Preparation for Holy Communion

As Orthodox, we recognize that none of us is worthy of the great Gifts God gives us, and paramount and above all other such Gifts are the Gifts of His Body and Blood in the Holy Communion. Nevertheless, the Orthodox Church's Holy Tradition knows and keeps the necessity of preparation for Communion. While, since all are unworthy, no one can or should be prevented from communing because of unworthiness in itself, anyone who is not prepared for the Holy Communion can and must be prevented from placing him or herself in great spiritual and bodily danger by communing, in the unlikely event such an unprepared person might contemplate doing so. Our Holy Church traditionally considers preparation to be fervent and extraordinary prayer, especially on the eve and morning before Holy Communion; strict fasting, at least from midnight, but preferably from the early evening; taking positive and persistent steps towards reconciliation with all, especially with those with whom one has had a definite falling out, and Penance. Repentance/penance is the basis of that forgiveness that comes from God in Holy Confession and Holy Communion. It is clear from Christ's Holy Gospel that He forgives those who repent and not those who do not repent. One way He put this was to state that He had come to save sinners, not the righteous. One way to define these "righteous" is those who have no need of Penance, of Confession, and forgiveness by their fellow human beings, especially those comprising Christ's Holy Body, the Church. While all are capable of forgiving and while all are required to forgive, Christ appointed binding and loosing specially to His Apostles, and their successors, Bishops and Priests appointed by them. That is the teaching of our Church, teaching supported and protected by all the Faithful of the Church. In the nineteenth century the Eastern Patriarchs announced publicly that the Orthodox Church needed no Pope to define the Dogmas of Faith, since in the Orthodox Church it was the Faithful that were the Guardians of the Faith that never changed.

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