|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Orthodoxy - Mysteries|
The true Body and Blood of Christ?
or just a quaint custom with bread and wine?
The Priest proceeds to the Royal Doors of the Sanctum holding the Holy Chalice in his hands, saying “With the fear of God, faith and love, come forth”.... but... do we actually believe that inside the Chalice is the Body and the Blood of Christ; or do we see Holy Communion merely as “something” that will bring us a good year, so we go ahead and receive it thoughtlessly...?
Recently I have been encountering people in stores and on the street, who stop to ask me questions such as: “Father, what time will Holy Communion 'come out' on the feast day of the Assumption?”... or: “Father, I have abstained from oiled food for three consecutive days, so I decided to come for Holy Communion”...or: “Father, I haven’t eaten meat for ten days, so I have decided to have Holy Communion – I know I’m prepared”... or: “Father, I’m thinking of coming for Holy Communion tomorrow, because I feel like it; what do you say?”
Not a single mention of confession, repentance and spiritual humility prior to Holy Communion... The fact that you have eaten un-oiled vegetables for one week, but have devoured ten people with your evil tongue and attitude should not be examined?
Thus, we see people receiving Holy Communion as supposed “Church people” but for some strange reason they become worse with every passing year... why is that? By feeling worthy and self-justified when they approach the Holy Chalice - but without prior repentance – that too can be the cause for demonic influence in a person: “for it (Holy Communion) is a burning ember, which consumes the unworthy”....
The fact that we simply fasted does not mean we can receive Holy Communion. Fasting is just one means for our spiritual struggles and not a purpose in itself. The spiritual father/confessor will judge if we can be united with Christ, with the prerequisite that we have repentance, and our very life communes daily with Christ and our fellow-man.
Holy Communion is not a tradition, like “Honey Festival”, “Beer Fest” or “Farmers’ Day”... Holy Communion is the Body and the Blood of the Lord. To become united with Him, spiritual prerequisites are necessary, which we cannot judge on our own; our spiritual father is the one who oversees us, and in whose hands we have “deposited” our soul.
We see the Holy Chalice, not considering that Christ Himself is in there, we think that it merely symbolically contains bread and wine, which will ensure a good year and God keeping us safe from sickness and bad fortune etc. We think that Holy Communion can offer us some sort of earthly material blessing for us or our children.... What delusion, dear God!
Very often we see parents demanding that their children be the first in line to receive Holy Communion, because they are squeamish when someone else is "served" before them !!! Other times, we see parents removing their children from the line if they notice that an old person previously had the holy spoon in their mouth... What inexcusable blasphemy, imagining that germs could have more “power” than the Body and the Blood of the Lord !!! If that were the case, then the officiating Priest (who has to consume the remnant in the Chalice at the end of each Divine Liturgy) would logically have to be infected by the germs of all those who had partaken of the Chalice that day, and himself have become seriously ill – or even died of contagion – something that has never occurred throughout Time - as churchgoers would have verified it, first-hand!!
If we seriously believe that with Holy Communion 2 or 3 times a year, with a couple of feeble attempts at fasting, without prior preparation with confession and the guidance and obedience to our spiritual father we will go to Paradise or be blessed by God and win the lottery, then we are grossly deluded. If things were so simple and easy, then we wouldn’t have any ascetics or extreme models of deprivation, who gave their life blood to receive the Holy Spirit, through spiritual struggles and unflagging perseverance.
We seem to think that by going to church wearing our nice “Sunday clothes” doused in cologne, after eating only raw vegetables the previous night we are worthy of... seeing the Uncreated Light!
Sadly, we are more attentive and particular when it comes to social events and not the Holy Chalice. This is why according to the worship of the Church, when the Priest distributes the Body and the Blood of the Lord from the Holy Chalice, we must be respectfully and prayerfully waiting silently while standing in line for our turn, fully aware of the tremendous significance of that moment – and not the phenomenon that is usually observed, of those who grab the opportunity to gossip and chat with friends or neighbours while waiting in line, for themselves or for the others’ turn.
What is Holy Communion? Let us listen to the words of Saint John the Chrysostom, recited during the Service of Holy Communion:
Prayer 10 (John the Chrysostom)
I believe, Lord, and I confess that You are truly the Christ – the Son of the living God, Who came to the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is Your Immaculate Body and this is Your Precious Blood. I therefore beseech You: be merciful to me and forgive my transgressions – both the intentional and the unintentional, in word or in act; whether knowingly or unknowingly, and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Your Immaculate Mysteries, for the absolution of sins and for a life eternal. Amen.
This is the foundation of everything; this is our faith; this is the truth.
Beloved Mother of God, shed light in our hearts on this day; we are desperately in need of it!
With blessings for this major Feast-day !
Translation : A.N.
Article published in English on: 15-8-2018.
Last update: 15-8-2018.