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Question 152

I'm told over and over all the time that to have holy communion I must go na ximoloitho (confession) I tried can't don't feel comfortable I do all the fasting is that right ?          


Answer to Question 152


The General guidelines for receiving Communion which most Priests will tell you is that if you keep all the fasts in the Churchís year, that is: every Wednesday and Friday, The Lenten fast, Holy Week, The Apostleís fast, The August fast, and the Advent fast, and have the blessing of your Spiritual Father, then you can have Communion whenever you want.  But letís look at the question a little deeper. Who is worthy of partaking? St. Paul says: "whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Cor. 11: 27-29)  Everyone sins, but not all sins were considered as sins that barred people from approaching the Holy Chalice. In general most small everyday sins were not considered as needing cleansing before having access to Holy Communion, because the Sacrament of Holy Communion is itself a Sacrament for the cleansing and forgiveness of sins. What is necessary is to be at peace with all people: Christ said: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matth. 5:23-24)  The bread and wine used in the Divine Liturgy are our offering of thanksgiving to God at the altar, for having saved us by sending his only begotten Son to be sacrificed that we might become co-heirs with him in the kingdom of Heaven. Accordingly we must be reconciled with all men before making this offering. All Orthodox Christians are obliged to have Communion every time they attend the Divine Liturgy. If we go back a few centuries, we see that it was not allowed for someone to remain in Church if he/she was not to have Communion. If for example they were under a penance and were not allowed to receive Communion, they had to leave the Church after the reading of the Gospel or at the latest when the Priest exclaimed "The Doors, The Doors", whereby the doors of the Church were shut.  If we go back even further to the first four centuries we know that Christians in those days had regular and even daily Communion, can we then assume that they confessed their sins before partaking? Of course not! The Sacrament of Confession was still not developed into the Sacrament that we know today. From those first centuries the Sacrament of Confession has changed drastically and in our times it has become "a passport" for Holy Communion. There are people who will not have Communion unless they confess their sins before each Communion. This is an exaggeration of the requirements needed. Unless someone has fallen into a grave sin that would bar him from Holy Communion, once or twice a year at the most is sufficient for most people.