Eucharist is a Greek word which simply means Thanksgiving. 

This sacrament is the observance and repetition of the Lords Supper. Communion, mystery, fellowship are some of the other familiar terms used to refer this sacrificial service. It is the central act of worship in our church. All other sacraments are completed only by Holy Qurbana (Eucharist). It is both a sacrament and a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and a sacrificial intercession and propitiation. This sacrament leads one through the forgiveness of sins and remission of punishments to a growth in holiness. It is the remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. 

The Holy Eucharist is divided into three main parts:

1. Pre- Communion Service

2. Communion Service ( public Celebration)

3. Post Communion Service


  Pre- Communion Service

Entrance into the Sanctuary:

The celebrant prest enters into the sanctuary with prayers (Ps. 43:4), bows his head before the altar with penitence, and goes around kissing the corners of the altar starting from the right hand side with praise and thanksgiving. (Ps. 118:27-28)

The Vesting: After the preliminary prayers and preparation, the celebrant washes his hands and puts on his vestments (seven pieces for the priest and twelve for bishops ) The vestments are “for glory and for beauty” ( Ex. 28:2)

1. The black robe : This denotes the sinful nature 

2. Surplice : The white robe of incorruption through the purification of the holy spirit . it symbolizes purity and holiness.

3. Stole: This is to grid with strength in defeating the enemies (Ps. 18: 39-40). It is also the breast plate of righteousness ( Eph. 6:14)

4. Girdle : This is the sword for triumphant( Ps. 45:3) and the belt signifying the truth (Eph. 6:14)

5. Sleeves : two sleeves to make the hands instruments of righteousness and good works. ( Ps. 18: 34 -36) . They are armours.

6. Chasuble or Cope: This is the robe of glory and righteousness. (Ps. 132: 9-10)

7. Shoes: They symbolize the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). They are to underfoot serpents, scorpions, and all the powers of the enemy and to cast down under the foot all false pride that is exalted against God. ( 2 Cor. 10:5)

The Offering:

After the vesting, the celebrant ascends the Altar step.

Altar Step : The priest stands on the altar step to arrange the offering; and after the recitation of the creed he stands to continue the Holy Eucharist. This reminds our lord breaking the bread in the upper room.(Mk. 14:15). The step is the ladder to heaven. The Eucharist is being held there where ranking angels ascend and descend.

In arranging the offering , the priest here places the chalice and the paten; their coverings; the sponge; the spoon and such other needed things to offer the sacrifice.

The paten and the chalice: The paten for the bread and the chalice for the wine are placed on the white portion of the covering of the portable altar.

Astaric (Star): This supports the veil above the paten so that it may not touch the Holy body . It is also the symbol of the star seen over the manger at the birth of our Lord.

Spoon: The sacramental spoon is to administer the Holy body and Blood. 

Tongs (Gmourto): This small cushion is compared to the tongs with which the Seraphins placed the live coal on Isaiah’s lips (Isaiah 6:1 ff). This is used as the sacramental spoon rest, and also to wipe the lips of children after communion. 

The Sponge: Towels are generally used instead to wipe the fingers of the priests that touch the Body and Blood of our Lord. This is also for wiping the paten and the chalice. This signifies more careful handling of the bread (Body) and the wine (Blood).

The Veils: Two richly stitched veils are used to cover the paten and the chalice. The covering period is compared to the time of our Lord with the father in the Old Testament.

The Air (Shushafo): Shushafo, generally white in color, with embroidered cross and sometimes angels, etc signifies the swaddling clothes of baby Jesus in the manger, in the sepulcher, and the stone that rolled against the tomb. It is also considered as the bright cloud overshadowed at the time of transfiguration on Mount Tabore. (Mt 17:5). When the mysteries are covered with the sushafo, it is the stage of our Lord in the womb of the mother St Mary (humanity), and when it is removed it is the period of the intercession after the resurrection and before the arrival in heaven. The covering of the holy mysteries by shushafo reveals the fact that the divine mysteries are hidden from the understanding of men, and we cannot comprehend how divinity and humanity are united in Christ, as we cannot perceive how the bread and the wine become the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bread and Wine: After arranging the chalice and other things, the celebrant places the newly made special leavened in the paten. The prayer at this time resembles the versus in Acts 8:32 and Isaiah 53: 8. This bread for the holy Eucharist, is made out of the four outstanding ingredients for life: 1) Wheat Flour which stands for clay or dust or mud 2) Water 3) Yeast stands for air, and 4) Salt is for fire. 

Why Leavened bread ??

Our Lord used the regular leavened bread, i.e. “Lahamo” or “Artos”, and not “Pathiro” or “Azyme” at the last supper on the eve of Passover ( John 13:1, 29, 18:28, 19:14,31).

The tradition is that the Apostles saved a portion of the mixed flour used to make a bread for the last supper to use as Yeast in preparing the bread thereafter for the communion services and this practice has been continuing ever since. All churches followed this practice for the first ten centuries. Our church still follows the same tradition also to usher that the Lord is the life-giving leaven of the Universe.

After the bread is placed in the paten, the priest mixes water with wine in the cup pours the same in the chalice. This reminds us that the divinity and the humanity are mixed in our Lord Jesus Christ ; That our Lord mixed wine and water at the last supper; and also that blood and water came out, when pierced at His side on the cross to wash away the sins of all creation.

In the Old Testament times, lambs, calves, doves and pigeons were offered for sacrifice. In the New Testament, instead, only wheat flour and grape wine have been used. People used to bring the bread and wine to the church to offer. For practical purposes, this custom has been changed by making bread at the church and arranging wine there for which certain amount is being paid to the priest for offering the sacrifices.

Bread is a sign of Life. When we offer bread, we offer our life our own lives to God.

Preparation of the Altar:

Here the priest first kneels down before the altar and says a prayer of penitence and self-offering inaudibly. There after he kisses the altar, ascends the altar step and takes the covers of the mysteries with special prayers. Then follows the intercession with the paten and the chalice held I hands crossed against each other. Here, after general prayer, intercession of St Mary and the saints are asked and a special prayer for the sick, for the penitents, for the departed and for the relatives of the celebrant are offered. The names of the living and the dead to be remembered for the days qurbana must be submitted to the priest before the preparatory service of intercession. After this the priest places the Mysteries on the altar, and covers it with the spreaded shushafo.

The Censing:

Then follows incense intercessions, The priest places the incense in the censer with prayers and continues the intercessions for the living and the departed.

The Censer: In Old Testament times, perfume was made out of sweet spices ( Ex. 30:34-48). Sweet incense was burnt every morning at that time. (Ex. 30:7; Num 16:6) incense was an inevitable item in the temple. (Heb 9:4; Rev. 8:3-5). The general assumption is that as the smoke goes up, prayer also goes up with it to heaven. (Ps 141:2)

In the early century, during the persecution period, incense was used in the hiding caves for good smell around. All churches used incense for Eucharist and special services until 6th century.

The censer stands for the church. Another interpretation is that the censer is the blessed virgin mother, and the inside is the blessed divine child. The bottom part of the censer is interpreted as the world and the upper part as the heaven. The first chain stands for the father , second and third for the divine-human son, and the fourth for the Holy Spirit . The four chains together form the Trinitarian unity. The 72 links that make the chains show the 72 evangelists and the 12 bells stand for the 12 apostles. Then the charcoal stands for the sinful people and the fire stands for God. By the presence of God, the sinner is changed in to fire. Incense stands for good deeds.

The censer, which with the incense placed there in, is also symbolical of the gifts offered by the wise men to the infant Jesus…, frankincense and myrrh.

The priest, after the incense intercessions, concludes this inaudible service that symbolizes the offering of Aaron and his sons mentioned in the written law (Lev. 8:16) with Trisagion, Lords prayer and the Nicene Creed.

Public Celebration

The public celebration of the Holy Communion Service begins by remembering both the birth and baptism of our Lord through which God manifested Himself to the world. The priest burns incense and censes the Table of Life. The veil is drawn. The bells are rung. The deacons (altar boys) representing the angels holding the sacramental fans representing the six – winged seraphim, proclaiming, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy” chant with the whole congregation. The priest goes around the altar censing.

The unveiling of the curtain at the beginning of the public celebration signifies the revelation of our Lord through incarnation. At this time sanctuary is the manger; altar is the lap of Mother St. Mary; servers are shepherds; and the congregation represents the whole world.

Another interpretation is that the altar is then the manger, the priest censes and kisses the corners of the altar going around in procession is the coming of the shepherds and the wise men; the deacon (altar server) going in front with a lighted candle is John the Baptist, the forerunner to our Lord; and the whole congregation singing the hymn represents the angels.

The Trisagion:

The Trisagion (Holy art thou O God!) that follows is addressed to our Lord , not to the Trinity.

The tradition is that at the time of the burial of our Lord in the newly erected sepulcher, angels and arch – angels descended from heaven and held the body of the Christ, our Lord one group after another, praising the Lord saying , “Holy art thou, o God ; Hole art thou O Almighty; holy art thou Immortal;” when Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and all other followers witnessing the solemn scene , praised along with the angels, saying, “Crucified for us have mercy upon us.” This particular event is recorded and repeated at the very beginning of the holy communion service, and the whole congregation makes the sign of the cross when it recites the prayer. “Crucified for us have mercy upon us.”

Epistles and Gospel Reading:

Then follows the reading from the Epistles and Gospel where the teaching anf the healing ministry of our Lord is remembered. Reading from the Acts of the Apostles while standing on the right side (north) of the sanctuary, represents, the mission to the Jews and from the Pauline Epistles standing on the left side (south ) reminds us the mission to the gentiles. The hymn before the Pauline Epistle refers to the Galatians 1:8 ff.

Lectern (Reading Desk):

It is placed at the center to read the days lessons from the Word of Life, the Gospel. This means that the words and deeds of the Lord are continuing all the time, and the Lord is always with us. It also tells us that the Gospel is for all the Jews and the Gentiles alike.

The need for a believing attitude of the congregation is emphasized here in the words of the priest and the response of the congregation before the Gospel reading. The hymn that follows emphasizes the urgency for doing valiant work in the vine yard of the Lord as a result of listening to the Gospel. (Lk. 12:37).

Absolution and Prayers and the Blessing of the Censer :

After the Gospel reading is the special prayers of absolution for the living and the departed along with offering of incense. Then follows the blessing of the censer which is really the adoration of the Trinity.

The blessings of the censer stand for service. The altar the divine elements and the people who are present are here honored with the incense. The congregation accepts this by signing the cross and bowing the heads. We believe that as the incense from the censer is going upward, our petitions shall be well – pleasing to God like fragrant incense.

The Creed:

Then the Creed is said emphasizing the need for faith when we celebrate Holy Communion. The creed contains the following fundamental faith and doctrines of the Church:

Faith in one, true, Almighty God. 
Faith in the Trinity Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Faith in the incarnation of our Lord : his birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, second coming and judgment; 
Faith in the Holy Spirit. 
Faith in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 
Faith in the absolution. 
Faith in the baptism and all other sacraments. 
Faith in the communion with and intercession of the saints. 
Faith in the resurrection of the departed; and 
Faith in the eternal life of the coming world. 
(N.B.: As a matter of principle, a service or a prayer is incomplete without the recitation of the creed).

The deacon coming all the way down to the other side of the church censing the congregation at the time of the recital of the creed is an old custom to point out the end of the “service for the catechumens” thereby announcing for their departure , thus preparing the rest of the service entirely for the actual members of the church. Our Lord only selected just the twelve apostles to the Upper Chamber. Thus the whole congregation is being prepared for the sacrificial feast.

( This also reminds us of the coming down of our Lord from heaven to the Earth to save the human kind from the sin.)

Washing of Hands:

During this time , as a symbol of the washing of the feet of the disciples in the Upper room, the priest washes his hands as a final touch of cleansing before the days Holy Eucharist. After this , the priest turns towards the congregation and asks the people to pray for him to accept his oblation. Thereafter he kneels down and prays for him and for the congregation, living and the dead, especially for those whose names are given to be remembered.

Anaphora of the Faithful:

The service for the faithful begins hereafter. The priest ascends the altar-step, the stepping ladder to heaven (the sacrifice is being done in heaven where angels ascend and descend. ) and says special prayers, that follows the kiss of peace.

Kiss of Peace:

In the Holy Communion service, there are six special occasions when the priest turns to the congregation and wishes peace to the people by saying, “ Peace be to you all”. This ceremony corresponds to the sum and substance of the themes explained in verses Mt. 5:24, Jn. 13:34; 14:27; and 2 Cori. 3:12. The priest first kisses the altar and the chain of the censer. Then the deacon kisses the hand of the priest, the altar at both sides of the priest and passes the peace to everybody in the sanctuary and to the congregation with both hands. The whole congregation joins in this action of “Kiss of Peace” by passing one after another. Thus the peace that comes from God through the priest is distributed. The congregation in response to the announcement of the deacon bows down their heads to receive the blessings of God.

Celebration of the Shushafo:

The next ceremony is the celebration of the anaphora veil ( Shushafo). It signifies the revelation of the Lord as the son of God at the time of his public ministry. As the Holy Spirit descends upon our Lord, the same Holy Spirit comes down on the Holy Mysteries at this time when the priest lifts and waves the Shushafo over the holy mysteries.

The Apostolic Benediction ( 2 Corinthians. 13:14) that follows reminds the voice from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration, and also at the river Jordan ( Mt. 3: 16-17)

Lifting up of Prayers:

When the priest lifts up his hands for prayers, he is offering the needs of the congregation and requesting for God’s grace to be handed down. Here he is also identifying himself with the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, where His hands were outstretched. Now the heaven is opened and is about time for our Lord to come down upon the Holy Mysteries when the priest asks the congregation to lift up their hearts to heaven. This reminds the occasion of the blessing of the bread by our Lord. (Mt. 14:19; Mk. 6:14; Luke. 9:16) We see our Lord on the right hand of the father when we raise up our eyes to heaven (Acts 7: 55 -56).

The waving of hands over the bread and the wine signifies the coming down of the Holy Spirit in the for of a dove.(Lk. 3:22). Thus the priest and the congregation along with the angels praise and worship the Lord at the same time.