February 25, 2010

Should We Promote Faithlessness in Our Churches?

Though there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that H1N1 virus can be transmitted through the use of a common spoon in receiving the Eucharist, it has become apparent that churches have taken steps to abolish this tradition of the Church in certain circumstances. The letter below reveals this.

There are three essential reasons why the Church adopted the use of the common spoon in receiving the eucharist: 1. To prevent crumbs from falling; 2. To prevent wine from spilling; 3. To prevent the misuse of the eucharist. Of course the common spoon is not a full proof prevention of these things, but it is the best possible method according to the experience of the Church.

Furthermore, there is no full proof method in preventing the transmission of a virus in church. If the priest handed the eucharist, who is to say he does not have a virus? When we eat antidoron
at the end of the Liturgy, how can we know the person cutting the bread isn't infected? When the priest puts his hand underwater to bless the holy water we receive at Theophany, again how can we know the priest isn't infected? Should we also abolish kissing the hand of the priest? There are many arguments which show how illogical it is to prevent this centuries old practice of the Orthodox Church, and why paranoid feelings among the faithful require education rather than submission, especially when they cannot offer any evidence to support their paranoia.

More can be read here, here, here and here.

The Feb. 20-26, 2010 issue of the Greek-American newspaper, The National Herald had the following in its Letters to the Editor section:

In our Dec. 26 edition we published a commentary by Dr. John Collis, M.D., which we titled "Traditions of Orthodoxy and Science Need not Clash: A Discussion on H1N1". His original title was "Communion and the Common Spoon" which was a call for discussion about the use of the common spoon in Greek Orthodox Churches. The distinguished physician, a former member of the Archdiocesan Council, succeeded in stimulating discussion, as we have had many responses. We published one, along with further coments by Dr. Collis on Feb. 6. Here follow three more on both sides of the issue:


To the Editor:

In response to the article written by John Collis, M.D., this is to inform you of the procedure in use this winter at our Greek Orthodox Church in Rutland, Vermont (St. Nicholas Orthodox Church).

The priest instructs the parishioners who prefer to use individual plastic spoons to be first in line. Then as each one of them approaches, an altar server provides a plastic spoon and the priest administers holy communion to each of them with the plastic spoon. Each spoon that is used is discarded.

Then, those that wish to receive Holy Communion with the common spoon do so immediately afterwards. It works very well and all are pleased with this procedure.

During this winter season, most parishioners are using plastic spoons.

-Theodore Corsones
Rutland, Vermont

Note: There has been a large reaction to my posting and the postings of others on this issue, and it seems some are linking this practice observed at the Rutland parish with Ecumenism and still others are placing blame on Metropolitan Methodios and calling this a heresy. This is my brief response to these charges:

"As glad as I am to see Orthodox taking a stand against the practices of the Rutland parish (which only serves Liturgy once a month by the way), I agree that it is fallacious to link this with Ecumenism and to place any blame on Metropolitan Methodios. This is above all an issue of education and faith. We certainly do not have enough information to link this practice with Ecumenism or the approval of the Metropolitan. Much worse things happened in the Church prior to Ecumenism, so why all the blame goes there is a bit absurd. For example, according to primary sources during the Iconoclastic controversy in the 8th century, some Orthodox went so far that they were adding paint from icons into the communion wine. Others were using icons as godparents to children. In some places, the communion bread was being placed onto the hands of the saints depicted in icons before being consumed by the people. Aberations they all may be, but not heresy. Condemnable error comes when the truth is rejected, and there is no indication that anyone in Rutland, including the priest, really understands the reasons behind the use of a common spoon and why using disposable plastic spoons is so wrong."