Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied. Acts 9:31
Good morning Prayer Team!
Continuing our discussion of the Holy Week plan, let me give you an idea, perhaps even a challenge, that each of us should try to do at least one time in our lives. During Holy Week, Holy Communion is offered many times. In many churches, Holy Communion will be offered at eight services over nine days. Have you ever received Communion eight times in nine days? I’ll tell you, it is an awesome experience that I look forward to each year. The Catholic Church has the tradition of the daily Mass being offered, so that the faithful can receive the Eucharist every day if they wish. In fact, it is a requirement for Catholic priests to serve Mass once a day and to commune daily. In the Orthodox Church, outside of monasteries (and a few churches that do forty Liturgies during the Nativity Fast), the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on Sundays and on pre-scribed feast days.
It is really an incredible experience for this special week of the year, to be at most twelve hours removed from receiving the Eucharist. Because each evening when one is twelve hours removed from receiving, he or she is only twelve hours away from receiving again. Receiving Christ continuously in the Eucharist puts up my spiritual antennas even more. As human beings, we often forget things quickly, especially good things. So, if I receive Communion on Sunday but have a bad Monday and Tuesday, by Tuesday evening, I might not even be able to remember the joy I felt on Sunday. However, the opportunity to receive the Eucharist every day during Holy Week leaves me in a state of continual joy.
Today’s Bible verse comes from the book of Acts and is not one of the verses directly relating to Holy Communion. However, this verse reminds us that the church was multiplied when people walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. In receiving Communion, we can experience all three. First, the Holy Spirit descends on the Holy Gifts to consecrate them into the Eucharist. Second, we approach “with fear of God, with faith and with love,” (as we are called to do in the Divine Liturgy). And third, the experience of receiving Communion should bring us a measure of comfort, as well as multiplying our faith.
We tend to discount the power of Christ to change us, and maybe that’s because we don’t ever let down our guard and become vulnerable to His power. Christ can most certainly change us. And if we really draw near to Him, with awe, faith and love, then we can be changed as well.
What an opportunity, to touch the Divine God in the Eucharist many times in a short period! At least once in your life, I hope you will have this experience of daily Communion, afforded to us in Holy Week.
May Your Holy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, be to me for life eternal, and Your precious Blood for remission of sins. And may this Eucharist be to me for joy, health and gladness. And at Your awesome Second Coming, deem me, the sinner, worthy to stand at the right hand of Your glory, through the intercession of Your all-pure Mother and all Your saints. Amen. (From the Thanksgiving Prayers after Communion, Trans. by Holy Cross Seminary Press, 2015)
Make a decision on how many times you will receive Communion during Holy Week!
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: acrod.org
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