[Migne acrescenta: Aos quarenta mártires [9 de março].
Mas parece ter sido administrado após o próprio dia.]
Irmãos e pais, como é bom para nós a separação do mosteiro aqui!Pois por que nossa liberdade deveria estar sujeita ao julgamento da consciência de outra pessoa?(1 Cor. 10:29).E por que ainda nos maltratamos pelo que é inútil?Conseguimos o mais longe possível e o momento permitido;mas agora, porque quando o momento convocado eles não escolheram a perseguição em nome de Cristo, como alguns outros, é necessário ouvir o Profeta quando ele diz:Saia do meio deles e seja separado, (Is 52:11) diz o Senhor.Se outros agirem de outra maneira sobre esses assuntos, prestarão contas ao Senhor no dia do julgamento;pois me parece que ficar sob o poder deles equivale a ser indiferente em relação aos hereges.Você vê que a mesma distinção nos afasta do mundo e nos leva a problemas, angústia, fome, perseguição, prisão e morte;mas em tudo isso devemos ser supremamente vitoriosos através do Deus que nos amou, (Rom. 8:37) quando, sempre que vê uma alma sedenta por Ele, dá-lhe força para poder sofrer sofrimentos em Seu favor.E a isso, os quarenta mártires, cujo memorial acabamos de celebrar, prestam testemunho aos demais;pois não podemos dizer que eles possuíam uma natureza diferente daquela que possuímos.Mas como eles amavam a Deus com um coração verdadeiro, eles foram capacitados em sua fraqueza para derrubar o inimigo invisível pela carne e realizar uma luta de tal qualidade e grandeza que todos os cristãos o elogiam no cântico.E bem-aventurado é aquele que foi concedido a participar dos sofrimentos de Cristo (cf. 1 Pedro 4:13), pelo menos até certo ponto: os perseguidos, porque também foram perseguidos;o preso, porque Ele também foi preso;o injuriado, porque Ele também foi injuriado;o flagelado,porque ele também foi açoitado;o preso, porque Ele também foi preso;veja também porque está escrito,Se morrermos com ele, também viveremos com ele;se perseverarmos, também reinaremos com Ele;se negarmos, Ele também nos negará;se somos infiéis, Ele permanece fiel;Ele não é capaz de negar a si mesmo(2 Tim. 2: 11-13).Você vê as promessas e as ameaças de que tipo e quão grandes são?Quanto ao resto, irmãos, esforcemo-nos, esforçamo-nos pela graça de Cristo para não envergonhar as coisas que foram mencionadas anteriormente: os banimentos, as prisões, os açoites.Podemos não ter sido todos presos, nem todos açoitados;mas, no entanto, a comunhão da vida se torna comunhão de sofrimentos,pois se um membro sofre, todos os membros sofrem com ele;se um membro é glorificado, todos os membros se alegram com ele(1 Cor. 12:26).E queremos que fôssemos aindamais um corpo e um espírito, como fomos chamados em uma esperança de nosso chamado(Ef. 4: 4), tendo Cristo como cabeça, para nos tornarmos agradáveis a Deus, para ganhar o reino do céu, em Cristo Jesus, nosso Senhor, a quem seja glória e poder com o Pai e o Espírito Santo, agora e sempre e para as eras dos séculos.Amém.
A HOMILY ON FASTING AND DISPASSION Spoken at the beginning of the Great Fast by St Theodore the Studite
Brethren and fathers, the season of Lent, when compared to the whole year, may be likened to a storm-free harbour, in which all who are sailing together enjoy a spiritual calm. For the present season is one of salvation not for monks and nuns only, but also for lay people, for great and small, for rulers and ruled, for emperors and priests, for every race and for every age. For cities and villages reduce their hubbub and bustle, while psalmody and hymns, prayers and entreaties take their place, by which our good God is propitiated and so guides our spirits to peace and pardons our offences, if, with a sincere heart, we will only fall down before him with fear and trembling and weep before him, promising improvement for the future. But let the leaders of the churches speak of what is suitable to lay people, for just as those who run in the stadium need the vocal support of their fellow contestants, so fasters need the encouragement of their teachers. But I, since I have been placed at your head, honoured brethren, will also talk to you briefly. Fasting then is a renewal of the soul, for the holy Apostle says, Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward is being renewed day by day. And if it is being renewed, clearly it is being made beautiful according to its original beauty; made beautiful in itself it is being drawn lovingly to the one who said, I and the Father will come and make our dwelling with him. If then such is the grace of fasting, that it makes us into a dwelling place of God, we must welcome it, brethren, gladly, not grieving at the plainness of the diet, for we know that the Lord, though he is able to nourish lavishly, made a banquet for thousands in the wilderness from bread and water. Also because what is unusual, with enthusiasm becomes acceptable and painless. Fasting is not defined by foods alone, but by every abstinence from evil, as our godly fathers have explained. And so, I beg you, let us abstain from despondency, idleness, sluggishness, jealousy, strife, maliciousness, self-indulgence, self-reliance; let us abstain from destructive desire which the manyshaped serpent lays before us when we are fasting. Let us listen to the one who says, ‘The fruit which slew me was beautiful to behold and fair to eat’. And observe: he says beautiful to behold, not beautiful by nature. For just as if someone taking a pomegranate decked out with a scarlet rind should find it rotten, in the same way pleasure feigns untold sweetness, but when it is plucked it is found more bitter than gall, or rather, than a sharpened two-edged sword which devours the soul it has captured. This is what our forefather Adam suffered when he was tricked by the serpent; for when he touched the forbidden food, he found death instead of life. This too is what all they have suffered who from then until now have been similarly deceived by the dragon. For just as he, who is darkness, transforms himself into an angel of light, so he knows how to transform bad into good, bitter into sweet, dark into light, ugly into beautiful, deadly into life-giving; and so the all-evil one does not cease to lead the world astray at every opportunity. But let us at least, brethren, not be led astray by his manifold deceptions, nor suffer the fate of the birds who greedily approach what seems to be food and fall into the hunter’s trap. Let us rather look on the outer coverings of evil as dung and when with the mind we have looked on evil in its nakedness we shall flee from it at once. In addition let us welcome the times of psalmody, be enthusiastic for hymnody, attentive to the readings, making prostrations according to the given measure at each hour; working with our own hands, because working is good and because one who does not work is not judged worthy of eating. Let us bear one another’s burdens, for one is weak and another strong, making use of food and drink and the other necessities with moderation, so that there is no provoking to jealousy among evil people, but zeal in goodness. In everything be good to one another, compassionate, reasonable, obedient, full of mercy and good fruits, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and thoughts. And now, may you be found worthy without condemnation to reach the supreme day of the Resurrection, but in the age to come at the resurrection of the dead to gain the kingdom of heaven in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen
Encomium on the Beheading of the Precious Forerunner, by St. Theodore the Studite
Dear God-fearing Christians, the feast which we have gathered here to celebrate together today is radiant and filled with divine joy. It is rightly called radiant because it shines from the very name of him whom we are honouring today, since he is called the lamp of the light. He is not, of course, a lamp who illumines us with material light, because then his radiance would not be enduring and constant and would be lost every time some obstacle moved in front of it. But it is light that shows the brilliant radiance of divine grace in the depths of the hearts of those who have gathered to celebrate his memory and who elevate their minds to think upon the sufferings of the righteous man, so that gazing with the eyes of our souls upon his blessed martyrdom, we shall be filled with spiritual joy.
But our eyes rejoice at the sight of the blood of every saint, our ears delight to hear their messages of salvation and our lips reverence them. Because their loss grants perfect participation in the immortal and true life. I do not, of course, mean merely a drop of blood, but anything at all from their holy members- a single hair or anything they wore or touched with their hands- is desirable and valuable for those who have decided to believe and to worship God in the proper manner. This is why people who have something like this in their homes or church- that is a complete relic or a part thereof, even a very small piece- consider it a special honour and are proud of it, as if it were a treasure which advances their sanctification and ensures their salvation. And so they approach the reliquary containing the sacred dust with great reverence and touch with awe the sacred relics which are untouchable because of their sanctity.
What more do I need to say than to refer generally to the blood of all the apostles, the martyrs and prophets, which various gory murderers shed in many different ways and which now circles the earth like a rich river and extinguishes impiety?
Such was the blood of the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ, of whom we are speaking today, which he shed from his sacred neck like precious myrrh, which perfumes the whole world. This blood was not engendered by hedonistic gluttony, nor by wine, nor by any of the other foods which fatten the greedy and give them pleasure.
It was created by the grace of abstinence, which the saint practised from his infancy until his martyr’s death. And as the Lord said, John neither ate nor drank (Matth. 11, 18-19).
This blood was shed before the blood of the Lord, the immortal chalice. Because it was needful that the Forerunner of the Light, who with his radiant birth from a barren mother illumined everyone on earth, should become an effulgent herald also to those who were below the earth, that is in Hell.
This blood has boldness before the Almighty Lord, more than the blood of the righteous Abel. Because every action has within it a mystical voice, which is not produced by the vocal chords but which becomes evident from the power invested in it by the person who performs the action.
This blood is more deserving than that of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and so on), more valuable than the blood of the prophets and more sanctified than the blood of all the righteous. Because it is more wonderful even than the blood of the apostles and of the martyrs. Now these words are not mine; they’re from the Great Word, Jesus Christ, Who gave this testimony concerning the Honourable Forerunner.
It is blood which adorns the Church more beautifully than any decoration with variegated and rare flowers. It was shed for justice at the end of the era when the old law was in force, and became a flower which stands at the entrance of the presence of Christ.
But let us continue now to tell, on the basis of the Holy Gospels, how this blood was shed, by whom and for what cause. According to the Gospel, Herod arrested John, bound him and cast him into prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip. Because John had told him: “You’re not allowed to live with her”. So he wanted to put John to death but was afraid to do so, because all the people considered him a prophet (Matth, 14, 2-5).
Let’s see first who this Herod was, because there are two people with the same name, which is confusing, and we have to be clear who we’re talking about. This one is Herod the Tetrarch. His father, also Herod and the murderer of the Innocents, had died long before [In 4 B. C. Herod I actually had four sons named Herod].
But why did John upbraid him? Because he had abandoned his lawful wife, the daughter of King Aretas, and was living, illicitly, with the wife of his brother Philip. He could, of course, have married her legally, if she hadn’t already had children by his brother, because Mosaic law allowed this in order to provide heirs. But since she wasn’t childless, he couldn’t. She had a daughter who was also called Herodias, the offspring of a viper, the devil’s tool in her perdition. This is why John, quite rightly, rebuked him. This castigation, however, was not hubristic and was not spoken in order to wound Herod’s soul and dignity, but it was more of a reminder, the aim of which was to bring him to his senses.
So what did he say to Herod? “You’re not allowed to live with her”. He reminded him of the divine law, as if saying to him: “Look and see what the Law orders you to do. If there are two brothers and one of them dies without issue, the widow is not allowed to marry a stranger. The brother of the deceased shall marry her and the child who is born will take the name of the deceased, and thus his name will not be lost in Israel (Deut. 15, 5). That’s what the law says. But you’ve taken the wife of your brother and she already has a child. Don’t transgress against the ordinance put in place by the legislator. And don’t soil your royal purple with inadmissible incest. Don’t be seen to be doing something illegal when you should be giving your subjects an example of willing and glad observance of the law. And if you do fall into this error, you’ll be punished, because those in high office are punished more severely”.
But since he’d only recently come to power, Herod forgot about God. He was furious, boiling with rage, and would not accept the rebuke. He did not imitate David, who, when he was chastised by the prophet Nathan for the sin of adultery, said: “I have sinned before you, Lord” (II Kings 12-13). And the Lord forgave him, because of his humility. Herod, on the other hand, had John arrested, bound and cast into prison (Matth. 14, 3). So the one who was a prisoner of the passion of lewdness arrested him who lived in the most sublime freedom, because of his holy life. He who was bound by the magical cords of debauchery, put bonds on him who was liberated from all things, living as he did outside any binding relationship. He who was, in practice, sinking deep into the mire, put in prison him who was the guard and herald of the Church.
For the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip (Matth. 14, 9). For the sake of Herodias, who shared the morals of Delilah, a true tool of the devil. Because it was she who encouraged him who shared her bed- or illicit love we should really say- and made him furious with John. She told him: “I’m a queen and I can’t be made a laughing-stock by the son of Zachariah. Imprison the tongue that’s breaking my bones. Stab, at once, him whose words are wounding my soul like arrows”. And although he wanted to put him to death, he didn’t do so because he was afraid of the people, who considered John a prophet and respected him as such (Matth. 14, 5). Because if people in power want to do something illegal, they can’t execute it as soon as they’ve thought of it, for two reasons: first because they’re ashamed and fear their subjects; and second because they wait until the opportunity arises to put into effect the hatred in their souls without risk to themselves.
So while they were celebrating Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter came out in front of them and danced. She pleased Herod very much and he swore to grant her anything she wanted (Matth. 14, 6).
On the day when he ought to have been thanking God for bringing him into the light of this life, he chose the works of darkness.. This was a day meant for spiritual joy, not for dancing, and certainly not for women dancing in front of men. What did this dance produce? The oath. And from that? Murder. Root out evil and lawlessness will not flourish. But if evil does take root, it’ll bear fruit, that is, it’ll be put into effect. Herodias’ daughter danced in the midst of the guests and pleased Herod. What else would the harlot-trained girl have learned from her mother, other than to dance provocatively and with such skill as to please Herod greatly. This is why he swore an oath to grant her whatever she wished. This is how rashly the tongues of people run away with them when they lose themselves in the passions of degradation: they blurt out in front of everyone, without thinking, whatever comes into their mind. The girl, schooled by her mother, brought about the hideous decapitation of Saint John, which the venomous Herodias had been wanting to achieve for a long time. I imagine she would have said: “This is the chance we’ve been looking for, my child. You’ve managed, with your dancing feet, to get him to offer me what I wanted. You’ve ended my pain with your skilful song. Let’s bury the man who’s rebuking us. Go quickly and tell Herod: ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter’ (Matth. 14, 8). What a ferocious and murderous demand! Even though she didn’t have the right to think and enjoy the spectacle of the murder, she outdid everyone in cruelty. What a crazed murderess! Not content with decapitation, you arranged for the head to be brought to you on a platter. What a depraved and debauched woman! Your brutality outstrips even that of blood-stained Jezebel.
The Gospel tells us that the king was saddened. But because he had sworn an oath and had promised in front of his guests, he ordered that she be given the head. He sent to the prison and had John beheaded. Then they set the head on a platter and brought it to the girl and her mother (Matth. 14, 11).
What an evil end to a diabolical coil! Who aimed the stroke of the deathly sword at the saintly head? A lawless servant, who like another Doeg, did not imitate those Jews who with circumspection and bravery stood up to King Saul when he ordered them to murder God’s prophets. “And they brought the head of John on a platter”. What should we call this revel? A banquet or the scene of a murder? What should we call the addle-pated guests? Fellow diners or blood-stained participants?
What an unprecedented sight! What a sinful sight! On the one hand, they were offering chicken and, on the other, a platter with the head of a prophet. From one side, rich clear wine was flowing and from the other the blood of a righteous man was gushing.
How terrible it is for me to say it and dreadful to express!
“And they gave it to the girl and she took it to her mother”. What a sinful sight! Alas! How utterly macabre! The invaluable head was exchanged for a worthless action; the pure and inviolate head, worthy of respect even from the angels, was given for an accursed and impious act. And she handed it to her mother as if she were giving her well-cooked food. To her who in her manic fury had directed the death, as if the child were saying: “Here you are, mother, meat of the flesh of him who lived on earth as if fleshless. Drink the blood of the faster. Once and for all we’ve now shut the mouth of him who rebuked us”.
According to the Gospel, his disciples then came, took away his body and buried it (Matth. 14, 13). Those of you who love history, look at how the burial of this righteous man is depicted and gives the lie to those enemies of the holy icons, who are also enemies of the truth. Fix the story in your minds and draw useful conclusions. How they took the saint, bound in heavy chains, from the prison How the executioner, like a wild animal, raised the sword against the holy head. How, after the beheading, the myrrh-exuding head was offered to the raving Herodias. And also how the sacred body was buried by the hands of his disciples, who all stood there, in tears, with a pain that tore at their souls. How one embraced the feet of the saint, another tried to fit the head back on to the motionless body and another sang funeral hymns while censing the body.
Now I’m there in my mind’s eye and can see the funeral of the righteous man taking place in an atmosphere of peace, as is mentioned in the Prophet Isaiah [57, 1-2: “See how the just man has perished and no one takes it to heart, and righteous men are taken away and no-one considers it. For the righteous man has been removed by injustice. His burial shall be in peace”]. I envision that angelic face, whose eyes have set like two shining suns and on which all the beauty of his soul has been imprinted. Without any fleeting and earthly breath, but full of the overpowering fragrance of divine grace. I kiss those holy hands, which never touched sin and the finger that pointed people to Christ, Who took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. I fall down before those beautiful feet, which told the good news to people and through which the way of the presence of the Lord was prepared. Bring me, so that I may reverence it, the honourable chain with which the most precious and angel-like of men was bound. Bring me the venerable platter on which the revered head- more precious than gold and jewels- was placed. Had I been there, I wouldn’t have omitted to pay my respects to the murderous sword which sliced through the holy neck, nor would I have hesitated to cover with kisses the ground where the treasure was laid, in the certainty that this, too, would bring me divine grace. Blessed grave and joyous tomb-stone, that cover the thrice-blessed corpse and wrap the body more precious than a mass of emeralds and pearls.
So at this scene there were the visible company of his disciples and an invisible host of angels, praising, glorifying and hymning John, bearing to eternal joy him who lived as a bodiless angel and foretold the coming of the Messiah. He who was a genuine friend of the Lord, who guided the Church to the celestial Bridegroom, the undimmed lamp of the ineffable light, the living voice of God the Word, who was superior to the prophets, greater than any man ever born of woman. The burial of this righteous man, then, was peaceful, as we’ve described it, a harbinger of joy and salvation to the whole world.
So did the insane Herod manage to escape punishment for his profanity for the rest of his life on earth? Of course not. On the contrary, because of this misdeed, all his subjects rose up against him and he was deposed. In this way, God wanted to frighten and admonish later kings, to prevent them committing similar crimes. But to return to our theme, let us acclaim this day as is proper.
Today, John the Forerunner is praised because he sacrifices his head for the truth, and Herod the transgressor is ridiculed and mocked. Today, John the Forerunner is lauded by all for his stern rebuke, and the insane Herod is dishonoured through his adultery. Today, the head of John the Forerunner is offered as a sacred sacrifice on a platter, and the adulteress Herodias, against her will, receives eternal condemnation. Today, the blood of John the Forerunner is shed because he observed the divine law and he who opposed the Baptist by breaking the law is rightly driven out. Today, because of forthrightness towards Herod, John the Forerunner is beheaded for upholding righteousness.
This is the way the kings of the earth learn not to put away their lawful wives and they condemn him who did so. Today, John the Baptist plants a landmark in the ground and urges all men to be satisfied with their lawful wife and to go no further than that. Today, John the Forerunner descends into Hell and the dead receive the glad tidings of the presence of Christ. Today, the heavens rejoice over the decapitation of John the Forerunner, who was sacrificed for God’s justice; while people on earth celebrate with hymns of thanksgiving. And in my view, the Honourable Forerunner is watching us from the heavens and rewarding with divine gifts those who praise him with hymns. Among the choir of the prophets, like the morning star, he rises and illumines the firmament of the Church. Among the apostles, before them and more than them he shines as a sun among suns. Among the martyrs, he is distinguished for his miracles, like a star-decked sky. Among the righteous he stands out for the many trials he suffered, for the sake of justice, and he who spread joy throughout the world is elevated higher than the cedars of Lebanon.
Because if, according to Saint Luke (2, 10) many people rejoiced at his birth, the joy on this the day of his martyr’s death should be equivalent. We have been found worthy to celebrate it, all of us, priests, hermits, coenobites and lay people, because everyone has a share in the joy his message provides. And may his intercessions be even more with us, who live in this holy monastery, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
To Whom is due glory and power, together with the Father and the All-Holy and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the unending ages of ages. Amen.
May 06, Office of Readings for Friday of the 2nd week of Easter
From a sermon by Saint Theodore the Studite
The precious and life-giving cross of Christ
How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.
This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.
The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people? Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?
By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.
[Migne acrescenta: Aos quarenta mártires [9 de março].
Mas parece ter sido administrado após o próprio dia.]
Irmãos e pais, como é bom para nós a separação do mosteiro aqui! Pois por que nossa liberdade deveria estar sujeita ao julgamento da consciência de outra pessoa? (1 Cor. 10:29). E por que ainda nos maltratamos pelo que é inútil? Conseguimos o mais longe possível e o momento permitido; mas agora, porque quando o momento convocado eles não escolheram a perseguição em nome de Cristo, como alguns outros, é necessário ouvir o Profeta quando ele diz: Saia do meio deles e seja separado, (Is 52:11) diz o Senhor. Se outros agirem de outra maneira sobre esses assuntos, prestarão contas ao Senhor no dia do julgamento; pois me parece que ficar sob o poder deles equivale a ser indiferente em relação aos hereges. Você vê que a mesma distinção nos afasta do mundo e nos leva a problemas, angústia, fome, perseguição, prisão e morte; mas em tudo isso devemos ser supremamente vitoriosos através do Deus que nos amou, (Rom. 8:37) quando, sempre que vê uma alma sedenta por Ele, dá-lhe força para poder sofrer sofrimentos em Seu favor. E a isso, os quarenta mártires, cujo memorial acabamos de celebrar, prestam testemunho aos demais; pois não podemos dizer que eles possuíam uma natureza diferente daquela que possuímos. Mas como eles amavam a Deus com um coração verdadeiro, eles foram capacitados em sua fraqueza para derrubar o inimigo invisível pela carne e realizar uma luta de tal qualidade e grandeza que todos os cristãos o elogiam no cântico. E bem-aventurado é aquele que foi concedido a participar dos sofrimentos de Cristo (cf. 1 Pedro 4:13), pelo menos até certo ponto: os perseguidos, porque também foram perseguidos; o preso, porque Ele também foi preso; o injuriado, porque Ele também foi injuriado; o flagelado, porque ele também foi açoitado; o preso, porque Ele também foi preso; veja também porque está escrito,Se morrermos com ele, também viveremos com ele; se perseverarmos, também reinaremos com Ele; se negarmos, Ele também nos negará; se somos infiéis, Ele permanece fiel; Ele não é capaz de negar a si mesmo (2 Tim. 2: 11-13). Você vê as promessas e as ameaças de que tipo e quão grandes são? Quanto ao resto, irmãos, esforcemo-nos, esforçamo-nos pela graça de Cristo para não envergonhar as coisas que foram mencionadas anteriormente: os banimentos, as prisões, os açoites. Podemos não ter sido todos presos, nem todos açoitados; mas, no entanto, a comunhão da vida se torna comunhão de sofrimentos, pois se um membro sofre, todos os membros sofrem com ele; se um membro é glorificado, todos os membros se alegram com ele(1 Cor. 12:26). E queremos que fôssemos ainda mais um corpo e um espírito, como fomos chamados em uma esperança de nosso chamado (Ef. 4: 4), tendo Cristo como cabeça, para nos tornarmos agradáveis a Deus, para ganhar o reino do céu, em Cristo Jesus, nosso Senhor, a quem seja glória e poder com o Pai e o Espírito Santo, agora e sempre e para as eras dos séculos. Amém.
Part II, Chapter 2 from Concerning Frequent Communion
by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Both the soul and the body of the Christian receive great benefit from the divine Mysteries—before he communes, when he communes, and after he communes. Before one communes, he must perform the necessary preparation, namely, confess to his Spiritual Father, have contrition, amend his ways, have compunction, learn to watch over himself carefully, and keep himself from passionate thoughts (as much as possible) and from every evil. The more the Christian practices self-control, prays, and keeps vigil, the more pious he becomes and the more he performs every other good work, contemplating what a fearful King he will receive inside of himself. This is even more true when he considers that he will receive grace from Holy Communion in proportion to his preparation. The more often someone prepares himself, the more benefit he receives. 
When a Christian partakes of Communion, who can comprehend the gifts and the charismata he receives? Or how can our inept tongue enumerate them? For this reason, let us again bring forward one by one the sacred teachers of the Church to tell us about these gifts, with their eloquent and God-inspired mouths.
Gregory the Theologian says:
When the most sacred body of Christ is received and eaten in a proper manner, it becomes a weapon against those who war against us, it returns to God those who had left Him, it strengthens the weak, it causes the healthy to be glad, it heals sicknesses, and it preserves health. Through it we become meek and more willing to accept correction, more longsuffering in our pains, more fervent in our love, more detailed in our knowledge, more willing to do obedience, and keener in the workings of the charismata of the Spirit. But all the opposite happens to those who do not receive Communion in a proper manner. 
Those who do not receive Communion frequently suffer totally opposite things, because they are not sealed with the precious blood of our Lord, as the same Gregory the Theologian says: “Then the Lamb is slain, and with the precious blood are sealed action and reason, that is, habit and mental activity, the sideposts of our doors. I mean, of course, by ‘doors,’ the movements and notions of the intellect, which are opened and closed correctly through spiritual vision.” 
St. Ephraim the Syrian writes:
Brothers, let us practice stillness, fasting, prayer, and tears; gather together in the Church; work with our hands; speak about the Holy Fathers; be obedient to the truth; and listen to the divine Scriptures; so that our minds do not become barren (and sprout the thorns of evil thoughts). And let us certainly make ourselves worthy of partaking of the divine and immaculate Mysteries, so that our soul may be purified from thoughts of unbelief and impurity, and so that the Lord will dwell within us and deliver us from the evil one.
The divine Cyril of Alexandria says that, because of divine Communion, those noetic thieves the demons find no opportunity to enter into our souls through the senses:
You must consider your senses as the door to a house. Through the senses all images of things enter into the heart, and, through the senses, the innumerable multitude of lusts pour into it. The Prophet Joel calls the senses windows, saying: “They shall enter in at our windows like a thief” (Jl. 2:9), because these windows have not been marked with the precious blood of Christ. Moreover, the Law commanded that, after the slaughter (of the lamb), the Israelites were to smear the doorposts and the lintels of their houses with its blood, showing by this that the precious blood of Christ protects our own earthly dwelling-place, which is to say, our body, and that the death brought about by the transgression is repelled through our enjoyment of the partaking of life (that is, of life-giving Communion). Further, through our sealing (with the blood of Christ) we distance from ourselves the destroyer. 
The same divine Cyril says in another place that, through Communion, we are cleansed from every impurity of soul and receive eagerness and fervor to do good: “The precious blood of Christ not only frees us from every corruption, but it also cleanses us from every impurity lying hidden within us, and it does not allow us to grow cold on account of sloth, but rather makes us fervent in the Spirit.” 
St. Theodore the Studite wondrously describes the benefit one receives from frequent Communion:
Tears and contrition have great power. But the Communion of the sanctified Gifts, above all, has especially great power and benefit, and, seeing that you are so indifferent towards it and do not frequently receive it, I am in wonder and great amazement. For I see that you only receive Communion on Sundays, but, if there is a Liturgy on any other day, you do not commune, though when I was in the monastery each one of you had permission to commune every day, if you so desired. But now the Liturgy is less frequently celebrated, and you still do not commune. I say these things to you, not because I wish for you simply to commune—haphazardly, without preparation (for it is written: ”But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the Bread, and drink of the Cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body and blood” [1 Cor. 11:28-29]). No, I am not saying this. God forbid! I say that we should, out of our desire for Communion, purify ourselves as much as possible and make ourselves worthy of the Gift. For the Bread which came down from heaven is participation in life: ”If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn. 6:51). Again He says: ”He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:58).
Do you see the ineffable gift? He not only died for us, but He also gives Himself to us as food. What could show more love than this? What is more salvific to the soul? Moreover, no one fails to partake every day of the food and drink of the common table. And, if it happens that someone does not eat, he becomes greatly dismayed. And we are not speaking here about ordinary bread, but about the Bread of life; not about an ordinary cup, but about the Cup of immortality. And do we consider Communion an indifferent matter, entirely unnecessary? How is this thought not irrational and foolish? If this is how it has been up until now, my children, I ask that we henceforth take heed to ourselves, and, knowing the power of the Gift, let us purify ourselves as much as possible and partake of the sanctified Things. And if it happens that we are occupied with a handicraft, as soon as we hear the sounding-board calling us to Church, let us put our work aside and go partake of the Gift with great desire. And this (that is, frequent Communion) will certainly benefit us, for we keep ourselves pure through our preparation for Communion. If we do not commune frequently, it is impossible for us not to become subject to the passions. Frequent Communion will become for us a companion unto eternal life. 
So, my brothers, if we practice what the divine Fathers have ordered and frequently commune, we not only will have the support and help of divine grace in this short life, but also will have the angels of God as helpers, and the very Master of the angels Himself. Furthermore, the inimical demons will be greatly distanced from us, as the divine Chrysostom says:
Let us then return from that Table like lions breathing fire, having become fearsome to the devil, thinking about our Head (Christ) and the love He has shown for us.... This blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us, it produces unspeakable beauty, and, watering and nourishing our soul frequently, it does not permit its nobility to waste away.... This blood, worthily received, drives away demons and keeps them far from us, while it calls to us the angels and the Master of angels. For wherever they see the Master’s blood, devils flee and angels run to gather together.... This blood is the salvation of our souls. By it the soul is washed, is made beautiful, and is inflamed; and it causes our intellect to be brighter than fire and makes the soul gleam more than gold....Those who partake of this blood stand with the angels and the powers that are above, clothed in the kingly robe itself, armed with spiritual weapons. But I have not yet said anything great by this: for they are clothed even with the King Himself. 
Do you see, my beloved brother, how many wonderful charismata you receive if you frequently commune? Do you see that with frequent Communion the intellect is illumined, the mind is made to shine, and all of the powers of the soul are purified? If you also desire to kill the passions of the flesh, go to Communion frequently and you will succeed. Cyril of Alexandria confirms this for us: “Receive Holy Communion believing that it liberates us not only from death, but also from every illness. And this is because, when Christ dwells within us through frequent Communion, He pacifies and calms the fierce war of the flesh, ignites piety toward God, and deadens the passions.” 
Thus, without frequent Communion we cannot be freed from the passions and ascend to the heights of dispassion; just as the Israelites, if they had not eaten the passover in Egypt, would not have been able to be freed. For “Egypt” means an impassioned life, and if we do not frequently receive the precious body and blood of our Lord (every day if it be possible), we will not be able to be freed from the noetic Pharaonians (that is, the passions and the demons). According to Cyril of Alexandria,
As long as those of Israel were slaves to the Egyptians, they slaughtered the lamb and ate the passover. This shows that the soul of man cannot be freed from the tyranny of the devil by any other means except the partaking of Christ. For He Himself says: ”If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). 
Again St. Cyril says, “They had to sacrifice the lamb, being that it was a type of Christ, for they could not have been freed by any other means.” 
So if we also desire to flee Egypt, namely, dark and oppressive sin, and to flee Pharaoh, that is, the noetic tyrant (according to Gregory the Theologian),  and inherit the land of the heart and the promise, we must have as our general (as the Israelites had Joshua [Jesus] the son of Nun as their general) our Lord Jesus Christ through the frequent reception of Communion. This way we will be able to conquer the Canaanites and the strangers, which are the disruptive passions of the flesh, and the Gibeonites, which are deceptive thoughts, in order that we may be able to remain in Jerusalem, which is interpreted “sacred peace” (as opposed to the peace of the world), as our Lord says: “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (Jn. 14:27). That is to say, “My own peace I give to you, O my disciples, the sacred and holy peace, not the peace which is of the world, which oftentimes looks also to wickedness.”
Remaining in that sacred peace, we will be deemed worthy to receive inside our heart the promise of the Spirit, just as the Apostles remained and waited in Jerusalem, according to the command of the Lord, and received the perfection and grace of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And peace is a charisma which attracts all of the other divine charismata; and the Lord dwells in peace, as the Prophet Elias says, for God was neither in the powerful and strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the gentle and peaceful breeze. 
However, without the other virtues, one cannot acquire peace. And virtue cannot be achieved without keeping the commandments. And no commandment is perfected without love, and love is not renewed without divine Communion. Wherefore, without divine Communion, we labor in vain.
Many obtain a variety of virtues on their own, thinking that they can be saved by these without frequent Communion, which is however fundamentally impossible. For they do not want to be obedient to the will of God and commune frequently, according to the norm of the Church, when they come together at every festive Liturgy.
To such people, God says through the Prophet Jeremiah: “They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). That is to say, ”They left Me, God, Who is the fount of the life-giving water, namely, the virtue and charismata of the Holy Spirit, and they dug out for themselves wells full of holes, which cannot hold water.” He again says through the Prophet Isaiah:
Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? (Is. 58:2-5).
That is, ”They sought Me daily and desired to learn the wisdom of My providence, as if they were some righteous people which kept the ordinances of God. And they say: ‘Lord, why did You not see us when we fasted? Why do You not want to know that we underwent such hardship?’” And God answers: “I do not hear you. For whenever you fast, you continue to do your wicked will. I do not want such a fast, nor such hardship. And even if you were to spread sackcloth and ashes on the ground beneath you like a bed, still I would not accept such a fast.”
However, when labors and virtues are done according to the will of God, then are they acceptable to Him and beneficial. The will of God is that we do whatever our Lord commands, Who says to us: “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life” (Jn. 6:54). This is not only a commandment, but the chief of all of the commandments, for it is constitutive of and perfects the rest of the commandments.
Wherefore, my beloved, if you desire to ignite in your heart divine eros and to acquire love for Christ, and with this love to acquire all the rest of the virtues, go regularly to Holy Communion. For it is impossible that someone will not love Christ, and be loved by Christ, when he frequently partakes of His holy body and blood. This is something natural, as we shall see.
Many wonder, why do parents love their children? And why do children love their parents in return? And we reply that no one has ever hated himself or his own body. Thus it is natural for children to love their parents, because their bodies come from the bodies of their parents, and they eat and are nourished by the blood of their mother both while in the womb and after they are born (for milk is naturally nothing other than blood which has become white). For these reasons, I say, it is a natural law for children to love their parents, and, likewise, for parents to love their children in return—because they were conceived from their own bodies. In the same way, as many as frequently receive the body and blood of our Lord will naturally rekindle their desire and love for Him. On the one hand, this is because as often as Christians partake of that life-flowing and life-giving body and blood, it warms them to love, even if they are the most thankless and hard-hearted of people. On the other hand, it is because the knowledge of our love for God is not something foreign to us, but is naturally sown in our heart from the moment that we are born according to the flesh, and when we are reborn according to the Spirit in Holy Baptism. At the slightest cause, those natural sparks immediately set ablaze, as the wise Basil says:
Together with the making of the animal (I mean man), a certain seminal word was implanted in us, having within itself the tendency to impel us to love. The pupils in the school of God’s commandments, having received this word, are by God’s grace enabled to exercise it with care, to nourish it with knowledge, and to bring it to perfection.... You must know that this virtue, though only one, yet by its efficacy accomplishes and fulfills every commandment. 
In other words, when man was made, a certain power was immediately sown in him, which naturally generates love for God. The doing of the commandments of God diligently cultivates this power, nourishes it with knowledge, and perfects it by the grace of God. This virtue of love for God, though only one virtue, contains and activates all of the rest of the commandments.
This natural power to love God is strengthened, augmented, and perfected by the frequent Communion of the body and blood of our Lord. For this reason St. Cyprian writes that, when the martyrs were preparing to go off to their martyrdoms, they first partook of the immaculate Mysteries, and being thus strengthened by Holy Communion were set aflame with the love for God and went off to the stadium like lambs to the slaughter. And in return for the body and blood of Christ which they received, they shed their own blood and gave their body over to various tortures.
Is there any other good thing, O Christian, that you desire to have, which frequent Communion cannot give you? Do you desire to rejoice every day? Do you wish to celebrate brilliant Pascha whenever you like and to exult with unspeakable joy during this sorrowful life? Run frequently to the Mysteries and partake of them with the proper preparation and you will enjoy such things. For the true Pascha and the true festival of the soul is Christ, Who is sacrificed in the Mysteries as the Apostle says,  and as the divine Chrysostom likewise says:
For Great Lent occurs but once a year. But we celebrate Pascha (that is, we receive Communion) three times a week or even four. Or, to say it better, as often as we like. For Pascha does not consist of fasting, but of the Offering and Sacrifice which takes place during the daily gathering. And as testimony that this is true, listen to Paul, who says: “Christ our passover [pascha] is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).... Therefore, as often as you partake of Communion with a pure conscience, you celebrate Pascha; not when you fast, but when you partake of that Sacrifice.... The catechumen never celebrates Pascha, even though he may fast every year during Lent, because he does not commune in the Offering. So then, even the person who did not fast, if he approaches with a pure conscience, celebrates Pascha, be it today, tomorrow, or any time he partakes of Communion. For good and proper preparation for Communion is not judged by lengths of time, but by a pure conscience. 
Therefore, as many as fast for Pascha, but do not commune, do not celebrate Pascha, as the divine Father just told us. And as many as are not prepared to receive the body and blood of our Lord cannot truly celebrate Sundays or the other Feasts of the year, because they do not possess the cause and occasion for the Feast, which is the most-sweet Jesus Christ, and they do not possess the spiritual joy that divine Communion brings.
As many as think that Pascha and Feasts consist of abundant artoklasies,  bright candles, fragrant incense, and the silver and gold vessels that adorn the Church are deceived.  For God does not mainly seek such things from us, as He says through the Prophet Moses: “[O man], what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to worship the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes” (Dt. 10:12-13).
Our concern now is not to discuss pious offerings made in Church and whether they are good or not. These, indeed, are good, but together with them we must also offer obedience to the holy commandments of our Lord, and to prefer this to all those things. According to the Prophet-king David: “A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise” (Ps. 50:17).
The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, says: “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared me” (Heb. 10:5; Ps. 39:9). Which means: “O Lord, You do not desire that I bring to You all of the other sacrifices and offerings, but that I draw near to the Holy Mysteries and receive the all-holy body of Your Son, which You have prepared for me on the Holy Table, for this also is Your will.” For this reason, wanting to show that he is ready to do obedience, the Psalmist says: “Then I said: Behold, I am come... to do Thy will, O my God, and Thy law is in the midst of my bowels” (Ps. 39:11; cf. Heb. 10:7). That is: “Behold Lord, I have come to do Your will with great eagerness and to fulfill Your law with all of my heart.”
For this reason, if we love our salvation, we must do the will of God and obey His commandments as sons and with joy, and not as slaves and with fear. For fear keeps the old commandments, while love keeps the evangelical commandments. That is, those who were under the Law kept the commandments and statutes of the Law out of fear, so they would not be disciplined and punished. But we Christians, since we are no longer under the Law, must do the commandments of the Gospel, not out of fear, but out of love, and we must do the will of God as sons.
The well-pleasing and ancient will of God the Father was to furnish His Only-begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ with a body, as the Apostle said.  That is, for His Son to become incarnate and shed His blood for the salvation of the world, and for all of us Christians to frequently partake of His body and His blood. Thus, we will be kept safe from the snares and machinations of the devil during this present life. And when our soul departs from us, it will fly like a dove in freedom and joy into the heavens, without being inhibited whatsoever by the spirits lurking in the air.
And this is verified by the divine Chrysostom, who says:
Moreover another person told me (he says “another person” because he beforehand told of someone else, who had described to him a different vision)—not having heard it from someone else, but having himself been deemed worthy to both see and hear it—with regard to those who are about to depart this life, that if they happen to partake of the Mysteries, with a pure conscience, when they are about to breathe their last, angels keep guard over them because of what they have just received, and bear them hence (to heaven). 
So, my brother, because you do not know when death will come, whether today, or tomorrow, or this very hour, you must always be communed of the immaculate Mysteries in order to be found ready. And if it is the will of God that you continue to live this present life, you will live a life, by the grace of Holy Communion, full of joy, full of peace, and full of love, accompanied by all of the other virtues. But, if it is the will of God that you die, on account of Holy Communion you will pass freely through the tollhouses of the demons that are found in the air, and you will dwell with inexpressible joy in the eternal mansions.  For since you are always united to our sweet Jesus Christ, the almighty King, you will live a blessed life here; and, when you die, the demons will flee from you like lightning and the angels will open the heavenly entrance for you and usher you in procession to the throne of the blessed Trinity. 
O what majestic things Christians enjoy from frequent Communion, both in this present life and in the future life!
Would you like, O Christian, for the small errors you commit as a man, either with your eyes or with your ears, to be forgiven? Draw near to the Mysteries with fear and with a broken heart,  and they will be remitted and forgiven. St. Anastasios of Antioch confirms this:
If we fall into some small, pardonable sins on account of our being human, either with our tongue, our ears, our eyes, and we fall as victims of deceit into vainglory, or sorrow, or anger, or some other like sin, let us condemn ourselves and confess to God. Thus let us partake of the Holy Mysteries, believing that the reception of the divine Mysteries is unto the purification of these small sins (though not the grave and evil and impure sins which we may have committed, regarding which we should seek the Mystery of Confession). 
Many other Saints also attest to this. The divine Clement of Rome says: “Having partaken of the precious body and precious blood of Christ, let us give thanks to Him who has deemed us worthy to partake of His Holy Mysteries, and ask that these may not be unto our condemnation, but unto our salvation... unto the forgiveness of sins.” 
Basil the Great says: “And make them worthy to partake without condemnation of these, Thine immaculate and life-giving Mysteries, unto the forgiveness of sins.” 
The divine Chrysostom says: “That to those who shall partake thereof they may be unto vigilance of soul, and unto forgiveness of sins.” 
While confession and fulfilling one’s ascetical rule is able to forgive sins, divine Communion is also necessary. One first removes the worms from a fetid wound, then cuts away the rotten skin, and finally applies ointment to it so that it may heal—for if it is left untreated, it reverts to its former condition—and the same is true in the case of sin. Confession removes the worms, fulfilling one’s rule cuts away the dead skin, and divine Communion heals it as an ointment. For if divine Communion is not also applied, the poor sinner reverts to his former condition, “and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first” (Mt. 12:45).
Do you hear, my Christian, how many charismata you receive from frequent Communion? That your small, pardonable sins are forgiven and your wounds are treated and made completely well? What is more blessed than for you to always prepare yourself to receive Communion, and with the preparation for and the help of divine Communion always to find yourself free of sin? For you who are earthly to remain pure, as the heavenly angels are pure? Can there be any greater happiness than this?
And I will tell you something still greater, brother. If you frequently approach the Mysteries and partake worthily of that immortal and glorified body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and become one body and one blood with the all-holy body and blood of Christ, the life-giving power and energy; then, at the resurrection of the righteous, your own body will be brought to life and resurrected incorruptible and glorified like that of Christ, as the divine Apostle writes to the Philippians: “Who shall change our lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).
All of these great and supranatural dignities and graces of which we have spoken until now are received by every Christian who partakes of the divine Mysteries of our sweetest Jesus Christ with a pure conscience; and indeed even more than these are received, which we have not mentioned for the sake of brevity.
After one receives Communion, he thinks about the dread and heavenly Mysteries of which he partook, and so he takes heed to himself so as not to dishonor that grace. He fears his thoughts [logismoi], shrinks away from them, and protects himself from them. He begins a more correct and virtuous life, and, as much as is possible, abstains from every evil. When he begins to think about the fact that he will be receiving Communion again in just a few days, he doubles his efforts to watch over himself. He adds zeal to zeal, self-control to self-control, vigilance to vigilance, labors upon labors, and he struggles as much as possible. This is because he is pressed on two sides: on one side, because just a short while ago he received Communion, and on the other, because he will receive again in just a short while.
94. Translator’s note: This quote is taken from Gennadios Scholarios (De Sacramentali Corpore Christi 1, PG 160, 357A), who himself says he is quoting “the divine Gregory.”
95. Oratio 45.15, PG 36, 644B; NPNF (V2-07), 428.
96. Glaphyra in Exodum 2.2, PG 69, 428B.
97. De Adoratione et Cultu in Spiritu et Veritate 17, PG 68, 1077D.
108. Translator’s note: The artoklasia is a festive service conducted within Great Vespers, consisting of a procession, hymns, litanies, and the blessing of five loaves of bread together with wheat, wine, and oil.
109. Translator’s note: Concerning this subject, see St. Symeon the New Theologian, Ethical Discourses 14, SC 129, 422-442; On the Mystical Life, vol. 1 (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 172-181.
110. Cf. Heb. 10:5-10.
111. De Sacerdotio 6.4, SC 272, 318; NPNF (V1-09), 76.
112. Cf. Jn. 14:2.
113. Translator’s note: See St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, De Ordine Sepulturae, ch. 360, concerning the good of frequent Communion, especially its benefits at the hour of death (PG 155, 672B—673A).
114. Cf. Ps. 50:17.
115. Cf. Quaestiones 7, PG 89, 385C-389D. Webmaster note: On pp. 162-165 we find further explanation of what is meant by “small, pardonable sins”. In Objection 8 Saint Nikodemos poses the following question: “Being human beings, are Christians not disturbed by gluttony, vainglory, laughter, idle talk, and other like passions? How, then, can they frequently commune?” He continues:
St. Anastasios of Antioch responds to these people saying:
There are many people who, on account of their infrequent Communion, fall into sins. There are others who commune more frequently, and therefore greatly protect themselves from many evils, fearing the judgement of Holy Communion. Therefore, if we fall into some small, pardonable sins on account of our being human, either with our tongue, or our ears, or our eyes, and we fall as victims of deceit into vainglory, or sorrow, or anger, or some other like sin, let us condemn ourselves and confess to God. Thus let us partake of the Holy Mysteries, believing that the reception of the divine Mysteries is unto the remission of sins and purification. But if we also commit grave sins which are evil, carnal and impure, and we have rancor towards our brother, until we worthily repent of these sins, let us not boldly approach the divine Mysteries.
But because we are human beings, bearing flesh and weaknesses, and pollute ourselves with many sins, God has given us various sacrifices unto the remission of our sins. If we offer these sacrifices to Him, they purify us in order that we may approach the Mysteries. Merciful almsgiving is a sacrifice which cleanses man from sins. There is also another sacrifice which is unto salvation and the remission of sins, concerning which the Prophet David says, "A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise" (Ps. 50:17). [pp. 162-3]
The Translator includes a note for the preceding passage by St. Anastasios. "Commenting on the words of the Divine Liturgy: 'The Holy Things for the holy,' St. Nicholas Cabasilas also says:"
But if we should cut ourselves off, if we should separate ourselves from the unity of this most holy body, we partake of the Holy Mysteries in vain, for life cannot flow into dead and amputated limbs. And what can cut off the members from this holy body? "It is your sins which have separated Me from you" (Is. 59:2), says God. Does all sin then bring death to man? No indeed, but mortal sin only; that is why it is called mortal. For according to St. John there are sins which are not mortal (cf 1 Jn. 5:16-17). That is why Christians, if they have not committed such sins as would cut them off from Christ and bring death, are in no way prevented, when partaking of the Holy Mysteries, from receiving sanctification, not in name alone, but in fact, since they continue to be living members united to the Head. (Sacrae Liturgiae Interpretatio 36, PG 150, 448D-449B; trans. A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 88-89)] [pp. 164-5]
117. Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, Prayer after the Lord's Prayer.
118. Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Prayer after the sanctification of the Gifts.
From Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ, by our Righteous God-bearing Father Nikodemos the Hagiorite, trans. by Fr. George Dokos (Thessaloniki, Greece: 2006, Uncut Mountain Press), pp. 104-122. The full subtitle of the book reads: "Including a thorough explanation of the Lord's Prayer, an apology for frequent communion, answers to objections and clarifications of misconceptions, and two appendices on the Divine Eucharist." See also When and How to Receive Communion, by Archimandrite Daniel G. Aerakis. This short book contains additional material not covered by Saint Nikodemos. Posted on 1/2/2007 with the publisher's permission.