Discourses at the Communion on Fridays

Discourses at the Communion on Fridays

Discourses at the Communion on Fridays

Discourses at the Communion on Fridays


Soren Kierkegaard's 13 communion discourses constitute a distinct genre among the various forms of religious writing composed by Kierkegaard. Originally published at different times and places, Kierkegaard himself believed that these discourses served as a unifying element in his work and were crucial for understanding his religious thought and philosophy as a whole. Written in an intensely personal liturgical context, the communion discourses prepare the reader for participation in this rite by emphasizing the appropriate posture for forgiveness of sins and confession.


The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, or Holy Communion is regarded by many Christians as the central rite of the Christian religion. Yet in the history of Christian thought there is little liturgical literature, either dogmatic or popular, that focuses reflectively on the appropriate penitential posture for participation in this sacred ritual or on its personal import for the individual communicant who partakes of the holy meal. the publication of a series of communion discourses by the Danish philosopher of religion and Christian thinker Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) constitutes a unique contribution to the phenomenology of religion in this regard. Written with communicants of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark specifically in mind but potentially edifying for every individual regardless of his or her religious affiliation, Kierkegaard’s communion discourses fill a major void in this genre of religious discourse.

Among his many religious and philosophical works, all produced in the course of little more than a decade, Kierkegaard wrote a total of thirteen discourses for the communion on Fridays, which was his favorite time to take communion in his native city of Copenhagen, where communion services were regularly held in Lutheran churches on Fridays, Sundays, and holy days. Three of these discourses were actually delivered by Kierkegaard at the Church of Our Lady in the parish where he lived and worked as an independent author. By his own admission, Kierkegaard wrote and spoke “without authority” since he was not an ordained minister or teacher, although he attended the pastoral seminary for a year after completing his undergraduate

1. Niels Cappelørn, “Søren Kierkegaard at Friday Communion in the Church of Our Lady,” trans. K. Brian Söderquist, in IKC:WA, 259, 276–78.

2. Ibid., 283–85.

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