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Question on the Holy Sacrifice

Discussion in 'Traditional Theology' started by Athanasias, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    I have a question for Orthodox Christians. Do you all believe the Divine liturgy and Eucharist to be both ascending and descending sacrifice? Catholics do in the sense that the Holy Spirit descends down on the elements in the epiclesis and time stops essentially makes present the paschal mystery today and then the priest offers that one true sacrifice of Christ body and blood back to the Father for propitiation and expiation of sins. Since the priest acts in the person of Christ its actually Christ offering himself back to the Father. Its a mystical experience.

    I talked to Lutherans and they reject the ascending part of the sacrifice but believe in the descending part. What is the Orthodox view? Just curious?
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  2. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Handmaid of God † CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    I'm not comfortable in that I might say something not rightly explaining what we believe, and really we don't tend to technically analyze overmuch. We accept it as a Mystery.

    But yes, the Holy Spirit changes the offering into the Body and Blood. However, I had a bishop explain to me that we reject the philosophical points of Catholicism concerning transubstantiation.

    We refer to it as a sacrifice, and the consecration repeats some of those actions/words BUT ... as I understand Catholicism I don't think we would say the same things concerning the Eucharist BEING a sacrifice. It does make the past present, but we are not "resacrificing Christ" ... and forgive me because I may well misunderstand what Catholics believe.

    We also don't speak in the same way about the priest being "in persona Christi" ... in the place of Christ. I'm not sure how far that goes in Catholicism but I'm told there are differences. We really don't see much in the way of that.

    When the priest comes out for the Great Entrance, bearing the Eucharist, some follow a pious custom of touching his vestments as the woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of Christ's garment, but we see it only as a display of faith, not an implication of the holiness of the priest himself or any such thing.
  3. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Thanks for your good response. We do not teach that Christ is re-sacrificed. He does not die again. That is once for all as Hebrews says. Don't feel bad The Catholic doctrine can be complex and confusing for non Catholics. We teach that that the paschal mystery is re-presented(not represented) on the altar in a miraculous way. Time stops and the past and present collide and we mystically become united to the paschal mystery in a real supernatural substantial way. We unite our sacrifices to Christ and he perfects them by His and it is offered up to the Father.

    I know you normally do not explain the eucharistic change as transubstantiation but it essentially is a philosophical way to describe the same thing you believe, namely that the bread and wine are transformed mystically and supernaturally into Christ Jesus flesh and blood. I know that even though Eo do not use that term nornally they are not opposed to the theology and even sometimes use that very term "transubstantiation" In fact many Eastern Orthodox theologians admit and use the term "transubstantiation" to best describe the change. for example the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia on its websites even used the term:

    "While Orthodoxy has always insisted on the reality of the change- the bread and the wine become in very truth the Body and Blood of Christ, it has never however attempted to explain the manner of the change. It is true that sometimes Orthodox theologians will make use of what came out of Latin scholasticism, the term “transubstantiation” (in Greek μετουσίωσης). Orthodox however generally emphasize that the manner of change is a mystery and must always remain incomprehensible"

    Taken From here :

    Other Sacraments

    We also agree the eucharist is a mystery,. How bread and wine can transform into the body and blood we can never fully comprehend.

    OOH ok i just read from the same Greek Orthodox website that it appears at least they do hold the eucharist to be a sacrifice that is offered up and its offered by Christ. This would seem to be the same theology as Catholics as I explained earlier. Both ascending and Descending. here is the quote from the same website:

    "As well as an act of thanksgiving, the Eucharist is a sacrifice. This can be seen from the text of the Liturgy- Your own from your own we offer You… In other words, at the Eucharist the sacrifice offered is Christ Himself. Christ is also the one who performs the act of offering. He is both victim and priest, both offering and offerer. In the prayer the priest reads before the Great Entrance, he says, “You are the one who offers and the one who is offered…” As well, “we offer to you”- the Eucharist is offered to the Trinity."

    Is this true for all Orthodox or just he Greek ones? Just curious. Am I right or am I misunderstanding something?
  4. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Handmaid of God † CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    I'd rather keep my answers simple just in case. :)

    First - if its a theology of the Greek Church, it will also be of the Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, etc - all of the EO Churches. Almost all of our theology is likewise shared with OO. You will find variations is musical style, pious customs, and emphasis on favorite Saints to sometimes differ, but theology must always be the same for all EO Churches.

    We do sometimes use the term "transubstantiation". The bishop explained to me that we must not invest the term with some of the philosophy and teachings of Catholicism. Basically - we believe that the bread and wine are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ - and that this is a mystery. Any attempts to say almost anything more about the change or explain more fully just what that means are usually something we reject. So we don't get into scientific analysis or physical vs spiritual and all the explanations of how the spiritual works that many (including Protestants) explain. It. Just. Is. Because Jesus said so.

    We offer the bread and the wine - the fruits of the earth (which God gives) and through our labor we harvest and prepare it and offer it to God.

    And yes, we are mystically joined to the offering Christ made "once for all" on our behalf. Just as every year at Pascha we are joined to the mystery of the Resurrection, every Sunday (when we normally celebrate the Divine Liturgy) is a "Little Pascha" in that way. We are always being re-connected.

    I can't confirm the other details.

    That does put me in mind of one possible difference. Doesn't Catholicism focus on the crucified Christ? We are mystically united to the RISEN Christ in the Eucharist. So that might affect the answer to some of your questions?
  5. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Thank you this is awesome! I appreciate this. I think we basically beleive the same thing here. The Catholic Mass both the death and resurrection is empathized. We proclaim the death and resurrection through the mass until christ comes in the end. The elements of bread and wine are separated signifying Christ death and separation of his body from the blood on the cross but we receive the Resurrected Jesus and proclaim that resurrection in the Eucharist also in the prayers. Does that make any sense?

    This is from eucharist prayer 1 in the Roman Canon of the Ordinary form:

    "We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
    and profess your Resurrection
    until you come again."

    Or another Optionis

    "Save us, Savior of the world,
    for by your Cross and Resurrection
    you have set us free."

    "Therefore, O Lord,
    as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion,
    the Resurrection from the dead,
    and the glorious Ascension into heaven
    of Christ, your Son, our Lord,
    we, your servants and your holy people,
    offer to your glorious majesty
    from the gifts that you have given us,
    this pure victim,
    this holy victim,
    this spotless victim,
    the holy Bread of eternal life
    and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

    Be pleased to look upon these offerings
    with a serene and kindly countenance,
    and to accept them,
    as once you were pleased to accept
    the gifts of your servant Abel the just,
    the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
    and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
    a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
    n humble prayer we ask you, almighty God:
    command that these gifts be borne
    by the hands of your holy Angel
    to your altar on high
    in the sight of your divine majesty,
    so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar
    receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,