The Holy Mystery of the Eucharist

Unless you eat the body of the Son of man and drink his blood,
don't you have life in you
Century 6, 53

What Does Eucharist Mean?

The Šarakan for clothing the Patarag celebrant of Xač'atur wardapet Taronec'i (XIII c.), which is an integral part of today's Patarag of the Armenian Church, describes it in an excellent way in the following words: “O deep mystery, incomprehensible , beginningless...". So it is, as the Armenians say, a Xorhurd (Greek secret, Greek mystery), an incomprehensible gift from the Three-One God to man. It is the center of church worship and thus the center, source and climax of human life in faith in Christ. Surb Patarag is the church service during which the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist takes place. It is the mystery in which believers enter into fellowship with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ through the bread and wine, or participate in the body and blood of Christ.

If Holy Baptism is the gateway to the gifts of the Kingdom of God and thus the first mystery for every Christian, then the Holy Eucharist is the mystery in which Christians communion with their Redeemer, Jesus Christ, through Holy Communion unite After all, it is the greatest mystery of the Church. In all mysteries, the invisible divine gifts are poured out on the believer through visible form. However, in all mysteries, except for the Holy Eucharist, the visible matter of the mystery (in Baptism - water, in Confirmation - St. Myro) remains unchanged. In the Holy Eucharist, on the other hand, the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Only after Holy Communion has been received by the faithful in faith does it have an invisible effect on the recipient.

Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

What Does Eucharist Mean?

The Šarakan for clothing the Patarag celebrant of Xač'atur wardapet Taronec'i (XIII c.), which is an integral part of today's Patarag of the Armenian Church, describes it in an excellent way in the following words: “O deep mystery, incomprehensible , beginningless...". So it is, as the Armenians say, a Xorhurd (Greek secret, Greek mystery), an incomprehensible gift from the Three-One God to man. It is the center of church worship and thus the center, source and climax of human life in faith in Christ. Surb Patarag is the church service during which the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist takes place. It is the mystery in which believers enter into fellowship with the true body and blood of Jesus Christ through the bread and wine, or participate in the body and blood of Christ.

If Holy Baptism is the gateway to the gifts of the Kingdom of God and thus the first mystery for every Christian, then the Holy Eucharist is the mystery in which Christians communion with their Redeemer, Jesus Christ, through Holy Communion unite After all, it is the greatest mystery of the Church. In all mysteries, the invisible divine gifts are poured out on the believer through visible form. However, in all mysteries, except for the Holy Eucharist, the visible matter of the mystery (in Baptism - water, in Confirmation - St. Myro) remains unchanged. In the Holy Eucharist, on the other hand, the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Only after Holy Communion has been received by the faithful in faith does it have an invisible effect on the recipient.

Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

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Preparing to receive communion

Preparation to receive the Holy Gifts is a necessity that is often forgotten. Of course, the believer who goes to church should dress appropriately and adhere to certain rules of conduct, but all this is only the result of actual preparation. It consists, in accordance with the words of St. Paul the Apostle, in examining ourselves: “Everyone should examine himself: only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:28), says the Holy Apostle.

  • Only Christians baptized in the Armenian Apostolic Church and Christians from sister churches with whom there is a communion community are allowed to take communion.

  • Enter to receive the gifts with right faith and after thorough self-examination.

  • One should show remorse for the transgressions committed and be willing to turn back. 

  • Confessions should be made on the day of communion. During confession we kneel before the priest and read the general prayer of confession. We are only allowed to take communion after the minister has dismissed our sins.

  • In general, one prepares to receive Communion through prayer, fasting, reading the Scriptures and doing good deeds. To receive the gifts one comes sober (already from the evening before).

  • There are exceptions for pregnant women, the sick (or people who take medication) and children. You don't necessarily have to be sober. 

  • The seriously ill can also receive communion at home, although they are exempt from the rule of fasting. 

  • 40 days after giving birth, women do not receive communion. Only after the 40th day of ministry for the newborn and the mother may the woman take communion.

  • As we approach the offerings, we make a sign of the cross and say: Մեղայ Աստուծոյ / Megha Astutso (poor. I have sinned before God). The women should enter with their heads covered, the men - without head coverings.

Short introduction

Anyone who is baptized in a Christian church but does not participate in its Eucharistic life can no longer be called a member of the church. This should make it clear that taking part in Holy Communion is one of the necessary basic duties of every individual Christian. The Redeemer Himself tells us: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the body of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have not life in you. Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:53-54). Just as Holy Baptism is the gateway to God's kingdom of grace, so is the Holy Eucharist the gateway to resurrection. Just as man is to be born again through water and the Spirit for a new spiritual life (Jn 3, 5), so that he can enter the kingdom of grace of Christ, i.e. the church, so can the baptized Christian only then be a part of the become church when he unites with her. But this can only happen if he unites himself with the head of the church, that is, with Jesus Christ himself. It is precisely this union that takes place during the Holy Eucharist. It is true that the Church believes that those who die shortly after their baptism and have not previously received Communion become worthy of the kingdom of God because of their purity (Matthew 11:14), but those who are alive after their baptism and yet do not participate in the Eucharistic life of the Church are certainly not worthy of salvation (Jn 6:53).

Saint Paul the Apostle relates: “The night the Lord Jesus was delivered, he took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and said, This is my body for you. Do this in memory of me! Likewise, after supper he took the cup and said, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this whenever you drink from it, in remembrance of me!" (1 Cor 11:23-25) and adds: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26) and wants to point out that these holy gifts were given for the whole world, for all mankind and not only for the apostles. And the Holy Apostles themselves serve as an example that this memory of Christ is a necessity not only for them but for all believers (Acts 2:42. 46; 1 Cor 10:17; 1 Cor 11:20).

The Armenian Apostolic Church in its catechism points out that the faithful should participate in the Holy Eucharist as often as possible. Everyone should take communion at least during the five major religious festivals of the Armenian Church, the so-called Taghavars (Birth and Baptism of Christ, Resurrection of Christ, Transfiguration of Christ, Assumption of Mary, Elevation of the Holy Cross). If, for acceptable reasons, the believer cannot do this either, he should receive Holy Communion at least once a year.


Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

Today the Armenian Church uses only the Eucharistic form attributed to Saint Athanasius. Our oldest testimony to the use of the Athanasius liturgy in the southern provinces of Armenia is the 10th-century commentary on the liturgy of Xosrov Anjewac'i. It can be assumed that the liturgy attributed to St. Athanasius did not originate just before the 10th century, but that its roots could possibly go back to the 6th century at the earliest, which at least an examination of the vocabulary seems to suggest. In any case, the Athanasius liturgy replaced a much older local liturgy in the course of the early Middle Ages.

This older liturgy, attested to in the fifth century and attributed to Grigor Lusaworiç' in Armenian tradition, is in fact the first and most important Armenian translation of St. Basil's Anaphora Basil's anaphora, which is known to have been indicated by a liturgical fragment in P'avstos (= Buzandaran Patmut'iwnk' V, 28) is occupied.

It is very likely that the Armenian Church only actually used these two Eucharistic forms, namely the Basil Anaphora and the Athanasius Liturgy. The other liturgies, such as the form ascribed to Patriarch Sahak, most likely only arose in this region during the time of the Kingdom of Cilicia, due to the more intensive contacts of the Armenians with the Byzantine Church during the high Middle Ages, without the Sahak liturgy ever changing should really have prevailed.


Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

The Holy Mystery of the Eucharist has been identified by various names:

  • Eucharist (εὐχαριστία) – i.e. thanksgiving, because at the foundation of this mystery Jesus Christ took the bread, and after giving thanks (εὐχαριςτήσας), brought the bread and gave it to his disciples (1 Cor 11:24). Then he took the cup, gave thanks (εὐχαριςτήσας) and gave it to the disciples;
  • Lord's Supper (1 Cor 10:17. 21) because it was donated to the last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples before the crucifixion;
  • Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:20), for the apostles received the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as the food of redemption;
  • Mystery of the Altar, as the Fathers of the Church called it, because it takes place on the Holy Altar;
  • men's bread, divine bread, heavenly bread and Chalice of Awe, because the Eucharist is made with bread and wine;
  • cup of blessing (1 Cor 10:16), for it is a blessing to those who receive it by faith;
  • body and blood of Christ, for under the form of bread and wine the true body and blood of Jesus Christ are presented.
  • communion, for in receiving this mystery we are united to our Lord Jesus Christ and to all other members of Christ's Church.

Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

The Eucharistic sacrificial bread (Arm. Nschcharh, gr. Prosphora), will be prepared by the celebrating priest before the Holy Liturgy. The baking of the sacrificial bread is accompanied by psalms and special prayers. In contrast to the Eastern Churches, only pure flour and water are used to bake the sacrificial bread. So the dough is not acidified. This is not a sign of Monophysitism, as the Eastern Churches often regard it, but an imitation of what happened at the Last Supper. The Gospels record that this last supper was just a Passover meal (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-8), which the Jews celebrated with unleavened bread. So Jesus also used unleavened bread, which is why the Armenian Apostolic Church also uses unleavened bread during the Holy Liturgy. In the upper surface of the sacrificial bread, which has a round shape, a stamp is pressed, the content of which varies.

The Eucharistic Wine is to be prepared from pure grapes. No ingredients should be mixed in. A distinctive element of the Armenian Church is that it refrains from adding water to the wine of the Holy Eucharist. The churches, which mix water (lukewarm) with wine, want to commemorate the water from the ribs of Christ at his death on the cross (Jn 19, 34). However, the Armenian Church points out that during the institution of the Mystery, Jesus Christ only gave his disciples bread and wine.


Out of: Sardaryan, D., Surb Patarag – The Holy Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. An Introduction, Lit Verlag, 2017

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