The Orthodox Church is one of several denominations that teach the Real Presence, but they don't all have the same understanding of this doctrine. What is the Orthodox understanding?

  • In the East, Eucharistic theology mirrors (Chalcedonian) Christology.
    – user46876
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 21:29

4 Answers 4


We Eastern Orthodox take Christ at His word that "if you do not eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you have no life in you." Indeed this is a hard saying---who can accept it? In my limited understanding as a babe in Orthodoxy (I entered the Orthodox Church but a year ago), we just accept it as a holy Mystery and try not to qualify it in philosophical terms. From my limited understanding and knowledge of Roman Catholic doctrine, this distinguishes our dogmatic approach towards the Holy Mysteries from theirs. However, I think the Eucharist is a mystical experience for both of us.

First and foremost, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus are not objects to be understood cataphatically or apophatically, but instead they are our food, and God Himself in us. They are primarily to be experienced (insofar as one experiences food), and only secondarily to be understood.


Real Presence in regards to Catholic and Orthodox views is, essentially, transubstantiation.

The idea behind this is that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ after it has been consecrated.

This is quit different from the Lutheran view of "Real Presence".

  • Are the Orthodox and Catholic teachings essentially the same as each other? Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 14:52
  • Per Wikipedia, yes they are. ;) If you're looking for other forms of this, check out the Wikipedia article. It tells you all the different doctrines for this (transubstantiation, consubstantiation, sacred unity, consecration, etc.)
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 14:57


Orthodox and Catholics believe that in the Eucharist the bread and wine are objectively transformed and become in a real sense the Body and Blood of Christ; and that after consecration they are no longer bread and wine: the consecrated elements retain the appearance and attributes of bread and wine but are in reality the body and blood of Christ.

  • Please try to summarize and answer it in your own words, rather than plagiarizing other sources. meta for this
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 14:32

In the Anglican Catholic Church, the change to the elements of the wafer and wine is mysterious, and no-one tries to explain what has happened. But there is no doubt that the wafer and wine in some way become the body and blood of Christ, and that Christ is indeed present during the Eucharist. Christ is also present if any surplus wafers are reserved on the altar - a light is suspended to the left of the altar to signify the presence of Christ.

This is an addendum: Anglican Catholic doctrine is also Orthodox doctrine. Our Bibles contain the same books (80). The Greek Church Fathers are accepted as authorities in the Anglican Catholic Church. The Church Fathers include: St. Clement, Origen, St. Iranaeus, St Augustine, St. Athenasius, St. Gregory, St. Cyril, Tertullian, St. Chrysostom, St. Cyprian, Theodoret. We call ourselves Catholic and Orthodox Anglicans. Our Metropolitan has said "Our doctrine is both Catholic and Orthodox." Our doctrine is so much that of the Greek Orthodox Church that I was asked to teach there.

Even earlier the Bishops of the C of E made a statement about doctrine.

II. From the books entitled "The Institution," and "A Necessary Doctrine, &c.," agreed on by the Bishops in England, A.D. 1537 and 1643: "All those things which were taught by the Apostles, and have been by a whole universal consent of the Church of Christ ever since that time taught continually, and taken always for true, ought to be received, accepted, and kept as a perfect doctrine Apostolic." III. From a Canon made by a Synod in England, A.D. 1571 Let Preachers above all things be careful that they never teach aught in a sermon to be religiously held and believed by the people, except that which is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, and which has been collected from the same doctrine by the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops. [ed: which includes the Greek Fathers]

And here you see that the Anglican Church accepts the oral traditions of the Church as do the Orthodox.

IV. From a work of Archbishop Bramhall, entitled Schism Guarded: “We do not only admit oral traditions in general, as an excellent introduction to the doctrine of saving truth, and a singular help to expound the holy Scriptures, but also particular unwritten traditions, derived from the Apostles, and delivered unto us by the manifest testimony of the primitive Church, being agreeable to the holy Scriptures. The Apostles did speak by inspiration, as well as write; and their tradition, whether by word or writing, indifferently, was the Word of God, into which Faith was resolved. .... St. Augustine setteth us down a certain rule, how to know a true genuine Apostolical tradition: 'Whatsoever,' saith he, 'the universal Church doth hold, which has not been instituted by Councils, but always received, is most rightly believed to have been delivered by Apostolical authority.” Oxford ed. p. 382.

And from our Church web site: The word "Catholic" is often understood in opposition to the word "Protestant." However, this is both a recent and uniquely western perspective. In the ancient church, catholicism was understood to be the opposite of heresy, or false belief, and even today there are millions of Christians in Greece, Russia, and other parts of the world who consider themselves neither "Catholic" nor "Protestant," but "Orthodox."

From the Constitution of the ACC "The received Tradition of the Church and its teaching as set forth by “the ancient catholic bishops and doctors”, and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, to the exclusion of all errors, ancient and modern.

  • 4
    This question is about the Orthodox not the Anglican tradition. I realize they may be similar but either you need to draw a direct connection showing how this answers the question about Orthodox belief or this answer will simply be off topic for the question in the same way that a Mormon answer would be out of place on a question about Anglican doctrine.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 9:27
  • AH, well you do not know that Anglican doctrine is Orthodox doctrine.
    – Waeshael
    Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 11:40
  • That may be, which is why I said if that is so you need to draw the connection between the two in your answer. You can use the edit function to add a relevant note connecting the dots for those who don't know. Note that comments are ephemeral and will go away, so if your answer is going to be understood to answer this question you do need to flesh it out.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 12:21
  • I have added some explanation. Hope this satisfies.
    – Waeshael
    Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 13:23

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