by Bishop Photios of Marathon
At the request of many devout believers and even priests, we will publish articles relating to liturgical and practical issues which could be used as handy leaflets in order to inform the faithful.
A foremost problem in the parishes of the Church of the G.O.C. is the correct understanding of the requirements for reception of the Immaculate Mysteries. Our churches are open to all. Whoever considers themselves Orthodox Christians may approach unhindered to pray to God, to hear the teaching and to receive antidoron. However, it is not possible for all to receive the Immaculate Mysteries. It is just like with a pharmacy, entrance into the pharmacy is not forbidden, but one will not receive strong medication without first presenting a doctor’s prescription, so too in the Church. There are certain requirements for the reception of Holy Communion.
The spiritual father’s permission to receive Holy Communion is identical to a doctor’s prescription for strong medication. Just as with our health, we select a doctor for our physical ailments and we do not go to quack or ignorant physicians who do not have a medical license or to those who have had their medical license taken away because of their ineptitude. Similarly in the spiritual realm, the spiritual doctor to whom we go for the healing of our souls must be canonical. In other words, he must have a canonical ordination from the canonical Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians; not from the New Calendarist schism which is defiled by the virus of Ecumenism, nor from the schisms of those who have been deposed by the Church of the G.O.C. It is understood that the spiritual father must exercise his priesthood unhindered, he himself must not be weighed down by the penalty of suspension or deposition.
We must go to a canonical spiritual father of the Church at regular intervals to confess our sins. We will receive guidance from him as to how we must prepare in order to receive the Immaculate Mysteries. Preparation is through the practice of the virtues; almsgiving, prayer, study and proper fasting.
Generally, the fast before Holy Communion is three days without oil, except however if this is tailored by the spiritual father proportionally to the physiological and spiritual situation of the penitent. For instance, someone who lives a spiritual life but is weighed down by some illness may fast for two days, or one day, or not at all (if his illness is severe) for the interval of his illness.
The permission of the spiritual father is a necessary requirement for the reception of Holy Communion. It should be noted that it is sufficient for the spiritual father to be a canonical clergyman of the Church of the G.O.C. It is not necessary that it be the priest of the parish one goes to in order to receive. The demand of some clergy to commune only their particular spiritual children is unorthodox and clergymen who apply such measures will be subject to canonical penances.
One who wishes to receive Holy Communion must have read the service of preparation for Holy Communion from the night before, but also on the day which he will receive he must come to church on time and follow the Matins and the Divine Liturgy and not come at the last minute to receive except if there exists a pressing reason. If he is the parent of underage children and for this reason finds it difficult to come early he is obliged to read his morning prayers – at least until the six-psalms- at home. If he comes early and is unknown in that particular parish he may approach the side door of the altar and inform the liturgist that he has the permission of his spiritual father and he intends to receive. However, this must not occur after the Divine Liturgy has begun because it is not permissible to interrupt the celebrant.
Certainly the greatest requirement for the reception of the Immaculate Mysteries is that one be a member of the Church of the G.O.C., in other words he must be “with the Old Calendar”. The members of the New Calendar Church are under the ban of Pan-Orthodox Councils which condemn those who follow the New Calendar and they are obliged to go to a canonical spiritual father to go to confession and through a good confession of Faith (and the proper rite) be enlisted in the Church of the G.O.C. and only then receive Holy Communion.
Wherever above we mention the Church of the G.O.C. we mean the canonical Church, the Holy Synod presently under the presidency of Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and all Greece.
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