In Orthodoxy, it is the Holy Spirit and not the priest who effects the change. Formally, the change occurs at the Epiklesis where the priest says the following prayer:
"Again we offer to Thee this noetic and unbloody sacrifice; and we beg Thee, we ask Thee, we pray Thee: Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts set forth.
Make this bread the Precious Body of Thy Christ,
And that which is in this Cup, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ,
Changing by Thy Holy Spirit."
When a deacon is present, the assent of the laos is given his amens that follow each petition to the Holy Spirit. In some Orthodox churches, the laos gives its assent by everybody saying amen. The point I am making here is that, the Orthodox priest is praying on behalf of the entire congregation and nothing can happen without the consent or affirmation by the laos, even if it is just one other person present.
This is interesting. The Sacramentary includes rubrics of the 'Order of Mass Without a Congregation' - is this concept foreign to Orthodoxy?
Yes, it is.
Not only foreign, but impossible and uncanonical.
It's obviously not impossible because the Church sanctions this kind of mass, in some situations.
Not the Orthodox Church. Even in the Gulag, priests would have nearby cellmates tap responses on the wall.
Thanks, I had no idea about that. However, surely the minister is never truly alone (without the Church as a communicating community) - what about the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering?
Technically true. But not really an idea prevalent before, say, Dionysius the Areopagite. The Orthodox thought, both in piety and canon law, regarding the Eucharist is from an earlier era: priests celebrate only one Eucharist per day and only with others. The Divine Liturgy is inherently communal, i.e. done by and for the worshiping community
, not for the edification of the priest or because of something more analogically cosmic.
Also, there simply is no rite other than those which assume "two or three gathered in my name."