During the performance of the greatest sacrament of the Eucharist, the most unforeseen things can happen – from the attack of enemies, various accidents, to ordinary distraction, leading to gross errors in the religious rite. “Uchitelnoe Izvestie” of the monk Euthymius (XVII century), which we have already wrote about, gives solutions based on prudence, reverence for the Sacrament and many years of priesthood experience, for such situations. We will give some more of the most interesting cases and their solutions proposed by Izvestie.
What if a church or the Holy Altar are defiled by the bloodshed, riot, or impurity?
– If any of this happens in the consecrated church, the priest cannot serve in it until it is cleansed with a bishop’s blessing. If something like this happens during the service before the Great Entrance, the priest should stop the service, consume the Gifts as blessed bread and wine, not as Body and Blood, for the consecration has not yet happened. The priest, after putting off the holy vestments, can leave the church without performing a service. If something happens after the Great Entrance, then the service must be completed, but a priest should no longer dare to serve until the time of consecration and receiving the bishop’s blessing for that.
What if robbers (heretics, pagans, foreigners or murderers) attack the Church?
– In this case, the service cannot be continued and the priest must manage to consume all the Gifts, including the Spare ones, for the shrine not to be mocked or defeated. What concerns the priest himself, if there is an opportunity, he can flee. But if he stays, he will do better, because he will receive the crown of the martyrdom for having been killed for the Name of Christ and his ministry.
What should a priest do in case of fire or in case of a roof collapse’s risk?
– The priest must get the Holy Gifts and antimension out of the church with all precautions and perform the service starting from the very moment he stopped, at any decent place for this. It can even be done in the street.
What should a priest do if he forgot whether he have said the Lord’s words over the bread and wine or the Epiclesis prayer and is confused by this?
– If the priest is perplexed about this (whether the Gifts were sanctified), then he should not be preoccupied by this; he should send this thought away and repeat the sacred words quietly, starting from “In the night in which He was given up…” and then all the words that he is doubtful about. By this he will continue the service.
Can a priest have a long mustache?
– Having a long or voluminous mustache is highly undesirable for a priest. The priest, having such a mustache, can drop a Divine Blood’s drop on the floor or on the vestment out of negligence after partaking of the Chalice, and to sin heavily by this. However, if he tries to lick them well and wipe them off with a cover immediately after Communion, he will be able to avoid sin. However, it is best to put the mustache into shape.
We have led some of the most unusual cases that could happen during the Divine Liturgy, but there may be some others. In general, “Uchitelnoe Izvestie”, despite some anachronisms, faithfully conveys the atmosphere of a living awe of the priest before God and deserves careful attention to its topics – if not to the letter of the rules, then to their spirit.