Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
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Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
When non-celebrating clergy receive Holy Communion, what is the order for them doing so, in relation to the serving clergy?
Handbook Category: Divine Liturgy (index)

When non-celebrating clergy are present in the Altar or otherwise come forward into the Altar, with a blessing, to receive Holy Communion, they first don the vestments appropriate for the reception of Communion, having entered the Altar no later than during the litany before the Our Father. They then wash their hands.

Once vested appropriately, the non-serving clergy enter into the order for receiving Holy Communion in the following manner:

  • Non-serving Priests receive the Holy Gifts after all the serving (fully-vested) Priests, even if some amongst those serving Priests may be of a lower ecclesiastical rank than they are. If there are multiple non-celebrating Priests receiving Holy Communion, they receive in order of their rank, after all the serving Priests. The serving Deacons receive Communion immediately after the non-serving Priests.
  • Non-serving Deacons receive the Holy Gifts after all the serving Deacons, even if some amongst those serving Deacons may be of a lower ecclesiastical rank than they are. If there are multiple non-celebrating Deacons receiving Holy Communion, they receive in order of their rank, after all the serving Deacons.

Additionally, if amongst the non-serving clergy is a Bishop who is not serving but wishes to receive Holy Communion, the following order is observed:

  • If the Liturgy is being headed by one or more serving Bishops: First the serving Bishops place the Lamb into their own hands, by order of rank, according to the usual practice; then the non-serving Bishop(s) — vested in epitrahil, cuffs, mantia and small omofor — take the Lamb into their hands after all the serving Bishops, even if some of those Bishops be of a lower rank than the non-serving Hierarchs. Once all the Bishops have the Lamb in their hands, the senior Deacon says the prayers and the Hierarchs commune. The reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice follows the same pattern: all serving Hierarchs first, then any non-serving Hierarchs. Following this, one or more of the serving Bishops communes the Priests and Deacons according to the customary order.
  • If the Liturgy is being headed by a Priest and the non-serving Bishop is the only Hierarch present: After the elevation of the Lamb, its fracture, the addition of hot water to the chalice, etc. (all done by the Priest and Deacon), the Priest divides the ‘XC’ portion of Lamb for the nuber of clergy to commune, including the non-celebrating Bishop. Once this is done, the Priest steps to the south (right-hand) side of the Holy Table (other concelebrating Priests do not re-arrange themselves around the Holy Table, but remain where they are), and an orletz is placed before the Table. The non-celebrating Bishop, vested in epitrahil, cuffs, mantia and small omofor, steps before the Holy Table and, in the customary way, takes a portion of the Body into his hands, at which point the senior Deacon says the prayers and the Bishop communes himself. Following this, the Bishop communes himself of the Blood from the chalice, whereupon he departs from the Holy Table to the table of oblation, where his zapivka has been prepared for him and an Altar server reads him the post-communion prayers. Meanwhile, the orlets is removed from before the Holy Table, the senior celebrating Priest returns to his place there, and the communion of the Priests and Deacons takes place as usual — except that the prayers before receiving communion are not repeated, having already been prayed in the presence of all.

For the purpose of clarity, we reiterate explicitly that a non-serving Bishop communes only himself, but he does not give Holy Communion to the other clergy of the Altar, nor does he commune the faithful.


This Liturgical Handbook is provided as a resource on the liturgical customs and practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

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