The Church as the Body of Christ

“We may begin by recalling what is said in the Divine Liturgy when we invoke the Holy Spirit:  we pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit ‘upon us and upon these gifts’.  It is not only the offering of bread, but also the gathered Church that has made the Body of Christ.  This effect is particularly clear again in the Liturgy of St Basil, for after the invocation of the Spirit, the prayer continues:  ‘And unite all of us who partake of the one Bread and the one Cup one to another in the communion of the Holy Spirit…’ 

Communion of the Apostles

One of the fruits of the Eucharist, then, is the oneness and interdependence of the body of the Church.  This is reflected again in St Basil’s Liturgy in the commemoration of the living, with its extraordinary breadth embracing all conditions of human life:  those who offer gifts and those for whom they are offered; hermits, ascetics, rulers, married people, infants children, old people, those who have strayed from the Church, travelers, prisoners, the sick, those condemned to labor in the mines….Being ‘united in the Holy Spirit’ means that unity with God and unity with other people are inseparable.  One cannot partake in the Body of Christ and be blind to the needs of other members of that Body.”   (Theokritoff, Elizabeth Living in God’s Creation:  Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology, pgs 199-200)

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