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Fasting before Communion

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by xristos.anesti, Jun 30, 2007.

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  1. xristos.anesti

    xristos.anesti Veteran

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    Can anyone find a reason (rule) why we should fast before the communion?

    Just interested - heard something the other day and for the last 12 days was digging and could not prove the man wrong - anyway - can someone show why it is a rule that we should fast before the communion?

    Thank you all ver much.
     
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  2. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

    +12,120
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    Good question.

    Read the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

    The people used to have a potluck dinner preceding the Breaking of the Bread, but some were gluttons and so some people didn't get fed. This was an abuse as they failed to discern the Body of Christ. Many became sick and some died because of this gluttony and unworthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

    A priest said that the pre-communion fast was an ancient tradition started to prevent this abuse.
     
  3. RestoreTheRiver

    RestoreTheRiver Contributor

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    I haven't researched it, and the question is interesting, so I believe I will. That said, the practice of fasting before communion has always struck me as a means of focusing our being on receiving our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Since we're physical creatures, what we do with our bodies impacts all of our being. That's why fasting is an action of prayer, an action of spiritual discipline, in general. In the same way, I believe it's an action of focus before receiving the Eucharist.

    Michael
     
  4. xristos.anesti

    xristos.anesti Veteran

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    Thank you Aria - similar is what I have found - but the problem is that - according to this person - there is no rule that connects the fast and receiving of communion - any fast, Wednesdays, Fridays and greater fasts - that is none are connected to the Communion, or are preconditions to one - that is, there is no canonical rule that connects these two..

    It is doing my head in - I mean I believe the person but it is just something that I was always taught that you can not receive the communion without a fast (understanding that I am in no need to be under economic principles in this regard) - even as a Seventh Day Adventist -

    very interesting.
     
  5. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    We are told by our priest that only Orthodox Christians who have been validly married in the Orthodox Church if they are married, and who have observed the fasts of the Church, and have been to confession recently may receive Holy Communion.

    We fast on Wednesday in repentance for the betrayal of Judas, one of the original Apostles, and for our own betrayals of Christ whenever we sin.

    We fast on Friday in memory of the Crucificion of Christ.

    The Great Lenten Fast was done in the Ancient Church as a Baptismal Fast when the newly Baptized Christians would receive Chrismation and then their First Holy Communion. Those newly baptized were to fast along with their godparents and the rest of the community. We fast in imitation of our Lord who fasted 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry. We fast to prepare ourselves for our Baptism, and then to renew our Baptismal joy annually.
     
  6. Andrew21091

    Andrew21091 Senior Member

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    We fast before Communion so that the Body and Blood of our Lord is the first thing to pass our lips on the day of communion.
     
  7. kamikat

    kamikat my love is bigger than a cadillac

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    Through reading The Eucharist by Fr Hopko and discussions with my priest, I've come to understand that our physical thirst and hunger represent our soul's hunger for Christ. This hunger can only be quenched by the eucharist which is why we should only break the fast with the eucharist. I may not be right, but it works for me.
     
  8. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

    +12,120
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    That is true, Kamikat.

    So, fasting becomes a hunger for the Eucharist.

    And fasting becomes not a penance, but a way to sharpen our senses to the spiritual realm, so that we can be more focused on the Lord and overcome temptations.
     
  9. Canadian75

    Canadian75 Peace-loving Warrior of God

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    Ummm...I'm assuming that only means those who were Orthodox before they were married. After all, I was not married in the Orthodox church...heck, my wife isn't even Christian.



    Peace.
     
  10. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

    +12,120
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    Marriage ... well, talk that over with your priest.

    There is economia whereby converts (with non-Orthodox or non-Christian spouses) are received into the Church and can receive Holy Communion. There is a man at my church who is married to a Muslim and he is allowed communion by economia. Hopefully his wife will convert but she shows no signs of it and is becoming more militant. Pray for her husband.
     
  11. kamikat

    kamikat my love is bigger than a cadillac

    +332
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    When you are joined to the Church, she accepts all of you, that means you as father and husband, even if the whole family does not join the Church. While your marriage is not considered a sacramental marriage, it is a valid marriage and it is not considered "living in sin". This is why new converts are recommended, not required, to have their marriage blessed. My husband is not a Christian, either and this was a big deal for me during my inquirery.
     
  12. Kristos

    Kristos Servant

    +780
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    I can't find a canon that spells it out - but I might be missing it. I did find several articles that claimed it not dogmatic.

    St. Ephraim the Syrian writes:
    Brothers, let us practice stillness, fasting, prayer, and tears; gather together in the Church; work with our hands; speak about the Holy Fathers; be obedient to the truth; and listen to the divine Scriptures; so that our minds do not become barren (and sprout the thorns of evil thoughts). And let us certainly make ourselves worthy of partaking of the divine and immaculate Mysteries, so that our soul may be purified from thoughts of unbelief and impurity, and so that the Lord will dwell within us and deliver us from the evil one.


     
  13. Kristos

    Kristos Servant

    +780
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    the Prophet Isaiah:
    Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? (Is. 58:2–5).
    That is, ”They sought Me daily and desired to learn the wisdom of My providence, as if they were some righteous people which kept the ordinances of God. And they say: ‘Lord, why did You not see us when we fasted? Why do You not want to know that we underwent such hardship?’” And God answers: “I do not hear you. For whenever you fast, you continue to do your wicked will. I do not want such a fast, nor such hardship. And even if you were to spread sackcloth and ashes on the ground beneath you like a bed, still I would not accept such a fast.”
    However, when labors and virtues are done according to the will of God, then are they acceptable to Him and beneficial. The will of God is that we do whatever our Lord commands, Who says to us: “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life” (Jn. 6:54). This is not only a commandment, but the chief of all of the commandments, for it is constitutive of and perfects the rest of the commandments.
     
  14. Kristos

    Kristos Servant

    +780
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    Chrysostom likewise says:
    For Great Lent occurs but once a year. But we celebrate Pascha (that is, we receive Communion) three times a week or even four. Or, to say it better, as often as we like. For Pascha does not consist of fasting, but of the Offering and Sacrifice which takes place during the daily gathering. And as testimony that this is true, listen to Paul, who says: “Christ our passover [pascha] is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7)…. Therefore, as often as you partake of Communion with a pure conscience, you celebrate Pascha; not when you fast, but when you partake of that Sacrifice…. The catechumen never celebrates Pascha, even though he may fast every year during Lent, because he does not commune in the Offering. So then, even the person who did not fast, if he approaches with a pure conscience, celebrates Pascha, be it today, tomorrow, or any time he partakes of Communion. For good and proper preparation for Communion is not judged by lengths of time, but by a pure conscience. [107]
    Therefore, as many as fast for Pascha, but do not commune, do not celebrate Pascha, as the divine Father just told us. And as many as are not prepared to receive the body and blood of our Lord cannot truly celebrate Sundays or the other Feasts of the year, because they do not possess the cause and occasion for the Feast, which is the most-sweet Jesus Christ, and they do not possess the spiritual joy that divine Communion brings.
     
  15. Kristos

    Kristos Servant

    +780
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    Interpreting the Third Ode of the Canon of the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, St. Nikodemos writes:
    So, my beloved reader, if you desire to receive the abovementioned divine charismata [forgiveness of sins, enlightenment, justification, sanctification, victory over the devil, etc], and still others even more unspeakable and incomprehensible, frequently approach the immaculate Mysteries and partake of them. Take care, however, to receive Communion with the appropriate preparation, namely, with confession, with fasting (as much as you are able), with the preparation of self-control, with prayer, with attentive care, with contrition in your heart, and with a pure conscience, having examined yourself just as the Apostle commands you (cf. 1 Cor. 11:28), so that your partaking of the divine Mysteries not be unto your condemnation. You will receive the grace of Communion in proportion to the extent of your preparation for receiving it. You must therefore do two things: you must commune frequently, and you must commune worthily, as much as this is possible (barring any impediment designated by the sacred Canons)” (Heortodromion [Festal Guide]. vol. 1 [Thessaloniki: Orthodoxos Kypsele, 1987], 68–69).
     
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