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Governments evicting God – from inside the Christian Chalice?
New Hampshire’s Attorney General bans the Orthodox Church’s traditional distribution of Holy Communion
Due to the recent event in the Orthodox Diocese of Boston, with the intervention of the Attorney General of New Hampshire Mr. Gordon J. MacDonald - regarding the use of the common Holy Spoon for the distribution of Holy Communion - we, as Orthodox Christians of Greece wish to share with you the experience of our people (and all orthodox Christian peoples) for over a thousand years, that no virus, infection or disease is ever transmitted through the Holy Communion of the Orthodox Church.
First of all, albeit not acquainted with him personally, we stand in solidarity with the Metropolitan of Boston Methodius, and we wish to congratulate him for his steadfastness in what is self-evident - that is, that the distribution of Holy Communion using the common Spoon is absolutely safe. Metropolitan Methodius did what was self evident as an Orthodox, and the American authorities did what was self evident for them (as non-Orthodox).
The issue here is what we - the Orthodox Christians of Greece – have acknowledged as self evident for entire centuries and why it is impossible for us to agree that “at least six parishioners” of Portsmouth, who reportedly contracted the corona virus, were (undoubtedly?) infected while receiving Holy Communion.
The reason for this reaction is that (a) they could have contracted any kind of virus, in any part of the city, in any manner, just as many other people could have. Are we to believe that there are no other recorded cases in that entire city – only those who received Holy Communion? (b) If the corona virus - and any virus for that matter – could be transmitted when receiving Holy Communion, then EVERY ORTHODOX CLERGYMAN (worldwide) would have been infected. We would like to ask: how many Orthodox clergymen in the U.S. are among the recorded cases? Obviously, clergymen can also become infected – with anything and anywhere, like all people – except through Holy Communion. If they could become infected by anything through Holy Communion, then EVERY priest would have succumbed to various sicknesses, given that priests consume the remaining content of the Holy Chalice after each Service, using the same common Spoon as all the faithful who received Holy Communion during that Service: young and old, healthy and sick. It would be of interest to learn exactly how many Orthodox priests have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since its initial spread – with Holy Communion as the proven culprit – not only in Boston, but also anywhere in the world....
As such, the praxis of the Metropolitan of Boston was appropriate, and it would be good, to say the least, for him to have the support of all Orthodox Christians in the world; hopefully the Archdiocese of America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as all the Orthodox Churches worldwide will “dare” to stand by him, and not abandon him to his critics.
Is Holy Communion safe to consume?
A compilation dedicated to answers provided by medical specialists
Below are several excerpts which we believe substantiate scientifically that which all orthodox Christians are steadfastly familiar with: that diseases are NOT transmitted through Holy Communion – that is, through the use of the common Spoon and Chalice. The reason we persist in reminding this fact is because it has been proven through experience for entire centuries. If any evidence of transmission of serious diseases had ever come to the attention of the faithful, the Church Herself would have changed the method of distributing Holy Communion, ages ago.
Obviously, those who are afraid of contracting diseases or infections through Holy Communion are afraid because of their personal - religious or ideological – convictions, without actually having seen it happen. Therefore the more valid viewpoint - scientifically speaking (i.e., based on evidence) - is that Holy Communion is proven to be absolutely safe.
«…In bibliography there is not a single scientific article, study or research evidencing that germs and viruses are transmitted through Holy Communion. The only scientific proof that can exist and can be accepted by the scientific community wherever there is no specific research, is a retrospective clinical experience, which – in the case of Holy Communion – would be a retrospective clinical experience of 2000 years (for example, of Priests and not only them, who daily consume the remnant of Holy Communion in Hospitals, including Hospitals for Infectious Diseases, and who have never contracted anything)».
The full article in Greek at: http://aktines.blogspot.com/2020/04/blog-post_744.html.
2. Excerpt from the reply by the Medical Society of Athens in 1988, sent to Senator at the time Vasilis Agorastis, who had vehemently claimed that AIDS could be transmitted through Holy Communion:
«...At any rate, there is not a single verified case of an ordinary faithful person having contracted a disease through Holy Communion. Not even of any priest, who, as a matter of fact, after distributing Holy Communion to the faithful and completing the ritual, swallows all the remnants of Holy Communion down to the last trace, together with whatever had come from the mouth of every person who had partaken with the same Holy Spoon and had ended up inside the Holy Chalice. Not even during the years that tuberculosis was raging, syphilis was rampant and leprosy was widespread! Obviously the same would have applied for AIDS. Data that could lead Medicine to intervene does not exist».
The full article in Greek at: https://proskynitis.blogspot.com/2020/03/1988-aids.html.
3. Excerpt from the article by Ioannis Kountouras, Professor Emeritus of Thessaloniki’s Aristotelian University’s School of Medicine, titled «Incomplete scientific corona virus data conflicts with Holy Communion»:
«...A preliminary study that took place at the Hepatological Health Centre of the 2nd Pathological Clinic of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, titled “EXPERIENCE OF ADMINISTERING ENTECAVIR IN PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC ACTIVE HEPATITIS Â” by Kountouras and assoc., at the 30th Pan-Hellenic Convention of Gastroenterology, Athens 2010 and was published in the magazine Annals of Gastroenterology 2010; 23 (Suppl.): p.128. The study involved 71 patients with chronic active hepatitis Â [52 men, 19 women, of average age 53,4 yrs (analogy 31-79 yrs) who received a personal therapeutic regimen of Nucleos(t)ide Analog Entecavir, which is administered to this day (Nguyen MH, et al. Clin. Microbiol. Review 2020; 33:e00046-19). On taking into account the occupations of the patients, the study showed that only 1 out of the total 52 male patients was a priest with active pastoral duty, i.e., a percentage of 1,92%.(…) The statistical analysis showed that laypeople had a significantly higher possibility of an HBV infection compared to clergymen – as regards HBV or possibly other viruses of an analogous epidemiological profile, including nCov.
To summarize, these findings indicate that clergymen not only do not comprise a “high risk” group for the transmission of the HBV virus, but rather appear to represent a safe group, compared to other occupations (...).
Given: a) the reported detection of HBV and of nCoV in the excretions of the host – which also include saliva, b) the consumption of the usually large quantity of the remnant of Holy Communion after its distribution to the faithful by the ministering priest and c) the expected high degree of HBV virulence or an analogous degree of nCov in priests seen as an infectious reservoir on account of Holy Communion, have proven statistically that this “accusation” is not valid.
The specific excerpt in Greek: http://o-nekros.blogspot.com/2020/03/hbv.html, titled «Scientific conclusions regarding the transmission of diseases through Holy Communion: the case of Hepatitis B (HBV)».
The entire Greek text by the professor: https://www.impantokratoros.gr/746F1C77.el.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2aa7V-HKDAHyS-v9AefsGtMW-0MS0ux9lzcWj-dWF1PxFD3Y64BdffwfQ.
4. Helen Yamarellou, Professor of Infection Pathology of the Athens National Kapodistrian University:
«Holy Communion is a Sacrament; when you go to receive Holy Communion, you do not receive it out of habit, you receive it because it is the Body and the Blood of Christ. Either you believe this and you receive it normally, or you don’t believe it. There are no half-baked solutions – individual spoons etc.. I am totally against them. If we believe, we don’t provoke our luck. If I believe it can infect me, then I don’t believe in the greatest Mystery. Those who want to receive Holy Communion should not fear that it could ever transmit any microbe».
Source : https://www.lifo.gr/now/greece/
Mrs Yamarellou, who is a university professor specialized in infectious diseases, would not have expressed herself in this manner unless there was data evidencing the transmission of diseases through Holy Communion. Furthermore, even a number of harsh accusers did not present any evidence to support their accusations!
5. Apostolis Hadjitolios, professor of the Medical School of the University of Thessaloniki and Director of the 1st Preliminary Pathological Clinic of Á×ÅÐÁ (Greek initials for “American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association”) commented as follows:
«But, if one could contract something through Holy Communion, did we have to wait for the corona virus to become infected by it? Wouldn’t the fact that fifty people can receive Holy Communion with the priest drinking the remnant of the Body and Blood of Christ from the Holy Chalice have led to incidents of infection – which would most certainly have been made public? (...) If transmissions during Holy Communion did take place through the years – not just through the years, but over entire CENTURIES – of extremely infectious diseases, then they would certainly have come to light and would have been “utilized” appropriately by due research; however - on the contrary - there are scientific publications with reviews, which state that there have been NO instances of diseases transmitted through Holy Communion!!».
The entire interview (Greek) here: http://o-nekros.blogspot.com/2020/05/blog-post_70.html.
«We would like you to bear in mind that our Hierarch, the Very Reverend Poemen officiated during the Paschal Divine Liturgy just like any other day, together with all the Fathers of the Monastery of Saint John the Younger. All of them received Holy Communion from the same holy Chalice, as is the practice in every Divine Liturgy, except for one person – the Deacon who had been given the chores of sacristan, tending to the order of the Service.
Now, following many discussions and negative comments that were heard on television, the laboratory results of all the fathers and the lay assistants of our holy monastery have arrived. Of all those who had been subjected to testing, only one person was found positive, and he is the Deacon who DID NOT receive Holy Communion from the holy Chalice that was held by the Bishop.
Source: Ecclesiastic News Agency ROMFEA»: https://www.romfea.gr/katigories/10-apopseis/36835-o-kurios-thaumastonei-to-eleos-tou-sti-theia-euxaristia.
Attention: This is not an imaginary story («fake news»). The announcement in Romanian, with references to the findings of the regional Department of Public Health that performed the tests, here: http://o-nekros.blogspot.com/2020/05/rezultatul-anchetei-epidemiologice-in.html.
7. Excerpt from the article by University Dr. of Theology Fr. Nikolaos Loudovikos, «Holy Communion during times of a pandemic»:
«The global epidemic of deaths and its accompanying phobic aura imposed not only psychological but also spiritual questioning on a section of the population, as is natural. There was a lot of talk about the Eucharist, about the possibility of the disease transmitted through it: that is, through the way it is offered with a shared Spoon. The issue has developed into a theological and even an international controversy.
In reality of course, the question posed is chiefly theological: how can the conviction be supported, that the Eucharist does not transmit diseases in the manner that it is distributed in the Orthodox Church? The question certainly seems to be conducive to an empirical answer at first, inasmuch as a vast number of priests, including the one writing these lines, have continuously associated innumerable times with people suffering with very serious and sometimes incurable diseases, and of course, as imposed by liturgical rules, consumed the remnant of Holy Communion that was shared with them, without ever contracting anything.
However a theological answer is also needed. The reason for this, among other things, is a recent article by Stavros Zoumboulakis in Lifo magazine, where it is argued that the essential properties of consecrated bread are not transformed: that it is naturally subject to all kinds of deterioration and pollution and can consequently transmit viruses and diseases, and that the only hope lies in changing the manner by which it is distributed. If this claim were correct, then there would be no priest over the age of 35 or 40, while the congregation, by sharing Holy Communion en masse during the major feasts, would be sick constantly and severely.
Nevertheless, there is a deeper theological issue here. [...] This means that the Precious Gifts, even if they have undergone external deterioration (by mold for example) or were mixed inadvertently (or, hypothetically, maliciously) with viruses and germs, the presence of Grace does not allow them to become harmful to the health of the faithful, precisely because - as Saint Simeon the New theologian had insisted – “they are already a reality and a presence of the Realm of God” (cmp. the words of Christ: “even if they drink something deadly, it will not harm them” (Mark 16:18). [...] ».
The entire article (Greek) here: antifono.gr
8. Comments by an Orthodox theologian, published here: http://o-nekros.blogspot.com/2020/03/blog-post_9.html.
«…In this way, all those who oppose the Church and are unable to suffer the inexplicable fact that for 20 consecutive centuries the Orthodox observe without fear the tradition of the common Spoon or the common Chalice by basing themselves on their faith, will have the opportunity to attack, by hiding behind evidence called “objective scientific criteria”. They will say: “you have the right to be religious”, but “dangerous practices will be forbidden” - despite the fact that there has never been an issue of any kind of disease being transmitted through Holy Communion. This demand will be imposed at some point, either soon or in a few years, and the religious intolerance of the few will strive with satisfaction to abolish a tradition that has never been described as “dangerous”, even though 2000 years have passed, because we are very much aware from within the ecclesiastical way of life that Holy Communion does not transmit germs. If things were differently, both the priests and us and the congregation in general would constantly fall sick and at some point we would have noticed that it was attributed to Holy Communion. In fact, during recent years our country has been afflicted quite a lot - by the common flu, the “swine flu”, the “avian flu”... but the Church had continued with absolute safety the Tradition of the common Spoon.
Assuredly, there is no logic in the argument that for 20 centuries “no one observed” that Holy Communion transmits germs, or that it is a source of epidemics. If this were the case, then the time would come when everyone would have noticed, because people learn through observation and life experience; just as people have eventually learnt so many things, likewise they would have eventually observed that the common Spoon causes epidemics. And it is certain that if such a thing had been observed, then the common Spoon would have been banned even by the emperor in the past and made its use subject to a death penalty, because an epidemic could mean an economic, social, and military catastrophe. No one would have allowed the Church to be the cause of such disasters. Consequently, it is obvious that there has never been the slightest suspicion that Holy Communion transmits diseases. If such a thing had been observed, the means of distributing Holy Communion would have changed, since the Christians themselves would have been in fear of it…».
9. Priest-Monk Fr. Chrysanthos Katsouloyannakis (1893 – 1972) served as priest on Spinalonga - the “island of lepers” – for 10 years, and it is common knowledge that – to everyone’s surprise – after each Divine Liturgy, when all the attending lepers had received Holy Communion, he always consumed the remnant inside the holy Chalice.
The detailed description of his life here: http://www.oodegr.com/english/empeiries/leper_priest.htm
Comments on the above are not necessary. Let us remember that with His inference to Holy Communion, Jesus Christ had said: “I am the bread of life. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. ( John 6:50-58).
The stance of Christians of the 3rd century during a deadly epidemic
As a postscript – not relevant specifically to Holy Communion but relative to the manner that Christians had confronted a deadly epidemic (but also death per se) – we should be reminded of the self-denial with which they had helped during a deadly epidemic of the 3rd century in Alexandria of Egypt. We can find it written in the descriptions of the ecclesiastic historian of the 4th century, Eusebius (ref. Eusebius, Ecclesiastic History, 7, 22), which we believe has something to say about our time:
«Then that disease barged in...
So, most of our brothers, out of excessive and brotherly love, devoted to each other, without caring about themselves, fearlessly visited the sick, offered their services, cared for them “in Christ” and very happily died with them, having previously become infected through their contact with the others, contracting the disease from those near them and, of their own free will, also experiencing their pains.
And many, after caring for others in their illness and giving them strength, themselves died, somehow transferring the others’ deaths to themselves. And the popular saying - which always resembles a simple compliment - they had rendered it a reality, by making their departure a propitiatory substitute for the others.
So, the best of our brothers, some elders and deacons and laypeople had left this life in this way, highly praised, so that this kind of death - the result of great piety and strong faith - does not seem in the least inferior to martyrdom. And, having lifted the bodies of the saints with outstretched arms, they held them in their embrace, closed their eyes and mouths, placed them on their shoulders and carried them out, hugged them, bathed them, and adorned them with their funeral garment. After a while, the same thing happened to them, because those who remained alive always followed to the death those who had died previously.
The gentiles (idolaters) however, did the exact opposite. They even sent away those who had just begun to be sick; they avoided their loved ones and they threw the sick onto the streets half-dead, and the dead they threw on the garbage heap without a burial, in an attempt to avert the spread and the touch of death – a thing that was not easy to avoid, in spite of their many precautions».
The full article in Greek at: http://o-nekros.blogspot.com/2020/03/3.html
Article published in English on: 10-10-2020.
Last update: 10-10-2020.