THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLY COMMUNION AND ITS BENEFITS
Holy Communion is one of the divine sacraments, and the most important among the spiritual means. Its spiritual effect on man is the deepest and the most obvious for those who partake of it in preparedness.
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1- The first important point for Holy Communion is abiding in God.
This is according to the Lord’s saying in the Gospel of St John: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56).
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2- Holy Communion is also the Spiritual Bread.
Lord said in St John’s Gospel: “For the bread of God is He who comes
down from heaven and gives life to the world... I am the bread of life... If anyone eats
of this bread, he will live forever... The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I
shall give for the life of the world” (Jn 6:33,48,50,51). Therefore, consider the
word ‘bread’ in the Lord’s Prayer: “...give
us this day our daily bread”, as the
spiritual bread which is necessary for one’s eternity. As the Lord said: “Who-
ever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at
the last day” (Jn 6:54)... “He who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn 6:58).
It is the bread of life because it gives spiritual life to man.
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3- This Holy Communion is an act of grafting, as with the trees.
As it is possible to graft a specific tree with another better tree, so that it remains in its stead, our human nature- in the Eucharist- is an act of grafting which happens through the Lord’s Body and Blood ...
The Lord gave us an example for the act of grafting, with the church of the New Testament (the wild olive tree) that was grafted with the original olive tree, that is, the Old Testament and became: “A partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Rom 11:17) ...
Like the branches of the vine (Jn 15:5), we abide in the vine through Holy Communion and the juice of the vine spreads through us; some feed on it and live, “and bear much fruit” ...
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also refer to the blessings of Holy Communion when we listen
to the Holy Mass and the last confession where the Priest says:
“...given for us, unto salvation and remission of sins and everlasting life for those who partake of it.”
of us can do without this threefold blessing: salvation, remission
of sins and everlasting life?! The remission that we are worthy of after re-
pentance and confession is received in the Holy Communion, because: “With-
out shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb 9:22), and the Eucharist is the
continuity of the sacrifice of Christ whose Honoured Blood we receive in
Holy Communion: and as St John the Apostle said about this Blood: “It
cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).
And as it cleanses us from sin, it promises us everlasting life.
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5-Holy Communion is also a covenant with God.
We remember the Lord’s saying, which we repeat in every Holy Mass:
“For every time you eat of this bread and drink of this cup, you preach My death, confess My resurrection and remember Me until I come” (1Cor 11:26). So do we, every time we partake of Holy Communion, enter into a covenant with God and remember Him until He comes?!
Would that you remember each time you partake of the Holy Communion that you are entering into a covenant with God, this special covenant between God and us, which He instigated on Holy Thursday, this divine sacrament to His saintly Disciples...
PREPARATION FOR HOLY COMMUNION
The most serious words said about preparing for partaking of the Holy Communion were said by St Reweis:
“It is befitting for the person who partakes inside him the Body and Blood of the Lord to be pure inside, as the Virgin who carried the Lord’s Body inside her was pure.” What a serious phrase that is?! Who can be like that?! Therefore I will talk to you about the simplest way to spiritually prepare ourselves to partake of the Holy Communion:
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As much as we prepare ourselves for Communion, so would be our benefit from it ...
Many partake in Communion ... thousands, even hundreds of thousands ... But not all of them gain the same spiritual benefit!! Take for example the eleven Disciples who partook of Communion on Covenant Thursday from the Lord Himself...
Only one of them followed
Christ to the Cross, that is St John the Be-
loved. He became worthy of the Lord talking to him and entrusting him
with the Virgin Mary saying: “Behold your mother!” (Jn 19:27). And this
disciple took her to his home and hence received a great blessing ...
And one of the Disciples who partook of Communion followed Christ till the courtyard of the high priest. He also, through zeal, cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, defending Christ (Jn 18:25-27), before turning and denying Him three times!!
The remaining nine Disciples ran away during the time when their Teacher and Master was being arrested!! And they all partook of Communion together ...
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Holy Communion reminds us of the parable of the sower (Mt 13).
The sower was the same sower and the seeds were the same seeds. But the result differed according to the nature of the ground: some fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places but because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns and the thorns sprang up and choked them ... Even the ones that fell on good ground did not give fruits in equal amounts, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Mt 13:3-9) ...
The same also with Holy Communion. It depends on the condition of one’s heart and according to his spiritual readiness as to what his spiritual benefit may be.
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It is one of the spiritual means but its benefit differs from one person to another, according to his readiness for it ...
Many partake of the Holy
Communion very often, they may even re-
ceive it every day and in every Mass. But they do not benefit!! Perhaps
because constantly partaking of it becomes a habit, rather than something
very reverential and sacred. As a result, the holiness of this sacrament does
not penetrate deep into their hearts. However, there are a few who are able
to keep the reverence of the Sacrament and continue being prepared for it ...
Therefore examine yourself and see: is partaking of the Holy Communion
regularly enables you to be always prepared, or has it merely become a habit?
It differs from one person to another...
we ask, what preparation is needed for partaking of the Holy Com-
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1- Preparation by humility and contrition of the heart.
One of the best parts in
the Holy Mass about this contrition is a prayer
which the Priest recites inaudibly before starting the Mass and while he is
covering the altar. It is called ‘The Prayer of Preparation’ : “Lord who knows
the hearts of all, who is Holy, and who rests amidst the saints; Who alone is
without sin, and who is mighty to forgive sins; You, O Lord, know my unworthiness, unto this, Your holy service; and I have no boldness that I should draw near and open my mouth before Your holy glory; but according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, pardon me a sinner, and grant unto me that I may find grace and mercy at this hour ...”
If this is the contrition of the priest celebrating the Holy Mass, how much more contrite should the rest of the congregation be?!
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2- Repentance and inner purity are necessary for Holy Communion.
We see the priest doing a number of things:
and the deacons put on white vestments of service which are spe-
cially for celebrating the liturgy. They are a symbol of inner purity. It is like
dressing the one who has been baptized in white clothes, symbolizing the
clean and pure life which he received in the baptism, as he has put on Jesus
Christ (Gal 3:27), and as the Lord says: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in
white garments ...” (Rev 3:5). White also refers to the holy life in the eternal
kingdom ... And it was said about the two angels of the Resurrection that
each was “clothed in a long white robe” (Jn 20:12), (Mk 16:5) and (Mt 28:3)...
a symbol of the holiness and purity of the angels. And so should be
those who are serving the altar and will partake of the Holy Communion ...
The white robes become an example for the rest of the congregation ...
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+ And as the priest wears white, he also washes his hands before celebrating Mass, and says: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
He also says: “I wash my hands with purity and go around Your altar, O Lord ...”
It is a lesson that the priest presents to the congregation before partaking in Holy Communion, to clean their souls by repentance till they become whiter than snow ...
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Repentance is very necessary to partake in Holy communion. We no-
tice here that the Lord Jesus Christ, to Him is all glory, before He gave His
Disciples to eat on Covenant Thursday, washed their feet first and said to
them: “You are clean, but not all of you” (Jn 13:10). And He meant by this
Judas who betrayed Him, therefore He did not give him the Body and the
+ Consider the frightful phrase said about this matter during the Holy Mass, before Holy Communion:
“The Holies are for the holy,” which means that the Holy Sacraments are for holy people only.
Therefore the Mass, during which the faithful partake in Holy Communion, is called the ‘Mass of the Holies’. This is distinguished from the ‘Mass of the Catechumens in earlier times during which they would hear the readings and the sermon then leave before the ‘Mass of the Holies’ starts, in which those who are holy partake in Holy Communion ...
Then one needs holiness to be worthy of partaking in the Holy Sacraments. This reminds me of a beautiful phrase said by the Prophet Samuel to the family of Jesse the Bethlehemite when he wanted to sacrifice to the Lord, he said to them:
“Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice” (1 Sam 16:5).
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And so he “sanctified
Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacri-
fice” ... Would that you memorize these phrases and repeat them before
Holy Communion. Phrases that are about the holiness of those who partake
in Holy Sacraments ... And if we fail to reach this holiness in its positive
spirituality, let us at least repent and confess before receiving them, with a
firm will to leave sin and keep away from all the means that lead us to it.
And when we confess our sins, our confession should not be mere words,
but true regret and practical repentance. In so doing, our souls and our bodies
become worthy of accepting these Holy Sacraments, so we receive them with
pure hearts, worthy souls and spirits that are linked to God ...
And what else?
3- To partake in Holy Communion, one has to be physically prepared for it. How?
We sanctify the body by
cleanliness and fasting. We remember, as an
example, how the people of Israel prepared themselves to receive God’s
words in the Old Testament, I mean receiving the Ten Commandments: Then
the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow,
and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day” (Ex
19:10,11) ... “Then Moses went down from the mountain to the
people and sancti-
fied the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Be ready
for the third day; do not come near your wives” (Ex 19:14,15).
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Therefore sexual relations, pubescence, bleeding and the like, are things that prevent us from partaking in Communion.
The person who is partaking of Holy Communion should be pure, physically and spiritually.
We also prepare ourselves physically by fasting.
According to the rites of our church, we abstain from eating and drinking for a period of not less than nine hours, which brings us to a new day (Communion day) which we should start while fasting.
is not only physical work, but also spiritual work. It is prepar-
ing for all the grace that we receive in each of the church Sacraments, except
in cases such as serious illness. Currently, the Sacrament of Matrimony has
been exempted, according to the Lord’s saying: “Can the friends of the bride-
groom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom
with them they cannot fast” (Mk 2:19). But when the Sacrament of Marriage
used to take place after the Matins, the couple used to fast also ... How more
deserving is Communion.
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4- Another condition for partaking in Communion is Reconciliation.
so before the ‘Mass of the Holies’ starts and before the Prosphorine
is removed (the large cloth covering the altar), the priest says the Reconciliation Prayer: “Grant that we become worthy, O Lord, to greet each other with
a holy kiss of peace, so that without being driven into condemnation, we
may share in Your imperishable heavenly gift” ... We notice here the phrase
“that we may share ... without being driven into condemnation” ... Partak-
ing in Communion then, without reconciliation, is being driven into condem-
The deacon then calls out; “Greet one another with a holy kiss ...” This holy kiss means perfect love among the people. The word “holy” means pure, with no hypocrisy, as was Judas’ kiss, and for this reason people do not greet each other with a kiss during the Passion Week.
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Before partaking in Holy Communion, we must be reconciled to God and to people:
God through repentance, according to the saying of the Apostle: “ ...
Be reconciled to God” (2Cor 5:20) ... And to people, according to the Lord’s
saying: “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother
has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.
First be reconciled to your brother” (Mt 5:23,24). The phrase “something against
you” means that you stand as being guilty. As for the one who hates you
for no fault of your own, as Saul hated David, and as David said: “those who
hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head,” (Ps 69:4) ... In that
case, you are not expected to leave your gift and reconcile to him. The Lord
Jesus Christ Himself was hated without a cause (Jn 15:18, 24,25) ... You also
are not requested to go and reconcile with those who persecute you, envy
you and offend you. But there is a rule:
If you were the offender, go and reconcile to whoever you offended. If you were the one offended, protect your heart from hatred.
Also, you are not
requested to reconcile with those who cause you to
stumble spiritually, morally or intellectually, for: “Evil company corrupts good
habits” (1Cor 15:33), but the Bible also asks us to keep away from stumbling
blocks, and not to have any dealings with those who may lead us to sin...
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well, you are not requested to reconcile with those who spread her-
esies and lies, those about whom the Apostle said: “If anyone comes to you
and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 Jn: 10,11). And do not greet
the one about whom the Bible says: “Put away from yourselves that wicked
person” (1Cor 5:13) ... And generally, your reconciliation with others should not be at the cost of your reconciliation with God ...
We talked about preparation for Holy Communion. What else is left to
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The Bible explains the outcome for those who partake in Holy communion in an unworthy manner:
Apostle says: “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 ... For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner
eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body. For this rea-
son many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge
ourselves, we would not be judged” (1Cor 11:27-31) ... Serious and alerting words
... Therefore I would say before partaking of the Holy Communion:
it is not for being worthy that I partake of Your Holy Com-
munion but because of my need. Not for my worthiness but for my rem-
I do not have the holiness for which I partake of the Holy Communion, but I do so to obtain help to live a holy life, as I receive spiritual strength and a push forward.
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The one who partakes in
Holy Communion feels the reverence of this
sacrament and will be ashamed to commit sin because of the holiness of Com-
munion. For example, if he partakes of the Holy communion once a week,
for the following few days he will remain away from sin due to the holiness
of the Sacrament ... And during the few days before the following Com-
munion, he will be watchful, preparing himself to partake of the Holy Com-
munion the following week ... Hence, he trains himself to always be pre-
pared and watchful.
Due to the importance of Holy Communion, the Church makes you feel that the Communion day is not an ordinary day in many ways:
Preparing for it by fasting, cleanliness of the body, confession and repentance, reconciliation to people, entering with contrition, praying before and after Communion. The church also prepares the person for Holy Communion by more than one absolution for the remission of sins: absolution during vespers, another during Matins, absolution of the servants and another absolution which is recited inaudibly at the end of Mass. The mind is also prepared spiritually by many readings from the Bible, the spiritual rites and all the spiritualities of the Holy Mass.
after Communion, one is warned to be careful about walking bare-
foot, or spitting, so that he may honour the Holy Communion which he re-
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I remember that once, at
the beginning of my monastic life, I wrote in my
diary on the day of my Communion: “This mouth that became holy by partaking in the Lord’s Body and
Blood: one extra word would not come out of it and one extra morsel would
not enter it.”
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