Eucharistic Piety


 St. Basil receives communion from Christ.

ENGLISH tr. based on : NPNF ser. 2. Vol. 8  Basil:  Letters and Select Works tr. Rev. Blomfield Jackson (T&T Clark, Edinburgh) GREEK: Saint Basile. Lettres, vol. 2 , ed,  Y. Courtonne, ser. Les Belles Lettres (Paris, 1961), TLG 2040.4





 LETTER 93: Eucharistic Reservation in Homes







To the Patrician Cæsaria, concerning Communion.






It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He clearly says, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” And who could doubt that to share frequently in life is the same thing as to have manifold life?

Καὶ τὸ κοινωνεῖν δὴ καθ΄ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν καὶ μετα λαμβάνειν τοῦ ἁγίου σώματος καὶ αἵματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ καλὸν καὶ ἐπωφελές͵ αὐτοῦ σαφῶς λέγοντος· Ὁ τρώγων μου τὴν σάρκα καὶ πίνων μου τὸ αἷμα ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον. Τίς γὰρ ἀμφιβάλλει ὅτι τὸ μετέχειν συνεχῶς τῆς ζωῆς οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἐστὶν ἢ ζῆν πολλαχῶς;

    I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord’s day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. Ἡμεῖς μέντοιγε τέταρτον καθ΄ ἑκάστην ἑβδομάδα κοινωνοῦμεν͵ ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ͵ ἐν τῇ τετράδι καὶ ἐν τῇ Παρασκευῇ καὶ τῷ Σαββάτῳ͵ καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις ἡμέραις͵ ἐὰν ᾖ μνήμη Ἁγίου τινός.

     It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves.

Τὸ δὲ ἐν τοῖς τοῦ διωγμοῦ καιροῖς ἀναγκά ζεσθαί τινα͵ μὴ παρόντος ἱερέως ἢ λειτουργοῦ͵ τὴν κοινωνίαν λαμβάνειν τῇ ἰδίᾳ χειρὶ μηδαμῶς εἶναι βαρὺ περιττόν ἐστιν ἀποδεικνύναι͵ διὰ τὸ καὶ τὴν μακρὰν συνήθειαν τοῦτο δι΄ αὐτῶν τῶν πραγμάτων πιστώσασθαι.





     All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home.

Πάντες γὰρ οἱ κατὰ τὰς ἐρήμους μονάζοντες͵ ἔνθα μή ἐστιν ἱερεύς͵ κοινωνίαν οἴκοι κατέχοντες ἀφ΄ ἑαυτῶν μετα λαμβάνουσιν.

And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes.

 Ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ δὲ καὶ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ ἕκαστος καὶ τῶν ἐν λαῷ τελούντων͵ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πλεῖστον͵ ἔχει κοινωνίαν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ καὶ ὅτε βούλεται μεταλαμβάνει δι΄ ἑαυτοῦ.





     For when once the priest has completed the offering [sacrifice], and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver.

Ἅπαξ γὰρ τὴν θυσίαν τοῦ ἱερέως τελειώσαν τος καὶ δεδωκότος͵ ὁ λαβὼν αὐτὴν ὡς ὅλην ὁμοῦ͵ καθ΄ ἑκάστην μεταλαμβάνων͵ παρὰ τοῦ δεδωκότος εἰκότως μεταλαμβάνειν καὶ ὑποδέχεσθαι πιστεύειν ὀφείλει.

     And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time.

 Καὶ γὰρ καὶ ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐπιδίδωσι τὴν μερίδα καὶ κατέχει αὐτὴν ὁ ὑποδεχόμενος μετ΄ ἐξουσίας ἁπάσης καὶ οὕτω προσάγει τῷ στόματι τῇ ἰδίᾳ χειρί. Ταὐτὸν τοίνυν ἐστὶ τῇ δυνάμει͵ εἴτε μίαν μερίδα δέξεταί τις παρὰ τοῦ ἱερέως εἴτε πολλὰς μερίδας ὁμοῦ.





N.B.: The custom of the reservation of the Sacrament is, as is well known, of great antiquity.  cf. Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 85; Tertull., De Orat. xix. and Ad Ux. ii. 5; S. Cyprian, De Lapsis cxxxii.; Jerome, Ep. cxxv.  Abuses of the practice soon led to prohibition.  So an Armenian Canon of the fourth century (Canones Isaaci, in Mai, Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. x. 280) and the Council of Saragossa, 380; though in these cases there seems an idea of surreptitious reservation. 

This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1998....x....   “”.