All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (Hamilton, ON, Canada)

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September - October 2004

PREPARING FOR HOLY COMMUNION

Many faithful ask about the proper way to prepare for Holy Communion. Just as preparation for Confession must be approached seriously (see the pamphlet, A Guide to Confession, included with the printed parish newsletter), so too must we take seriously our approach to the Holy Chalice.

It is customary to attend the vigil or Vespers the evening before partaking for Communion, and to remain quiet and prayerful following the service, fasting from all food and drink from midnight onward. Some parishes say together the Prayers Before Holy Communion; if not, we should say these on our own.

When approaching the chalice, we cross our arms over our chest, right over left; this is a substitute for making the sign of the cross. This is one of the few times we do not make the sign of the cross or bow, since the movement could upset the chalice. As we approach, we should say our name, in order that the priest may say the prayer with our name as he gives us the Holy Mysteries.

After partaking, wipe the lips (or the deacon may do this), and kiss the chalice - do not kiss priest's hand (this, as well as kissing icons, is not done for the rest of the day after taking Communion, since we carry within us the sacred Ember of Christ's Body and Blood). Depart and take holy bread (andidoron) and hot wine (zapivka) to clear palate of the Holy Mysteries.

We avoid spitting throughout the day after taking the Holy Mysteries, as well as strict fasting (since we are celebrating). It is also customary to refrain from marital relations in the hours following Holy Communion, since we have "separated ourselves for a time" in order to partake of the Heavenly Food (1 Cor 7:5).

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