Posts Tagged ‘communion’

Every time I made it to Divine Liturgy while he was with my parish, or just about,* the priest who Chrismated me, preceded Communion with a collective reminder about the o/Orthodox understanding of the Mysteries (sacraments) as special encounters with God’s Uncreated Energies.  I can’t remember it verbatim, but he said Communion is like a fire that risks consuming the unprepared, but purifies those who receive it with preparation, including prayer, fasting, repentance, Confession if necessary, reconciliation with others if necessary, reverence, etc.  I also remember either hearing or reading somewhere – not from him IIRC – a story about someone who once received Communion without preparation, and immediately fell down dead.  I’m reminded of St. Symeon Metaphrastes’ Prayer of Thanksgiving After Communion.  I’m also reminded of Fr. John Romanides’ words about how we will all see God’s Glory in the end, but for those who haven’t struggled for Purification, God’s Energies won’t be experienced as Uncreated Light, but purifying fire: IIUC this fire’s job of purifying is never completed because God is infinitely better than we are, whereas if you’ve at least tried to put yourself on the right trajectory in life, God may, as Orthodox constantly pray, “have mercy.”  And my own conclusion: Created light burns up close but lights at a distance, whereas Uncreated Light lights up close, but burns at a distance.

PS: Nobody’s “worthy” to receive.  The best we can do is prepare, and hope in God’s Mercy.

(*–My health usually prevents me, so I don’t know if he does this all the time.)

Excommunication, for Orthodoxy, is not expulsion from membership in the Church, merely barring from receiving Communion, usually temporarily, on account of some sin or other offense taken particularly seriously by Holy Tradition or the Canons.  This article is very informative.  In fact, when Latins discuss this kind of excommunication, they state that you’re still required to do all the things Latins are required to do, such as attend Mass under penalty of mortal sin, etc. – just not receive Communion – which comes as a surprise to most folks who believe excommunication is expulsion from the Church.  We Orthodox don’t express it that way, but I would think one temporarily suspended from receiving Communion would be encouraged to avail him/herself of all the other opportunities for Grace in the Orthodox Church nevertheless.  Historically, some excommunications called for in the Canons didn’t apply on one’s deathbed, ie, if you were dying while under such a temporary ban, you could receive anyway.

(NB: At least traditionally, it seems, the Communion of Rome had a number of other kinds of excommunication, which probably color the general view of the subject among Westerners.  As one who spent some time with the Mennonites, I was shocked to learn that the Amish [related to them] didn’t invent shunning, but that it had been part of the Latin tradition!)