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Author Topic: Involuntary Bodily Emission, Sin, and Volition in Eastern and Western Theology  (Read 2059 times) Average Rating: 0
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jordanz
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« on: March 31, 2011, 05:33:18 PM »

Over at the thread Autoeroticism and the Fathers: RC POV, the topic turned towards the moral culpability of involuntary sexual acts such as nocturnal emission.

I raised the following question about volition in the Orthodox tradition:

It seems to me that nocturnal emission is not "sin of omission".  If, say, someone is being discriminated against and an observer does not speak up about the injustice, the observer could have committed a sin of omission.  Psychosomatism isn't omission, since there's no reflection (unless one thinks that dream thoughts are consciously reflexive.)  I don't, so I would say that psychosomatic acts outside of the "natural order" are neither sins of commission or omission.  

So Orthodoxy has a third "fallen-ness" that's outside of commission or omission?  This reminds me of certain commandments of observant Judaism, specifically niddah (commandments that concern the interaction of menstruating women with other people).  Today we know empirically that menstruation is not pathological.  Still, observant Jews observe the rabbinical social protocols that concern menstruation even if the rabbinical commentary or the Mosaic prohibition contradict current empirical knowledge.

Is the Orthodox evaluation of involuntary emission of semen akin to niddah?  Is the production of a life-generating substance outside of life-generation the occasion for penance?  Or, is this a matter of ritual purity?

Schultz observed two important points in response (here, here):

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance".  

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.

Finally, Shanghaiski notes that the intersection of bodily fluid emission and the sacraments envelops more than the psychosomatic emission of semen.

There are rules governing menstruation and emissions and Holy Communion, and as well one often avoids communion if bleeding or if there is a possibility of vomiting.

There is a prayer rule for what to do after emissions, which may or may not result "from habit, thoughts, immoderation in hurtful things or food and drink, or overbearing presumption."

With regards to nocturnal emissions, menstruation, and vomiting, the following three points are rather clear from a Roman standpoint.

1) None of these acts are volitional.

2) None of these acts are rational.

3) None of these acts are deliberate.

Hence, per Roman moral theology none of these acts are morally culpable.  From the Roman standpoint, sin requires reason, volition, and deliberation.

Why, then, are the aforementioned bodily emissions impediments to Eucharistic participation in Orthodoxy?

Certain discrete points stand out, but I can't link them together.

1) Semen and menstrual blood are connected to procreation.  I included the example of niddah from Judaism as a comparative example from another religion because the Mosaic laws that concern menstruation also contain procreative elements.  How would Eucharistic sacramental symbolism and theology interact with the life-bearing and procreative abilities of these bodily emissions?

2) Perhaps the prohibition of the administration of the Eucharist to a person with nausea stems from merely practical concerns, i.e. the indigestion of the Eucharist and possible expulsion from the body with subsequent profanation.  Would there be any theological or symbolic considerations behind the prohibition of the Eucharist to the nauseous?

3) Blood, even outside of procreative functions, is symbolic of life.  Yet, if someone has been mortally injured, wouldn't it be best for a priest to absolve the dying person and administer the Eucharist to him or her?  Is the theological and symbolic prohibitory intersection between shed blood and the Eucharist more important than the viaticum?  No Roman priest with the Sacrament in his possession would hesitate to commune a mortally wounded person after absolution and the apostolic blessing.  Why would an Orthodox priest deny the Eucharist to a dying person if that person has shed his or her own blood due to accident or misfortune, and not deliberate injury to the self or others?      
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 05:40:22 PM by jordanz » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2011, 05:56:50 PM »

3) Blood, even outside of procreative functions, is symbolic of life.  Yet, if someone has been mortally injured, wouldn't it be best for a priest to absolve the dying person and administer the Eucharist to him or her?  Is the theological and symbolic prohibitory intersection between shed blood and the Eucharist more important than the viaticum?  No Roman priest with the Sacrament in his possession would hesitate to commune a mortally wounded person after absolution and the apostolic blessing.  Why would an Orthodox priest deny the Eucharist to a dying person if that person has shed his or her own blood due to accident or misfortune, and not deliberate injury to the self or others?      
Where do you get the idea that an Orthodox priest would deny Communion to one who was mortally wounded? It seems that you're making a rather absurd leap of logic here by jumping immediately from blood to the extreme situation of the mortal wound. What of all the cases in the middle where one has suffered a non-lethal bleeding wound (e.g., the paper cut or razor blade "gotcha") yet wishes to receive Communion while still bleeding? If you think about it, you're much more likely to cut yourself shaving than you are to get stabbed in the gut by a mugger.
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2011, 06:01:49 PM »

3) Blood, even outside of procreative functions, is symbolic of life.  Yet, if someone has been mortally injured, wouldn't it be best for a priest to absolve the dying person and administer the Eucharist to him or her?  Is the theological and symbolic prohibitory intersection between shed blood and the Eucharist more important than the viaticum?  No Roman priest with the Sacrament in his possession would hesitate to commune a mortally wounded person after absolution and the apostolic blessing.  Why would an Orthodox priest deny the Eucharist to a dying person if that person has shed his or her own blood due to accident or misfortune, and not deliberate injury to the self or others?      

Where do you get the idea that an Orthodox priest would deny Communion to one who was mortally wounded? It seems that you're making a rather absurd leap of logic here by jumping immediately from blood to the extreme situation of the mortal wound. What of all the cases in the middle where one has suffered a non-lethal bleeding wound (e.g., the paper cut or razor blade "gotcha") yet wishes to receive Communion while still bleeding?

You're quite right.  My assertion is absurd and perhaps illogical.  Still, I'm trying to figure out the significance of the intersection of bleeding and the reception of the Eucharist.  What type of bleeding, or extent of bleeding, is necessary to prohibit a person from communicating?  Is the presence of shed blood dependent on situation, or an absolute disqualifier?  Just trying to establish thought boundaries.
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2011, 06:21:14 PM »

On second thought, does anyone really need to bring up those questions?

I think not.
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2011, 06:32:41 PM »

On second thought, does anyone really need to bring up those questions?

I think not.

Why not?  It's interesting to think about theological possibilities.  Orthodoxy does not encourage intellectual curiosity?  I'm always flipping Christianity around and around in my head.
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2011, 06:54:32 PM »

On second thought, does anyone really need to bring up those questions?

I think not.
Why not?
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 07:52:13 PM »

3) Blood, even outside of procreative functions, is symbolic of life.  Yet, if someone has been mortally injured, wouldn't it be best for a priest to absolve the dying person and administer the Eucharist to him or her?  Is the theological and symbolic prohibitory intersection between shed blood and the Eucharist more important than the viaticum?  No Roman priest with the Sacrament in his possession would hesitate to commune a mortally wounded person after absolution and the apostolic blessing.  Why would an Orthodox priest deny the Eucharist to a dying person if that person has shed his or her own blood due to accident or misfortune, and not deliberate injury to the self or others?      

Where do you get the idea that an Orthodox priest would deny Communion to one who was mortally wounded? It seems that you're making a rather absurd leap of logic here by jumping immediately from blood to the extreme situation of the mortal wound. What of all the cases in the middle where one has suffered a non-lethal bleeding wound (e.g., the paper cut or razor blade "gotcha") yet wishes to receive Communion while still bleeding?

You're quite right.  My assertion is absurd and perhaps illogical.  Still, I'm trying to figure out the significance of the intersection of bleeding and the reception of the Eucharist.  What type of bleeding, or extent of bleeding, is necessary to prohibit a person from communicating?  Is the presence of shed blood dependent on situation, or an absolute disqualifier?  Just trying to establish thought boundaries.

Um, this is the difference between the West and the East. There is no doctrine that says "well if a person sheds 1 pint of blood, you can administer the Eucharist to him, but if he's heavily bleeding, whoa Nelly! No Eucharist for him!"

In the pre-Communion prayer, we ask that the Eucharist be "healing to soul, and body." Therefore, it would be illogical to refrain from administering the Eucharist from anyone who was bleeding.

Furthermore, a lesson in Anatomy will teach you that which is digested by the stomach is not digested through the blood stream.

Seriously, you need to leave this legalistic mindset behind if you're going to come East.

We just don't analyze every little thing like you do in the West.
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2011, 08:05:36 PM »

In the pre-Communion prayer, we ask that the Eucharist be "healing to soul, and body." Therefore, it would be illogical to refrain from administering the Eucharist from anyone who was bleeding.

Yet, some schools of Orthodox theology will refuse the Eucharist to someone who is bleeding.  There is then a contradiction between the notion of the Eucharist as the Divine Medicine and the classification of communicants because of ritual taboos that concern bodily emissions.

Seriously, you need to leave this legalistic mindset behind if you're going to come East.

We just don't analyze every little thing like you do in the West.

Yes, but there is so much joy in the rigor of intellectual discovery.  Perhaps Orthodoxy is not the right path for me if my encounter with the divine is through the joyful pursuit of the logical and intellectual.
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2011, 08:10:10 PM »

TBF, I've read on this board some rather odd notions surrounding injuries and their involvement whether one should commune or not, IMHO.

Some odd tales as well of what folks do if someone drops dead and haven't "digested" the Blood and Body of Christ.

I can see why from some posts I've read and stuff I've heard Old World Orthodox say that someone might think there are "rules" governing the circumstances being asked about.
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 08:23:08 PM »

Holy Canons:  

"For tell me, dear and most reverent friend, what sin or uncleanness is there in a natural excretion, as if one should find fault with mucus exuding from noses, and with the saliva expelled through the mouth?  And more than this, the secretions of the stomach are necessary to the animal economy and to its vital processes. Furthermore, if we believe man to be a work of God’s hands, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, how could any work be polluted when made by a pure power?...But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment. Even the children of physicians (to be ashamed of their externals) might counter to this that certain necessary passageways have been given to the animal for the purpose of enabling each of us to eliminate superfluous humors that accumulate in our members.  Thus, for instance, the hairs of the head are superfluities, or excess baggage; and sweat from the head, and the expulsions from the belly, and above all the emissions of seminal passages. After all, what sort of things, for God, O most God-beloved elder, constitute the sinfulness when the Lord has created the animal such and has wanted it to have such emissions in its members’?"

(Canon 1 of St. Athanasios of Alexandria; from his letter to the monk Amun)
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 09:21:54 PM »

In the pre-Communion prayer, we ask that the Eucharist be "healing to soul, and body." Therefore, it would be illogical to refrain from administering the Eucharist from anyone who was bleeding.

Yet, some schools of Orthodox theology will refuse the Eucharist to someone who is bleeding.  There is then a contradiction between the notion of the Eucharist as the Divine Medicine and the classification of communicants because of ritual taboos that concern bodily emissions.

It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?

Note, there are no rules about going to the bathroom after communion, becaue that waste has already been eliminated from the body, just waiting to be evacuated.

Seriously, you need to leave this legalistic mindset behind if you're going to come East.

We just don't analyze every little thing like you do in the West.

Yes, but there is so much joy in the rigor of intellectual discovery.  Perhaps Orthodoxy is not the right path for me if my encounter with the divine is through the joyful pursuit of the logical and intellectual.
If using your mind makes you lose your heart, then you are pursuing the wrong thing. 

There is much heresy in counting angels on pins.
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2011, 09:44:21 PM »

Holy Canons:  

"For tell me, dear and most reverent friend, what sin or uncleanness is there in a natural excretion, as if one should find fault with mucus exuding from noses, and with the saliva expelled through the mouth?  And more than this, the secretions of the stomach are necessary to the animal economy and to its vital processes. Furthermore, if we believe man to be a work of God’s hands, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, how could any work be polluted when made by a pure power?...But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment. Even the children of physicians (to be ashamed of their externals) might counter to this that certain necessary passageways have been given to the animal for the purpose of enabling each of us to eliminate superfluous humors that accumulate in our members.  Thus, for instance, the hairs of the head are superfluities, or excess baggage; and sweat from the head, and the expulsions from the belly, and above all the emissions of seminal passages. After all, what sort of things, for God, O most God-beloved elder, constitute the sinfulness when the Lord has created the animal such and has wanted it to have such emissions in its members’?"

(Canon 1 of St. Athanasios of Alexandria; from his letter to the monk Amun)

And unlike the canons of St. John the Faster, of Ecumenical Authority:
Quote
he also left us these three Canonical Epistles, which are necessary to the good order and constitution of the Church, and which have been confirmed indefinitely by c. I of the 4th and c. I of the 7th, but definitely by c. II of the 6th Ecum. C
http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/canons_fathers_rudder.htm#_Toc78634055
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2011, 10:12:31 PM »

It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?

I understand the bodily integrity argument in its simplest derivation.  If the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, one would not want that to seep out of the body.

We Romans teach, through Aquinas, that a point arrives when the Host ceases to be the body of Christ.  This point appears when the fragments cannot be discerned even though contact has been made with the eucharistic species.  In other words, if a priest were to administer Communion, wipe the communion patens with his fingers, but not completely perform the ablutions, no Eucharist would be left within the fingerprints on the Missal or altar cloth, etc.  

By corollary, the notion that a communicant would be turned away for a cut or bandaged wound is incomprehensible for Romans.  Furthermore, this Roman is quite opposed to the notion that menstruating women in a state of grace should not receive the Sacrament. At least in the modern and postmodern periods, Romans have always permitted menstruating women in a state of grace the Sacrament.  Why would we do so?  Women and men both hunger for the grace that all need for salvation.

Are women inferior since they cannot approach the Eucharist when menstruating?  I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.  Nevertheless, the notion that a very necessary and natural part of a woman's physiology and fertility, a necessary good, is a deterrent from the Holy Sacrifice, scandalizes me.  How could the participation in the creation of God's image separate a woman from her Savior?
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 10:21:22 PM »

It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?

I understand the bodily integrity argument in its simplest derivation.  If the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, one would not want that to seep out of the body.

We Romans teach, through Aquinas, that a point arrives when the Host ceases to be the body of Christ.  This point appears when the fragments cannot be discerned even though contact has been made with the eucharistic species.  In other words, if a priest were to administer Communion, wipe the communion patens with his fingers, but not completely perform the ablutions, no Eucharist would be left within the fingerprints on the Missal or altar cloth, etc.  

By corollary, the notion that a communicant would be turned away for a cut or bandaged wound is incomprehensible for Romans.  Furthermore, this Roman is quite opposed to the notion that menstruating women in a state of grace should not receive the Sacrament. At least in the modern and postmodern periods, Romans have always permitted menstruating women in a state of grace the Sacrament.  Why would we do so?  Women and men both hunger for the grace that all need for salvation.

Are women inferior since they cannot approach the Eucharist when menstruating?  I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.  Nevertheless, the notion that a very necessary and natural part of a woman's physiology and fertility, a necessary good, is a deterrent from the Holy Sacrifice, scandalizes me.  How could the participation in the creation of God's image separate a woman from her Savior?


Although there have been some Saints over the years who have written against a woman receiving the Eucharist during menses, the overall consensus is that a woman may receive during menses.

Remember, just because one Saint writes an opinion on a subject matter, that doesn't make it dogma in the Orthodox Church.

The only things that are dogma have been established through the 8 Ecumenical Councils.

I honestly feel like you are making judgments about Orthodoxy based on what you have read, with no real life experience in an Orthodox parish, speaking with an Orthodox priest.

It appears that your experience with Orthodoxy is purely an academic one, in which case, you haven't experienced Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2011, 10:34:36 PM »

I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.  

It's not dogma, but I think a number of the Fathers would indeed say this. Especially in the case of the Theotokos, it would stand to reason, if she was ever-virgin.

But all this is not sexist. Traditionally if a man has an involuntary emission during the Eucharistic fast, he also must abstain. (IIRC, there are even prayers for a priest to say if this happens, since he must partake when he celebrates the liturgy.)

How much or whether these standards are held, I have no idea.
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2011, 10:41:52 PM »

St. Dionysius Canon 4:

4. As for those men who involuntarily become victims of nocturnal emission, let them too be guided by their own conscience as to whether to partake or not, and decide for themselves, whether they have any doubt about this matter or not, as also in the case of foods, "he that hath any doubt is damned if he eat" (Rom. 14:23). And let everyone be conscientious in these matters, and outspoken, in accordance with his own inclination, when he approaches God. In honoring us (for you know you are, dear) by asking these questions, you have taken us to be like-minded, as indeed we are, and you are making us partners in your decision. As for me, it is not as a teacher, but as one who deems it fitting for us to talk with each other with all simplicity, that I have set forth my own conception of the matter for our common benefit. After finding that this conception of the matter meets with your approbation, my most sensible son, when you come to see whether it is so, you may write in turn about these matters whatever appears to you right and better. Farewell, my dear son, and I pray that this finds you in peace ministering to the Lord.

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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2011, 10:55:34 PM »

It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?

I understand the bodily integrity argument in its simplest derivation.  If the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, one would not want that to seep out of the body.

We Romans teach, through Aquinas, that a point arrives when the Host ceases to be the body of Christ.  This point appears when the fragments cannot be discerned even though contact has been made with the eucharistic species.  In other words, if a priest were to administer Communion, wipe the communion patens with his fingers, but not completely perform the ablutions, no Eucharist would be left within the fingerprints on the Missal or altar cloth, etc.  

By corollary, the notion that a communicant would be turned away for a cut or bandaged wound is incomprehensible for Romans.  Furthermore, this Roman is quite opposed to the notion that menstruating women in a state of grace should not receive the Sacrament. At least in the modern and postmodern periods, Romans have always permitted menstruating women in a state of grace the Sacrament.  Why would we do so?  Women and men both hunger for the grace that all need for salvation.

Are women inferior since they cannot approach the Eucharist when menstruating?  I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.  Nevertheless, the notion that a very necessary and natural part of a woman's physiology and fertility, a necessary good, is a deterrent from the Holy Sacrifice, scandalizes me.  How could the participation in the creation of God's image separate a woman from her Savior?

When I had a leg ulcer, I did not commune. Had I been on my death bed, I would have.  No menstruation involved.

As to whether the Old or New Eve menstruated, I don't know and don't care either way.  I assume they did, but have not interest to pursue that question while there is much more immediate things to attend to.
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2011, 10:57:12 PM »

I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either.  

It's not dogma, but I think a number of the Fathers would indeed say this. Especially in the case of the Theotokos, it would stand to reason, if she was ever-virgin.
Huh?
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2011, 11:04:28 PM »

Oh this thread is just full of facepalm.

Can we please have a discourse in anatomy and physiology before we continue with this discussion? Please?
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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2011, 08:11:39 AM »

MODS: Is there a way to do a “multiple quote” function on this board?  On other boards I can collect the quotations from multiple questions just by clicking on one button next to each post.  Then I press the “reply” button and all the selected quotations appear in one reply box.  Here, I have to cut-n-paste quotations to a word processor one by one before re-arrangement.  Other internet board interfaces have multi-quote.  Is it possible to request this?.  Thank you.

-------------------------------------------------------------

The question of gender, sexism, and the porosity of the body is very important in questions of sin and volition. 

ialmistry has aready noted:

It is not ritual taboo: would you use a leaky chalice?

While involuntary emission might not be a taboo, it is based on “limits”: certain people are impeded from ritual because of certain bodily attributes or functions.  Perhaps it would be better to recategorize involuntary emission as “fencing”, or the delineation of ritual participation based on certain variables.

This concept is very prominent in anthropology.  Victor Turner's discussion of initiation rituals among the Ndembu of Zambia discusses the structure of ritual around circumcision in great detail. (1)  Among the Ndembu, a man who is not circumcized is still considered a child and cannot participate in certain adult male activities.  Non-circumcized adult men aren't “taboo” per se, but rather limited in who they may eat with, socialize with &c.

(1) Victor Turner. “Chapter VII: Mukanda: The Rite of Circumcision.” 
The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual.  (Ithaca, N.Y.; London: Cornell UP, 1967.) 151 – 279


I agree with bogdan and HandmaidenofGod that the question of involuntary emission in the moral sphere is not dependent on menses, or any gender specific question of ritual limitation.  Questions of pre-lapsarianism involve persons or events in salvation history that are outside of normal existence.

I suppose then that per Orthodox theology the pre-lapsarian Eve never shed her endometrium.  Perhaps Our Lady, the new Eve, did not either. 

It's not dogma, but I think a number of the Fathers would indeed say this. Especially in the case of the Theotokos, it would stand to reason, if she was ever-virgin.

The questions of Eve/Mary, Fall/Incarnation, do not have an immediate relevance to fencing in the celebration of divine liturgy.  This will probably become important as the conversation moves from immanent/mortal questions to epistemological/theological questions. File this one.

But all this is not sexist. Traditionally if a man has an involuntary emission during the Eucharistic fast, he also must abstain. (IIRC, there are even prayers for a priest to say if this happens, since he must partake when he celebrates the liturgy.)

How much or whether these standards are held, I have no idea.
     
Quite agreed, bogdan.  Both men and women in Orthodoxy appear to be fenced from ritual because of different involuntary emissions.  There are connections (the emissions might be related to life or procreation), but the boundaries are the same.  “Sexism” isn't the case. 

However, a male-only discussion of menses is inappropriate, as this conversation so far is lopsided towards men.  That's why I'm trying to move away from specific instances of involuntary emissions towards the idea that aspects of the body create conditions of ritual limitation.

It's very important to keep in mind  FatherHLL's quotation for St. Athanasius of Alexandria:
 
Holy Canons: 

(...) ...But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment. Even the children of physicians (to be ashamed of their externals) might counter to this that certain necessary passageways have been given to the animal for the purpose of enabling each of us to eliminate superfluous humors that accumulate in our members. (...)

(Canon 1 of St. Athanasios of Alexandria; from his letter to the monk Amun)
(my additions)

Indeed.  So perhaps we should move from the discussion of particular types of emissions towards the idea that the body, and its processes and conditions, can be a barrier to ritual participation.
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2011, 08:17:45 AM »


I honestly feel like you are making judgments about Orthodoxy based on what you have read, with no real life experience in an Orthodox parish, speaking with an Orthodox priest.

I agree in some respects.  It's important (and fun!) to discuss topics informally before talking to clergy.  I've been invited to study at a lecture series at a Greek Orthodox seminary, but I haven't had the time to go. 

I'm not making judgements.  This is akin to preliminary investigation.  Parish clergy often do not have the time to discuss such questions.  An online forum is often a better place to explore academic topics. 

Oh this thread is just full of facepalm.

Can we please have a discourse in anatomy and physiology before we continue with this discussion? Please?

Well, I think we're moving away from physiology towards anthropology.  I've done so since anatomical, physiological, and reproductive topics are personal.  I do wonder if clinical topics are not appropriate for this board.  Fortunately, discussions of “what the body does” aren't necessary to discuss bodies in ritual.
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« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2011, 09:07:12 AM »

As far as quoting posts, all you have to do is scroll down from where you're typing and hit "Insert Quote" on the top right-hand corner of the post you want to use.
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« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2011, 09:21:34 AM »

Oh this thread is just full of facepalm.

Can we please have a discourse in anatomy and physiology before we continue with this discussion? Please?

“Alcohol enters your bloodstream partly through the mucous membranes as you ingest it and it enters you stomach and esophagus. But it is mainly absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine.”   http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_alcohol_enter_your_bloodstream

“There is indeed a close relation between alcohol and sweating…Alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the gastrointestinal tract and the small intestine is by far the most efficient region for this absorption. Alcohol is absorbed fast in a fasting individual. There is some sort of affinity that alcohol has with water. Hence, alcohol makes its way in the body tissues and fluids, which have a high composition of water. Once alcohol is absorbed into the body, it does not take too long for it to reach all parts of the body…The side effects caused by alcohol are seen till it is completely eliminated from the system. About 95% of the alcohol consumed is metabolized by the liver. The remainder of the alcohol makes its away out of the system through the breath, urine, sweat, feces and breast milk. Sweating after drinking alcohol is common, because alcohol has a tendency to dilate the vessels in the skin. This leads to an increase in body heat and temperature. To keep the body temperature at its optimum, the body releases sweat."  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/alcohol-and-sweating.html

"Metabolism is the body's process of converting ingested substances to other compounds. Metabolism involves a number of processes, one of which is referred to as oxidation. Through oxidation in the liver, alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood, preventing the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine. Until all the alcohol consumed has been metabolized, it is distributed throughout the body, affecting the brain and other tissues.
            The liver can metabolize only a certain amount of alcohol per hour, regardless of the amount that has been consumed. The rate of alcohol metabolism depends, in part, on the amount of metabolizing enzymes in the liver, which varies among individuals. In general, after the consumption of one standard drink, the amount of alcohol in the drinker's blood reaches maximum concentration within 30 to 90 minutes from the time that drinking stops. (A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 6 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, all of which contain the same amount of alcohol.) Alcohol is metabolized more slowly than it is absorbed. Since the metabolism of alcohol is slow, consumption needs to be controlled to prevent accumulation in the body and intoxication."
http://www.intox.com/t-AboutAlcohol.aspx
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« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2011, 09:27:13 AM »

As far as quoting posts, all you have to do is scroll down from where you're typing and hit "Insert Quote" on the top right-hand corner of the post you want to use.

Thanks!  Okay, now I get it.  Wow, that makes my work a lot easier!

Sorry Mods for being a jerk.  I see how your BBS software works now.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 09:28:42 AM by jordanz » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2011, 09:45:05 AM »

About 95% of the alcohol consumed is metabolized by the liver. The remainder of the alcohol makes its away out of the system through the breath, urine, sweat, feces and breast milk. Sweating after drinking alcohol is common, because alcohol has a tendency to dilate the vessels in the skin.


"Metabolism is the body's process of converting ingested substances to other compounds. Metabolism involves a number of processes, one of which is referred to as oxidation. Through oxidation in the liver, alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood, preventing the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine. Until all the alcohol consumed has been metabolized, it is distributed throughout the body, affecting the brain and other tissues.

Thanks, Father, for the physiological correlation between the reception of the Sacrament and metabolism.

What is the link between metabolism, wound pathology, and Eucharistic reception prohibitions?  Does the presence of visible blood or suppuration on a prospective communicant create a ritually-limiting situation?  Does this situation occur because the communicant deviates from the "healthy" or "normal" metabolism and excretion of a person without lesions? 

Or, is the presence of a physical wound or suppuration spiritually or theologically significant rather than pathologically significant?  Does the presence of a lesion indicate spiritual or theological defect or inadequacy?  Where do pathology, spirituality, and theology intersect? 

It's very important to remember FatherHLL's quotation from St. Athanasius.  I suspect that lesion and pathology, and the notion in general that wound modifies "normal" metabolism, creates ritual fences.  The type of emission is not relevant.   
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 09:51:19 AM by jordanz » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2011, 04:01:04 PM »


I honestly feel like you are making judgments about Orthodoxy based on what you have read, with no real life experience in an Orthodox parish, speaking with an Orthodox priest.

I agree in some respects.  It's important (and fun!) to discuss topics informally before talking to clergy.  I've been invited to study at a lecture series at a Greek Orthodox seminary, but I haven't had the time to go. 

I'm not making judgements.  This is akin to preliminary investigation.  Parish clergy often do not have the time to discuss such questions.  An online forum is often a better place to explore academic topics.

You are wrong. An online forum is a HORRIBLE place to learn about Orthodoxy, and most parish priests hold classes for inquirors or will meet with them one on one.

Orthodoxy cannot be experienced or learned about in writing.

One MUST attend a parish to see what it is like.

The reason why an online forum is a bad place to learn about Orthodoxy is because you are basically collecting the various opinions of a bunch of people, and not learning what prescription the "Hospital for Sinners" would prescribe for you.

It's basically the equivalent of thinking that you are a medical expert because you visit WebMD.  WebMD is informative, but it does not replace going to medical school and having years of experience in a medical practice.

One does not need to attend Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary to become knowledgeable in the faith. One just needs to attend a parish. If you're in the Boston area (and I'm assuming you are since Holy Cross is the only Greek Orthodox seminary in the US), there are many great parishes that we would be happy to recommend to you if you are interested.


Well, I think we're moving away from physiology towards anthropology.  I've done so since anatomical, physiological, and reproductive topics are personal.  I do wonder if clinical topics are not appropriate for this board.  Fortunately, discussions of “what the body does” aren't necessary to discuss bodies in ritual.

You're over analyzing everything far too much.

We believe the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, therefore it is no longer alcohol and bread we are ingesting, but the body and blood of our Lord. It is healing to body and soul, whether or not one is or is not bleeding, secreting mucus, or any other body fluid. We don't buy that whole "transubstantiation" argument the West is fond of. The "how" details are a mystery known only to God.

If it were not healing to the sick, what would be the point of priests administering communion to those dying in hospitals?

There is a point when one must put down the books and rely on faith.

I am not suggesting that you have a blind faith, or that you shouldn't know about the beliefs of the Church, but you are tearing everything apart.

Seriously, do you believe that God would condemn a priest for administering the life-giving and life-saving sacrament of the Eucharist to an injured individual?

The Orthodox Church believes in a God of love and mercy. It is on His mercy that we depend upon our salvation.
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« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2011, 04:12:58 PM »

You are wrong. An online forum is a HORRIBLE place to learn about Orthodoxy, and most parish priests hold classes for inquirors or will meet with them one on one.

I apologize, HandmaidenofGod.  I am a believer, but I am also an inquirer.  I'm a graduate student in the humanities, so I view religion both from a believer's standpoint and from an academic standpoint.

Sometimes I'm interested in learning about faith to benefit my own salvation.  Other times, I want to learn about other people's faith from a detached, analytical perspective.

Okay, I'm gathering that this isn't the board to approach faith as an anthropological phenomenon.  It's a place for believers to discuss what they believe.  If I want to play intellectual hacky-sack, I can do it at work.  I won't do it here.  Apologies again.

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« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2011, 05:17:32 PM »

Oh this thread is just full of facepalm.

Can we please have a discourse in anatomy and physiology before we continue with this discussion? Please?

“Alcohol enters your bloodstream partly through the mucous membranes as you ingest it and it enters you stomach and esophagus. But it is mainly absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine.”   http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_alcohol_enter_your_bloodstream

“There is indeed a close relation between alcohol and sweating…Alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the gastrointestinal tract and the small intestine is by far the most efficient region for this absorption. Alcohol is absorbed fast in a fasting individual. There is some sort of affinity that alcohol has with water. Hence, alcohol makes its way in the body tissues and fluids, which have a high composition of water. Once alcohol is absorbed into the body, it does not take too long for it to reach all parts of the body…The side effects caused by alcohol are seen till it is completely eliminated from the system. About 95% of the alcohol consumed is metabolized by the liver. The remainder of the alcohol makes its away out of the system through the breath, urine, sweat, feces and breast milk. Sweating after drinking alcohol is common, because alcohol has a tendency to dilate the vessels in the skin. This leads to an increase in body heat and temperature. To keep the body temperature at its optimum, the body releases sweat."  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/alcohol-and-sweating.html

"Metabolism is the body's process of converting ingested substances to other compounds. Metabolism involves a number of processes, one of which is referred to as oxidation. Through oxidation in the liver, alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood, preventing the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine. Until all the alcohol consumed has been metabolized, it is distributed throughout the body, affecting the brain and other tissues.
            The liver can metabolize only a certain amount of alcohol per hour, regardless of the amount that has been consumed. The rate of alcohol metabolism depends, in part, on the amount of metabolizing enzymes in the liver, which varies among individuals. In general, after the consumption of one standard drink, the amount of alcohol in the drinker's blood reaches maximum concentration within 30 to 90 minutes from the time that drinking stops. (A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 6 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, all of which contain the same amount of alcohol.) Alcohol is metabolized more slowly than it is absorbed. Since the metabolism of alcohol is slow, consumption needs to be controlled to prevent accumulation in the body and intoxication."
http://www.intox.com/t-AboutAlcohol.aspx


 laugh laugh laugh

This is priceless!!

Accurate as well but that is not why it is priceless!!

Thanks for the chuckle, Father!!
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« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2011, 06:03:14 PM »

Through oxidation in the liver, alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood, preventing the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine.

What I don't understand about basing DWI charges on Breathalyzer results is this: the metabolism of alcohol also depends on body mass.  A "big person" might require a higher blood alcohol level in order to achieve cognitive impairment.  The converse is true for a smaller mass person.

Of course I don't condone drunk driving.  Anyone who has even one drink shouldn't get behind the wheel.  Still, I see signs on the highway that read "Over .08? Over the limit!" or similar.  Is there a certain blood alcohol level where almost all adults are cognitively impaired to the point where gross motor coordination and proper operation of a motor vehicle is impossible?
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« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2011, 10:18:44 PM »

I apologize to all when I wind up having to respond "on top" rather than under the rest of the conversation.  I assume it is the browser I am using, but when a thread gets too long I can no longer post it below, and have to respond above.  Anyway, I do not berate in any way those who abstain out of respect for the sacrament.  We are in delicate territory as some partake without much thought of preparation and others abstain for long periods of time.  Therefore those who see the importance of partaking of the Mysteries who out of piety abstain are doing so out of love for our Savior.  That being said, the point of this is that we cannot take the leaky chalice analogy too far.  We are all "leaky chalices" to some degree if that is how one is looking at it.   Yet the purpose of taking Communion is not to make a second chalice.  We already have a chalice.   A human person who partakes of Communion is not a "second container" for Communion but rather one who eats, drinks, and communes, with all that entails--as St. Athanasius points out, the latter by the Creator's design.   If this is not the case then, as is pointed out, no one could commune, as we all sweat, expel saliva and mucous, and other bodily and solid fluids afterwards.   

About 95% of the alcohol consumed is metabolized by the liver. The remainder of the alcohol makes its away out of the system through the breath, urine, sweat, feces and breast milk. Sweating after drinking alcohol is common, because alcohol has a tendency to dilate the vessels in the skin.


"Metabolism is the body's process of converting ingested substances to other compounds. Metabolism involves a number of processes, one of which is referred to as oxidation. Through oxidation in the liver, alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood, preventing the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs. A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine. Until all the alcohol consumed has been metabolized, it is distributed throughout the body, affecting the brain and other tissues.

Thanks, Father, for the physiological correlation between the reception of the Sacrament and metabolism.

What is the link between metabolism, wound pathology, and Eucharistic reception prohibitions?  Does the presence of visible blood or suppuration on a prospective communicant create a ritually-limiting situation?  Does this situation occur because the communicant deviates from the "healthy" or "normal" metabolism and excretion of a person without lesions? 

Or, is the presence of a physical wound or suppuration spiritually or theologically significant rather than pathologically significant?  Does the presence of a lesion indicate spiritual or theological defect or inadequacy?  Where do pathology, spirituality, and theology intersect? 

It's very important to remember FatherHLL's quotation from St. Athanasius.  I suspect that lesion and pathology, and the notion in general that wound modifies "normal" metabolism, creates ritual fences.  The type of emission is not relevant.   
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« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2011, 11:51:32 PM »

I apologize to all when I wind up having to respond "on top" rather than under the rest of the conversation.  I assume it is the browser I am using, but when a thread gets too long I can no longer post it below, and have to respond above.  Anyway, I do not berate in any way those who abstain out of respect for the sacrament.  We are in delicate territory as some partake without much thought of preparation and others abstain for long periods of time.  Therefore those who see the importance of partaking of the Mysteries who out of piety abstain are doing so out of love for our Savior.  That being said, the point of this is that we cannot take the leaky chalice analogy too far.  We are all "leaky chalices" to some degree if that is how one is looking at it.   Yet the purpose of taking Communion is not to make a second chalice.  We already have a chalice.   A human person who partakes of Communion is not a "second container" for Communion but rather one who eats, drinks, and communes, with all that entails--as St. Athanasius points out, the latter by the Creator's design.   If this is not the case then, as is pointed out, no one could commune, as we all sweat, expel saliva and mucous, and other bodily and solid fluids afterwards.   

Sorry Father for the glib post on the Breathalyzer.  Still, I do wonder about these things.  However that is the realm of jurisprudence, not religion.

Thanks Father for all your observations.  As I usually say, questions such as these are extremely pastoral in nature.  As a layman (albeit not Orthodox, but still) I always tell others to talk to the priest.  Sorry to put more work in your in-box ;-)

As you well know, the Western heresy of Jansenism did grave destruction to Roman eucharistic piety.  In my opinion, the obsession with confession to the point of the exultation of absolution over communication gravely affected both Anglo-Irish Catholicism and North American Catholicism.  The Jansenist obsession with the purity of the body echoes much of the sentiment in this thread.  Even the centuries of Jesuit re-evangelization on the necessity of pastoral confession and frequent communion could not penetrate the Jansenist subjection of the body.  I sometimes wonder if the Sacred Heart devotion, introduced to combat Jansenism, ever really changed people's minds.  Traditional Catholicism (i.e. the Tridentines) are still quite Jansenistic to the point where abstinence from communion becomes an occasion of sinful pride!

Be very glad that the East never had to struggle with Cornelius Jansen.
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« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2011, 12:02:42 AM »

Oh this thread is just full of facepalm.

Can we please have a discourse in anatomy and physiology before we continue with this discussion? Please?

Thank you.
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