The Holy Offering, known in other Christian denominations as communion, mass, or Liturgy is the heart and essence of the Christian faith and worship. But before we commence and proceed further into this subject, we must understand that there is only ONE Holy Offering, and ONE Liturgy: that is the Liturgy of Christ, the only High Priest, the Holy One who sacrificed himself ONCE to his Father, a pure sacrifice of Love, Life, and Obedience.
“For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who has no daily need, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, appoints the Son, who is consecrated for evermore).” (Heb7: 26-28)
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Heb 8:1).“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14).
The sacrifice of Christ is the only true Holy Sacrifice and Offering. It is the true Liturgy. And we celebrate the same liturgy of Christ on earth in order to nourish our lives with God and to be holy by Him. We must, for this reason, live this liturgy in its fullness, because it is, at the same time, a heavenly, ecclesiastical and sincere. That is from heaven, and on earth and in our hearts.
What is Heavenly Liturgy? In the book of revelation, the apostle John opens for us the door of the Heavenly Liturgy as it is celebrated in heaven. It is on the Day of the Lord, Sunday, indicates John saying… “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” (Rev 1:10).
John is condemned to the Isle of Patamos, debarred from the Holy Liturgy, and suddenly, in a revelation, by the grace of God, heaven opens for him. It is not a physical revelation, but a spiritual and divine one, as it is mentioned in the book, to see the heavenly celebration of the Liturgy, to see Christ in his divine glory, sitting on the right hand of his Father, the victorious Christ, the living Lamb, sacrificed, surrounded by angels and saints, worshiping him, chanting the hymn of victory, day and night, saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:8).
“1After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. 2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”(Rev: 4)
1And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. (REV: 5)
This is the Heavenly Liturgy which John the disciple saw of Christ the living sacrificed lamb, which he means the crucified and the resurrected from the dead, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must know that there is no sacrifice but that of the Lord. The only true sacrifice. That is “Christ himself risen from the dead”.
The earthly Liturgy is the imitation of that in heaven, which we celebrate mysteriously, in order to fulfill it in a true and undivided realization. We human beings seek immortality, defying death, eternal peace and beatitude. By the coming of Christ the divine, certainly and truly, the eternal life has opened its wide doors for us, and humanity became able to triumph over earthly matters and proceed and reach Heavens. Eternity became approachable through Christ, and we became able to defeat death, suffering and corruption. This is what Eucharistic Liturgy means. Therefore it characterizes victory and triumph.
The book of Revelation shows us a new creation celebrating and rejoicing around the Lamb, it is the triumph of every moment over death, darkness and corruption. While in our earthly life, and until the second coming of the victorious Lord at the end of this world, we celebrate and perform the Liturgy, bringing it down from heaven in order to prepare and adapt us slowly to Christ, so he may live in us fully, so may God be in us all in all. This is the purpose of the Holy Communion that the Church celebrates every Sunday. And through this ecclesiastical sacrifice the Church is resurrected on earth in the middle of this world to make us holy and that the universe be also holy.
Since Eucharistic Sacrifice is the objective of history, the world from the beginning was anticipating that night when Eucharist was celebrated in the last mysterious supper of the Lord with his disciples. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:22-26.) God on that night, finally, and ‘in body’ declared himself to humanity. And that heavenly and divine body became to humanity food and nourishment. At that exact moment, the precise life of the Lord entered the world to fill it with grace and blessings in a continuous fashion. Therefore, the Church prays over people, things, and homes, to spell evil spirits. These hollowing prayers represent the existence of the lord amongst us in the Eucharist. They distribute from her divine spring the gift of salvation on earth until God becomes all in all.
The aim of Church Eucharist or the Ecclesiastical Eucharist is to eliminate sin from the universe, to sanctify the earth, to unite human kind, and to join every thing to praise Almighty God in preparation for the final revelation and the glorious second coming of Christ the Lord. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man see, why should we yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Rom8: 18-25).
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he comes.” (1 Corn 11:23-26).
But the liturgy that takes place in heaven which the Church celebrates on earth, cannot be complete in us unless it takes fulfillment in our hearts, and when we celebrate it on the altar of our inner self:
I. Because it is found that by eating we receive it in order to allow it to enter into our body and blood, be mixed and blended completely in us, so we may live by it. It is the beginning of our new life, which by it we become completely and wholly Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore, we must be open and approachable always, and ready to receive it like nourishment until it breed in us divine life and be converted from mere animalistic creatures to heavenly liturgical beings. We always pray and say: ”give us our daily bread”, however the true and essential bread is Christ himself, his hallowed body and blood. By this food, truthfully, we cross the threshold into Christ, increasingly, more and more, to become Christians more and more.
II. The Liturgy, necessarily requires, in order to be fulfilled and complete, a human altar not a built one. But the altar erected in the Church, which is built on the relics of the saints, means that the true altar is the martyr, a human being turned completely into Christ. Martyrs have turned into Christ to the extreme limits of the capabilities of human nature, to martyrdom, and martyrdom becomes a symbol of eucharistic sacrifice “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philp 3:10). St. Augustine of Antioch on his way to martyrdom in Rome, wrote to the Romans saying: “I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”(Chp IV). Therefore, when we are fed Christ at the Eucharist we must have the Christ intentions, which is a mentality of love and sacrifice even to death. A Christian adapts his life to that of Christ not of this world, he must grow in us the spirit of love and sacrifice such as that of Christ himself, in order to be able to complete our Christian journey of life in this world. We cannot continue living in this Christian living without that Christian spirit, the spirit of love, sacrifice and offering, the spirit of a wheat grain that dies in order to give many fruits… “For it is not my desire that you should please men, but God, even as also you do please Him. For neither shall I ever hereafter have such an opportunity of attaining to God; nor will you, if you shall now be silent, ever be entitled to the honour of a better work…I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ…I desire the drink, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.” (Chp VII).
III. Finally, we have reached the understanding that the liturgy has three faces, Heavenly, Ecclesiastically (Church), and from the heart. But they are all ONE Liturgy and we cannot disconnect them or separate them. They are the One Church, which Christ is the corner stone of this building. He is personally in heaven, and in mysteriously in the body of the Church on earth and in our hearts where there is no life without his existence. Therefore, this Liturgy of Body and Blood of Christ, is a complete, universal, and entire. A liturgy that encompass heaven and earth, Angels and human, saints and non-saints, and through this Liturgy we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through and by this Liturgy we are hollowed, and we are hollowed we will carry the word of God to others.
“Without the shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews) 9:22
This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood- shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me out of Christ; for there is no other blood shedding, which is worth a thought as atonement for sin. Am I, then, believing in him? Is the blood of his atonement truly applied to my soul? All men are on a level as to their need of him. If we were never so moral, generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of him whom God hath set forth as propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another?
Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ’s sake. Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting the one great salvation, and endeavoring to get remission without blood. My soul, sit down, and behold the justice of God as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon thy Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear feet of him whose blood has made atonement for thee.
It is in vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences for comfort: this is a habit, which we learned in the Egypt of our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. “The blood is the life thereof,” says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.
“Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Saviour’s precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God.”