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What do the Orthodox believe about the Eucharist

bwallace23350

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I know that the Eastern Orthodox churches believe that when they receive communion they do receive the body and blood of Christ. However, I understand they disagree with a number of teachings of the Latin (a.k.a. Roman) Catholic Church.

I think the Eastern Orthodox reject transubstantiation. This is the belief that when one receives communion the actual substance consumed is the body and blood of Christ but the accidents, i.e. what the human senses can perceive, remain bread and wine. When the Eastern Orthodox receive communion it is obvious that what they receive looks, tastes, smells, feels, etc. like bread and wine. So, how do the Eastern Orthodox explain what they believe has happened?

Latin Catholics believe when they receive communion they receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Do Eastern Orthodox believe the same? Do the Eastern Orthodox only believe they are receiving Christ's body and blood but not his soul and divinity?

Latin Catholics also talk about the Real Presence. When the priest has consecrated the elements they believe that the bread in the ciborium or on the paten is Christ and that the wine in the chalice is Christ. They show it due reverence accordingly. Now, I know that the Eastern Orthodox do not have exposition and benediction but do they believe that Christ is present on the altar in the elements consecrated by the priest?

Finally, I would like to ask on a slightly different tack is my final questions. I know that in the Latin Catholic Church the elements bread and wine can only be consecrated by a priest during Mass and not outside Mass plus that they can only be consecrated once. For example, in the Anglican Church or, at least, in the Church of England if the priest finds he's running short of bread or wine during the distribution of communion he can consecrate more. The Latin Catholic Church strictly prohibits this. In the Eastern Orthodox churches can the elements only be consecrated during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy? Do Eastern Orthodox also have a strict rule prohibiting the priest consecrating more bread and wine like Latin Catholics or can an Eastern Orthodox priest consecrate more as is done by Anglicans?
 

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This came from Anglican Forums. A member asked the question
 

Ainnir

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Shore answer: It's a Mystery. ;)

As far as I gather (which may not be very far), the EO problem with transubstantiation is not the spiritual truth it is trying to describe, but the fact that it tries to nail down a Holy Mystery to scientific particulars. For us, this is not necessary. It is bread and wine; it is the body and blood of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing more need be said.
 

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Ainnir is right.

The OP quotes "Eastern Orthodox reject transubstantiation". This is not correct.

The Orthodox church does not take an absolute dogmatic position on whether the Lutheran or RC take is correct. You are not going to find any EO council rejecting the RC view. Moreover, there was a 17th century local church council in Jerusalem called the Council of Dositheus that said in effect that the RC idea of Transubstantiation was correct and that the literal food is explicitly the substance not accidents of Christ's body. Since it was a local council, it only holds for EOs under that local church in Palestine and Jordan.
 

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"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 baptized in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sits 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."

Orthodox Confession of Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem (1672)

"340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord. In like manner John Damascene, treating of the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord, writes thus: “It is truly that Body, united with Godhead, which had its origin from the Holy Virgin; not as though that Body which ascended came down from heaven, but because the bread and wine themselves are changed into the Body and Blood of God. But if thou seekest after the manner how this is, let it suffice thee to be told that it is by the Holy Ghost; in like manner as, by the same Holy Ghost, the Lord formed flesh to himself, and in himself, from the Mother of God; nor know I aught more than this, that the Word of God is true, powerful, and almighty, but its manner of operation unsearchable.” (J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. cap. 13, § 7.)"

Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church
by St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow (1830)

 
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rakovsky

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This came from Anglican Forums. A member asked the question
Over history, Anglicans at times have tried to use the so-called Greek Church in their debates against the RC Transubstantiation, probably because of the affinity many Anglicans gave for Orthodoxy. One place that comes to mind is where the Catholic church briefly returned to power in England and interrogated/debated Bp. Ridley over the nature of the Presence on the Eucharist table, with BP. Ridley taking the position that Jesus' body stayed in heaven but that He had a "Real Presence" because it was as if His body were present. The Greek church was used somewhere along the lines of the RCs saying something like the Greek Church taught a physical presence and BP. Ridley denying it. I don't have the citation now, but neither side got into the fact that the Greek Church did not dogmatically teach the specific RC view as opposed to the Lutheran one, but it also did not teach Bp. Ridley's virtual or "as if" presence idea.
 

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Although I don't have the quote from his debate, here is anotherexample of how BP. Ridley tries to use what he calls "Greek church" Church fathers like St. John Chrys. for his view. He quotes the latter in order to try to say that Christ's "true body" is in not in the church ritual vessels:
I will rehearse but few: that is, three old writers of the Greek church...

Now to Chrysostom [72], whom I bring for the second writer in the Greek church. He, speaking of the unholy using of man’s body, which, after St Paul, ought to be kept pure and holy, as the very temple of the Holy Ghost, saith thus: “If it be a fault (saith he) to translate the holy vessels (in the which is contained not the true body of Christ, but the mystery of the body) to private uses; how much more offence is it to abuse and defile the vessels of our body?”
Source:

So here, BP. Ridley is taking the part in parentheses to mean that Christ's true body is not in the communion chalice, but that it's just a mystery body, so that His body actually just stays in heaven.
BP. Ridley notes the Catholic objections to his argument:
1. The quote's authenticity is doubtful. BP. Ridley replies that it is still a respected text.
2. The quote is talking about OT temple vessels, not communion chalices. BP. Ridley replies that OT vessels didn't have even the mystery Christ's body, so it must be about communion vessels.

The solution to BP. Ridley's problem is in going to check what St. Paul was saying. This is because in the quote above, St. John Chrysostom puts "he saith" in parentheses, referring to what Paul says about the vessels. St. Paul was not talking about communion vessels either. So Bp. Ridley was misreading St. John Chrysostom as if the latter were talking about communion vessels like chalices.

1 Thess 4:
"3. For it is God’s will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality; 4. each of you must know how to control his own vessel/body/ σκεῦος in holiness and honor, 5. not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God;"

The NT epistles repeatedly talk about Christians having bodies that are vessels for Christ and that Christian's mystically make up the body of Christ with Christ at their head. So here, Paul is not talking about the ritual communion vessels and by extension when St. John Chrysostom says that the certain vessels that St. Paul talks about have Christ's mystery body not true body, he means the Christians' bodies.
 

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It should be noted that Riddley was there at the formation of Anglicanism and was not active in the main theological period of the Caroline Divines. He was also burned to death. While Cramner and to a lesser extent Riddley led us in our break from Rome and laid some ground work they did not really start defining things until the 1600's.
 

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It should be noted that Riddley was there at the formation of Anglicanism and was not active in the main theological period of the Caroline Divines. He was also burned to death. While Cramner and to a lesser extent Riddley led us in our break from Rome and laid some ground work they did not really start defining things until the 1600's.
B.Wallace,
What is the point that you are trying to make in regards to what I said about Bp. Ridley?

My main point was that the Anglican Church has at times tried to use the Greek Church (EOs) in their debates against Rome, Bp. Ridley's debate on the Real Presence being the first example that came to my mind.

You responded that Ridley was not active in the main theological 17th century Caroline Divine period, so I take it that you are suggesting that he and his views were not key for Anglicanism on this topic.

In response to that, I would note first., that later Anglicans who opposed the Catholic position have also tried to use EO positions as against the Catholic positions. I read an Anglican writing from about 150 years ago that said that the MP(Russian Church)'s patriarch did not have the Roman Catholic view of the Eucharist. I kind of remember it being Pat. Philaret and believe that I posted it on the forum, but I would have to dig it up.

The Anglican text might have been referring to the kind of thing that Met. Philaret wrote in his catechism here:
340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord. In like manner John Damascene, treating of the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord, writes thus: It is truly that Body, united with Godhead, which had its origin from the Holy Virgin; not as though that Body which ascended came down from heaven, but because the bread and wine themselves are changed into the Body and Blood of God. But if thou seekest after the manner how this is, let it suffice thee to be told that it is by the Holy Ghost; in like manner as, by the same Holy Ghost, the Lord formed flesh to himself, and in himself, from the Mother of God; nor know I aught more than this, that the Word of God is true, powerful, and almighty, but its manner of operation unsearchable. (J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. cap. 13, § 7.)
Secondly I would respond that, Bp. Ridley's POV on the Real Presence as being what one would call an "as if" or "virtual" presence has been one of the two main Anglican views on the Real Presence since the founding of Anglicanism in his time.

One proof of this is the central role of the "Articles of Religion" in Anglicanism. First, those articles take directly opposite, contradictory positions on whether the Lutheran or Calvinist (eg. Bp. Ridley's) position is correct. Second, the authors of those same Articles are on record as saying that they included those opposing sections in order to express their opposing views. Third, in order to get a stronger sense of the Anglican interpretation of those Articles, I read commentaries on the Articles over the last 3-4 centuries. The earlier Commentaries. from the 18th century, advocate for the Calvinist view and interpret the Articles accordingly. This matches how the bishops in the founding period like Bp. Ridley tended toward the Calvinist view. Later commentaries from the period of the Anglo-Catholic movement interpret the Articles more in keeping with the Lutheran view.

I made two threads on this topic that I invite you to:

What do Oxford Movement & Anglican Articles of Religion say on objective presence


Orthodoxy, St.Cyprian, & Anglican claims that only the worthy eat Jesus' body
 

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It just dawned on me, that I'm a cannibal.
That was a common accusation during the persecution of the early Church.
 

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Thanks for your indepth reply. Yes I would saying that he would not be an authoritative source in Anglicanism even if his views do match up with some more authoritative source. Yes I am also aware that the 39 articles allow for spiritual communion. I am sad that it does as I find that to be the wrong view but I understand why it was done at the time.
 

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Yes I would saying that he would not be an authoritative source in Anglicanism even if his views do match up with some more authoritative source.
Since he was the bishop of London during the founding period, he would seem to be an important figure. My point was that Anglicans, him being one, have used the EOs in their debates against the RC position. Even if he is not a central authority in Anglicanism, it doesn't seem to invalidate my point, because other Anglicans have done this.

Yes I am also aware that the 39 articles allow for spiritual communion. I am sad that it does as I find that to be the wrong view but I understand why it was done at the time.
The Articles directly teach (A) an objective, real Presence like the Lutherans, RCs, and EOs and (B) also deny an objective presence and teach a purely "as if" presence. This is because the English government demanded that the bishops of its state church would come to agreement, and because the government was principally interested in created a unified "Church of England" and less interested in having a consistent theology on these topics.

The Articles teach A (an objective presence) because the Preface from King Charles I says about each Article that everyone "shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense." And Article 28 says: "the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ." The obvious logical conclusion that the bread is literally Christ's Body.

But the Articles also teach B (that the presence is purely virtual / part of your spirituality, and denies A). Article 28 specifies that it is a partaking of the Body "insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same". So if someone does NOT receive the Eucharist with FAITH, then it is NOT the Body for that person. So whether it is or is not Christ's Body depends on that person's faith.

The result is that this underlined part of the Article denies that the food is objectively Christ's Body. This is because if something was objectively Christ's Body, then it would not matter if a person was ignorant of that fact. For instance, in the RC view, it doesn't matter whether a person who takes communion is a secret Atheist in terms of whether that person has just gotten Christ's Body. The priest has just put Christ's Body in that person's mouth whether the Atheist believes it or not. And Lutherans and EOs would say the same thing, because we take it to be objectively Christ's Body.

Another point that Article 28 makes is "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." I would ask how the writers knew that it was not. We don't have some kind of record from the early Church Fathers denying that Christians carried the Eucharist to the sick or to people who were in their beds. For that matter, lifting up the host seems to be a fairly typical, natural part of Protestant consecrations, as here:

(See Minute 8:00)

The background to this last part of Article 28 (concerning treatment of the host) was that the Anglicans objected to the RC practice of reserving the host and Eucharistic adoration. If the Anglicans imagine that the host is NOT actually Christ's body, then the Anglican objection to the RC adoration practice makes sense. The underlying Anglican polemic is that people shouldn't reserve the host because it's actually just pieces of bread and there is nothing inherently objectively special about the food sitting on the table.

In contrast, EOs do reserve the host for giving to the sick. We have "Presanctified Liturgies" on some days where the host is consecrated in advance of the service. We carry about the host in the great Entrance, and the priest lifts it up during the consecration. The priest prostrates and bows down before the host.
 

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I think the objection is to Eucharist adoration not the reservation of the Host as we Anglicans actually do that and we do take it and distribute it to those who can't make the service and we do lift it up. I think it is a misunderstanding of what is being implied there that you have here. " Another point that Article 28 makes is "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." I would ask how the writers knew that it was not. We don't have some kind of record from the early Church Fathers denying that Christians carried the Eucharist to the sick or to people who were in their beds. For that matter, lifting up the host seems to be a fairly typical, natural part of Protestant consecrations, as here: " and here The background to this last part of Article 28 (concerning treatment of the host) was that the Anglicans objected to the RC practice of reserving the host and Eucharistic adoration. If the Anglicans imagine that the host is NOT actually Christ's body, then the Anglican objection to the RC adoration practice makes sense. The underlying Anglican polemic is that people shouldn't reserve the host because it's actually just pieces of bread and there is nothing inherently objectively special about the food sitting on the table. "
 

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I think the objection is to Eucharist adoration not the reservation of the Host as we Anglicans actually do that and we do take it and distribute it to those who can't make the service and we do lift it up.
If Anglicans reserve the Host for those outside the service and lift it up - which is normal in Orthodoxy - then they do so in violation of the Articles. The Preface says that the Articles are to be taken in their literal sense. So the Articles ban literally reserving the host like you are talking about.

The Anglican Ecclesiastical Law Blog cites Anglican sources that prove this:
It is true, however, that the Book of Common Prayer allows no scope for reservation. The post-Communion rubric provides that leftover consecrated elements ‘shall not be carried out of the church, but the priest and such other of the communicants as he shall then call unto him shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same’.

The 1662 Prayer Book provides a special service for ‘Communion of the Sick’, but this clearly requires the priest to consecrate the bread and wine ‘[at] a convenient place in the sick man’s house’, and to receive the Sacrament himself. It does not authorise him to bring pre-consecrated bread and wine.
...

In 1899 the 2 Archbishops jointly opined that reservation was unlawful, even for sick Communion. The combination of

(1) Article 28

(2) the Prayer Book’s requirement of immediate consumption and

(3) lack of any evidence that reservation was practised after the Reformation

all pointed to this conclusion.

...

So if the Anglican Church's rules are saying that consecrated elements can't be carried out of the church and that communion given to the sick has to occur in the sick people's homes with the consecration happening there.

The same blog article says that nowadays certain Anglican rules cease to have the effect of law, so that reservation of the host occurs in practice often, but that there is no Anglican law covering it. In other words, it happens in violation of the 39 Articles but the Anglican Church in practice doesn't seem to care enough to put measures in place to stop host reservation.

The point of all this is the underlying reasoning behind why the Articles ban special veneration of the host. The blog that I quoted from says that the underlying reasoning is that in Anglican theology, the substance of the food stays just bread like it was before the consecration, which is in conflict with EO, RC, and Lutheran theology about the objective Presence.
the Prayer Book rubric warns that ‘the sacramental [i.e consecrated] bread and wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored (for that were idolatry …)’.
 

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THis is a better overview of Anglican Eucharist Theology.
Your source emphasizes the contradictory 39 Articles that I have been quoting as the main source for Anglican thinking about the Eucharist, and it says that Calvinist "Receptionism" is the Anglican view:
Nevertheless, Holy Communion is described in Article 28 (XXVIII) of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

It makes clear that Anglicans hold what is called a “receptionist” theology. That is, we believe that God uses the sacraments to convey grace only to those who receive them by faith.

...

But the Roman Church believed that God had replaced the substance or reality of the bread and wine with the flesh and blood of Christ, and that in this replacement the priest offered Christ back to God and to the people as a sacrifice.

The Reformation opposed this belief, rejecting the idea that the bread and wine were substantively flesh and blood.
The last part I quoted from your article is misleading at best. Luther's part of the Reformation did NOT reject the idea that the food on the table included substantive flesh and blood. He taught that they were directly there in Spirit Mode.

This next part is confusing:
The Holy Spirit makes this possible, making Christ present in the bread and wine, thus making this meal a true participation in Christ.

The simplest phrase used to express this nuanced view is the phrase “real presence.” This is an affirmation that what is happening during communion is real, it is objective, and that God assures it.
To say that Christ is present in the bread and wine SOUNDS like it means that Christ is OBJECTIVELY present in the PHYSICAL ELEMENTS (bread and wine).
And then when he uses the term "Real Presence" and says that what is "happening" is "objective", he makes it SOUND like Anglicanism teaches a direct objective Real Presence directly in the PHYSICAL ELEMENTS.

But in the first part of the article, he basically rejected it. I find it pretty confusing how Anglicanism "talks big" like this, and makes it sound as if Anglicanism has a solid Lutheran teaching on the objective Presence.

The next statement is partly correct:
Anglicans have cherished a broad range of sentiments from near memorialism (symbolic remembrance) to consubstantiation (Christ is with and under the bread and wine), while avoiding an overly technical theology of Eucharist.
Anglicanism does not allow for memorialism, whereas it both affirms and denies consubstantiation in the Articles and in its history. Historically, there have been bishops like Tunstall and Cranmer who taught and denied it, respectively. As a result, it's not "clear: as the Article claims that Anglicanism teaches Calvinist "Receptionism."
 

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Yep that was the point of the article. or some reason we have left this muddled. Christ is present but they don't explain how. I follow the Lutheran view
 

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If Anglicans reserve the Host for those outside the service and lift it up - which is normal in Orthodoxy - then they do so in violation of the Articles. The Preface says that the Articles are to be taken in their literal sense. So the Articles ban literally reserving the host like you are talking about.

The Anglican Ecclesiastical Law Blog cites Anglican sources that prove this:

So if the Anglican Church's rules are saying that consecrated elements can't be carried out of the church and that communion given to the sick has to occur in the sick people's homes with the consecration happening there.

The same blog article says that nowadays certain Anglican rules cease to have the effect of law, so that reservation of the host occurs in practice often, but that there is no Anglican law covering it. In other words, it happens in violation of the 39 Articles but the Anglican Church in practice doesn't seem to care enough to put measures in place to stop host reservation.

The point of all this is the underlying reasoning behind why the Articles ban special veneration of the host. The blog that I quoted from says that the underlying reasoning is that in Anglican theology, the substance of the food stays just bread like it was before the consecration, which is in conflict with EO, RC, and Lutheran theology about the objective Presence.
That is the problem with the Articles. They were a compromise and then never clearly defined. When you say read in their literal sense I take it to mean in its literal sense the Roman abuses not consecrating the host and then taking it out of the church to those who are sick or lifting it up when consecrating it.
 

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That is the problem with the Articles. They were a compromise and then never clearly defined. When you say read in their literal sense I take it to mean in its literal sense the Roman abuses not consecrating the host and then taking it out of the church to those who are sick or lifting it up when consecrating it.
Ok, it sounds like bookish Elizabethan or Henry-era English from 300+ years ago is confusing you. Did you ever read Josephus? His writings are even more sticky.

The statement in the Articles goes:
"The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped."

This statement is not complaining that in Catholic Churches, The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not worshipped, etc. The Anglicans at that time were against worshiping the host.

The statement is claiming instead that it was not done by Christ's ordinance. In other words, it is claiming that Christ did not ordain it to happen.

It would be like idolaclast rabbis saying that "Graven images were not under the Torah made or worshiped."

The historical context was that Anglicans like Cranmer thought that Christ was not objectively present in the food, and so their conclusion was that worshiping the food would be idolatry.



Thanks for the discussion by the way. It is fun for part of my brain to pick these kinds of things apart. Peace.
 

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No the English is not confusing to me. I am trying to read them in their contextual literal sense. I am not saying my interpretation is 100% correct nor do I think the Articles are infallible. I also think when reading them in their contextual literal sense we have to do that plus interpret them through scripture and tradition. Where they err we need to correct or disregard them.
 
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