Gospel Message & Recording
“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53:54)
It would seem strange for someone who is not an Orthodox (or Catholic) Christian to consider the contents of the Cup and Plate, placed on the Altar, inside an Orthodox Church, to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Those who oppose this idea have difficulty explaining why Christ was so exact and precise about eating His Body and drinking His Blood. In other words, there is not way to “weasel” our way around it. In this context, taken from John 6, (list above) there is no room for “second guessing” or other interpretation. That is, the text speaks for itself; it interprets itself.
From a historical perspective we have read about the terminologies used to describe the Body and Blood of Christ, “transubstantiation” and “consubstantiation.” The meaning of both terms would take too long to define and explain here; but it should be mentioned that both terms are not used in the Orthodox Church to describe the contents of the Cup and Plate. Rather, we believe, with great assurance, that it is the Body and Blood of Christ, as He declared in the Gospels. For example, if a devout-believing Orthodox Christian were to look into the Cup. Then he was asked, “What did you see in the cup?” He would say, “The Body and Blood of Christ.” Then, let us suppose a so-called non-denominational Christian came to church and looked inside the Cup. Then he was asked, “What did you see?” He would say, “Bread and wine!”
The matter is quite simple for us: we believe that the contents of the Cup and Plate are indeed the Body and Blood of Christ because He said so. That is why for the non-denominational Christian it is bread and for the Orthodox Christian it is the Body. Both persons, when they look into the Cup, see the reality of the earthly contents. But for the Orthodox Christian, however, that reality is altered by faith in Christ, and therefore, he sees the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than bread or wine. The central point is that we see what we believe.
Let us move now to our Orthodox experience.
I must say that we as Orthodox Christians have a tendencies to view the Body and Blood as a “form of magic.” For instance, we have the idea that if we receive the Body and Blood it will work for us. This is true! But it will work for us as much as we believe in it and are prepared for it!
The Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 that receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in an unworthy manner can cause physical and spiritual damage to someone’s life. For us Orthodox we prepare by first, fasting (starting at 12am on that day), second, praying the Midnight Prayer and Morning Prayer, third, by confessing to a Priest. Such preparation conditions both the body and soul to receive Christ. For those who properly prepare it is indeed the Body and Blood of Christ. For those who take it “casually” or rather “unprepared,” it is rendered unto them as mere bread and wine. The outworking of the Body and Blood of Christ, that is, it’s blessings, graces and mercies, throughout the days following Sunday, is “released” for those who continue to maintain the preparedness. If we prepare for Sunday and then Monday to Friday there is no evidence of the Christian life, then the blessings, graces and mercies of that Body and Blood will be to no effect.