As Romanian Orthodox believers are deprived of receiving Holy Communion in churches following the coronavirus outbreak, Patriarch Daniel said there are several ways to receive Christ in our souls spiritually.
‘Now only those who call priests home can receive the Eucharist,’ Patriarch Daniel said during his homily in an empty patriarchal cathedral on Holy Thursday.
His Beatitude referred to one of his spiritual directors, Elder Cleopas Ilie from Sihastria Monastery, who based on the experience of the Saints ‘shows us that besides the Holy Eucharist – as the highest way to partake of Christ – there are also other ways to unite with our Saviour.’
Prayer is the first work by which we can spiritually partake of Christ, the Patriarch explained. ‘Christ, who is called in prayer, comes in us mystically through the Holy Spirit and abides in us and transmits His humble and merciful love.’
Another way through which we spiritually receive Christ is by listening to God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures. ‘When we listen to Christ’s words, He secretly comes into our souls and sanctifies not only our ears but also our soul and body.’
Remembering the teaching of Sts Maximos the Confessor and Mark the Ascetic, Patriarch Daniel said that ‘we also partake of Christ by fulfilling His commandments: to love God and our neighbours.’
Therefore, when we are deprived of the Eucharist, we should communicate spiritually with Christ ‘through prayer, by listening to God’s Word, by listening to church services and through many merciful deeds.’
He reminded that the desert fathers rarely received Holy Communion, ‘but they communicated very often through prayer, feats and a great love for God and others.’
His Beatitude stressed the significant importance of the Holy Eucharist instituted by the Saviour Jesus Christ on the Great and Holy Thursday. The Holy Fathers called it ‘the medicine of immortality,’ the Patriarch explained, adding that Holy Communion is administered as ‘a provision for eternal life.’
“The Holy Eucharist is not a mere ritual. It is the encounter with Christ. We receive something, the Lord’s Body and Blood, and we unite with Someone, with Christ, for He said: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
“So the purpose of the Eucharist is to unite with Christ. What does this mean? That Christ the Lord gives us His life to sanctify our life, to enlighten it and to direct it to the Resurrection.”
To be able to receive ‘Christ’s merciful, humble and forgiving love’ when we partake of the Holy Eucharist, we also have to forgive our peers.
“Therefore, a condition to receive the Holy Eucharist is to forgive our neighbours, to reconcile with all those we have upset, because the Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross, before breathing his last, prayed to the Heavenly Father to forgive the sins of those who crucified Him, saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,’ the Romanian Patriarch noted.
After the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great, Patriarch Daniel blessed the special Easter prosphora called Pasti by sprinkling holy water and wine before having it distributed the next two days to believers by church volunteers as agreed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Raluca Ene