There is a special cup which holds the wine that becomes the blood of Christ. We call it the chalice,the cup of salvation. When we kneel during the liturgy, we pray with the priest that God the Holy Spirit may change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This means that when we come to receive Holy Communion, Jesus comes to live in us.

What should we do to prepare to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus? We should pray. We should have love in our hearts for all people. We should ask forgiveness from God and from our parents, brothers, and sisters. Also from anyone we may have hurt. On the morning before going to the Divine Liturgy to receive Communion we do not eat or drink anything if our health allows, just as one would not spoil his appetite by eating before a special meal, so we sharpen our spiritual appetite for Christ through such fasting. But we must never allow an overemphasis on fasting to become a wall separating us from Christ Who wishes to come to us in every liturgy.

When we come before the priest for Holy Communion, our hands should not be in our pockets, but at our sides. We make the sign of the cross, tell the priest our baptismal name, hold the Communion cloth carefully under our chin, and open our mouth wide. We do not slurp from the spoon, nor should our teeth scrape on the spoon. After receiving Communion we wipe our lips carefully with the Communion cloth (not on our hand or shirtsleeve), make the sign of the cross, and hand the Communion cloth to the next person.

We are always careful that we do not allow Communion to fall from the communion spoon or from our lips onto our clothing or to the floor. For this reason we move very slowly toward the chalice and the communion spoon, and we do not pull our head away quickly after receiving. We are careful not to bump the chalice or the hand of the priest. After receiving Communion, we do not chew gum (or spit), because when we dispose of our gum it may contain particles of Holy Communion.

Once we have received Communion, we must remember that we have become one with Christ and with all those who received Communion with us. The same Christ now lives in all of us. We are all living icons of Jesus. It is by loving one another that we love Jesus. After receiving Communion our bodies become holy chalices. God has come to live in us. His blood now flows through our veins.

Jesus wants to use our hands, which have now become His hands, to help those in need. When we receive Communion, we become members of Christ’s Body, the Church. This means that Jesus has no eyes but our eyes, no feet but our feet to do His work in the world today. What kind, thoughtful act will you do for Jesus today?

Portions taken from Let’s Take a Walk Through Our Orthodox Church, and Introducing the Orthodox Church by Anthony M. Coniaris / Light and Life Publishing.

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