"We do not support at any time that microbes from the new influenza can be transferred through the reception of Holy Communion," said Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki this past week according to Romfea.gr.
The Metropolitan further stated: "In accordance with scientific opinions, the microbes, if they exist, die upon impact with silver." The spoons used in Orthodox churches for Holy Communion are made of silver.
Noting the illogical thinking behind the controversy, he further argued: "It's as if we were to say to not use silverware in homes or restaurants out of fear that the influenza may be transferred."
He further maintained that his Metropolis would be guided by the Holy Synod and the Health Department for preventable measures without causing panic.
The logic of the Church on this matter has always been the question: How can that which is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Precious Body and Blood of Christ for the purpose of giving life and healing to the Church be also the cause of illness and death through germs and microbes? Pandemics have existed throughout the centuries, but the Fathers of the Church never even considered addressing the common reception of Holy Communion in the Canons nor of excluding the faithful who are ill from praying in the same church as the healthy. Illnesses and death, according to the Apostle Paul, can only be transferred through Holy Communion to those who receive unworthily in a sinful state, but there is no example that this could be the means of transfer from one person to another. For this reason, that there is no justification to make changes in the Divine Liturgy, changes should not even be considered.
It is true that certain Papal and Protestant churches have enforced changes as precautions against transferring germs. For Orthodox however this is an act of faithlessness in the divine energies of the Holy Spirit which transform the bread and wine into the "medicine of immortality". Is not to deny the power and works of the Holy Spirit considered blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk. 3:29)?
With today being the feast commemorating the discovery of the miraculous skull of Saint Matrona of Chios, as well as the current debate that is going on today in Greece and throughout the Orthodox world as to the possibility that germs and sicknesses can be transferred through the common reception of the Holy Eucharist, I thought the following miracle was appropriate to put an end to the nonsense.
Saint Matrona of Chios is very much revered on its small neighboring island of Psara, with its mere 400 or so inhabitants and over 60 churches. There is a miraculous icon there of St. Matrona which is responsible for working many miracles for the faithful. There is also a small chapel dedicated to the Saint in Psara in an area known as Saint Kioura (another name for St. Matrona). Near this chapel there used to be a monastery dedicated to St. Matrona in an area known as Fidolakkos (or Φιδόλακκος, which means "Snake Pit"). As the name suggests, this place had many snakes.
During one Divine Liturgy at this monastery a small snake fell into the Holy Communion cup from the ceiling after its consecration. The priest saw this and desperately wondered what to do. He could not let the snake go because it was covered in the blood of Christ. He therefore emboldened himself to eat the snake. The grace of the Divine Gifts allowed for nothing to happen to the priest. However for doing what he did he wanted to make sure this never happened again. He therefore prayed fervently to the Lord that all snakes disappear from Fidolakkos and the island. The result is that ever since not one snake has ever been spotted on the island.
This story is well known among Psara's 400 or so inhabitants. Outsiders like to test this tale, so when they bring snakes from neighboring islands and release them on Psara they always die within 3-4 meters. Many people take the dirt from Fidolakkos and bring it back to their homes or anywhere there is a problem with snakes and spread out this dirt and the miracle transfers to that area as well.
To conclude, germs and influenza are threatened by Holy Communion and not Holy Communion by germs and influenza!