But even though Holy Communion is infrequent in much of the Old World, wouldn't you agree that the Orthodox tend to have a much higher level of fear and respect for the Eucharist than other Christian sects? Perhaps this reverence is reflected in only approaching the Chalice every so often.
Listen to yourself brother! "fear and respect" indeed. But, where is the love?
We just witnessed the voluntary suffering and horrible death of our Lord--for us. We rejoiced at His resurrection--for us. At every liturgy we acknowledge the great truth that "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"--again for us and because of His love. In return, the Lord wants to follow him because we appreciate what He has done for us and love Him back. Indeed, he made the Eucharist the central feature of our experience as a member of His body. He commanded us to partake of His divine food and to do so so that we may have life. He did not say clergy have to do so every time but the laity must fear and respect it and thus partake infrequently--to the point of at least once a year. The early Church certainly did not understand the Eucharist to have two classes of participants, wherein the spiritual feast is offered to all and yet only the clergy are "worthy" to partake. I mean, it is downright rude to the Lord to refrain from the feast that he is offering to all in the Divine Liturgy.
Indeed, the Divine Liturgy contains the only true Orthodox approach to communion. I will just cite the more obvious elements (I hive bolded the most relevant points):
1. "...offering unto Thee thine own of thine own, on behalf of all, and for all
." For all, not just for the priest and the deacon.
2. "To Thee do we
entrust all our life and hope, O manbefriending
Master, and we
beseech, and w
e entreat, andwe
supplicate: deem us
worthy to partake of this sacred
and spiritual table with a pure conscience, unto remission
of sins, unto forgiveness of offenses, unto communion of
the Holy Spirit, unto inheritance of the kingdom of heaven,
unto boldness towards Thee, and not unto judgment or
unto condemnation." Priest's prayer right before the Lord's Prayer. Note that the Priest is praying for the entire congregation and not for himself (he is not using the imperial "we") or for the clergy alone.
3. "Attend, O Lord Jesus Christ, out of the holy habitation
and from the throne of the glory of thy kingdom, and come
to hallow us, Thou Who sittest on high with the Father,
and Who art invisibly present here with. And vouchsafe
by thy mighty hand to impart unto of thine immaculate
Body and Precious Blood, and through us unto all the
" Priest's prayer just before he partakes.
4. "Priest: Holy Things for the holy
People: One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ
, to the glory of God the Father. Amen." Note here that no one is holy (and thus worthy) to approach the chalice on his own merit because only the Lord is holy. So, there is no fundamental difference between any one of us and our clergy whe it comes to Holy Communion.
If y'all want to know Father Alexander's understanding of the Holy Mysteries of Penance/Reconciliation and Communion, there are many sources. Since we just concluded Great Lent, I would recommend Father Alexander's "Great Lent," which has an appendix on this subject. Of course, his "For the Life of the World" is indispensable.