Is it necessary to prepare for Holy Communion?
Holy Communion, also called the Eucharist, is not merely one of a number of sacred actions. It is at the very heart of the Church, without which the Church cannot be imagined. In this sacrament we receive the very Body and Blood of Christ. The fruits of worthy participation in Holy Communion are huge. Worthy participation is “for the forgiveness of our sins”. We receive a new life, the life of the Spirit, the life of sanctity. Jesus said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you… He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:53-56).
None of us are worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. However, it is because we are unworthy that we need Holy Communion. Holy Communion gives us strength. It is not right how many have Holy Communion only a few times a year. The way of the Church is to have frequent Holy Communion, but to prepare well each time. The Apostle Paul made this clear: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).
The Prophet Isaiah during a vision of the throne of God, saw the following, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’.” (Isaiah 6:6-7) Holy Communion is indeed a live coal, that burns the unworthy, but if we have prepared properly, it cleanses us.
Preparation involves deep repentance – not excusing ourselves or blaming others, but acknowledging and regretting our sinfulness, and making a firm decision to change. Confession to a canonical priest is also very important and beneficial. One does not have to go to Confession before every Holy Communion, however, if it has been a very long time since we have been to Confession, or, if we have committed a particularly grave sin, then we should go to Confession before approaching the Holy Cup. We cannot receive Holy Communion if we have in our heart any bitterness or anger against anyone. Prior to receiving Holy Communion we need to read the prayers before Holy Communion, which can be found in most prayer books. It is also important that we turn up to Church early that day. Fasting before Holy Communion is also important. The particular fasting rules vary, for example if someone fasts every Wednesday and every Friday, and has frequent Holy Communion, then the Eucharistic fasting rules may be less strict. May we strive to be worthy to partake of our Lord.
† Fr D. K.
Source: Lychnos Feb 2019 / Mar 2019