This article on the WCC website, though more than a decade old, remains an accurate statement of the intentions of modernists regarding the Orthodox liturgy. The notoriously liberal monks at New Skete Monastery, formerly Catholic, but received into the notoriously liberal Orthodox Church in America (a jurisdiction whose autocephaly has never been universally recognized), corrupted by the modernist heresy so prevelant in the Roman church, manifested in the liturgical reforms in the wake of Vatican II (which, I should state, were a dreadful perversion of what Vatican II actually authorized; in terms of seeking reconciliation with the Orthodox, and in terms of the change of theological emphasis that Vatican II produced, it was, by itself, a movement in the direction of Orthodoxy), naturally want to do the same thing to the Orthodox church.
In this series of articles, I shall proceed to enumerate their desired reforms, and then explain why these reforms are deadly, from the perspective of Confessional Orthodoxy.
Suggestion no. 6: Casual Communion
"In some Orthodox churches, frequent reception of communion has become the norm, while in others the faithful come only rarely. In both cases, however, the reception of communion is often seen as an act of private devotion. Our churches need to rediscover the communal and corporate dimensions of the eucharist. They also need to reevaluate their various practices related to confession, fasting, and other forms of preparation for communion. This is necessary particularly when these practices not only obscure the ecclesial significance of the eucharist but also discourage frequent communion, thus inhibiting the spiritual growth and nourishment of the faithful."
Why this is a bad idea:
This, from a spiritual perspective, is perhaps the deadliest suggestion made by the impious monks at New Skete. In recent decades, the trend to commune the entire parish, except at Easter, when this was always the tradition, on every Sunday, has led to numerous persons partaking of the Eucharist iwthout the adequete spiritual preparation. It is no accident that the Revised Common Lectionary, among the more poisonous fruits of the Ecumenical Movement, omits this key warning of the Apostle Paul, following the institution narrative in 1 Corinthians chapter 11:
" 27 He therefore, who eateth of the bread of the Lord, and drinketh of his cup, and is not worthy of it, is guilty of the blood of the Lord, and of his body.
28 For this reason, a man should examine himself, and then eat of this bread, and drink of this cup:
29 for, whoever eateth and drinketh of it, while he is unworthy, eateth and drinketh condemnation on himself, by not discerning the body of the Lord.
30 For this cause, many among you are diseased and sickly, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged by our Lord, we are really chastised, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Wherefore, my Brethren, when ye assemble to eat, wait ye one for another.
34 And let him who is hungry, eat at home; that ye may assemble, not for condemnation. And as to other things, I will give you directions when I come."
From this very clear warning, it is evident that a thorough examination of conscience, at a minimum, is a prerequisite to communion. It is for this reason that ROCA requires parishioners to attend to the sacrament of Confession before receiving the Eucharist, and to fast beforehand to the fullest extent their health allows. To do otherwise would be criminal negligence on our flock; we would be guilty of allowing our congregation to partake of condemnation, rather than of the divine nature, to their own destruction, and for that would have to answer at the dread day of judgment.
It is imperative that, as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has pointed out, frequent communion, a most healthy practice advocated by all the saints, be practiced, but at the same time, His Eminence warns us of the dangers of casual communion. The environment in many Christian churches today creates a situation where everyone is encouraged to come forward, without any checks to see if they are baptized, and wihtout any warning that the sacrament, if consumed in a state unworthy, could be deadly. This is a terrible crime; the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches especially are guilty of exposing their flock to severe physical and spiritual harm by failing to place an appropriate fence around the sacrament.
I should say, that I fear that if we do not heed the warning of the Blessed Apostle, and provide some mechanism for ensuring the proper purification and preparation that lets us approach the chalice with some degree of increased holiness, in a state of worthiness, that we might receive its life-sustaining and life-creating nourishment, the blood of many could be on our hands. The barriers erected around the Holy Eucharist may seem formidable, but it is essential for every pious Orthodox Christian to confront them, ideally every Sunday, and every day in Lent; keep the Eucharistic fast, confess everything, as often as possible, and approach the Chalice without fear, and you will surely receive the fruits of Christ's life-creating sacrifice to the fullest extent possible. Just as physical exercise to keep our bodies in shape, and proper eating to maintain health, requires discipline, so to does our spiritual life; maintaining the neccessary discipline to partake of Communion as often as it serves is the surest way to maintaining proper spiritual health, and to partake of every divine grace the Lord has provided for our sustenance.
In closing, in the Divine Liturgy, the Priest proclaims "Holy things are for the holy!" Anyone who dares approach the Chalice while knowingly in a state of unrepentant sin is unholy, and partakes of death rather than life; any Priest who knowingly allows such a profane act of self-destruction to occur will answer for it on the dread day of judgement. "Holy things are for the holy!" is not a meaningless embellishment of the Divine Liturgy; rather, it is the warning of Paul in a nutshell, and as Paul's narrative of the Last Supper is likely the most ancient in the New Testament, and the importance of Paul to the Orthodox faith unquestioned, it behooves us to heed his warning, and to accordingly partake of the Body and Blood of Our Lord with only the greatest fear and reverence. If some are unable to maintain the spiritual discipline necessary to facilitate daily or weekly communion, then it is better for them to communicate only occasionally, when they are able to properly prepare themselves, than risk their own destruction for the sake of conformity; to conduct the Divine Liturgy in such a manner as to encourage all to communicate without proper preparation is a great evil.
In our next article in this series, we will examine the very impious and disagreeable suggestion that we depart from the ancient lectionary, that has served the Church for over a thousand years.