October 13th, 2006


One Aspect of Holy Communion

To know God, one must love God.  One loves God, of course, by obeying God.  If someone were to ask me, "Do you know Jesus?", I'd hesitate to give an absolute affirmation, for I must obey him to love him and I must love him to know him. St. Paul considers all the world as rubbish in light of  "the knowledge of Jesus Christ"- not necessarily the personal knowing of Christ.  The former is given to us in our baptism, the latter in our obedience.

But the Gospel proclaims that God is benevolently condescending to us in the midst of our frightful failure to obey.  Any obedience we offer to him is, paradoxically, a gift.  In the Eucharist God gives us, in his grace, the obedience to his Son's command to  "Take and eat".  Holy Communion is the knowing of God in that it is obedience to God.  And this obedience is only offered as someone else's obedience, namely Christ's.

Thus the Eucharist is the knowing of God in that it is obedience to His son's command, and as it is an obedience that comes solely by the Son and through the Son, it is therefore an icon of all obedience: an actively passive reception of grace. 

Schmemann's Words

The doctrine of the sacraments is alien to the Orthodox because in the Orthodox ecclesial experience and tradition a sacrament is understood primarily as a revelation of the genuine nature of creation, of the world, which, however much it has fallen as “this world,” will remain God’s world, awaiting salvation, redemption, healing and transfiguration in a new earth and a new heaven. In other words, in the Orthodox experience a sacrament is primarily a revelation of the sacramentality of creation itself, for the world was created and given to man for conversion of creaturely life into participation in divine life. If in baptism water can become a “laver of regeneration,” if our earthly food – bread and wine – can become the body and blood of Christ, if with oil we are granted the anointment of the Holy Spirit, if, to put it briefly, everything in the world can be identified, manifested and understood as a gift of God and participation in the new life, it is because all of creation was originally summoned and destined for the fulfillment of the divine economy – “Then God will be all in all.”  (From The Eucharist, emphasis mine)

The Scrivener writes with affection about these words and others here.