Is the message here that we want less people partaking of Holy Communion? OF COURSE NOT! Ideally every believer should partake of Holy Communion every Sunday having worthily prepared by attending the Vigil the night before, having read the pre-Communion prayers, and having fasted from midnight. But that is not reality and that is fine. Perhaps some day we will attain to that, but that day is not likely to be anytime soon. We want to encourage folks to partake of Holy Communion to the greatest extent possible! But we need everyone to be responsible, to prepare themselves appropriately, and to make this a high priority in their lives.
Let me restate clearly: those who just cannot come to the Vigil service but wish to partake of Holy Communion and who wish to confess on Sunday morning (and who fit the criteria outlined above in this regard) may do so. We are HAPPY to have you do so. But those who don’t fit those criteria will need to reorder their priorities so that they attend Vigil on Saturday nights if they desire to partake of Holy Communion on a given Sunday.
This is not a punishment. We want to be as flexible as we possibly can – we want to help everyone who wishes to partake of Holy Communion to do so. But we can only do so much. And making everyone who has come on time to the Liturgy wait, and making the live audience on Orthodox Christian Network and the others listening to our Live Stream wait, is not reasonable. And so we will change. Everyone hates change. I hate change. But I too am going to put some more “skin into the game” so to speak, since we are going to move the moleben that used to be at the end of the Divine Liturgy to 8:00 a.m. every Sunday. That means I’ll be there about an hour earlier than I am now. That is OK – this is a good thing for me. And that means that there will be time for Proskimide to be served (the preparation of the Holy Gifts that will become Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy) and still be ready to start Confession at 9:00 a.m. sharp.
Exceptions will be made, of course. But ONLY in the most dire of circumstances. We are not doing this to be mean, or to exercise power, or prove that we can do it. We are doing this because the present system simply doesn’t work for us anymore. Let me be very clear: you can confess at any time during the week during open time. That is 10 hours that I set aside each week so that we can meet for any reason. And that time can certainly be used for confession in preparation for the partaking of Holy Communion on the coming Sunday. Confessions will be held before, during, and after every evening Divine Service during the week, as well as after every Divine Liturgy during the week. If you are at church and would like to confess, but don’t intend to partake of Holy Communion on a given day, after Liturgy is the perfect time to do that. Just let me know you’d like to do that and we can make it happen as a rule.
Certainly some folks are thinking: how will this possibly work? People who do not have an appointment will try to go to Confession on Sunday morning. Or those who have scheduled at 9:00 a.m. will arrive at 9:45 a.m. Indeed – that almost certainly will happen. :) We will post the list of those who have made an appointment on a stanchion in front of the confessional so that that there are no questions about this. And again – if someone is in a dire need to confess and to commune on Sunday that will be allowed of course!
Here is the new schedule that we will follow beginning on Sunday, January 1, 2017:
8:00 a.m.: Moleben to St. Vladimir
- Asking St. Vladimir's prayers before the Lord for our parish family, our building project, and our school project
9:00 a.m.: Confessions by Appointment
9:45 a.m.: Confessions End
10:00 a.m.: Divine Liturgy
Here are important resources for preparing for Holy Communion:
Schedule a Confession with Fr. Gregory
Preparation for Confession & Holy Communion
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Please share thoughts and especially concerns with me. Change is not easy. I absolutely acknowledge that and find change difficult myself. But, I do not see another reasonable option. If we all stick together and support each other lovingly – as brothers and sisters in Christ – I believe once we adjust to this new schedule we will all be much happier, since we will KNOW that the Divine Liturgy will start at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday.
I will begin making announcements in Church and on our web site and social media soon. That way everyone – even those who don’t have internet access – will be aware of this change well in advance. Thank you for your support and understanding!
With Love in our Lord Jesus Christ,