Today is Palm Sunday. Lent is over, and Holy Week is beginning. Lent, with the fasting and praying and church services and charity, was supposed to be our chance this year to prepare ourselves to celebrate spiritually the annual commemoration of our Lord’s Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
One of the intended outcomes of following the discipline and regimen of Lent is a heightened sense of fear, faith and love for God, which can be encapsulated in the word reverence.
Reverence is the attitude that is best suited for any genuine relationship with God, whether one is a saint or a sinner. Since reverence is a virtue, the church doesn’t legislate it, because then it would no longer be a virtue but a rule.
However, the way reverence is expressed in action, and specifically reverent behavior in church, needs to defined for any given place and time. For example, while someone may very reverently and for the love of God want to do cartwheels down the center aisle on their way to Holy Communion, this is not permitted, at least not here at St. Nektarios.
So today, since there are so many more people who will come up for communion, it seemed best to underscore some points on church etiquette and on how to receive communion, that you can also read about in the church etiquette brochure.
Lipstick stains have ruined precious and expensive objects that we use in church. Someone has to clean up the lipstick residue on the icons etc. and it is unpleasant. Fr. Steve is quite firm about this. Do not touch your lips to any sacred object, be it an icon, the cross, or the communion spoon, if you are wearing lipstick of any kind. This means that you must remove it before receiving communion.
How to Receive Communion
When it comes time for communion, please wait for the direction of the ushers. When approaching for communion, do not make any sudden movements that could upset the chalice. If you make the sign of the cross, do so before it is your turn. You do not need to hold the cloth when there is an acolyte present. Keep your hands down or crossed on your chest, like some folks do. Stand upright; do not bend or bow. Say your Christian name, tilt your head back a little, open your mouth, don’t do anything with your tongue, and let the spoon in. Our Bishop prefers that we close our mouth on the spoon and let the priest or deacon pull it out. That is one more reason why you can’t wear lipstick. After you receive communion, there is no need to wipe your mouth with the cloth. Do not attempt to kiss the chalice, even if you were taught to do so. It is just too risky. For those who come up on to the solea, after you receive communion, walk behind the other clergy to get back to your seat.
New and Official “Christ is Risen”
Last month, the Archdiocese issued an official English text and music for the hymn Christ is Risen. It is different from what we have been singing. We are changing it this year, and hopefully we won’t change it again for a long time.