Monday, May 14, 2018

Metropolis of Denver teleturgical messages are the best

When the official letter makes it to the metropolitan website, I'll make the necessary updates below.


May 1, 2018

Teleturgical Encyclical 29
The Pious Priests
The Faithful Parish Members
Holy Metropolis of Denver

Beloved in the Lord,

It has come to my attention that there are an increasing number of parishioners in some of our parishes who come forth to receive Holy Communion, but insist that the priest not give to them of the Body of Christ but only of His Blood. Those parishioners explain to their priests that their doctors -- obviously not Orthodox Christians — tell them not to eat any kind of bread because it will harm them.

If there are Orthodox Christians in our parishes who believe that, after the Holy Spirit consecrates the Bread and the Wine during the Divine Liturgy, the gifts are still bread and wine, they should never again receive the divine Body and Blood again, until they believe that the holy sacrament of our Lord Himself is His spiritual presence, that is, both His Body and His Blood.

It is truly a great blessing from Saint Paul, the holy apostle to the nations, that he explains the dangers of receiving the holy Body and sacred Blood of our Lord, for very different reasons than medical science does. Saint Paul says "whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, for he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself... For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die)." Corinthians 11:27, 29, 30

In regard to these powerful words of Saint Paul, are there parishioners who are ill, possibly because they have not prepared themselves to receive the divine gifts of our Lord's spiritual Body and Blood? And, if the doctor's instructions to them about not eating the Body (bread) because of the doctor's medical knowledge are considered more important than the Holy Eucharist, then they should not receive the Holy Eucharist of the Lord, unless or until they believe that the Creator of all has more knowledge regarding eternal life than all the medical science of this fallen world.

This serious matter is proof enough that the secular world is developing into the false philosophy that it is self-created, in relationship to the theory that all creation is incidental and accidental. Consequently, the world, which is based in materialism, is more and more identifying itself, especially humanity, as it pleases, since it does not acknowledge a divine Creator.

If any parishioner does not fully believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Creator, and that He came into the world, taking on our human body, but His Body being perfect, and offering Himself up on the Holy Cross for our eternal salvation, please help such persons to realize their error, if they wish to listen. Of course, it is up to them to exercise their free will to accept our Lord as we know Him, or to take the only other direction, that is, turn away. from Him. We pray that the Holy Spirit will give to them the only direction to eternal life, and that is to know and to love our Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.

With Paternal Blessings,

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

This letter is to be disseminated to all parishioners and published in all parish bulletins of the Metropolis of Denver.


  1. Can a deacon that finishes the Eucharist after the Liturgy from a few chalices get drunk?

    1. Does that have an impact on the metropolitan's statement?

    2. Yes, a deacon (or priest) can get drunk from consuming the chalice after Liturgy. What impact this has on his Eminence's statement I leave to others to determine.

    3. While all that popular gluten phobia is easy to laugh at, there are legitimate cases of celiac disease, and in some of them even the smallest amount of gluten can do harm.

      As it is possible to get tipsy with the Eucharist, or die when one puts poison into it (RIP Michał Wiśniowiecki) why would it be such a stretch to imagine one would worry about a celiac disease attack?

    4. Mike, it is not wheat and wine anymore, but the Body and Blood of Christ. Many of us gluten free people believe this and receive Holy Communion without incident. If someone does not believe this why are they communing in the first place?

    5. I should say, if you are not Orthodox then your current thinking is correct

    6. The remaining Eucharist (Body and Blood of Christ) begins as a Chalice with the Lamb (bread), warm water, sweet wine.
      After the Faithful have received the Eucharist there isn’t very much left.
      Usually if there is a Deacon he consumes the remaining Eucharist with set prayers. If no Deacon, the Priest does this honor.
      I’m allergic to gluten and I’ve never known anyone who recoils from the Eucharist over allergies. On the contrary, the Eucharist (Christ) is for the healing of soul and body.

  2. Awesome statement by the Metropolitan! Many many years to him!

  3. I have not encountered the gluten/bread issue, but in my current parish there are those who have a real fear of germs/pathogens being transmitted from the Cup. My wife and I will variously try to explain to them (my wife is a physician so you would think that would give her statement some weight) that no known human pathogens can survive in wine. No matter what you think of the spiritual/material truth of this matter the concern on a purely "materialist" level should be alleviated but I find a certain modern mindset about "germs" and "nasties" is rather impervious to the truth :)

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  5. Those who are asking to receive only the Precious Body because of a fad should take heed of the Metropolitan’s Encyclical. However, I have a feeling that the requests to receive only the Precious Blood are being made mostly by those who either have Celiac disease or have a gluten sensitivity. The digestion of gluten by those with Celiac disease is not only unhealthy but can be dangerous in the long-term.

    I infer from the Encyclical (and please correct me if my inference is unjustified) that the Metropolitan believes that after the bread and wine are consecrated into the Precious Body and Blood they cannot do any harm to a communicant’s own body after consumption. However, do not the “accidents” of the bread and wine remain even after they are consecrated into the Precious Body and Blood and thus still can have a deleterious effect on the communicant’s own body? I think this is what Mike’s question was trying to get at.

    I also infer from the Encyclical that the Metropolitan thinks that people requesting to receive only the Precious Blood are denying that consecration by the Holy Spirit has taken place. If my inference is correct (I am again more than willing to be corrected), I propose an alternative view. Some who request to receive only the Precious Blood do so because they DO recognize that after consecration, the Precious Blood, by itself, fully contains the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord. Therefore, they are not, a priori, denying our Lord’s spiritual presence in what they receive when asking to receive only the Precious Blood.

    Full disclosure: two of my middle school age children are Orthodox and have Celiac disease. During Divine Liturgy, after consecration but before the Body and Blood are co-mingled in the main chalice, some of the Precious Blood is reserved for them in a separate chalice. They then receive the Eucharist after Diving Liturgy.

    1. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease at the Mayo clinic in 2008. The clinic informed me at the time, that I should not receive the communion bread again. They also have a test that can determine if you have ingested any gluten within the last 3 months. I never ceased receiving the body and the blood of Christ on a weekly basis. I have never suffered any reaction to the communion, nor has any gluten consumption been detected on the tests that I took afterward.
      I have two grandchildren with celiac disease, and they also receive weekly without any reactions.

  6. Laying aside the reality that His Eminence is the authority consecrated by the Church to speak on precisely these kind of matters,
    I'm a bit perplexed and amazed that faithful in the United States of America could suffer in such a concentration from this or that ailment, which means they can only receive the precious Blood.

    There are only 1 million Orthodox in our country, if we stretch it.

    I've not heard of this issue among the other 299+ million Orthodox Christians around the world.

    1. It actually makes sense to me that you don't hear about celiacs or wheat allergies in other parts of the world. GMOs and pesticides and other chemicals that make people sick and increase allergies are not regulated as strictly in america as they are in other countries. I avoid eating wheat in general for this reason although I do NOT extend my abstinence of it to Holy Communion.

    2. 'GMO and other chemicals'


    3. Father-

      As for your perplexedness regarding how the faithful in the United States could suffer in such a concentration from Celiac disease, I offer the following somewhat-informed guess. Celiac disease is often hard to diagnose, since symptoms vary from person to person and some persons are asymptomatic. (I won't bore you with the details, but I am an example of the latter). It took a while before my children's diagnosis was nailed down. Also, testing is expensive. So outside the US, the disease might be mis-diagnosed, under-diagnosed, or un-diagnosed.

    4. Mike, my actual words were, "GMO's, pesticides, and other chemicals" (as in pesticides are not the only chemicals in US making people sick). What is so funny about that?

    5. You hear a lot about celiac in parts of Western Europe that have populations with high incidence rates. In Italy, testing of children is universal and in Ireland, virtually every restaurant notes celiac-friendly options on their menus. I remember seeing in the (Catholic) cathedral in Galway a designated communion line for those who to receive wanted a low-gluten host.

      All that said, my wife has celiac and says that she has no problem receiving in the normal manner.

  7. This is downright idiotic. If the sacrament entailed that the bread and wine changed in all ways to the flesh and blood of Christ, this would be true, but obviously the appearance of bread and wine remain. And the appearance is enough to cause someone life-threatening inflammation, which could lead in turn to colon cancer and a myriad of health issues.

    I mean, I get the eastern criticism of over-scholasticizing sacramental theology, but at least it allows the West to consider this problem without telling people with chronic health conditions that they're not strong enough in faith to receive the Eucharist if they don't endanger their health and life to receive it. What about oikonomia?

    1. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." If you(or whoever do not believe then why take it?

    2. Indeed KatherineH!
      Only those who truly believe should partake!

    3. I do believe. I believe with faith and understand with the intellect God has given me. While I believe Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, I also see that the appearance of bread and wine remain. If I can see the appearance of bread and wine, then the body and blood interact with light as with the appearance of bread and wine, and so too the appearance would interact with my body in the same way, despite being in truth the body and blood of Christ.

      I could receive both species regardless in the hope that God might miraculously preserve me from the great harm that could come to my body, but "thou shalt not put the Lord your God to the test".

  8. It's downright bizarre to me that the epistle of His Eminence could somehow lead to an discussion on celiac's disease, oikonomia, scholasticism, and "choice words".

    For all those posting here who are not priests and bishops, I can assure you, us clergy pray for you and are painfully aware of your struggles, both spiritual and physical. We often, as clergy, have them too. We also burden ourselves with your struggles, both spiritual and physical.

    As for our theology, His Eminence is recounting the Apostolic teaching. There is no other teaching. I can assure you all, priests work with all kinds of people with all kinds of struggles both spiritual and physical. This does not, will not ever, nor could it ever change our Apostolic doctrine.

    I welcome His Eminence's epistle, but I reiterate that I am perplexed that such a small community of people could be subject to such high rates of this medical condition that it even warrants said epistle.

    All this being said, i'm not uneducated about celiac disease. Nor do I believe that various clergy are uneducated. I'm confident that this and many other struggles (such as recovering alcoholics, social anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorders, people repenting from adultery) are not only not ignored, but that clergy on the whole actively serve people and help guide them in these various struggles.

    I don't think we should take the epistle of His Eminence as a personal attack. Just because something is personal, doesn't mean we have to take it personally. Rather, I think we, as faithful, both clergy and laity, should rejoice that this Bishop, as Apostolic successor, is rightly using the office of teaching bestowed upon him to address this very important issue of what the Eucharist is and why it is important in the modern world; specifically why we shouldn't let what is in vogue at the moment color the teachings of our Apostolic faith.

  9. Doesn't the anaphora of Saint Basil refer to the gifts as bread and wine after they're consecrated at the epiklesis?

    While one may truly become "drunk" on Christ, that's not the kind of drunk a deacon gets after consuming the gifts. That's pertinent to this discussion.

  10. The clergy receive the Eucharist by receiving the body and blood separately but there is no such ekonomia for lay people to do so due to illness? Since we do not believe in Transubtantiation and believe the Eucharist is a mystery it would then appear to me that those who face the question of illness and choose to receive the most precious blood receive the sacrament in its entirety out of an abundance of mercy. Much like someone getting married for the 3rd time receives the sacrament of marriage out of an abundance of mercy.

    What seems to have gotten lost here is a question of mercy to those who face illness and showing mercy to people who are ill does not diminish our Orthodox Faith but can only strengthen it. A sick person approaching the sacrament is not an Apostate but a wounded soul thirsting for the healing only Christ can give.

  11. If one truly believes that the Eucharist is consecrated then how can they even begin to think that they could become ill by partaking of this Holy Mystery??? Wonderful article!

  12. Am I mistaken, or isn’t it heretical to say that the Body and Blood are not also still bread and wine? If Jesus is fully God and fully man, the Eucharist is also fully bread and His Body. The Holy Spirit doesn’t get rid of the bread; otherwise as the entire early Christian tradition attests, we would be cannibals and also not savable (since the underlying belief would be that there is no true union of full natures).

    1. No, that's the Lutheran idea of consubstantiation, rather than transubstantiation . The bread and wine cease to be, and only the appearance thereof miraculously remains. The question of cannibalism is different.

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  15. I understand the rejection of hylomorphic or scholastic theories regarding the Holy Eucharist. We do not try to explain how the change of the bread and wine has taken place.

    I know that the Lord took bread and wine and consecrated them to be His Body and Blood at the Mystical Supper. The Holy Spirit descends on the bread and wine and they become the true Body and Blood of the Lord, yes.

    But the Lord gives us His Body and Blood through the means of bread and wine after the change has taken place. They are not changed into a piece of flesh and a chalice of blood though.

    True celiacs have gotten sick from receiving the Lord’s Body. I have seen it and I have dealt with it as a priest. I do not believe these people lack faith or do not believe in the change, less so that they are receiving unworthily and getting sick. Their bodies cannot assimilate the gluten that is in the Bread that has become the Body of the Lord. It’s that simple. They fortunately can receive the Lord’s Blood in Holy Communion.

    I have consumed a Lamb that molded. I came into a parish where it seemed that the Holy Gifts had not been renewed in years. While I did not believe the mold was the Holy Eucharist out of reverence for what the mold once was I thought it best to consume what remained. The Eucharistic Bread that has become the Lord's Body molds when the Lamb is not prepared correctly to be put in the artophorion.

    I am not of His Eminence’s jurisdiction. As Fr. Gregory said above, “What impact this has on His Eminence's statement I leave to others to determine.”

  16. I once witnessed a man with serious celiac disease take the antidoron at a monastery with no ill effects. To his own surprise he realized it had gluten later. He was told when he asked for the recipe.

  17. There’s also a question, at least for diabetic clergy (like myself) if it raises blood sugar (after you consume). The simple answer is yes, it is truly the body and blood of Christ and it does raise my blood sugar BUT as a cleric, and as an Orthodox Christian, I believe that these spikes in blood sugar from consuming the chalice will have zero long term or short term effect on my health.

    Period. His Eminence’s epistle strikes at that. Holy Communion cannot harm you, because Christ is Life.

    1. Fr. Chtets, the Metropolitan's letter does not distinguish between celiac disease and simple gluten intolerance, and possibly neither do the people he finds it necessary to address, as there seem to be a surprising number of them whose doctors tell them 'not to eat any kind of bread because it will harm them.' This is very vague and general, as even celiacs can eat gluten-free breads. Non-celiac sensitivity to gluten can be uncomfortable to one degree or another, depending on the individual; but like a diabetic's blood sugar spike can be settled up afterward without major long term harm. Simple gluten intolerance is comparable in this regard to diabetes; Celiac disease is not. Celiac is an autoimmune disease, and unlike simple intolerance, results in PERMANENT harm to the sufferer's digestive system EVERY time gluten is consumed. If a diabetic's illness is not cured by receiving the eucharist, and his body is still affected by the sugars in the gifts, it is not surprising if a celiac sufferer's body is also affected by the gluten in the bread.

      Clergy who are educated about these facts should be able to deal with such individuals pastorally, -as- individuals, and not have them lumped in with those who may only have a gluten intolerance, or whose doctors have not yet been able to diagnose their digestive problems and therefore advise simply avoiding any and all bread.

      The scriptural quotation used in this letter to shame sick people (and likely parents of sick children) is very much out of context.

      "…… whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, for he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself... For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die)." Corinthians 11:27, 29, 30(sic!-- it is from 1st Corinthians!)

      Immediately preceding this, St. Paul describes the 'unworthy manner', which has nothing to do with illness or weakness of faith-- rather the opposite, really, having to do with infighting, despising the needy, gluttony and drunkenness (in church yet!) :
      17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not

    2. That such an issue would even get to the bishop amazes me.

      Holy Communion is not magic. If it were, as some imply, we could receive once and achieve theosis instantly.

      Auto-immune diseases can be quite distructive and they are real. However it strikes me as passing strange that bread is now a problem.

      There really is something to the type of flour used. Is it grown and milled locally, what kind of additives, the type and extent of hybridization. GMO and any engineered resistence to herbicides, etc.

      Believe me the modern industrialized farming has an impact on the crops grown and the nutrition they deliver.

      BTW, my wife's family owns a winery and she works there. She is a non-insulin diabetic. Dry wine, especially the elderberry wine that they produce helps to reduce her blood sugar quickly and significantly. If the opposite is happening, you have the wrong kind of wine. Even certain types of grape wine need not make blood sugar spike. The type of grape, how it is vinted and the amount of added sugar all make a difference.

      Modern technology and the mindset that often goes with it makes things complicated.

      Is there any canonical reason the wine has to be grape wine as long as it is red?