The Mystical Supper
Today we celebrate the initiation of the Holy Eucharist – when Christ, for the first time, gave of His broken Body and His spilled Blood, before they were broken and spilled – He gave Himself to His Apostles for their life. We know, I’m sure, the theology and the discussions we could have about the Mystery of our Lord’s Body and Blood. Today, I’d like to read an address given by St. John Chrysostom on the occasion of today’s commemoration. And in this address, he’s going to remind us what a fearful thing it is to approach the Chalice and to partake of the Holy Mysteries of our Christ.

“O my beloved and greatly-desired brethren who have gathered in the Holy Church of God, in order to serve the Living God in holiness and righteousness, and , with fear [and love], to partake of the holy, most-pure, and immortal, awesome Mysteries of Christ: Hearken unto me who am lowly and unworthy. For it is not I who am speaking to you and instructing you; rather the grace of the Most-holy and Life-giving Spirit; for I speak not from myself, but as I have been instructed by the divine canons, and the God-bearing Fathers, as the Church received instruction from the divine Apostles who received their wisdom from God, so do I myself speak, who am lowly and least of all. I know not your works; I consider not that which you have begun; and so, as one who fears God, I give counsel to everyone among you, whether man or woman, whether great or small, to anyone of you that may be guilty of sin, convicted by your own counsels, that first you must repent and confess your sins, that you may dare, considering yourself unworthy, to approach and touch the Divine Fire Itself. For our God is a devouring Fire, and they, therefore, who with faith and fear [and love] draw near to the God and King and Judge of us all, shall burn and scorch their sins; and It shall enlighten and sanctify their souls. But It shall burn and scorch with shame, the souls and bodies of them that draw near with unbelief [or without repentance]. Therefore, [as St. Paul writes], many among you are ill and sleep in sickness, that is, many are dying unconfessed and unrepentant. And furthermore, my brethren, I beseech you, and I say: no one that swears oaths, nor a perjurer, nor a liar, nor one that finds fault with others, nor a fornicator, nor an adulterer, nor one that practices homosexuality, nor a thief, nor a drunkard, nor a blasphemer, nor one that envies his brother, nor a murderer, nor a sorcerer, nor a magician, nor a charmer, nor an enchanter, nor a robber, nor a [heretic], shall, unconfessed and unprepared, approach, touch, or draw near the dread Mysteries of Christ, for it is terrible to fall into the hands of the Living God. [Notice, he doesn’t say that sinners shall not commune, but that we must repent and prepare before communing of the Life-giving Mysteries]. For the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the joints and marrow and bones, and thoughts and hearts. See, therefore, my brethren, that no one approach, unrepentant or unprepared or unworthily, to partake of [Christ’s] dread and most-pure Mysteries. For He Himself saith: I am He, and there is no god besides me; I kill, and I make alive; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand; for I, Myself, am King forever. [And to our Christ] is due all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages, Amen.”*

*Taken from ‘The Great Book of Needs,’ St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1998, pp. 332-333

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