Thoughts on Holy Communion

We are preparing to open the church for parishioners to join in person for the services and offer everyone the opportunity to receive Holy Communion. I would like to appeal to everyone to consider very seriously what we are doing, as we approach to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. There are certain requirements for preparation, including asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession, offering forgiveness to others, and immersion in prayer.

Here is a set of Prayers in Preparation for Holy Communion:  http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/about/scobaresources/military/prayers/holy-communion-prayers-text

The Church has had a method of giving Holy Communion for so many centuries and did not change it even in the midst of plagues and other serious pandemics. That same method will continue to be followed unchanged, even in the midst of all other changes.
This is a great opportunity for everyone (on a personal level) to stop and ask the question as to what Holy Communion is to them. Is Holy Communion regular bread and wine? Or, is Holy Communion more than that? What is it to each one of us personally? And how important is it?
We, as Orthodox Christians, understand that Holy Communion is the greatest miracle that happens on earth, as the bread and wine is transformed in a mystical way, through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, to the Life Giving Body and Blood of Christ, the Risen Christ, who re-created humanity in Himself as He allowed Himself to be crucified and rise from the dead. What we receive in Holy Communion is the Risen Body of Christ, given to us so that we may receive Glorification in Him and Life Eternal. In the words of St. Ignatius (from the 2nd century), it is the “antidote to death”, given to us for immortality – Life Eternal.
Of course, in our secular rationalistic thinking we could see a problem with HOW we receive Holy Communion, and this becomes the challenge from a Faith perspective: What is Holy Communion? and WHY do we receive it? Not HOW we receive it! It seems to me, that the Coronavirus and it’s consequences have become an opportunity to help us get to the answers and make those personal decisions. That is perhaps one of the reasons why God has allowed this pandemic to hit us so hard and so broadly and for so long. We need to reconsider what we have been doing and why we have been doing it. Why should we even be receiving Holy Communion? Is it even necessary? And if we think it is, we need to decide why. 
It is possible that many people might have been coming to Communion unprepared and without a good understanding of what they are doing, more like a custom, or a habit, or to show that they are good and deserve it, or even worse, as a confirmation to themselves and others that they are indeed members of the local Club.
This is the time to reconsider who we are, what we believe in what we are doing.
I welcome more discussion if necessary.
In Christ’s Love,
Fr. Panayiotis

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