Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Early Eucharist is cool

Apparently we might need to thank our Church Fathers for their nebulous statements about Eucharistic meaning. The Orthodox Church has never made a formal statement about the precise nature of the Eucharist and what happens to the elements, but rather affirms that they are the body and blood of Christ. Still, we shouldn’t think this is "transubstantiation" by any stretch as that relies on describing literally what happens to the bread and wine. Instead, we affirm as best put in the anaphora of St. Basil’s liturgy, a multi-faceted nature of the Truth we receive through the symbol of the consecrated elements.

Basically the Church did not have the understanding that much happened to the actual elements until much later in history, namely the 4th century during consolidation. Before that they took a more Pauline and less Johannine understanding to the feast. It replaced the bloody sacrifices that were accompanied by acts of praise in the Levitical practice. Christ’s blood stands in place of the animal sacrifice, and our praise renders the praise aspect. But, it’s not JUST forgiveness, but rather the main point is to discern the Body of Christ, ie the community linked to him, and to render our portion of the sacrifice - the praise accompanying the sacrifice that has taken place through the high Priest (Jesus). What a beautifully simplistic and meaningful explanation. There is no disconnect between symbol and reality, that is a later fad that thankfully we have not embraced.


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