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Preparation to Holy Communion
We must prepare ourselves to the Mystery of the
Holy Communion by praying, fasting, humble Christian behavior and spirit as
well as by confession.
Home and church prayers.A person willing to prepare oneself properly to the Holy Christís Mysteries
must prayerfully prepare himself to that at least 2-3 days before the
Communion: to pray at home more and with greater ardor, to read the Scripture,
to attend church services. Before the Communion day one must attend the Vespers
service on the eve. At home one should read the "Prayers in Preparation
for the Holy Communion."
fasting periods we should control ourselves more strictly. On other days we
must be moderate with food. We must be more concentrated,
we should not watch television or listen to frenzied music.
you want to receive Holy Communion you must sincerely repent all of your sins
before the priest before or after the Vespers on the eve of the Holy Communion.
You must wholeheartedly open up your soul not concealing a single sin. Before
the Confession you must make peace with everybody who hurt you or whom you
hurt, you have to humbly ask all of them for forgiveness. While confessing it
is better not to wait for the priestís questions, but to tell him everything
that is bothering your conscience, not justifying yourself and not blaming
anyone else for anything. By no means you should judge anyone during confession
or tell about other peopleís sins.
If it is impossible to confess in the evening,
you must do it before the Liturgy, in any case it should be done before the
Cherubic Hymn. Nobody except children before the age of 7 can receive Holy
Communion without the prior Confession. There is a good tradition: after the
Confession and before the Holy Communion we should not eat, drink or smoke. We
must not do it after in any
case. We should come to the Holy Communion with nothing in our stomachs. We
must also teach our children to abstain from food or drinks before the Holy
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn. 6:53).
The Church does not give an unambiguous answer to
this question. The early Christians received Holy Communion every Sunday. With
time the norms of righteousness changed and not always for the better. In the
19th century many Russian Christians received Holy Communion through
the Great Lent. After the Russian Calvary of the 20th century many
Russians began receiving the Holy Communion often, which is very good.
Somebody familiar with the Gospel would not need
explanations of how great the sacredness of Christís Holy Body and Blood is and
why we cannot enter the Life Eternal without receiving the Holy Communion (this
was mentioned by the Lord Himself in His conversation with the Jews, Jn.
Chapter 6). But the Orthodox faithful know also that one can approach the Holy
Communion only being prepared to it, trying to cleanse oneís soul from sins and
passions. A silent prayer of John Chrysostomís Liturgy says, "No one bound
by the bodily passions and lust is allowed to approach or come close or serve
Thee, King of Glory."
The church leaves the question of how often we
can receive Holy Communion to be answered by the clergy and spiritual fathers.
It is with your spiritual father that you must come to a conclusion about how
often you can receive the Holy Communion and how strict your
fasting should be before that.
At any rate one should try to receive the Holy
Communion at least once during all long lent periods as well as on the day of
oneís Angel, that is on the day when the saint, whose
name one is bearing, is commemorated. If there is no church where one lives,
one has to find possibility to go to a place where one can receive Holy
Communion at least once a year, otherwise one can be lost for the Church.
People who try to make their lives closer to the Church are advised by their
priests to receive Holy Communion once or twice a month. Sometimes spiritual
fathers bless people for receiving Holy Communion more often.
At the Sacred
Not long ago in one of the churches of St.
Petersburg during the Divine Liturgy the attention of
the people taking Communion was attracted by a little fair-haired boy who was
standing not far from the altar. He was watching attentively those receiving
Communion and from time to time started laughing in a loud childish manner. He
was asked to behave reasonably, but of no avail. The strange behavior of the
boy stopped as soon as the Communion was over. His parents who had been very
much surprised asked why he was laughing and this is what the boy replied:
"When I was looking at people approaching
the Chalice, I suddenly noticed that a white dove flies up to some of them.
Just at the moment when a man or a woman opens his or her mouth to partake of
the Gifts the dove pecks the Gifts off the spoon and flies away. They do not
see the dove, they close their mouths thinking that they have received the Holy
Communion, but in deed they have just had an empty spoon. I thought that was
For a non-believer this story told by a child
could appear as something imagined, and an Orthodox heart cannot but be
overcome with awe having understood the meaning of the vision sent to a child.
Indeed, it is frightening to realize that the Lord would not let some of us
have the Communion because we approach the Sacred Chalice being unworthy and
"For anyone who eats and drinks without
recognizing the Body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1
Cor. ) ó Apostle Paul tells us.
There are rules which if followed would help us to accept the Sacred Gifts
worthily: abstinence from matrimonial relations for the whole of that time,
repentance, prayer, reading of the Scripture and attendance of church services
ó each one to be fulfilled as much as possible. One should confess before the
Communion. Only when a person is taking Communion several days at a stretch as,
for example at the end of the Great Lent, or during some of the Holidays, we
can receive Communion with the permission of the Father and without going to
But supposing everything is done correctly. The
Divine Liturgy is almost over and the partaker is ready to commune with Christ.
The Gates are opened.
"In fear and with faith draw near..." ó
proclaims the deacon. Faith and fear of God ó this is what should be imprinted
in the heart of every person approaching the Sacred Chalice. We must not talk
or fuss at that point. But in reality...
Havenít almost every one of us been a witness to
how pushy people can get in front of the Sacred Chalice? People elbow their way
trying to reach the Sacred Gifts earlier than others and paying no attention to
what their Father is saying. But the unseemly behavior in front of the Sacred
Chalice can destroy all of our hard efforts of preparation to Communion. And
then instead of Life Eternal we would get condemnation and Godís punishment.
To prevent that, every partaker should know and
follow the rules of the Church concerning the way to approach the Sacred
Chalice. They are:
of the Sacred Chalice we have to bow. If there are many partakers, we must
make the bow beforehand.
Gates are being opened we must make the sign of the Cross and fold our
forearms on the chest, the right arm forming a cross over the left one.
When receiving Communion and walking away from the Chalice we should keep
the arms in that position.
serving at the altar are the first to partake, then ó the monks, children
and all the rest of the parish. We must give way to other people and by no
means push each other aside.
wipe lipstick off of their lips.
approached the Chalice one must pronounce his or her name loudly and
distinctly. We must accept the Gifts, chew (if needed) and swallow
immediately and kiss the lower part of the Chalice as it symbolizes the
not touch the Chalice with our hands or kiss the priestís hand.
not make the sign of the Cross near the Chalice! When you are lifting your
hand to make the sign of the Cross, you may push the priest and spill the
withdrawn towards the little table we should eat antidoron and drink the
Sacred Gifts are distributed from several Chalices, each person can
partake from only one of them. We cannot partake of Sacred Gifts more than
once in a day.
It is a
rule that you do not kneel on the day of the Communion with the exception
of the bows made in front of the Shroud of Christ on Great Saturday and
praying on knees on the day of the Holy Trinity.
returned home one should first of all read the gratitude post-communion
prayers. If they are read in church after the service, you should listen
to them there.