work
together to get our salvation that is the product of the priest's tongue and his hands to provide us with the Bread of Life. Bread is the symbolic body of Christ, 'aharam' is anything that we eat. "Do not labour for the food which
perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son Of Man will give you; for on him has God the father set his seal", Jn.6: 27. The Father has set his mark on the Bread that came from Heaven, not the ordinary 'aharam' that includes, curry rice, tapioca, though the word 'lahamo' in Syriac means bread and food. What the angels sow were the grains of wheat, not the seeds of tapioca or jack fruit. Therefore, 'appam' is the correct word that is used in the Lord's prayer. This metamorphosised wheat is the Body of the Son of Man. The process of the metamorphosis is the monopoly, kuthaaka, of the Spirit of God, not of the celebrant or the receiver.
- Dear George,
"However - is there any reason to doubt this?
"The Orthodox Churches believe in the real presence of the Body and
Christ in the Holy Eucharist, without change of substance""
I believe Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the same body that was pierced in Golgotha and same Blood that oozed out of His wounds. It is not just some physical matter having the presence of Body and Blood of Christ.
Does change of substance happens? I don't know. I just know it is a
MYSTERY and when i receive Holy Qurbana I am taking in the Body and
Blood of Christ.
Using the phrases 'real presence ' and 'without change of substance'
could have been avoided as using those phrases can raise further
questions. For example, If we say there is real presence in Eucharist, what is the extend of that presence. Holy relics of saints also has the presence of Christ. how is that different from Christ's presence in Eucharist. These are not questions that I am raising but such infinite questions will be raised in future and can breed further heresies.
I think the statement should be reworded to something like this ."The
Orthodox Church believes Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.
Church fathers explains the change as a Mystery."
- Robin Panicker,
Bangalore East Church.
- Thanks Robin.
The point I was trying to make was simply this - we live in times when people needs logical explanation in their frame of mind for everything and in doing that we miss out.
This is what we have done at our website on one of the mysteries for martyrs of the Church did not dare give explanation even we they were killed after being accused of Cannibalism. To say that no change of Substance to me is just that - going beyond what the Orthodox Church want to define . I totally agree the Church has to re evaluate the page on the Website and hopefully by these postings, some one will actually do something about it.
Intrestingly, Mark sadek posting today on this subject is by a Saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church:
"[At the Eucharist] the bread itself and the wine are changed into God's body and blood. But if you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it was through the Holy Spirit, just as the Lord took on Himself flesh that subsisted in Him and was born of the Holy Mother of God through the Spirit. And we know nothing further save that the Word of God is true and energises and is
omnipotent, but the manner of this cannot be searched out. But one can put it well thus, that just as in nature the bread by the eating and the wine by the drinking are changed into the body and blood of the eater and drinker, and donot become a different body from the former one, so the bread of the table and the wine and water are supernaturally changed by the invocation and presence of
the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Christ, and are not two but one and the same."
St. John of Damascus.
Is there a way to have collection of writings on the mystery by some of the Fathers of the Church, more especially by the Oriental Orthodox Christian fathers like St. Severus?
- Dear ICON family,
The belief about transubstantiation among many others is one of the ways we separate ourselves from the rest of the christiandom. As a certified Sunday School teacher for many years, I feel that it is essential for our kids to know the uniqueness of orthodoxy, the tenets of our faith, and develop appreciation for it. However, some times I feel overindulgence in these discussions promote more divisions than unity and send the wrong message to the kids. Jesus said, "This is my BODY and BLOOD! Do this in remembrance of me until I return." Do we need to over analyze this command and try to explain this mystery that we can not reason with our limited mind? He also gave the last commission which was to UNITE the world in HIM. I think we need to focus more on ways to achieve unity than what divides the body of Christ.
Jessie Jacob, St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia
- Dear friends,
In my limited understanding, saying that the bread and the wine become body and blood of Christ, does not make anything clear. When we eat flesh and drink blood, it is assimilated by our body and broken up into various substances. This is what would happen if we eat any kind of substance.
I have heard some claim that in somebody's mouth the Eucharistic bread turned into flesh. Is this the meaning of "Body & Blood"
I have read the direction in the Old Testament,that one should see that the blood is drained from the animal one intends to cook because 'Blood is Life" and we should not eat blood
So what do we absorb in the Eucharist?
Is it flesh and blood or is it Substance and Life? What is Life?
Just a question from some one with limited knowledge of Orthodoxy.
I also read that it is the "energies' of God that are made manifest. His Essence is beyond all knowledge and is in darkness are far as we are concerned. Is Holy Spirit God's energy?
I was told that the Holy Trinity can be compared to a fountain. God the Father is the source which is below the surface. God the Son is the fountain itself that is visible and God the Holy Spirit is the force that links the two- the energy coming forth from the reservoir, causing the fountain to form. Everything originates and ends in the reservoir.
I do not know if I am making myself clear.
Can someone explain?
Robin, I am your neighbor in Thiruvananthapuram and has a house opposite Good Shepherd Nursery School at Ambalamukku. Ranjit George Abraham/s aunty and Dr. Chacko Verghese's sister in law
- Our Lord himself was rather reticent on this matter, "This is my Body" he said, and "This is the Blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many".
But when doubts and questions raised and insinuations made the Church does speak, but of course with great reservation, preferring to drawing boundaries around the mysteries rather than trying to explain the mystery itself.
A similar question was raised over the personality of the Incarnated Christ. Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus had begun to speak of the two natures (human and divine) in Christ in a way many felt almost bordered on speaking of 2 seperate persons in one Christ.
Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinope weighing on a minor dispute which had been going on in Constantinople, said in a sermon in his Cathedral church that was it improper to refer to St Mary as the Theotokos (or God bearer), a term which had been popularly used in devotion by the people. The Patriarch felt that Christokos was a better term. History is testament to the rest.
Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria joined the debate and wrote letter upon letter to Nestorius finally resulting in the 12 anathemas on Nestorius. In Ephesus the term Theotokos was dogmatized. Nestorius was anathemized and exiled.
When matters did not end there, Chalcedon was convoked. Our Fathers, St Severus and others steadfastly refused to use the language of two natures, not because they felt that Christ was not divine and human, but because they felt that such usage would be misused to create confusion.
Confusion was indeed created; the Nestorians in the East immediately accepted Chalcedon without accepting Ephesus. It was only when the Chalcedonians anathemized the Three Chapters of Ibas, Thedoret and Theodore that the Nestorians split again. The Three Chapters had been anathemized by the Non Chalcedonians a century before.
Today 1600 years after Chalcedon, we still wonder to what extent we differ from each other in our confessions. Rome, the EO and the OO believe as evidenced in our mutual declarations that we believe the same thing confessed in different formulae.
But such has been the historical chasm that the difficult road to full inter-communion has not been begun.
The use of various terms Real Presence, Sacramental Union, Consubstantiation, Transubstantion, Pneumatic Presence well all coined during the bitter debates of the Reformation and Counter Reformation.
The Orthodox were not part of the debates, hence these terms and the context of these terms (which themselves belong the Greek/Latin philosophical system) are foreign to us.
However the Catholics , Orthodox and some classical Protestants seem to be all using different terms to say the same thing; the outside remains the same but the inside changes.
Do we know what happens in the Eucharist? Absolutely yes. The Church cannot be ignorant about the queen of the sacraments itself. But generally both the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox are very reserved about using specific terms to explain the dynamics of the change.
We know and attest that there is a substantial change. For example, how do our priests react if the consecrated elements are spilled or fall on the floor? How are the consecrated elements carried to the sick? How are they reserved on the altar during Great Lent? Do we refer to the consecrated elements as Bread and Wine after the consecration? How rigorously are the vessels wiped and cleaned of the minutest crumbs?
Yet there are Churches even Episcopal ones in India and abroad where left over consecrated elements are mixed with the unconsecrated bread for the next Qurbana. Where the consecrated Body is left out for the birds to eat and so on.
Needless to say but the Apostolic practice seen in the Orthodox, Catholic and the Nestorian Church is quite similar on this count.
As a friend said, Holy Chrism/Muron, blessed water, the relics of the saints all bear divinity to some extent or the other, yet is not the Eucharist substantially more than these. Muron symbolizes the presence and action of the Holy Spirit; it is handled carefully and so on, but don't we all know that the consecrated elements are much more precious. Praxis speaks volumes.
In many churches and I have heard both CSI and Marthomites say that one receives the Body only when one believes that he is receiving Christ. This is absolutely incorrect according to the Orthodox.
An unbeliever, a believer who is unworthy, a saint, a bishop, a priest, an infant a handicapped and mentally disabled child all receive the same Christ. Personal faith or knowledge is irrelevant in this matter.
It is precisely because of this that Protestants keep infants away from the Eucharist. According to them the infant has no reason, no knowledge, no faith and hence he does not comprehend Christ.
The Orthodox practice is contrary to such theories.
Regarding the use of specific terms, it is important to know why Transubstantiation is rejected. Most Orthodox commentators say that it is because such a definition depends on philosophical constructs like accidents, substance and species. Consubstantiation of course depends on much the same terms for its definition.
Fr Michael Pomananzky in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology has this to say on the Eucharist http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0824/_P22.HTM
- Dear friends,
I found the answer in the website of'Orthodox Church in America, http://www.oca.org/OCChapter.asp?SID=2&ID=53
"The sacrament of the eucharist is also called holy communion since it is the mystical communion of men with God, with each other, and with all men and all things in him through Christ and the Spirit.
---In the history of Christian thought, various ways were developed to try to explain how the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ in the eucharistic liturgy. Quite unfortunately, these explanations often became too rationalistic and too closely connected with certain human philosophies.
One of the most unfortunate developments took place when men began to debate the reality of Christ's Body and Blood in the eucharist. While some said that the eucharistic gifts of bread and wine were the real Body and Blood of Christ, others said that the gifts were not real, but merely the symbolic or mystical presence of the Body and Blood. The tragedy in both of these approaches is that what is real came to be opposed to what is symbolic or mystical.
The Orthodox Church denies the doctrine that the Body and the Blood of the Eucharist are merely intellectual or psychological symbols of Christ's Body and Blood. If this doctrine were true, when the liturgy is celebrated and holy communion is given, the people would be called merely to think about Jesus and to commune with him "in their hearts." In this way, the Eucharist would be reduced to a simple memorial meal of the Lord's last supper, and the union with God through its reception would come only on the level of thought or psychological recollection.
On the other hand, however, the Orthodox tradition does use the term "symbols" for the Eucharistic gifts. It calls, the service a "mystery" and the sacrifice of the liturgy a "spiritual and bloodless sacrifice." These terms are used by the holy fathers and the liturgy itself.
The Orthodox Church uses such expressions because in Orthodoxy what is real is not opposed to what is symbolical or mystical or spiritual. On the contrary! In the Orthodox view, all of reality -- the world and man himself -- is real to the extent that it is symbolical and mystical, to the extent that reality itself must reveal and manifest God to us. Thus, the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church is understood to be the genuine Body and Blood of Christ precisely because bread and wine are the mysteries and symbols of God's true and genuine presence and manifestation to us in Christ. Thus, by eating and drinking the bread and wine which are mystically consecrated by the Holy Spirit, we have genuine communion with God through Christ who is himself "the bread of life" (Jn 6:34, 41).
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn 6:51).
Thus, the bread of the Eucharist is Christ's flesh, and Christ's flesh is the Eucharistic bread. The two are brought together into one. The word "symbolical" in Orthodox terminology means exactly this: "to bring together into one."
Wikipedia clarifies that it is the resurrected body and blood of Christ that is received by the faithful in the Eucharist as per the Eastern Orthodox Church.
So it is the presence or person of Christ? That is what I believe.Please help me understand better if I am wrong.
- --- In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, Susan Eapen, Bangalore <indianorthodox@...> wrote:
> So it is the presence or person of Christ? That is what I believe.Please help me understand better if I am wrong.Hello Susan,
Your answer is in the same verse you have quoted : "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn 6:51)"
What came down from heaven is neither flesh, nor bread; it was the "WORD" of God. The word has taken flesh in St. Mary.
Jesus said it over and over again " To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(Jn 8: 31, 32)"
So, the most important thing is neither Transubstantiation nor Consubstantiation; but holding on to HIS teachings. That truth will set you free and once it set you free, you will stop worrying about Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation and you will start worrying about the tonnes of sins we are committing everyday.