The Communion Queue
St John Chrysostom
The Eucharist is, as St John Chrysostom wrote, "a great and wonderful thing".
Holy Communion is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful features of the Divine Liturgy. For many an onlooker, one does not see the faces of communicants as they line up to receive the sacrament - one only sees them from behind. In my position as an acolyte at the Divine Liturgy, I indeed blessed to have been granted the rare view of people as they approach the sanctuary for Communion.
It is truly a heartwarming sight. The children, enthusiastic passion etched across their small faces, rush out to join the queue; the younger ones all trying to be first. Even when standing in the queue, the enthusiasm of the children does not dampen as they prepare in their individual ways to receive the Body and Blood of Christ: sisters carrying their younger siblings to venerate the icons on the tetrapod, toddlers looking around in awe and bewilderment as they approach the priest, and others mostly excited - as if it were Christmas morning.
Parents who accompany their children are no less curious to watch. They seem just as happy to see their children receive the sacrament as the children themselves. Their reaction is the same: just as soon as the spoon with the Blood and Body enters the child's mouth, a wide smile appears on the parent's face. What parents do when their child reaches for the prosphora after communion is equally heartwarming: they all whisper (albeit loudly) to their children, "Take one. Take only one!"
The adults in the queue show the solemn side of Holy Communion. Most are expressionless, looking almost apathetic - but every now and then, you see in the queue, someone so deep in prayer and devotion. It's beautiful.
Regardless of how they receive the sacrament, everyone who partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ return contented, and gladdened. Now, that is a sight visible to all.
"Eat my flesh," He says, "And drink my blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over his flesh, and pours out his blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!
St Clement of Alexandria