Receiving Communion in the Eastern Orthodox Church: Things You May Not Know!

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The "eastern orthodox" (hereafter, "EO") liturgy revolves entirely around the Eucharist rather than preaching the Word. Every liturgy the Eucharist is served, without exception. You won't find the Word or the Gospel preached in an EO liturgy, so this is it...

Some Points about the Ritual:

Before the liturgy takes place, a congregant brings a loaf of bread to the priest. This loaf of bread (now referred to as “the Lamb”) is then used to reenact the sacrifice of Christ on the altar shortly before the beginning of the liturgy. The priest takes the Lamb, stabs it with "a spear" (which is how they describe the special knife they use for this), and then divvies up the bread into various triangular-shaped pieces, which get placed on a gold platter, blessed, and then thrown into the chalice, which is then mixed with wine and warm water.

Oh, but before any of this takes place, there is one item that is absolutely required in order for this sacrificial ceremony to commence: the antimins, which is a piece of cloth containing dead body parts, er, I mean relics, of a saint, which is almost always the patron saint of the church in question, such as St. George.

No antimins, no dead body parts of saints...no Eucharist, and no liturgy!

Hmm...

Once the chalice is filled with the bits and pieces of the Lamb, the warm water and the wine, the priest performs the “epiklesis" wherein he calls down the Holy Spirit onto the chalice, to transform the wine-and-warm-water-bread-brew into the actual body and blood of Christ. This can only be done on the altar, which, BTW is hidden from the congregation by the iconostasis, which divides the area of the altar from the nave of the church. (The iconostasis is the Temple analogue of the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary, and EO "theologians" make a point of how the EO liturgy and church architecture recreate the Tabernacle/Temple. They are back in the OT, apparently, and they brag about this.)

After the epiklesis, the priest brings the chalice out into the nave; everyone bows and crosses themselves and many will also do full body prostrations at this time. There's quite a LOT of over-the-top displays of Phariseeism at this point as some love to be seen folding like cheap suits to the floor at this point in the liturgy. Seems the EO church enables this kind of behavior, frankly. One also will often hear "OH THEOTOKOS SAVE US!" by some congregants. Not sure why they say that at this point in the liturgy; there are plenty of intercessory prayers to Mary throughout the liturgy, including right after the priest has finished serving the Eucharist. Why can't they just wait until then???

After the chalice is brought out into the nave, the pre-communion prayer is read. I won’t bore you with the details of that, but the concluding line is “Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of Your holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.” This last part is emphasized by the EO, who view the bread and wine (and warm water?!?) as LITERAL “spiritual medicine.” Also, one of my former priests used to tell me how he would sweat and tremble while doing the epiklesis because he realized that, at that point, in his words, “the power of 100,000 atomic bombs was in his hands” and he feared every Sunday that, if he were to give this to someone who didn’t commune worthily, it might kill them!

Needless to say, he never witnessed anyone to whom he gave communion burst into flames or fall down dead in all the years he served the Eucharist, so there’s that. Plus, doesn't going around saying "I am holding the power of 100,000 atomic bombs in my hands!!!" smack of.... pretension and arrogance? You must be a really powerful priest to be able to do THAT!!! That priestcraft must be some powerful magick!!

After the pre-communion prayer is finished, congregants line up and, one by one, approach the chalice, with the usual bowing and prostrations, and then, when they reach the chalice, the priest dips the spoon in and gives them a spoonful of the wine-warm-water-bread-brew; there has to a piece of bread mixed in the wine with every spoonful! Never did get an answer to why they do it this way, when the Lord (and everyone else it seems) has the two elements served separately. (I'd probably get some magickal-mystical gobbledygook about divine energies and whatnot, knowing them...)

After you’ve taken the spoonful, you have to kiss the chalice and the cloth that the priest uses to wipe your mouth/chin afterwards, followed by more crossings and prostrations before departing back to where you were in the nave.

Paedo-communion:

This idea of literal “spiritual medicine” explains why the EO insist on paedo-communion. I have seen infants as young as 40 days old have a spoon with bread and wine shoved in their mouths for their first communion (though, many priests will just use wine so as to not risk choking the baby to death). But seeing this also led to some inconsistencies in the EO practices. For example, I have also seen a priest accidentally drop a chalice on the floor. The tiles that were stained from the wine had to be cut out and then smashed and burned in order to be "properly disposed of." There were also a lot of tall tales of people such as John Maximovitch, who once served communion to a person with rabies. Right after she received communion, she immediately threw it all back up onto the floor of the nave. What's an EO priest to do? Well, he promptly got down on all fours and licked the floor clean! He explained later that since he was licking the literal body and blood of Christ off the floor, there was no way he could have contracted her rabies!

And we were told by our priests that that is precisely what an EO priest is SUPPOSED to do in that situation!

Oof.

However, somehow these same rules went out the window during paedo-communion, as I saw a few babies promptly spit up the elements onto their mother's clothes when the priest gave them communion. The look on the mother's face was always one of sheer horror! Oh no!! What am I to do!!? For the sake of consistency according to what they were told and taught, they should have had their clothes that were spat upon removed and then burned (at least, once they got back home). But, every...single...time....the priest's response was always "fuggedaboutit! Just go home and throw it in the wash!!"

Hmmm....things aren't adding up.

Then 2020 rolled around...

Hocus-Pocus Views...and Covid-19

This also led to a big rift within EO churches here in the States during the Covid crisis beginning in 2020. Because of this hocus-pocus magickal view of the sacrament, many EO’s insisted that straying from the formula above constituted blasphemy. Nonetheless, many EO churches started adopting disposable spoons, 1 per congregant, instead of using a common spoon for all. This showed that those priests really didn’t buy all the hocus-pocus to begin with. Sure, they preached it and taught it to their catechumens, since it's all part of the EO mythology, but when push came to shove, reality overran their mythology and they had to adapt "practical measures" such as CDC guidelines. Yet it was funny then seeing how these same priests got put on full blast by some of their own congregants, as well as other bishops, priests, and monks, who REALLY DID believe in all the hocus-pocus, magickal views of the sacrament and would not change their practices. I also saw many congregants leave the parishes of EO priests who adopted these practical measures; some even left the eastern church altogether because, once they saw all this about-face, they realized they were sold a false bill of goods.

You can go online and find all sorts of these hocus-pocus views I am referring to, especially from the Monks on Mount Athos, who insist that the Eucharist can never transmit disease to anyone, because of its inherent (magickal) properties. Of course, these same monks also believe that the very NAVE of an EO church is “filled with the divine energies” and even BEING in an EO nave is a protection against any and all communicable diseases!

So, they should all be Covid-free zones! And they openly said so, matter-of-factly....

Well, unfortunately, there were more than a handful of Orthodox priests who contracted Covid during 2020, some of whom passed away. Not sure if that theory of the EO nave being able to prevent and protect against all infectious diseases holds any water. When others pointed to these dead priests (and some monks on Mt. Athos who also died of Covid), the response was always: "Meh!! They HAD to have picked it up elsewhere! Certainly not in the nave/altar!!!" But, as usual, all EO claims are ultimately unverifiable and unfalsifiable.

Final Summations, Reflections, and Questions:
  • The whole liturgy revolves around a magick-priestcraft ritual, which not only magickally transforms elements hocus-pocus like into something completely different, but you also need a rag with dead body parts to accompany the magick ritual, or else it is invalid.
  • The result of magickal ritual is the literal body and blood of Christ, localized in a chalice, which becomes a literal “medicine” which they claim is "spiritual", but they view it very carnally.
  • The naves of EO churches are magick zones that will protect everyone in them from all infectious diseases, including Covid.
  • The naves of EO churches are also reconstructed according to the pattern of the Tabernacle/Temple, which ties in with how the EO have brought back the sacrificial system, despite everything the Book of Hebrews says about this.
  • The antimins has always fascinated me because:
    • First, why would you need a rag with dead body parts sewn into it to perform the ritual? Never did get a good answer for this, but instead just the usual unverifiable and unfalsifiable claims that this is a “tradition going back to 33AD!!” Apparently the apostles and their immediate successors were cataloguing dead body parts of saints and collecting them to be used in all future liturgies. EO's literally believe this! (BTW, does the Roman Church do anything like this? That is, specifically requiring there to be dead body parts on the altar in order to perform the ritual? I mean, I know the Roman Church loves relics too, but not to this degree?? I have been told by some Romanists "NO!" and that this is just another example of how much further down the road into folk-superstition and pagan-idolatry the EO church has gone, even compared to the Roman Church.)
    • Second, I went to two "St. George Orthodox Churches” in my time. Thus, both churches claim that their antimins have THE literal relics of THE St. George, who supposedly died in 303 A.D. Thinking that some of St. George’s dead body parts made it to Ohio in the 21st century seemed to be a bit of a stretch to me even then, but you absolutely had to buy it. It’s “Tradition”, after all! Just like all those "relics of the True Cross" (which the EO are also really into!) I now suspect that there are probably enough “relics” of St. George to reconstruct 100 bodies out of them, if not more. Which makes one wonder: if it is extremely likely that these are NOT the dead body parts of St. George to begin with, then just WHAT are they and WHY are they there? What is their point and purpose? What are they doing??? My occult-tuned senses were tingling, developed during my younger days dabbling in Crowley, which is why I still spell "magick" with a "k." I sensed something sinister, perhaps demonic, going on with this whole antimins business. Or, perhaps, it's just human stupidity and superstition, and nothing more? I still wonder about this...
 
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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
The "eastern orthodox" (hereafter, "EO") liturgy revolves entirely around the Eucharist rather than preaching the Word.
I know this is off track, but I wanted to say being closer to the reformed world that there are many reformed churches who employ Jeff Myers/Leithart "Covenant Renewal Worship" that also their liturgy revolves entirely around the Lord's supper. Many PCA congregations, and some that purport to be confessional. They of course celebrate the Lord's supper weekly.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
I know this is off track, but I wanted to say being closer to the reformed world that there are many reformed churches who employ Jeff Myers/Leithart "Covenant Renewal Worship" that also their liturgy revolves entirely around the Lord's supper. Many PCA congregations, and some that purport to be confessional. They of course celebrate the Lord's supper weekly.

Yeah, it's been interesting, to say the least, coming from that to now being in a Reformed Presbyterian church! I can see the arguments pro- and con- for more frequent communion, but wow....at least we've shorn all of this folk-superstitious, pagan idolatry, magick-priestcraft from it. My church does it once a month, and that actually seems about right.

BTW, another thing to share: results vary widely as to how often people across the EO world commune. Yeah, sure, every Sunday communion is served; but Serbians and Bulgarians tend to commune only a few times a year, usually during the major feast days (Pascha, Nativity, etc.). Russians, OTOH, tend to commune very often, and try to do so weekly. There's a pretty wide variety of opinion across the EO world as to just how often one should commune.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
This last part is emphasized by the EO, who view the bread and wine (and warm water?!?) as LITERAL “spiritual medicine.”

That's actually well-attested in the church fathers. I know Ignatius of Antioch mentions spiritual medicine. I believe Irenaeus mentioned it as well. I have no problem saying a Reformed view of the Lord's Supper is spiritual medicine to my soul. Of course, what I mean by spiritual medicine is probably different than what they mean.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
In one of Basil the Great's letters (circa 360 AD) he mentioned taking communion every day. Granted, he was a monk and his situation was different.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
That's actually well-attested in the church fathers. I know Ignatius of Antioch mentions spiritual medicine. I believe Irenaeus mentioned it as well. I have no problem saying a Reformed view of the Lord's Supper is spiritual medicine to my soul. Of course, what I mean by spiritual medicine is probably different than what they mean.
Absolutely. I did feel some trepidation in mentioning that, because the Lord's Supper certainly is a spiritual medicine of sorts. But, as my experience has shown me, they manage to take this to a whole new level of misunderstanding. And that priest telling me over and over about the power of 100,000 atom bombs in the chalice had something to do with this too.

It's like they insist on it being a spiritual medicine, while simultaneously having a very carnal view of that same medicine, like it's literally a tablespoon of something analogous to Robitussin or Vicks Formula 44D. No remembrance, no gratitude...instead it's "Here! Take this and swallow it and you'll get better" because the "active ingredient" in this medicine is God's grace, redefined as "the uncreated divine energies!"
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Calvin's Treatise on Relics provides some interesting parallels to what you're describing.

The RCC in other countries has something of the folk religion/superstition approach that you're describing here, although in Mexico the healing elements seemed to be connected to places where the Virgin manifested a particular presence rather than to the Mass. Apart from other differences, the Reformation did have an impact on the RCC that wasn't felt in the Eastern Churches, or certainly not to the same degree, and so it's not surprising that RCC and EO have developed in different ways.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
In one of Basil the Great's letters (circa 360 AD) he mentioned taking communion every day. Granted, he was a monk and his situation was different.

Yeah, those monks are still into that daily communion thing as I witnessed at the couple of EO monasteries I visited. Spending a couple of weeks in those monasteries and seeing the daily routine of round-the-clock clockwork mechanical liturgies and other services, made me come to realize just how much the EO really does turn worship into some rote, mechanical act.

The bell rings, the monks show up, and they do the exact same things over and over and over and over and over...

I mean, it's all mechanical-ritual priestcraft anyways, so of course it devolves into that.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Calvin's Treatise on Relics provides some interesting parallels to what you're describing.

The RCC in other countries has something of the folk religion/superstition approach that you're describing here, although in Mexico the healing elements seemed to be connected to places where the Virgin manifested a particular presence rather than to the Mass. Apart from other differences, the Reformation did have an impact on the RCC that wasn't felt in the Eastern Churches, or certainly not to the same degree, and so it's not surprising that RCC and EO have developed in different ways.

I've noted and reflected on a lot of things that caused the EO churches to really fly off the rails, and not being exposed to the Reformation was certainly one of these factors. (Although there was that Calvinist Patriarch who tried to reform the eastern church, which they quickly covered up!) It also seems like Rome at least had/has some centralization and oversight to keep some really wacky and bizarre things from creeping into their church. Not so in the EO: for example, most EO's literally adopt their views of the afterlife (unbeknownst to them of course) from the Tibetan Book of the Dead because of some fevered desert monk's visions back in the 9th century (i.e., St. Basil the Younger and the Toll Houses, which is pretty much right out of the TBotD). I have a hard time believing Rome would have ever adopted something like "Toll Houses", which makes their Purgatory look like heaven by comparison!

In the grand historical sweep of things, I look at it like this: the EO church got cut off in 1054 from the West (although there were more than a few serious East-West schisms before 1054, and the East was always in the wrong). But in 1439, the eastern churches agreed to Ferrara-Florence's Bull of Union with Rome and would have gotten back together...but then the monks and laity in Constantinople flipped out, started to riot, and the EO church ended up reneging on their agreement to the Bull of Union.

"Better to live under the Turkish turban than the Roman tiara!!" they exclaimed.

Well, they got what they wanted. And, in what seems to me to be no mere historical coincidence, Constantinople gets WRECKED on May 29th, 1453...which was the day of the feast of Pentecost.

Is it a sign when your church gets WRECKED by Muslims on the day of Pentecost? (That triggers the you-know-what out of EO's when I bring this up, or that Ferrara-Florence had all the marks of an ecumenical council by their very own definition!)

And all the other eastern churches of the original Pentarchy got wrecked by Islam as well.

And what's happened to the EO churches since? Being cut off from the West, they continued to fall into increasingly wacky nonsense, such as Palamism, Hesychasm, over-the-top Mariolatry, and more and more pagan folk-superstitions. They are now a bunch of churches divided along ethno-nationalist lines and a shell of what they once were, being continually wrecked or controlled by Muslims, and later, communists. And, most importantly, they did NOTHING to bring the Gospel to the world. Divine providence saw to it that it was the West that would carry out the Great Commission, not the East.
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Speaking of the Calvinist Patriarch Cyril Lucaris, he was recently (2009) made a saint in the EO church (his "feast-day" is June 27th...mark your calendars!!), so of course there HAS to be icons of him.

Hey, this would be a great gift idea for your EO friends! Maybe it will get them to read his Calvinist 18-point Confession!
 

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Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Although there was that Calvinist Patriarch who tried to reform the eastern church, which they quickly covered up!
Ahh, yes, the saga of Cyril Loukaris has long fascinated me...

In the 1570s the German Lutherans, led by Jacob Andreae and Stephen Gerlach, also attempted to attain closer ties with Constantinople, corresponding copiously with Patriarch Jeremias II Tranos, but ultimately to no avail.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Ahh, yes, the saga of Cyril Loukaris has long fascinated me...

In the 1570s the German Lutherans, led by Jacob Andreae and Stephen Gerlach, also attempted to attain closer ties with Constantinople, corresponding copiously with Patriarch Jeremias II Tranos, but ultimately to no avail.
I actually have that biography of Lucaris, Protestant Patriarch by George Hadjiantoniou, but haven't read it yet. But yeah, the whole saga around him is nothing short of fascinating. At first, they condemned him, then went "whoops!" and claimed that his confession was a forgery and exonerated him, which the EO church still believes today. And then they made him a saint!!!

Huh...so if his confession was forged, what about all the correspondence he was having with Reformers in Switzerland, Netherlands, and England, and sending people to go study Reformed theology there?

Guess that was all made up too?

Well, at least the eastern orthos can now ask him to pray for them....
 

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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Ahh, yes, the saga of Cyril Loukaris has long fascinated me...

In the 1570s the German Lutherans, led by Jacob Andreae and Stephen Gerlach, also attempted to attain closer ties with Constantinople, corresponding copiously with Patriarch Jeremias II Tranos, but ultimately to no avail.

I have a book around here somewhere that had the correspondence back and forth between Jeremias II and some Lutheran theologians from Tubingen (Augsburg and Constantinople?)

One of the funny things for me at the time when I read it (October 2020), was how Jeremias II stated that Penal Substitutionary Atonement was a point of agreement between them, which was funny, since pretty much ALL EO priests and bishops, today, reject PSA as a "Western heresy invented by Anselm!"
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
I know this is off track, but I wanted to say being closer to the reformed world that there are many reformed churches who employ Jeff Myers/Leithart "Covenant Renewal Worship" that also their liturgy revolves entirely around the Lord's supper. Many PCA congregations, and some that purport to be confessional. They of course celebrate the Lord's supper weekly.
Thinking some more about your post and have a couple more reflections.

So, coming from the EO church, as mentioned, it's done every Sunday. And come to think of it, I believe the OPC church here in Cincnnati offers the Lord's Supper every Sunday as well. As I said, I can see advantages to that. But my church only does it once a month, and, as I said, that feels right to me. And the reason for my saying that is that I have now seen first-hand the efficacy of having the Word PREACHED and THAT being the central focus of the worship service, which is literally a difference between night-and-day, darkness-and-light, from what I experienced in EO.

I mean, what is more efficacious:

1. Hearing the Word? I mean, really hearing the Word!!

2. Or having a supposed "medicine" that's dispensed to you through magick-priestcraft by magickal priest hands who have "hand-me-down powers" from their (make-believe) Apostolic succession, which, when you swallow it, infuses you with some mystical "divine grace", redefined as the "uncreated energies of God!"

I am going with #1. But (to the original point), I seem to think that having the Lord's Supper EVERY Sunday might detract from #1, no matter how good your pastor is at preaching. Just a hunch...
 
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Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
A friend of my daughter's is converting to Greek Orthodox (from independent evangelical). They are close friends.

Does what you wrote above apply to Greek Orthodox beliefs? I am trying to line out the main errors of Greek Orthodoxy as opposed to our confessional doctrines. Is there a good simple book or website where she can go to see the errors lined out clearly?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
A friend of my daughter's is converting to Greek Orthodox (from independent evangelical). They are close friends.

Does what you wrote above apply to Greek Orthodox beliefs? I am trying to line out the main errors of Greek Orthodoxy as opposed to our confessional doctrines. Is there a good simple book or website where she can go to see the errors lined out clearly?

In general, yes. Russian-based churches are a bit more conservative (at least officially) than Greek ones on social ethics. In terms of tradition, icons, liturgy, they are roughly on the same page.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
A friend of my daughter's is converting to Greek Orthodox (from independent evangelical). They are close friends.

Does what you wrote above apply to Greek Orthodox beliefs? I am trying to line out the main errors of Greek Orthodoxy as opposed to our confessional doctrines. Is there a good simple book or website where she can go to see the errors lined out clearly?

^ what Jacob said. The only real difference between the Greek and other orthodox churches is that some Greek parishes have literal icons of Greek superstars like Plato and Aristotle, LOL. Greeks, in my experience at least, tend to be filled with nationalist pride, and it DOES show up in their parishes. As a result, they tend to be rather unwelcoming towards non-Greeks (this is the case where I live, at least, and I've heard this from a few others). This Greek nationalism also shows up in things like their liturgical calendar, where they have a literal feast day for the Greek "Ohi day", which celebrates the start of their war with Italy back in 1940 (which resulted in a draw, BTW).

Apparently, the Virgin Mary appeared in the sky on "Ohi day" and rallied a bunch of Greek troops on the Albanian border against the Italian forces there...or something. So of course, this has to be turned into an "orthodox feast day!"

Why she didn't appear in the skies again to protect Greece from a Nazi blitzkrieg afterwards (which completely overran the country in less than a month), is left unexplained. I mean, c'mon: she can protect Greece from bumbling Italian forces (who could barely defeat Ethiopia) ...but not Germans???

Eastern "orthodoxy" really is filled with all sorts of this silly nonsense. I really pray this person you know comes to her senses before she goes through with this!!
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
A friend of my daughter's is converting to Greek Orthodox (from independent evangelical). They are close friends.

Does what you wrote above apply to Greek Orthodox beliefs? I am trying to line out the main errors of Greek Orthodoxy as opposed to our confessional doctrines. Is there a good simple book or website where she can go to see the errors lined out clearly?
BTW, one more thing or two to add:

When I had converted to the eastern church, it was strongly suggested that I get rebaptized, but in my experience, it's mostly the Russians who do this; the Greek "orthodox" church will probably just want her to be "Chrismated" rather than baptized to "get in."

Another thing that she will more than likely have to do is to publicly renounce all the "errors" of the "Western churches" such as the Filioque, Sola Fide, etc., in the service before she gets Chrismated. In this service, Orthodox priests actually have a list of things that the person being received will have to renounce, categorized by where they are coming from - Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon, etc.) so that they get to publicly and ceremonially renounce the "heresies" specific to those, on pain of damnation. It's very cultish in retrospect...)

She'd better be ready to renounce the Solas and the Filioque and get ready to be put to "works" so that she can "earn" her salvation.....ugh.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
^ what Jacob said. The only real difference between the Greek and other orthodox churches is that some Greek parishes have literal icons of Greek superstars like Plato and Aristotle, LOL. Greeks, in my experience at least, tend to be filled with nationalist pride, and it DOES show up in their parishes.

Which is hilarious since liberal EOs will tell me that the Greeks have at least condemned ethnophylism. I'm like, "Y'all are the most nationalist people on the planet."
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
The one time I attended a service in the Orthodox tradition (Greek Orthodox), I did not participate in the Eucharist but observed as closely as I could. They seemed to act more like Catholics than like you describe. There was no soggy bread in a chalice served with a spoon, but rather wafers dipped in wine. I remember no showy personal displays or cries to the Theokotos. And the youngest children stayed in their seats or were not served as communicants.

Do you know how much your description is the norm in the Orthodox world and how much it may vary from church to church, tradition to tradition?
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The one time I attended a service in the Orthodox tradition (Greek Orthodox), I did not participate in the Eucharist but observed as closely as I could. They seemed to act more like Catholics than like you describe. There was no soggy bread in a chalice served with a spoon, but rather wafers dipped in wine. I remember no showy personal displays or cries to the Theokotos. And the youngest children stayed in their seats or were not served as communicants.

Do you know how much your description is the norm in the Orthodox world and how much it may vary from church to church, tradition to tradition?

My experiences were primarily in the Russian and Serbian churches, which do tend to go further off the rails with things like Mariolatry and other forms of superstition and idolatry when compared to the Greeks.

BTW, when did you observe this service? Once Covid hit, some EO churches, most especially the OCA and the Greeks, adopted something similar to what you're describing so as to avoid having people sharing the same spoon (while others used plastic disposable spoons, 1-per communicant), but the Greek churches did serve communion with the common chalice and spoon before that, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website still describes receiving communion in this manner:

When we come before the priest for Holy Communion, our hands should not be in our pockets, but at our sides. We make the sign of the cross, tell the priest our baptismal name, hold the Communion cloth carefully under our chin, and open our mouth wide. We do not slurp from the spoon, nor should our teeth scrape on the spoon. After receiving Communion we wipe our lips carefully with the Communion cloth (not on our hand or shirtsleeve), make the sign of the cross, and hand the Communion cloth to the next person.

It was my understanding that this is/was the norm across pretty much all EO churches. I also attended some Antiochian church services, and they, too, served with the common chalice/spoon.
 
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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
The one time I attended a service in the Orthodox tradition (Greek Orthodox), I did not participate in the Eucharist but observed as closely as I could. They seemed to act more like Catholics than like you describe. There was no soggy bread in a chalice served with a spoon, but rather wafers dipped in wine. I remember no showy personal displays or cries to the Theokotos. And the youngest children stayed in their seats or were not served as communicants.

Do you know how much your description is the norm in the Orthodox world and how much it may vary from church to church, tradition to tradition?
This really surprises me. One of the main reasons for the Great Schism was over EO's insistence on using leavened bread.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
BTW, when did you observe this service?
This really surprises me. One of the main reasons for the Great Schism was over EO's insistence on using leavened bread.
It was a Greek Orthodox church in the American South, about 25 years ago. They could well have been using leavened bread, not wafers. I was back far enough that I couldn't have seen for certain, and I might have just assumed wafers due to the way they were received. No spoons, though. I would have noticed spoons.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What is the distinction between leavened and unleavened bread in this matter? I have always thought that 1 Cor 5:7, 8 had a bearing on this:

"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
 
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