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Author Topic: The Common Spoon fable  (Read 4932 times) Average Rating: 0
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TomS
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« on: May 20, 2003, 11:03:17 PM »

The Common Spoon thing -- it makes many people uncomfortable. I don't understand the insistence on it, but do it anyway. One of the reasons is because I have been told (and my wife's GOA family always thought) that it is the way that it is supposed to be done.

I am sure many of you already know this. But it came as a huge surprise to me ---

Last week I read this in the book "The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers" Seventh Printing by Stanley S Harakas:

Page 84-85:

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

".. the Body was dipped into the chalice and immersed in the Blood of our Lord, and then placed in the hand of the communicant..... In the 8th century, St. John of Damascus described the process of the reception of the Body of Christ; after dipping the Body of our Lord into the chalice, "forming the palms in a cross-wise fashion, we receive the blood of the Crucified One"

"The 6th Ecunemical Council (held in 692), in one of its canons insists that Holy Communion be received in the hand"

and

"Sometime during the 10th or 11th century it (common spoon) came into existence, possibly in order to shorten the time required for the administration of Holy Communion to large numbers of believers. It appears to have taken several centuries for this method to become accepted.....by 1429, the use of the communion spoon was considered the most dominant practice in Eastern Orthodoxy"

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

So what is going on here?!!??!

Since there are so many concerns about the use of the common spoon, why not go back to the original Canon!!??

Do the Orthodox just pick and choose which Canons they decide they want to continue to uphold?Huh






« Last Edit: May 22, 2003, 03:58:26 PM by TomS » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2003, 02:52:59 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

Since there are so many concerns about the use of the common spoon, why not go back to the original Canon!!??

I personally do not have any concerns about the common spoon and am curious as to what these many concerns are.

Remember that just prior to your receiving the gifts, the spoon has been immersed in the most holy and precious blood of our Lord God and Saviour. Does not this knowledge drive away any fears or concerns you might have?

Christ's body and blood can never see corruption so it cannot become tainted or infected with disease. On Great Thursday of Pascha, a  portion of the gifts are set aside for emergencies which may occur throughout the year. They do not spoil or go mouldy in all that time (this is the reason BTW, why we make the sign of the cross whenever we pass an orthodox church, because Christ is bodily present in the church, by way of the gifts).

I'm pressed for time so I can't add anything else at the moment. Sorry if my ending is a bit abrupt.

John.
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2003, 05:46:16 AM »

Who has these concerns about the common Communion spoon, Tom?  I don't.

I'm unsure of the history here, but wasn't it St. John Chrysostom who introduced the use of the Communion spoon because of abuses which had arisen in the practice of receiving the Eucharist in the hand?  Taking the Sacrament out of the church in the hand without communing, i.e., feigning reception, for nefarious, sacrilegious, magical or Satanic purposes perhaps?  (It's happened in the modern RC Church since Communion in the hand was reintroduced there).

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Dan Lauffer
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2003, 08:32:31 AM »

I have no problem with the common spoon either but I don't believe Tom was only asking questions about taste or beauty.  He seems to be asking a much more fundamental question:  "If communion by the spoon was once only one tradition among many why is it now the standard?"  Or to put it another way, "Why don't we use other methods?"  

One more troubling method for a Church that professes the true and unaltered faith is this: "Do the Orthodox really only pick and choose like the accuse others of doing?"

Dan Lauffer
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2003, 09:16:12 AM »

There was a lot that was up in the air in the early Church (from liturgy to fasting norms), just because they settled on this practice or that doesn't mean that they "pick and choose" in the same way that others do.

Justin

PS. The same question asked about "changing" could be asked of any Church claiming historical roots, since laying claim to the "early Church" means you are laying claim to a lot of varying customs and traditions.
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2003, 09:19:42 AM »

I was taught that Orthodoxy went to "the common spoon" because of abuses of the Body & Blood by those who did not consume it immediately...or at all.

I was taught that some took the Body & Blood home with them to be placed up on a shelf for worship and adoration.  This is an abuse because, of course, the Body & Blood must be consumed...not prayed to or worshiped.  Therefore the change was made to halt this abuse...the Gifts are placed directly in the mouth of the communicant for immediate consumption.

I don't see this, therefore, as a "pick & choose" situation, but rather a correction which was necessary because of man's fallen state...we are bent toward abuses which perhaps could not be forseen by The Fathers.
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2003, 06:10:30 PM »

I brought up this question because many of the GOA people I know only take communion about about once a year because of this concern.

I personally take communion every Liturgy and have no problem with the common spoon. Interestingly, I am the only convert in the choir and I am the only one that takes communion every liturgy. Three others take it about once a month, and the remainder either take it only on special holidyas, and some I have never seen take communion.

I also don't kneel on Sunday's and everyone else does.

I think my statement of "picking and choosing" is very valid. You cannot profess to be the "Correct Way", if you ignore the Holy Fathers who defined what that "Correct Way" consists of.

I came to the Orthodox Church to get away from the "anything goes" form of worship. I WANT the tradition. I WANT someone to tell me the correct way to do things.


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Dan Lauffer
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2003, 07:52:44 PM »

Paradosis,

Could you elaborate on the difference as you see it?

"There was a lot that was up in the air in the early Church (from liturgy to fasting norms), just because they settled on this practice or that doesn't mean that they "pick and choose" in the same way that others do."

I hope you are right, but I've seen too many people who accuse others of exactly what they themselves do.  Their myopia is showing.  I wonder if we could stop doing such things we might all find a way to regain communion.

Dan Lauffer
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2003, 08:20:29 PM »

"The 6th Ecunemical Council (held in 692), in one of its canons insists that Holy Communion be received in the hand"

Which canon? I mean, there are 102 Canons from this council.
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2003, 08:33:07 PM »

"The 6th Ecunemical Council (held in 692), in one of its canons insists that Holy Communion be received in the hand"
Which canon? I mean, there are 102 Canons from this council.

Found it! I am posting the part that relates to it, because the canon is long.

CANON CI of the 102 CANONS:
... So that if anyone should wish to partake of the intemerate bidy during the time of a synaxis, and to become one thewith by virtue of transessence, let him form his hands into the shape of a cross, and, thus approaching, let him receive the communion of grace. ...

Then it says that one cannot bring a cup to receive communion into, because it is soulless matter.

So it says excommunication comes to those that try to receive communion into a cup or other container, that the hands are a better way to receive, but it does not say the only way to receive.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2003, 11:20:26 PM »

Tom,

Your post sparked an interesting thought in me...when I say "you" I started off thinking of your post but then I started generalizing a trend I see common so please don't think I've selected you out in this post; I really am thinking about all modern Orthodox.

Orthodoxy is not a set of rules and regulations that you can follow and thus be free of chaos.  Orthodoxy is a way of life and an organic body that develops over time.  There are different levels of importance. Common spoons is a practice; the belief in the Holy Trinity is a dogma; fasting during Lent is a canon, etc.

A lot of people think that Orthodoxy will save them because it never changes but Orthodoxy changes all of the time-- it is constantly changing in its applications and relations, etc.  What doesn't change is the truth behind it, which is revealed from God.  You have to absorb and live that truth and then learn to participate fully as an adult member of the body of Christ and witness Orthodoxy by living it in a particular way, not in a soley mimicking way.  What I mean is Orthodoxy has to become YOUR way of life, YOUR creed.  Does that sound too personalistic? Perhaps, but I am not suggesting Protestantism!  What I am saying is that there is a body but that we are members (persons) of/in that body and we must be responsible for our faith personally.

So if you want to return to the older practice of no spoon, write your bishop and see if you find sympathetic ears.  Who knows?  But maybe the rest of the Body of Christ will not agree with you.  Either way, the point is that Orthodoxy will develop organically so whatever ends up happening will be from the bottom up, not the top down.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2003, 11:05:09 AM »

Anastasios,

CHRIST IS RISEN!

Thank you for your post. I agree with what you are saying 100%. As an Orthodox who was only Christmated 3 weeks ago, I need ALL the advice and direction I can get!  Smiley

Your words express my struggle. It is hard, but by the grace of God (and a little discipline on my part), I will win the battle.

I have found help in the writings of Fr. Seraphiom Rose (even though my GOA Priest says he is a little "out there") and the Philokolia. It is getting easier, as I am able to hold the fasts on Wed and Fri pretty easily now.

I was wrong in initially being uncomfortable with the common spoon. It is an issue of faith. For me to even think that I could get sick from partaking of communion was a sin, and I ask the Lord for forgiveness.

Pray for me.


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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2003, 04:14:20 PM »

TomS

You're awesome!  I was just baptized last week and I can understand a bit of how you may be struggling (or were struggling) with this.  Isn't it amazing how one thing gets into our heads and can lead us off into some unGodly direction?  It has been so for me, too.

What amazes me is your speed at realizing that you're off on the wrong track and immediately admiting so.  What a great example!  So often our fallen nature leads us to contend and argue something...all in an effort to be "right" and, thereby bring glory to ourselves.  

Thank you for displaying your humility.   Grin
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2003, 08:51:19 PM »



Dear TomS,

I know this is sort of an old post, but I didn't see anyone mention this...

You are correct in that Orthodoxy has handed down the True Faith unaltared without adding to and without taking anything away. This of course means the FAITH! The Doctrine of the Church. Dogma if you will, including Holy Tradition.

The taking of the the Body and Blood in the spoon however is NOT Part of Big T Holy Tradition, rather it is part of small t tradition. Which of course DOES indeed change.

Most Churches no longer force non Orthodox to leave the Nave for the second half of the Liturgy simply because there is no danger that a mass slaughter of Christians will take place by the pagans upon seeing us take Communion thinking we're all canabals. While this indeed was a very important part of the Church tradition at one time, it is now  not really necessary for today. (though there is nothing wrong with doing so for other reasons, like reverence etc...)

So of these small t traditions have changed. Like the rule of one Bishop per city, due to practical real world reasons is no longer followed. Or the taking off of shoes before Communion (or even upon entering the Nave)...One of the great saints reminded us that Christ said "I am the Way" not "I am custom"...

Different traditions are followed in different Orthodox Churches. Certainly because the Russians adapted Byzantine chant isn't to say they changed the faith. Changing the faith would be to do away completely with chanting, not simply adapting it.

Do you see the difference Tom? It was one of the things I dealt with early on in my study of Orthodoxy...but once it was explained to me, I realized the difference between Holy and Sacred Tradition, and small t tradition. As important as tradition is, it is in no way the same thing as Holy Tradition which obviously cannot change.

Taking the Body and the Blood in a spoon is small t tradition...changed for practical reasons.

Did I explain that right? Probably not as well as when it wa explained to me...lol!

In Christ, Thomas
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2003, 02:20:09 AM »

ChuckS,
I believe you're rather mistaken on the "One Bishop, One city" point.  You'll find most Orthodox disagreeing with you.  Having more than one Bishop per city is a violation of the Holy Canons.  It is only in America (AFAIK)- with our overlapping jurisdictions where this unfortunate uncanonical situation exists.  Be careful what you say.
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2003, 07:41:05 AM »

Chuck -

I think you did a good job in explaining the difference between custom or little "t" tradition and the Deposit of Faith, which is unchanging. I was wondering why no one had mentioned it before you did.

The reception of the Eucharist in the hand or the spoon is a matter of method or practice rooted in practicalities and custom, not of essential doctrine. The Body and Blood of Christ remain the Body and Blood of Christ whether one receives them in the hand or directly into the mouth via an implement like a spoon.

I would venture to say that most of the early Christians went to Church on foot or by donkey. Most of us go in cars today.

Have we altered the Faith?

I hope not.

It's a long walk or donkey ride to my Church!  Grin

(And my toga might get dirty!)
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2003, 08:39:25 AM »

It's a long walk or donkey ride to my Church!  Grin

(And my toga might get dirty!)

Not to mention your loin cloth!   Embarrassed Tongue Roll Eyes  (I didn't say that!)

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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2003, 09:19:09 AM »

ChuckS,
I believe you're rather mistaken on the "One Bishop, One city" point.  You'll find most Orthodox disagreeing with you.  Having more than one Bishop per city is a violation of the Holy Canons.  It is only in America (AFAIK)- with our overlapping jurisdictions where this unfortunate uncanonical situation exists.  Be careful what you say.

Elisha,

The above post would have been just fine without your last sentence.

Why did you have to end it with a command like you are Thomas' superior? There was absolutely no reason for that.

 Huh
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2003, 03:57:15 PM »


Dear Elisha,

I would agree that the not having "one Bishop per city" is not the preferrable way of doing things. And yes, it may be in direct conflict with the Holy Canons, yet I'm sure if I looked I could find a Canon that we break every time we go to Church (perhaps not taking off shoes may be against the Canons)

We of course, as Orthodox should follow the Canons as closely as we can, upholding them because they are Sacred, at the same time common sense and practicallity will dictate how far we can adhere to the ones that aren't in direct conflict with the Faith.


Because immagrants from all over the Orthodox world came to North America in a relatively short time, it was simply impossible to uphold this Canon of one Bishop per city. How could people from Greece, Syria, Russia, Serbia etc all agree, BEFORE coming to the America's that they would have a new Bishop that didn't speak all 15 plus langauges of the Orthodox Churches presiding over each city? This was point in fact impossible.

Of course, NOW, we should indeed strive to adhere to this rule. But we should try to adhere to it with common sense, the guiding of the Holy Spirit, and in Orthdoox love. Not just so we can say we're adhering to one of the Sacred Canons. When in fact there are others no one would expect to adhere to. (its my understanding the Canons state fasting is much more strict than even some monks can handle yet pastoral exceptions are made all the time)

So do you see my point? While I agree with you, this is really a major issue. It in no way compromises the Faith, but it is changed as out of practicallity. It is still the difference between Big T Tradition and little t tradition.

I'm not saying its desirable, but at this point in time, it may be necessary. You ma diagree and thats fine...I'm sure, by your post, you're more able to debate this issue than I am. I freely admit I can't quote every Canon, or even one Canon.

I for one actually see something good in the acception to this rule: Good? Yes...it shows to protestants and other potential converts (I just use protestans because I was one) that though Orthodoxy isn't one huge monolithic block of a religion (like Rome) and even with the various jurisdictions, traditions, langauges etc we are still the exact same faith. In a way, it gives a taste of the Church in the first few centuries of Christianity...though different cultures, traditions, and even sometimes langauges were at play, the Faith was the exact same. It is but a small proof f the validity of Orthodoxy. Americans could not get this otherwise unless they were world travelers.

So even in what most would consider a non disirable situation, I think there can still be some good come out it.

But this is just my opinion, and I'm sure many, maybe most would disgree with me.


In Christ, Thomas








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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2003, 05:09:10 PM »

I'd have to agree with Chuck that one bishop per city is not always going to work.  Let's use the example of EO and Non-Chalcedonians.  If they united one day, that would cause problems with liturgizing. It'd be better in my opinion that each liturgical Rite have its own hierarchy in a reunited Church.

anastasios
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2003, 06:25:38 PM »

Sorry if my last sentence came off as if I was sounding authoritarian - I didn't mean it that way.  My impressions of ChuckS's initial response, was that the Canons are irrelevant and it doesn't matter at all about multiple Bishops in a city.

Now, on the other hand, weren't all the Orthodox diaspora technically united under one Bishop at one point just before the Russian Revolution?


Have a nice weekend everyone.
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2003, 08:49:49 PM »

Now, on the other hand, weren't all the Orthodox diaspora technically united under one Bishop at one point just before the Russian Revolution?

All what you call the Eastern Orthodox "diaspora" (how do converts fit in here?), Elisha, were indeed under one Orthodox archbishop, Holy New-Confessor Tikhon, in one Orthodox archdiocese under the Moscow Patriarchate just prior to the Russian Revolution.  There was a very notable vicar-bishop for the Syro-Arab Orthodox at the time, namely, St. Raphael [Hawaweeny], Bishop of Brooklyn, under the Ruling Hierarch of the united North American Archdiocese, which became known as the Metropolia, and finally in 1970, as the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, the "OCA."

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« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2003, 06:16:53 PM »


Elisha,

Sorry if my first post made it seem I thought the Canons were unimportant...I was simply trying to (in response to the initial question) show the difference between matters of Faith and matters of practical or cultural importance. (like using the spoon for the Eucharist)

Sorry for the confusion....

In Christ, Thomas
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