The Eucharist: With Fear, Faith & Love, Draw Near 


“Again and again in the liturgical texts of the Christian East these contrasting feelings of hope and fear, of confidence and awe, are set side by side.  The Holy Gifts are ‘the life-giving and terrible mysteries.’  Inviting the people to approach the chalice, the priest says: ‘With fear of God, with faith and love draw near’-fear and loving trust go hand in hand.  In a precommunion prayer attributed to St Symeon the New Theologian, we use the words:

Rejoicing at once and trembling, I who am straw receive the Fire 

And, strange wonder! 

I am ineffably refreshed 

As the bush of old 

Which burned yet was not consumed.”   (Kallistos WareTHE INNER KINGDOM, pp 60-61)


Orthodox scholar Jaroslav Pelikan reminds us of the fact that because St Paul wrote his epistles before the Gospels were written down, the first words of Jesus to be put in writing and quoted were the words He offered up when He instituted Holy Communion at the Last Supper:

“… it also deserves to be pointed out that the first words of Jesus to have been written down anywhere (as far as we know) were not the Sermon on the Mount or any parable or even the Lord’s Prayer, but the words of institution of the Eucharist, which are also the words of consecration: ‘This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’ and ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’ (1 Cor 11:24-25); they were written down by Saint Paul, addressing the church at Corinth, before the composition of any of our Gospels, at any rate in their present form.”   (BRAZOS THEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY ON ACTS, p 114)