Translated by Zhanna Menshikova
Edited by Yana Samuel
It is unrealistic to make people attend regular church services during the week. I agree that many people, at least in our parish, take their communion quite regularly now. For all that, we shouldn’t forget that the whole week and the night before the Holy Communion, you should live your life accordingly, that is in the fear of God. It is considered that people cannot partake of the Holy Communion if they have not done their morning prayers or have not attended the early morning service at the church. For example, a priest cannot serve Divine Liturgy if he has not served Matins. What happens here? Pretty often, the night before receiving Holy Communion, we only read the eucharistic prayers, without the canon of Repentance, and after that we go to church to receive communion.
The Holy Cup is brought forward. “With the fear of God, and faith (in Athos they also add “and love“) come near.” In the fear of God… This means you should be standing in awe. But how can it be possible if after the chants, while the priests at the altar are breaking the Holy Lamb for the communion or are partaking of it themselves, or reading canons, you are just sitting idle and chattering. Among you chattering, there are many who are about to receive Holy Communion. If you are going to partake of the true Body and true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, you should be filled with reverential awe. Even those who are just participating in the service should be filled with reverence when the Holy Cup is brought forward. What are they doing instead? Idle and relaxed, they are chattering. Is it a sin? Of course, it is. As it is also evidence of your low religious consciousness and spiritual level.
“Approach with the fear of God, and faith, and love.” Just imagine that you are waiting for your loved one coming on the approaching train. You won’t be chattering idly with anyone at such a moment. You will only be talking about this very person whom you are awaiting and whom you have missed so badly, but not about the petty problems in your household, because the situation for such a talk is inappropriate. So in the church, approaching the Body of Christ in this manner, we receive it unworthily and it becomes to our judgement and condemnation. We read the following lines: “Let not these holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body.“ Apostle Paul wrote exactly about it: “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgement on himself. That is why many of you are weak and sick” (1 Corinthians, 11:29-30). These words refer directly to you, think about how you approach the holy communion.
Many of the communicants amaze me, but one in particular has really impressed me deeply. She was a little girl from an orphanage. She was baptized there two days before. As soon as I entered the room, she ran up to me and climbed onto my lap. I raised her up in my hands and when I put her down onto the floor, another child ran up to me. After baptizing the second child, I suddenly saw her elbowing her way through towards me. She was reverently carrying her garment of righteousness and a cross for me to robe her with. “Grant me a garment of Light“… Two days later, the baptized orphanage children were brought to the Church of Elijah the Prophet. I was amazed at seeing this child who was abandoned by her parents approaching the Holy Communion… What a great feeling of reverence this child displayed!
Very seldom can one see such a display of reverence in our parishioners as it was in this child. Indeed, unless you turn and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Oh, Lord, grant us due reverence before Holy Communion.
Professor, Archpriest Gleb Kaleda «Fullness of Life in Christ»