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The Mystical Supper

In the Eucharist We Have a Foretaste of Heavenly Things

The Russian Orthodox Church requires anyone who desires to receive Holy Communion to have prepared themselves with confession, the pre-communion prayers, and having abstained from food or drink from midnight on. Most of the world’s Local Orthodox Churches hold to this standard, recognizing that the clergy, as guardians of the Mysteries, must make sure anyone who approaches the chalice is Orthodox, and properly prepared. The requirement that one be a member of the Orthodox Church before approaching the chalice relates to the fact that communion is the outward expression of having all things in common, in faith and worship. Receiving Holy Communion is the fruit of unity.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that to receive unworthily is spiritually dangerous. We are receiving the very Body and Blood of the Saviour for the healing of both body and soul. This eating and drinking is not about a simple remembrance of a past event, but an entrance into the Heavenly Realm, where there is neither time nor space. When communing we are participating mystically in the very Banquet that is on-going in heaven. In the Eucharist we have a foretaste of heavenly things. Thus, proper preparation for the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood is imperative for our very salvation. To eat or drink unworthily is to put our immortal soul at risk.

Orthodoxy in North America does not have a common practice in regards to preparation. Some jurisdictions allow members to approach the chalice without having confessed, thus contributing to the abuse of the Mysteries by people who may or may not be fasting and who may never confess.

On the flip side, for those who are required to confess before communing, they can fall into the habit of going through the motions of confession without giving the priest adequate time to offer spiritual direction. When this happens, confession is no different than refraining from confession at all. We can easily run through the usual litany of sins, get absolution and start the week off without having made a heartfelt confession and having a plan to avoid the sins just confession. We must have a plan of action that will allow the Holy Spirit to transform our heart. True repentance MUST include a commitment to go and sin no more! This requires the guidance of a confessor and takes more time than simply getting in a long line prior to the service.

Love and blessings,
Abbot Tryphon

About the author

Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

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