On Receiving the Mystery of Holy Communion

At the request of Fr. Job, please see below for instructions on how to receive the Mystery of Holy Communion. This is an excerpt from the book A Practical Handbook for Divine Services by the Igumen Gregory Woolfenden (+ 2008). Where necessary, additions to the text (“-ed.”) have been made in order to more closely reflect the practice of our parish.

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Communion of the Laity

When it is time for the communion of the laity, the server takes the candle from in front of the holy doors. The priest, approaching the holy table, picks up the chalice and turns to face the west. The deacon, meanwhile, draws the curtain aside and opens the holy doors, takes the communion cloth and, turns to face the priest. The priest kisses and gives the holy chalice to the deacon. Holding the chalice, the deacon turns to face the people, and they go through the holy doors to their place on the solea. The deacon, holding aloft the holy chalice, exclaims: With the fear of God, with faith and love draw near. The people sing Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord… and the deacon gives the chalice to the priest.

[When a priest serves without a deacon, the priest takes the chalice and says With fear of God…; he also gives communion and says everything else up to and including Blessed is our God…]

The priest reads the prayers before communion (not hastily, aloud, but not chanted); I believe, O Lord, and I confess…. At the end of the prayers, the communicants make the sign of the cross, bow to the ground, and cross their hands on the breast (right hand over left), and they go to the holy chalice, giving their names.

Proper order must be kept at the holy chalice during communion. The communicants must approach only from the south side of the church. The north side must always be left free for the worshipers to reach the small table with zapivka (warm wine and water -ed.) and antidoron (blessed bread -ed.). Moreover, it is better that the space before the solea also be kept free, so that only the person communicating is there.

The communicants go to the holy chalice in the following order: First the infants come to communion, then the children (up to age fifteen), then come the men, and after that the women. It is important that all be aware of the care to be taken at the holy chalice, be they clergy, assistants, or all the faithful in general. There should be no pushing, shoving, or ill-intentioned attempts to touch the Holy Gifts. (Editor’s note: In our parish, it is customary that clergy, i.e. readers, then servers, come first to receive the Holy Gifts, followed by the infants, young children/teenagers, then all adults.)

The choir, during the time of the communion of the people, sings: Receive the Body of Christ ….

When the priest communicates an infant, he says: The infant, N, receives the most pure Blood of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ for the sanctification of soul and body and to eternal life, and he gives a few drops of the Holy Blood from the tip of the spoon.

When adults (or teenagers) are communicating, the priest says The servant of God, N, receives the most precious and Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and life eternal. Without rushing, he gives the Holy Gifts on the spoon, into the mouth of the one communicating, and as soon as the communicant has tasted, he withdraws the spoon.

The deacon (or in the absence of a deacon, a server. -ed.) wipes the mouth of the communicants with the cloth, and the communicant, having kissed the edge of the holy chalice without grasping it, goes to the small table for the warm wine and water and also partakes of antidoron.