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THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY COMMUNION
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ established this sacrament.
The night before he was betrayed, He set down with His disciples at the Upper Room, after having washed the feet of His disciples as a sign of humility, in the middle of the Passover Dinner He took a cup of wine and He said: "Drink of it all this is my blood, which is shed for you and for the remission of your sins,"
Then He took the bread and said: "Take it, this is my body, which is broken for you and for the remission of your sins, do this in memory of me."
Since that night, when the disciples were gathered and were given the dinners called, dinner of love, they were repeating this act. All the first Christians were receiving this Holy Communion from the hands of the Disciples or priests or deacons. With the years, prayers and hymns were connected before and after receiving the Holy Communion. So the Divine Liturgy was established. The Divine Liturgy that we celebrate every Sunday and Feast Day is performed for the Holy Communion, which is the heart of the Divine Liturgy. Anybody can not receive Holy Communion; first of all you have to fast and go to HOLY CONFESSION, in order to clean yourself from any temptation in deed and in thought. With the Orthodox Church Philosophy, you have to fast at least 3 days or one week, in order to receive the Holy Communion. You have to show kind of sacrifice from yourself and clean your body in order to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Bread and the wine are transformed with the power of the Holy Spirit during Divine Liturgy and become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The Orthodox Church never taught or believed that the bread and the wine represents the Body and Blood of Christ but IS THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. At the Last Supper Jesus Christ did not say this represents my body and this represents my blood, but He said: "This is my body and this is my blood."
So the Sacrament of the Holy Communion is Christ Himself. It is the most sacred Sacrament, where the faithful is united with His Lord and Savior, and makes his/her body a Cave of Bethlehem where the Son of God will dwell in it.
In order to stress the sacredness of this practice the Orthodox Church has special prayers before and after receiving Holy Communion. In these prayers explains the greatness and the holiness of the action. Non-orthodox can not receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church.
All who receive Holy Communion from the same cup have to confess the same faith, the common faith. As long as we have dogmatic differences with the other denominations of Christianity we can not receive from the same cup. Neither, an Orthodox faithful is allowed to receive Holy Communion from another Christian Church. If the orthodox person does this, this means that he denies the orthodox teachings and becomes heretic.
There is on going theological dialogue among the Christian Denominations, in order to solve these dogmatical differences since the split of one Christian Church on the VIIth century. Until the IVth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon, there was one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Despite different point of views and expressions which were condemned by the Ecumenical Synods.
But at the IVth Ecumenical Synod the churches who disagreed about the nature of Christ , split from the main body of the Church and established the monophysite Churches, that accept that Jesus had only one Nature not two (God and Man). Later other churches split for political reasons and today we have more then 800 denominations from which only with the old denominations the Orthodox Church is on dialogue.
In conclusion in order to receive Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, you have to confess the same faith and keep the rules and regulations of receiving Holy Communion.
In order to receive Holy Communion, a person has to fast at least three days or one week; there are circumstances that we fast 40 days like before Easter, before Christmas or 15 days before August 15th or before Christmas starting December 12th. There are also days that the Church asks from her faithful to fast one day only to honor the feast day or the eve of a feast day.
First Children has to start fasting when they are 8 years old only two or three days, not strict. They are allowed to receive Holy Communion since their Baptism and the fasting regulations do not apply to children up to 8 years old.
A person in clear conscience. A person who received absolution of his/her sins through Holy Confessioncan fast and receive Holy Communion.
The theory of receiving 3 times a year is wrong, also to receive it every week is not necessary. It will be nice a Christian person to be united with the Lord once or twice a month in order to live a good and active spiritual live. It is a grave sin not to receive for many years Holy Communion, except if the spiritual Father has put a restriction of a period time. This period time the maximum according to the Canon Law is two years, in the extreme conditions.
I hear that some people, especially concerned mothers, do not bring their children to receive communion because they are scared of different diseases. The Orthodox Church uses one Holy Spoon and one Holy Chalice to distribute the Holy Body and Holy Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do not believe that we are receiving the same Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then we are not worthy to receive Holy Communion.
At the Last Supper our Lord took the bread and said:"THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU AND FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS" then he took the cup with the wine and said:" THIS IS MY BLOOD WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS". ALSO He said: "DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME".
He gave this message to the disciples and through the disciples to the clergy to perform the Holy Communion for the faithful Christians to be united in Him. So at the end of the Divine Liturgy we do not receive bread and wine but the real BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. The bread and the wine are transformed into Christ during the Divine Liturgy with the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is why we fast and we go to confession in order to cleanse ourselves from every sin in order to receive Jesus Christ in us and be united with Him.
If the concern of these people were true, then we would not have any clergy left alive now and in the history of the HOLY Church because at the end of the Divine Liturgy the priest consumes everything that is left in the Holy Chalice.
There have been instances in which priests in the hospital have given Holy Communion to patients dying with AIDS and other diseases and still consumes the rest of the prepared Holy Communion and nothing has happened to any of the clergy.
SO BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE RECEIVING THE REAL BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE HOLY COMMUNION. This is the command of our Lord who instituted the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Communion at the Last Supper, as His Last will to the Disciples and to all Christians before His Crucifixion and death. At his first appearance after HIS GLORIOUS Resurrection He gave two commands to the disciples to forgive or retain the sins and to go all over the world to preach whatever He taught them and Baptize them in the Name of the Holy Trinity. In His teaching the Last Supper is His Last will before sacrificing Himself for the sins of the world.
So even to think of it is considered a sin, because we question and do not believe the teachings of the Son of God.
At the center of the life of the Church is the Holy Eucharist, which is the principal celebration of our faith and the means through which we participate in the very life of the Holy Trinity. Learn more»