The Source of Life

Sermon on Holy and Great Thursday


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

On Holy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper and partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, becoming partakers of the Divine nature by grace. For us, the Eucharist, the Liturgy, is the central event in the history of the Church. Thus the Church grew, people gathered, offered up prayers and partook of the Body and Blood of Christ, fulfilling the commandment and the testament that the Savior gave us when He said: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you (Jn. 6:53). For us, the Body and Blood of the Son of Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the Source of life, without which the life of every Christian is incomplete.

On Holy Thursday, many people who have not received Communion for a long time go to church, and many come who have never taken Communion in their lives. And it is gratifying that at least on this day the Lord inspires these Christians to participate in the saving sacrament. People often complain about hardships in their lives, and whole nations complain about adversities that befall them. They say: “We’re not bad people, but why is it like this? Why are we always beset with misfortunes?” And during a conversation with such people, it suddenly turns out that they take Holy Communion lightly and carelessly. They are able participate in this sacrament, but they don’t do it. And the temptations that occur to these people are actually the Lord’s visitations. He does His best to make them return to Him, sober up, and begin to approach the Holy Chalice with His Body and Blood more often and with purity of heart and soul. We must always remember this.

When something happens to us, whether joy or sorrow, the first thing we should do is thank the Lord in order to be united with Him and become partakers. What happens at the moment when we take Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ? We become partakers of the Divine nature by grace and unite with Him. Christ wanted us always to be with Him so that we would not move away from the Godhead. And when this takes place, our whole lives are filled with the will and grace of God. Even our everyday life with its day-to-day routine and activities changes.

Someone who deprives himself of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ can be compared to someone who is at hospital. He lost a lot of blood (for example, he had an injury, an operation, or an accident), and he may die from blood loss. Then the doctors resort to blood or plasma transfusion to help him, putting him on a drip. But if for some reason the patient rips out his drip or if the tube is blocked, he will most likely die. Likewise, the soul of any human being individually, or of a whole Church, or of a whole nation, dies because it does not unite with our Lord the Savior, with the Creator, in the sacrament of Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ.

That is why we are eyewitnesses of the death and extinction of whole Christian nations. There is a “cause-and-effect relationship” here: churches are no longer needed… How many of them we are unable to restore and fill! Why is this happening? Because people don’t understand. And if you look at statistics and sociology, you will find that we are dying out, and other Christian nations are dying out as well. And how many people do not understand the meaning of Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ at all, even among those who were Baptized, who call themselves Christians and will greet each other on Pascha! There are a huge number of people who do not have the slightest idea what it is or why it is important. Hence such a spiritual and moral decline; and as a result, physical degeneration. There is no longer such power, such strength as before, because there is no grace, because the people of God disregard the words of their Savior, the words of Christ. Of course, it is very sad, but the most important thing for us is to start with ourselves.


Unfortunately, very many people who have been in the Church for a long time, who came to Christ at a young age, do not take Communion for three or four years running. Of course, it should not be like this—otherwise we simply become ungrateful to God. What is Communion? What is the Eucharist? The Greek word “eucharistia” means “thanksgiving”. The highest form of gratitude to God is the participation in the sacrament of Communion of the Body and blood of Christ. And this is a life worthy of this sacrament. This is a life worthy of Christ’s suffering, worthy of His Resurrection, and worthy of His sacrifice for us.

People who refuse to take Communion are simply ungrateful. Therefore, today, on Holy and Great Thursday, we Christians should keep in mind that we must be grateful to God, that the Lord did not become man, come into the world, and suffer so that we would disregard the words of our Savior.

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, receive me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the Mystery to Thine enemies; nor will I give Thee a kiss, as did Judas, but like the thief do I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy kingdom.


Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
Translation by Dmitry Lapa

Sretensky Monastery


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