Believers started having communion in every liturgy when they discovered the meaning of participation and the greatness of being nourished through the body of the Lord. Without any doubt, lots of people receive many graces through this. However, such large act requires a great purification as we cannot approach communion automatically or with levity but with an honest repentance. No one of us can judge the other and say within himself: “This person does this and that, how does he have the courage to approach?” This is not your business; you must only be concerned in purifying your soul. In this sense, the apostle has said: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves”.
What does being worthy mean? Is any person in the universe worthy of communion, even if he had a true repentance? For Paul, this is a call for man to be aware of the state of his soul and to regret what he has done and promise the Lord not to repeat the sin intentionally. Yes, it is beneficial for him to confess for his spiritual father or any other priest in case he couldn’t reach the spiritual father. This must occur several times per year and also whenever the believer commits a big sin which made him feel away from the Lord.
However, if the sacrament of repentance wasn’t practiced, there should be a serious and good preparation. When you spend a long Saturday night eating and drinking and having all kinds of conversations, you wouldn’t be getting qualified to participate in the Lord’s banquet. In order to be alone with Jesus in your soul, you must be isolated from what is against the calmness of the soul.
This is the chastity that pushes towards Jesus’ visage. We express this movement towards the Lord by starting on Saturday night or on the eve of the feast our conversation with the Savior. In some Orthodox communities, no one can have communion unless he participated in the Vespers. At least, you must stay home and perform some prayers: The fixed passages of the Vespers, the Small Compline and then the Metalipsis – that could be found in the Horologion – which is a group of prayers that urge us to repent and get us closer to the Lord’s body.
In the morning, you should go to Church early. The Matins is a preparatory service and I do not understand why we have neglected it. However, you must attend the whole Liturgy. For if you arrived late or in the midst of the Anaphora or some minutes before communion, you seriously shouldn’t have communion. This carries a lot of levity.
Alongside prayer, reading the New Testament makes you meditate in it and become filled with the Lord’s meanings which would dwell in your heart and purify it. During prayer, you speak to the Lord, while through the Holy Book He speaks to you by entering the folds of your soul and inviting it to repentance. The words of the Lord give you eternal life. If you read this Book daily, you would purify your soul more and more and see yourself close to the Lord’s body and blood.
The important thing is the situation of your soul. Do you have spite or hatred towards anyone or did you forgive? And if you have committed a bad thing towards someone, did you ask for forgiveness and did you love? I knew a generation of priests, thirty or forty years ago, that had an essential question: “Are you on bad terms with anyone?” They used to command us to go to that person and ask for forgiveness and if we refused, they would forbid us from having communion. This is what we should preserve.
Then, there remains what is related to the decency of women. This is a condition to enter the Church. If a woman doesn’t have the ability to wear decent clothes, then it isn’t proper for her to enter the Church at the first place. Since we are brothers, it isn’t acceptable for the woman to harm the man. She knows what does decency mean and doesn’t need anyone to teach her.
Everyone is welcome before the Holy Grail. However, approaching it requires awareness and understanding and appreciation to the sanctity of the sacraments in order for Jesus’ purity to descend on us so that we don’t eat and drink judgment on ourselves.
Translated by Mark Najjar
Original Text: “الاستعداد للمناولة” –Raiati 44- 03.11.2002Continue reading