The Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ
April 14/21, 2002
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
Receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is a time of great holiness. The individual and the divine come together and are united. The person is different as a result of the Holy Sacrament. When preparing for and receiving Holy Communion, believers constantly need to be aware they are receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Preparation for Holy Communion includes fasting and prayer with reverence, awe and seriousness. The conduct of the serious believer in preparation and at the time of reception is with appreciation for Jesus Christís suffering and death and the joy of His resurrection. The Divine Liturgy is the service of the Church when the bread and wine become the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Divine Liturgy radiates and manifests the fullness of the Church. Believers partake of the precious Body and Blood during the Divine Liturgy and the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts. The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is served during Great Lent in parishes normally on Wednesday and Friday. The Divine Liturgy is the service most familiar to parish worshippers. It is the service they experience on Sundays and the major feast days of the year. People who are hospitalized and seriously ill, those confined to institutions where the Divine Liturgy cannot be served and individuals who are homebound receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ brought to them by the priest. Always on the Holy Altar, the precious Body and Blood of Christ is present prepared in advance for those who cannot come to the Divine Liturgy by virtue of their individual conditions of limited mobility.
Great preparation goes into preparing for and serving the Divine Liturgy. Much goes on by the priest out of the view of the parishioners and in advance of the parishioners arriving in the Church.
The priest must prepare and conduct himself in a way that honors the priestly office. The priest must conduct his life in a way that is consistent with the teachings of the Church. The priest must give due attention and reverence to the Divine Liturgy in preparation and during the liturgical celebration.
Believers have partaken of the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the centuries and throughout the world. The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ continues to be available to each new generation of believers in each place the Divine Liturgy is served.
All of the communicants in all of the centuries in all of the countries where the precious Body and Blood is and has been present have been able to receive the Body of Christ, to taste of the fountain of immortality.
The precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ unites the believer with Christ. The communicant is renewed in Christ. The communicant is different because of Christ.
The precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is for Orthodox believers. The believers who partake are part of the Holy Orthodox Church. The believers are expected to live in a certain way, to maintain the beliefs and practices of the Holy Orthodox Church and to believe in and profess Jesus Christ in the Orthodox way.
The Holy Orthodox Church is very specific and protective regarding participation in the Holy Sacrament of Communion. Individuals outside of the Orthodox Church wanting to commune in the Orthodox Church must complete the steps to becoming Orthodox.
Our bodies, our minds and our hearts require care and due recognition of the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Our total being is different as a result of Holy Communion. Each time we commune, regardless of regularity or frequency, is a time requiring concentration and careful attention to Jesus Christ.
Frequent reception of the precious Body and Blood should in no way reflect a lessening of honor, awe and reverence in the beliver.
Denial of Holy Communion to a believer is done with careful consideration. Denial of Communion of a believer has impact on the person being denied.
The precious Body and Blood of Christ is the precious Body and Blood of Je sus Christ when received in any part of the world in any century. Jesus Christ is unencumbered by time. He is proclaimed and manifested in the precious Body and Blood.
God acts in the Divine Liturgy to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The unity of believers around the world and through the centuries is expressed in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Interest in receiving Holy Communion at important times in life comes to the fore particularly when serious illness strikes or death seems close at hand. Serbian Orthodox Christians are familiar with the partaking of Holy Communion centuries ago by the faithful who were readying themselves for participation in the Battle of Kosovo. The Holy Gospel keeps our attention on the place of the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in our lives. St. Johnís Gospel states these words of our Lord: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."