Eucharist

This essay has a total of 762 words and 4 pages.


Eucharist





The reconciliation of the physical world and faith has always been difficult, especially
in regards to the Eucharist and accepting bread and wine to actually be the body and blood
of Christ. Father Sergius Belgakov's The Holy Grail and the Eucharist examines the most
important contribution to Eucharistic Theology by an Orthodox theologian. He insists on a
"properly Christological" and Gospel-based interpretation of the sacrament, while
acknowledging Thomas Aquinas' interpretations as well as the Aristotelian differentiation
between substance and accident.

Fr. Sergius Belgakov states that according to Catholic theology, the Eucharist consists of
a "supernatural union" of the substance of Christ's body and blood, deprived of their
accidents, with the accidents of the bread and wine, which have been deprived of their
substance. In this way the body and blood are offered under the appearance of bread and
wine. In regards to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Belgakov recognizes the
contradiction between the idea of the Lord's ascension and the "Lord Himself mysteriously
return[ing] to the earth and abid[ing] in the host." (page 81) In opposition, he asks
that one "return[s] to the theology of the fathers, to the patristic doctrine" and to not
just restate but completely the change the question being asked about the presence of
Christ and the substance of Christ's body and blood.

Belgakov goes on to examine the understanding of the heavenly food in connection with
earthly food. When we eat, food, a thing of the external world becomes human body blood;
thus, a natural transubstantiation occurs. In itself the food sustains mortal life, but
does not assure immortality. Christ's true humanity and incarnation required that he too
ate and therefore bread became "His sacred body, without losing its breadness but
precisely by virtue of the latter." (page 87) The Lord's body grew and lived, obeying
the universal law of the human body, dependant on nourishment; that is, the continuous
transmutation of material of the world into the human body. Belgakov touches on St.
Gregory of Nyssa and St. John of Damascus, who compared the natural transmutation of food
when it is eaten with the Eucharistic transmutation at the Last Supper, which the Lord
effected independently. At this point, God's omnipotence causes the bread and wine that
were not eaten by Christ and consequently not received into His body and blood to be
received and consecrated.

The views in opposition to Roman Catholic beliefs presented in The Holy Grail and the
Eucharist forces one to re-examine their beliefs and to fully understand their actions in
partaking in the sacrament of the Eucharist. While the reading merely outlined the major
points of the sacrament, Belgakov's book is very specific in its analysis of not only the
meaning of the sacrament in the Orthodox tradition, but the importance of historical
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