Category Archives: Sacramental and Liturgical Life

The Eucharist, Its Physical Elements, and Molecular Biology

by Hermina Nedelescu | ελληνικά

Apostles receiving the Eucharist, St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev

The Orthodox Church and scientific knowledge typically parallel each other. In the event that a reconciliation appears unreachable between the Church and science, it signals that it is time to reconsider past traditions in light of current scientific evidence. Science cannot in any way dictate Orthodox theology, but rather provides a contribution to the theological aspects of the Church and to society in general.

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has revealed a multitude of vulnerabilities at many levels of society. For example, despite thousands of scientific reports published since the first appearance of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in 2003, many individuals and communities were still taken by surprise by the “sudden” emergence of the current pandemic. Since we will have other epidemic outbreaks in the future, unfortunately, it is important to consider the scientific evidence.

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Why Should Orthodoxy Remain Public in Coronavirus Times?
Reflections in the Aftermath of an Unprecedented Easter

by Panagiotis G. Pavlos

Greek Church

As a Greek Orthodox living in the Western world and experiencing this new “Corona era,” one feels that Orthodoxy needs to decide today, globally and locally, on the following: to what extent do we, as Orthodox Christians, truly believe that Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man?

For what we have been seeing and experiencing the past several weeks, alongside the turbulence caused by a frightening virus the spread of which was quite early identified as pandemic, is a totally novel thing. And those among us who were lucky enough to serve as the “necessary personnel” in empty, locked churches experienced an ultimate ambiguity, at least.

On the one hand, we read and chanted Services consisting of hymnological and liturgical artifacts of a unique, terrific treasure, a treasure containing the quintessence of the Orthodox life, experience, tradition, doctrine, theology, mysticism, and art, visual and audio-visual, and all that simultaneously assumed by the unparalleled, incomparable, and irreplaceable daily Services of the Holy Week and the Easter.

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“Remember, O Lord…”: Liturgy, History, and Communion Spoons in a Time of Pandemic

by Daniel Galadza | ελληνικά | ру́сский

Receiving communion with a spoon

In recent weeks, Church authorities have been looking for historical precedent to find ways of continuing ministry to the faithful and maintaining worship in churches during a time of global pandemic—because, as others have pointed out, closing houses of worship and ceasing to serve the Liturgy is not an option for the Church, even if certain saints were able to attain holiness without a regular sacramental life or participation in communal worship.

Despite everyone’s desire to return to normalcy, this is currently impossible in most regions. For example, in Germany, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Augustinos has informed the faithful that, despite the reopening of churches for worship, government regulations make it impossible to give the faithful Communion from a common spoon. In neighboring Austria, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Arsenios has found a solution to this problem by removing the spoon from the equation and communing the faithful in the hand, guided by historical precedent and “the liturgical and canonical tradition of the first millennium and the time-honored and proven Communion practice of the Divine Liturgy of St. James the Brother of the Lord.”

Finding a solution to provide the Eucharist for the faithful is commendable; however, one might ask if such a justification is necessary, since it manipulates liturgical history to fit today’s difficult circumstances. In order to better understand why, I will provide a summary of what is known about the history of the Divine Liturgy of St. James and the use of Communion spoons.

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Faith, Reason, and the Eucharist
A Reflection in Light of the Coronavirus Crisis

by Fr. Robert M. Arida | ελληνικά

Icon of Christ distributing Holy Communion

Much has been written and posted on line lately about Holy Communion and how it is to be distributed/received vis-à-vis the COVID-19 crisis. In light of this, it is interesting that little attention has been paid to the relationship between faith and reason. The overriding reason for this omission is related to an understanding of the Eucharist and how it is distributed. As the body and blood of Christ, the Eucharist has repeatedly been held up as being immune from transmitting contagion. As a result, any discussion about whether the Eucharist and its distribution is susceptible to receiving and transmitting contagion is perceived as suspicious, heretical, and therefore a rebellion against the very core of Orthodox faith and life. Must the use of reason be discarded when it comes to matters of faith? Based on our history, it is clear that deeply embedded in the tradition of the Orthodox Church there is the emphasis on the necessary co-existence and interdependence of faith and reason. Together they provide the basis for a living piety expressed in true worship. The following is an attempt to show the interrelationship of faith and reason and how their separation moves Christianity towards myth and superstition.

“Faith is what gives fullness to our reasoning,” says St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. 29). However, for faith to fulfill our reasoning it must be living. It must be continuously put to the test by reason just as reason must recognize its own limitations when brought before the transcendent. Faith and reason maintain a necessary synergy that allows for the articulation of the encounter with the living God.

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