Posted by: oldbelieving | January 19, 2012

Orthodox Spirituality Part 5: How to Prepare for Holy Communion, by Fr. Alexey Young

Lesson 5: How to Prepare for Holy Communion

-seeds of holiness planted within us at Baptism, Chrismation- must nourish seeds – prayer, fasting, almsgiving, imitate Christ and Saints, etc

-equivalent of sun in spiritual life is Holy Spirit- acts upon us in sacraments, esp. Chrismation- Church is seedbed of holiness

-water seeds, pull out weeds- discover spiritual path as tremendous adventure- about going home to God!

-secular institutions even used to help with this- taverns observed fasts- in Russia it was against law for establishments to provide non-fasting foods

-taverns, inns had icons, vigil lamps, etc- constant reminder that Heaven is watching

-old Orthodox lands didn’t even have word for “homosexuality” bc so rare

-in America we lack this outside help, its more like times of persecution- even here in “freedom” we are persecuted by materialism, coldness, etc

-Sacraments come into focus even more sharply in terms of what we need to do- in Russia even if not particularly observant you’d commune at least once a year, if didn’t you were arrested

-all grace comes from Christ, shared out in the Church; when participate in liturgical life, Sacraments we affirm that Christ keeps His word and bestows grace on Church to build it up

-normal spiritual life has frequent contact w/ Christ in sacraments- Confession, Eucharist are channels of grace

-in Confession we receive Christ Who said “go and sin no more”

-in Eucharist we receive full humanity and divinity – He Who resurrected and Ascended – cannot enter Kingdom without it, will die spiritually- John 6

-Eucharist is medicine of immortality, antidote of death, “I am the Way, Truth, Life”

-too many receive Communion lightly- need to approach more seriously

-“many among you who are sick bc eaten and drunk Body and Blood unworthily” – there can be physical illness from receiving Communion without proper preparation- NOT just a nice ritual- divine banquet, Host is King of Heaven Who feeds us with Himself

-founders of Meteora- not priests, dependent on priest to come to them

-first time priest came they all receive, after Liturgy say to each other “we have same Blood in our veins now, by this we are true brothers” – this is how we should think about it- more closely united to each other through Eucharist than we are to own children

-husband and wife become one as receive Eucharist together- wedding should be in context of Liturgy

-it is Eucharist that makes them one, NOT legal procedure

-receiving Communion isn’t a right, it’s a gift- it involves preparation, thought, repentance, confession, etc

-receive as often as possible, but in state of preparation!- attend Vespers on Sat.- shouldn’t receive otherwise

-earlier on Sat. already preparing for Sat. night, Sunday morning- sense of approaching Lord as beggar – when he comes to me will my house be clean? What do I especially need help with? He can give me power I need to deal with this

-at moment of receiving tell Christ what we need- He is ours at that moment; whole Liturgy should be a pouring out of ourselves in preparation

-many Saints used from Wed-Sat to prepare, Sun-Tues for thanksgiving- we have little Divine Energy in our lives if we don’t do this – otherwise we might as well not receive, and it might even be dangerous

Bp. Nektary Kontzevitch: be not quick to spill out the grace you’ve received

-don’t go out and chatter in parish hall, reflect on grace given to you – when you fall in love you don’t run from that person – you’ve just received Christ, His Blood is literally in your veins- stay and spend time with Him

-take at least 10 mins for thanksgiving (St. John took 3 hours)– pray, don’t talk, don’t rush out

-this correlate with ppl arriving just on time or even late – lack of preparation – you get to work on time to please earthly boss – what about He Who has power over life and death?

-may be times when shouldn’t receive if its your fault you didn’t properly prepare

-need discernment though–maybe you didn’t prepare bc stressful event in family – then you NEED Communion

-Lord expects tithe of time as well as treasure, talent – more time in prayer at home, in Church

-when Christ asked “will you not watch with Me for a while”- has to do with vigil at Church, home, nepsis

-through Communion the energies of God enter our hearts – ascetic practices prepare soil of our heart to receive

-Son of God enters into our own world through window of Mysteries

-in West asceticism and hesychasm were lost as necessary preparation for laity- this is great danger for us today

St. Gregory Palamas: healing that must take place achieved through sacramental and hesychastic life in combination, outside this combo there is no Orthodox life, spirituality, theology

-without this combo we receive unworthily- grace granted freely through sacraments to those who have prepared – necessary to cooperate with Divine Energy to receive benefits and repentance

-grace of sacraments doesn’t operate magically

-John 6:27 labor not for meat which perishes but that which is unto eternal life which Son of Man gives to us

-must work to receive eternal life in Eucharist

-must read post-Communion prayers

-God is consuming fire- bliss to the saved, torment to the damned

-in lives of many Saints fire has been seen coming down into chalice (St. Basil, St. Seraphim, etc)

Q: what about those that don’t celebrate true Eucharist?

A: don’t believe theyre receiving Body, Blood so it isn’t – they’ll be judged according to life they’ve been given

-we cant judge whats going on btwn them and God

Q: is God in us more when receive Eucharist? Is He in us when we’re not thinking about Him, etc?

A: God is everywhere, filling all things- sustains all things- if He ceased to love us we wouldn’t exist

-he who dwells in love dwells in God and God in him, perfect love casts our fear

-cant quantify how much God we have, but in Eucharist we receive fullness, yet at same time His grace and Spirit are everywhere

-not question of quantitative but of concentration on presence of God

Q: body is temple of Holy Spirit- do we remain temple even when sinning?

A: always temple from Chrismation on – but needs good cleaning from time to time- becomes unfit abode for Holy Spirit – prevent Him from acting by our uncleanness – keeping seeds from growing but theyre still there

Q: how do we get off path?

A: its like a trip – many things can get us off track – no real guarantee that we’ll arrive safely, or at all

-spiritual life is same- we’re in process- not ended yet so don’t know outcome

-don’t worry too much about end as long as living spiritual life, but be aware that we could have accident, be sober and careful

-God loves unconditionally despite sin – we back away from Him, not He from us

-we want to get away with stuff and still have all prayers answered, otherwise we have problem with God – its amazing that He puts up with this – its because He has such respect for our free will

Q: can we crash so badly that we cant get back on path?

A: can always get back on, God allows us to live as long as we need to attain salvation, as long as we don’t use it as excuse to start spiritual life later

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