The Participation of the People
While all the above complaints are ignored by the aspiring "innovators", they also claim that during the Liturgy of Saint James the people are more involved because they are able to see and hear everything. This serves the purpose of the "liturgical renewal", which among other things seeks greater participation in the Liturgy, meaning, together with hearing and seeing, common chanting as well. Another Protestantized misconception!
The myth of the non-participation of the people is an attack on the blessed people of God. The participation of the people is not perceived by the Holy Fathers as common officiating and common chanting, which is in line with the Protestantized understanding of the "general priesthood", but as a voluntary partaking of each member of the Body in developing and cultivating a special gift of grace. This is the exact opposite of common chanting.
"The priests begin the Divine hymns within the Sacred Sanctuary, as an image of the first order of God's angels; the deacons with the readers and chanters, who according to order deliver the Divine psalms and the sacred Scriptures, appear as the chorus of the middle heavenly order; all the people, pious and correct in the faith, unite in the same purpose of soul with the melodists and seek God's mercy."28 Behold the criterion for the participation and non-participation of the people: the option to participate in what the chanter, who is a representative of the people, proclaims, and not common chanting. The table of the Divine Liturgy is "filling", and whoever wants can receive spiritual food according to the measure they want and experience it according to the measure of their spiritual state and desire. It is in the absolute spirit of freedom!
Yet Saint Symeon again explains why common chanting is contrary to the activity of the Body of Christ and the distinction of gifts of the Body. "Because the Church imitates the higher orders of angels, this is why they also have a different order and degree; the first order are those who partake of the Divine Light, the second are in the middle between the first and the last, as explained by the wise and divine Dionysius: 'When the Hierarch and the Priests have washed their hands in water, the Hierarch stands in the midst of the Divine Altar, and the chosen Deacons alone, with the Priests, stand around. The Hierarch, when he has sung the sacred works of God, ministers things most divine, and brings to view the things sung, through the symbols reverently exposed, and when he has shewn the gifts of the works of God, he first proceeds to the sacred participation of the same, and turns and exhorts the others. When he has received and distributed the supremely Divine Communion, he terminates with a holy thanksgiving; whilst the multitude have merely glanced at the Divine symbols alone, he is ever conducted by the Divine Spirit, as becomes a Hierarch, in the purity of a Godlike condition, to the holy sources of the things performed, in blessed and intelligible visions.'"29 And Saint Symeon goes on to teach: "For this reason each of us must protect the order of things, as Paul also explains, 'in whatever condition each was called, there let them remain', that they may all the more remain in the foundation of the virtues, humility, which also exists among the angels and in the future life."30 Therefore, what are those who are propagating even more participation of the people doing? The same thing feminists do: they rouse the people to assert their non-existent rights to lead them to pride, and so instead of worship leading to salvation it now becomes fatal. They lead people towards a luciferian fall, and nothing else.
The Manner In Which Communion Is Received
As an extension of the people's so-called participation in the Divine Liturgy of Saint James, it became the habit for the faithful to commune like the priests do, receiving the Body separate from the Blood of our Lord. Many times the faithful even receive the Holy Bread with their hand. This way of transmission, besides excluding children from Divine Communion, besides being an innovation and unacceptable, is particularly dangerous because the people are not accustomed, and it is good they are not accustomed, to receiving Communion in this manner. We thus experiment and take serious matters lightly.
On this matter Saint Symeon says: "The Hierarch gives Communion to those who come forward through the tong [spoon], in accord with the vision of Isaiah. This is because, as we said, not everyone should partake at the same time of the Divine and fearsome, but we must revere and be restrained in divine things."31 He also says: "The rest who are outside of the Sanctuary commune, not by receiving the Divine Bread in their hands which is below their order, because this manner is for those in the highest degree and who excel in virtue."32 This he says on behalf of the subdeacons, readers and the people.
The explanation, however, for introducing this novel method for receiving Communion, comes from the liturgical scholar Fr. Demetrios Tzerpos, an advocate of the "liturgical renewal" and therefore also of the Liturgy of Saint James. Referring to the separate reception of Communion, he says: "This is probably the most valuable experience of the Eucharistic life from the ancient Church, which has been preserved alive in the Liturgy of James and which could form the basis for the modern treatment of such problems."33 First of all, by using the term "ancient Church", and the persistence in what it consists of, it shows that these people do not in actuality believe in the living Church in which the Holy Spirit operates and directs, but in a fundamentalist way they believe the Church has died and only the Church of the early centuries has life and authenticity. Besides, is it not foolish to say that something that is completely practical is "the most valuable experience"? If this is the way things should be, then the Church would not have introduced the tong and rejected the separate method of reception. Why therefore is there so much attention to something so practical?
The answer is given to us by the same priest when he simultaneously reveals the reasons for the forced restoration of the Liturgy of Saint James, which are also the reasons why some want to change everything. Fr. Demetrios writes that "the issue of the transmission of disease through Divine Communion is not an issue for the Church.... The only issue in the Church is the psychological facilitation for those Christians with little faith who approach Divine Communion."34
Must we strengthen those believers with little faith (or non-believers)? If someone has such thoughts or they don't believe in the Divinity of the Lord, or they don't believe that Divine Communion is the Lord Himself, then in both cases they cannot receive Communion, and they don't have a reason to commune of the Immaculate Mysteries. Besides, who are these people who despite not believing come forward to commune? They are those who come on the eve of major feast days, completely unprepared, without having gone to Confession, without being aware of what they are receiving, and perhaps previously ate breakfast, and now they are receiving because simply it is a good thing, or their "pious" grandmother sent them, and so on their name day they will have a little bit of the Baby Jesus. So for these people who come to do their annual duty, who even often come after the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, for them we should make things easier? How will this help them besides strengthening their lack of faith? Perhaps we, as good fathers, out of love can prevent them from receiving Divine Communion, which can kill their soul and even their body, as the Apostle Paul says as well as other Holy Fathers?
28. Complete Works of Symeon the Archbishop of Thessaloniki, Regopoulos edition 1985, pp. 319-320.
29. Ibid., p. 330.
30. Ibid., p. 128.
33. Periodical Ekklesia, May 2000, No. 5, p. 426.
34. Ibid., p. 431.
Translated by John Sanidopoulos.