My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
The Preparation of the Faithful for Communion
This section begins with the Supplicatory Litany. "Having called to remembrance all the saints, again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord...For the precious Gifts now offered and sanctified...That our God, the Lover of mankind, who hath received them upon His holy and most heavenly and noetic altar as an odor of spiritual fragrance, will send down upon us Divine Grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit..." Then come the usual requests of the Supplicatory Litany, which ends with the exclamation of the priest, "And vouchsafe us, O Master, with boldness and without condemnation to dare to call upon Thee, the Heavenly God, as Father, and to say." The Cantor chants or recites the "Our Father...," and in some churches all those present sing or recite this prayer together. Then follows the bestowal of peace and the bowing of one's head during which the priest prays to the Lord and He sanctifies the faithful and enable them to partake without condemnation of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). At this time the Deacon, while standing on the ambo, takes the orarion (the orarion is a long, wide band of the same material as the long garment [sticharion] with fringe on the ends) from his shoulder and girds himself with it in a cruciform pattern, in order to 1) serve the priest unencumbered during Communion and 2) to express his reverence for the Holy Gifts by representing the Seraphim who, as they surround the Throne of God, cover their faces with their wings (Isaiah 6:2-3). During the exclamation of the Deacon, "Let us attend," the curtain is closed and the priest lifts the Holy Lamb above the Diskarion (Paten) and loudly proclaims, "Holy Things are for the holy." This means that the holy Gifts may be given only to the "holy," that is, the faithful who have sanctified themselves with prayer, fasting and the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance and Confession.
In recognition of their unworthiness, the Cantor/s in the name of the faithful, exclaim, "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, in the glory of God the Father. Amen."
The faithful who intend to come to Holy Communion must in advance attend the Vigil service in the church and read at home "The Order of Preparation for Holy Communion."
Then follows the communion of the serving clergy in the Sanctuary. The priest divides the Holy Lamb into four parts, and communes himself and then gives the Holy Mysteries to the Deacon. After the communion of the clergy, the portions intended for the communion of the laity are put into the Chalice. During the communion of the clergy various verses of the psalms termed "Communion verses" are chanted, followed by various hymns relating to the feast, or the Prayers before Communion are read. The Royal Gates are opened then in preparation of the communion of the faithful laity, and the Deacon with the sacred Chalice in his hands calls out, "With fear of God and faith draw near." The opened Royal Doors are symbolic of the open tomb of the Savior, and the bringing forth of the Holy Gifts of the appearance of Jesus Christ after His Resurrection. After bowing to the Holy Chalice as before the very risen Savior Himself, the Cantor/s, as representatives of the faithful, chant, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us." Those of the faithful who are to commune, "with fear of God and faith," make a preliminary bow to the Holy Chalice and then listen quietly to the prayer before Holy Communion. "I believe, O Lord and I confess..." in which they confess their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior of sinners, their faith in the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Communion with Him. They beseech Him to deem them worthy of partaking without condemnation of the sacred Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins, promising not only not to betray Christ, as did Judas, but even amid the sufferings of life to be like the wise thief, and to firmly and boldly confess their faith. After making a full prostration--if it is not a Sunday--the faithful step forward and go up to the ambo (solea). To keep good order and out of reverence one should not leave one's place, nor is it proper to impede or embarrass others with a desire to be first. Likewise, one should not be overly cautious and fearful, but should step forward with gratitude and serenity of faith. Each should remember that he/she is the first among sinners, but that the mercy of the Lord is infinite. With one's hands crossed over one's chest one should step forward to the Royal Gates for Holy Communion and, without making a sign of the Cross near the chalice, (out of fear that one can knock the Chalice from the priest's hands), receive Holy Communion from the spoon in the priest's hands. After receiving, one kisses the side of the Chalice (old practice), again without making the sign of the Cross, so that the Chalice will not be accidently hit.
Children are encouraged to take Holy Communion often from their earlier infancy, in the name of the faith of their parents and educators in accordance with the words of the Savior, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and Drink of it, all of you." Children under seven or so are allowed to take Holy Communion without Confession, as they have not reached the age of responsibility or discernment.
Following Holy Communion, the communicants receive a small piece from the prosphora used at the Divine Liturgy, the antidoron. Then, they, very reverently return to their place and wait for their dismissal.
The priest blesses the congregation with the words, "Save, O God, Thy people" (those who believe in Thee) and bless Thine inheritance," (those who are Thine own, the Church of Christ). In response the Cantor/s chant, "We have seen the true Light, we have receive the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, we worship the indivisible Trinity: for He has saved us." This means that we have seen the True Light since, having washed our sins in the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism, we are called the sons of God by Grace, sons of the Light. We have received the Holy Spirit by means of sacred Chrismation; we confess the True Orthodox Christian Faith and worship the indivisible Trinity, because He has saved us. The Deacon takes the Diskarion (Paten) from the priest, who hands it to him from the Holy Table, and raising it before him bears it to the Table of Oblation (Prothesis), while the priest takes the Holy Chalice and blesses the faithful with the exclamation, "Always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages" and then likewise carries it to the Table of Oblation (Prothesis). This last elevating and presentation of the Holy Gifts to the congregation, their removal to the Table of Oblation, and the exclamation, area to remind us of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven and His promise to remain in the Church for all time unto the end of the ages (St. Matthew 28:20). [Source: The Law of God]
Please note: The Law of God reflects the Russian Orthodox tradition and for that reason there are differences in some of the local practices in comparison to the Greek Orthodox tradition.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God