Condition of our Soul

Maybe not the best title for this post but I did not know what else to use.

In the Liturgy of St. Basil, right before the Our Father we hear this prayer read by the priest, or maybe we do not:

Our God, the God who saves, You teach us justly to thank You for the good things which You have done and still do for us. You are our God who has accepted these Gifts. Cleanse us from every defilement of flesh and spirit, and teach us how to live in holiness by Your fear, so that receiving the portion of Your holy Gifts with a clear conscience we may be united with the holy Body and Blood of Your Christ. Having received them worthily, may we have Christ dwelling in our hearts, and may we become the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Yes, our God, let none of us be guilty before these, Your awesome and heavenly Mysteries, nor be infirm in body and soul by partaking of them unworthily. But enable us, even up to our last breath, to receive a portion of Your holy Gifts worthily, as provision for eternal life and as an acceptable defense at the awesome judgment seat of Your Christ. So that we also, together with all the saints who through the ages have pleased You, may become partakers of Your eternal good things, which You, Lord, have prepared for those who love You.

I am struck by a couple of the lines. Cleanse us from every defilement of flesh and spirit… This seems confessional to me and maybe even an absolution of sin. Let none of us be guilty before these… Let none of us? It would seem that we are asking to be made worthy of reception. Now perhaps it assumes a sacramental confession has taken place I don’t know we could argue that I guess. It continues, nor be inform in body and souls by partaking of them unworthily. In a previous discussion one of the commenter’s said that I as priest should protect the faithful from receiving the gifts unworthily. It would seem that is taken care of here as well.

So it would seem that the onus is on the one who is receiving the gifts to receive them in a spirit of worthiness whatever that may be. I also find it interesting that in no place in the Liturgy are the requirements, other than the ones discussed, are spelled out. Like I said before maybe it is assumed that everyone knows the rules already.

Now a clarification for Bob on my April 6th comment on coming to Communion in my church. I will never refuse anyone who approaches the cup communion as I think that causes scandal and embarrassment. I will however speak with the persona after the fact and advise them of the situation, as I see it. As I have mentioned before I am not advocating a wholesale openness of Communion but Baptized, belief in the creed, and the real presence, by all means. But I will ask you this question Bob, how am I supposed to test this? I ask this in all seriousness. I have people in and out of this church all the time that I do not know. It is hard enough keeping up with my parishioners let alone guests. And very rarely does some come who is not Orthodox to begin with. So Bob, help me out here how can I gauge this?


  1. Fr Victor used to read all the prayers aloud. And I took these prayers to be, exactly, absolution. We teach what we pray… although I’ve been told (by reasonably reasonable people), time and again, that really, that’s not true: much of the liturgy is old and outdated and we say it anyway.

    But at some point – before the the invention of “one-confession/one-communion” – I think it’s clear that there was a liturgical way for the President of the Assembly to beg forgiveness for everyone in the room prior to their communion.

  2. I’m not Bob, but…

    in all seriousness Father, if you do not know how to do part of your job as a priest, why do you not ask your bishop, or some other experienced priests?

    My own priest deals with visitors all the time too, and he does turn some of them away. He appears to do it with grace and tact and without causing a fuss. I don’t know exactly what he does because I can’t hear the exchange at the chalice. But from all I have heard this is perfectly routine for most priests. Does your jursidiction really have no support system for you at all?

    M. Hughes

  3. Fr. Peter: Read with interest the anonymous comment about knowing what to do as part of your job as a priest. Funny, because my daughter-in-law was just asking me about receiving communion in our church, on Tuesday. She is shy and sensitive, and had a issue in another church, and will not go there now. At our church we work hard not to turn people away from church and more importantly from the love of Christ. I am confident that you do know your “job” and are guided by the Holy Spirit. And, as one of your parishioners, we know that people out there do not know you as we do. But if they did, they would feel fortunate to have you as a priest. One who puts the message across, while at the same time allows you to be candid and relaxed with. I don’t think experience has anything to do with loving God’s people.

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