November 23, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Since so far, my beloved brethren, we have analyzed Baptism and Chrismation, today we must emphasize a few points about the great mystery of the Divine Eucharist. Of course, for this mystery we highlighted what was needed in last year's liturgical sermons. But now we must emphasize some points that have to do with the spiritual life and the Divine Eucharist.

Man is first born, then he must have movement and energy in him and of course in order to live he needs to be nourished. If someone after his birth has no energy and does not eat, there will come a time when he will die. The same is true of spiritual birth. First one is reborn from the spiritual womb of the Church which is the Font, then one is anointed with Holy Chrismation and acquires movement, and then one comes to Divine Communion and communes of the Body and Blood of Christ to live.

This combination between Baptism, Chrismation and Divine Communion was evident in the early centuries of the Church, when Baptism took place during the Divine Liturgy, during which they immediately received the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. Today the Divine Communion, since the mystery of Baptism takes place outside the Divine Liturgy, is received in the first Divine Liturgy. However, we are baptized and chrismated in order to commune of the Immaculate Mystery. There is no spiritual life without Divine Communion, without Christ.

The Divine Liturgy is the most supernatural mystery, the center of the spiritual life, the purpose of all mysteries, the completion of our path to God. Many Christians who are baptized and chrismated, consider themselves Christians, but do not commune. It is as if a dinner is being prepared and while we are invited to it we do not come or we come to the dinner and we do not eat from what was prepared.

The partaking of the Honorable Gifts, however, is not done unconditionally, that is, the necessary preconditions are needed. One precondition is to have received Orthodox baptism. If I have been baptized with the method of another denomination, as Latins and Protestants do, and belong to another religious denomination, I cannot commune. The gift of Christ must also be active in his heart, that is, he must have repentance, awareness of his condition, and of course repentance must be active and affirmed by a spiritual father. And this is necessary, because Divine Communion acts according to the state of every Christian. Of course, Divine Communion is medicine, but medicines also act and are taken according to each occasion. They can help in the treatment of man, when taken with the necessary doses and as long as the body endures, the stomach, while when not taken with these conditions, then they create side effects. The same is true of Divine Communion.

We must commune with the permission of our spiritual father. But still, before Divine Communion we should read the Service of the Divine Eucharist in order to strengthen our spiritual organism that we may withstand the reception of this solid spiritual food, but even after Divine Communion we should read the special service that has been written by holy people, so that with our contemplation and repentance the Body and Blood of Christ may act within us.

We must remember the word of Christ: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 5:53). Real life is given by Christ who is the true life of men. Spiritual death reigns outside of Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.