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Question 333

May I please ask you. Do we have to have confession before Communion? 

   

 

Answer to Question 333

 

I cannot give a general answer to this question because people will then go for Holy Communion unprepared. 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.

 

Same member

Thank you very much for the advice. So basically before having communion i have to forget and forgive those who hurt me and do me harm. not to have parapono, and not speak of those who hurt me. if i forgive those who hurt me and they still treat me bad then how can i not feel bad and angry, that means i still cant have communion?

Sorry, i was christened and go to Church but i don't understand any of it, i don't want to sound disrespectful but i go from time to time and pray, light a candle and do my cross when i see others do it because to be honest i don't know when im supposed to. I really apologize. I do believe in our Lord and Jesus but i get mixed information from different people who are church goers but i know a lot of people who go, are like me and don't understand it, we just do what our mothers/parents told us to do as children. We never even had a service often where i grew up and even now we have our own church but only about 10 people attend a service which is every two weeks

 

Reply

One of the most difficult things to achieve is to acquire the humility to forgive others for the wrongs they have done against us whether big and serious or small and trivial. Christ says that forgiveness for our own sins is achieved through our brother. He reveals to us the shortest route by which we can receive forgiveness from God. If we show charity and love for the wrongs of our brother we receive an audience before God when we pray and ask him to forgive our own sins. This is what we pray every time we say the Lordís Prayer: ďAnd forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against usĒ. The fathers of the Church say that when our heart is bright with the light of reconciliation with our brethren, it receives the grace of the good things we pray for.

 

This rule to forgive to be forgiven is probably one of the most difficult to put into practice because it is opposed by our fallen human nature which is governed by egocentricity, a self pride, a hardness of heart, the remembrance of evils and resentfulness, and a feeling of wanting justice and revenge, that is why forgiving is not an easy thing to do. One way to be more forgiving is to remember that humans are weak and are easily influenced by the demons to do bad. If we learn to blame the evil one for the wrongs others have done against us then we can learn to forgive the person himself and even pray for him that God will protect him from the influences of evil. Or course that doesnít mean that we are obliged to make that person a close friend. We can be polite to such persons and show them that we bare no hatred or bad feelings towards them, but if our characters do not mix then we reserve the right to choose who we allow into our circle of close friends and can simply observe formalities with them.