OFTEN SHOULD WE RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION?
18th Century Archbishop of Corinth
receive Communion the usual two or three times a year is good and
helpful, but to receive Communion more frequently is far better.
Remember, the nearer a person comes to the light, the more light he
gets. The closer he draws to the fire, the warmer he is. The nearer he
approaches sanctity, the more saintly he becomes.
In the same way, the more often one draws near to God in Communion, the
more one receives light and warmth and holiness. My friend, if you are
worthy to make your Communion two or three times a year, you are worthy
of making it more often, as St. John Chrysostom tells us, by maintaining
your own earlier preparation and worthiness.
But what does stop us from taking Communion? The answer is our
carelessness and laziness, and we give way to these faults so much that
we are not sufficiently prepared to be able to receive Communion.
There is another way of looking at this problem, too. People like this
do not, in fact, obey God's commandment as they imagine they do. Where
did God, or any one of the saints for that matter, bid us communicate
two or three times a year? Nowhere is this found. Therefore we must be
very sure that, when we obey a command, it is our duty to see that we
are obeying it exactly as it says. That is, we must pay attention to the
place, the time, the purpose, the method and all the conditions in which
it should take place. Thus the good action that we wanted to perform
will be perfect in every detail and well pleasing to God.
You can see that the same thing applies to the case of Holy Communion.
It is both necessary and very beneficial to the soul for a person to
receive Communion frequently. It is also in obedience to the commandment
of God. It is a good deed well done and well-pleasing to God. On the
other hand to communicate only three times a year is neither in
obedience to a command nor a perfect good deed. Because it is not good
in itself, its results are not good.
Therefore, like all the rest of God's commandments, every one requires
the right time, as it says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "For
everything there is a season."
This is true also with regard to the command about Holy Communion. We
must receive the proper time; and that means the proper time is the
moment when the priest exclaims, "In the fear of God and with faith
and love draw near."
Is this heard only three times a year? Oh, no. Yet, although everyone
must eat two or even three times a day in order that the material body
may live, must the unfortunate soul only eat three times a year-or
perhaps even once-the food that gives it life in order to live the
spiritual life? And isn't this completely absurd? Even if this is not
the case, I am very much afraid that we may be deriving no benefit from
complying with the commandments, because we water them down and spoil
them. So we are not keepers of the law, but breakers of the law.
PRAYERS BEFORE COMMUNION
I believe, Lord and I confess that You are truly the Christ, Son of the
living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the
greatest. Moreover, I believe that this is in truth Your sacred Body and
that this is in truth Your precious Blood. Therefore, I beseech You,
have mercy on me and forgive me my offenses, both voluntary and
involuntary, whether in word or deed,
willing or unwilling; and render me worthy to partake of Your sacred
mysteries without condemnation, for remission of sins and everlasting
Son of God, receive me today as a partaker of Your mystical supper; for
I will not speak of the mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You the
kiss of Judas. But like the thief I will confess You. Remember me, Lord,
in Your kingdom.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
We thank You, loving Master, benefactor of our souls, that again today
You have counted us worthy of Your heavenly and immortal Mysteries. Set
us a straight path; make us all firm in reverence of You; keep watch
over our lives; safeguard our movements; through the prayers and
intercession of the glorious Theotokos and ever-virgin, Mary and of all
Your saints. Amen.
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