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contracerycii01 CAN FASTING MAKE ONE “WORTHY” TO COMMUNE? In the first paragraph of his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “... according to the tradition of our Fathers (and that of Bishop Matthew of Bresthena), all Christians, who approach to receive Holy Communion, must be suitably prepared, in order to worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord. This preparation indispensably includes fasting according to one’s strength.” To further prove that he interprets this worthiness as being based on fasting, Metropolitan Kirykos continues further down in reference to his unhistorical understanding about the early Christians: “They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” Here Bp. Kirykos tries to fool the reader by stating the absolutely false notion that the Holy Fathers (among them St. Matthew of Bresthena) supposedly agree with his unorthodox views. The truth is that not one single Holy Father of the Orthodox Church agrees with Bp. Kirykosʹs views, but in fact, many of them condemn these views as heretical. And as for referring to St. Matthew of Bresthena, this is extremely misleading, which is why Bp. Kirykos was unable to provide a quote. In reality, St. Matthew’s five‐page‐ long treatise on Holy Communion, published in 1933, repeatedly stresses the importance of receiving Holy Communion frequently and does not mention any such pre‐communion fast at all. He only mentions that one must go to confession, and that confession is like a second baptism which washes the soul and prepares it for communion. If St. Matthew really thought a standard week‐long pre‐communion fast for all laymen was paramount, he certainly would have mentioned it somewhere in his writings. But in the hundreds of pages of writings by St. Matthew that have been collected, no mention is made of such a fast. The reason for this is because St. Matthew was a Kollyvas Father just as was his mentor, St. Nectarius of Aegina. Also, the fact St. Matthew left Athos and preached throughout Greece and Asia Minor during his earlier life, is another example of his imitation of the Kollyvades Fathers. As much as Bp. Kirykos would like us to think that the Holy Fathers preach that a Christian, simply by fasting, can somehow “worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord,” the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church actually teach quite clearly that NO ONE is worthy of Holy Communion, except by the grace of God Himself. Whether someone eats oil on a Saturday or doesnʹt eat oil, cannot be the deciding point of a person’s supposed “worthiness.” In fact, even fasting, confession, prayer, and all other things donʹt come to their fulfillment in the human soul until one actually receives
patriarchgregory5eng SIGILLION The Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain Gregory by the mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Most Holy Overseers and supervisors of the community of the Holy‐ named Mountain; abbots, priors, sacristans of the Holy and Stavropegic Monasteries situated there and the remaining Fathers, who are in the Holy Sketes and Cells abiding in the solitary life. Beloved and dearest children in our Lord, may the grace and peace of God be upon you, and our blessing and prayers. Years before during my second time by divine mercy as Patriarch, the Church, beholding the ongoing quarrels and disputes between the most holy Fathers there, published its Patriarchal and synodical decree, abolishing and stopping the immoderate ambition of some, and rejecting the satanically inspired scandals and removing from the midst that which was causing spiritual ruin, thereby treating your God‐beloved conduct and realizing your irreproachable solitary state. [Here the kollyva issue is expounded at length.] Concerning Divine and Holy Communion, you must be sure and know that the pious have the obligation at every Holy Mystagogy to approach and partake of the life‐creating Body, for which reason they are thus summoned by the Priest “With fear of God, faith, and love, draw near.” Also, concerning the precariousness and incompetence of people receiving Communion every day, the Church is entrusted with this and each one is commanded to approach the Holy Communion, whenever one confesses to one’s spiritual father, finds oneself worthy of Holy Communion and receives the permission of one’s spiritual father. But if one proves to be a criminal, one must submit to a penance, carry out the assigned penance with repentance and tears first, then present oneself again to one’s spiritual father to receive permission,
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contracerycii03 ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY FATHERS REGARDING SO‐CALLED “WORTHINESS” OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES St. John Cassian (+29 February, 435) totally disagrees with the notion of Bp. Kirykos that the early Christians communed frequently supposedly because “they fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” Blessed Cassian does not approve of Christians shunning communion because they think of themselves as unworthy, and supposedly different to the early Christians. Thus whichever side one takes in this supposed dispute of Semipelagianism, be it the side of Blessed Augustine or that of Blessed Cassian, the truth is that both of these Holy Fathers condemn the notions held by Bp. Kirykos. Blessed Cassian writes: “We must not avoid communion because we deem ourselves to be sinful. We must approach it more often for the healing of the soul and the purification of the spirit, but with such humility and faith that considering ourselves unworthy, we would desire even more the medicine for our wounds. Otherwise it is impossible to receive communion once a year, as certain people do, considering the sanctification of heavenly Mysteries as available only to saints. It is better to think that by giving us grace, the sacrament makes us pure and holy. Such people [who commune rarely] manifest more pride than humility, for when they receive, they think of themselves as worthy. It is much better if, in humility of heart, knowing that we are never worthy of the Holy Mysteries we would receive them every Sunday for the healing of our diseases, rather than, blinded by pride, think that after one year we become worthy of receiving them.” (John Cassian, Conference 23, Chapter 21) Now, as for those who may think the above notion is only applicable for the Christians living at the time of St. John Cassian (5th century), and that the people at that time were justified in confessing their sins frequently and also communing frequently, throughout the year, while that supposedly this does not apply to contemporary Orthodox Christians, such a notion does not hold any validity, because contemporary Holy Fathers, among them the Hesychastic Fathers and Kollyvades Fathers, have taught exactly the same thing as we have read above in the writings of Blessed Cassian. Thus St. Gregory Palamas, St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Macarius Notaras of Corinth, St. Nicodemus of Athos, St. Arsenius of Paros, St. Pachomius of Chios, St. Nectarius of Aegina, St. Matthew of Bresthena, St. Moses of Athikia, and so many other contemporary Orthodox Saints agree with the positions of the Blessed Cassian. The various quotes from these Holy Fathers are to be