Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

holy_communion

115 Entries

I say that the ineffable speech which Paul heard spoken in Paradise were the eternal good things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.

These things, which God has prepared for those who love Him, are not protected by heights, nor enclosed in some secret place, nor hidden in the depths, nor kept at the ends of the earth or sea.

They are right in front of you, before your very eyes. So, what are they?

Together with the good things stored up in heaven, these are the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which we see every day, and eat and drink. These, we avow, are those good things.

Outside of these you will not be able to find one of the things spoken of, even if you were to traverse the whole of creation.

If you do want to know the truth of my words, become holy by practicing God's commandments and then partake of the holy things, and you will know precisely the force of what I am telling you." St. Symeon the New Theologian



For all has been restored to us. What things, bodily or spiritual, perishable or imperishable, do we lack? Nothing. For as He gives us each day His deified Body and Blood, what is higher than these? Certainly nothing. In what mysteries does God count man, made of earth, worthy to serve! O heavenly, inestimable love; one drop of divine love surpasses all the bodily, worldly love under the sun. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

4. The greatest charity, the greatest good, that which more than anything else relieves the soul that finds itself in the other world, is the sacrifice of the divine Lamb upon the Holy Table in the Holy Liturgy.

In the Old Testament it is written that the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer cleansed sinners from their transgressions of the Law; how much more will the Blood of Christ, says the Apostle Paul, cleanse us from all sin (Heb. 9:13).

Great, therefore, is the benefit, and this is because the innocent Lamb of God is sacrificed in order to purify men from their sins and to unbind them from the diverse bonds of captivity to the passions. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"



5. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up" (John 3:14). And just exactly as all who were bitten by the serpents looked upon the bronze serpent which was suspended and were healed, thus also every Christian who believes in our Christ and has recourse to His life-bearing wounds, who eats His Flesh and drinks His all-holy Blood, is cured of the bits of the spiritual serpent of sin and by this most holy nourishment is made to live unto the renewal of a new creation, that is, new life in harmony with His life-giving commandments. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

O, how indispensable must and ought we in all ways to approach this heavenly communal feast, which grants us this lofty mystery of the Holy Table!

The angels are present invisibly; in great reverence the priests, who in this moment of mystery are honored above the angels, sacrifice the blameless Lamb.

The angels minister and faithful approach to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ: "receive the Body of Christ, taste the fountain of immortality," in order thus to live in Christ and not die through sin. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"



So "let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup"(1 Cor. 11:28), according to the divine Apostle, for "he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment upon himself" (1 Cor. 11:29). "For if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged; but when we are judged by the Lord we are chastened" (1 Cor. 11:31-32). REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

Whenever someone wants to be presented to the king, he prepares himself for days that is, through general preparation, preparation as to cleanliness, word, manner, character, etc.so as to attract the royal sympathy and thus obtain the desired request. Likewise, every Christian also ought to prepare for Divine Communion in a manner befitting the incomparable difference between the two kings, in order to obtain mercy and forgiveness. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

Try to receive Communion as often as possible -- you have the freedom -- for divine Communion is the best help for one struggling against sin. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

7. May you approach the divine mystery with much compunction, contrition and consciousness of your sins. Great is the mercy of God, Who condescends to enter within you, not abhorring the multitude of your sins. But from a boundless love and affection He comes to sanctify you, counting you worthy to be His child and co-heir of His kingdom. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

' I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, etc. [1 Cor. 11:23]'. This teaching of the Blessed Paul is alone sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, which when ye are vouchsafed, ye are of (the same body) [Eph 3:6] and blood with Christ. For he has just distinctly said, (That our Lord Jesus Christ 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: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood.) [1 Cor. 2:23-25] Since then He Himself has declared and said of the Bread, (This is My Body), who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has affirmed and said, (This is My Blood), who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? St. Cyril Of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures [22 (Mystagogic 4), 1]

' The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the Blood of Christ?' Very trustworthily and awesomely does he say it. For what he is saying is this: 'What is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and we partake of it.' He called it a cup of blessing because when we hold it in our hands that is how we praise Him in song, wondering and astonished at His indescribable Gift, blessing Him because of His having poured out this very Gift so that we might not remain in error, and not only for His having poured out It out, but also for His sharing It with all of us." St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the First Letter to the Corinthians" [24,1] ca. 392 A.D.

'And your floors shall be filled with wheat, and the presses shall overflow equally with wine and oil.' . . . This has been fulfilled mystically by Christ, who gave to the people whom He had redeemed, that is, to His Church, wheat and wine and oil in a mystic manner. For the wheat is the mystery of His sacred Body; and the wine His saving Blood; and again, the oil is the sweet unguent with which those who are baptized are signed, being clothed in the armaments of the Holy Spirit.", St. Ephraim Of Syria, "On Joel 2:24", Commentaries on Sacred Scripture, Vol. 2 p. 252 of the Assemani edition.

'The great Athanasius in his sermon to the newly baptized says this:' You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ. 'And again:' Let us approach the celebration of the mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread and wine - and thus His Body is confected.", St. Athanasius, "Sermon to the Newly Baptized" ante 373 A.D.,

...with full assurance let us partake of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to you His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that you by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, may be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, 'we become partakers of the divine nature' (II Peter 1:4). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 22 no. 3)

After the disciples had eaten the new and holy Bread, and when they understood by faith that they had eaten of Christ's body, Christ went on to explain and to give them the whole Sacrament. He took and mixed a cup of wine. The He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy, declaring that it was His own Blood, which was about to be poured out. ...Christ commanded them to drink, and He explained to them that the cup which they were drinking was His own Blood: 'This is truly My Blood, which is shed for all of you. Take, all of you, drink of this, because it is a new covenant in My Blood, As you have seen Me do, do you also in My memory. Whenever you are gathered together in My name in Churches everywhere, do what I have done, in memory of Me. Eat My Body, and drink My Blood, a covenant new and old." St. Ephraim Of Syria, "Homilies" 4,6 ca. 350 A.D.

After the type had been fulfilled by the Passover celebration and He had eaten the flesh of the lamb with His Apostles, He takes bread which strengthens the heart of man, and goes on to the true Sacrament of the Passover, so that just as Melchisedech, the priest of the Most High God, in prefiguring Him, made bread and wine an offering, He too makes Himself manifest in the reality of His own Body and Blood." Blessed Jerome, "Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew" [4,26,26] 398 A.D.

After this you hear the singing which invites you with a divine melody to the Communion of the Holy Mysteries, and which says, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good.' Do not trust to the judgment of the bodily palate - no, but to unwavering faith. For they who are urged to taste do not taste of bread and wine, but to the antitype, of the Body and Blood of Christ." St. Cyril Of Jerusalem, "Mystagogic Catecheses 5 23, 20 ca. 350 A.D

And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: 'Take, all of you eat of this; which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread, and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven.' But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body." St. Ephraim Of Syria, "Homilies" 4,4 ca.. 350 A.D.,

As the bread which is from the earth, after receiving the invocation of God upon it, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two things, an earthly and a heavenly, so our bodies after partaking of the Eucharist are no longer destructible, having hope of the resurrection that is forever. St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies

As the prayer proceeds, we ask and say: 'Give us this day our daily bread.' This can be understood both spiritually and simply, because either understanding is of profit in divine usefulness for salvation.

For Christ is the bread of life and the bread here is of all, but is ours. And as we say 'Our Father,' because He is the Father of those who understand and believe, so too we say 'our Bread,' because Christ is the bread of those of us who attain to His body.

Moreover, we ask that this bread be given daily, lest we, who are in Christ and receive the Eucharist daily as food of salvation, with the intervention of some more grievous sin, while we are shut off and as non-communicants are kept from the heavenly bread, be separated from the body of Christ as He Himself declares, saying: 'I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread he shall live forever. Moreover, the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.'

Since then! He says that, if anyone eats of His bread, he lives forever, as it is manifest that they live who attain to His body and receive the Eucharist by right of communion, so on the other hand we must fear and pray lest anyone, while he is cut off and separated from the body of Christ, remain apart from salvation, as He Himself threatens, saying: 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.' And so we petition that our bread, that is Christ, be given us daily, so that we, who abide and live in Christ, may not withdraw from His sanctification and body.", St. Cyprian of Carthage, the Lord's Prayer, 252 A.D., chapter 18



But every Lord's day, do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord... [Matt. 5:23-24] The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chap. 14:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 7, page 381

But look at the men who have those perverted notions about the grace of Jesus Christ…They will not admit the Eucharist is the self same body of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, and which the Father in His goodness afterwards raised up again St. Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7:1

But, in fact, the one who prays to receive this supersubstantial bread does not receive it altogether as this bread is in itself, but as he is able to receive it. For the Bread of Life, out of His love for men, gives Himself to all who ask Him but not in the same manner to everyone: to those who have done great works, He gives Himself more fully, to those who have done smaller ones, less; to each, then, according to the spiritual dignity enabling him to receive it. St. Maximos the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father, in Selected Writings

Cease not to pray and plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when in an unbloody cutting you cut the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for a sword." St. Gregory Nanzianzen, "Letter to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium" [171] ca. 383 A.D.

Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): 'This is My Body,' and "This is My Blood," in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ's Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ." St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26,27, 428 A.D.

Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius Of Antioch, "Letter to the Ephesians", paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.

Confess, and receive Holy Communion so long as you practice love towards your fellow men and do for them all the good that lies within your power. This is therapeutic for both the soul and the body. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155

Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead." St. Ignatius Of Antioch, "Letter to the Smyrnaeans", paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.

Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ." St. Cyril Of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures [22 (Mystagogic 4), 6]

Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons." St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

For just as the bread which comes from the earth, having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, having received the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection." St. Irenaeus Of Lyons, "Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely named Gnosis". Book 4:18 4-5, circa 180 A.D.

For the whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prayers for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them on their behalf. Blessed Augustine, Sermons 172,2, circa 400 A.D.

Having...been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ; and that of this David sang of old, saying, 'And bread strengthens man's heart, to make his face to shine with oil' (Ps. 104:15), 'strengthen then your heart,' by partaking thereof as spiritual, and 'make the face of your soul to shine.' And so having it unveiled with a pure conscience, may you 'reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord' (II Cor. 3:18), and proceed from 'glory to glory', in Christ Jesus our Lord: - To Whom be honor, and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 22 no. 9)

He offered Himself for us, Victim and Sacrifice, and Priest as well, and 'Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' When did He do this? When He made His own Body food and His own Blood drink for His disciples; for this much is clear enough to anyone, that a sheep cannot be eaten by a man unless its being eaten be preceded by its being slaughtered. This giving of His own Body to His disciples for eating clearly indicates that the sacrifice of the Lamb has now been completed." St. Gregory Of Nyssa, "Orations and Sermons" [Jaeger: Vol 9, p. 287] ca. 383 A.D.

He, therefore, who approaches the Body and Blood of Christ in commemoration of Him who died for us and rose again must be free not only from defilement of flesh and spirit, in order that he may not eat drink unto judgement, but he must actively manifest the remembrance of Him who died for us and rose again, by being dead to sin, to the world, and to himself, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus, our Lord." St. Basil The Great, "Concerning Baptism" Book I, Ch. 3.

His poverty enriches, the fringe of His garment heals, His hunger satisfies, His death gives life, His burial gives resurrection. Therefore, He is a rich treasure, for His bread is rich. And 'rich' is apt for one who has eaten this bread will be unable to feel hunger. He gave it to the Apostles to distribute to a believing people, and today He gives it to us, for He, as a priest, daily consecrates it with His own words. Therefore, this bread has become the food of the saints." St. Ambrose Of Milan, "The Patriarchs" Ch. 9:38

I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed." St. Ignatius Of Antioch, "Letter to the Romans", paragraph 7, circa 80-110 A.D.

I said to (St. Onnophrius), "My good father, did you suffer when you first came to this place in the desert?" The blessed old man said, "I suffered a great deal, my son. Believe me, my beloved son, I came close to dying many times on account of hunger and thirst and on account of the burning fire during the day and the frost at night. My members were soaked by the dew of the sky.

When God saw me, that I patiently endured in the fight of fasting and that I devoted myself to ascetic practice, He had the holy angels serve me my daily food, giving it to me every night and a little water every night in order to strengthen my body. And this one palm tree produced for me twelve bunches of dates each year, one each month, and I would eat it.

And He made the other plants that grow in the desert places sweet in my mouth, sweeter than honey in my mouth. For it is written, 'A person shall not live by bread alone, but he will live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'

For if you do the will of God, wherever you are, He will care for you, because your Father in heaven knows what all your needs are, what you will eat or what you will drink. But rather seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.'" Now when I heard these thins from him I was greatly amazed.

I said to him, "My sweet and good father, where do you receive the Eucharist on the Sabbath and the Lord's Day?" He said to me, "Every Sabbath and every Lord's Day, and angel comes to me and gives me the Eucharist. And blessed is everyone who lives as a citizen in the desert on account of God and sees no human being -- He brings the Eucharist to them and comforts them. If they desire to see anyone, they are taken up to heavenly heights and they see them. They greet them and the hearts are filled with light. They rejoice in the Spirit and are glad in the good things they will never lack. When they see them, they are comforted, and they completely forget the afflictions that have been theirs. Afterwards they return to their places, and they are comforted for a long time, as though they had been removed to another world. Because of the great joy they have seen, they do not remember that this world even exists." the Coptic Life of St. Onnophrius (comm 13 June) by Paphnutius



I wish to add something that is plainly awe-inspiring, but do not be astonished or upset. This Sacrifice, no matter who offers it, be it Peter or Paul, is always the same as that which Christ gave His disciples and which priests now offer: The offering of today is in no way inferior to that which Christ offered, because it is not men who sanctify the offering of today; it is the same Christ who sanctified His own. For just as the words which God spoke are the very same as those which the priest now speaks, so too the oblation is the very same." St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Second Epistle to Timothy," 2,4, c. 397 A.D.

In essence there is no other Eucharist than the one that the Lord Himself performed. By His good pleasure the Eucharist, unique, is ever repeated; indivisible, it is constantly divided and shared, extending through time to the uttermost ends of the earth. The Upper Chamber grows, to contain the perpetual flow, gathering all people by the holy sacrament of communion into unity after the likeness of the Trinity." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 12; SVS Press pg. 88)

In the Holy Scriptures the Church is repeatedly called the Body of Christ.... At the same time, bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and the faithful partake thereof. Christ Himself ordained it so, communicating His apostles at the Mystical Supper with the words, "Take, eat; this is My Body; . . . Drink ye all of it; For this is My Blood of the New Testament" (Mat. 26:26-28). How is the Body of Christ at the same time both the Church and the Holy Mystery? Are the faithful both members of the Body of Christ, the Church, and also communicants of the Body of Christ in the Holy Mysteries? In neither instance is this name "Body of Christ" used metaphorically, but rather in the most basic sense. of the word. We believe that the Holy Mysteries which keep the form of bread and wine are the very Body and the very Blood of Christ. We likewise believe and confess that Christ is the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinners, and become true man, that His flesh, taken from the Virgin Mary, was true human flesh; that body and soul. Christ was a true man, in all respects like man, except sin, and at the same time remaining true God. The Divine nature was neither diminished nor changed in the Son of God in this incarnation, likewise the human nature was not changed at this incarnation, but retained in full all human qualities... ...For the full sanctification of man, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive, becomes a part of the great Body of Christ. Of course, for union with Christ, the mere conjoining of our body with the Body of Christ does not suffice. The consumption of the Body of Christ becomes beneficial when in spirit we strive toward Him and unite ourselves with Him. Reception of the Body of Christ, with aversion to Him in spirit, is like the approach to Christ of those who struck Him and mocked and crucified Him. Their approaching Him served not for their salvation and healing, but for their condemnation. But those who partake with piety, love and readiness to bring themselves to serve Him, closely unite themselves with Him and become instruments of His divine will... All who believe in Christ and are united unto Him by giving themselves to Him and by the reception of divine grace conjointly constitute the Church of Christ, the Head of which is Christ Himself, and they who enter into her are her members. Christ, invisible to the bodily eye, manifests Himself on earth clearly through His Church just as the unseen human spirit manifests itself through its body. The Church is the Body of Christ both because its parts are united to Christ through His divine mysteries and because through her Christ works in the world. We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, in the holy Mysteries, so that by Archbishop John (Maximovitch) full text available on the WWW at http://bullwinkle.cs.morehouse.auc.edu:1025/orthodox/index.html]

In the Old Testament also there was shew-bread; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul. Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to thee, yet let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to thee. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures.

In the sacred Mysteries, then, we depict His burial and proclaim His death. By them we are begotten and formed and wondrously united to the Savior, for they are the means by which, as St. Paul says, "in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Baptism confers being and, in short, existence according to Christ. It receives us when we are dead and corrupted and first leads us into life. The anointing with chrism perfects him who has received [new] birth by infusing into him the energy that befits such a life. The Holy Eucharist preserves and continues this life and health, since the Bread of life enables us to preserve that which has been acquired and to continue in life. It is therefore by this Bread that we live and by the chrism that we are moved, once we have received being from the baptismal washing. In this way we live in God. St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ

In the sacred Mysteries, then, we depict His burial and proclaim His death. By them we are begotten and formed and wondrously united to the Saviour, for they are the means by which, as St. Paul says, "in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Baptism confers being and in short, existence according to Christ. It receives us when we are dead and corrupted and first leads us into life. The anointing with chrism perfects him who has received [new] birth by infusing in to him the energy that befits such a life. The Holy Eucharist preserves and continues this life and health, since the Bread of life enables us to preserve that which has been acquired and to continue in life. It is therefore by this Bread that we live and by the chrism that we are moved, once we have received being from the baptismal washing. In this way we live in God. St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ

Indeed, who was ever able to grasp Christ or His Spirit perfectly without first purifying himself? Chastity is the exercise which from childhood prepares the soul for glory by making it attractive and lovable, and with ease brings this adornment for her to the next world untried. It holds up great expectations as the reward for small toil and renders our bodies immortal. It is only fitting then that all should gladly praise and esteem chastity above all other things; some, because by practicing virginity been emancipated from that condemnation, `Earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return.'

`The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?' Paul's words are thoroughly persuasive and flowed from Christ's side; that is what we share in.' He has called it a cup of blessing, because when we have it in our hands we praise Christ in wonder and astonishment at His unspeakable gift, by blessing Him for pouring out this very cup to free us from error; and not only for pouring it out but also for allowing us all to share in it. So Christ is saying to of irrational beasts; let is be My altar with My Blood.' What could be more awesome, what more profoundly loving that that? St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Cor. 24:1-2



It is certainly a finer and more wonderful thing to change the mind of enemies and bring them to another way of thinking than to kill them, especially when we recall that the [disciples] were only twelve and the whole world was full of wolves. . . . We ought then to be ashamed of ourselves, we who act so very differently and rush like wolves upon our foes. So long as we are sheep we have the victory; but if we are like wolves we are beaten, for then the help of the shepherd is withdrawn from us, for he feeds sheep not wolves. . . . This mystery [of the Eucharist] requires that we should be innocent not only of violence but of all enmity, however slight, for it is the mystery of peace. St. John Chrysostom

It is not the power of man which makes what is put before us the Body and Blood of Christ, but the power of Christ Himself who was crucified for us. The priest standing there in the place of Christ says these words but their power and grace are from God. 'This is My Body,' he says, and these words transform what lies before him." \ St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Treachery of Judas" 1,6; d. 407 A.D.

Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed. . . . Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures. . . . Christ is in that Sacrament, because it is the Body of Christ; yet, it is not on that account corporeal food, but spiritual. Whence also His Apostle says of the type: `For our fathers ate spiritual food and drink spiritual drink.' [1 Cor. 10:2-4] For the body of God is a spiritual body." St. Ambrose Of Milan, "On the Mysteries" 9, 50-52, 58; 391 A.D.

Make an effort, then, to meet more frequently to celebrate God's Eucharist and to offer praise. For when you meet frequently in the same place, the forces of Satan are overthrown, and his baneful influence is neutralized by the unanimity of your faith. Peace is a precious thing: it puts an end to every war waged by heavenly or earthly enemies. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians

Not as common bread or common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus St Justin Martyr, First Apology 66

Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit., St. Ephraim Of Syria

Reverence with all the powers of your soul all the sacraments, and say to yourself in respect to every sacrament before the celebration or the communion of it: `This is God's mystery. I myself am only the unworthy witness or partaker of it.' Otherwise our proud intellect even wishes to search out God's mystery, and, if unable to penetrate it, rejects it as not coming under the small measure of our intellect. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Rightly then, do we believe that the bread consecrated by the word of God has been made over into the Body of God the Word. For that Body was, as to its potency bread; but it has been consecrated by the lodging there of the Word, who pitched His tent in the flesh." St. Gregory Of Nyssa, "The Great Catechism [37: 9-13]"

So perfect is this Mystery [the Eucharist], so far does it excel every other sacred rite that it leads to the very summit of good things. Here also is the final goal of every human endeavor. For in it we obtain God Himself, and God is united with us in the most perfect union, for what attachment can be more complete than to become one spirit with God? Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ

So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, 'For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones' (Eph. 5:30).

He is not talking about some kind of 'spiritual' and 'invisible' man, 'for a spirit does not have flesh an bones' (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body.

The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and 'the grain of wheat falls into the earth' (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use.

These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ. St. Irenaeus Of Lyons, "Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely Named Gnosis". Book 5:2, 2-3, circa 180 A.D.



The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal Blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, - of the drink and of the Word, - is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.", St. Clement Of Alexandria, "The Instructor of the Children". [2,2,19,4] ante 202 A.D.,

The Christian receives great benefit from the Divine Mysteries, both in his soul and in his body. . . . Before he communes, he must make the necessary preparation, that is, he must confess to his spiritual father, correct himself, feel compunction, acquire inner attention, guard himself from passionate thoughts as far as possible, and also from every other vice. Similarly, he must exercise self-restraint, pray, be inwardly awake, become more devout, and do every other kind of good deed, reflecting what awesome King he is about to receive within himself; especially if he considers that the grace which is given to him from Communion is proportionate to his preparation. It is evident that the more one makes such preparation, the more benefit he receives." St. Macarius of Corinth

The Church is the Body of Christ; the Eucharist is the Body of Christ. This is a fundamental identity: the Church in the Eucharist and the Eucharist in the Church." Archimandrite Justin Popovich

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility. Abba Cronius

The Lord rose up from the place where He had made the Passover and had given His Body as food and His Blood as drink, and He went with His disciples to the place where He was to be arrested ... With His own hands the Lord presented His own Body to be eaten, and before he was crucified He gave His blood as drink; and He was taken at night and was judged until the sixth hour; and at the sixth hour they condemned Him and raised Him on the cross.", Aphraates The Persian Sage "Treatises" [12,6] inter 336-345 A.D. He was born ca. 280 A.D. and died ca. 345 A.D.

The Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist that has been handed down by the Lord is the highest of all the Mysteria; it is the most wondrous of all the miracles which the power of God has performed; it is the highest which the wisdom of God has conceived; it is the most precious of all the gifts which the love of God has bestowed upon men. For all the other miracles result through a transcendence of certain laws of Nature, but the Mysterion of the divine Eucharist transcends all these laws. Hence it may justly be called, and be viewed as, the miracle of miracles and the Mysterion of Mysteria. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187

The Seraph could not touch the fire's coal with his fingers, but just brought it close to Isaiah's mouth: the Seraph did not hold it, Isaiah did not consume it, but us our Lord has allowed to do both. St. Isaac the Syrian

The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. 'Eat My Flesh,' He says, 'and drink My Blood.' The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!", St. Clement Of Alexandria, "The Instructor of the Children" [1,6,41,3] ante 202 A.D.

The angel who is always near us is by nothing so distressed and made indignant as when, without being constrained by some necessity, we deprive ourselves of the ministration of the Holy Mysteries and of reception of Holy Communion, which grants remission of sins. For at that hour the priest offers up the sacrifice of the Body of Him Who gives us life, and the Holy Spirit descends and consecrates the Body and Blood and grants remission to creation. The Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the angels stand with great awe, fear, and joy. They rejoice over the Holy Mysteries while experiencing inexpressible astonishment. The angel who is always by us is consoled, because he also partakes in that dread spectacle and is not deprived of that perfect intercourse. St. Isaac the Syrian

The bread is at first common bread; but when the mystery sanctifies it, it is called and actually becomes the Body of Christ." St. Gregory Of Nyssa, "Orations and Sermons" [Jaeger Vol 9, pp. 225-226] ca. 383 A.D.

The gates of Paradise were opened for Adam, but it was fitting that they be closed when he fell from the state in which he ought to have remained. These gates Christ Himself opened, "Who committed no sin" (1Pet. 2:22) and cannot sin, for as it says, "His righteousness remaineth for ever" (Ps. 111:3). Wherefore they must of necessity remain open and lead to life, but without providing a way out of life, for "I came," says the Saviour, "that they might have life" (Jn. 10:10). This is the life which the Lord came to bring, that those who come through these Mysteries should be partakers of His death and share in His passion. Apart from this it is impossible to escape death. It is not possible for him who has not been "baptized in water and the Spirit" (Jn. 3:5) to enter into life, nor can those who have not eaten the Flesh of the Son of man and drunk His Blood have life in themselves (Jn. 6:24). Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ

The means to confirm and strengthen Christian hope are prayer, especially frequent and sincere prayer, confession of our sins, frequent reading of the Word of God, and, above all, frequent communion of the holy and life-giving sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ. St John of Kronstadt

The mystery of the Eucharist is called 'participation' for by it we participate in Christ's divinity. It is also called 'Communion' which it indeed is, for through it we are brought into fellowship with Christ ... we are also, through it, in fellowship and unity with one another ... We should, therefore, be on our guard not to accept participation from heretics or give it to them ... lest we become sharers in their false faith. But if there is true union with Christ and with one another, then we indeed willingly unite with those with whom we participate. St. John of Damascus

The peace and plenteousness of life in the heart after Communion is the greatest, the most inestimable gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, surpassing all the gifts relating to the body which are received at the same time. Without peace of the soul - when the heart is straitened and tormented - man cannot avail himself of any blessings, either material or spiritual; at that time the delights that come from the feeling of truth, goodness and beauty do not exist for him, because the very center of his life - the heart, or the inner man himself - is crushed, slain. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles are accomplished, such as the miracles of the sacraments; for God's Mystery is always accomplished, even though we were incredulous or unbelieving at the time of this celebration. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mightest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are diffused through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, (we become partaker of the divine nature.) [2 Peter 1:4] " St. Cyril Of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures [22 (Mystagogic 4), 3]

Therefore, in order that we may become of His Body, not in desire only, but also in very fact, let us become commingled with that Body. This, in truth, takes place by means of the food which He has given us as a gift, because He desire to prove the love which He has for us. It is for this reason that He shared Himself with us and has brought His Body down to our level, namely, that we might be one with Him as the body is joined with the head. This, in truth is characteristic of those who greatly love. Job, indeed, was implying this when he said of his servants--by whom he was loved with such an excess of love--that they desired to cleave to his flesh. In giving expression to the great love which they possessed, they said: `Who will give us of his flesh that we may be filled?' Moreover, Christ has done even this to spur us on to even greater love. And to show the love He has for us He has made it possible for those who desire, not merely to look upon Him,! but even to touch Him and to consume Him and to fix their teeth in His Flesh and to be commingled with Him; in short, to fulfill all their love. Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love which He has shown for us. St. John Chrysostom, c. 390 A.D. Homily 46 (on John 6)

These things having learnt, and being fully persuaded that what seems bread is not bread, though bread by taste, but the Body of Christ; and that what seems wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, (And bread which strengtheneth man's heart, and oil to make his face to shine) [Ps. 104:15], `strengthen thine heart', partaking thereof as spiritual, and `make the face of thy soul to shine'. And so having it unveiled by a pure conscience, mayest thou behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and proceed from glory to glory [2 Cor. 3:18], in Christ Jesus our Lord:--To whom be honor, and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen." St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogic Catechesis 4,1, c. 350 A.D.:

This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus." St. Justin Martyr, "First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

Thus, every soul which receives the bread which comes down from heaven is a house of bread, the bread of Christ, being nourished and having its heart strengthened by the support of the heavenly bread which dwells within it." St. Ambrose Of Milan, "Letter to Horontianus" circa 387 A.D.

To communicate each day and to partake of the holy Body and Blood of Christ is good and beneficial; for He says quite plainly: 'He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.' Who can doubt that to share continually in life is the same thing as having life abundantly? We ourselves communicate four times each week, on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; and on other days if there is a commemoration of any saint." St. Basil The Great, "Letter to a Patrician Lady Caesaria" [93] ca. 372 A.D.

We have been instructed in these matters and filled with an unshakable faith, that that which seems to be bread, is not bread, though it tastes like it, but the Body of Christ, and that which seems to be wine, is not wine, though it too tastes as such, but the Blood of Christ . . . draw inner strength by receiving this bread as spiritual food and your soul will rejoice." St. Cyril of Alexandria, "Catecheses," 22, 9; "Myst." 4; d. 444 A.D.:

We see that the Saviour took [something] in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: 'This is really Me.' And He gave to His disciples and said: 'This is really Me.' And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, 'This is really Me.'; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of a Savior." St. Epiphanius Of Salamis, "The Man Well-Anchored" [57] 374 A.D.

What is the mark of a Christian? That he be purified of all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit in the Blood of Christ, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God and the love of Christ, and that he have no blemish nor spot nor any such thing; that he be holy and blameless and so eat the Body of Christ and drink His Blood; for 'he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself.' What is the mark of those who eat the Bread and drink the Cup of Christ? That they keep in perpetual remembrance Him who died for us and rose again." St. Basil The Great, "The Morals" Ch. 22

When the word says, 'This is My Body,' be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ did not give us something tangible, but even in His tangible things all is intellectual. So too with Baptism: the gift is bestowed through what is a tangible thing, water; but what is accomplished is intellectually perceived: the birth and the renewal. If you were incorporeal He would have given you those incorporeal gifts naked; but since the soul is intertwined with the body, He hands over to you in tangible things that which is perceived intellectually. How many now say, 'I wish I could see His shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals.' Only look! You see Him! You touch Him! You eat Him!" St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew" [82,4] 370 A.D.

When we speak of the reality of Christ's nature being in us, we would be speaking foolishly and impiously - had we not learned it from Him. For He Himself says: 'My Flesh is truly Food, and My Blood is truly Drink. He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood will remain in Me and I in him.' As to the reality of His Flesh and Blood, there is no room left for doubt, because now, both by the declaration of the Lord Himself and by our own faith, it is truly the Flesh and it is truly Blood. And These Elements bring it about, when taken and consumed, that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Is this not true? Let those who deny that Jesus Christ is true God be free to find these things untrue. But He Himself is in us through the flesh and we are in Him, while that which we are with Him is in God." St. Hilary Of Poiters, "The Trinity" [8,14] inter 356-359 A.D.

You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ." Blessed Augustine, "Sermons", [227, 21]

You perhaps say: 'My bread is usual.' But the bread is bread before the words of the sacraments; when consecration has been added, from bread it becomes the flesh of Christ. So let us confirm this, how it is possible that what is bread is the body of Christ. By what words, then, is the consecration and by whose expressions? By those of the Lord Jesus. For all the rest that are said in the preceding are said by the priest: praise to God, prayer is offered, there is a petition for the people, for kings, for the rest. When it comes to performing a venerable sacrament, then the priest uses not his own expressions, but he uses the expressions of Christ. Thus the expression of Christ performs this sacrament." St. Ambrose Of Milan, "The Sacraments" Book 4, Ch.4:14.

[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies." St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.:

[Christ] took the bread and the cup, each in a similar fashion, and said: 'This is My Body and this is My Blood.' Not a figure of His body nor a figure of His blood, as some persons of petrified mind are wont to rhapsodize, but in truth the Body and the Blood of Christ, seeing that His body is from the earth, and the bread and wine are likewise from the earth." Marcarius The Magnesian, "Apocriticus" [3,23] ca. 400 A.D

[How the Eucharist enables us to worship "in spirit and in truth"] Yet we are such wretched material that the seal cannot remain unaffected, "for we have this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Cor. 4:7). We therefore partake of the remedy, not once for all, but constantly. The potter must constantly sit by the clay and repeatedly restore the shape which is being blurred. We must continually experience the Physician's hand as He heals the decaying matter and raises up the failing will, lest death creep in unawares. For it says, "even when we were dead through trespasses He made us alive together with Christ" (Eph.2:5), and "the blood of Christ shall purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb. 9:14). The power of the holy table draws to us the true life from that blessed Body, and there we become able to worship God purely. The Life in Christ by Nicholas Cabasilas

`The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?' Paul's words are thoroughly persuasive and awe-inspiring. What he is saying is this: `What is in the cup is what flowed from Christ's side; that is what we share in.' He has called it a cup of blessing, because when we have it in our hands we praise Christ in wonder and astonishment at His unspeakable gift, by blessing Him for pouring out this very cup to free us from error; and not only for pouring it out but also for allowing us all to share in it. So Christ is saying to us: `If you want blood, do not make the altar of idols red with the blood of irrational beasts; let is be My altar with My Blood.' What could be more awesome, what more profoundly loving that that? St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Cor. 24:1-2

{The} Blood of the Lord is salvation for our souls, with it the soul rejoices, with it, it is beautified, it is warmed; this Blood makes the mind shine more brightly than the light, it makes the soul more beautiful than gold. Those who partake of this Body stand with the angels and archangels and the powers above; with it they are adorned with royal robes and the weapons of the Spirit. Those who receive Communion receive the very King Himself. On Holy Communion, the Purifying Treasure, St. Nicodemos of the HolyMountain, printed in Orthodox Word, Sept.-Oct., 1983

“Once, when Abbot Ioanichie was serving, after the sanctification of the Gifts, a drop of the Holy Blood jumped out of the Holy Chalice and onto the Holy Antimension. This drop began to shine and then to spread beams of light. Abbot Ioanichie then called out to me, ‘Brother Constantine, come here!’ When I came he said to me, ‘What do you see here on the Holy Antimension?’ ‘I see a drop of the Holy Blood shining so strongly that I can hardly look.’ ‘Do you see Whom it is we serve? That is why we must stand with great fear and piety in the Holy Altar.’ ” Elder Cleopa Ilie the Shepherd of Souls (1912-1998)

...the Lord in His life-giving Mysteries - wherever they are offered - is eternally the sole, indivisible, Creator 'and hath made of one blood all nations of men' (Acts 17:26). Through His one Spirit, living in the Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood, celebrated in all the churches of the world, He wishes to unite us to Himself - we who have fallen from union with Him through sin and obedience to the Devil - and to cut off and cleanse that which in all of us prevents union with Him and with each other, 'that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us' (John 17:21). Such is the object of the mystery of the Communion. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ: Part 1, Holy Trinity Monastery pgs. 77-78)

Holy Communion causes great progress in the life according to Christ. For what the external accidents of bread and wine effect in the body, the same is effected in the immaterial soul mystically and invisibly by the Body of Christ. And just as bread sustains and nourishes the body, so the Body of Christ sustains and nourishes our soul; and again, just as we are regenerated through Holy Baptism and receive the being of grace, in place of the being of sin which we had, so, as we are nourished by Holy Communion we grow in the grace of God and make progress. St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 2

When in fear, trembling and unworthiness we are yet permitted to receive the divine, undefiled Mysteries of Christ, our King and Lord, we should then display even greater watchfulness, strictness and guard over our hearts, so that the divine fire, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, may consume our sins and stains, great and small. For when that fire enters into us, it at once drives the evil spirits from our heart and remits the sins we have previously committed, leaving the intellect free from the turbulence of wicked thoughts. And if after this, standing at the entrance to our heart, we keep strict watch over the intellect, when we are again permitted to receive those Mysteries the divine body will illumine our intellect still more and make it shine like a star. St. Hesychios the Priest, "On Watchfulness and Holiness" Philokalia (Vol. 1) , p. 179, text 101)

Holy Communion causes great progress in the life according to Christ. For what the external accidents of bread and wine effect in the body, the same is effected in the immaterial soul mystically and invisibly by the Body of Christ. And just as bread sustains and nourishes the body, so the Body of Christ sustains and nourishes our soul; and again, just as we are regenerated through Holy Baptism and receive the being of grace, in place of the being of sin which we had, so, as we are nourished by Holy Communion we grow in the grace of God and make progress. St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 2

I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible. (Letter to Romans 7:3) Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery... ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (c. 110 AD) (Letter to Philadelphians 4:1)

They [i.e. the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (c. 110 AD) (Letter to Smyrn 7:1)

We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [Baptism], and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. ST. JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 150 AD) (First Apology 66)

Moreover, as I said before, concerning the sacrifices which you at that time offered, God speaks through Malachi [1:10-12]...It is of the sacrifices offered to Him in every place by us, the Gentiles, that is, of the bread of the Eucharist and likewise of the cup of the Eucharist, that He speaks at that time; and He says that we glorify His name, while you profane it. ST. JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 150 AD) (Dialogue with Trypho 41)

He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying This is My body." The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood. (Against Heresies 4:17:5) But what consistency is there in those who hold that the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood, if they do not acknowledge that He is the Son of the Creator... How can they say that the flesh which has been nourished by the body of the Lord and by His blood gives way to corruption and does not partake of life? ...For as the bread from the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, consisting of two elements, earthly and heavenly... ST. IRENAEUS (c. 140 - 202 A.D.) (Against Heresies 4:18:4-5)

If the body be not saved, then, in fact, neither did the Lord redeem us with His BLOOD; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist the partaking of His blood nor is the bread which we break the partaking of His body... He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established us as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life -- flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord...receiving the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ... ST. IRENAEUS (c. 140 - 202 A.D.) (Against Heresies 5:2:2-3)

The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, so that the soul too may fatten on God. TERTULLIAN (c. 155 - 250 A.D.) (Resurrection of the Dead 8:3)

The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord commanded to be taken at meal times and by all, we take even before daybreak in congregations... We take anxious care lest something of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground... TERTULLIAN (c. 155 - 250 A.D.) (The Crown 3:3-4)

We give thanks to the Creator of all, and, along with thanksgiving and prayer for the blessings we have received, we also eat the bread presented to us; and this bread becomes by prayer a sacred body, which sanctifies those who sincerely partake of it. ORIGEN (c. 185 - 254 A.D.) (Against Celsus 8:33)

You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know how, when you have received the body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall, and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish... how is it that you think neglecting the word of God a lesser crime than neglecting His body? ORIGEN (c. 185 - 254 A.D.) (Homilies on Exodus 13:3)

...now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as He Himself says: "My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink." ORIGEN (c. 185 - 254 A.D.) (Homilies on Numbers 7:2)

Calling her children about her, she [the Church] nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word...The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. "Eat My flesh," He says, "and drink My blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His flesh and pours out His blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery! ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (c. 150 - 216 A.D.) (Instructor of Children 1:6:42,1,3)

He Himself warns us, saying, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you shall not have life in you." Therefore do we ask that our Bread, which is Christ, be given to us daily, so that we who abide and live in Christ may not withdraw from His sanctification and from His Body. ST. CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE (c. 200 - 258 A.D.) (The Lord's Prayer 18)

After having spoken thus ["This is My body...This is My blood"], the Lord rose up from the place where He had made the Passover and had given His Body as food and His Blood as drink, and He went with His disciples to the place where He was to be arrested. But He ate of His own Body and drank of His own Blood, while He was pondering on the dead. With His own hands the Lord presented His own Body to be eaten, and before He was crucified He gave His blood as drink... St. APRAHAT (APHRAATES) (c. 280 - 345 A.D.) (Treatises 12:6)

Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He broke it and in His gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one. He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with Himself and the Spirit. And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: "Take, all of you eat of this, which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread [of life], and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven." But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as a certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body. After the disciples had eaten the new and holy Bread, and when they understood by faith that they had eaten of Christ's body, Christ went on to explain and to give them the whole Sacrament. He took and mixed a cup of wine. Then He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy, declaring that it was His own Blood, which was about to be poured out...Christ commanded them to drink, and He explained to them that the cup which they were drinking was His own Blood: "This is truly My Blood, which is shed for all of you. Take, all of you, drink of this, because it is a new covenant in My Blood. As you have seen Me do, do you also in My memory. Whenever you are gathered together in My name in Churches everywhere, do what I have done, in memory of Me. Eat My Body, and drink My Blood, a covenant new and old." ST. EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN (c. 306 - 373 A.D.) (Homilies 4:4; 4:6)

You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ... Let us approach the celebration of the mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread and wine -- and thus is His Body confected. ST. ATHANASIUS (c. 295 - 373 A.D.) (Sermon to the Newly Baptized, from Eutyches)

For just as the bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine the Blood of Christ... ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (c. 350 A.D.(Catechetical Lectures 19 [Mystagogic 1], 7)

This one teaching of the blessed Paul is enough to give you complete certainty about the Divine Mysteries, by your having been deemed worthy of which, you have become united in body and blood with Christ. For Paul proclaimed clearly that: "On the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ, taking bread and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying: 'Take, eat, This is My Body.' And taking the cup and giving thanks, He said, 'Take, drink, This is My Blood.'" He Himself, therefore, having declared and said of the Bread, "This is My Body," who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has affirmed and said, "This is My Blood," who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood? ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (c. 350 A.D.(22 [Mystagogic 4], 1)

Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and the Wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but -- be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ. ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (c. 350 A.D.(22 [Mystagogic 4], 6)

Then, having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual songs, we call upon the benevolent God to send out the Holy Spirit upon the gifts which have been laid out: that He may make the bread the Body of Christ, and the wine the Blood of Christ; for whatsoever the Holy Spirit touches, that is sanctified and changed. ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (c. 350 A.D. (23 [Mystagogic 5], 7)

When we speak of the reality of Christ's nature being in us, we would be speaking foolishly and impiously -- had we not learned it from Him. For He Himself says: "My Flesh is truly Food, and My Blood is truly Drink. He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood will remain in Me and I in Him." As to the reality of His Flesh and Blood, there is no room left for doubt, because now, both by the declaration of the Lord Himself and by our own faith, it is truly Flesh and it is truly Blood. And These Elements bring it about, when taken and consumed, that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Is this not true? Let those who deny that Jesus Christ is true God be free to find these things untrue. But He Himself is in us through the flesh and we are in Him, while that which we are with Him is in God. ST. HILARY OF POITIERS (c. 315 - 368 A.D.) (The Trinity 8:14)

This Body, by the indwelling of God the Word, has been made over to divine dignity. Rightly then, do we believe that the bread consecrated by the word of God has been made over into the Body of God the Word. For that Body was, as to its potency, bread; but it has been consecrated by the lodging there of the Word, who pitched His tent in the flesh. From the same cause, therefore, by which the bread that was made over into that Body is made to change into divine strength, a similar result now takes place. As in the former case, in which the grace of the Word made holy that body the substance of which is from bread, and in a certain manner is itself bread, so in this case too, the bread, as the Apostle says, "is consecrated by God's word and by prayer"; not through its being eaten does it advance to become the Body of the Word, but it is made over immediately into the Body by means of the word, just as was stated by the Word, "This is My Body!" ...In the plan of His grace He spreads Himself to every believer by means of that Flesh, the substance of which is from wine and bread, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, so that by this union with the Immortal, man, too, may become a participant in incorruption. ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA (c. 335 - 394 A.D.)





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