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A fellow orthodox told me that we (the orthodox church) don't actually believe we're eating his body and blood in the PHYSICAL SENSE (i.e. skin cells, platelets, etc), which is something I thought we believed
in, but that we are actually eating his body and blood in the spiritual sense.

I always thought that it was in the physical sense but I was directed to this orthodox source that said that the belief in the "physical sense" is a Catholic thing, a confused look at the Eucharist.

I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between these 2 beliefs.
Requested and Answered by Shenouda on 08-Aug-2005 01:21 (1621 reads)
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted the Holy Communion on Covenant Thursday a few hours before His arrest and trial, in the Upper Room of Zion. After He celebrated the Rite of Passover of the Jews, He rose and washed the feet of His holy disciples as a sign of repentance and preparation, and then He sat down and instituted the Passover of the New Covenant that is the Sacrament of Holy Communion. "He took bread, blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat this is My Body, then He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying: Drink from it all of you, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28) and St Paul repeats these same words in the Holy Book of Corinthians 11:23-25. There is no delineation or actual words of the Lord Jesus Christ, which speak to how the change occurs. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ's actual words are
intended as a Mystery.

Therefore, the Coptic Orthodox considered the change of the "bread and wine" is a MYSTERY. We do not contemplate on the existence of blood red cells, white blood cells, and platelets. We do not contemplate on its transubstantiation. It is simply a MYSTERY. We accept this as it is.
There are so many points about the Holy Communion that allude to its MYSTERY and are so very
important. I would like to share them with you:

1) "He who eats My Flesh, and drinks My Body abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:56) By receiving this Sacrament we become members of His Body, of His Flesh and of His Bones." (Ephesians 5:30) also we become partakers of the Divine Nature. (Peter 1:4)

2) It gives us eternal life, "Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. He who eats this Bread will live forever." (John 6: 54,58) Growth in the Spirit and spiritual perfection and life in the Lord Jesus Christ as He said, "For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink is indeed. As the living Father sent me, and I live in Him because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." (John 6:55,57)
As the material food is consumed and develops the body and it becomes healthy, also the Communion of the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ strengthen the soul to grow continuously in grace.

4) Gives remedy to the soul, body, and spirit, as we say in the Offertory Mystery: "That they (Holy Body and Precious Blood) may become to us all for participation and healing and salvation for our souls, bodies, and our spirits." The actual words of the Lord Jesus Christ about the reality of the His Body and Blood are VERY CLEAR. They need no further explanation and the apostles understood this. The Jews at the time argued among themselves: "The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves saying 'How can this Man give us His flesh to eat? From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then the Lord Jesus Christ said to the 12, 'Do you also want to go away?" (John 6:52,66,67)

Also the time that the Lord Jesus Christ finally passed this Holy Sacrament on to His disciples was the last hour of His life, so we cannot accept the interpretation that He was speaking metaphorically to mean "in remembrance." St Paul tells us that this sacrament implied "sharing in the body of Jesus Christ." "I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless; is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" (I Corinthians 10:15-16)

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