Holy Eucharist - Kiddus Qurban #
The Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie X Holy Communion - Kiddus Qurban
The Holy Eucharist/Qiddasie - Holy Communion/Kiddus Qurban is the most sublime Mystery - Sacrament of our Church, the Mystery of Mysteries, The Sacrament of Sacraments. It is the eternal Sacrament whose value is incomprehensible and incalculable, and whose position in the worship of our Church is unique. The Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie is the centre of the Church’s life. It is the completion of all of the Church’s Mysteries - Sacraments, the source and the goal of all of the Church’s doctrines and institutions.
In every other Mystery - Sacrament we invoke Almighty God’s blessings on some material element and ask that it be sanctified. This element could be water, oil, etc. Only in The Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie do we invoke God’s blessing upon the material elements of bread and wine and ask God the Holy Spirit not only to sanctify them, but also to change them; to change what the bread and the wine are by nature into the very Body and Blood of Him Who died and rose again, Jesus Christ the Lord!
As a result, when we receive Holy Communion - Kiddus Qurban, we receive the Risen Lord Jesus Himself. So great is this Mystery that we are left without any possible response which could express what Almighty God has done for us. Therefore we offer the only response we can, “Thank you.” As a word, Eucharist comes from the ancient Greek word which means “Thanksgiving.”
As well as an act of “Thanksgiving,” the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie is a Sacrifice! This can be seen from the text of the Liturgy: “O Lord our God, Who for Thy love toward mankind which is inexpressible, did send Thine Only-begotten Son into the world to bring back unto Thee the lost sheep; we beseech Thee, our Lord, not to send us back when we offer unto Thee this awesome Oblation (Sacrifice) which is spotless.” In other words, at the Holy Eucharist the sacrifice offered is Christ Himself. Christ is also the one who performs the act of offering. He is both Victim and Priest, both offering and offerer.
The Eucharist - Qiddasie is not a bare commemoration nor an imaginary representation of Christ’s Jesus sacrifice on The Cross, but a True Sacrifice itself, yet on the other hand it is not a new sacrifice, nor a repetition of the sacrifice on Golgotha, since the Lamb was sacrificed “once only, for all time.” The events of Christ’s sacrifice, the Incarnation, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, His Resurrection and Ascension are not repeated in the Eucharist Sacrifice - Qiddasie, but they are made present in time and space.
This most Divine Mystery - Sacrament was instituted by the Lord Jesus Himself at the “Last Supper”, on the night of Holy Thursday, just before He was betrayed and then given over to death upon The Cross. The Sacred Scripture relates that during this meal the Lord Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His Disciples and said, “Take, eat, this is My body which is broken on your behalf for the remission of sins.” Then He took the cup with wine in it, gave thanks to the Heavenly Father, and gave to His disciples, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Interestingly the Scriptural text tells us the Last Supper occurred in the “upper room”. Most of the distance between Heaven and earth, in terms of getting us to Heaven, is covered by Jesus Himself. He does however want us to cover a very small proportion of this distance, to rise above the world and its pleasures, above materialism etc.
It is clear that the Lord Jesus wanted the Mystery - Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie to continue for subsequent centuries, until He should come again, for, after He instituted this Mystery - Sacrament on Holy Thursday, He added the exhortation to His Disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Preserve this Mystery as a continuous and eternal institution for your sanctification and salvation. The Holy Apostles, and those that followed them, obeyed the Lord Jesus in this, and have continued this Mystery - Sacrament up till our times.
In the early days of The Church, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie was connected with a common meal, the “agapa.” This meal took place every evening and at its close the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie was celebrated. Prayers and benedictions were said, hymns were chanted and sermons delivered. The connection of the common meal - “agapa” with the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie however gave rise to abuses, which led, somewhat late in the Apostolic age, to the gradual separation of the two rites. The Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie was performed in the morning, and the common shared meal “agapa” in the evening. In the early years the celebration of the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie was the task of the Holy Apostles. But as Christians increased in number and as time passed, the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie became the task of Priests and Bishops, whom the Holy Apostles either Ordained or Consecrated, and to whom they transmitted the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Since then the prayers, supplications and hymns used in the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie began to be written down in books often known as a Missal, Ordo Communis - Mashafa Qiddasie.
The Good News of the Gospel, (the Lord Jesus Christ), came to Ethiopia when Queen Candace’s Eunuch received Instruction in the Christian Faith and was Baptized by Philip, some 1,976 years ago. Since the Consecration of St. Frumentius, also know as Abba Salama, by St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, (as the 1st Christian Bishop of Ethiopia, circa 332 A.D.) the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie has been celebrated in Ethiopia. St. Frumentius - Abba Salama brought back from Alexandria the Liturgical Books given to him by St. Athanasius, i.e., The Missal - Mashafa Qiddasie, which contains all that is read or recited in the Offering of the Holy Sacrifice, which includes the Fourteen Anaphora’s - Canons or Eucharistic Prayers. Over the past sixteen hundred plus years the text used in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist - Qiddasie has seen slight additions and or modifications. It is quite certain, however, that the Anaphora’s - Eucharistic Prayers has remained as they were received.
The Sacred Scriptures supports what we Orthodox Tewahedo Christians believe about the Holy Eucharist/Holy Communion - Qiddasie/Qurban. The Holy Bible reports the Lord Jesus saying of the bread, “this is My body”, and of the wine, “this is My blood.” In the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 6, we learn that the Lord Jesus exhorts the Jews to believe in Him. The Jews, in turn, ask for proof. The response of the Lord is that He is the bread from Heaven, and He tells them that if they eat of this new bread they will never die. The Lord Jesus then went on to explain that this new bread is His flesh!. The Jews clearly understood what the Lord Jesus had said, for immediately they questioned, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” If Jesus' words were only symbolic, He could have at that point explained this to them. He, instead, confirms that they had understood correctly, and tells them: “…. unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”. Those that heard these words understood completely, and St. John reports that many of the Lord Jesus' followers found these teachings so shocking that they no longer followed Him. If the Lord Jesus had been speaking only symbolically, He could have brought back those that left by explaining what He really meant. Instead, in answering those that doubt, the Lord said, “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where He was before?” In other words, why is it so hard to accept that bead and wine can become His body and blood, when, as God, Jesus can do anything, including ascending to where He was before, in Heaven.
There seems to be some difference in understanding between the way Orthodox Christians and the Roman Catholic Church understand the “moment of consecration”- at what moment the Mystery occurs. According to medieval Latin theology, the “moment” is the moment the Bishop or Priest reads the Words of Institution- “This is My Body…This is My Blood…”. According to Orthodox theology, there is no “one moment” of consecration, rather the entire Eucharistic prayer - Thanksgiving, Anamnesis, Epiclesis, they all form and integral part of the one act of Consecration. While Orthodoxy has always insisted on the reality of the change, the bread and the wine become in very truth the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus, it has never however attempted to explain the manner of the change. It is true that sometimes Orthodox theologians will make use of what came out of Latin scholasticism, the term “transubstantiation” (in Greek μετουσίωσης). Orthodox however generally emphasize that the manner of change is a mystery and must always remain incomprehensible. St John of Damascus put it as follows: “If you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it is through the Holy Spirit…. We know nothing more than this, that the word of God is true, active, and omnipotent, but in its manner of operation unsearchable.”