Tag Archives: Holy Saturday

Fasting from Communion in a Pandemic

by Mark Roosien

St. Mary of Egypt and St. Zosimas

St Mary of Egypt, it is said, received Holy Communion exactly once after she fled to the desert to repent: on the day of her death. 17 years of life in the wilderness were spent deprived of Body and Blood of Christ in the eucharist. This was not normal practice at the time for nuns, monks, and ascetics. Early monastic rules required even anchorites—those living in caves or huts apart from the monastic community—to come together with the others for Sunday liturgy to commune with God and unite with their fellow monastics in the Cup of the Lord. Yet St Mary was nourished only, as she told the elder Zosimas, by “the word of God which is alive and active.”

The spread of COVID-19 has forced Orthodox leaders to make difficult decisions about how and whether to hold church services. Some have advised that most people simply stay home from Sunday liturgy for the foreseeable future, especially the older and immune-compromised, as well as those who are sick. For most, this will mean obligatory fasting from Holy Communion.

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