“So be diligent to use one Eucharist for there is [only] one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup for unity in his blood. There is one altar as there is one bishop together with his presbyters, and deacons, my fellow servants. This is so that whatever you do, you may do in accord with God.” (Ignatius Of Antioch & Polycarp Of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary, Kindle Loc. 2306-8)
The oneness of the Church, our unity is in the one Lord Jesus Christ which we experience through the one altar, one Communion, one chalice, and one bishop. The oneness of the Church is not individualism, but a communally shared unity. Fr. Michael Plekon writes about Russian Orthodox theologian Nicholas Afanasiev’s zeal for the communal nature of the church in which community and Communion share the same root words.
“It is not just an American phenomenon but a much more basic social, political, and psychological development of our time, the rise of the self over against alienated and oppressing institutions and traditions. Afanasiev is volatile in his insistence that the tragedy is individualization, the Eucharist and hence the Church being domesticated into private devotional acts and fulfillment of obligatory rituals, the triumph of self both among the faithful and the clergy, rather than the tumultuous, transforming power of Christ, breaking into this world and our hearts with his Kingdom.
‘We profess faith in ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church…We cannot even explain why we profess our faith in the Church. Each one remains a separate atom in relation to all the others whom we do not even know. Often, we do not know those with whom we approach the chalice. We enter the church building for ourselves alone, and not in order to ‘gather together as a church’. The neurological center of individualism lies in the Eucharist. The foundational principle of ‘always all and always together’ manifests itself most fully in the Eucharistic gathering, which is the gathering of all for one and the same thing (epi to auto). Everyone ministers to God at the Eucharist. Neither separate groups not separate members celebrate: it is the Church that celebrates.’” (in Living Icons: Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church, pg. 171)