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What the Holy Communion Means to Me
Written by Right Revd. Nicholas Sunday, 10 December 2006 21:36
The Sacrament of the Holy Communion means to me the intimate, unrestricted love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the dwelling and enthronement of the Lord in my heart, the union of my soul and body in my moral regeneration and salvation as a worthy communicant.
I believe and feel and affirm that the Sacrament of the Holy Communion is the most evident proof of the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered on the Cross for our salvation. When His disciples, afraid and broken-hearted, heard during the Lord’s Supper His last divine teaching about His coming departure, He himself consoled them by telling that He would not leave them alone but would always be with them. And He sent the Holy Ghost and constituted the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, so that He might be for ever united with them and with us, because he loved them and loves us with a perfect love. If a mother, with the utmost love, suckles her crying baby to feed and fortify it, much more our Lord because of His unrestrained love for us will give us who are weak from our sins His Body and Blood, so that we may receive remission of sins and eternal life. St. John, Chrysostom says: “Jesus Christ is for us mother and nurse. Because He brought us to the new life and feeds us with His Body and Blood.”
By this Sacrament not only are, as it were, drops of Grace imparted and healing qualities vouchsafed, but the whole ocean of the Divine Grace is opened, that the love of the Creator and of our Saviour may come upon us His creatures.
The Holy Communion unites the faithful with the Source of Life, according to St. Paul: “and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. ii, 20).
I hear Christ saying: “Take, eat, this is my body. Drink ye all of it, this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many unto remission of sins” (Matt. xxvi, 26).
By the Holy Communion the Lord Himself is installed and enthroned in the hearts of the faithful to feed them. “The bread which I will give is in my flesh for the life of the world” (John vi, 51). “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves” (John vi, 53).
Away from Christ in the Holy Communion man cannot attain to life in Christ and live. For our Lord said: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye, except ye abide in me” (John xv, 1, 4, 5).
But who are they who profit and receive Christ and are sanctified in Him? The pure in heart, those who present themselves for the Holy Communion with God’s fear, with faith and love, who are clean in body and heart, who are worthy. St. Paul says: “For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if ye discern not the body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly and not a few sleep” (I Cor. xi, 28).
And what is the Christian, who worthily receives the body and blood of the Lord, benefited thereby?
Just as the wild olive tree being grafted into the good olive tree grows bigger and sweeter, so we men from being corrupt and wild become the true vine. We become “partakers of the divine nature,” deriving out of it new forces for the hard struggles of life. We are taught that the Prophet Elijah being in Beersheba was about to undertake a long journey, he ate from the food which the angel brought to him from heaven “and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights unto Horeb, the mount of God” (Chr. i, 19, 8).
The Holy Communion is the great Supper, the royal supper of the Gospel, whereat the goodman of the house, our Lord, invites everybody to eat and be filled. Those who are worthy will eat and rejoice with the Great King. Those who neglect to come die a moral death, the death of the sinful. The eleven disciples ate and drank in the Lord’s Supper from the Body and Blood of the Lord and praised Him with hymns and glorified Him. Judas did not sit with them with a clean heart, did not receive the Communion worthily, neither did he praise the Lord nor thank Him but left with a thankless heart to go to his evil end.
The Holy Communion is for me the “Bread of Life.” It is the Grace which protects me from evil and strengthens me for the struggle of life against sin. Even in the last moments of my life it will give me new strength to continue life even after death. Having Christ dwelling in my soul, the Leader of Life, and being united with Him, I shall live an eternal and immortal life.
The Right Revd. Nicholas, Archbishop of Hermopolis. “What the Holy Communion Means to me.” The Christian East 15:1 (1935), pp. 11-13.
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