Sunday, March 26, 2023

Infrequent Communion in old-country Orthodoxy

A highlight this weekend besides an important and scriptural feast, yesterday according to the new calendar, the Annunciation (Little Christmas, the true feast of the Incarnation): informing two Orthodox keyboard jocks that the practice they know at St. Convert's of weekly reception of Communion thus confession at least monthly, which they insisted is traditional, comes from... imitating modern (not Modernist) Catholicism. You can do it but give due credit. It makes sense if you have a distinction between mortal and venial sin, a Latinism that the Orthodox in pure form don't have: if the sin isn't grave, you can receive. What's traditional East and West, not ideal, don't get me wrong, is reflected in the Catholic requirement to receive once a year, at Eastertime, because medieval people only dared receive once a year, if at all. Old-country Orthodoxy, yiayia/baba (granny) piety, is just like that. In order for it to work, you approach the chalice infrequently and are sure to confess everything since your last confession, just to be safe, before each time you receive. Maybe it's not the best but it does work.

The Protestants tried to get people to go to Communion every week by downgrading the sacrament from Christ's one sacrifice and presence to a mere symbol, a commemoration; not right and it didn't work - for example, the English still only received the Protestant Communion once a quarter, so the ministers only had it once a quarter for many years, because they thought that having the service with no communicants besides the minister was superstitious.


  1. I've read that Lutherans in some regions tried to restore weekly communion at the
    Reformation, but it was mostly a failure, and where it succeeded it didn't succeed for long. In some German cities that embraced Lutheranism, however, there was always (until the mid-18th century) one church that had communion on any given Sunday, so that those who wished to receive communion more frequently could do so.

  2. And there is evidence both of the unfulfilled hope of Cranmer, of the Holy Communion being celebrated each Sunday, and of a vestige of the same practice being manifested in the Church of England - for example, in London, of arranging matters so there was a celebration of the Holy Communion every Sunday in one or other of the many city churches - again, until the early 18th century.


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