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Basil New Year’s Day January 2017 Mon 2 Tue 3 Wed 4 8:45am Orthros 10:00am Divine Liturgy No Sunday School 11:30am Coffee Hour 8 Parish Council Oath of Office 9 8:45am Orthros 10:00am Divine Liturgy Sunday School Resumes 11:30am Coffee Hour 6:30pm Parish Council 15 Food Pantry Collection 16 Martin Luther King 8:45am Orthros 10:00am Divine Liturgy Sunday School (20 min.
ARE CHRISTIANS MEANT TO COMMUNE ONLY ON A SATURDAY AND NEVER ON A SUNDAY? In the second paragraph of his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “Also, all Christians, when they are going to commune, know that they must approach Holy Communion on Saturday (since it is preceded by the fast of Friday) and on Sunday only by economia, so that they are not compelled to break the fast of Saturday and violate the relevant Holy Canon [sic: here he accidentally speaks of breaking the fast of Saturday, but he most likely means observing a fast on Saturday, because that is what violates the canons].” The first striking remark is “All Christians.” Does Bp. Kirykos consider himself to be a Christian? If so, why does he commune every Sunday without exception, seeing as though “all Christians” are supposed to “know” that they are only allowed to commune on a Saturday, and never on Sunday, except by “economia.” Or perhaps Bp. Kirykos does not consider himself a Christian, and for this reason he is exempt of this rule for “all Christians.” It makes perfect sense that he excludes himself from those called Christians because his very ideas and practices are not Christian at all. Is communion on Saturdays alone, and never on Sundays, really a Christian practice? Is this what Christians have always believed? Was Saturday the day that the early Christians ʺbroke breadʺ (i.e., communed)? Let us look at what the Holy Scriptures have to say. St. Luke the Evangelist (+18 October, 86), in the Acts of the Holy Apostles, writes: “And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow (Acts 20:7).” Thus the Holy Apostle Paul would meet with the faithful on the first day of the week, to wit, Sunday, and on this day he would break bread, that is, he would serve Holy Communion. St. Paul the Apostle (+29 June, 67) also advises in his first epistle to the Corinthians: “On the first day of the week, let every one of you put apart with himself, laying up what it shall well please him: that when I come, the collections be not then to be made (1 Corinthians 16:2).” Thus St. Paul indicates that the Christians would meet with one another on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday, not only for Liturgy, but also for collection of goods for the poor. The reason why the Christians would meet for prayer and breaking of bread on Sunday is because our Lord Jesus Christ arose from the dead on one day after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, that is, the Lordʹs Day or Sunday (Matt. 28:1‐7; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Another reason for the Christians meeting together on Sundays is because the Holy Spirit was delivered to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, which was a Sunday, and this event signified the beginning of the Christian community. That Pentecost took place on a Sunday is clear from Godʹs command in the Old Testament Scriptures: “You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord (Leviticus 23:16).” The reference to “fifty days” and “seventh Sabbath” refers to counting fifty days from the first Sabbath, or seven weeks plus one day; while “the day after the seventh Sabbath” clearly refers to a Sunday, since the day after the Sabbath day (Saturday) is always the Lord’s Day (Sunday). It was on the Sunday of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. Thus we read: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance (Acts 2:1‐4).” A final reason for Sunday being the day that the Christians met for prayer and breaking of bread was in order to remember the promised Second Coming or rather Second Appearance (Δευτέρα Παρουσία) of the Lord. The reference to Sunday is found in the Book of Revelation, in which Christ appeared and delivered the prophecy to St. John the Theologian on “Kyriake” (Κυριακή), which means “the main day,” or “the first day,” but more correctly means “the Lordʹs Day.” (Revelation 1:10). For the above three reasons (that Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the Pentecost and the Second Appearance) the Apostles themselves, and the early Christians immediately made Sunday the new Sabbath, the new day of rest, and the new day for Godʹs people to gather together for prayer (i.e., Liturgy) and breaking of bread (i.e., Holy Communion) Thus we read in the Didache of the Holy Apostles: “On the Lordʹs Day (i.e., Kyriake) come together and break bread. And give thanks (i.e., offer the Eucharist), after confessing your sins that your sacrifice may be pure (Didache 14).” Thus the Christians met together on the Lord’s Day, that is, Sunday, for the breaking of bread and giving of thanks, to wit, the Divine Liturgy and Holy Eucharist. St. Barnabas the Apostle (+11 June, 61), First Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, in the Epistle of Barnabas, writes: “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead (Barnabas 15).” The eighth day is a reference to Sunday, which is known as the first as well as the eighth day of the week. How more appropriate to keep the eighth day with joyfulness other than by communing of the joyous Gifts? St. Ignatius the God‐bearer (+20 December, 108), Bishop of Antioch, in his Epistle to the Magnesians, insists that the Jews who became Christian should be “no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our Life rose again (Magnesians 9).” What could commemorate the Lord’s Day as the day Life rose again, other than by receiving Life incarnate, to wit, that precious Body and Blood of Christ? For he who partakes of it shall never die but live forever! St. Clemes, also known as St. Clement (+24 November, 101), Bishop of Rome, in the Apostolic Constitutions, also declares that Divine Liturgy is especially for Sundays more than any other day. Thus we read: “On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, saith the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the nations (Apostolic Constitutions, ch. 30).” The reference to “pure sacrifice” is the oblation of Christ’s Body and Blood; “giving thanks to God” is the celebration of the Eucharist (εὐχαριστία = giving thanks). The Apostolic Constitutions also state clearly that Sunday is not only the most important day for Divine Liturgy, but that it is also the ideal day for receiving Holy Communion. It is written: “And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the Gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food? (Apostolic Constitutions, ch. 59).” The “gift of the holy food” refers to Holy Communion. The Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church also distinguish Sunday as the day of Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion. The 19th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council mentions the importance of Sunday as a day for gathering and preaching the Gospel sermon: “We declare that the deans of churches, on every day, but more especially on Sundays, must teach all the clergy and the laity words of truth out of the Holy Bible…” The 80th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council states that all clergy and laity are forbidden to be absent from Divine Liturgy for three consecutive Sundays: “In case any bishop or presbyter or deacon or anyone else on the list of the clergy, or any layman, without any grave necessity or any particular difficulty compelling him to absent himself from his own church for a very long time, fails to attend church on Sundays for three consecutive weeks, while living in the city, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be removed from communion.” Take note that if one attends Divine Liturgy for three consecutive Saturdays, but not on the Sundays, he still falls under the penalty of this canon because it does not reprimand someone who simply doesn’t attend Divine Liturgy for three weeks, but rather one who “fails to attend church on Sundays.” The reference to “church” must refer to a parish where Holy Communion is offered every Sunday, for an individual who does not attend for three consecutive Sundays cannot be punished by being “removed from communion” if this is not even offered to begin with. Also, the fact that this is the penalty must mean that the norm is for the faithful to commune every Sunday, or at least every third Sunday. The 9th Canon of the Holy Apostles declares that: “All those faithful who enter and listen to the Scriptures, but do not stay for prayer and Holy Communion must be excommunicated, on the ground that they are causing the Church a breach of order.” The 2nd Canon of the Council of Antioch states: “As for all those persons who enter the church and listen to the sacred Scriptures, but who fail to commune in prayer together and at the same time with the laity, or who shun the participation of the Eucharist, in accordance with some irregularity, we decree that these persons be outcasts from the Church until, after going to confession and exhibiting fruits of repentance and begging forgiveness, they succeed in obtaining a pardon…” Both of these canons prove quite clearly that all faithful who attend Divine Liturgy and are not under any kind of penance or excommunication, must partake of Holy Communion. Thus, if clergy and laity are equally expected to attend Divine Liturgy every Sunday, or at least every third Sunday, they are equally expected to Commune every Sunday, or at least every third Sunday. Should they fail, they are to be excommunicated. St. Timothy of Alexandria (+20 July, 384), in his Questions and Answers, and specifically in the 3rd Canon, writes: “Question: If anyone who is a believer is possessed of a demon, ought he to partake of the Holy Mysteries, or not? Answer: If he does not repudiate the Mystery, nor otherwise in any way blaspheme, let him have communion, not, however, every day in the week, for it is sufficient for him on the Lord’s Day only.” So then, if even those who are possessed with demons are permitted to commune on every Sunday, how is it that Bp. Kirykos advises that all Christians are only permitted to commune on a Saturday, and never on a Sunday except by extreme economia? Are today’s healthy, faithful and practicing Orthodox Christians, who do not have a canon of penance or any excommunication, and who desire communion every Sunday, forbidden this, despite the fact that of old even those possessed of demons were permitted it? The above Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church are the Law of God that the Church abides to in order to prevent scandal or discord. Let us now compare this Law of God to the “traditions of men,” namely, the Sabbatian, Pharisaic statement found in Bp. Kirykos’s first letter to Fr. Pedro: “… I request of you the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue, and to recommend to those who confess to you, that in order to approach Holy Communion, they must prepare by fasting, and to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday.“ Clearly, Bp. Kirykos has turned the whole world upside down, and has made the Holy Canons and the Law of the Church of God as a matter of “discord and scandal,” and instead insists upon his own self‐invented “tradition” which is nowhere to be found in the writings of the Holy Fathers, in the Holy Canons, or in the Holy Tradition of Orthodoxy. The truth is that Bp. Kirykos himself is the one who introduced “disorder and scandal” when he trampled all over the Holy Canons and insisted that his priest, Fr. Pedro, and other laymen do likewise! The truth is that Fr. Pedro and the laymen supporting him are not at all causing “disorder and scandal” in the Church, but they are the ones preventing disorder and scandal by objecting to the unorthodox demands of Bp. Kirykos. Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, Sunday has always been the day of Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion. This was declared so by the Holy Apostles themselves, was also maintained in the post‐apostolic era, and continues even until our day. Nowhere in the doctrines, practices or history of Orthodox Christianity is there ever a teaching that laymen are supposedly only to commune on a Saturday and never on a Sunday. The only day of the week throughout the year upon which Liturgy is guaranteed to be celebrated is on a Sunday. The Liturgy is only performed on a few Saturdays per year in most parishes, and mostly only during the Great Fast or on the Saturday of Souls. Liturgy is more seldom on weekdays as the Liturgies of Wednesday and Friday nights have been made Pre‐sanctified and limited to only within the Great Fast. Liturgy is now only performed on weekdays if it is a feastday of a major saint. But Liturgy is always performed on a Sunday without fail, in every city, village and countryside, because it is the Lord’s Day. The purpose of Liturgy is to receive Holy Communion, and the reason for it being celebrated on the Lord’s Day without fail is because this is the day of salvation, and therefore the most important day of the week, especially for receiving Holy Communion. For, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).” What greater way to rejoice on the Lord’s Day than to commune of the very Lord Himself? The theory of diminishing Sunday as the day of salvation and communion, and instead opting for Saturday, is actually a heresy known as
FROM THE ANAPHORAE OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH REGARDING “WORTHINESS” OF HOLY COMMUNION This can also be demonstrated by the secret prayers within Divine Liturgy. From the early Apostolic Liturgies, right down to the various Liturgies of the Local Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, Gallia, Hispania, Britannia, Cappadocia, Armenia, Persia, India and Ethiopia, in Liturgies that were once vibrant in the Orthodox Church, prior to the Nestorian, Monophysite and Papist schisms, as well as those Liturgies still in common use today among the Orthodox Christians (namely, the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and the Presanctified Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialogist), the message is quite clear in all the mystic prayers that the clergy and the laity are referred to as entirely unworthy, and truly they are to believe they are unworthy, and that no action of their own can make them worthy (i.e. not even fasting), but that only the Lord’s mercy and grace through the Gifts themselves will allow them to receive communion without condemnation. To demonstrate this, let us begin with the early Apostolic Liturgies, and from there work our way through as many of the oblations used throughout history, as have been found in ancient manuscripts, among them those still offered within Orthodoxy today. St. James the Brother‐of‐God (+23 October, 62), First Bishop of Jerusalem, begins his anaphora as follows: “O Sovereign Lord our God, condemn me not, defiled with a multitude of sins: for, behold, I have come to this Thy divine and heavenly mystery, not as being worthy; but looking only to Thy goodness, I direct my voice to Thee: God be merciful to me, a sinner; I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am unworthy to come into the presence of this Thy holy and spiritual table, upon which Thy only‐begotten Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice for me, a sinner, and stained with every spot.” Following the creed, the following prayer is read: “God and Sovereign of all, make us, who are unworthy, worthy of this hour, lover of mankind; that being pure from all deceit and all hypocrisy, we may be united with one another by the bond of peace and love, being confirmed by the sanctification of Thy divine knowledge through Thine only‐begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Then right before the clergy are to partake of Communion, the following is recited: “O Lord our God, the heavenly bread, the life of the universe, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am not worthy to partake of Thy pure Mysteries; but as a merciful God, make me worthy by Thy grace, without condemnation to partake of Thy holy body and precious blood, for the remission of sins, and life everlasting.” After all the clergy and laity have received Communion, this prayer is read: “O God, who through Thy great and unspeakable love didst condescend to the weakness of Thy servants, and hast counted us worthy to partake of this heavenly table, condemn not us sinners for the participation of Thy pure Mysteries; but keep us, O good One, in the sanctification of Thy Holy Spirit, that being made holy, we may find part and inheritance with all Thy saints that have been well‐pleasing to Thee since the world began, in the light of Thy countenance, through the mercy of Thy only‐begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit: for blessed and glorified is Thy all‐precious and glorious name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” From these prayers is it not clear that no one is worthy of Holy Communion, whether they have fasted or not, but that it is God’s mercy that bestows worthiness upon mankind through participation in the Mystery of Confession and receiving Holy Communion? This was most certainly the belief of the early Christians of Jerusalem, quite contrary to Bp. Kirykos’ ideology of early Christians supposedly being “worthy of communion” because they supposedly “fasted in the finer and broader sense.” St. Mark the Evangelist (+25 April, 63), First Bishop of Alexandria, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “O Sovereign and Almighty Lord, look down from heaven on Thy Church, on all Thy people, and on all Thy flock. Save us all, Thine unworthy servants, the sheep of Thy fold. Give us Thy peace, Thy help, and Thy love, and send to us the gift of Thy Holy Spirit, that with a pure heart and a good conscience we may salute one another with an holy kiss, without hypocrisy, and with no hostile purpose, but guileless and pure in one spirit, in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one faith, even as we have been called in one hope of our calling, that we may all meet in the divine and boundless love, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom Thou art blessed, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Later in the Liturgy the following is read: “Be mindful also of us, O Lord, Thy sinful and unworthy servants, and blot out our sins in Thy goodness and mercy.” Again we read: “O holy, highest, awe‐inspiring God, who dwellest among the saints, sanctify us by the word of Thy grace and by the inspiration of Thy all‐ holy Spirit; for Thou hast said, O Lord our God, Be ye holy; for I am holy. O Word of God, past finding out, consubstantial and co‐eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and sharer of their sovereignty, accept the pure song which cherubim and seraphim, and the unworthy lips of Thy sinful and unworthy servant, sing aloud.” Thus it is clear that whether he had fasted or not, St. Mark and his clergy and flock still considered themselves unworthy. By no means did they ever entertain the theory that “they fasted in the finer and broader sense, that is, they were worthy of communion,” as Bp. Kirykos dares to say. On the contrary, St. Mark and the early Christians of Alexandria believed any worthiness they could achieve would be through partaking of the Holy Mysteries themselves. Thus, St. Mark wrote the following prayer to be read immediately after Communion: “O Sovereign Lord our God, we thank Thee that we have partaken of Thy holy, pure, immortal, and heavenly Mysteries, which Thou hast given for our good, and for the sanctification and salvation of our souls and bodies. We pray and beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant in Thy good mercy, that by partaking of the holy body and precious blood of Thine only‐begotten Son, we may have faith that is not ashamed, love that is unfeigned, fullness of holiness, power to eschew evil and keep Thy commandments, provision for eternal life, and an acceptable defense before the awful tribunal of Thy Christ: Through whom and with whom be glory and power to Thee, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Peter the Apostle (+29 June, 67), First Bishop of Antioch, and later Bishop of Old Rome, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “For unto Thee do I draw nigh, and, bowing my neck, I pray Thee: Turn not Thy countenance away from me, neither cast me out from among Thy children, but graciously vouchsafe that I, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, may offer unto Thee these Holy Gifts.” Again we read: “With soul defiled and lips unclean, with base hands and earthen tongue, wholly in sins, mean and unrepentant, I beseech Thee, O Lover of mankind, Saviour of the hopeless and Haven of those in danger, Who callest sinners to repentance, O Lord God, loose, remit, forgive me a sinner my transgressions, whether deliberate or unintentional, whether of word or deed, whether committed in knowledge or in ignorance.” St. Thomas the Apostle (+6 October, 72), Enlightener of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Persia, Bactria, Parthia and India, and First Bishop of Maliapor in India, in his Divine Liturgy, conveyed through his disciples, St. Thaddeus (+21 August, 66), St. Haggai (+23 December, 87), and St. Maris (+5 August, 120), delivered the following prayer in the anaphora which is to be read while kneeling: “O our Lord and God, look not on the multitude of our sins, and let not Thy dignity be turned away on account of the heinousness of our iniquities; but through Thine unspeakable grace sanctify this sacrifice of Thine, and grant through it power and capability, so that Thou mayest forget our many sins, and be merciful when Thou shalt appear at the end of time, in the man whom Thou hast assumed from among us, and we may find before Thee grace and mercy, and be rendered worthy to praise Thee with spiritual assemblies.” Upon standing, the following is read: “We thank Thee, O our Lord and God, for the abundant riches of Thy grace to us: we who were sinful and degraded, on account of the multitude of Thy clemency, Thou hast made worthy to celebrate the holy Mysteries of the body and blood of Thy Christ. We beg aid from Thee for the strengthening of our souls, that in perfect love and true faith we may administer Thy gift to us.” And again: “O our Lord and God, restrain our thoughts, that they wander not amid the vanities of this world. O Lord our God, grant that I may be united to the affection of Thy love, unworthy though I be. Glory to Thee, O Christ.” The priest then reads this prayer on behalf of the faithful: “O Lord God Almighty, accept this oblation for the whole Holy Catholic Church, and for all the pious and righteous fathers who have been pleasing to Thee, and for all the prophets and apostles, and for all the martyrs and confessors, and for all that mourn, that are in straits, and are sick, and for all that are under difficulties and trials, and for all the weak and the oppressed, and for all the dead that have gone from amongst us; then for all that ask a prayer from our weakness, and for me, a degraded and feeble sinner. O Lord our God, according to Thy mercies and the multitude of Thy favours, look upon Thy people, and on me, a feeble man, not according to my sins and my follies, but that they may become worthy of the forgiveness of their sins through this holy body, which they receive with faith, through the grace of Thy mercy, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” The following prayer also indicates that the officiators consider themselves unworthy but look for the reception of the Holy Mysteries to give them remission of sins: “We, Thy degraded, weak, and feeble servants who are congregated in Thy name, and now stand before Thee, and have received with joy the form which is from Thee, praising, glorifying, and exalting, commemorate and celebrate this great, awful, holy, and divine mystery of the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And may Thy Holy Spirit come, O Lord, and rest upon this oblation of Thy servants which they offer, and bless and sanctify it; and may it be unto us, O Lord, for the propitiation of our offences and the forgiveness of our sins, and for a grand hope of resurrection from the dead, and for a new life in the Kingdom of the heavens, with all who have been pleasing before Him. And on account of the whole of Thy wonderful dispensation towards us, we shall render thanks unto Thee, and glorify Thee without ceasing in Thy Church, redeemed by the precious blood of Thy Christ, with open mouths and joyful countenances: Ascribing praise, honour, thanksgiving, and adoration to Thy holy, loving, and life‐creating name, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Finally, the following petition indicates quite clearly the belief that the officiators and entire congregation are unworthy of receiving the Mysteries: “The clemency of Thy grace, O our Lord and God, gives us access to these renowned, holy, life‐creating, and Divine Mysteries, unworthy though we be.” St. Luke the Evangelist (+18 October, 86), Bishop of Thebes in Greece, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Bless, O Lord, Thy faithful people who are bowed down before Thee; deliver us from injuries and temptations; make us worthy to receive these Holy Mysteries in purity and virtue, and may we be absolved and sanctified by them. We offer Thee praise and thanksgiving and to Thine Only‐ begotten Son and to Thy Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Dionysius the Areopagite (+3 October, 96), Bishop of Athens, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Giver of Holiness, and distributor of every good, O Lord, Who sanctifiest every rational creature with sanctification, which is from Thee; sanctify, through Thy Holy Spirit, us Thy servants, who bow before Thee; free us from all servile passions of sin, from envy, treachery, deceit, hatred, enmities, and from him, who works the same, that we may be worthy, holily to complete the ministry of these life‐giving Mysteries, through the heavenly Master, Jesus Christ, Thine Only‐begotten Son, through Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory and honour, together with Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Thus, it is God that offers sanctification to mankind, purifies mankind from sins, and makes mankind worthy of the Mysteries. This worthiness is not achieved by fasting. In the same Anaphora we read: “Essentially existing, and from all ages; Whose nature is incomprehensible, Who art near and present to all, without any change of Thy sublimity; Whose goodness every existing thing longs for and desires; the intelligible indeed, and creature endowed with intelligence, through intelligence; those endowed with sense, through their senses; Who, although Thou art One essentially, nevertheless art present with us, and amongst us, in this hour, in which Thou hast called and led us to these Thy holy Mysteries; and hast made us worthy to stand before the sublime throne of Thy majesty, and to handle the sacred vessels of Thy ministry with our impure hands: take away from us, O Lord, the cloak of iniquity in which we are enfolded, as from Jesus, the son of Josedec the High Priest, thou didst take away the filthy garments, and adorn us with piety and justice, as Thou didst adorn him with a vestment of glory; that clothed with Thee alone, as it were with a garment, and being like temples crowned with glory, we may see Thee unveiled with a mind divinely illuminated, and may feast, whilst we, by communicating therein, enjoy this sacrifice set before us; and that we may render to Thee glory and praise, together with Thine Only‐begotten Son, and Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Once again, worthiness derives from God and not from fasting. In the same Liturgy we read: “I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy upon us, and wash away, through Thy grace, the uncleanness of my evil deeds; destroy, through Thy mercy, what I have done, worthy of wrath; for I do not
I wish to make you aware of these things, not to slander or harm our priest, but in order that he may be sanctified and brought into understanding of the Church’s Liturgy and Doctrine.
SPIRITUAL PATH REMEMBERING SACRED TRADITION AND REFERRING TO THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH Canons of the Holy Apostles 8. If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else in the sacerdotal list, fail to partake of communion when the oblation has been offered, he must tell the reason, and if it is good excuse, he shall receive a pardon. But if he refuses to tell it, he shall be excommunicated, on the ground that he has become a cause of harm to the laity and has instilled a suspicion as against the offerer of it that the latter has failed to present it in a sound manner. Interpretation. It is the intention of the present Canon that all, and especially those in holy orders, should be prepared beforehand and worthy to partake of the divine mysteries when the oblation is offered, or what amounts to the sacred service of the body of Christ. In case any one of them fail to partake when present at the divine liturgy, or communion, he is required to tell the reason or cause why he did not partake: then if it is a just and righteous and reasonable one, he is to receive a pardon, or be excused; but if he refuses to tell it, he is to be excommunicated, since he also becomes a cause of harm to the laity by leading the multitude to suspect that that priest who officiated at liturgy was not worthy and that it was on this account that the person in question refused to communicate from him. 9. All those faithful who enter and listen to the Scriptures, but do not stay for prayer and Holy Communion must be excommunicated, on the ground that they are causing the Church a breach of order. (Canon LXVI of the 6th; c. II of Antioch; cc. Ill, XIII of Tim.). Interpretation. Both exegetes of the sacred Canons — Zonaras, I mean, and Balsamon — in interpreting the present Apostolical Canon agree in saying that all Christians who enter the church when the divine liturgy is being celebrated, and who listen to the divine Scriptures, but do not remain to the end nor partake, must be excommunicated, as causing a disorder to the church. Thus Zonaras says verbatim: “The present Canon demands that all those who are in the church when the holy sacrifice is being performed shall patiently remain to the end for prayer and holy communion.” For even the laity then were required to partake continually. Balsamon says: “The ordainment of the present Canon is very acrid; for it excommunicates those attending church but not staying to the end nor partaking.” Concord. Agreeably with the present Canon c. II of Antioch ordains that all those who enter the church during the time of divine liturgy and listen to the Scriptures, but turn away and avoid (which is the same as to say, on account of pretended reverence and humility they shun, according to interpretation of the best interpreter, Zonaras) divine communion in a disorderly manner are to be excommunicated. The continuity of communion is confirmed also by c. LXVI of the 6th, which commands Christians throughout Novational Week (i.e., Easter Week) to take time off for psalms and hymns, and to indulge in the divine mysteries to their hearts’ content. But indeed even from the third canon of St. Timothy the continuity of communion can be inferred. For if he permits one possessed by demons to partake, not however every day, but only on Sunday (though in other copies it is written, on occasions only), it is likely that those riot possessed by demons are permitted to communicate even more frequently. Some contend that for this reason it was that the same Timothy, in c. Ill, ordains that on Saturday and Sunday that a man and his wife should not have mutual intercourse, in order, that is, that they might partake, since in that period it was only on those days, as we have said, that the divine liturgy was celebrated. This opinion of theirs is confirmed by divine Justin, who says in his second apology that “on the day of the sun” — meaning, Sunday — all Christians used to assemble in the churches (which on this account were also called “Kyriaka,” i.e., places of the Lord) and partook of the divine mysteries. That, on the other hand, all Christians ought to frequent divine communion is confirmed from the West by divine Ambrose, who says thus: “We see many brethren coming to church negligently, and indeed on Sundays not even being present at the mysteries.” And again, in blaming those who fail to partake continually, the same saint says of the mystic bread: “God gave us this bread as a daily affair, and we make it a yearly affair.” From Asia, on the other hand, divine Chrysostom demands this of Christians, and, indeed, par excellence. And see in his preamble to his commentary of the Epistle to the Romans, discourse VIII, and to the Hebrews, discourse XVIII, on the Acts, and Sermon V on the First Epistle to Timothy, and Sermon XVII on the Epistle to the Hebrews, and his discourse on those at first fasting on Easter, Sermon III to the Ephesians, discourse addressed to those who leave the divine assemblies (synaxeis), Sermon XXVIII on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, a discourse addressed to blissful Philogonius, and a discourse about fasting. Therein you can see how that goodly tongue strives and how many exhortations it rhetorically urges in order to induce Christians to partake at the same time, and worthily, and continually. But see also Basil the Great, in his epistle to Caesaria Patricia and in his first discourse about baptism. But then how can it be thought that whoever pays any attention to the prayers of all the divine liturgy can fail to see plainly enough that all of these are aimed at having it arranged that Christians assembled at the divine liturgy should partake — as many, that is to say, as are worthy? 10. If anyone pray in company with one who has been excommunicated, he shall be excommunicated himself. Interpretation. The noun akoinonetos has three significations: for, either it denotes one standing in church and praying in company with the rest of the Christians, but not communing with the divine mysteries; or it denotes one who neither communes nor stands and prays with the faithful in the church, but who has been excommunicated from them and is excluded from church and prayer; or finally it may denote any clergyman who becomes excommunicated from the clergy, as, say, a bishop from his fellow bishops, or a presbyter from his fellow presbyters, or a deacon from his fellow deacons, and so on. Accordingly, every akoinonetos is the same as saying excommunicated from the faithful who are in the church; and he is at the same time also excommunicated from the Mysteries. But not everyone that is excommunicated from the Mysteries is also excommunicated from the congregation of the faithful, as are deposed clergymen; and from the peni‐ tents those who stand together and who neither commune nor stay out of the church like catechumens, as we have said. In the present Canon the word akoinonetos is taken in the second sense of the word. That is why it says that whoever prays in company with one who has been excommunicated because of sin from the congregation and prayer of the faithful, even though he should not pray along with them in church, but in a house, whether he be in holy orders or a layman, he is to be excommunicated in the same way as he was from church and prayer with Christians: because that common engagement in prayer which he performs in conjunction with a person that has been excommunicated, wittingly and knowingly him to be such, is aimed at dishonoring and condemning the excommunicator, and traduces him as having excommunicated him wrongly and unjustly.
THE FREQUENCY OF HOLY COMMUNION By Elder Pachomius of Chios Who would not weep at the ignorance and wretched state of our contemporary clergy? Where has it ever been heard, that the Christians should go to Church, seeking to receive Holy Communion, and the priests hinder them, saying to them, “Is Communion soup? Forty days have not passed since you received Holy Communion, and you come to receive again?” In like manner, regarding the first week of the Great Lent, I know of many men and women who keep the three‐day fast [an optional tradition of fasting from food and water], and they go to church on Wednesday for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, and the clergy do not allow them to receive Holy Communion, saying, “Just the other day you were eating meat, and today you come to receive Communion?” “And secondly,” they say, “the Presanctified is for the priests, and not for the laity.” Fie! on our ignorance and lack of understanding! You, on the one hand, O ordained man, are eating meat the night before, and many times you are even drunk, and perhaps also irreverent, and you go to serve the Liturgy, and you hinder the one who has been fasting with so much reverence? And you deprive him of so much benefit and sanctification? Do you see what lack of learning our priests have? “The Presanctified,” say they, “is for the priests, and not for the laypeople.” St. Basil the Great says, “I commune my parishioners four times a week.” St. John Chrysostom and the entire Church of Christ do likewise. They had this custom of Communion four times a week. And since the Liturgy is not served during the weekdays in Great Lent, the Holy Fathers in their wisdom devised to have the Presanctified, only so that the Christians might have the opportunity to commune during the week; and you say the Presanctified is only for the ordained? And observe, O reader, that as long as this discipline prevailed, and the Christians communed frequently, their hearts were warmed by the grace of Holy Communion, and they ran to martyrdom like sheep. Therefore, the priests who hinder the Christians from receiving the Immaculate Communion should know well that they sin greatly. I do not say that the people should commune simply and indiscriminately, but that they should approach with the fitting preparation. However, I heard what some priests say: “I” (say they) “am a priest and I serve the Liturgy frequently, and I commune, but the layman does not have this permission.” In this matter, O priest, my brother, you are greatly mistaken. Because, in the matter of Holy Communion, the priest differs in nothing from the layman. You, O priest, are a minister of the Mystery, but this does not mean that you have the right to receive frequently, and the layman does not. In this matter I can bring you many proofs from the Saints, demonstrating that it is permitted equally to bishops and priests and laypeople, both men and women, to partake of the Immaculate Mysteries continuously – unless they have been married a third time. As many as have married three times commune three times a year. I have myriads of proofs concerning this issue, but which one should I present to you first? Chrysostom, Clement, Symeon of Thessalonica, David? As I said, which one should I mention first? In this matter, I can bring you so many proofs, I could fill a whole book! For this cause, I cut short what I am saying and tell you only this in brief. If you don’t want the Christians to commune frequently, why do you hold the Holy Chalice, and display it to the Christians, and cry out from the Holy Bema, “With the fear of God, faith, and love, draw near, and approach the Mysteries that you may commune?” And yet again, you yourselves hinder them, and you lie openly? Why, on the one hand, do you invite them, and, on the other, do you push them away?...
In 1919, the Bishop of Southern Rhodesia, with Bishops Gaul and Smyth, attended a celebration of the Orthodox Liturgy, at which Professor Norton, of Capetown University, read the Epistle and Creed in Greek.
ARE THE HOLY CANONS ONLY VALID FOR THE APOSTOLIC PERIOD AND NOT FOR OUR TIMES? In his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “After this, I request of you the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue, and to recommend to those who confess to you, that in order to approach Holy Communion, they must prepare by fasting, and to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday. Regarding the Canon, which some people refer to in order to commune without fasting beforehand, it is correct, but it must be interpreted correctly and applied to everybody. Namely, we must return to those early apostolic times, during which all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed. They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune. The rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens. As for those who were in repentance, they remained outside the gates of the church. If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church?” From the above explanation by Bp. Kirykos, one is given the impression that he believes and commands: a) that Fr. Pedro is to forbid laymen to commune on Sundays during Great Lent in order to ensure “the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue,” despite the fact that the canons declare that it is those who do not commune on Sundays that are causers of disorder, as the 9th Canon of the Holy Apostles declares: “All the faithful who come to Church and hear the Scriptures, but do not stay for the prayers and the Holy Communion, are to be excommunicated as causing disorder in the Church;” b) that Fr. Pedro is to advise his flock “to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday,” thereby commanding his flock to become Sabbatians; c) that the Canon which advises people to receive Holy Communion every day even outside of fasting periods is “correct” but must be “interpreted correctly and applied to everybody,” which, in the solution that Bp. Kirykos offers, amounts to a complete annulment of the Canon in regards to laymen, while enforcing the Canon liberally upon the clergy; d) that “we must return to those early apostolic times,” as if the Orthodox Church today is not still the unchanged and unadulterated Apostolic Church as confessed in the Symbol of the Faith, “In One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” with the same Head, the same Body, and the e) f) g) h) same requirement to abide by the Canons, but that we are supposedly some kind of fallen Church in need of “return” to a former status; that supposedly in apostolic times “all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed,” meaning that Communion is annulled for later generations supposedly due to a lack of celibacy and vegetarianism; that supposedly only the celibate and vegetarians communed in the early Church, and that “the rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens,” as if marriage and eating meat amounted to a renunciation of one’s baptism and a reversion to the status of catechumen, which is actually the teaching and practice of the Manicheans, Paulicians and Bogomils and not of the Apostolic Church, and the 9th Apostolic Canon declares that if any layman departs with the catechumens and does not remain until the end of Liturgy and does not commune, such a layman is to be excommunicated, yet Bp. Kirykos promotes this practice as something pious, patristic and acceptable; that Christians who have confessed their sins and prepared themselves and their spiritual father has deemed them able to receive Holy Communion, are supposedly still in the rank of the penitents either due to being married or due to being meat‐eaters, as can be seen from Bp. Kirykos’ words: “If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church?” that we are not to interpret and implement the Holy Canons the way they are written and the way the Holy Orthodox Church has always historically interpreted and implemented them, but that these Canons supposedly need to be reinterpreted in Bp. Kirykos’s own way, or as he says, “interpreted correctly and applied to everybody,” and that “if we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church.” All of the above notions held by Bp. Kirykos can be summed up by the statement that he believes the Canons only apply for the apostolic era or the time of the early Christians, but that these Canons are now to be reinterpreted or nullified because today’s Christians are not worthy to be treated according to the Holy Canons. He also believes that to follow the advice of the Holy Canons is a cause of “disorder and scandal,” despite the fact that the very purpose of the Holy Canons is to prevent disorder and scandal. These notions held by Bp. Kirykos are entirely erroneous, and they are another variant of the same blasphemies preached by the Modernists and Ecumenists who desire to set the Holy Canons aside by claiming that they are not suitable for our times. Bp. Kirykos’ incorrect notions regarding the supposed inapplicability of the Holy Canons in our times are notions that the Rudder itself condemns. For in the Holy Rudder (published in the 17th century), St. Nicodemus of Athos included an excellent introductory note regarding the importance of the Holy Canons, and that they are applicable for all times, and must be adhered to faithfully by all Orthodox Christians. This introductory note by St. Nicodemus, as contained in the Holy Rudder, is provided below. PROLEGOMENA IN GENERAL TO THE SACRED CANONS What Is a Canon? A canon, according to Zonaras (in his interpretation of the 39th letter of Athansius the Great), properly speaking and in the main sense of the word, is a piece of wood, commonly called a rule, which artisans use to get the wood and stone they are working on straight. For, when they place this rule (or straightedge) against their work, if this be crooked, inwards or outwards, they make it straight and right. From this, by metaphorical extension, votes and decisions are also called canons, whether they be of the Apostles or of the ecumenical and regional Councils or those of the individual Fathers, which are contained in the present Handbook: for they too, like so many straight and right rules, rid men in holy orders, clergymen and laymen, of every disorder and obliquity of manners, and cause them to have every normality and equality of ecclesiastical and Christian condition and virtue. That the divine Canons must be kept rigidly by all; for those who fail to keep them are made liable to horrible penances “These instructions regarding Canons have been enjoined upon you by us, O Bishops. If you adhere to them, you shall be saved, and shall have peace; but if you disobey them, you shall be sorely punished, and shall have perpetual war with one another, thus paying the penalty deserved for heedlessness.” (The Apostles in their epilogue to the Canons) “We have decided that it is right and just that the canons promulgated by the holy Fathers at each council hitherto should remain in force.” (1st Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) “It has seemed best to this holy Council that the 85 Canons accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers before us, and handed down to us, moreover, in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, should remain henceforth certified and secured for the correction of souls and cure of diseases… [of the four ecumenical councils according to name, of the regional councils by name, and of the individual Fathers by name]… And that no one should be allowed to counterfeit or tamper with the aforementioned Canons or to set them aside.” (2nd Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) “If anyone be caught innovating or undertaking to subvert any of the said Canons, he shall be responsible with respect to such Canon and undergo the penance therein specified in order to be corrected thereby of that very thing in which he is at fault.” (2nd Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council) “Rejoicing in them like one who has found a lot of spoils, we gladly embosom the divine Canons, and we uphold their entire tenor and strengthen them all the more, so far as concerns those promulgated by the trumpets of the Spirit of the renowned Apostles, of the holy ecumenical councils, and of those convened regionally… And of our holy Fathers… And as for those whom they consign to anathema, we anathematize them, too; as for those whom they consign to deposition or degradation, we too depose or degrade them; as for those whom they consign to excommunication, we too excommunicate them; and as for those whom they condemn to a penance, we too subject them thereto likewise.” (1st Canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council) “We therefore decree that the ecclesiastical Canons which have been promulgated or confirmed by the four holy councils, namely, that held in Nicaea, and that held in Constantinople, and the first one held in Ephesus, and that held in Chalcedon, shall take the rank of laws.” (Novel 131 of Emperor Justinian) “We therefore decree that the ecclesiastical Canons which have been promulgated or confirmed by the seven holy councils shall take the rank of laws.” (Ed. note—The word “confirmed” alludes to the canons of the regional councils and of the individual Fathers which had been confirmed by the ecumenical councils, according to Balsamon.) “For we accept the dogmas of the aforesaid holy councils precisely as we do the divine Scriptures, and we keep their Canons as laws.” (Basilica, Book 5, Title 3, Chapter 2) “The third provision of Title 2 of the Novels commands the Canons of the seven councils and their dogmas to remain in force, in the same way as the divine Scriptures.” (In Photius, Title 1, Chapter 2) “I accept the seven councils and their dogmas to remain in force, in the same way as the divine Scriptures.” (Emperor Leo the Wise in Basilica, Book 5, Title 3, Chapter 1) “It has been prescribed by the holy Fathers that even after death those men must be anathematized who have sinned against the faith or against the Canons.” (Fifth Ecumenical Council in the epistle of Justinian, page 392 of Volume 2 of the Conciliars) “Anathema on those who hold in scorn the sacred and divine Canons of our sacred Fathers, who prop up the holy Church and adorn all the Christian polity, and guide men to divine reverence.” (Council held in Constantinople after Constantine Porphyrogenitus, page 977 of Volume 2 of the Conciliars) That the divine Canons override the imperial laws “It pleased the most divine Despot of the inhabited earth (i.e. Emperor Marcian) not to proceed in accordance with the divine letters or pragmatic forms of the most devout bishops, but in accordance with the Canons laid down as laws by the holy Fathers. The council said: As against the Canons, no pragmatic sanction is effective. Let the Canons of the Fathers remain in force. And again: We pray that the pragmatic sanctions enacted for some in every province to the detriment of the Canons may be held in abeyance incontrovertibly; and that the Canons may come into force through all… all of us say the same things. All the pragmatic sanctions shall be held in abeyance. Let the Canons come into force… In accordance with the vote of the holy council, let the injunctions of Canons come into force also in all the other provinces.” (In Act 5 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) “It has seemed best to all the holy ecumenical council that if anyone offers any form conflicting with those now prescribed, let that form be void.” (8th Canon of the Third Ecumenical Council) “Pragmatic forms opposed to the Canons are void.” (Book 1, Title 2, Ordinances 12, Photius, Title 1, Chapter 2) “For those Canons which have been promulgated, and supported, that is to say, by emperors and holy Fathers, are accepted like the divine Scriptures. But the laws have been accepted or composed only by the emperors; and for this reason they do not prevail over and against the divine Scriptures nor the Canons.” (Balsamon, comment on the above chapter 2 of Photius) “Do not talk to me of external laws. For even the publican fulfills the outer law, yet nevertheless he is sorely punished.” (Chrysostom, Sermon 57 on the Gospel of Matthew)
He is the author/editor of The Stonewall Seder liturgy (info at www.stonewallseder.com).
Translation from the Greek: [Letterhead symbol of double‐headed eagle] GENUINE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF GREECE HOLY METROPOLIS OF MESOGAEA AND LAUREOTICA EPISCOPAL HOUSE OF ST. CATHERINE, KOROPI, ATTICA 19400 P.O. 54 KOROPI, ATTICA, TEL: 2106020176, TEL+FAX: 2106021467 Protocol No. 535. Sunday of Cross‐veneration [22 Feb/7 Mar], 2010. To the Most Reverend Priest Fr. Pedro Rector of the Holy Church of Saint Spyridon Karea [Athens, Greece] By my present Hierarchical letter, I notify you also in writing, that 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. Also, all Christians, when they are going to commune, know that they must approach Holy Communion on Saturday (since it is preceded by the fast of Friday) and on Sunday only by economy, so that they are not compelled to break the fast of Saturday and violate the relevant Holy Canon [sic: here he accidentally speaks of breaking the fast of Saturday, but he most likely means fasting on Saturday, because that is what violates the canons]. After this, I request of you the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue, and to recommend to those who confess to you, that in order to approach Holy Communion, they must prepare by fasting, and to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday. Regarding the Canon, which some people refer to in order to commune without fasting beforehand, it is correct, but it must be interpreted correctly and applied to everybody. Namely, we must return to those early apostolic times, during which all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained [Page 2] until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed. They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune. The rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens. As for those who were in repentance, they remained outside the gates of the church. If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church? In short I write these things to you to advise you beforehand and I will come back to it, after you translate the present letter and come to discuss with me any problems you may happen to have. With prayers The Metropolitan of Mesogaea and Laureotica + KIRYKOS [Signature]
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