Author Topic: Why do priests take Communion in the altar?  (Read 981 times)

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Offline Chuck S.

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Why do priests take Communion in the altar?
« on: February 17, 2004, 03:35:36 PM »


Hi, first, Im not sure if this is in the right section or not. But it seemed more like a Liturgical question than a Faith or doctrinal one!

Anyways, recently, (just this weekend) I was asked a question an enquirer in Orthodoxy who had attended an Orthodox service for the first time. The question was, why does the priest take Communion within the Altar and behind the Iconostasis, and not outside with everyone else? (obviously you can tell this person thinks like a protestant even though they are a recent convert to Catholicism)

Well, for some reason, in my conversion to Orthodoxy, this question never came up. I never wondered about it, because it just seemed like 'common sense' that the priest would take Communion in the Altar. So it was never an issue for me However, because I never asked the question, I didn't have an answer for this person.

I know all the practical reasons for it. Which are pretty obvious. I"m wondering more about the theological reasons? I'd like to be able to answer this question if ever asked again. (though personally I think the question does make much sense, where else would the priest take Communion?) But if there is a theogical reason, some symbolism, or anything like that, I'd be curious to know what it is. So does anyone know?

Thanks in advance....
In Christ, Thomas

Offline Chuck S.

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Re:Why do priests take Communion in the altar?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2004, 03:40:44 PM »

Sorry, for the typos. I tried to find the modify button but couldn't find it. So hope its not too confusing! :)

In Christ, Thomas

Offline arimethea

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Re:Why do priests take Communion in the altar?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2004, 04:24:41 PM »
Each priest communions himself at the altar first by partaking of the body then by takeing (some say 3 others say 1) sip(s) from the chalice. The deacons are then communed by the priest. In the ancient practice the people would also commune this way but abuses by the laity (like taking the body home and comsuming during the week and to other extreme being messy with crumbs which was a lack of respect towards the body) ended this practice.

It comes down to the fact that this is part of their Priestly function and harkens back to their ordination when they hold the host and are told to proctect it until the second coming.  Hope this helps.
Joseph