Breaking the logic barrier
by Protopresbyter George Christodoulou | October 16, 2020
Regarding recent public statements about Holy Communion by a professor of Genetics but also by politicians, I would like to express some thoughts simply and freely.
The purpose of this article is not to underestimate science or individuals, but to strengthen the faith of Orthodox Christians who have been affected lately.
First of all, let us accept that priests are also people who get sick and die like everyone else. In fact, many saints of our Church were particularly sickly.
Our Church has responded to the health directives from the outset and continues to respond. Priests wear masks like everyone else, in shops, public services, hospitals, buses, etc., only not during religious services, as the law stipulates. We must take precautions for this virus that currently exists, covid-19, and do what we can to achieve the best possible outcome. That's logical.
But who has the absolute authority and certitude to force another human being not to accept something different, something outside the realm of reason, such as the mysterious spiritual life?
The scientist is a respected person who studies, researches and strives to improve the life of humanity. Yet he sees only as far as knowledge of his discipline allows. Also, from the little I learned about genetics at Harvard and as our remarkable teachers told us, there are many gaps in genetic knowledge as well as in the ethics of Genetics. Dr. Craig Venter tells The Guardian: “When you concede that we only understand two thirds of the most fundamental cell that we can compile right now, we are probably at about the one per cent level of our understanding of the human genome.”1
My simple thought is how a scientist whose subject has so many unanswered and unexplored gaps can come to an object completely unknown to him, such as the Holy Mysteries of our Orthodox Faith and especially the Mystery of the Mysteries, the Eucharist. The scientists themselves acknowledge that transmission of diseases through Communion cannot be proven.2 Precisely, because in our lives there exists not only what is “logical”; there are also things “beyond logic.” There are things we see, there are also things we do not see.
Our Orthodox Faith, however, has proofs. The Orthodox Priest can contract any disease, but not through Holy Communion, which is God himself.
1) The Priests during their lifetime will commune a very large number of people, some with a contagious disease, and they will then consume the sacred “remainder” from the Holy Chalice. Consider that most clergy have spouses and children with whom they later interact with.
2) Father Chrysanthos Koutsoulogiannakis, a priest of Spinalonga3, communed the lepers using the same spoon with which he also finished it at the end. He always gave his hand when greeting and during the distribution of antidoron, and was the last off the island when leprosy was cured and it was abandoned. He died of old age – and not from leprosy.
3) Saint Joseph the Hesychast was literally embracing those who had tuberculosis. He hugged them tightly in his arms out of love. When asked if he was afraid of the disease, he said: “I pray to God every day to allow me to catch tuberculosis so that my soul may be saved, but the disease flees from me.” He passed away at a very old age – and not from tuberculosis.
4) In the life of St. John of Kronstandt, an incident is reported where the father of a Priest he was acquainted with became seriously ill with tuberculosis, and his doctor had given him a maximum of ten days to live. Saint John asked him to leave the hospital, since there was no hope for him to live anyhow, and to go with him to Kronstandt, where there was a church, in order to give him holy Communion. When the doctor learned of this, he said that he would die on the way there. The patient eventually received Communion and remained in Kronstadt for two days, when the hemoptysis [coughing of blood] ceased and his voice returned. When he went back, the doctor said that this was unprecedented. The patient lived another 25 years.
The miraculous treatment of Princess Zinaida Yusupova is also characteristic. She suffered a blood infection after giving birth prematurely. The Saint visited her, as she narrates, sat on her bed and said to her: “Whether you will live or not, it is God’s business. Nevertheless, you must prepare for a new life by receiving the Immaculate Mysteries.” At his insistence she accepted, and after communing with consciousness and joy, she slept for six hours. When she woke up, she was completely healthy! Professor Botkin, who was observing her, seeing such a change, remained silent for a long time. Two tears rolled down his face. Then he whispered pensively: “Such a cure was not achieved by human means.”
5) How many other miracles related to the Priesthood and Holy Communion are recorded in books other biographies, and also in the memory and experience of the clergy. Supernatural facts held for more than 2000 years. If you have ever seen the reaction of a demon-possessed man when he is taken to Holy Communion, you will understand much. No, he is not mentally ill neither does he have any brain damage, he is the man next door.
So, my dear ones, in this life there is not only logic, the scientific point of view, and what we see. There is also the supernatural and those things we do not see, which well from a single truth, Christ!
Holy Communion is alive!
However, let us clarify at this point that whoever wishes to receive the Ineffable Mysteries should know that there are conditions. The Christian, in order to commune, must prepare oneself, in order to become a vessel suitable for receiving God: to be humble-minded, to confess sincerely in order to cleanse his soul with this great sacrament of our Church, not to hate anyone, and to struggle spiritually, cultivating the virtues and his faith.
Therefore we respect the scientific data, but when they fail to explain to us how a wooden icon streams myrrh, and how a mural in Andros (that so many people saw these days) weeps, let us not treat the faithful as irrational beings who do not speak the language of logic. Do not forget that there are also clergy who are scientists, physicians, geneticists, etc., with brilliant studies in Greece and abroad.
We take care, my brethren, of our health, we respect the scientists, but we do not forget what we hear in services that the Priests ask from God: “For this holy house, and those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord!”
May God be with us!
- Read the perspective of a physician on the subject: Holy Communion and Infection Transmission: A Literature Review by Dimitrios Anyfantakis MD, M.Sc., Ph.D., Primary Care General Practitioner, Primary Health Care Centre of Kissamos, Crete, Greece.
- A small island NW of the island of Crete, Greece. It was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. With the discovery of the cure, the leper colony was closed. Father Chrysanthos served the lepers for 10 years. He stayed on the island until 1962, to commemorate the lepers until five years after their death. He reposed in 1972.