March 11, 2022

Homily on the Friday of the First Week of Great Lent (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

Some Christians, as you know, do not partake of the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ even during Great Lent. Surely, listeners, among you who are now standing in this temple, are there those who will not receive communion during this present fast? If there is one among you, I will turn my conversation to them. Listen to what I'm going to tell you: God Himself has sent you to church today so that you can hear how harmful it is for the soul to withdraw from Holy Communion.

Tell me, why don't you think of partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ? Or do you not know why? So, for no reason do you think about taking communion, or maybe you don’t even think about it, that you won’t take communion? Is it all the same for you whether to take communion or not? Oh, if you are like that, then come to your senses, think of yourself. You descend into the depths of sin, and therefore do not take care of yourself; you have forgotten about the salvation of your soul, and that is why you do not remember that you need to take communion. You are sick in soul and do not feel your illness, and therefore you do not understand that you need to take communion for the healing of the soul. You don’t care about the future life and don’t think at all whether it exists, that’s why you don’t think about communion into eternal life, that’s why it doesn’t matter for you whether you commune or not. Come to your senses, think of yourself: you are sleeping, you are dying,

But maybe you have some reasons why you don’t think to take communion during the current Lent? Some Christians do not take communion, as they say, because they consider themselves unworthy of Holy Communion. Are you one of those Christians? Is it because you don't think to take communion because you consider yourself unworthy of Holy Communion? No matter how plausible this reason may seem, it will not save you from destruction. You consider yourself unworthy of Holy Communion - will the time ever come for you that you will consider yourself worthy? Will you ever be able to say or think about yourself: "now I am worthy of Holy Communion, and therefore I will commune"? May the Lord keep you from such arrogance. Only a Pharisee could judge and speak of himself in that way.

Those who are truly humble, truly worthy of Holy Communion will not judge and speak of themselves in this way. Instead, this is how they judge themselves and say: “Here, Lord, as one who is unworthy I partake of Your most pure Body and Your precious Blood, and I am guilty, and I drink judgment for myself” - this is how Saint Basil the Great prayed. “O Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy nor sufficiently pleasing that You should come under the roof of the house of my soul for it is entirely desolate and fallen in ruin and You will not find in me a place worthy to lay Your head” - this is how Saint John Chrysostom prayed. How can you say about yourself: I am worthy of Holy Communion? Not only here, on earth, we sinners can never consider ourselves worthy, but even in Heaven we will not dare to think of ourselves that we are worthy of Jesus Christ entering the house of our soul, whom the angels do not dare to look at, for they consider themselves unworthy.

"What should I do?" you say. “I don’t dare, I’m afraid to take communion; I’m afraid that I will take communion to my condemnation.” What should you do? Ask your spiritual father what you should do. Confess to him all your sins, tell him everything that you know is bad within you, then he will tell you what to do; and whatever he says, do it. If he allows you to take communion, then take communion: you have every right then to proceed to Holy Communion. This authority has been given to the confessor by God - to forgive the penitent and honor them with Holy Communion.

However, even after your spiritual father recognizes you as worthy, do not forget your unworthiness, and when you go to take communion, remember that you are not worthy of Holy Communion; and when you leave Holy Communion, do not forget that you have communed unworthily. "God! I am not worthy to partake of the Holy Mysteries, make me worthy,” so pray before Holy Communion. “I thank You, Lord, that You made me, the unworthy, worthy to receive communion,” so call on God after Holy Communion.

If your confessor does not allow you to take communion, then do not take communion; for if he does not honor you, then this means that you are really unworthy and communion would serve you only as a sin, to condemnation. Yes, there are times when it is indeed a sin for a person to take communion. There are sinners who should not be admitted to Holy Communion, even though they wish to receive communion. Maybe you are the same sinner, maybe your sins are such that it is a sin for you to take communion, but let your spiritual father decide and tell you. God has made him a spiritual judge over you, let him judge you, let him decide. The decision of the confessor is the fulfillment of the will of God, and your own decision is self-will.

Therefore, recognize yourself as unworthy of the Holy Mysteries, but do not excommunicate yourself from Holy Communion, but leave it to your spiritual father, let him excommunicate you if necessary. To recognize your unworthiness is your duty, and to honor or not to honor you with Holy Communion is the duty of a spiritual father. It is up to you to reveal a spiritual illness to a spiritual doctor, this is your business, but whether you need and can take medicine or not, the spiritual doctor knows this, this is his business.

What else can you say, you who still don't think about taking communion? Tell me, why didn't you take communion during the last fast? Some of the Christians did not receive communion, as they say, for lack of leisure, for troubles, for deeds; they had no time. Didn't you take communion for the same reasons? And you didn’t have time to take communion?

Lord, Lord! Here's what we have come to! Is it too late for us to receive You, sweetest Jesus, into the house of our soul? Do we not have time to prepare to partake of the remission of sins and eternal life? We have things that we cannot leave for the sake of Your Most Pure Body and Your Life-Giving Blood! Lord, Lord! That's where we can go!

But no, my listener, no, you haven’t reached that point yet, you don’t say that, you didn’t take communion during the last fast for these reasons. You did not commune like this, out of weakness, out of ignorance, not out of contempt, not out of neglect of Holy Communion. You grieved and grieved that you did not take communion. No, no, you have not yet reached such bitterness as to think and speak like that, no, you are not yet a completely lost person, for you are praying to God, for you have come to God's church.

Do not destroy your soul forever, partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. At least get ready for Holy Communion: choose some week in fasting, go to God's church, pray, fast, confess your sins to your confessor; the confessor will tell you whether you can take communion or not. If he allows you to take communion, take communion without a doubt, and if he does not allow it, accept with humility the prohibition for the time being, and it will serve you to your salvation.

Oh, it is evident that we have fallen deeply and far from You, Lord! Instead of us hastening to You, the Source of our life and our bliss, we still need to be admonished, persuaded to go to You, so that we partake of Your Body and Blood. No, a sinner does not keep himself from sin, but purely sins when Holy Communion arbitrarily departs. Amen.