March 13, 2020

"Rational Faith" and Communicable Disease (Metr. Seraphim of Kastoria)

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

There has been particular talk these days about Divine Communion, namely about the Transformation of the Honorable Body and Honorable Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, of course, various opinions have been heard by people both in the State and in the Church.

To date, the roughly 2,000 year experience of the Church has proved the opposite of what some claim.

We do not have a single case of illness from the administration of the Honorable Gifts with those who are sick in general or to carriers of communicable diseases.

People who lived in Africa, such as Metropolitan Makarios of Nairobi and Father Themistocles in Sierra Leone, faced pandemics during the Mission and yet did not interrupt the Mystery, instead living as living examples of divine Grace.

Personally, I have passed on to the Mass Media news of my own experiences during the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist.

We have Priests in our Metropolis who consumed on certain occasions the contents of the Holy Chalice with certain bugs that fell in the Divine Communion. Even today, Priests commune the sick, even those in a most serious form, but nothing has happened to any of them. And that's because it is a miracle! This is a matter of faith.

And faith according to the Apostle Paul is defined as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). It is the proof and certainty of things which are not seen with the eyes of the body, and because of this it is as if we do see it with our eyes and hold it with our hands.

Therefore, in these difficult times our people are going through, we do not need to bombard them with issues of disbelief, but to strengthen them in their faith, which is not only rational but also beyond-rational, and not reduced to logic as some claim.

A case related to the subject of our days can be found in the book "Miracles and Revelations of the Divine Liturgy" out of the Holy Monastery of Parakletos (pp. 149-150). There the following is written:

"There are people who are afraid to receive communion to avoid being infected with germs. If this was the case, there would be no priest left alive, because at the end of the Divine Liturgy they consume the content of the Holy Chalice, from which hundreds of the faithful with various diseases commune. And yet, nothing has ever happened to a priest. The Body and Blood of the Lord is a 'consuming fire.'

One of the many cases that strongly proves this is the following:

When the Metropolitan of Chios Panteleimon Fostinis (+ 1962) was a preacher of Attica, he once went to work at the sanatorium "Sotiria". There the nurses brought him a large platter with many teaspoons.

'Why did you bring these?' he asked them.

'The doctor's told us that you were to commune the sick with these, beginning with those who are slightly sick and moving on towards those who are heavier in sickness.'

'This is not necessary,' said the Priest with faith. 'I have the Holy Tongs.'

Indeed, during the Divine Liturgy he communed the sick regularly and then approached the Beautiful Gate to consume the rest.

He did this for all to see, so the doctors can learn that Divine Communion is a fire that consumes everything."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.