The No Preservative Food Which Does Not Perish

Christ is risen! 

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Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)

Fr Alexander Schmemann comments on ‘the food which endures to everlasting life’ which Christ gives us—namely, His Body and Blood. Some forms of piety tell us we are not worthy to receive this gift and so should refrain from frequent Communion to show our repentance. Fr Alexander rejects this piety because in fact we are never worthy of Christ’s precious Gifts no matter how rarely we approach the chalice. We are only made ‘worthy’ by receiving the Sacrament which brings about in us a transformation by uniting us to God.

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“… the words which the priest pronounces while elevating the Holy Bread and which in the early Church were the very words of invitation to communion: ‘Holy Things for the Holy!’ With these words and also with the congregation’s answer to them— ‘One  is Holy, One is Lord Jesus Christ’—all  human reasoning indeed comes to an end. The Holy Things, the Body and Blood of Christ, are for those alone who are holy. Yet no one is holy, save the One Holy Lord Jesus Christ. And thus, on the level of miserable human ‘worthiness,’ the door is closed; there is nothing we can offer and which would make us ‘worthy’ of this Holy Gift. Nothing indeed except precisely the holiness of Christ Himself which He in his infinite love and mercy has imparted to us, making us ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation‘ (1 Peter 2:9). It is His Holiness and not ours which makes us holy, and thus “worthy’ of approaching and receiving the Holy Gifts. . . .

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We partake of Holy Communion only because we have been made holy by Christ and in Christ; and we partake of it in order to become holy, i.e., to fulfill the gift of holiness in our life. . . .

Ideally, of course, the whole life of a Christian is and should be preparation for Communion, just as it is and should be the spiritual fruit of Communion. . . .  A Christian thus is one who lives between: between the coming of Christ in the flesh and His return in glory to judge the quick and the dead; between Eucharist and Eucharist—the Sacrament of remembrance and the Sacrament of hope and anticipation.” (GREAT LENT, pp 121-123)

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Truly, He is risen! 

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