Receiving Holy Communion

In “A Grief Observed” Lewis wrote:

“Tomorrow morning a priest will give me a little round, thin, cold, tasteless wafer…I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want H., not something that is like her [i.e. a photograph].”

The above is not a very appealing description of Holy Communion. Lewis gives a much more attractive one in his last work, “Letters to Malcolm”:

“I find no difficulty in believing that the veil between the worlds, nowhere else (for me) so opaque to the intellect, is nowhere else so thin and permeable to divine operation. Here a hand from the hidden country touches not only my soul but my body. Here the prig, the don, the modern, in me have no privilege over the savage or the child. Here is big medicine and strong magic*.*”

Lewis then mentions what he considers the regrettable controversy between Christian denominations about whether the Eucharist is or is not the “real” body and blood of Christ, and says:

“I hope I do not offend God by making my communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand. Particularly, I hope I need not be tormented by the question “What is this?”–this wafer, this sip of wine. That has a dreadful effect on me. It invites me to take “this” out of its holy context and regard it as an object among objects, indeed as part of nature. It is like taking a red coal out of the fire to examine it: it becomes a dead coal.”

I am Orthodox, but follow Lewis’s lead when he says that Christ’s ultimate command is, after all, “Take, eat; not Take, understand”.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)