Sunday, November 14, 2010

‎"One must never communicate without having a clean soul. We must strive to purify our souls when we receive Jesus. Even in the final moments, in the queue of people who will receive communion, we can purify our souls a little more by making acts of repentance. People who communicate without having confessed grave sins are not conscious of what they receive. If they were, they would not do so."

-Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea.


NBW said...

This is sooooo true! I I see a multitude of people going up for Communion; sometimes they look like zombies. Are they truly aware?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

In the Russian Church one is generally not permitted to commune unless one has taken confession within the last 24 hrs and received the blessing of one's spiritual father to do so. Casual communion is one of the great banes of our age.

Mark of the Vineyard said...


Thank you for confirming that such a practice exists. I was not sure if such was the case in other non-Roman Churches. Do you know when this practice started? Perhaps you may not be aware, but this kind of practice is now considered, in the Roman Church, somewhat Jansenistic. Even those of us who don't commune (materially) frequently are sometimes looked at askew.

John (Ad Orientem) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John (Ad Orientem) said...

The practice of the ancient Church was for weekly communion. In fact the canons actually pronounced excommunication on any who without good cause failed to commune three weeks in succession. After the conversion of the Slavs (987)there began a slow divergence in some minor matters of discipline from the practice of the Imperial Capital.

Among those was the development of an extremely powerful sense of reverence for the Holy Mysteries of the Altar which was promoted by the monastic communities. This accelerated after the fall of the Empire (1453). By the time of turn of the 17th century many Russians communed only thrice after reaching the age of reason. Those occasions being following their first (and far too often last) confession, their wedding, and when on their death bed.

This situation had reached a point where during the reign of Czar Peter Alexievitch the (not so) Great the Church with the approval of the Czar issued a decree which has since been adopted by almost every Orthodox Church, mandating Confession and Communion at least once a year.

To this day in Russia and many Orthodox countries about half the population Commune only once a year, usually at Easter (Pascha). The more observant will also commune on the four Great Feasts (Nativity, Pascah, Sts Peter & Paul and the Dormition) as also on their name day. Only the most fervent commune more frequently, sometimes once a month usually on or around the twelve major feasts.

Also in Russia it is considered fairly normative to fast as strictly as possible during the week preceding reception of Communion and to abstain from the privileges of marriage after taking Confession until after Communing the Holy Mysteries. I hasten to add that these are not canonical requirements (except during the four fasts).

Some people argue, not without cause I think, that the pendulum may have swung too far in the direction of abstaining from Communion. Today there is a conscious effort in Russia and elsewhere to increase the frequency of taking Communion provided it is done with appropriate respect and preparation.


Anonymous said...

I think North American Catholics should be more vigilant with the Holy Gifts.

When I was a child, I was baptized Catholic but actually in my heart and practice a Protestant. When I was dragged to Mass, I sometimes went up for Communion, and if I mimicked the people ahead of me in the line, I could partake with the priest (or as it often was, the lay minister) none the wiser.

(I never went to confession and never had my first communion).

However, in a Vancouver parish, the priest somehow discerned that I wasn't a "real" Catholic and gave me a blessing instead.

Anyway, I'm Orthodox now and wouldn't even dare take communion if I broke the Sunday fast. Confession the day before is not a strict requirement, but I've made it a point to confess especially if I screwed up on something I confessed earlier.

Also the whole tight-lippedness of Communion in Russia shocks me. If you're not gonna commune, why go to church?

Mark of the Vineyard said...


There is such a thing as spiritual communion. As a Roman Catholic I was taught that if I do not commune sacrimentally at Mass, then that I should make an act of spiritual communion. Also, going to Mass isn't simply a matter of going to church to receive communion. One goes first and foremost to adore God.