The Holy Communion is the most important sacrament for the salvation of Christians and for the nourishment of our souls. Holy Communion is administered immediately following the sacraments of baptism and chrismation.
This sacrament draws on Christ’s Last Supper with his twelve disciples, when he took a loaf of bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with his disciples, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took a cup, offered thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19).
In his book The Saints and Sacraments of the Armenian Church, the late Archbishop Shnork Kaloustian explains that the phrases “This is my body; This is my blood” are not metaphorical. “The verb IS does not mean ‘shows’ or ‘represents.’ In the institution of the greatest sacrament of the New Testament . . . our Lord would have taken care that the terms He used in the founding and establishing this sacrament should be clear and free of possible misinterpretation.”
“Therefore the words of the Lord must be taken in their obvious and usual sense, and not metaphorically. It is plainly said in the New Testament, and it is clearly taught by the Church from the earliest times, that ‘the Bread and the Wine’ should not be considered as ordinary elements, but the very Body and Blood of the Lord.”
Any baptized member of the Armenian Church can receive Holy Communion. Baptized members of our sister churches—which include the Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian, and Malankara Churches—are also welcome to receive Holy Communion in the Armenian Church.
A member of the Church wishing to receive Holy Communion has to prepare for the sacrament. This involves cleansing the body through prayers and fasting (those unable to abstain from food due to health reasons may obtain permission not to fast). It is also important for the faithful to take part in the entire Divine Liturgy when receiving Holy Communion.
Prior to Holy Communion, the faithful, led by the priest, read aloud the confession. It is important to know that the Armenian Church also practices private confession, which the faithful can arrange with the priest.
At the conclusion of confession, the priest absolves the sins of the faithful in the name of Holy Trinity, and recites the following prayer:
“May God who loves mankind have mercy on you and forgive all of your sins, both those which you have confessed as well as those which you have forgotten. Therefore, with the priestly authority committed to me and by the Lord’s command that ‘whatever you forgive on earth shall be forgiven in heaven’; by His very word I absolve you of all participation in sin committed in thought, in word, and in deed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and I reinstate you in the sacraments of the Holy Church, that whatever you may do, may be accounted to you for good and for the glory in the life to come. Amen.”