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CHURCH RULES FOR CONFESSION & HOLY COMMUNION

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  • Basil Yakimov
    CHURCH RULES FOR CONFESSION & HOLY COMMUNION by Protopriest Gregory Naumenko If thou desirest, O man, to eat the Body of the Master, approach with fear lest
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 31, 2006
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      CHURCH RULES FOR CONFESSION & HOLY COMMUNION
      by Protopriest Gregory Naumenko

      "If thou desirest, O man, to eat the Body of the Master, approach with fear
      lest thou be burnt, for It is fire."

      "Behold, I approach the Divine Communion. O Creator, let me not be burnt by
      communicating, for Thou art Fire consuming the unworthy." (From the Prayers
      Before Holy Communion)

      Those who desire to have Confession and to commune of the Holy Mysteries
      must prepare properly, according to the rules instituted by the Holy
      Orthodox Church. Namely:

      Those who desire to commune on Sunday must begin preparation from the
      previous Monday by at least being continually conscious of the fact that
      they are preparing to partake of the Most precious Body and Blood of our
      Lord Jesus Christ.

      Explanation: In the 32nd chapter of the Typicon (book of church rules) we
      read: "When one desires to commune of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, it is
      most proper for him/her to keep properly the entire previous week; to
      remain in fasting, prayer and complete sobriety from the previous Monday;
      and then, with fear and great reverence, to receive the Most precious
      Mysteries.

      Fast according to the rules of the Church.

      Explanation: During the entire Great Lent and Dormition Fast, we do not
      partake of meat, eggs, milk and fish (Fish is allowed only on the days of
      Annunciation and Palm Sunday, and, during the Dormition Fast, on
      Transfiguration. During the entire Nativity Fast and Apostles; Fast, we do
      not partake of meat, eggs or milk. It is allowable to lessen the fast only
      in the case of severe illness, for small children, the feeble and elderly,
      and for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

      Be present at and attentively participate in the evening services before
      the day of Holy Communion.

      Explanation: Communion of the most pure Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus
      Christ is the highest form of communion with the Lord God. Communing is the
      completion, the culmination of our communion with God. If a person comes to
      the chalice without having gone through the struggle of prayer, through
      which he comes nearer to God, if he does not go through a process of
      ever-increasing interaction with God, then this leap, as it were, from
      noncommunion to the ultimate level of communion (i.e., Holy Communion) is
      too drastic. That person is unworthy at that point for the acceptance of
      the Body and Blood of the Lord, and for that person the Gifts become "fire,
      consuming the unworthy." In other words, for such a person, Communion
      brings not healing, but harm. This is why it is necessary to be at the
      Divine Services preceding Holy Communion, for they are one of the most
      important forms of interaction with God available to us, and thus an
      important component of our preparation.

      Those preparing for Communion must have Confession before or following the
      service on the eve before Holy Communion. Confession before Liturgy is
      permissible only as an exception for those who cannot come in the evening
      because of the condition of their health or for some other justifiable
      reason.

      Explanation: Since we must be in church on the eve of receiving Holy
      Communion, it is wise for us to have Confession at that time. In the
      evening there is no hurry; one can calmly and thoughtfully lay out one's
      thoughts. In the morning the priest is busy with the Proskomedia, and there
      is little time. Confession becomes hurried, incomplete. Only extreme need
      is cause enough to pull the priest away from the Proskomedia for morning
      Confession.

      Read at home all the prescribed preparatory prayers out of the prayer book.

      Explanation: One must definitely read "The Order of Preparation for Holy
      Communion" (found in the Jordanville Prayer Book).* Those who have not read
      these prayers should not partake of Holy Communion. The following should
      also be read before Holy Communion: 1) Supplicatory Canon to our Lord Jesus
      Christ 2) Supplicatory Canon to the Most Holy Theotokos 3) Canon to the
      Guardian Angel 4) Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ or Akathist to
      our Most Holy Lady Theotokos.

      Ask forgiveness and reconcile yourself with everyone with whom you have had
      an argument, misunderstanding or any deterioration in relationship. By
      taking Communion without full reconciliation with everyone we do ourselves
      great harm.

      Explanation: The Church exhorts us to be in peace with everyone through the
      following words which are written in the prayers preparing us for Holy
      Communion: "If thou desirest, O man, to eat the Body of the Mastery,
      approach with fear, lest thou be burnt; for It is fire. And when thou
      drinkest the Divine Blood unto communion, first be reconciled to them that
      have grieved thee, then dare to eat the Mystical Food."

      One must approach the Mysteries without having eaten or drunk anything from
      midnight on.

      Explanation: We prepare ourselves with fasting for the partaking of the
      Holy Gifts. The final period before Communion we intensify our abstention,
      and eat and drink nothing. Those who cannot do without certain medication
      may take it with Holy Water that morning. Small children may eat before
      Communion in the morning. The sick (for example, diabetics) and those who
      are weak can receive a blessing from their spiritual father (priest) to eat
      a small amount the morning of Communion.

      In the morning, one must come before the beginning of the service,
      respectfully venerate the icons, light candles, find a spot to stand and be
      prepared for the beginning of the reading of the Hours. One must listen
      attentively to the Hours and then to the Divine Liturgy.

      Explanation: The Hours are part of the cycle of services. They are also an
      important part of the process of preparation for Holy Communion for the
      same reason outlined above.

      Men are forbidden to come to Communion with their heads covered, according
      to the strict edict of the holy Apostle Paul. Women are forbidden to come
      to Communion with their heads uncovered, according to the same Apostle.
      (These rules apply not only when receiving the Holy Mysteries but at all
      times inside the temple.)

      Explanation: The Church follows the instruction of the Apostle Paul, who
      says in his first epistle to the Corinthians (II:4-5): Every man praying or
      prophesying having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman
      that prayeth and prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head.

      No one should take Holy Communion (or even come to church) with lipstick
      on.

      Explanation: Besides the fact that such a practice is not becoming for
      God's House, how many pages of our churches' Holy Gospels have been ruined
      by kissing with painted lips. How many church vessels, crosses, spoons,
      have been treated the same way. Look at our icons at the end of a service.
      They are covered with lipstick smears. Even the Holy Shroud, the Body of
      Christ, Who suffered for us, has been marred with lipstick.

      After receiving Holy Communion, one must stay and listen attentively to the
      thanksgiving prayers or diligently read them at home from the prayer book.

      Explanation: In Holy Communion we receive a great gift from God. We express
      our gratitude for God's great act of mercy through these thanksgiving
      prayers.

      At the end of the service, those who communed listen to the thanksgiving
      prayers and do not come up to venerate the Cross with everyone else. When
      the thanksgiving prayers are over, the Cross is brought out to the
      communicants for veneration.

      Explanation: The people who have not taken Holy Communion come up to the
      Cross immediately and receive a piece of antidoron, as a consolation that
      they were unable to take Holy Communion at this Liturgy. The communicants,
      without interruption, listen to the thanksgiving prayers and then venerate
      the Cross, since they have partaken of the True Gifts and have no need to
      receive the antidoron (which means "in place of the Gifts").

      Following Holy Communion, we piously return home, retain a prayerful and
      peaceful disposition, do good works, and exert all our efforts not to
      return to the sins from which we have been cleansed.

      (Fr. Gregory, a graduate of Holy Trinity Seminary, is rector of Holy
      Protection Russian Orthodox Church in Rochester, NY)

      taken from Orthodox America
    • Paul Bartlett
      ... There seem to have been in the past, and to be at present, different attitudes and disciplines regarding Holy Communion. What has been posted here seems
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 1 2:54 PM
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        On Tue, 1 Aug 2006, Basil Yakimov wrote:

        > CHURCH RULES FOR CONFESSION & HOLY COMMUNION
        > by Protopriest Gregory Naumenko
        >
        > "If thou desirest, O man, to eat the Body of the Master, approach with fear
        > lest thou be burnt, for It is fire."
        >
        > "Behold, I approach the Divine Communion. O Creator, let me not be burnt by
        > communicating, for Thou art Fire consuming the unworthy." (From the Prayers
        > Before Holy Communion)
        >
        > Those who desire to have Confession and to commune of the Holy Mysteries
        > must prepare properly, according to the rules instituted by the Holy
        > Orthodox Church. Namely:
        > [trimmed for brevity]

        There seem to have been in the past, and to be at present, different
        attitudes and disciplines regarding Holy Communion. What has been posted
        here seems to be only one set of attitudes and discipline, perhaps as
        especially prevailing in the Russian Church.

        One attitude, which is reflected in an accompanying discipline, is
        (more or less) that Holy Communion is a sort of reward for the
        righteous, those who have put themselves through a rigorous
        "training," so to speak. This attitude and discipline seem to be
        associated with infrequent Communion among the laity.

        Another attitude, which is reflected in another discipline, is that
        Holy Communion is healing and nourishing food and medicine for the
        weak and sinful. The discipline of preparation is less strict, and
        the attitude and practice seem to be associated with more frequent
        Communion among the laity.

        Back when I was Orthodox in ROCOR, my association was to some extent
        with those in the following of Holy Transfiguration Monastery (who
        later became HOCNA). There the attitude was that Holy Communion was
        a normal part of participation in the Divine Liturgy unless there was
        some grave reason not to receive. This is not to say that there was
        no discipline of preparation, only that it was less strict, perhaps in
        part in recognition of human weakness.

        --
        Paul Bartlett
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