How to Prepare for Holy Communion
To all who partake of the Body & Blood of Christ
when they participate in the Divine Liturgy...
As Orthodox Christians, we are called to the Chalice each and every time that we celebrate the Divine Liturgy. However, it is essential that we seriously prepare ourselves to receive the Lord so that we will not approach Him unworthily and risk experiencing the fire of the Divine Eucharist as condemnation—as a “consuming” fire rather than as a saving and “purifying” fire.
With this in mind, the following guidelines will help us to thoughtfully prepare to receive the Holy Eucharist unto salvation and eternal life:
* * *No excessive partying or socializing on Saturday evening. We should keep ourselves in a quiet and prayerful atmosphere, reading the gospels and epistles of the New Testament and praying the “Prayers of Preparation” before Holy Communion (either on Saturday evening or Sunday morning—these Prayers are found in most Orthodox Prayer Books).
* * *Strive to maintain a prayerful atmosphere on Sunday morning. This can be difficult with children, but not impossible.
* * *No consumption of food or drink past a reasonable bedtime the night before (midnight at the latest). This includes no smoking or chewing gum on Sunday morning as well. Abstain from marital relations from the evening before receiving Holy Communion. Also, thoughtful preparation for Holy Communion means keeping the Wednesday, Friday, and seasonal fasts as much as possible.
* * *If you are required to take medicine in the mornings for a serious or chronic medical condition, please do. If you are supposed to eat or drink something with it, then do so as moderately and simply as possible.
* * *As always, we should partake of the Sacrament of Confession at least 2 - 4 times a year if we are receiving Holy Communion frequently (use the 4 fasting periods of the liturgical year—Nativity Fast, Great Lent, Apostles’ Fast and Dormition Fast). If we are not frequent communicants (3 - 4 times per month), we should come for Confession before receiving the Eucharist.
* * *At the very least, attend the Sunday cycle of prayer—Saturday Evening Vespers, Sunday Morning Orthros and Sunday Divine Liturgy. If we attend Sunday Liturgy irregularly (missing more than once a month), then we should not be receiving Holy Communion each time we attend Liturgy, unless we have had Confession very recently.
* * *Be on time to the Divine Services. If we arrive at Church after the Little Entrance with the Gospel, we should not receive Holy Communion on that day, for it is truly a sign of disrespect when we enter the services late and / or when we leave the Liturgy early (before the Dismissal)
* * *Be at peace with all people, striving to forgive anyone who has hurt or offended you. Truly, we cannot love God while we bear hate against anyone. Someone who claims to love God but has hatred toward anyone is a liar (1 Jn. 4:20). Our Lord says that you must “first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:24).
* * *The church is not a place for social conversation. Beyond a quiet, simple greeting and nod of the head, do not have social conversations during the Divine Services. If you are excited to see someone and desire to talk, please do so…downstairs after the Liturgy.
Please strive to practice these Spiritual Disciplines!