The Holy Mysteries


As the Eucharist was central in the life of the early Church, it is central in the life of the Orthodox Church today.

The Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings is focused on communion with God. It begins with prayers for all the world and Psalms of praise to God. It continues with the proclamation of the Word: the reading of the Gospel and the Epistle lessons for the day and a homily. At last it reaches the spiritual heights with the Sanctification of the Holy Mysteries in which the Holy Spirit comes upon that bread and wine which we have offered to God, and makes them the Precious and Holy Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thus when the priest calls out to the faithful: “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near!” those Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves through fasting and prayer step forward to partake of the Holy Mysteries.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourself. He who eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.”
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.” (John 6:53-57)
In the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist the creature communes with the Creator. By drawing near in fear of God, faith and love we commune with one another. The mystery of the unity of all in the Faith is realized in spite of our human weaknesses and shortcomings spiritually as we partake of Christ. Since only those who are “one in Faith” can be “one in Spirit”, only Orthodox Christians who have prepared may partake of the Holy Gifts.

The Orthodox Church does not speculate about the actual Eucharistic Gifts. They are to us the Body and Blood of Christ just as Christ said they were, and we do not try to make that more understandable by saying it is only a symbol. It is a true myste ry that bread and wine can become the actual Flesh and Blood of Our God and Christ, and we accept that great Mystery in faith. His Holy Body and Blood are our Sanctification and life, freedom from sin and the power of God to live true Life in Christ Jesus.