April 28, 2020

Holy Communion: Wrong Questions at the Wrong Time

By Archimandrite Bartholomew,
Abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery

"Can someone catch the coronavirus from Holy Communion or not?"

This is a question that has been in the spotlight during this time.

Many of our fellow citizens are worried. Believers, however, propose their firm belief that it is impossible for someone to catch a disease by Holy Communion, as Holy Communion is a "medicine of immortality" and you only "catch Christ."

But is this question reasonable and useful at this stage we are in?

Holy Communion takes up a small amount in the holy tongs. Therefore if one can't catch the coronavirus from Holy Communion, who can guarantee that no one will catch it from the entire environment of the sacred temple? Or who can guarantee that the coronavirus will not be transmitted by the believer's breath to the priest or vice versa, when the believer is very close to the priest to communicate? Is there a doctrine for this or do we have magical perceptions that have never been recorded until now concerning our faith?

There are many "opportunities" for someone to catch the coronavirus, and if someone gets sick they can't know where or how they caught it.

If someone receives Holy Communion and catches the coronavirus somehow, wouldn't there be a disturbance at first within their family if they all got sick? Perhaps a couple's relationship will become shaky? Perhaps the one who got sick will be in danger of losing their faith?

Perhaps, because we have so persistently been "caught" up in the question as to whether we can catch anything from Holy Communion, and someone who communes becomes sick with the virus, will this be attributed exclusively to Holy Communion, causing a scandal within the body of believers?

Perhaps we are blinded by arrogance and unable to see reality?

Perhaps God "will allow" something fatal to happen, so that we can finally gain humility, be like Him, and truly share in Him? Because, if we communed arrogantly, we would commune towards the condemnation of our souls.

Perhaps the whole question is a trap of the evil one to divert our thinking away from what is essential?

Perhaps the question is a trap of logic, so that division will conquer and take the place of the Resurrection?

Let us not forget that the Lord Jesus did not answer questions that were asked in a cunning way, neither when He was tempted in the desert or in conversations with other people who were trying to trap Him?

Holy Communion is not a means of reaction and showing pride.

Holy Communion is not a "human right" one can claim, but a gift, a concession, a consent from God.

Holy Communion is not a tool of controversy nor a tool of a trade union to be used for confrontation between people.

Holy Communion is neither a material "medicine" nor a "hospital" of this transient world, it does not abolish our physical death in the present life, but it is a source of immortality of the soul, a source of eternal life.

Resurrection and the incorruption of bodies await after the Second Coming of the Lord.

Since we believe that Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ and that we commune of Christ, then, by extension, we also commune the basic "characteristics" of Christ, namely meekness, peace and love. If we approach the Holy Chalice with other dispositions, we are more likely to damn ourselves than to benefit! If we use Holy Communion for other purposes, we should be concerned about whether we are blaspheming.

Let us all, therefore, accept as a "penance" the temporary non-communication imposed on us from above through nature - the creation of God, which operates according to the rules He set - and our own misuse. Otherwise, could we appear sinless before God and react to the unjust "penance"?

Let us not shy away from our responsibilities, creating fantastic stories for imaginary enemies, for imaginary persecutions of the faith and that the situation is supposedly not critical.

Let us not let our stubbornness, selfishness, reaction and passion for "others who want to harm our faith" blind us by following the path of loss of body and soul at the same time! Only the eternal enemy of man would rejoice at the loss of bodies and souls.

Let us purify our hearts and minds so that we do not fall into the traps of the evil one. So instead of mangling one another, let's focus on the real enemy, who finds a way to act through our passions.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.