On Those Who Should Not Commune

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

We should know that there are five classes of people for whom, according to the holy fathers, it is forbidden to approach Holy Communion. The first are the catechumens, as they are not yet baptized. The second are those baptized, but who fell in love with shameful and unrighteous ways, such as apostates from the holy life for which they were baptized: fornicators, murderers, usurers, extortioners, slanderers, proud persons, jealous persons, those who harbor grudges, all those who being in such a state do not feel that they are enemies of God and are in a tragic situation, because they do not repent… The third are those possessed by demons, if they blaspheme and mock this Divine Mystery. The fourth are those who have come to their senses and have repented, but are fulfilling the penance (epitimia) laid on them to stand outside the church for a certain period of time. The fifth are those who have not yet the ripened fruit of repentance, i.e. those who have not yet come to the final decision to consecrate their entire life to God and to live the rest of their life in Christ in purity and without reproach. These five classes are clearly unworthy of Holy Communion. He is worthy to commune the precious Mysteries who is pure and has no part with sin, of whom we have spoken above. But when anyone of these worthy persons is corrupted by any corruption, as a man, then, of course, he also communes unworthily, if he does not wash away by repentance that which corrupted him. And so he eats and drinks unworthily who, although he is worthy, unworthily approaches the Holy Mysteries. May we, then, be worthy and commune worthily the most pure Mysteries in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory for endless ages of ages. Amen. (“Concerning Communicants and those who Partake of the Holy Mysteries Unworthily”, Orthodox Life, July-August, 1975, p. 11.)

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