I, too, have struggled with the issue that you have described, which has been my experience in the majority of Serbian parishes that I have attended. That said, my wife and I are blessed to attend a SOC parish currently whose priest encourages more frequent communion.
I understand your dismay at the situation described in the story that you told. I certainly believe it.
When I read your post, I was reminded of a discussion I was having with my wife’s kumovi. I was still Greek Catholic at the time, and we were discussing church. She mentioned that she was preparing for communion and could not have what we were currently snacking on (I forget whatÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦slanina?). Anyway, I was puzzled as it was a Monday or Tuesday. I asked her and she replied that her priest requires everyone to fast for the entire week before receiving. I was shocked. It is, as far as I am aware though, the standard practice in most of the more “old country” parishes here (Illinois/Indiana).
I think that the reasons for the current practice are twofold. The first is the ingrained tradition of infrequent (bi-annual, tri-annual) communion. Along with this is the lack of attention, even among regular church-goers, to strictly observing the Wed-Fri, Dormition, Nativity and Apostles fasts. This leads to a situation in which clergy assume that most AREN’T fasting, and that their parishoners are approaching to receive only once or twice in a year. The week-long fast prior to receiving could have been a folk adaptation to such a pastoral situation; a version of “well, if you can’t/won’t do all the other fasts you can at least make up for it a little by doing thisÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦.”. Couple this with the inherent conservatism (factor two) of the Serbian church, and you see this custom become widely applied because of its age (eg. Our parents had to fast for a week, and their parents before them, etc, etcÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦Repeated over the generations, it becomes- in the minds of both clergy and people- THE Orthodox Tradition). It is not an ideal situation, but there are priests that are trying to follow in the footsteps of individuals like St. John of Kronstadt (who my priest venerates highly) and encourage more frequent communion in their parishes.