During this season of allergies, colds and flu viruses floating around, there has been discussion in our parish - among other churches- about precautions with regard to Holy Communion. In the Orthodox Church, the parishioners form a line in order to meet the priest at the foot of the alter. There, the consecrated bread and wine, the Body & Blood of Christ is together present in the chalice. The contents are then distributed to Orthodox Christians by means of a spoon.
If this is not the practice in your church, you may regard this communal cup warily. Surely germs and diseases of all sort are shared this way? Our parish advocates common sense guidelines; hopefully if you are feverish or have flu-like symptoms, you are home resting and taking the necessary treatments. The Sacraments may be given to such individuals at home or in the hospital.
Interestingly, over the centuries of the Orthodox Church using this method of Holy Communion, “there has been no recorded instances of it compounding the effects of any plagues or pestilence.” (Fr. Olaf Scott, in the Sunday October 25th Bulletin)
A few evenings ago, as our pre-teen son was getting ready for bed, this topic came up. I asked what he thought about the possibility of contracting illness through Holy Communion. His confident reply warmed my heart, although I was somewhat surprised at his maturity. He told me, “Well, the way I see it...how can we get sick from the Body of Christ? Germs and that stuff can’t even be in there because it’s His Body and Blood. Like Fr. Scott says, “Where’s your faith” ? “
Indeed. If we have faith in believing Jesus’ words regarding Holy Communion (such as John 6:53-57), we should approach His table with humility AND confidence, believing we receive His Body & Blood for the remission of sin and for healing of body and soul.