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HOLY COMMUNION

HOLY COMMUNION
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Maundy (feet washing) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Spy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.

The biblical foundation for Holy Communion is what Christ Himself did at the Last Supper. As narrated by St. Matthew, Jesus first offered the apostles what He was about to change, then changed the bread and wine, and then gave them Communion.

And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to His disciples and said, “Take you and eat, this is my Body.” And taking the chalice He gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink you all of this. For this is my Blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

St. John, who does not give us the narrative of the institution of the Eucharist, devotes a whole chapter to Christ’s promise of giving His followers His own flesh to eat and His own blood to drink. What Christ emphasizes is the absolute necessity of being nourished by His Body and Blood if the supernatural life received at Baptism is to be sustained.

I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in Him. As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate. They are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live forever. (John 6: 53-58)

Throughout the gospels and St. Paul, Christ uses words like “take,” “eat,” “drink,” always clearly indicating that the Eucharist is to be taken into the mouth and consumed. No less, and far more, than material food and drink are necessary to sustain the natural life of the body, so Holy Communion must be received to support and nourish the supernatural life of the soul.

Effects of Holy Communion

Since the earliest times, the benefits of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ were spelled out to encourage frequent, even daily, Holy Communion.

Thus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (died 387) said that reception of the Eucharist makes the Christian a “Christbearer” and “one body and one blood with Him” (Catecheses, 4,3). St. John Chrysostom (died 407) speaks of a mixing of the Body of Christ with our body, “…in order to show the great love that He has for us. He mixed Himself with us, and joined His Body with us, so that we might become one like a bread connected with the body” (Homily 46,3). These and other comparisons of how Communion unites the recipient with Christ are based on Christ’s own teaching, and St. Paul’s statement that, “the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the Body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, all that partake of this bread.” (I Corinthians 10:16-17).

So, too, the church officially teaches that “Every effect which bodily food and bodily drink produce in our corporeal life, by preserving this life, increasing this life, healing this life, and satisfying this life – is also produced by this Sacrament in the spiritual life” (Council of Florence, November 22, 1439). Thus:

  1. Holy Communion preserves the supernatural life of the soul by giving the communicant supernatural strength to resist temptation, and by weakening the power of concupiscence. It reinforces the ability of our free will to withstand the assaults of the devil. In a formal definition, the Church calls Holy Communion “an antidote by which we are preserved from grievous sins” (Council of Trent, October 11, 1551).
  2. Holy Communion increases the life of grace already present by vitalizing our supernatural life and strengthening the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit we possess. To be emphasized, however, is that the main effect of Communion is not to remit sin. In fact, a person in conscious mortal sin commits a sacrilege by going to Communion.
  3. Holy Communion cures the spiritual diseases of the soul by cleansing it of venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sin. No less than serving as an antidote to protect the soul from mortal sins, Communion is “an antidote by which we are freed from our daily venial sins” (Council of Trent, October 11, 1551). The remission of venial sins and of the temporal sufferings due to sin takes place immediately by reason of the acts of perfect love of God, which are awakened by the reception of the Eucharist. The extent of this remission depends on the intensity of our charity when receiving Communion.
  4. Holy Communion gives us a spiritual joy in the service of Christ, in defending His cause, in performing the duties of our state of life, and in making the sacrifices required of us in imitating the life of our Savior.

On Christ’s own promise, Holy Communion is a pledge of heavenly glory and of our bodily resurrection from the dead (John 6:55). St. Irenaeus (died 202) simply declared that, “when our bodies partake of the Eucharist, they are no longer corruptible as they have the hope of eternal resurrection” (Against the Heresies, IV, 18,5).

The Sacrament of the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving), also known as Holy Communion, holds a central place in the Orthodox Church. While in other sacraments objects such as water or oil are only sanctified, in Holy Communion the objects of the Sacrament, bread and wine, are not only sanctified but actually transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, when a Christian receives Holy Communion, he receives Jesus Himself and joins with Him. So great is this mystery that no possible explanation can be found of how this happens, and one can only say with gratitude: “Thank You, my Lord!”

It is only the Orthodox and some ancient churches preserving the Apostolic tradition which hold to the belief that Communion is the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Most contemporary Christian churches think of Communion only as an observance commemorating the Last Supper.

Every Orthodox Christian should be grateful to God for the privilege given to him in Holy Communion and should partake of it as often as possible unto the remission of his sins, unto the healing of soul and body and for eternal life.

In this booklet, we first include the prayers before and after Communion because they will be needed most often. Then we discuss how the Eucharist was instituted and the meaning of this Sacrament. In the addendum, the reader will find excerpts from two documents which describe how the Liturgy was performed in ancient times and how Christians regarded this Sacrament.

We observe Communion because the Christ Jeusu told us to. We are to obey His commands:
And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:24

  • In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in his life, death and resurrection:
    And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
    1 Corinthians 11:24
  • When observing Communion we take time to examine ourselves:
    A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
    1 Corinthians 11:28
  • In observing Communion we are proclaiming His death until He comes. It is, then, a statement of faith:
    For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
    1 Corinthians 11:26
  • When we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ. His life becomes our life and we become members of each other:
    Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
    1 Corinthians 10:16-17

We are going to be celebrating HOLY COMMUNION with pure vine from cana home of Galilee [Jerusalem]. So who are interested to participate in this Holy Communion, come and join us…..all are welcome to do this in the remembrance of CHRIST.

First Sunday

07-07-2013.  at 9 am to 11.30 am, Lutheran Church of Cross at Balapur x roads, Hyderabad.

SECOND SUNDAY

14-07-2013.  at 11.30 to 01.30 pm, at  Lutheran Church of Cross, Raavi’s Home, beside Ozone Hospital, Kothapet, Hyderabad.

Call us for other information: 9885696889.

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