Orthodox and the Real Presence

If I’m correct, the Catholic Church recognizes the apostolic succession of the Orthodox Churches, and Catholics may receive the sacraments from the Orthodox under certain conditions, usually where no Catholic service is available (tough I stand to be corrected on this). I’m intending to visit Greece soon and will be visiting (as a tourist) a number of Orthodox churches. What I want to know is, do Orthodox churches contain tabernacles, and if they do, is it appropriate for a Catholic, when visiting an Orthodox church, to genuflect before it? Is this done in the Orthodox Church?

Orthodox churches do have tabernacles. However, the Orthodox do not genuflect; instead, they bow.

That begs the question; why don’t Orthodox genuflect to the Real Presence?

You may NOT receive communion in an Orthodox church unless you are an Orthodox christian.

There is a tabernacle in Orthodox churches. orthodoxwiki.org/Tabernacle_(liturgical) When we pass in front of it, we usually make a bow of reverence and the sign of the cross. We do not genuflect (go down on one knee).

As per Orthodoxy: oca.org/questions/divineliturgy/receiving-communion

For Orthodox Christians, the Eucharist is a visible sign of unity; to receive the Eucharist in a community to which one does not belong is improper. If one does not accept all that the Church believes and teaches and worships, one cannot make a visible sign of unity with it. The Eucharist is the result of unity, notthe means by which unity is achieved. While many non-Orthodox see this as a sign that the Orthodox Church excludes non-Orthodox from the Eucharist, in reality the opposite is true. Because a non-Orthodox individual has chosen not to embrace all that Orthodox Christianity holds, the non-Orthodox individual makes it impossible for an Orthodox priest to offer him or her communion. It is not so much a matter of Orthodoxy excluding non-Orthodox as it is the non-Orthodox making it impossible for the Orthodox to offer the Eucharist.

Sometimes people argue, “But Father, I believe everything the Orthodox Church teaches.” If this is indeed the case, then the question is not one of Eucharistic hospitality but, rather, “Then if you believe everything the Orthodox Church teaches, why haven’t you become an Orthodox Christian."

Genuflection is a Western tradition. In the East they bow or prostrate to show reverence. The same would be true of Eastern Catholics.

Oh, I thought it had to do with growing old, that getting down on one knee won’t guarantee getting up. Bowing is quite acceptable the more common with Lutherans than Catholics.

The Orthodox are more likely to prostrate.

That is a beautiful custom. Only priests prostrate at ordination and Good Friday among Lutherans. Plus our church naves are mainly pews. When Moses encountered God in the Burning Bush, what other posture is more appropriate than total prostration to Christ?

Yes, the Catholic church recognizes the Orthodox church as having valid apostolic succession, and therefore a valid Eucharist. A Catholic, only under very certain conditions, may receive the Eucharist in an Orthodox church. Thing is, even though you are a Catholic and do recognize the real presence, the Orthodox Priest will probably not allow you to take the Eucharist anyway. Orthodox are more strict on closed communion then we Catholics are, so only Orthodox can take communion in an Orthodox church.

Yes, I do believe Orthodox have tabernacles, I have been in a Greek Orthodox church once and think I saw one. From a Catholic perspective, I guess it be fine to genuflect on it, but I don’t know if the Orthodox would let you.

God bless. :smiley:

I’m afraid I failed miserably to make the question I was really asking clear. ***Does the Catholic Magisterium recognize the Eucharist present in the tabernacle of an Orthodox church as being the Real Presence, or does it not? *** I have no intention of seeking Orthodox communion and am perfectly well aware of the restrictions (on both sides) as regards receiving Orthodox sacraments.

The tabernacle may be behind the Iconostasis Screen


Yerp. As far as genuflecting to it, not sure. It may just be best to do what you see others doing.

Those of us who are capable. I am not. On Forgiveness Sunday all I can do is bow profoundly facing the person I ask forgiveness from.

Yes, the Catholic church regards all Orthodox sacraments as valid.

Regarding genuflection, I cannot speak for the culture in Greece, but in my Orthodox parish comprised mostly of converts, we see a lot of non-Orthodox visitors and don’t really think twice if they do something that’s slightly different than what we do. I for one would not be offended in the least if a Latin Catholic visited (a few Eastern Catholics have) and genuflected as a sign of reverence to the sacrament, but I’m sure you could find someone who would take offense.

I would just remain where you are when it is time for people to come up for Communion. You do have the option of receiving a blessing from the priest, but I’m not certain that custom is universal (esp. in Greece).

Ok that made me laugh. Of course we would let you. Do you think someone is going to tackle you? :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a good point. There are drastic variations in practices and customs even within the same parish. Nobody pays attention to what other people do. But if you want to be more in line with typical (I use the term typical loosely) practice stop and bow and cross yourself as you pass in front of the Holy Doors. In Orthodox countries it’s not unusual for pious Christians to cross themselves as they pass in front of a church because they are passing the altar. I know one Orthodox who does the same when he passes a Catholic church.

Where exactly is the tabernacle positioned in an Orthodox church? Lutherans also bow to the altar even if there is no Reserved Sacrament. The altar represents Christ.

In the few Orthodox churches I’ve had the privilege to visit and worship in, the tabernacle appeared to be on the altar.

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