Communion and Sickness

Last week I posted about a priest, who has taken it upon himself, to use plastic spoons in the distribution of Holy Communion. This post brought many comments, some on the nature of the spoon and others on communion and sickness namely Celiac disease.

First the spoon. In the Orthodox tradition we receive communion from a common cup with a common spoon. The sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are mixed together in the chalice and distributed to the people by the priest or bishop of he is present, and the priest only, unless there is a reason like too many people although I would argue that there is never a reason for anyone except the priest or the bishop to distribute communion. But that is for another day.

We do this as a communal act, or we do this as a community from the common cup as a witness to our unity. Hence the term communion.

Okay now the sickness part.

In the Orthodox Church we believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. From the Orthodox Wiki article:

The Eucharist is both symbolic and mystical. Also, the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church is understood to be the genuine Body and Blood of Christ, precisely because bread and wine are the mysteries and symbols of God’s true and genuine presence and his manifestation to us in Christ.

The mystery of the Holy Eucharist defies analysis and explanation in purely rational and logical terms. For the Eucharist, as Christ himself, is a mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven which, as Jesus has told us, is “not of this world.” The Eucharist, because it belongs to God’s Kingdom, is truly free from the earth-born “logic” of fallen humanity.

From John of Damascus: “If you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it is through the Holy Spirit … we know nothing more than this, that the word of God is true, active, and omnipotent, but in its manner of operation unsearchable”.

We do not know how it happens or when it happens just that is does happen. So the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded us at the last supper to receive this sacrament, so the question is would this make you sick.

My belief is, if you truly believe it is what we say it is, the actual body and blood of the Life giving One, then it will not make you sick regardless of the sickness you might have. These are the life giving mysteries of the church and I cannot believe they would make a person sick. Yes the properties of bread and wine remain but the essence of them changes and they become holy. Truly holy.

This is going to sound harsh but I would submit if communion makes you sick it is not the bread and wine but your lack of faith that has made you sick.


  1. Father,
    I am curious to know about Celiac disease. If the properties of the bread remain, would someone intolerant of gluten be able to receive Communion?

  2. In my mind you have 2 choices 1) be a germ aphobic or 2) lighten up and live your life because at some point we all die,do we want to die from fear.
    God put us here to be a testament to him,so have some faith and believe he would do nothing to harm us.
    The other guy puts the germ fear into us to keep us away from Jesus body and blood.linda

  3. Father,
    Do I understand correctly then that what you're saying is that someone afflicted with Celiac disease can receive Communion and suffer no ill effects as long as they believe that they are receiving the Body of Christ?

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!