Pastoral Advice on Holy Communion during the Holy and Bright Week

To partake of Holy Communion and to confess in the right way means to do this with the fear of God and humility in our heart, with the understanding of our unworthiness.

Bishop Jonah (Cherepanov): The right opinion is the opinion of your spiritual father

Great Lent is given to us so that we can “exercise” in partaking of Holy Communion. I advise people to partake of Holy Communion on every Sunday of Great Lent. It is especially important to partake of Holy Communion on the Holy Week.
Bishop Jonah (Cherepanov)
All the services of this week are connected with commemoration of the Last Supper, which took place to establish the sacrament of Eucharist. If a person has a possibility to spend this week properly, then it will be better to partake of Holy Communion on at every service performed during the week.
Every Christian should partake of Holy Communion of Great Saturday, too. By the way, the liturgy of this day is my favorite service of the whole liturgical year. I know that it is so not only for me but for many priests. Only on that day, you can hear this silent and exalted Paschal joy. Pascha itself is a bright and  joyful feast, and it influences our spiritual receptors.
Our spiritual forces are especially sharp exactly at the liturgy of Great Saturday, when on one hand the Savior is already in the tomb, while on the other hand we know that He has already defeated the gates of hell. We know that He will soon resurrect and appear to the apostles. And this quiet joy is rather expressly felt at the liturgy on Great Saturday.
In this liturgy, there is one very symbolical moment, when the dark Lenten vestments are changed to the bright vestments in anticipation of Resurrection. This also help you to tune on the Paschal joy.
The rite of preparing for this Sacrament is much shorter on paschal days, you just have to read the Paschal Hours and some prayers before Holy Communion. The services are quite short, dynamic and joyful. It will not be a burden for you, but will give you an opportunity to feel real celebration of Pascha. We are partaking of the Body of the crucified, buried and resurrected Christ – when should we partake of Christ’s Blood and Body, if not on the Bright Week?
The question of fasting before Holy Communion on the Bright Week is a stumbling block for many people. In my opinion, the Bright Week is the time, which the Church especially highlights in the whole church year. It is the time when any fast is prohibited by the church statue. So, preparing for Holy Communion, one should not fast. These are the days of special joy, when we live in Christ, when we are filled with the Paschal joy. So, since fast is prohibited by the church canons on the Bright Week, and since Orthodox Christians are supposed to partake of Holy Communion on this week, then we should not keep the fast before the Sacrament.
I point out that it is just my personal opinion.
However, the right opinion is your spiritual father’s opinion. Every Christian needs a spiritual father, with whom one can discuss the problems of preparation for the sacraments and all the other issues of spiritual life. You should always ask your spiritual father for advice, because he is the priest who knows you well enough and knows the peculiarities of your spiritual life. It would be better for you to do as he says.

Archpriest Vladimir Novitsky: When you are ready, you heart is humble

To partake of Holy Communion and to confess in the right way means to do this with the fear of God and humility in our heart, with the understanding of our unworthiness.
Archpriest Vladimir Novitsky
 Not with the feeling of the fulfilled duty, that we have kept the fast during the whole Great Lent and now have a right to partake of Holy Communion; not with the feeling that we have achieved certain spiritual lever and now we are going to enter the Holy Week rightly and step closer to Pascha. All of these is absolutely unworthy before God.
To be worthy means to have a humble heart, to understand your sins, to repent wholeheartedly. And we can partake of Holy Communion when we have this feeling. This feeling means that we are ready. Our readiness does not depend on the amount of prayers we read, although this is good, too. First of all, this readiness in ensured by the humble condition of the heart. Then you can partake of Holy Communion without any restrictions.

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev): Those priests, who prohibit partaking of Holy Communion on the Bright Week, make a mistake

I believe that the priests, who do not give their blessing to partake of Holy Communion on Pascha, make a serious mistake. Why? Because the aim of serving the liturgy is that people partake of Holy Communion.
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev)
During Great Lent, the liturgy is not served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The absence of the possibility to partake of Holy Communion is the sign of repentance and fast. The fact that Church statue prescribes to serve the liturgy every day on the Bright Week – this means that people are appealed to partake of Holy Communion every day.
Why should we not fast on the Bright Week? Because Christ said, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”
Pascha is the most important feast of the Christian Church. The whole Great Lent is just a preparation before Pascha. How can we demand from people to keep the fast on the Bright Week, if they want to partake of Holy Communion?!
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds


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