BUDAPEST – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was invited by Pope Frances of Rome to speak at the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, where they also had a chance to meet.
Patriarch Bartholomew in his homily said among other things that “the Eucharist forms the kernel of ecclesial life, it is the ‘image of the whole Economy of our Lord’ (Nicholas Kabasilas). The Greek word for this sacrament, ‘ευχαριστία’, means ’thanks’. It reminds us that our lives and the entirety of creation are not our property, but rather they are a precious gift of God the Creator. The proper response for receiving this gift is gratitude and doxology.
The Patriarch declared that, “’our service to God is fundamentally doxological in nature and essentially Eucharistic in character,’” as the recently published Document, For The Life Of The World, Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church, correctly notes (§ 1). The world is given to us to be transformed and returned to God in thanksgiving and with complete joy. Celebrating the Eucharist, we offer to God His own in the form of bread and wine, which represent the whole of creation. God transforms these gifts into a mystery of communion, ‘κοινωνία’, for the sake of the life of humans and the world. Everything is restored to its original being and purpose, just as the Creator intended.”
The Patriarch also said:
“What we are experiencing in Holy Communion cannot be separated from our life in the world in all its dimensions. The believers who unite themselves with the Lord in the Eucharist must live eucharistically in the world; they ought to experience their presence and actions as the ‘liturgy after the Liturgy.’
“As the Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete (June 2016) inspiredly affirmed, ‘Participation in the holy Eucharist is a source of missionary zeal for the evangelization of the world. By participating in the holy Eucharist and praying in the Sacred Synaxis for the whole world (οἰκουμένη), we are called to continue the ‘liturgy after the Liturgy’ and to offer witness concerning the truth of our faith before God and mankind, sharing God’s gifts with all mankind.
“Τhe believer, as an ecclesial being, who draws the fullness of its identity from the Eschata, cannot remain enclosed in the certainty and self-sufficiency of personal salvation. Indeed, it cannot be introverted and indifferent but rather it is creative and open, a human being with youthful breath, an existence full of joy and hope. ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.’ (Mt. 5:14-15). A closed and gloomy Christian is a lampstand placed “under the basket.”
The Patriarch emphasized that:
“Worship, spiritual and pastoral life, the synodal structure and function of the Church and Christian witness in the world are nourished from the Holy Eucharist. As Metropolitan John of Pergamon states, ‘nothing is more ‘truly catholic’ than the Holy Eucharist.’ It is there where all things end up and are achieved: Baptism, repentance (= asceticism), art, and everything else belonging to the human existence and life, as well as the life of the entire creation.’
“In the eucharistic Liturgy, the Church gathers the faithful to one body, without any distinction of race, gender, age, independent of social, cultural, or financial status, to a community of love, which depicts the eschatological Kingdom of God. Indeed, the Liturgy is not only the place of a vertical encounter of each of the believers with God but a union of them in a community, a real ‘social event.’ We cease to be individuals, becoming ‘relational beings.’ Summarizing the ecclesiology of our great predecessor, Saint John Chrysostom, the Metropolitan of Pergamon notes the following, ‘the world will not be saved through the Church’s help, but rather, through becoming Church… If Christ is the only Savior of the world, this is because He is the Church. Whoever attempts to reach Christ by bypassing the Church, wastes his time.’”