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Author Topic: The rules of preparation for Communion  (Read 1913 times) Average Rating: 5
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Serg-antr
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« on: November 02, 2012, 03:42:03 AM »

Friends,
I would like to know what the rules of preparation for Communion taken in yours parishes.
In Ukraine (, and Russia),usually this is:
1. Fasting at least 3 days
2. Confession on the eve of
3. Rule of prayer - canons: Penitential , to the Mother of God, to the Guardian Angel, The Service of Communion with the prayers.
4. From midnight nothing to eat.

About a spiritual component of preparation for Communion I do not talk in this thread, only the formal rules. Those who did not fulfill at least one of these rules, the priests in most cases do not admit to Communion.

And how in yours parishes?
How often do you receive Communion?
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 08:02:42 AM »

What I know for Poland:

1. Observe all the fasts during the year (Wednesday, Friday, Great Lent etc.)
a) if somebody had not participating in the Holy Eucharist a long time, he fasts a few days.
b) I know some priests in Serbia demands fasting the whole week and very strictly (even without oil). On the other hand, some real believers commune quite frequently and fast only on the days it's prescribed

2. Prayers before Communion (at least all these 12 prayers, morning and evening prayers, canons can be also read but not necessarily)

3. Of course strict fast from midnight (no food, no drink)

4. Confession - during the Liturgy you want to commune or on the eve before; however,
a) some people are blessed by their confessors to commune e.g every Sunday and go to confession at least once a month
b) sometimes there is general blessing to take the Eucharist without confession just before it: e.g. pilgrimages; if you go for the Liturgy also the next day; Holy Week; Christmas (if you had participated in something what is called "rekolekcje" - "goveniya" - spiritual teachings + prayers + confession done only on Great Lent and Philip's Fast, as for the second one usually one week before Nativity)


I rather don't want to say how often I commune because I don't want to fall into pride. I can say only that I don't go to confession every time before receiving the Holy Eucharist
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Orthodox11
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 08:56:08 AM »

In my Greek parish, this is what is normally followed:
1. Regular confession (exactly how often is up to you and your Spiritual Father)
2. Keeping all the fasts the week before.
3. Reading the Prayers of Preparation before the Liturgy.
4. Fasting from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, oil and wine after vespers.
5. Total fast from Midnight.

I know the same is true for Cyprus. I don't have much experience of Greece outside of Mount Athos, but the few priests I do know there also follow the above.
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Serg-antr
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 09:17:38 AM »

2. Keeping all the fasts the week before.
You keep the fasts of Wednesday and Friday, or regardless of this keep fast the week before Communion?
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 09:48:33 AM »

You keep the fasts of Wednesday and Friday, or regardless of this keep fast the week before Communion?

If it's a normal week, Wednesday and Fridays. If it's a during a fasting period, whatever the rules are for that week.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 09:48:53 AM by Orthodox11 » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2012, 11:52:10 AM »

Ahem...no hanky-panky either.
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Serg-antr
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2012, 02:06:43 PM »

Ahem...no hanky-panky either.
Sorry, I do not quite understand English. Could not translate. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2012, 02:09:34 PM »

Ahem...no hanky-panky either.
Sorry, I do not quite understand English. Could not translate. Smiley
No sexual relations.
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Serg-antr
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 02:17:45 PM »

No sexual relations.
Yes, I forgot to this rule, we have it too.
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age234
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 03:45:47 PM »

At my parish:

1. Regular confession, at least once per month. If you have committed a serious sin (breaking the fast, lying, etc.), you must go to confession before going to communion.

2. Strict fast from midnight. (no food or sex)

3. Pre-communion prayers. (At minimum, the 6 printed in the Antiochian pocket prayer book. Ideally, the full pre-communion service with all 12 of the traditional prayers.)
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Serg-antr
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 03:50:42 PM »

The book of St. Nikodemos "Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ" is very detail describes the objections to frequent communion, but among these objections are missing the mention of the special rule of 3 (or 7) days of fasting before communion. Perhaps this rule was not known to the author? So it is not universal rule for the Orthodox Church? Where else (besides the Russian Orthodox Church), this rule applies?
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age234
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 04:05:01 PM »

The book of St. Nikodemos "Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ" is very detail describes the objections to frequent communion, but among these objections are missing the mention of the special rule of 3 (or 7) days of fasting before communion. Perhaps this rule was not known to the author? So it is not universal rule for the Orthodox Church? Where else (besides the Russian Orthodox Church), this rule applies?

At least in America, many priests and bishops (perhaps even most), in all jurisdictions, encourage people to receive communion frequently. Older members of my parish still only receive communion 3 or 4 times per year, but now frequent communion is encouraged. For people under 30, it is normal to receive every Sunday.

The difference in rules reflects this. For a person to fast for 3 or 7 days before communion is impossible for someone who receives every week. They have less preparation, but they do their preparation every week. If a person receives communion every few months, it is logical that a person should prepare more rigorously.

I know a number of priests, and none of them require communicants to fast beyond midnight on Sunday. The Russian Church has a reputation for being strict or conservative, but even Russian (ROCOR/MP) priests don't require such intense preparation for communion.

I think this is just a difference in practice. I don't think one way is better than the other. On one hand, intense preparation can make a person appreciate the sacrament more; on the other hand, frequent communion allows us to be sanctified more often, which is helpful in a secular society like ours.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 04:07:25 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 06:13:37 PM »

I only recall one ROCOR priest who expected his parishioners to follow the 3 or 7-day fasting period. However, Confession is almost universally encouraged, and is enforced in ROCOR churches, and is available after Vigil as well as the day of Liturgy (in Cathedrals, confession may also be available during All-Night Vigil).
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 02:06:47 AM »

I only recall one ROCOR priest who expected his parishioners to follow the 3 or 7-day fasting period.
It just interested for me the practice of the ROCOR and UOA. "Only one", while other do not require such a fast from parishioners?

 In Ukraine (, and Russia) the case moved forward, more and more priests urge the parishioners receive Communion at every Liturgy, at least every Sunday. But in the vast majority of parishes, this practice is considered almost heresy, there go to Communion no more than once a month.
It is a pity that the salvation depends on the preferences of the priest, and traditions, and not from the general rules of the Church and from the desire  of human to be close to God.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 02:09:43 AM by Serg-antr » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 09:07:41 AM »

if u look in church history, u can see there have been many practices over the years.
there was a time in the roman catholic and eastern orthodox churches from around 1100 to 1500AD that infrequent communion became normal (according to my book on the history of liturgy).
as far as i can see, we never had infrequent communion in the coptic orthodox church (though in recent times there is infrequent communion in some parts of the ethiopian and eritrean churches).

in our church, most people receive every week and confess around once a month.
you can confess more often if you need to.
people are expected to keep the church fasts (i know people who eat meat during the Christmas and Paschal fasts, for example, don't receive Holy Communion).
obviously breast feeding women and ill / old people have different fasting rules.
the really pious don't even eat or drink after vespers, but generally we would not eat a large meal after vespers, take alcohol (most people avoid it anyway) or have sex. strict fast (no water) is from midnight or for 9 hours if Holy Communion is in the evening.
i know most orthodox churches have a 6 hour fast, we have 9 for some reason.
i don't think the difference is very important.

i think if someone is keeping all the fasts, then there doesn't need to be an extra 3 days of vegan fasting before Holy Communion, because that person will be more ready to take Holy Communion then someone who does not fast often.
i think if someone desires to be closer to God, then frequent Holy Communion will help, as long as that person still goes to take the Holy Body and Blood with all reverance and humility, repenting of all sin.
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2012, 04:52:28 PM »

It just interested for me the practice of the ROCOR and UOA. "Only one", while other do not require such a fast from parishioners?

 In Ukraine (and Russia) the case moved forward, more and more priests urge the parishioners receive Communion at every Liturgy, at least every Sunday. But in the vast majority of parishes, this practice is considered almost heresy, there go to Communion no more than once a month.
It is a pity that the salvation depends on the preferences of the priest, and traditions, and not from the general rules of the Church and from the desire  of human to be close to God.
There are many ROCOR parishioners who receive communion frequently, but only one priest explicitly mentioned the fasting periods, but my belief is that the people who do follow the rules do so voluntarily.
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2012, 06:25:53 PM »

It is a pity that the salvation depends on the preferences of the priest, and traditions, and not from the general rules of the Church and from the desire  of human to be close to God.

As mabsoota noted, these things have changed over time. We must remember that Holy Communion is not magic, and depends on the person's heart, not just how often they receive it.

My priest once told me of a woman who only received Holy Communion on Pascha, even though he encourages weekly communion. But this woman spent weeks preparing for it, personally repenting to everyone she offended throughout the year. I suspect her communion was more pleasing to God than a person who went to communion every day thoughtlessly.

There are different ways of working out our salvation, and all of them are pleasing to God. We simply must be faithful in the way God wants us to go.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 06:26:50 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2012, 07:10:37 PM »

This, of course, the case.
But the theme of the spiritual preparation for Communion is a very large and diverse, and that is a private matter of each person who receives Communion. I am interested in this only in formal rules, the implementation of which the priests requires from all the people in the different parishes (without which he would not allow to go to the Chalice).
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2013, 07:36:16 PM »

Could someone please point me to something alittle definitive about how to count the three days of fasting to receive the Eucharist?

My problem is that I have heard conflicting statements of whether the three days run from Thursday to Saturday or from Friday to Sunday. The Russian-language statements I have just read on the internet typically appear to say the former. But I generally thought it was from Friday to Sunday.

I think it should be from sunset on Thursday to Sunday, because the Orthodox church counts the beginning of the day from what the secular calendar considers the previous sunset. Plus, Christ Himself rose on Sunday, and we consider this the "third day." And His three days ran from Thursday evening with the Last Supper until the pre-dawn hours of Sunday.

On a sidenote, Metr. Kallistos Ware said that the three days was a "local custom", but not a canon like some other fasting rules.
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« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2013, 12:21:45 PM »

This is a good recent article on preparing for Communion:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/64562.htm
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« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2013, 01:46:56 PM »

Just curious: why does the food/water fast begin at midnight, but the sexual relations fast begin at sundown or after Vespers?
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« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2013, 01:54:49 PM »

There seem to be quite the discussion about that in Russia at the moment. I see dozens of articles from different POVs being published everywhere.
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« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2013, 01:59:12 PM »

This is a good recent article on preparing for Communion:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/64562.htm
I appreciate this writer's understanding of the relationship between confession and communion.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 02:00:36 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
Pravoslavbob
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« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2013, 04:45:45 PM »

This is a good recent article on preparing for Communion:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/64562.htm
I appreciate this writer's understanding of the relationship between confession and communion.

Yes, but it is unfortunate that Bishop Pachomy is quoted in this article as saying:

"Thus, these Sacraments were united not by accident, and today it would be wrong to separate them by decree. This would lead to fairly serious consequences, where people could completely forget what confession is. "

In other words, don't try and correct faulty sacramental theology, because people can't be trusted to understand the true meanings of confession and communion, all "heck" will break lose and people will not have sacramental discipline.  Apparently, treating people like irresponsible children is the better way to go.  To the bishop's credit, he does suggest that someone going frequently to communion should not have to go to confession every time before receiving the gifts.  

Is it really helpful to see all these customs as differing "rules"?  Obviously, there are things that we really should follow if we want to benefit from receiving the Gifts and not be hurt because of partaking of them irreverently.  We should try to be prepared as best as we possibly can.  But remember:  no one is ever "worthy" to receive the Gifts.  There is never a communion that is not given by or received by a sinner.  I don't wish to criticise anyone individually for their sacramental practices, but those bishops and priests who keep people away from the Eucharist because they have not fasted for 3 days or a week or whatever and who are aware that this is not the ancient or patristic approach to sacramental discipline will answer before the throne of God for their conduct.  

In the Early Church, everyone was expected to commune every liturgy.  Now, this has been watered down to just the clergy who must commune at every liturgy.  I realise that it is not by any means an easy task to be a bishop or priest, and that they have to guard the Holy Gifts from abuse.  But when parishoners are known to clergy, they should be encouraged to commune regularly (as often as possible!) without having to jump through all these impossible-to-fulfill-on-a-regular-basis hoops in order to do so.   And laity have to be more responsible and not take the attitude that all the "spriitual" things in life are for priests, and not for them!  In the Orthodox Church, we all have to responsible for our own spiritual life.  The idea that clergy are somehow a separate caste is foreign to original and patristic ecclesiology.  

Forgive me, this has all the appearances of being a rant.  I just don't understand why we have to continue to think that the laity are children in the spiritual world.  This is not the patristic understaning at all.  We seem to have fallen into copying pre-Vatican II Latin sacramental theology that infantisizes the laity.  There are a bunch of "paint-by-number" "rules" for this and that in the Church.  This is not what the Faith is about at all.  There is no reason for laity not to be educated in theology just like clergy, the reverse is in fact true.  In the early Church it was understood that while some of the people of God were set apart to serve in specific ways, they still remained part of the people of God.  And this is still the case today.  We are all prophets, priests and kings as baptised members of the Body of Christ.  We should behave as such: laity need to take responsibility for their spiritual growth, and clergy need to stop treating them like children.

I want to be clear: I don't envy the burden that clergy have to bear, and I don't mean that there isn't a hierarchy (of love!) in the Church, and that the laity shouldn't support and love their clergy. 
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 04:55:18 PM by Pravoslavbob » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2013, 01:14:42 PM »

Yes, Pravoslavbob, I totally agree with you. Even though it's good that the Russian Orthodox Church began this discussion, before the discussion was taboo. And I know of priests who adhere to your opinion.
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