A foremost problem within the parishes of the Orthodox Church is the correct understanding of the requirements for reception of the Immaculate Mysteries. Our churches are open to all. Whoever considers themselves Orthodox Christians may approach unhindered to pray to God, to hear the teaching and to receive antidoron/blessed bread. However, it is not possible for all to receive the Immaculate Mysteries. It is just like with a pharmacy, entrance into the pharmacy is not forbidden, but one will not receive strong medication without first presenting a doctor’s prescription, so we too within the Orthodox Church. There are certain requirements for the reception of Holy Communion.
The spiritual father’s permission to receive Holy Communion is identical to a doctor’s prescription for strong medication. Just as with our health, we select a doctor for our physical ailments and we do not go to quack or ignorant physicians who do not have a medical license or to those who have had their medical license taken away because of their ineptitude. Similarly in the spiritual realm, the spiritual doctor to whom we go for the healing of our souls must be canonical. In other words, he must have a canonical ordination within the Orthodox Church. It is understood that the spiritual father must exercise his priesthood unhindered, he himself must not be weighed down by the penalty of suspension or deposition.
We must go to a canonical spiritual father within the Church at regular intervals to confess our sins. We will receive guidance from him as to how we must prepare in order to receive the Immaculate Mysteries. Preparation is through the practice of the virtues; alms giving, prayer, study and proper fasting.
The permission of the spiritual father is a necessary requirement for the reception of Holy Communion. It should be noted that it is sufficient for the spiritual father to be a canonical clergyman of the Orthodox Church . It is not necessary that it be the priest of the parish one goes to in order to receive.
One who wishes to receive Holy Communion must have read the service of preparation for Holy Communion from the night before, but also on the day which he will receive he must come to church on time and follow the Matins and the Divine Liturgy and not come at the last minute to receive except if there exists a pressing reason. If he is the parent of underage children and for this reason finds it difficult to come early he is obliged to read his morning prayers – at least until the six-psalms- at home.
Certainly the greatest requirement for the reception of the Immaculate Mysteries is that one be a member of the Orthodox Church.