Only Baptized and Chrismated Orthodox Christians who have prepared by fasting, prayer, and recent confession may receive communion at St. Jonah. You should also make every effort to attend the Vigil service the evening prior, and should be on time for the Liturgy.
Receiving communion is a very serious matter, as both Scripture and Tradition make clear. We believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and that by partaking of communion we are united with Christ, and with one another in a unity of Faith. Speaking of the seriousness with which we should approach the Eucharist, St. Paul says:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).
St. John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage says:
“I give counsel to everyone among you, whether man or woman, whether great or small, to anyone of you that may be guilty of sin, convicted by your own counsels, that first you must repent and confess your sins, that you may dare, considering yourself unworthy, to approach and touch the Divine Fire Itself. For our God is a consuming Fire, and they, therefore, who with faith and fear draw near to the God and King and Judge of us all, shall burn and scorch their sins; and It shall enlighten and sanctify their souls. But It shall burn and scorch with shame, the souls and bodies of them that draw near with unbelief. Therefore, many among you are ill and sleep in sickness, that is, many are dying unconfessed and unrepentant” (Homily on Holy Thursday).
On the one hand,
we must approach communion with fear and trembling, but on the other, we should desire it with all our hearts, and not refrain long from communion, so that (as we hear in the pre-communion prayers) we
“may not by long abstaining from Thy communion become the prey of the spiritual wolf.”
Normally, one should have kept the appointed fasts during the previous week, and should not eat or drink anything from the midnight prior to receiving communion. Exceptions are made for small children, the elderly, and those with a physical infirmity. If someone has a health problem that prevents them from fasting, this is something that they should discuss with their spiritual father, but no one should endanger their health by fasting if this prevents them from taking necessary medications, or if fasting makes their condition worse.
The pre-communion prayers are found in most Orthodox prayer books.
Confessions are normally heard during and following the Saturday evening Vigil, however, if you need to go to confession at some other time, speak to the priest so that arrangements can be made.
Some people cannot attend the Vigil, because of distance, health issues, employment, or transportation issues. If so, you should pray at home, perhaps praying an Akathist, or simply the Jesus Prayer. However, if you can be at the Vigil, you should put forth the effort. Also, one should be on time for the Divine Liturgy, but if you arrive after the Gospel reading, you should not approach the chalice, because at the very least you should have been illumined by hearing the Gospel reading of the day (this is a rule laid down by our Bishop).
If you are visiting our parish, are Orthodox, and wish to receive communion, it is best to let the priest know in advance so that questions don’t have to be asked when you approach the chalice. You can also let the parish warden (James Hall) know that you wish to commune, and he can let the priest know – and if you ask just about anyone you see in the parish who the warden is, they can point him out to you.
You can contact the priest by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 281-467-0264.