Eucharist (Holy Communion)
The Holy Eucharist is the center of the spiritual life in the Orthodox Church. The term "eucharist" comes from the Greek word meaning to give thanks. Other names for the Eucharist are "Holy Communion", "Body and Blood of Christ", "Holy Mysteries", and "Holy Gifts".

The Orthodox Church affirms that the bread and wine used in the Eucharistic celebration become the true Body and Blood of Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine (not merely symbols); however, it does not explicitly define how the bread and wine are transformed. Hence, the Orthodox Church avoids the use of the term "transubstantiation", instead using the simpler term "change". This is also why the Eucharist is sometimes known as the "Holy Mysteries".

Leavened bread and alcoholic wine are used in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Western church began to use unleavened bread in the 8th century. The bread used in the Liturgy is cut out from a larger loaf known as the prosphora, and is known as the "Lamb". It is placed on the diskos (sometimes referred to as a paten). The priest reads the prayers of anamnnesis (commemoration), "Take, eat, this is my Body which is broken for you for the remission of sins" and "Drink of it, all of you, this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins". Afterwards, in the prayers of the epiclesis, the priest calls upon God to sanctify the Gifts.

Communion is distributed under both species of bread and wine. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:56). The Body and Blood are both placed in the chalice, and distributed via a spoon. In the early church, the Body of Christ would be placed in the hand of the communicant, and he would then drink the Precious Blood from the chalice. The spoon was introduced because there were many cases of abuse of the Holy Gifts.

Children receive Communion starting at the time of Baptism; there is no "first Communion" ceremony, as in Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. For Christ Himself said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14).
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