Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Psychotherapy - Orthodoxy


Holy Communion without ... fasting?



In the Holy Bible we hear the invitation: “My son, give Me your heart”. God asks for man’s heart, so that man may live and breathe according to His will.

Unfortunately however, even in the sphere of the so-called faithful, the will of God does not prevail - our own will does.  And this is where things become tragic, because, even though people are familiar with God’s word, they appear to manipulate it to fit their own measures.

There are spiritual “elders” who cut and sew matters in ways that can accommodate the comfort and the facilitation of their spiritual children, for the sole purpose of not losing them and thus rendering themselves kind and saintly, instead of guiding those whom God entrusted to them for the sake of their salvation.  Such elders legislate their personal opinions and set down traditions which they have personally adopted (even if those traditions happen to be of old), without checking if they actually are within the Tradition of the Church.   Not everything of old is also a tradition of the Gospel.  Gods will is being substituted by “another Gospel”, resulting in an obscure, illiberal "elderism", with unholy traditions and human guidelines, for the sake of imposing spiritual authority and the captivity of souls.

Thus, for example, on the matter of Holy Communion – it is not God’s will that prevails, but that of people; they weigh down Christians with unbearable burdens and “traditions” and that indirectly becomes the cause for people to alienate themselves from Holy Communion.  In other words, they impose fasts with oil and without oil, with a heightened tone of compulsion and fear.  They determine the times and the frequencies of partaking of the Sacrament, totally oblivious to the words of Christ and the Holy Tradition of the Church regarding constant Holy Communion.  They impose fasting as an imperative act prior to partaking of the Sacrament – an imposition that is not written anywhere, nor delivered as a tradition.  They focus everything around what people should eat and what they should drink and when and until what hour, while they disregard the main prerequisite: that of cultivating people’s spiritual preparation, which is specified in the invitation:  “With a fear of God, with faith and love, approach…”

Thus, many Christians abstain from Holy Communion simply because they have not fasted, even though their passion is boundless and their repentance is active and alive, while oppositely, there are many religious people who come and readily receive Holy Communion just because they fasted – after having rigorously abstained from food and feeling satisfied with this accomplishment of theirs – because inside them lives a pharisaic, inner hedonism of (supposedly) having achieved holiness and worth.  

In order therefore to approach the Grand Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, we must have prepared ourselves, after having of course received the blessing of our spiritual father who – upon discerning our repentance and recognizing our disposition to be transformed into new persons – prompts us to approach the Grand Mystery with awe, faith and love.

So, to avoid any misunderstanding: each Christian must prepare him or herself properly, in order to receive the Lord Himself inside them.  But, as far as abstinence from foods (fasting) is concerned, nowhere has the Church set down such a rule; rather, She advises that a Christian should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, on the fasting periods of Christmas and the Great Lent of Easter, on the August 15th Dormition fasting period, etc.  Therefore, the Church has nominated specific days during the year on which She exhorts the faithful to fast.

NOWHERE has the Church said that it is a rule to fast in order to receive Holy Communion.  Have you fasted on all the predetermined fasts of our Church?  If so, then you should not be preoccupied any further by this matter.  However, if your spiritual father judges that for your personal, better preparation it would be better if you fasted for one day (for example), then you should comply, for the sake of obedience towards your spiritual father, and NOT because it is a supposed official rule of the Church.

If the aforementioned were not a valid fact, then it would have been illogical for the Church to allocate specific days of the year for fasting; She could have instead told us to fast -say- one, two or three days prior to receiving Holy Communion. Furthermore, children would be required to also fast and consume foods without oil!!!  Fasting, therefore, and Holy Communion are not linked directly; perhaps only indirectly, in view of an ascetic conscience which we should all have.  What is illogical is that quite often we persevere so strenuously with our preparation prior to Holy Communion, that after we do receive Holy Communion, we relax ourselves.  In other words, when we don’t have Christ inside us on the one hand, we abstain from foods and exercise self-restraint (and so we should), but on the other hand, when we do have Christ inside us after communing the Body and the Blood of our Lord, that ascetic conscience disappears, as though it is no longer required because the purpose was achieved - that is: we received Holy Communion!

But how is it possible, while not having Christ inside me, to exercise restraint and to fast, then when I do have Him inside me, become careless with regard to spiritual matters?  In other words, before receiving Holy Communion certain things are “forbidden”, but now that I have received Holy Communion and have become Christ-like, those same things are no longer forbidden?

Thus, we come to realize that the logic behind many – if not all – Christians is incorrect.  It does not mean that after Holy Communion I can do whatever I like, without any inhibitions; on the contrary, after having received Holy Communion I must be even more careful in my spiritual alertness, so that the Holy Communion will actually work inside me and transform me, to help me overcome weaknesses and truly become the support that will lead me towards the Eternal Life.


Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 24-11-2011.

Last update: 24-11-2011.