ast_supper_Simon_ushakov1685

As He revealed Himself to the holy apostles in the true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now in sacred bread.  And as they saw only His flesh by an insight of their flesh, yet believed that He was God as they contemplated Him with their spiritual eyes, let us, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are His mos holy Body and Blood living and true.  And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says:  “Behold I am with you until the end of the age.”

St. Francis of Assisi, The Admonitions (I: The Body of Christ), 129

Scripture for the day:  For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

Lenten action for the day: During Lent, make a concerted effort to participate in Holy Communion, praying to Christ as you do so.

hram Rozdestva Hristov?g, Pirot

If you know me well, you are sure to know about my great affection, desire, and reverence for the Communion Table.  Though I’ve devoted a good deal of time to studying the theology of the Table, it’s the mystery that appeals to me.  There are so many arguments about the Table…Is it an ordinance or a sacrament?  Who can partake?  Who can’t?  How often should we celebrate?  Are there spiritual benefits to taking the bread and wine?  Is Christ really physically present?  Or is there a more portable version of God (AKA, the Holy Spirit) there?  I think sometimes we let the theological arguments over this ancient ritual to cloud the beauty of the reckless, raging love of Christ that is available there.  On that note, this morning, I stumbled across a wonderful post on the Real Presence written Matt O’Reilly at his blog, Incarnatio, that included this great quote:

“…I’ve come to embrace the mystery of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This attitude is captured well by Charles Wesley in his hymn, “O the Depth of Love Divine”. He writes:

O the depth of love divine,
Th’unfathomable grace!
Who shall say how bread and wine
God into man conveys!
How the bread his flesh imparts,
How the wine transmits his blood,
Fills his faithful people’s hearts
With all the life of God!

How is Christ present in bread and wine? I don’t know. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that Christ is present, really present. He said that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood. That’s all. He didn’t explain it. He didn’t fill in the details. And now, finally, that’s enough for me. If we are going to say something about Christ’s Eucharistic Presence, we should learn from Wesley that sometimes it’s better to sing a hymn than write a treatise.”

For me, the bottom line is this:  There’s a lot of mystery involved in Holy Communion.  I don’t know how Christ is present, but I am thoroughly convinced that He’s there.  Regardless of my own state of mind, emotional situation, sin problems, financial difficulties, work overload, relationship issues, or current Facebook status, there’s a place at the Table for me.  Sermons, music, and liturgy may become stale to me from week to week, but the Body and Blood of Christ is always there for me, and it always satisfies.

Please take some time to visit Incarnatio and read the full post here.  Also, feel welcome to click on “Communion” in my tags for more of my thoughts on Holy Communion.

Peace…

Lee

 

I came across this beautiful piece of writing from Abbot Tryphon of the All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery this morning while trolling Facebook.  In his words, we find some practical and convicting words about the role of the Church and the Christian.  This short morning post from the good Abbot is a masterpiece, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  Here are some strong points I gathered from Abbot Tryphon today…points for the Church to live by, and points for the Christian to live by:

1) The Church, even in antiquity, was never intended to be a religious institution, but a place of healing for hurting and troubled souls.

2) The Church is intended fully to be a place where humanity can commune with God.

3) The primary vehicle for this meeting of heaven and earth is Holy Communion.

4) Holy Communion is the primary means by which we can receive grace.

5) Participating in Holy Communion has a fourfold impact upon us…It makes us whole, complete beings….It opens the door to God…It brings about spiritual, inward change…And it is the primary sign of corporate unity for Christians.

6) Though the Church is a unique figure, it is not intended to be exclusive.  All are welcome.

7) The Church should not judge those who are not a part of her.

8) While the Church possesses absolute truth, she is to respect the basic dignity of all peoples.

9) Holy Communion bind us together as believers; binds us together with other believers across the ages (Communion of Saints); and binds us as a corporate body to the Kingdom of Heaven.

10) The traditions of the Church have been passed down for two thousand years, and represent the truth.  The greater culture may disagree with the Church on many points, but the truth is the truth.  There aren’t many different versions of truth.  Only one.

All that being said, here’s the morning thought from Abbot Tryphon…

The Church Fathers saw Orthodoxy as a Way of Life, rather than a religion.  Although the Church has many of the same attributes as religion, this does not mean she is herself a religious institution.  Rather, she is a Hospital for the Soul, where in we can receive the healing that makes it possible to commune with our Creator.  It is within this hospital, the Church, that we are made holy (whole), making the communion possible.  The Eucharist, which is the chief vehicle by which we can receive the grace that opens the doors for communion with God, brings about spiritual transformation, and is the chief sign of our unity in Christ.

Although there is uniformity in doctrine and practice within the Orthodox Church, the unity within the Church does in no way exclude those who are outside the Church, for all are God’s children, and the doors of the Church are open wide, even to those who are blind to this truth.  The Church does not judge those who remain outside her walls, but loves them, and prays for them.  She is not an exclusive institution, but rather the living embodiment of Christ.  Her claim to divine origin, and absolute truth, in no way suggests a denial of the basic dignity of humanity as being the children of God.

The Church’s claim to divine origin is no where more clearly seen, then her celebration of the Eucharist, for this is the moment when heaven comes down to earth, and her faithful are united one to another, in the Christ Who gives Himself so freely and completely. In this way the Eucharist is the vehicle to unity in Christ, and a sign of a unity that transforms time and space. Yet without unity of faith, where each believer has received as their own, the teachings of the Church in all her integrity and authenticity, communion would simply be a common participation in a symbolic act, rather than the participation in the Divine. Our reception of the very Body and Blood of Christ, is that point in eternity that brings about transformation and holiness.

These teachings are in direct opposition to the theories and philosophies of today, for they would deny the existence of Absolute Truth. The Church’s strict adherence to the beliefs, teachings, and practices, that have been handed down from Apostolic times, are the basis for our unity, for we have bound ourselves to the unchanging Apostolic Church, and forever united ourselves to Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

To read more of Abbot Tryphon’s writing, please visit his blog, The Morning Offering

Also, take some time to visit the website for the All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery.  Located on Maury Island in Puget Sound (a short ferry ride from both Seattle and Tacoma, Washington), the monastery is in a beautiful setting, and is definitely another spot that is on my list of places I would love to visit.

Peace of the Lord be with you all…