Bread and wine turning into Body and Blood

Hello everyone,

I am in need of wisdom of a certain topic that I am having trouble understanding.

Does the holy spirit come at a specific moment in the liturgy (the epiclesis) or is it a process throughout the whole liturgy (with the epiclesis being the climax) that turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Lord Jesus Christ?

I understand the point that this is a mystery and we have no explanation of how or what happens, but I am confused of which one is true. I have been taught one my whole life but have recently been introduced to the other while preparing a lesson. So I need to know which one is the right teaching of the church.

God Bless you all,

Son of Christ


  • It's the latter that is a better understanding of the mystery that takes place. And this is really the case through many of the liturgies in our Church: Baptism, Unction of the Sick, Blessing of the Water (laqqan), Crowning Ceremonies...etc. The thing is, to say that the Holy Spirit is only present at that moment, that is the epiclesis here, is incorrect. The Spirit is present from the moment Abouna opens the sanctuary curtain till he releases the sacrifice angel and lets the people go. Here the Spirit blesses every moment of the prayer and people's service in church.
  • Yes, however the change happens at the epiclesis
  • Yes, however the change happens at the epiclesis

    I would love to understand what is the point of contemplating on that specific statement?! How does it help us in any way considering the specific time the bread and wine transform into Christ?

  • edited February 2016
    A good read is "For the life of the world" by Alexander Schemann. He specifically explains why it is a process during the whole liturgy which is the process of our Ascension to Heaven (at least that's what I understood from his writing).
  • edited February 2016
    @ShareTheLord, that's a great source to read about the Euchrist. 
  • What it does help with is that after that point we worship the Body and Blood. Dogmatically and spiritually it HAS to have changed by that point, or we are idol worshippers.
  • @sirlanky1990...I am not sure what are you referring to exactly....we worship through out the liturgy before that moment anyways (that's if you really still consider time, which I am not agreeing with). I am not saying that the change doesn't happened. I am saying that it's useless to concentrate too much at that moment and forget the rest of the liturgy that get you to that moment.

    I am not sure what do you mean by "idol worshiping"...but i can go as far as saying that, if you keep concentrating on the timing of everything, in a way you are worshiping idols--the idol here is time itself.

  • If the change has not happened by the epiclesis the reason it would be idolatory would be we would be worshipping bread and wine not the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am aware that the orthodox faith doesnt go into particulars on when exactly it changes, but we can certainly know by what point it does change. We need to also stress that its not just a spiritual and symbolic change, but rather a literal change. Which I know Orthodoxy teaches also. My personal view is that it changes during the epiclesis, as that is when i treat it as the body and blood not the Bread and wine
  • edited February 2016
    Abouna when choosing among the basket of bread, once he picks one out, at the very beginning of the Liturgy, way before the epiclesis says "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." And after wrapping it, would chant "Glory and honor, honor and glory..." while the assembly worships before the "Lamb of God".

    Is this "idol worship"?
    It occurs during the first part of the Liturgy, or the Offertory. When the Priest picks the Body out of the basket of bread, he picks the best piece, or "piece with least blemish" to say it in a fancy way. He picks it, does the sign of the cross with the wine on the bread, then covers the bread (that is now the Body) with a cloth he pulled from his sleeve  and then blesses the rest of the bread with wine. 

    It IS a real change. There is no question of that. With the importance we put on the Body during the Liturgy, I would say compared to the Catholic practice it's taken extremely seriously. 

    This is where it occurs:

    I am blessed to be learning the Divine Liturgy from Fr. Mauritius, who is the priest in the video I have posted above. The whole layout of the Liturgy shows how important we take the Body and Blood and how we truly believe it transforms. I know it's hard as a westerner to have such a vague explanation, but if you want an actually point it would be the first part of the Offertory called the, "Choosing of the Lamb."

  • And it is said, to answer the initial question that the Holy Spirit descends on the Altar as soon as the Priest opens the curtain to being the Matins.
  • I'm not convinced that the change happens at the start. It's either the institution naritive or the epiclesis. However I would have to research more from the church fathers on this matter
  • This article sums this up well:

    So whilst some orthodox theologians believe that it changes at the institition or epiclesis, others say that we do not know when it changes exactly. As such, both views are acceptable in orthodox circles.

    Probably the biggest difference between the Latin church and the Orthodox Church on this is that the Latin church insists dogmatically that it changes during the institution, specifically the elevation (which was introduced to combat early Protestantism thought rejecting literal presence).
  • edited February 2016
    This is Abouna Athanasious El Makary explaining how it is a process throughout the liturgy and that there can not be a definitive moment where the bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ.   (Unfortunately this is an arabic source)

    Just to note, Abouna also references Fr. Alexander Schemann, who was mentioned by @ShareTheLord in a previous comment and also in the article (mentioned by @sirlanky1990): 

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