Father Elias took the time to give a short talk at the end of church, and I’m so glad he did. He was reminding us to take communion with the utmost care and come forward to the cup prepared, or don’t come up. But he also touched on a subject that has started to weigh on people’s minds: the “commonality” of the common cup. Meaning, it’s one chalice and one spoon. All those who come forward partake from it, so … what about germs?
I actually had a non-Orthodox lady ask me about that recently. Our church was having an open house for the community, because we want to be good neighbors and we understand that there are a lot of people — especially in Baptist-centric Missouri — who don’t know anything about Orthodoxy. This was a very nice young lady with a cute little family, but the burning question on her mind to ask another parishioner and me was: What about the common cup? Meaning, the whole germ thing. While I was still trying to even begin an answer, she followed up with “I mean, you MUST think about it, right?”
Didn’t know whether I’d look dumb or just argumentative if I said the truth: Um … no.
I didn’t know if it was correct to lay the big spoiler on her or not, so I didn’t. But any Orthodox coming to the cup should know it: We believe that this is the real Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. And we’re going to think God can’t take care of a few germs?
Father Elias summed it up: “This is the cleanest thing in the world.” Amen!
He encouraged us to take the elements from the spoon with our lips, which is our parish custom, and then said, “You don’t have too worry about your mouths. I’ve seen all your mouths. You all come and partake and then I go back after the service and consume anything that remains. If anyone was going to get sick, it should be me! But look at me!” And he thumped his sturdy chest and beamed like the picture of health he is.
I never even thought of that. But it’s true. He ends up partaking of more of the elements than any of us, and he doesn’t appear to have contracted plagues and diseases. Quite the opposite, in fact. He works harder than we do, prays longer, fasts more vigorously.
If these are diseases, I wish I would catch whatever he has.