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Eucharist - Participation

July 21, 2012

St. Paul writes to the first followers of Christ in the letter to the Corintians: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the body of Christ? ".

This word "koinonia" ("participation", "participation") is one of the most distinctive in Christianity. Koinonia is a meal, a feast of friends of Christ.

This community, fellowship with Christ most fully revealed and realized in taking communion during mass.

For the first Christians share in the Eucharist was tantamount to receiving Holy Communion. What's more – distribution of Holy Communion was even more frequent than the celebration of Mass, because they wore to private homes and prisons.

Over time, however, an increasing number of participating in the Eucharist, receiving Holy Communion not engage. What was the reason? There were several reasons:

First Decreasing the zeal of Christians. People began to join the ranks of the Christians, for opportunistic reasons, especially after the Edict of Milan - so their conversion (if indeed it was) was very superficial.

Second In defending the deity of Christ, which questioned Arius, exaggerated accents and left in a shadow of his humanity, and thus also his mediation, the importance of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Body.

Third To meet very high requirements to prepare for Holy Communion. For example, the council of Coventry (1237), says that before the Lord's table fast for half the week.

4th - Demanded a high degree of perfection and purity. At one time, for example, to abstain from conjugal intercourse for several days before Communion, or the washing of the body of the deceased.

And although these provisions soon turned into a council only, it remained in the minds of the faithful and influence the practice of a rare reception of the Eucharist. It has not helped in this situation (and perhaps even reinforced the erroneous thinking) resolutions such as the least:

- The synod of Adge in Gaul (506 r), requiring receive Communion three times a year - the Nativity, Easter and Pentecost
- Fourth Lateran Council (1215), requiring the accession to Communion once a year.

The crisis caused by the frequency of access to the Holy Table encompassed not only faithful, but also religious.

In addition to communion, the faithful should participate in the Eucharist in other ways. This participation was expressed in simple, short answers (acclamations) for invocations and prayers of the celebrant and sometimes also on the readings. In addition, the participants were of the liturgy should engage in such texts hymn as Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.

Their inner experience of the Eucharist, the participants also expressed by:

a) activities performed:
- Participation in the offertory procession
- The transfer of peace
- Participation in the communion procession

b) the gestures and postures adopted:
- Standing (there were no pews in the church, the faithful surrounded the altar)
- Erection of hands
- The inclination of the head
- A deep bow (which is gradually transformed into a kneeling posture adopted, initially only on special days of a penitential)

Taking into account the fact that at some point, both religious education and lack of knowledge of the Latin language a barrier within the meaning of the liturgy, it was recommended that the faithful at least closely followed its course.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that at one time excluded from participation in the Mass of the catechumens (or preparing for baptism), and those which imposed the penalty of excommunication. An interesting may be the fact that - according to the Syrian document of the second century, "Testamentum Domini" - were harshly treated by those who arrives late for Mass. Closed to them and do not open the door, regardless of their knock - pray and that God gave them more love and zeal.

Fr. Tony, Pastor