Temptations of [occasionally] Forbidden Fruit

One of the first lessons we learn from the Holy Scripture is that of Adam, Eve, and the forbidden fruit.  Being so well remembered could be because it is perhaps the most important story, as it relates to something we all do every day, three times per day (more if you include snacking!), as well as during the Eucharist.

"Examine thyself and repent before thou presume to eat of that bread and drink of that cup." -- Companion to the Altar

“Examine thyself and repent before thou presume to eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” — Companion to the Altar

As Orthodox Christians we are taught that some foods become forbidden on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as prescribed fasting periods throughout the Orthodox year.  It may sound silly to ever think of the prosphora used for the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist as something forbidden, but although the faithful whom are Baptised and Chrismated within the Orthodox Church may receive the Eucharist – one should bear in mind the Holy Mystery of Repentance (through confession).  Examine your conscience, repent through prayer privately and before a priest – it’s the least you can do for your Lord before receiving the gift of the Holy Eucharist; just as you wash your hands before sitting down to eat a meal, you must cleanse your conscience and repent before sitting down to the Lord’s Supper.

Do not underestimate the temptation to receive the Holy Eucharist when you have not repented – just as if you visit an Anglican or Roman Catholic service (through lack of an Orthodox Liturgy), the temptation to join the line of the faithful can be strong – resist it with all your heart, for growing gradually in the grace of God  asking for patience and temperance will be infinitely more rewarding than impatiently grabbing for His fruit when it is not time will.

I find I am fortunate that I do not have an orthodox Church nearby that I can casually access – as a lay monastic it helps to get used to not having it available, no matter how difficult I find it.  Even before entering the Orthodox Church I was accepting the Eucharist haphazardly from both Anglican and Roman Catholic churches – for the same reason that someone on a diet may indulge in a sickly sweet cake for a few moments of pleasure.

You have the rest of your life to get to know God and prepare yourself for what’s to come – why rush?  Buses run on schedules – He does not.

P.S. Incidentally, if you do find yourself visiting an Anglican, RC or Lutheran church during ‘mass’ – go and get a blessing! Cross your arms across your chest as you would to receive the prosphora in an Orthodox church and bow your head, the priest will give you a blessing instead of giving you the Host – problem solved!

 

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