Greek Orthodox Infrequent Communion

Greetings, I am a catechumen to Orthodoxy currently attending an Antiochian parish and recently the topic of infrequent communion has come up with a nominally Greek Orthodox friend of mine. She has told me that it is customary for Greek Orthodox to only take communion maybe four times per year or only at Pascha, but my very short research on the subject has led me to believe that this is a tradition not supported by the church as a whole. Who is right here, and should I inform her that this is an incorrect tradition, if I am correct? Here’s one thing I have found that supports my position:

I was also told it is potentially offensive to be personally concerned with how often someone not myself takes communion, but to me if it is spiritually unhealthy to intentionally not take communion; it seems like if I care about someone, then it is almost a duty to be concerned with this subject.

I don’t know the Orthodox teaching on Communion, but Catholic teaching has it that you need only receive Communion once a year (the law states “To receive Confession and Holy Communion at least once a year” and “To receive Holy Communion during the Easter Time”.)
Whilst not certain what the Orthodox Church teaches, I would assume it is similar to this as, from what I am aware, the Catholics and Orthodox have almost identical views on what Communion is, at least at a basic level.

Once per year may be the minimum, but that page lists multiple sources affirming it is bad to intentionally skip communion because one thinks themselves unworthy to receive. We are all ultimately unworthy of receiving the Eucharist. At least one other source states that one that comes to liturgy only to hear the prayers and readings should be excommunicated from the church.

Catholic’s have a different view insofar as we are encouraged but not obliged to receive Communion. I am obliged to attend the Mass but the critical part of the Mass is that I am there as soon as I am and that I do not leave until the celebrant has received the Eucharist (at the earliest) and preferably not before he leaves.
As for reception, the Catholic teaching is that the priest needs to receive the Eucharist for the Mass to be valid, but he is not obliged to give Communion to the Faithful every Mass. This stipulation makes more sense in the context of weekday Masses or occasions in which a single priest has more than one Mass in a single day and needs to get around to everyone.
As for concerning yourself with another’s salvation, “In the race for spiritual salvation it should always be me, me, me”. Worry about yourself first and let them decide for themselves (kind of “preach always, sometimes use words” stuff.)

Something else, maybe on that page also, actually blames Roman catholics for the “tradition” of infrequent communion.

The Orthodox and the Catholics could blame each other for a lot of things (we could probably blame the Orthodox for the reception under both kinds phenomenon that is currently besetting the Church (this is part of a much wider discussion though, so we sha’n’t go into it)).

The point of the infrequent reception was, as far as I know, for a couple of reasons:

  1. To encourage due reverence (as Aesop put it “familiarity breeds contempt”).
  2. The priest sometimes needed to push-off quick sharp and didn’t have time.
  3. If the layman in question is uncertain of whether he is fit to receive or not (especially now with our poorer catechesis (not helped by bishops allowing apostates, atheists, and heretics teach Religion in Catholic Schools), softer disciplinary rules regarding fasting, and the modern man being even more fickle than the modern man of 3-4 decades ago).
  4. If the priest has reason to believe that many of the congregation are either in a state of sin or otherwise excommunicated (for example, a priest in Italy during the 50s might have only given Communion once a year to avoid the scandal of giving Communion to Communists (yes, I’m thinking of “Don Camillo”)).
  5. If, as there may be (during a war, times of famine, depression, et al.), a shortage of supplies, the priest may be obliged to ration the wafers and wine for Communion to ensure that everyone under his pastoral care has access to it at least once a year.

The obligation to receive once a year is essential, but all laity are encouraged to receive at every Mass they attend (assuming they only attend one Mass a day).

Another reason for infrequent communion is this: many Orthodox believe (and rightly so) that you should always go to Confession before receiving Communion. This is probably why daily Liturgy never really caught on among the Orthodox; it would mean daily Confession, as well. Weekly Confession is excellent. Unfortunately, for reasons I’m unsure of, many Orthodox go to Confession infrequently. But they were incessantly told that they must go to Confession before receiving Communion. Instead of going to Confession more often (which would have been wonderful) they went to Communion less often.

Where is it that every time receiving the Eucharist requires confession? There is a petition for general forgiveness immediately prior to communion. And to require confession before every communion would require nightly vigils every week by the priest.

The idea that someone needs to be sure they are “fit” to receive communion is ridiculous. No one is fit to receive, that’s why It had to happen. You’d need a Th. D. in order to be sure you’re not accidentally a heretic from any stray thought. The only things that I can see that should stop someone from approaching the chalice is knowingly spreading heresy, unrepentant sinfulness, or excommunication.

Heresy is not thinking of any heretical thought, it is practicing heretical ideas deliberately and while knowing they are heretical.

If none of us are ever fit to receive Communion, then the Sacrament of confession/penance is futile. We are not fit to receive Our Lord without His help. He has given us the means to be worthy enough to receive Him (“Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”).

The inclination and temptation to sin is not a sin, it is acting on those inclinations or giving into the temptation that is sinful, otherwise we could never get to Heaven (which is a heresy as it requires the sin of despair and it denies God’s Supremacy and the Sacrifice of His Son).