The Unworthy Impediment

While piety sometimes can make us believe we are  not worthy to receive Holy Communion on a particular day when the Eucharistic Liturgy is being offered, the reality is Christ came to call the sinner to repentance, to heal the wounds caused by sin and to end the separation of humanity from their Creator.  Christ came precisely because we are unworthy to approach God, in order to make it possible for us to be restored to unity with God again.    The incarnation is about God taking on sinful flesh to heal us and restore us to union with God. Christ did not become incarnate because we all were so holy that He was drawn to us.  He came because we are sinners and unworthy.   The God who is love sees our unworthiness and in His loving compassion reaches out to us, cutting through all bonds and barriers in order to save us from the consequence of our own sins.  Christ comes to save us from our unworthiness.   Before ever cutting yourself off from Holy Communion, speak with your father confessor or parish priest.  Do not disobey Christ’s commands to “Take, eat” and “Drink of it, all of you.”   Russian Orthodox theologian Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev writes:

“If personal unworthiness was indeed an impediment against receiving communion, then practically no one could ever be admitted to the Eucharist…. The Eucharistic gathering is the manifestation of the Church in all her fullness and all her oneness. Eucharistic communion is the very expression of life in the Church. If we eliminate Eucharistic communions, then what is left of our life in the Church? Is prayer even temporarily able to replace communion? The prayer of the Church is prayer ‘in Christ’, but it is impossible to be ‘in Christ’ apart from Eucharistic communion with Him.”  (Living Icons by Michael Plekon, p 169)

If we have a sense of our unworthiness, our own sinfulness, then we are in the proper frame of mind to approach the Chalice in humility and repentance.  We always are unworthy of Christ dying on the cross for us.  We are always unworthy of having our sins forgiven or entering into God’s Kingdom.   It is that knowledge which makes us humble ourselves before God and beg His mercy.