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© Syrian Orthodox Dioceses of North America and Canada. Reproduced with permission. No part of the material may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without written permission from the publisher.
Of all the seven sacraments, the Holy Eucharist is the greatest and most exalted, for the true doctrine of the Church teaches us that when the priest repeats the Lord's words, "This is My Body and this is My Blood of the New Testament," (Matthew 26:26-28), as he celebrates the Holy Liturgy and calls down the Holy Spirit, we believe and confess that our Lord and God Jesus Christ is present in the form of the bread and wine that are set on the altar before the priest.
We therefore believe and acknowledge that by receiving the Holy Eucharist, we truly eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ for eternal life that we may dwell in Him, and He in us. Jesus said to them: "Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the Body of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats of My Body and drinks of My Blood has eternal life; and I will raise him at the last day. For My Body truly is the food, and My Blood truly is the drink. He who eats My Body and drinks My Blood abides with Me, and I in him," (John 6:53-56).
- The priest must take care that the margonyotho, i.e., the particles of the Holy Body sprinkled with the Atoning Blood, should be carefully preserved in a special small chalice gilded on the inside. The chalice must be set in a tabernacle fixed on the altar and set up in the center of the sanctuary. The door of the tabernacle must be kept locked.
- In accordance with our ecclesiastical tradition, the bread to be consecrated for Holy Liturgy is a flat cake made of wheat dough mixed with a small portion of leaven and salt and is imprinted with a special seal. On preparing the dough, the priest, in keeping with the ancient tradition of our Church, uses as yeast a part of the dough used for baking the bread for Liturgy the previous time. This is another expression of the oneness and unity of the sacrament of Communion offered in our churches all over the world from the apostolic times.
- The priests must diligently urge the faithful to partake of the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and on the festivals of our Lord. Above all, they must take great care that the canons of the Church are diligently observed. Such canons put under anathema all Christians of age if they do not confess their sins at least once a year and partake of the Holy Eucharist at least one time, on Maundy Thursday.
- The faithful who wish to receive the Holy Eucharist and have committed sins must confess their sins to the priests that, with purity of soul, they may be worthy to partake of the Holy Eucharist.
- The faithful who wish to receive the Holy Eucharist must observe a complete fast of three hours prior to the time of the partaking of the Holy Eucharist.
- The priests are strictly forbidden to administer Communion to all those who are under anathema or suspensions or to unbelievers unless, first of all, they openly acknowledge the Orthodox faith and become in full communion with the Holy Church. Likewise, the Holy Mysteries are not to be administered to offenders whose transgressions are publicly known unless they, first of all, truly and earnestly repent of their sins and unless their true remorse is known to the congregation of the faithful.