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Author Topic: Communion, Confession, Confusion  (Read 6876 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 31, 2008, 08:06:41 AM »

Does anyone know where if can find an analysis regarding the historical development of the practice of confession before each communion?

Obviously, the connection between confession and communion has varied by place and time. I am interested in understanding how, when and why this connection came to be historically.

I am in the OCA, but I have spent a couple of years in the ROCOR, so I am familiar with "both sides of the coin" so to speak.

I would be interested to hear from Old Calendarists or ROCOR folks, as well as folks from the local churches.

Gregory
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2008, 12:48:03 PM »

I am wondering if this tradition occurred during the Latinization period of the Russian Orthodox Church?

In the Antiochian tradition we do not have to confess each time before we commune.

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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2008, 08:28:02 PM »

A document I think may be very helpful in your search for answers:

Confession and Communion:
Report to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America


by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann (February 17, 1972)

http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/confessionandcommunion.html


The section of most pertinence to this thread:  Scroll down through the report until you see the header "Penance and Holy Communion".



Penance and Holy Communion

When the communion of the entire congregation at each Liturgy, as an act expressing their very participation in the Liturgy, ceased to be a self-evident norm and was replaced by the practice of a very infrequent, usually once-a-year communion, it became natural for the latter to be preceded by the Sacrament of Penance — i.e. confession and the reconciliation with the Church through the prayer of absolution.

This practice, and I repeat once more, a natural and self-evident one in the case of infrequent, once-a-year, communion, led to the appearance in the Church of a theory according to which the communion of laity, different in this from the communion of clergy, is impossible without the sacrament of penance, so that confession is an obligatory condition — always and in all cases — for communion. I dare to affirm that this theory (which spread mainly in the Russian Church) not only has no foundation in Tradition, but openly contradicts the Orthodox doctrine of the Church, of the Sacrament of Communion and of that of Penance.

To be convinced of that, one has to recall, be it very briefly, the essence of the Sacrament of Penance. From the very beginning this sacrament was, in the consciousness and teaching of the Church, the sacrament of reconciliation with the Church of those excommunicated from her and this means of those excluded from the eucharistic assembly. We know, that at first, the very strict ecclesiastical discipline allowed for only one such reconciliation in one’s lifetime, but that later, especially after the entrance into the Church of the entire population, this discipline was somewhat relaxed. In its essence, the Sacrament of Penance, as the sacrament of reconciliation with the Church was for those only who were excommunicated from the Church for definite sins and acts clearly defined in the canonical tradition of the Church. This is still clearly stated in the prayer of absolution: "reconcile him with Thy Holy Church in Christ Jesus Our Lord . . ." (This, incidentally, is the prayer of absolution, used universally. As to the second one, unknown to the Eastern Orthodox Churches — "I, unworthy priest, by the power given unto me, absolve . . ." — is of Latin origin and was adopted in our liturgical books at the time of the domination of Orthodox theology by Western theology.)

All this, however, does not mean that the "faithful," i.e. the "non-excommunicated," were considered by the Church to be sinless. In the first place, according to the Church’s teaching, no human being is sinless, with the exception of the Most Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos. In the second place, a prayer for forgiveness and remission of sins is an integral part of the Liturgy itself (cf. the Prayer of the Trisagion and the two prayers "of the faithful"). Finally, the Church always considered Holy Communion itself as given "for the remission of sins." Therefore the issue here is not sinlessness, which no absolution can achieve, but the distinction always made by the Church between, on the one hand, the sins excommunicating a man from the Church’s life of grace and, on the other hand, the "sinfulness" which is the inescapable fate of every man "living in the world and wearing flesh." The latter is, so to speak, "dissolved" in the Church’s liturgy and it is this sinfulness that the Church confesses in the "prayers of the faithful" before the offering of the Holy Gifts. Before the Holy Chalice itself, at the moment of receiving the Mysteries, we ask for forgiveness of "sins voluntary and involuntary, those in word and in deed, committed knowingly or unknowingly," and we believe that, in the measure of our repentance, we receive this forgiveness.

All this means, of course, and no one really denies it, that the only real condition for partaking of the Divine Mysteries is membership in the Church and conversely, that membership in the Church is fulfilled in the partaking of the sacrament of the Church. Communion is given "for the remission of sins," "for the healing of the soul and body," and it implies, therefore, repentance, the awareness of our total unworthiness, and the understanding of communion as a heavenly gift which never can be "deserved" by an earthly being. The whole meaning of preparation for communion, as established by the Church ("The Rule for Holy Communion") is not, of course, in making man feel "worthy" but, on the contrary, in revealing to him the abyss of God’s mercy and love ("I am not worthy, Master and Lord . . . yet since Thou in Thy love . . . dost wish to dwell in me, in boldness I come. Thou commandest, open the gates . . . and Thou wilt come in love . . . and enlighten my darkened reasoning. I believe that Thou wilt do this . . .). Before the Lord’s table the only "worthiness" of the communicant is that he has been and realized his bottomless "unworthiness." This, indeed, is the beginning of salvation.

It is therefore of paramount importance for us to understand that the transformation of the sacrament of penance into an obligatory condition for communion not only contradicts Tradition, but obviously mutilates it. It mutilates, in the first place, the doctrine of the Church by creating in her two categories of members, one of which is, in fact, excommunicated from the Eucharist, as the very content and fulfillment of membership, as its spiritual source. But then it is no longer surprising that those whom the Apostle called "fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) become again "worldly" (kosmiki, miriane), are "secularized" and their membership in the Church is measured and defined in terms of money ("dues") and "rights." But also mutilated is the doctrine of Communion, which is understood then as the sacrament for a few "worthy ones" and no longer as the sacrament of the Church: of sinners who by the infinite mercy of Christ, are always transformed into His Body. And finally, equally mutilated is the doctrine of Penance. Transformed into a formal condition for communion, it begins more and more obviously to replace the real preparation for communion, that genuine inner repentance, which inspires all the prayers before communion. After a three-minute confession and absolution a man feels "entitled" to communion, "worthy" and even "sinless," feels, in other terms, that which is in fact the very opposite of true repentance.

But how then could such a practice have appeared and become a norm, defended today by many as truly Orthodox? To answer this question one must consider three factors. We have already mentioned one of them: that nominal and lukewarm approach to faith and piety of Christian society itself which led, at first, to an infrequent communion and, finally, reduced it to a once-a-year "obligation." It is clear that a person, approaching the Divine Mysteries once a year must be really "reconciled" with the Church by means of an examination of his conscience and life in the Sacrament of Penance. The second factor is the influence on the Church of monasticism, which is, of course, on the whole beneficial. The latter knew from the very beginning the practice of the "opening of thoughts," of the spiritual guidance by an experienced monk of a less-experienced one. But, and this is essential, such a spiritual father or "elder" was not necessarily a priest, for this type of spiritual guidance is connected with spiritual experience and not priesthood.

In the Byzantine monastic typika of the XII – XIII centuries a monk is forbidden both to approach the Chalice and to abstain from it by himself, of his own will, without the permission of spiritual father, for "to exclude oneself from communion is to follow one’s own will." In women’s monasteries the same power belongs to the Abbess. Thus we have here a confession of a non-sacramental type, confession based upon spiritual experience and permanent guidance. But this type of confession had a strong impact on sacramental confession. At a time of spiritual decadence (which can be seen in its true scope and meaning in the canons of the so-called Council in Trullo, 6th century A.D.) monasteries remained the centers of spiritual care and guidance for the laity. In Greece, even today, not every priest has the right to hear confessions but only those who are especially authorized by the Bishop. Yet for the laity this spiritual counseling naturally led to sacramental confession. We must stress, however, that not every parish priest is capable of such spiritual counseling, which implies and presupposes a deep spiritual experience, for without that experience "counseling" may lead, and in fact often leads, to genuine spiritual tragedies. What is important here is that the sacrament of penance became somehow connected with the idea of spiritual guidance, solution of "difficulties" and "problems," and that all this in the present conditions of our parish life, of "mass" confessions concentrated during some evenings of Great Lent and reduced to a few minutes is hardly possible and does more harm than good. Spiritual guidance, especially in our time of deep spiritual crisis, is necessary, but to be genuine, deep, useful it must be disconnected from sacramental confession, although the latter is obviously its ultimate goal.

The third and decisive factor was, of course, the influence of the Western, Scholastic and juridical understanding of penance. Much has been written about the "western captivity" of Orthodox theology but, it seems to me, that few people realize the depth and real meaning of the distortions to which this Western influence led in the very life of the Church and, above all, in the understanding of Sacraments. This is obvious in the sacrament of penance. The deep distortion consists here in that the whole meaning of the sacrament was shifted from repentance and confession to the moment of "absolution," understood juridically. Western Scholastic theology transposed into juridical categories the very concept of sin and, accordingly, the concept of its absolution. The latter stems here not from the reality, the genuine nature of repentance, but from the power of the priest. If in the initial Orthodox understanding of the sacrament of penance the priest is the witness of repentance and, therefore, the witness of the fulfilled "reconciliation with the Church in Christ Jesus . . . ," the Latin legalism puts the emphasis on the power of the priest to absolve. Hence, the practice, totally alien to Orthodox doctrine, yet quite popular today, of "absolutions" without confession. The initial distinction between sins, excommunication from the Church (thereby requiring a sacramental reconciliation with the Church), and sinfulness, not leading to such excommunicating, was rationalized by Western Scholasticism in the distinction between the so-called mortal sins and the so-called venial sins. The first ones, by depriving man of the "state of grace" require sacramental confession and absolution; the others require only an inner repentance and contrition. In the Orthodox East, however, and especially in Russia (under the influence of the Latinizing theology of Peter Moghila and his followers) this theory resulted in a simple, compulsory and juridical connection between confession and communion.

It is ironic indeed that this most obvious of all Latin "infiltrations" is viewed by so many Orthodox as an Orthodox norm while a mere attempt to re-evaluate it in the light of the genuine Orthodox doctrine of Church and sacraments, is denounced as "Roman Catholic."
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 12:19:18 AM »

Thank you Peter for sharing this information. How sad that Orthodoxy has been so distorted in some quarters that many will not even try to understand our authentic heritage but instead denounce the truth as western or modernist. I will definitely save this link.
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2008, 01:24:05 AM »

My one question to Fr. Schmem. and to all of you is...

Should it not be our goal to be penitential repentants every day of our lives?  What is so wrong about confessing every week?  Could you imagine the kind of spiritual life you would live if every week you confessed your sins, and therefore lived a life entirely full of repentance, and then recieving comunion every day? 

I agree with Fr. Schmem. about the problematics of "forcing" people to confess.  This is where a lot of the problems with confession come from, that are especially prevalent in those churches which "force the issue" and etc. 

However, if we were to abide by this practice and also take some more "non-extreme" perspectives, and utilize confession on a regular basis based on the fact that every day we sin and should be repentant of that sin...

I realize that we are not monastics so the standards are different (of life).  However, the standards of spirituality and repentance (I believe) are not different. 

Just some thoughts...
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2008, 01:29:47 AM »

I think the concern is that such regular confession will either trivialize the sacrament (we've all seen the people who have their confession lists laminated and simply go through the motions of reading the list the probably have committed to memory) or it will turn into a meditation on sin and failure which we know, from modern psychology, can be dangerous and it would be irresponsible for a priest not to take the potential mental health implications into account.
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2008, 02:34:05 AM »

My one question to Fr. Schmem. and to all of you is...

Should it not be our goal to be penitential repentants every day of our lives?  What is so wrong about confessing every week?  Could you imagine the kind of spiritual life you would live if every week you confessed your sins, and therefore lived a life entirely full of repentance, and then recieving comunion every day? 

I agree with Fr. Schmem. about the problematics of "forcing" people to confess.  This is where a lot of the problems with confession come from, that are especially prevalent in those churches which "force the issue" and etc. 

However, if we were to abide by this practice and also take some more "non-extreme" perspectives, and utilize confession on a regular basis based on the fact that every day we sin and should be repentant of that sin...

I realize that we are not monastics so the standards are different (of life).  However, the standards of spirituality and repentance (I believe) are not different. 

Just some thoughts...

But I worry some view confession in a very legalistic manner. Even the prayer of absolution is not authentic but is a latinization because the priest is given the power to absolve. A formal absolution cannot inspire real repentance. Reading sins off of a list to a priest in order to hear the words of absolution will not change a heart. My father confessor made that clear to me the last time I confessed.
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2008, 02:51:13 AM »

Our current confession is a latinization? What was it before?
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2008, 02:59:56 AM »

Our current confession is a latinization? What was it before?

Prodomas,

You are under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate so your absolution prayers have not been effected. But here is the difference between the two traditions:

In the Greek practice, the Priest says: "Whatever you have said to my humble
person, and whatever you have failed to say, whether through ignorance or forgetfulness,
whatever it may be, may God forgive you in this world and the next.... Have no further anxiety; go in peace."

The Slavonic formula of absolution, introduced by Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev and adopted
by the Russian Church in the 18th Century: "May Our Lord and Cod, Jesus Christ, through
the grace and bounties of His love towards mankind, forgive you, my Child [Name] all your transgressions.
And I, an unworthy Priest, through the power given me by Him, forgive and absolve you from all yours sins."
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2008, 03:53:45 AM »

I think the concern is that such regular confession will either trivialize the sacrament (we've all seen the people who have their confession lists laminated and simply go through the motions of reading the list the probably have committed to memory) or it will turn into a meditation on sin and failure which we know, from modern psychology, can be dangerous and it would be irresponsible for a priest not to take the potential mental health implications into account.

True, but in the same strain, I think this happens to Communion, which is even worse.  How often have you seen the faithful just lineup willy-nilly to take the Eucharist when many are probably horribly unprepared, probably having partied the night before?  There has to be some sort of a balance.
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2008, 11:47:41 AM »

True, but in the same strain, I think this happens to Communion, which is even worse.  How often have you seen the faithful just lineup willy-nilly to take the Eucharist when many are probably horribly unprepared, probably having partied the night before?  There has to be some sort of a balance.

But this is a pastoral issue and we, the laity, shouldn't concern ourselves with who is prepared and who isn't. It is none of our business.
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2008, 01:12:23 PM »

But this is a pastoral issue and we, the laity, shouldn't concern ourselves with who is prepared and who isn't. It is none of our business.

It's a theological issue when spoken about in generalities; when refering to a specific individual it's a pastoral concern that is none of our business.
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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2008, 01:43:29 PM »


I would be interested to hear from Old Calendarists or ROCOR folks, as well as folks from the local churches.

Gregory

One can only part take of the Gifts with a clear conscience if one has fasted and prayered at least 3 days before hand (which is an innovation, formly it was a week as it is today among the Matthewites and used to be in ROCOR before ROCOR started being inflirtrated by New Calendarist praxis coming from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston). One must also confess and recieve absolution from the Priest before proceeding to the Gifts. An "Old Calendarist" would not dream of approaching the Chalice otherwise because we have a geniune believe that Christ is indeed wholely present there (Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity).

If someone lacked that deep certainity in their heart it is understandable that they would not see a need for confession or strict fasting and prayer beforehand...And if they do indeed lack such an assurance (as evidenced by weekly Communion without proper preparation) it could well be a sign that Christ is not present in the Chalice their Priest holds out. God inspires awe, even terror as He is above all else Holy and we usually are drowning in our sins and self will.

When we Commune on the Mystery of the Eucharist in a very real sense we are going to Judgement and we should approach them the way we would approach death- and who would not seek to recieve absolution before death?



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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2008, 01:59:22 PM »

I would be interested in the various prayers of absolution recited by the priest in the different Orthodox traditions...here is the Coptic prayer that I recite over the penitent:

"O Master, Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son and Logos of God the Father, who has broken every bond of our sins through His saving, life-giving sufferings; who breathed into the face of His holy disciples and saintly apostles, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

You also now, O our Master, have given grace through Your holy apostles to those who for a time labor in the priesthood in Your holy church to forgive sin upon the earth and to bind and to loose every bond of iniquity.

Now also we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of Mankind, for Your servant (insert name), and my weakness, those bowing their heads before Your holy glory.
 
Dispense to us Your mercy and loose every bond of our sins, and, if we have committed and sin against You knowingly or unknowingly, or through anguish of heart, or in deed or word, or from faintheartedness, O Master who know the weakness of men, as a Good One and Lover of Mankind, O God, grant us the forgiveness of our sins, bless us, purify us, absolve us, and all Your people.

Fill us with Your fear and straighten us for Your holy good will, for You are our God, and the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the worship are due unto You, with Your good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, who is of one essence with You, now and at all times and unto the ages of all ages. Amen."

God bless.

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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2008, 03:32:14 PM »

I think the concern is that such regular confession will either trivialize the sacrament (we've all seen the people who have their confession lists laminated and simply go through the motions of reading the list the probably have committed to memory) or it will turn into a meditation on sin and failure which we know, from modern psychology, can be dangerous and it would be irresponsible for a priest not to take the potential mental health implications into account.

Those were the exact same thoughts going through my head when I was writing my little tirade there.  So then what becomes the overarching theology?  Like you said in a later post: 
It's a theological issue when spoken about in generalities; when refering to a specific individual it's a pastoral concern that is none of our business.

SO which theology wins...frequent comunion, or preparedness?  Is preparedness even considered a theology, or a piety, or a spirituality?  There are also a few scriptural aspects of this as well...

Then the always infamous Chrysostom adage = eating your brother or fasting and etc. 

What do you think GiC?  Everyone else... Wink Grin
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2008, 04:54:08 PM »

SO which theology wins...frequent comunion, or preparedness?  Is preparedness even considered a theology, or a piety, or a spirituality?  There are also a few scriptural aspects of this as well...

I don't think preparedness is so much the issue with confession as whether or not it's trivialized. How frequent it should be is probably an individualized issue, some people may be abel to have confession regularly without the risk of it either being trivialized or leading to despondency, in other cases it may not be so prudent.
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2008, 05:33:32 PM »

(which is an innovation, formly it was a week as it is today among the Matthewites and used to be in ROCOR before ROCOR started being inflirtrated by New Calendarist praxis coming from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston).

LOL.  Fasting for a week before receiving communion was also an innovation - frequent communion was the norm for the first 3 centuries AT LEAST.  The canons of the Church say that if you go 3 Sundays without receiving, you've excommunicated yourself.  Don't overgeneralize.

One must also confess and recieve absolution from the Priest before proceeding to the Gifts. An "Old Calendarist" would not dream of approaching the Chalice otherwise because we have a geniune believe that Christ is indeed wholely present there (Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity).

If someone lacked that deep certainity in their heart it is understandable that they would not see a need for confession or strict fasting and prayer beforehand...And if they do indeed lack such an assurance (as evidenced by weekly Communion without proper preparation) it could well be a sign that Christ is not present in the Chalice their Priest holds out. God inspires awe, even terror as He is above all else Holy and we usually are drowning in our sins and self will.

When we Commune on the Mystery of the Eucharist in a very real sense we are going to Judgement and we should approach them the way we would approach death- and who would not seek to recieve absolution before death?

You should seek to live your life in accordance with Christ's commands at all times, not just before receiving.  Quite frankly, the belief of the Orthodox Church is that you are to live your life as if you're receiving every time there is Liturgy - which is why there is no mandatory fasting before the Eucharist except the day of (no eating from midnight until you receive, and this is even relaxed for those with health problems and for the very young).

Stating that reception of communion requires confession each and every time subjects the Sacrament of all Sacraments to another, subjects the resurrection to our fallen state, subjects the reception of Christ to sin.  Why does the Church state that Communion is for the Remission of Sins?  Why does the Church state that Holy Unction is for the healing of Soul, a soul which is only harmed by sin?

The only canons that I have seen that require extended fasting before communion (i.e. 3 days, a week, etc.) are from local synods that were trying to curb abuses - they were not intended for the Church at large.  They varied from location to location.  However, the canon about excommunication if one doesn't receive for 3 weeks is from an Ecumenical Synod - one that is universally applied - Old Calendar, New Calendar, etc.

Everybody should indeed have a genuine belief that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ; but that belief, held deeply in the heart and guiding one's entire life, does not necessitate confession weekly or more.  If confession is required each time so that we are free from sin before receiving, then it fails unless you confess the moment before receiving; if your confession is 10 minutes before, or 2 hours, or a day, then it fails, since you will have sinned an innumerable number of times in the intervening period of time.

I do not chide you for your deep faith - indeed, your deep faith and commitment to Christ is to be commended.  But leave the recommendations about confession and communion to the parish priest or spiritual father of the person asking... And most certainly, do not seek to defend our Christ from perceived injustices - Christ can defend Himself (indeed, He has, once and for all) and we often get into much trouble when we make mistakes while attempting to over-clarify our faith.  We must be careful - for even a simple statement such as "we must confess each time before receiving" can have implications reaching out to our belief in Christ, in the Church, in the Eucharist itself, in the Eschaton, in the Final Judgment, in the Afterlife... Be very careful.
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2008, 06:28:41 PM »

L
You should seek to live your life in accordance with Christ's commands at all times, not just before receiving.  Quite frankly, the belief of the Orthodox Church is that you are to live your life as if you're receiving every time there is Liturgy - which is why there is no mandatory fasting before the Eucharist except the day of (no eating from midnight until you receive, and this is even relaxed for those with health problems and for the very young).


I believe that rule is only relaxed in the case of the dying though I know of one ROCOR Priest in the 1980s who refused it to a dying man because he had eaten something just beforehand (the family after that joined OCA). The canon you mention is those staying away from Church altogether for three weeks in a row. They are justly ex-communicated if they are without excuse.

However while we are SUPPOSED to be living according to the commandments of Christ honestly who here does? Certainly not me. If with the best will which I lack completely it is impossible for those living in the world today not to be polluted by sinful impressions. Why do you think people flee away into monasteries or covents?

While there is no canon that says we must confess before we Commune that is the tradition that I have been handed...I see no reason to reject it. It seems to exist even in large parts of the Moscow Patriarchate.

If we have the opportunity to confess before we go to MEET CHRIST IN PERSON why not take it? Are we all so pure that we have no fear of experiancing the Light of Christ as a burning fire?

Weekly Communion without confession and proper preparation weakens our fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom and without which we can not grow to hope in, have knowledge of and finally love God.

To say we all sin all the time may be true but their is a huge difference between smashing in the head of a baby and jaywalking to give an example.

Also the Spirit breathing Optina Fathers warned aganist Communing to often on the Mysteries. Where does this craze for frequent Communion come from?
Theophan.



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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2008, 06:40:12 PM »

Where does this craze for frequent Communion come from? 

From the History and Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2008, 06:42:46 PM »

From the History and Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

The typicon of St Sabbas from the 5 th century gives the rule of prayer and fasting for a week before. Before that things are unclear.

Where the Optina Fathers inspired by the Holy Spirit? Was for all his genius Fr Schemenn? More so than they?

Theophan.
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« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2008, 06:43:43 PM »

LWe must be careful - for even a simple statement such as "we must confess each time before receiving" can have implications reaching out to our belief in Christ, in the Church, in the Eucharist itself, in the Eschaton, in the Final Judgment, in the Afterlife... Be very careful.

What implications are you refering too?

Theophan.
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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2008, 06:53:58 PM »

The typicon of St Sabbas from the 5 th century gives the rule of prayer and fasting for a week before. Before that things are unclear.

Where the Optina Fathers inspired by the Holy Spirit? Was for all his genius Fr Schemenn? More so than they?

Theophan.

Here's a little history, on the issue of frequent communion, quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06278a.htm

In the early Church at Jerusalem the faithful received every day (Acts 2:46). Later on, however, we read that St. Paul remained at Troas for seven days, and it was only "on the first day of the week" that the faithful "assembled to break bread" (Acts 20:6-11; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2). According to the "Didache" the breaking of bread took place on "the Lord's day" (kata kyriaken, c. xiv). Pliny says that the Christians assembled "on a fixed day" (Ep. x); and St. Justin, "on the day called Sunday" (te tou heliou legomene hemera, Apol., I, lxvii, 3, 7). It is in Tertullian that we first read of the Liturgy being celebrated on any other day besides Sunday (De Orat., c. xix; De Corona, c. iii). Daily reception is mentioned by St. Cyprian (De Orat. Domin., c. xviii in P.L., IV, 531); St. Jerome (Ep. ad Damasum); St. John Chrysostom (Hom., iii in Eph.); St. Ambrose (in Ps. cxviii, viii, 26, 28 in P.L., XV, 1461, 1462); and the author of the "De Sacramentis" (V, iv, 25; P.L., XVI, 452).

It should be noted that in the early Church and in the patristic ages, the faithful communicated, or at any rate were expected to communicate, as often as the Holy Eucharist was celebrated (St. John Chrysostom loc. cit.; Apostolic canons, X; St. Gregory the Great, Dial. II, 23). They received even oftener, since it was the custom to carry away the Sacred Elements and communicate at home (St. Justin, loc. cit.; Tertullian, "Ad Uxorem", II, v; Euseb., "Hist. Eccl.", VI, xliv). This was done especially by hermits, by dwellers in monasteries without priests, and by those who lived at a distance from any church. On the other hand, we find that practice fell far short of precept, and that the faithful were frequently rebuked for so seldom receiving the Holy Communion (see especially St. John Chrysostom, loc. cit., and St. Ambrose, loc. cit.). St. Augustine sums up the matter thus: "Some receive the Body and Blood of the Lord every day; others on certain days; in some places there is no day on which the Sacrifice is not offered; in others on Saturday and Sunday only; in others on Sunday alone" (Ep. liv in P.L., XXXIII, 200 sqq.). Whether it was advisable for the faithful, especially those living in matrimony, to receive daily, was a question on which the Fathers were not agreed. St. Jerome is aware of this custom at Rome, but he says: "Of this I neither approve nor disapprove; let each abound in his own sense" (Ep. xlviii in P.L., XXII, 505 -- 6; Ep. lxxi in P.L., XXII, 672). St. Augustine discusses the question at length, and comes to the conclusion, that there is much to be said on both sides (Ep. liv in P.L., XXXIII, 200 sqq.). Good Christians still communicated once a week, down to the time of Charlemagne, but after the break-up of his empire this custom came to an end. St. Bede bears witness to the Roman practice of communicating on Sundays and on the feasts of the Apostles and Martyrs, and laments the rarity of reception in England (Ep. ad Egb. in P.L., XCIV, 665).

Strange to say, it was in the Middle Ages, "the Ages of Faith", that Communion was less frequent than at any other period of the Church's history. The Fourth Lateran Council compelled the faithful, under pain of excommunication, to receive at least once a year (c. Omnis utriusque sexus). The Poor Clares, by rule, communicated six times a year; the Dominicanesses, fifteen times; the Third Order of St. Dominic, four times. Even saints received rarely: St. Louis six times a year, St. Elizabeth only three times. The teaching of the great theologians, however, was all on the side of frequent, and to some extent daily, Communion [Peter Lombard, IV Sent., dist. xii, n. 8; St. Thomas, Summa Theol., III, Q. lxxx, a. 10; St. Bonaventure, In IV Sent., dist. xii, punct. ii, a. 2, q. 2; see Dalgairns, "The Holy Communion" (Dublin) part III, chap. i]. Various reformers, Tauler, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Vincent Ferrer, and Savonarola, advocated, and in many instances brought about, a return to frequent reception. The Council of Trent expressed a wish "that at each Mass the faithful who are present, should communicate" (Sess. XXII, chap. vi). And the Catechism of the council says: "Let not the faithful deem it enough to receive the Body of the Lord once a year only; but let them judge that Communion ought to be more frequent; but whether it be more expedient that it should be monthly, weekly, or daily, can be decided by no fixed universal rule" (pt. II, c. iv, n. 58). As might be expected, the disciples of St. Ignatius and St. Philip carried on the work of advocating frequent Communion. With the revival of this practice came the renewal of the discussion as to the advisability of daily Communion. While all in theory admitted that daily reception was good they differed as to the conditions required.

The Congregation of the Council (1587) forbade any general restriction, and ordered that no one should be repelled from the Sacred Banquet, even if he approached daily. In 1643, Arnauld's "Frequent Communion" appeared, in which he required, for worthy reception, severe penance for past sins and most pure love of God. The Congregation of the Council was once more appealed to, and decided (1679) that though universal daily Communion was not advisable, no one should be repelled, even if he approached daily; parish priests and confessors should decide how often, but they should take care that all scandal and irreverence should be avoided (see Denzinger, "Enchiridion", 10th ed., n. 1148). In 1690, Arnauld's conditions were condemned. In spite of these decisions, the reception of Holy Communion became less and less frequent, owing to the spread of rigid Jansenistic opinions, and this rigour lasted almost into our own day. The older and better tradition was, however, preserved by some writers and preachers, notably Fénelon and St. Alphonsus, and, with the spread of devotion to the Sacred Heart, it gradually became once more the rule. Difficulty, however, was raised regarding daily Communion. This practice, too, was warmly recommended by Pius IX and Leo XIII, and finally received official approval from Pius X.
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« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2008, 06:59:32 PM »

Here's another link also and a whole book just on the issue of frequent communion:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/cfc_ch2.aspx
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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2008, 09:28:03 PM »

Here's a little history, on the issue of frequent communion, quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06278a.htm



The Catholic Encyclopedia was put together by Jesuits. I recommend the Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal to anyone who wants to understand the darkness of this order's teachings. Below will shed some light on why they write what they write there.

Theophan.

How to Avail Oneself of the Heavenly Bread

 

The following is a chapter from God Owes Us Nothing, A Brief Remark on Pascal’s Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism, by Leszek Kolakowski. It briefly discusses the differences of attitude and practice between the Jesuits and the Jansenists with regard to the use of the sacraments.

 

 

It is commonly admitted that the Frequente Communion by Antoine Arnauld (first edition in 1643) became, perhaps not intentionally, a kind of founding manifesto of the Jansenist party and the crucial document that consolidated the movement and gave it a clearly distinguishing theoretical or ideological expression; this is what party manifestos have always been for. Even though anti-Jesuit writings by Saint-Cyran had been in circulation for a decade and a half and the opus magnum by Jansenius for three years, Arnauld’s text, written at Saint-Cyran’s instigation, provided potential adherents of Jansenism with a doctrinal basis in which they could find a well-articulated contrast between their - i.e., Augustinian - idea of Christianity and Jesuit novelties. Unlike Jansenius’s work, the Frequente Communion was written in French and addressed to the general educated public, not only to theologians, its length not-withstanding (Arnauld was totally incapable of being concise in his writing; in this he was similar to his great Calvinist opponent Pierre Jurieu). It immediately became a best-seller.

 

The question how often people should receive Holy Communion might appear of secondary importance to today’s Catholics, but Arnauld, by analyzing the uses and abuses of two sacraments - penance and the Eucharist - managed to oppose to each other two radically different concepts of Christian life and methods of seeking salvation. The text was provided with forty-five approbatur by bishops and theologians, quite an impressive part of the Who’s Who among French (mainly secular) clergy; its target was the Jesuit “Christianity made easy,” and its arguments use quotations from the fathers and councils, occasionally from modern reformers (especially, and not surprisingly, Charles Borromeo; Jansenius is quoted briefly two or three times), as well as references to the customs observed in the early Church. The immense theological erudition of Arnauld is harnessed to show that the Jesuits want to tempt us into the “broad path” and that such people, as John of the Cross said, must not be believed even if they perform miracles.

 

According to Jesuit authors, the Eucharist is a celestial medicine designed to cure the sinful state of our souls; it is natural therefore that the more grievous our sickness the more we need this divine aid, and that the more we feel robbed of grace, the more quickly we have to rush to God. The blood of the Savior annuls our sins and we ought to seek, everyday and without fear, participation in his merits. Once we commit a mortal sin, we go to the confessor and receive absolution, and immediately thereafter we should approach the Lord’s table. True repentance is hardly mentioned in Jesuit teaching, Arnauld avers, whereas it is essential in Church tradition. The Jesuit priests believe that they may not refuse absolution to people who declare that they prefer to postpone their repentance until their sojourn in purgatory.

 

Arnauld argues, quite convincingly, that this approach is both sacrilegious and contrary to well-established tradition. Without the proper spirit of repentance, without penance, the divine bread turns into poison for those who recklessly rely on its salutary effect. And did not Basil say that those who deserve the Holy Sacrament have to be dead to sin, to the world, and to themselves, that they must acquire “perfect sainthood”? Did not Ambrose warn us that whoever wants to eat life, eats it to his damnation unless he changes his own life? Only if you share the virtues of the Christians of old, only if you attain a state of innocence, charity, and ardor of the Holy Ghost, may you take communion frequently, warns Bonaventure. Even those who have already abandoned their evil conduct but are not yet completely cleaned by the pure love of God, not perfectly united with God and not altogether perfect, have no place in the Church, according to Denis. And Cyprian teaches us that “perseverance in piety, in virtue, in faith, in good life and in good works” is the absolute condition of being admitted to communion. The recipients, as John Chrysostom says, have to be “lofty souls having nothing in common with the earth.” “Extreme purity” is required for participation in Jesus Christ’s flesh and one ought to approach the sacrament in “awe and trembling.” Some great saints voluntarily abstained from communion, considering themselves unworthy because of venial sins they had committed.

 

In the first centuries of the Church public penance was customarily required not only for mortal and publicly committed sins; the devil doesn’t care whether a sin is public or secret: his aim is to tear away a baptized person from his place among God’s children. It is the priest’s duty to delay absolution after confession until the sinner has atoned for his crimes by a proportionate penance, shed his old self and changed into the new. We must not just rely on absolution; since only God can forgive our sins, we must beg his forgiveness in pain and tears, in sackcloth and ashes, with mourning and fasting, recognizing the enormity of our misdeeds, mortifying ourselves both in body and in conscience, never despairing about divine mercy but neither assuming that God has already forgiven us. We must not hope for conversion on the death bed after a godless life: poenitentia morituri moritura. Penitents who deplore their sins without abandoning them and those who abandon them without deploring them are equally unworthy of absolution, let alone of communion; so are those in whom the confessor sees no real improvement and who seem likely to revert to their old habits. Many sinners dread hell for no better reason than their amour propre; yet God does not let us into his kingdom as a reward for amour propre.

 

The results of this easy, undemanding Christianity were only too predictable: a catastrophic decline in moral standards and omnipresent corruption in all areas of life. Everybody is willing to rush to the confessional and no one to do penance; there have never been so many confessions and communions and never so much depravity and disorder. “Who does not know that for 20 years fornication has been regarded as a slight failing; adultery, one of the worst crimes of all, as a piece of good fortune; fraud and betrayal as virtues of the Court; godlessness and libertinage as strength of mind.” Corruption in marriage and family, corruption among the youth, fondness of luxury, gambling, blasphemy, cheating in trade, usury, simony - this is the picture of the age (it is not obvious what those “20 years” refer to - perhaps to the beginning of Richelieu’s power).

 

Sancta sanctis, holy things for holy people - this adage aptly sums up the tenor and the content of Arnauld’s passionate plea for the restoration of the Christianity of the fathers. He is well aware, of course, that lamenting the decline of Christian virtues among the faithful has been standard in theological and devotional writings since the third century. But he seems to believe that the world had never sunk so deep into the abyss of sin. What he wants is clear: a Church of saints, or rather a sect of saints. The inevitable decline in the number of those who will be accepted into the communion of the Church does not bother him at all. Gideon drove away all the cohorts from his army and only 300 were left to fight and win; “and is it not certain that 300 Christians who live in the zeal of faith bring more glory to the Church than 30,000 men who are similar to the cowardly soldiers of Gideon?”

 

The sacrament of Holy Communion builds or restores the communion not only with Jesus Christ but also with his mystical body, the Church. Under the conditions set up by Arnauld, if one took them seriously, the Church would inevitably dwindle to a tiny sect of the perfect, with no prospect of influencing the impure world, let alone of conquering it. It would perhaps go back to the catacombs. It would certainly become what the rigorists wanted it to be and what they thought it had once been, in the good old days: a healthy but foreign body in a world dominated by evil. Perfect sainthood, extreme purity, innocence and Christian zeal, being dead to the world, a blameless life - this is what is expected from any Christian willing to remain in communion with the Church, not just from the monks of the contemplative orders; there is no gradation of merits, no attenuating circumstances, not the slightest leniency for human weakness; the same spirit that was displayed by the great martyrs of the early Church is now required as the general norm. A provincial synod, Arnauld reminds us, made a praiseworthy decision in imposing ten years of penance on a priest who was guilty of fornication and volunteered the self-accusation. Francois de Sales suggests that no more than one among 10,000 directeurs des consciences is up to the task.

 

Arnauld, and all Jansenists, when accused of demanding the impossible and of imposing impracticable requirements on people and priests, replied: what is at stake is eternal salvation and on this point there is no bargaining or looking for easy solutions; it is a deadly serious thing, indeed the only thing that really matters. The Jesuit fathers could certainly not be accused of neglecting eternal salvation; on the contrary, they wanted to make it as widely accessible as possible. Indeed they made it easy. They were not accused - not even by Jansenists - of being self-indulgent and benefiting themselves with their easy-to-follow routes to eternal bliss; their personal moral discipline was not an issue. But they obviously wanted to maintain and extend the Church’s sway over the royal court and upper classes of any society where they operated, and this they could not do without accepting social conditions or “human nature” for what they were. One may safely say that the need for less exacting, to put it mildly, rules of Christian life was too imperative not to be met; why the Society assumed this task is a separate question. It was known that Louis XIV, whose conduct was notoriously less than edifying by Christian standards, lived in terror of hell. One can hardly imagine the arch-Christian monarch being unable to find confessors ready to bring solace to his tortured soul and to let him continue.

 

The Jesuits were well aware of being innovators; Arnauld quotes his adversary Father de Sesmaison, S.J., who wants to build “une Eglise d’a present,” a modern church. He himself was well aware of being what we would call “reactionary” in the strict sense: he wanted to go back to the Church of the Apostles no matter what the price, and if this meant reducing it, like Gideon’s army, to 1 percent - from 30,000 to 300 - so be it. Naturally enough, he was the implacable enemy of all who, in religious matters, sought any foundation other than the divine authority and the fathers. He allowed reliance only on “this truth established in the Tradition which recognizes no visions, no revelations, no reasoning and no particular opinions but is the arbiter of all visions, all revelations, all reasoning and all true and Catholic opinions.”

 

While the Church is incorruptible in faith, the conduct of the majority is not only corruptible, it is bound to grow worse the nearer we come to the end of the world. God visited his unfaithful flock with various calamities, proportional to their weakness; he let the devil bring about the heresies of Luther and Calvin and he let the Turks invade Christian kingdoms. One must not pass over in silence the decay in the Church; better to provoke a scandal than to abandon the truth, as Saint Bernard says (melius est ut scandalum oritur quam veritas relinquitur). And it is the calling of bishops to restore proper discipline.

 

The Jesuits did not deny the magnitude of corruption among Christians but their therapy was quite different: precisely because virtue has become so feeble, the healing power of sacraments has to be distributed more lavishly. The Jansenists - as well as many Thomist theologians and many bishops and priests who, without necessarily sharing the doctrine of Jansenius, remained loyal to the tradition - argued that the Jesuit medicine exacerbated the sickness they claimed to cure: it let people continue in their wicked habits with impunity and degraded absolution to a mechanical formality.
   
http://www.romancatholicism.org/jansenism/heavenly-bread.htm
 

 

 

 

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« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2008, 12:06:32 AM »

What implications are you refering too?

Theophan.

The revolving door implication. Chances are that you will sin before leaving the church right after communion.What will you do? Run back for more? You are not pure because you have communion in you. You will never be that pure. There is a good reason why it's called communion. We as a community are united to Christs body. It is Christ who is saving us. He is the only sinless one. We are saved as a Church because we unite to the body that is being offered up to the Trinity at Liturgy. Confession has very little to do with it. Confession is a means of becoming an image of Christ in renewing yourself and working towards perfection to a limited degree. It is a separate sacrament in the GOC. One doesn't have to confess to receive communion in my Church.
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« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2008, 12:31:22 AM »

Weekly Communion without confession and proper preparation weakens our fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom and without which we can not grow to hope in, have knowledge of and finally love God.
How so?  The Body and Blood of Christ is indeed an all-consuming fire, of purification to those who receive in a worthy manner and of condemnation to those who don't.  But should the holiness of the Sacrament force us to protect it from those who need it most by requiring that those who wish to receive undergo a stringent rite of purification just to receive Him?  Then the Holy Mystery becomes merely the Sacrament of the sect of the already pure and not the very lifeblood of the Church.  Christ gave Himself to be food for ALL sinners, none of whom will ever be worthy to receive Him, and no rite of purification can ever be enough to make us worthy.

Quote
Also the Spirit breathing Optina Fathers warned aganist Communing to often on the Mysteries. Where does this craze for frequent Communion come from?
I will add to what cleveland already said about this:  From the History and Tradition of the Orthodox Church, and from the recognition of how infrequent Communion is a deviation from this norm.  Would you not say that St. John of Kronstadt was just as Spirit-filled as the Optina Fathers, yet he advocated daily Communion and was blessed by his bishop to make this available to his flock by celebrating the Divine Liturgy every day!
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« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2008, 09:21:45 AM »


I will add to what cleveland already said about this:  From the History and Tradition of the Orthodox Church, and from the recognition of how infrequent Communion is a deviation from this norm.  Would you not say that St. John of Kronstadt was just as Spirit-filled as the Optina Fathers, yet he advocated daily Communion and was blessed by his bishop to make this available to his flock by celebrating the Divine Liturgy every day!

Excuse me but are you just being silly....It has not been the norm. Theophan already pointed out that a fifth century typicon includes rule of a week of prayer and fasting before Communion. St John Chrysostom mentions that there were those who are neither among the penitents nor among those Communing present at the Liturgy in the fourth century. MAYBE and only MAYBE it was custom of the Church before the edict of Milan but you know they also in many places believed that certain sins were unforgivable after Baptism and some places made married couples promise to live as brother and sister if they wanted to be Baptized and somehow I cannot imagine OCA or GOA resurrecting those customs, can you? Also they had to be ready to die at any time. They were a lot more pure. I wish I could say same for modern "Orthodoxy" but sadly I cannot. Infact one could say that now the less the Church going Commune the more pious of life usually and it should be just the opposite.

Sophia.


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« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2008, 09:28:11 AM »

I think the concern is that such regular confession will either trivialize the sacrament (we've all seen the people who have their confession lists laminated and simply go through the motions of reading the list the probably have committed to memory) or it will turn into a meditation on sin and failure which we know, from modern psychology, can be dangerous and it would be irresponsible for a priest not to take the potential mental health implications into account.

Modern psychology? You mean we should put are trust in spiritually unclean jews like Freud and not Holy Fathers? Saints meditated on their sins and failures and were I think much healthier than American happy people with their self-esteem (nice word for deadly sin of pride).
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2008, 09:30:45 AM »

Modern psychology? You mean we should put are trust in spiritually unclean jews like Freud and not Holy Fathers? Saints meditated on their sins and failures and were I think much healthier than American happy people with their self-esteem (nice word for deadly sin of pride).

From the historical extracts and analysis I've provided above while there may have been variations in tradition and while frequent communion may have been a point of contention for some it does seem that it was the norm...
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2008, 09:44:49 AM »

Thank you Peter for sharing this information. How sad that Orthodoxy has been so distorted in some quarters that many will not even try to understand our authentic heritage but instead denounce the truth as western or modernist. I will definitely save this link.

Schmenann maybe not good source that can be trusted.

http://users.sisqtel.net/williams/archives/schmemann.html

THE LITURGICAL THEOLOGY
OF FR. A. SCHMEMANN

By PROTOPRESBYTER MICHAEL POMAZANSKY

    In past centuries the greatest peril to the Church of Christ came from false teachers who were singled out and condemned because of their dogmatic errors. Thus the early Fathers and Councils condemned Nestorianism, Arianism, Monophysitism, Iconoclasm, etc. But the enemy of man's salvation does not sleep, and in our day, when there is no basic new heresy—unless it be that conglomeration of heresies, ecumenism—he has inspired various currents of "renovationism" within the Church, which have attacked chiefly the life and practice of traditional Orthodoxy, beginning with the outright Protestantism of the "Renovated" or "Living Church" in Russia in the 1920s, through the reforming uniatizers of the Church of Constantinople (Patriarchs Meletios Metaxakis and Athenagoras, Archbishop Iakovos) to the numerous would-be reformers who may be found in almost every Local Orthodox Church today.
    In this article the workon liturgical theology of one well known and widely respected contemporary Russian theologian is carefully criticized and its "reformist" tendency pointed out. In all fairness it should be noted that Fr. work on probably does not see himself as a "reformer," and it will doubtless be left to other less sensitive souls, another generation removed from the life of genuine Orthodoxy, to draw the inevitable iconoclastic conclusions from Fr. Schmemann's already Protestant views.
    The author of this article, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, one of the last living theologians to have graduated from the theological academies of pre-Revolutionary Russia, has taught theology to generations of Orthodox priests, and now teaches and resides at Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York. (Text from ORTHODOX WAY, Jordanville, 1962. All page numbers in the text below are from the English edition of Fr. Schmemann's book.)

B
EFORE US is a work of Archpriest (now Protopresbyter) Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Paris, YMCA Press, 1961; English translation: The Faith Press, London, 1966). The book is presented as an "introduction" to a special course in liturgical theology projected by the author. In it are indicated the foundations of a proposed new system of theology, and then there is given an historical outline of the development of the Rule or Typicon of Divine services.
    The basic part of the Introduction to Liturgical Theology—the history of the Typicon—is based primarily on Western scientific investigations in French, English, and German, and partially on Russian sources. The author is convinced that he has succeeded, as he expresses it, in "escaping the Western captivity" while using non-Orthodox sources. He writes: "We categorically reject the understanding of the Peace of Constantine (i.e., the era of Constantine the Great) as a 'pseudo-victory' of Christianity—victory bought at the price of compromise" (p. 86). But such affirmations are not enough in themselves, and we consider it our obligation to focus attention on the book's contents in one respect: has the author indeed escaped the Western captivity? As many facts testify, he has in fact not escaped it.

THE ORTHODOX LITURGICAL ORDER:
THE PRODUCT OF HISTORICAL CAUSE AND EFFECT,
OR DIVINE INSPIRATION AND GUIDANCE?

    IN INVESTIGATING the chief stages of development of the Rule of Divine services, or Typicon, the author looks upon them as upon an ordinary historical manifestation, formed as a result of the influence of changing historical circumstances. He writes: "Orthodox writers are usually inclined to 'absolutize' the history of worship, to consider the whole of it as divinely established and Providential" (p. 72). The author rejects such a view. He does not see "the validity of principles" in the definitive formulation of the Rule; in any case he acknowledges them as dubious. He rejects or even censures a "blind absolutization of the Typicon" while in practice this is joined, in his observation, to a factual violation of it at every step. He acknowledges that "the restoration of the Rule is hopeless;" the theological idea of the daily cycle of services he finds "obscured and eclipsed by secondary strata in the Ordo" which have lain upon the Divine services since the 4th century (pp. 161-2). The ecclesiological key to the understanding of the Rule, according to the author, has been lost, and it remains by the historical path to seek and find the key to liturgical theology.
    Such a view of the Rule is new to us. The Typicon, in the form which it has taken down to our time in its two basic versions, is the realized idea of Christian worship; the worship of the first century was a kernel which has grown into maturity in its present state, when it has taken its finished form. We have in mind, of course, not the content of the services, not the hymns and prayers themselves, which often bear the stamp of the literary style of an era and are replaced on by another, but the very system of Divine services, their order, concord, harmony, consistency of principles and fullness of God's glory and communion with the Heavenly Church on the one hand, and on the other the fullness of their expression of the human soul—from the Paschal hymns to the Great Lenten lamentation over moral falls. The present Rule of Divine services was already contained in the idea of the Divine services of the first Christians in the same way that in the seed of a plant are already contained the forms of the plant's future growth up to the moment when it begins to bear mature fruits, or in the way that in the embryonic organism of a living creature its future form is already concealed. To the foreign eye, to the non-Orthodox West, the fact that our Rule has taken a static form is present as a petrifaction, a fossilization; but for us this represents the finality of growth, the attainment of the possible fullness and finality; and such finality of the form of development we observe also in Eastern Church iconography, in church architecture, in the interior appearance of the best churches, in the traditional melodies of church singing: further attempts at development in these spheres so often lead to "decadence," leading not up but down. One can make only one conclusion: we are nearer to the end of history than to the beginning… And of course, as in other spheres of the Church's history, in this one also we should see a destiny established by God, a providentialness, and not a single logic of causes and effects.
    The author of this book approaches the history of the Typicon from another point of view; we shall call it the pragmatic point of view. In his exposition the basic apostolic, early Christian liturgical order has been overlaid by a series of strata which lie one upon the other and partially supplant each other. These strata are: "mysteriological" worship, which arose not without the indirect influence of the pagan mysteries in the 4th century; then the liturgical order of desert monasticism; and finally the final working over which was given by monasticism that had entered the world. The scientific schema of the author is thus: the "thesis" of an extreme involvement of Christianity and its worship in the world of the Constantinian Era evoked the "antithesis" of monastic repulsion from the new form of "liturgical piety," and this process concludes with the "synthesis" of the Byzantine period. Alone and without argumentation stands this phrase as a description of the stormy Constantinian Era: "But everything has its germ in the preceding epoch" (p. 73). The author even pays tribute to the method that reigns completely in contemporary science: leaving aside the idea of an overshadowing by Divine grace, the concept of the sanctity of those who established the liturgical order, he limits himself to a naked chain of causes and effects. Thus does positivism intrude nowadays into Christian science, into the sphere of the Church's history in all its branches. But if the positivist method is acknowledged as a scientific working principle in science, in the natural sciences, one can by no means apply it to living religion, nor to every sphere of the life of Christianity and the Church, insofar as we remain believers. And when the author in one place notes concerning this era: "The Church experienced her new freedom as a providential act destined to bring to Christ people then dwelling in the darkness and shadow of death" (p. 87), one wishes to ask: And why does the author himself not express his solidarity with the Church in acknowledging this providentialness?

THE CONSTANTINIAN ERA

    WE ALL KNOW what an immense change in the position of the Church occurred with Constantine the Great's proclamation of freedom for the Church at the beginning of the 4th century. This outward act was reflected also in every way in the inward life of the Church. Was there here a break in the inner structure of the Church's life, or was there a development? We know that to this question the self-awareness of the Orthodox Church replies in one way, and Protestantism in another. A chief part of Fr. A. Schmemann's book is given over to the elucidation of this question.
    The era of Constantine the Great and afterwards is characterized by the author as the era of a profound "reformation of liturgical piety." Thus the author sees in the Church of this era not new forms of the expression of piety, flowing from the breadth and liberty of the Christian spirit in accord with the words of the Apostle: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty—but rather a reformation of the interpretation of worship and a deviation from the early Christian liturgical spirit and forms: a point of view long ago inspired by the prejudices of the Lutheran Reformation.
    A propos of this, it is difficult to reconcile oneself also to the term "liturgical piety." In the ordinary usage of words, piety is Christian faith, hope and love, independently of the forms of their expression. Such an understanding is instilled in us by the sacred Scriptures, which distinguish only authentic piety (piety is profitable unto all things — I Timothy 4:Cool from false or empty piety (James 1:26, II Timothy 3:5). Piety is expressed in prayer, in Divine services, and the forms of its expression vary depending on circumstances: whether in church, at home, in prison, or in the catacombs. But we Orthodox scarcely need a special term like "liturgical piety" or "church piety," as if one were pious in a different manner in church than at home, and as if there existed two kinds of religiousness: "religiousness of faith" and "religiousness of cult." Both the language of the Holy Fathers and the language of theology have always done without such a concept. And therefore it is a new conception, foreign to us, of a special liturgical piety that the author instills when he writes: "It is in the profound reformation of liturgical piety and not in new forms of cult, however striking these may seem to be at first glance, that we must see the basic change brought about in the Church's liturgical life by the Peace of Constantine" (p. 78). And in another place: "The center of attention is shifted from the living Church to the church building itself, which was until then a simple place of assembly… Now the temple becomes a sanctuary, a place for the habitation and residence of the sacred… This is the beginning of church piety" (p. 80), a "mysteriological piety." In his usage of such terms one senses in the author something more than the replacement of one terminology by another more contemporary one; one sense something foreign to Orthodox consciousness. This fundamental point is decisively reflected in the book in the views on the sacraments, the hierarchy, and the veneration of saint, which we shall now examine.

THE SACRAMENTS AND THE SANCTIFYING
ELEMENT IN SACRED RITES

    THE AUTHOR adheres to the concept that the idea of "sanctification," of "sacraments," and in general of the sanctifying power of sacred rites was foreign to the ancient Church and arose only in the era after Constantine. Although the author denies a direct borrowing of the idea of "mysteries-sacraments" from the pagan Mysteries, he nonetheless recognizes the "mysteriality-sacralization" in worship as a new element of "stratification" in this era. "The very word 'sacrament,'" he writes, citing the Jesuit scholar (now Cardinal) J. Danielou, "did not originally have the meaning in Christianity that was subsequently given it, a mysteriological meaning; in the New Testament Scriptures it is used only in the singular and with the general significance of the economy of our salvation: the word "sacrament' (mysterion) in Paul and in early Christianity signified always the whole work of Christ, the whole of salvation;" thus, in the author's opinion, the application of this word even to separate aspects of the work of Christ belongs to the following era.
    In vain, however, does the author cite a Western scholar concerning the word "sacrament," if in St. Paul we may read the precise words: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries (sacraments) of God (I Corinthians 4:1). The Apostles were stewards of the sacraments, and this apostolic stewardship was expressed concretely in the service of the Divine stewardship: (a) in invocatory sermons, (b) in joining to the Church through Baptism, (c) in bringing down the Holy Spirit through laying on of hands, (d) in strengthening the union of the faithful with Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, (e) in their further deepening in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, concerning which the same Apostle says: Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom (I Corinthians 2:6-7). Thus the activity of the Apostles was full of sacramental (mysterion) elements.
    Basing himself on the ready conclusions of Western researches in his judgments on the ancient Church, the author pays no attention to the direct evidence of the apostolic writings, even though they have the primary significance as memorials of the life of the early Christian Church. The New Testament Scriptures speak directly of "sanctification," sanctification by the Word of God and prayer. Nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayers (I Timothy 4:4-5). And it is said of Baptism: Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified (I Corinthians 6:11). The very expression cup of blessing (I Corinthians 10:16) is testimony of sanctification through blessing. The apostolic laying on of hands cannot be understood otherwise than as a sanctification.
    A special place in the book is occupied by a commentary on the sacrament of the Eucharist. The author maintains the idea that in the early Church the Eucharist had a totally different meaning from the one it subsequently received. The Eucharist, he believes, was an expression of the ecclesiological union in assembly of the faithful, the joyful banquet of the Lord, and its whole meaning was directed to the future, to eschatology, and therefore it presented itself as a "worship outside of time," not bound to history or remembrances, as eschatological worship, by which it was sharply distinct from the simple forms of worship, which are called in the book the "worship of time." In the 4th century, however, we are told, there occurred a severe reformation of the original character of the Eucharist. It was given an "individual-sanctifying" understanding, which was the result of two stratifications: at first the mysteriological, and then the monastic-ascetic.
    Notwithstanding the assertions of this historico-liturgical school, the individual-sanctifying significance of the sacrament of the Eucharist, i.e., the significance not only of a union of believers among themselves, but before anything else the union of each believer with Christ through partaking of His Body and Blood, is fully and definitely expressed by the Apostle in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians: Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many die (I Corinthians 11:27). These teachings of the Apostle are concerned with individual reception of the holy Mysteries and with individual responsibility. And if unworthy reception of them is judged, it is clear that, according to the Apostle, a worthy reception of them causes an individual sanctification. It is absolutely clear that the Apostle understands the Eucharist as a sacrament: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? (I Corinthians 10:16). How can one say that the idea of "sacrament" was not in the Church in apostolic times?
    Maintaining the idea of the total "extra-temporality" of the Eucharist in the early Church, Fr. A. Schmemann considers as a violation of tradition the uniting to it of historical remembrances of the Gospel. He writes: "In the early Eucharist there was no idea of a ritual symbolization of the life of Christ and His Sacrifice. This is a theme which will appear later… under the influence of one theology and as the point of departure for another. The remembrance of Christ which he He instituted (This do in remembrance of Me) is the affirmation of His 'Parousia,' of His presence; it is the actualization of His Kingdom… One may say without exaggeration that the early Church consciously and openly set herself in opposition to mysteriological piety and the cults of the mysteries" (pp. 85-6).
    Despite all the categoricalness of the author's commentary on the words: This do in remembrance of Me, it contradicts the indications of the New Testament Scriptures. The Apostle says outright: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come (I Corinthians 11:26). That is, until the very Second Coming of the Lord the Eucharist will be joined to the remembrance of Christ's death on the Cross. And how could the Apostles and Christians of the ancient Church pass by the thought, while celebrating the Eucharist, of the sufferings of Christ, if the Saviour in establishing it, at the Last Supper, Himself spoke of the sufferings of His Body, of the shedding of His Blood (which is broken for you, which is shed for you and for many), and in Gethsemene prayed of the cup: Let this cup pass form Me? How could they not preface the joyful thought of the resurrection and glory of the Lord with the thought of His Cross and death? Both Christ and the Apostles call upon us never to forget the Cross.

THE HIERARCHY AND THE SACRAMENT OF PRIESTHOOD

    THE AUTHOR adheres to the idea that only in the post-Constantinian era did there occur a division into clergy and simple believers, which did not exist in the early Church and occurred as the result of a "breakthrough of mysteriological conceptions." The very idea of the "assembly of the Church," he says was reformed: "In the Byzantine era the emphasis is gradually transferred… to the clergy as celebrants of the mystery" (p. 99). "The early Church lived with the consciousness of herself as the people of God, a royal priesthood, with the idea of election, but she did not apply the principle of consecration either to entry into the Church or much less to ordination to the various hierarchical orders" (p. 100). From the 4th century on, he continues, there can be traced the "idea of sanctification," i.e., consecration to the hierarchical ranks. Now the baptized, the "consecrated," turn out to be not yet consecrated for the mysteries; "the true mystery of consecration became now not Baptism, but the sacrament of ordination." "The cult was removed from the unconsecrated not only 'psychologically,' but also in its external organization. The altar or sanctuary became its place, and access to the sanctuary was closed to the uninitiated" (p. 101); the division was increased by the gradual raising of the iconostasis. "The mystery presupposes theurgii, consecrated celebrants; the sacralization of the clergy led in its turn to the 'secularization' of the laity." There fell aside "the understanding of all Christians as a 'royal priesthood,'" expressed in the symbol of royal anointing, after which there is no "step by step elevation through the degrees of a sacred mystery" (p. 100). The author quotes St. Dionysius the Areopagite, who warned against revealing the holy mysteries "to profane impurity," and likewise similar warning of Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem and Basil the Great.
    In the description cited here of the Constantian era and thereafter, the Protestant treatment is evident: the golden age of Christian freedom and the age of the great hierarchs, the age of the flowering of Christian literature, appears from the negative side of a supposed intrusion into the Church of pagan elements, rather than from the positive. But at any time in the Church have simple believers actually received the condemnatory appellation of "profane?" From the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem it is absolutely clear that he warns against communicating the mysteries of faith to pagans. And St. Basil the Great writes of the same thing: "What would be the propriety of writing to proclaim the teaching concerning that which the unbaptized are not permitted even to view?" (On the Holy Spirit, ch. 27). Do we really have to quote the numerous testimonies in the words of the Lord Himself and in the writings of the Apostles concerning the division into pastors and "flock," the warning to pastors of their duty, their responsibility, their obligation to give an accounting for the souls entrusted to them, the strict admonitions of the Angels to the Churches which are engraved in the Apocalypse? Do not the Acts of the Apostles and the pastoral Epistles of the Apostle Paul speak of a special consecration through laying on of hand into the hierarchal degrees? The author of this book acknowledges that a closed altar separated the clergy from the faithful. But he gives an incorrect conception of the altar. One should know that the altar and its altar-table in the Orthodox Church serve only for the offering of the Bloodless Sacrifice at the Liturgy. The remaining Divine services, according to the idea of the Typicon, are celebrated in the middle part of the church. An indication of this is the pontifical service. Even while celebrating the Liturgy the bishop enters the altar only at the "Little Entrance" in order to listen to the Gospel and celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist; all remaining Divine services the bishop celebrates in the middle of the church. The litanies are intoned by the deacon at all services, including the Liturgy, outside the altar; and the Typicon directs priest who celebrate Vespers and Matins without a deacon to intone the litanies before the Royal Doors. All services of the Book of Needs (Trebnik) and all sacraments of the Church, except for the Eucharist and Ordination, are celebrated outside the altar. Only to augment the solemnity of the services at feast day Vespers and Matins is it accepted to pen the doors of the altar for a short time, and that only for the exit of the celebrants at solemn moments to go to the middle of the church. During daily and lenten services the altar, one may say, is excluded from the sphere of the faithful's attention; and if the celebrant goes off into the altar even then, this is rather in order not to attract needless attention to himself, and not at all to emphasize his hierarchical prestige.
    One must consider an evident exaggeration the idea of the appearance from the 4th century of a new "church" piety. Christians who had been raised form the first days of the Church on images not only of the New Testament but also of the Old Testament, especially the Psalter, could not have been totally deprived of a feeling of special reverence for the places of worship (the House of the Lord). They had the example of the Lord Himself, Who called the Temple of Jerusalem "the House of My Father;" they had the instruction of the Apostle: If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy (I Corinthians 3:17), and although here in the Apostle the idea of temple is transferred to the soul of an, this does not destroy the acknowledgment by the Apostle of the sanctity of the material temple.

THE INVOCATION AND GLORIFICATION OF SAINTS

    SPEAKING OF the invocation and glorification of saints in the form in which it was defined in the 4th to 5th centuries, Fr. A. Schmemann underlines the excessiveness of this glorification in the present structure of our Divine services, and he sees in this an indication of the "eclipse of catholic ecclesiological consciousness" in the Church (p. 166). But is not the trouble rather that he does not enter into the catholic fullness of the Orthodox view of the Church?
    What is it in the Divine services—something significant, visible to everyone—that distinguishes the Orthodox Church from all other confessions of the Christian faith? It is communion with the Heavenly Church. In this is our pre-eminence, our primogeniture, our glory. The constant remembrance of the Heavenly Church is our guiding star in difficult circumstances; we are strengthened by the awareness that we are surrounded by choirs of invisible comforters, co-sufferers, defenders, guiders, examples of sanctity, from whose nearness we ourselves may receive a fragrance. How fully and how constantly we are reminded of this communion of the heavenly with the earthly by the content of our whole worship—precisely that material in place of which Fr. A. Schmemann intends to build his system of "liturgical theology!" How fully did St. John of Kronstadt live by this sense of nearness to us of the saints of Heaven!
    Is this awareness of the unity of the heavenly and the earthly justified by the Revelation of the New Testament? It is completely justified. Its firm general foundation is found in the words of the Saviour: God is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for in Him all are living (St. Luke 20:38). We are commanded by the Apostles to remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their lives (Hebrews 13:7). Protestantism is completely without an answer before the teaching of the Apostle in Hebrews 12:22-23, where it is said that Christians have entered into close communion with the Lord Jesus Christ and with the Heavenly Church of angels and righteous men who have attained perfection in Christ. And which for us is more necessary and important: to strive for ecumenical communion and union with those who think differently and who remain in their different opinion, or to preserve catholic communion of spirit with those teachers of faith, lamps of faith, who by their life and by their death showed faithfulness to Christ and His Church and entered into yet fuller union with Her Head?
    Let us hear how this side of the Church's life is accepted by Fr. A. Schmemann.
    He affirms that there occurred an abrupt change in the Constantian era in that there appeared a new stratum to worship in the form of "the extraordinary and rapid growth of the veneration of saints" (p. 141). As the final result of this, with us "the monthly Menaion dominates in worship… The attention of liturgical historians has been for some time directed at this literal inundation of worship by the monthly calendar of saints' days" (p. 141).
    Concerning this supposed "inundation" of worship we shall note the following. The execution of the daily Vespers and Matins requires no less than three hours, while a simple service to a saint takes up some four pages in the Menaion, occupying only a small part of the service. In the remaining services of the daily cycle (the Hours, Compline, Nocturn) the remembrance of the saints is limited to a kontakion, sometimes a troparion also, or it does not appear at all; and it occupies a small place in the services of Great Lent. If the day of worship is lengthened by a festive service to a saint, precisely thereby it acquires that "major tone," for the diminishing of which the author reproaches the contemporary Typicon.
    Let us continue the description given in the book of the glorification of saints. The author writes: "In the broadest terms this change may be defined as follows. The 'emphasis' in the cult of saints shifted from the sacramentally eschatological to the sanctifying and intercessory meaning of veneration. The remains of the saint, and later even articles belonging to him or having once touched his body, came to be regarded as sacred objects having the effect of communicating their power to those who touched them… The early Church treated the relics of martyrs with great honor—'But there is no indication,' writes Fr. Delahaye, 'that any special power was ascribed to relics in this era, or that any special, supernatural result would be obtained by touching them. Toward the end of the fourth century, however, there is ample evidence to show that in the eyes of believers some special power flowed from the relics themselves.' This new faith helps to explain such facts of the new era as the invention of relics, their division into pieces, and their movement or translation, as well as the whole development of the veneration of 'secondary holy objects'—objects which have touched relics and become n turn themselves sources of sanctifying power."
    Let us note: under the pen of an Orthodox writer this description shows a particular primitivization and irreverence.
    "At the same time," the author continues, "the intercessory character of the cult of saints was also developing. Again, this was rooted in the tradition of the early Church, in which prayers addressed to deceased members of the Church were very widespread, as evidenced by the inscriptions in the catacombs. But between this early practice and that which developed gradually from the 4th century on there is an essential difference. Originally the invocation of the departed was rooted in the faith in the 'communion of saints'—prayers were addressed to any departed person and not especially to martyrs… But a very substantial change took place when this invocation of the departed was narrowed down and began to be addressed only to a particular category of the departed."
    Thus it turns out, according to the author, that if we appeal with the words 'pray for us' to the departed members of the Church without reference to whether they were devout in their faith and life or were Christians only in name, then this fully corresponds to the spirit of the Church; but if we appeal to those who by their whole ascetic life or martyr's death testified to their faith, then this is already a lowering of the spirit of the Church!
    "From the 4th century onward," continues the excerpt from the book, "there appeared in the Church first an everyday and practical, but later a theoretical and theological concept of the saints as special intercessors before God, as intermediaries between men and God."
    This is a completely Protestant approach, unexpected from an Orthodox theologian. It is sufficient to read in the Apostle Paul how he asks those to whom he writes to be intercessors for him and intermediaries before God so that he might be restored to them from imprisonment and might visit them; in the Apostle James (5:16): The prayer of a righteous man availeth much; in the Book of Job (42:Cool: My servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept.
    The author continues: "The original Christocentric significance of the veneration of saints was altered in this intercessory concept. In the early tradition the martyr of saint was first a foremost a witness to the new life and therefore an image of Christ." The reading of the Acts of the Martyrs in the early Church had as its purpose "to show the presence and action of Christ in the martyr, i.e., the presence in him of the 'new life.' It was not meant to glorify the saint himself… But in the new intercessory view of the saint the center of gravity shifted. The saint is now an intercessor and a helper… The honoring of saints fell into the category of a Feast Day," with the purpose of "the communication to the faithful of the sacred power of a particular saint, his special grace… The saint is present and as it were manifest in his relics or icon, and the meaning of his holy day lies in acquiring sanctification (?) by means of praising him or coming into contact with him, which is, as we know, the main element in mysteriological piety."
    Likewise unfavorable is the literary appraisal by the author of the liturgical material referring to the veneration of saints. We read: "We know also how important in the development of Christian hagiography was the form of the panegyric… It was precisely this conventional, rhetorical form of solemn praise which almost wholly determined the liturgical texts dealing with the veneration of saints. One cannot fail to be struck by the rhetorical elements in our Menaion, and especially the 'impersonality' of the countless prayers to and readings about the saints. Indeed this impersonality is retained even when the saint's life is well known and a wealth of material could be offered as an inspired 'instruction.' While the lives of the saints are designed mainly to strike the reader's imagination with miracles, horrors, etc., the liturgical material consists almost exclusively of praises and petitions." (pp. 143-146).
    We presume that there is no need to sort out in detail this whole long series of assertions made by the author, who so often exaggerates the forms of our veneration of saints. We are amazed that an Orthodox author takes his stand in the line of un-Orthodox reviewers of Orthodox piety who are incapable of entering into a psychology foreign to them. We shall make only a few short remarks.
    The honoring of saints is included in the category of feasts because in them Christ is glorified, concerning which it is constantly and clearly stated in the hymns and other appeals to them; for in the saints is fulfilled the Apostle's testament: That Christ may dwell in you (Ephesians 3:17).
    We touch the icon of a saint or his relics guided not by the calculation of receiving a sanctification from them, or some kind of power, a special grace, but by the natural desire of expressing in act our veneration and love for the saint.
    Besides, we receive the fragrance of sanctity, the fullness of grace, in various forms. Everything material that reminds us of the sacred sphere, everything that diverts our consciousness, even if only for a moment, from the vanity of the world and directs it to the thought of the destination of our soul and acts beneficially on it, on our moral state—whether it be an icon, antidoron, sanctified water, a particle of relics, a part of a vestment that belonged to a saint, a blessing with the sign of the cross—all this is sacred for us because, as we see in practice, it is capable of making reverent and awakening the soul. And for such a relationship to tangible objects we have a direct justification in Holy Scripture: in the accounts of the woman with a flow of blood who touched the garment of the Saviour, of the healing action of pieces of the garment of the Apostle Paul and even of the shadow of the Apostle Peter (St. Luke 8:40-48, Acts 5:14-15, 19:11-12).
    The reason for the seemingly stereotyped character of church hymns, in particular hymns to saints, are to be found not in the intellectual poverty nor the spiritual primitiveness of the hymn-writers. We see that in all spheres of the Church's work there reigns a canon, a model: whether in sacred melodies, in the construction of hymns, or in iconography. Characteristic of hymns is a typification corresponding to the particular rank of saints to which the saint belongs: hierarchs, monk-saints, etc. But at the same time there is always the element of individualization, so that one cannot speak of the impersonality of the images of saints. Evidently the Church has sufficient psychological motives for such a representation.
    As for the petitions to saints, they have almost exclusively as object their prayers for our salvation. Is this reprehensible? Is there here a lowering of church spirit? Thus did the Apostle Paul pray for his spiritual children: I pray to God that ye do no evil; and for this also we pray, even for your perfection (I Corinthians 13:7)> If in prayers, especially in molebens, we pray for protection from general disasters and for general needs, this is only natural; but these molebens do not even enter into the framework of the Typicon.

CHURCH FEASTS

WE SHALL CONCLUDE our review with a question of secondary importance, namely, concerning Church feasts as they are presented in the book.. The author agrees with a Western liturgical historian that for ancient Christians there was no distinction between Church feasts and ordinary days, and he says in the words of this historian (J. Danielou, S.J.): "Baptism introduced each person into the only Feast—the eternal Passover, the Eighth Day. There were no holidays—since everything had in fact become a holy day" (p. 133). But with the beginning of the mysteriological era this sense was lost. Feast days were multiplied, and together with them ordinary days were also multiplied (So asserts the author; but in reality it is precisely according to the Typicon that there are no "ordinary days," since every day there is prescribed the whole cycle of church services). According to Fr. A. Schmemann, the bond with the liturgical self-awareness of the early Church was lost, and the element of chance was introduced in the uniting of feasts among themselves and the "Christian year." The author gives examples: "The dating of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord on August 6th has no explanation other than that this was the date of consecration of three churches on Mount Tabor" (p. 136), whereas in antiquity, according to the author's assertion, this commemoration was bound up with Pascha, which is indicated also by the words of the kontakion: that when they should see Thee crucified… The dates of the feasts of the Mother of God, in the words of the author, are accidental. "The Feast of the Dormition on August 15th, originates in the consecration of a church to the Mother of God located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and the dates of September 8 (The Nativity of the Mother of God) and November 21 (Her Entrance into the Temple) have a similar origin. Outside the Mariological cycle there appeared, for similar reasons, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (connected with the consecration of the Holy Sepulchre), and the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist on August 29th (the consecration of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Samaria at Sebaste)" (p. 137).
    In these references of the author, a characteristic sign is his trust of Western conclusions in the face of, as we believe, the simple conclusion from the order of the church-worship year. The Byzantine church year begins on September 1st. The first feast in the year corresponds to the beginning of New Testament history: the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God; the last great feast of the church year is in its last month: the Dormition of the Mother of God. This is sequential and logical. The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord occurs at the beginning of August doubtless because the cycle of Gospel readings at about this time approaches the account of the Evangelist Matthew of the Lord's Transfiguration, and the commemoration of this significant Gospel event is apportioned to a special feast. As for the words of the kontakion of the Transfiguration: From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (St. Matthew 16:21, 17:9, 22). Therefore the Church, in accordance with the Gospel, six days before the Transfiguration begins the singing of the katavasia "Moses, inscribing the Cross" (it may be that the bringing out of the Cross on August 1st is bound up with this), and just forty days after the Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated the commemoration of the Lord's suffering on the Cross and death on the day of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross. And the designation of the time of this feast is also scarcely accidental: this time corresponds, like the time of the Feast of the Transfiguration, to the approach of the Gospel reading at the Liturgy of the Lord's suffering on the Cross and death. Here is one of the examples that indicated that the structure of Divine services in the Typicon is distinguished by proper sequence, harmony, and a sound basis.
    If it be represented that in the church calendar a strict sequentialness of the Gospel events is not observed, this is because the Gospel remembrances take in many years and in the calendar they are arranged as it were in the form of a spiral embracing several years: it contains a series of nine-month periods (from the conception to the nativity of St. John the Baptist, the Mother of God, the Saviour), two 40-day periods of the Gospel, etc.
    In the concluding part of his book the author, not in entire agreement with what he has said up to that point, is ready to come closer, it would seem, to the historical Orthodox point of view; but just here he makes such reservations that they virtually conceal the basic position. He says: "The Byzantine synthesis must be accepted as the elaboration and revelation of the Church's original 'rule of prayer,' no matter how well developed in it are the elements which are alien (?) to this lex orandi and which have obscured it. Thus in spite of the strong influence of the mysteriological psychology (?) on the one hand and the ascetical-individualistic psychology on the other—an influence that affected above all the reformation (?) of liturgical piety, the Ordo (Rule) as such has remained organically connected with the 'worship of time' which, as we have tried to show, contained the original organizing principle. This worship of time, we repeat, was obscured and eclipsed by 'secondary' layers (?) in the Ordo, but it remained always the foundation of its inner logic and the principle of its inner unity" (p. 162).
    Such is the author's resume. It remains for one to be satisfied with little. It was too much to expect that our Rule has preserved even the very principle of Christian worship!

CONCLUSION

WE HAVE CONSIDERED in so much detail the book of Father A. Schmemann because in the future there will be given the Orthodox reader, based on the views presented in this book, a liturgical dogmatics. But if the foundations are so dubious, can we be convinced that the building erected on them will be sound? We do not at all negate the Western historico-liturgical and theological science and its objective values. We cannot entirely manage without it. We acknowledge its merits. But we cannot blindly trust the conclusions of Western historians of the Church. If we speak of worship as members of the Orthodox Church, there should be present to us that principle in the understanding of the history of our worship and its present status by which the Church Herself lives. The principle diverges fundamentally from Western Protestant attitudes. If we have not understood this principle, our efforts should be directed to finding it, discovering it, understanding it.
    The logic of history tells us that in public life departures from a straight path occur as the consequence of changes in principles and ideas. And if we maintain the Orthodoxy Symbol of Faith, if we confess that we stand on the right dogmatic path, we should not doubt that both the direction of church life and the structure of worship which was erected on the foundation of our Orthodox confession of faith, are faultless and true. We cannot acknowledge that our "liturgical piety," after a series of reformations, has gone far, far away from the spirit of Apostolic times. If we see a decline of piety, a failure to understand the Divine services, the reason for this lies outside the Church: it is in the decline of faith in the masses, in the decline of morality, in the loss of church consciousness. But where church consciousness and piety are preserved, there is no reformation in the understanding of Christianity. We accept the Gospel and Apostolic Scriptures not in a refraction through some kind of special prism, but in their immediate, straightforward sense. And we are convinced that our public prayer is made on the very same dogmatic and psychological foundations on which it was made in Apostolic and ancient Christian times, notwithstanding the difference in forms of worship.
    But is Father Alexander Schmemann prepared to acknowledge that the character of his piety is different from the character of the piety of the ancient Church?
Reprinted from The Orthodox Word
Vol. 6, No. 6 (35), November-December, 1970
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2008, 09:48:06 AM »

The typicon of St Sabbas from the 5 th century gives the rule of prayer and fasting for a week before. Before that things are unclear.

Where the Optina Fathers inspired by the Holy Spirit? Was for all his genius Fr Schemenn? More so than they?

Theophan.

And the Typikon of St. Savvas was intended for monks in a monastery, at a time when people understood that life for them was to be different than life for people in the world.  It is only much later that people begin applying the Monastic Typikon to the life of the common Christian.  This is not some 'New Calendarist' plot to water down the Eucharist, or some effort to modernize the Church... It is a recognition that we've moved away from certain traditions, some good, some bad, and renewing the consciousness that we should return to some of them.  The Optina Fathers, the Russian and Serbian Churches (all of whom do not advocate frequent communion, and do advocate confession before each reception) are not bad or misguided - they developed the Eucharistic tradition that they have in response to situations in their Churches that necessitated it.  But don't try and make the traditions of a local Church universal for Orthodoxy, and certainly don't think that they were prevalent in the Early Church or even in the Imperial Church.

Again, my main point is that you and I and everyone else here should not be giving advice to others on how frequently they receive communion, and we certainly should not be stating that local custom is the Universal tradition of the Church.  Leave the decision about Confession and Communion to the local bishop and his priests, and to the parishes involved.
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« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2008, 10:10:06 AM »

Schmenann maybe not good source that can be trusted.

As mentioned above frequent communion is referred to by St. Cyprian (De Orat. Domin., c. xviii in P.L., IV, 531); St. Jerome (Ep. ad Damasum); St. John Chrysostom (Hom., iii in Eph.); St. Ambrose (in Ps. cxviii, viii, 26, 28 in P.L., XV, 1461, 1462); St Augustine (Ep. liv in P.L., XXXIII, 200 sqq.); St Basil; the author of the "De Sacramentis" (V, iv, 25; P.L., XVI, 452) and St Nikodemus of the holy mount.

Now I think you'd definitely have to admit that's a pretty impressive list by anyone's standard and it definitely beats those who may seem to be against frequent communion.
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« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2008, 10:15:40 AM »

What implications are you refering too? 

Think of it this way: none of us are worthy for the reception of Communion based upon our actions or positions.  None of us are worthy before confession, or after confession.  None of us are worthy on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, after forty days of fasting, after 1,000 days of fasting.  It was only through His infinite love and condescension that we were made worthy by grace to receive of His Body and Blood, for the Remission of Sins and Life Everlasting.  Our effort should be in every day and every moment to live the Life that He desires for us - the Life that He commands for us, the Life that He models for us, the Life that He teaches us.  If we are truly attempting to live this life and stumble, God's grace and mercy are there to pick us up.  If we are not even trying, then no amount of confession and communion will save us since we will begin to carelessly sin the moment we have received both.

In the end, I'm not denying that it is a fearful thing to receive communion - whether it be once a year, or every week.  I'm not denying that there is the possibility of judgment to eternal hell in each reception by the unworthy.  What I'm saying is that we need to get back to the consciousness that we as individuals are also part of our local communities, and that on both levels we should be actively involved in the Eucharist more frequently than once, twice, four, or six times per year.  We should be living with our eyes towards the Eschaton at all times.  We should be in a regular relationship with our father confessor, seeing him regularly, and continually working on improving ourselves to remove the blemishes from our Baptismal garment.

All this can be accomplished through monthly or bi-monthly confession, through 2x per month or more reception of communion, through bi-yearly annointing... and through regular almsgiving, prayer, fasting, acts of mercy and love... and through the Grace of God, which completes that which we are unable to do ourselves, in our weakened and imperfect state.

What implications?  The implication that we are only able to receive the Lord's Eucharist after confession subjects the Sacrament of The Body and Blood of Christ to the sacrament of pennance, making one necessary for the other as if it were Baptism itself.  Baptism isn't required because it washes away all sins - if it were, Christ would never have done it.  Instead Baptism not only washes away all sins, it also signals our commitment to live the Life in Christ - a Life that includes communion and confession.  Even though Baptism and Chrismation are necessary for the reception of Communion, they are one-time sacraments that are still subject to the Eucharist - if there is no community of the Eucharist, then to what are you being baptized?  To what are you being Chrismated?  Even a desert hermit has a community - they have a Spiritual Father - and through Him they are connected to His community, and they have the World - a world which they pray for, a World which they intercede for, a world which will affect their salvation.

We cannot focus entirely on the individualistic aspect of communion - it is an important aspect, but it does not exist in a vacuum.  We must take into account the individual, the communal, the eschatological (since by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ we partake of the Eschaton, since it is His Body and Blood perfected by Divinity, and Triumphant in conquering Death through Death and Resurrection), the chronological (since by participating in the Liturgy and the Eucharist we transcend the shackles of time, communing with the Saints of all ages, with the Apostles themselves, and with the generations of future Christians), and more.

In the end, I do not believe that we can claim universally that the Eucharist is dependent on anything other than God's mercy and the Will of the Church - since it is both a sacrament of Christ's mercy and Love and a sacrament of the Church, existing only in the Church and being the unifying element of the Church.  For some individuals and communities, a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio is necessary; for some, a lesser ratio (1:2, 1:4); for some, a greater ratio (2:1, 3:1).  Leave it to their Bishop and their Priest to decide, without our judging or condemning them.  Our judgment should be slow, our condemnation non-existant, lest we find ourselves judged by the same measure by our creator, and find ourselves woefully deficient in both.
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« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2008, 10:24:06 AM »

Good post cleveland...On the other side those who favour less frequent communion could be in danger of pride seeing themselves in a sense worthy of the eucharist
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« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2008, 11:44:41 AM »

Cleveland,

Post of the Month nomination!
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« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2008, 12:10:27 PM »

Cleveland,

Post of the Month nomination!

I was going to make nomination myself earlier. Yes, indeed. Seconded.
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« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2008, 12:33:05 PM »

Good post cleveland...On the other side those who favour less frequent communion could be in danger of pride seeing themselves in a sense worthy of the eucharist

Well, I suppose pride overfloweth on both sides of the argument - I've definitely encountered people who think that those who discourage infrequent communion are the Orthodox equivalent of backwater hicks.  While we are responsible for helping our brethren correct their errors (in one way or another), they have to acknowledge their error in order to be helped.  So those who want frequent communion with infrequent confession AND those who want infrequent communion with frequent confession both must be careful not to judge.

For my part, please pardon me if I have come off as being judgmental or condemnatory - I wish neither, but rather that any and all be edified in this discussion.
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« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2008, 12:36:23 PM »

All of Cleveland's posts in this thread have been enlightening and encouraging. Thank you so much!

ps. I would like to add an observation that most everyone in my parish frequently communes and this has formed a very tight knit community. But it also has formed a community which looks outward and takes care of the less fortunate. The focus in our parish is on the love and mercy of our God because those two characteristics motivate each of us sinners to draw to near to Christ. It also seems to attract more members. Fear is a poor motivator for most. It may work for a time but then most will give up. Also, a  fearful and judgemental environment keeps people away instead of drawing them in.
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« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2008, 12:51:52 PM »

How in the real world would one priest even be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy EVERY day? Our ACROD priest does about three per week and he's skinnier than a rail from preparations.  laugh
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« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2008, 12:55:18 PM »

How in the real world would one priest even be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy EVERY day? Our ACROD priest does about three per week and he's skinnier than a rail from preparations.  laugh

It's that kind of observation that gives me so much respect for folks like St. Nicholas Planas, who celebrated Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy every day in Athens during his lifetime (20th century saint, iirc).
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« Reply #40 on: February 05, 2008, 01:03:26 PM »

Schmenann maybe not good source that can be trusted.

http://users.sisqtel.net/williams/archives/schmemann.html

THE LITURGICAL THEOLOGY
OF FR. A. SCHMEMANN

By PROTOPRESBYTER MICHAEL POMAZANSKY

I have to agree that falafel's list of saints who encourage frequent communion is more convincing. But I am a great admirer of Fr. Alexander. Also, according to Bishop Hilarion, Russian Orthodoxy must free itself from 19th century patterns of thought in order to have a patristic revival.


Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Orthodox Theology on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century

4. The Patristic Heritage

It is essential to raise the study of the patristic heritage to an essentially different level than it occupies today. This study is the basis on which the Church must be built up. Without a firm patristic foundation, the renaissance of Russian theology is unthinkable for, in the words of Fr. Georges Florovsky,

…patristic literature is not only the static treasure of Tradition… The works of the Fathers are for us a source of creative inspiration, an example of Christian courage and wisdom. It is a school of Christian thought and philosophy…, an eternal world of never-ageing experience and spiritual vision… It is only in this world that the straight and true way towards the new Christian synthesis, which modern times long for, lies open. The time has come to “church” our minds and to resurrect for ourselves the sacred and grace-bearing foundations of ecclesial thought.

[near the end he summarizes the possiblities for a Russian Orthodox renaissance]

8. Looking towards the future

On the basis of the above, the following conclusions can be drawn:

1. The renaissance of Russian theological scholarship is possible, but it will take place only when theologians of a new level appear in Russia, with the education that our own theological academies and seminaries cannot yet provide; when specialists in biblical studies, patristics, Church history, other theological disciplines as well as ancient and modern languages appear, then and then only will the new school of Orthodox theologians be born, one that can take over from the “Paris school” and formulate a theological vision for the twenty-first century. Such a school could take shape within Russia or beyond its borders. One would wish it to appear in Russia, where all the necessary conditions are already in place.

2. The renaissance will take place when we come to an understanding of the entire historical experience of the Church in the twentieth century, the experience of survival under the conditions of religious persecution.

3. The renaissance will take place when a process of radical changes on several levels of Church life begins, a process initiated by the Local Council of 1917-1918.
4. The renaissance will take place when Holy Scripture takes the place that befits it in the life of the Orthodox Church.

5. The renaissance will take place when systematic work on the translation and publication of the writings of the Church Fathers begins.

6. The renaissance will take place when worship becomes accessible to the people.

7. The renaissance will take place when the heritage of Russian theological scholarship and the experience of the “Paris school” have been assimilated and implemented by Russian theologians.

8. The renaissance will take place when Russian theology frees itself from its “Western captivity,” when it returns its own roots in ancient Christian and Byzantine tradition. This return also requires fresh theological forces and a new, creative approach adopted by all main theological disciplines.

9. The renaissance will take place when Russian theological scholarship leaves the “ghetto” where it has already spent eighty years, when it reaches the level of modern Western research.

10. The renaissance will take place when the theological schools of the Russian Church are reformed, when their curricula and educational approach are adjusted in accordance with the need to develop properly the creative potential of their students.

11. The renaissance will take place when a climate is created within the Russian Church that will facilitate healthy theological discussions on the most essential questions of contemporary Church life.

The Russian Orthodox Church disposes of colossal human resources, probably more than any other Church of the Christian world. Western theological seminaries (Roman Catholic in particular) are closing one after the other, while we witness explosive growth in the number of theological schools. The West complains about the lack of “vocations,” about the dwindling numbers of people wishing to dedicate their lives to the service of the Church, while in Russia the ratio for entry into certain theological schools is still five candidates to one place. We simply have to learn how to use this potential most effectively, how to recruit more scrupulously, to attract young and creative forces and to set them on the right track, not fearing to send people to “retraining courses” abroad and to offer them positions upon their return.

The historical situation in Russia on the threshold of the twenty-first century is extremely favourable for the renaissance of theological scholarship. The Church still holds an unused credit of confidence, a credit of support from the worldly powers, from the people. It would be a crime to miss this historic chance.



   
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« Reply #41 on: February 05, 2008, 02:15:34 PM »

Schmenann maybe not good source that can be trusted.
Yes, I'm quite aware that Fr. Schmemann is not well received in some Orthodox communities, but I'm also aware that the Russian tradition of dogmatic theology represented by Fr. Pomazansky is also not very well received in some other Orthodox circles.  Many consider it too much of an attempt to force Holy Tradition into the Latin modes of thought and methods of theologizing that dominated the Russian theological academies of the 18th and 19th Centuries.  Try to fit the rich red wine of Holy Tradition into a Latin way of understanding it (i.e., the systematic creation of dogmas to articulate our beliefs in a very rational way), and you end up spoiling the wine.

Excuse me but are you just being silly....
No, I'm not just being silly.
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« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2008, 02:37:36 PM »

Modern psychology? You mean we should put are trust in spiritually unclean jews like Freud and not Holy Fathers? Saints meditated on their sins and failures and were I think much healthier than American happy people with their self-esteem (nice word for deadly sin of pride).

LOL.  The more you respond to the user greekischristian, the more you will be frustrated.  If I were you, I'd leave it alone (that what's most here seem to do).
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« Reply #43 on: February 05, 2008, 03:00:15 PM »

It also seems to attract more members. Fear is a poor motivator for most. It may work for a time but then most will give up. Also, a  fearful and judgemental environment keeps people away instead of drawing them in.

Attracts more members is not the same as saves more souls necessarily.

Read the Four Centuries on Love by St Maximus the Confessor. Fear comes first and that leads to hope which leads to knowledge which is finally crowned by Love. If things are not following that order we are talking about something else rather than love according to the Holy Fathers.

Theophan.
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« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2008, 03:22:43 PM »

And the Typikon of St. Savvas was intended for monks in a monastery, at a time when people understood that life for them was to be different than life for people in the world.  It is only much later that people begin applying the Monastic Typikon to the life of the common Christian. 


Surely monks being generally purer and leading a Christian life would need less preparation and be entitled to Commune more frequently?

Anyway Father Elia's comments on this subject should shed some light on this question.

"The real reason for the change in practice was the
change in the character of the communicants. In the first 4
centuries, and later in some places, infant baptism was
rare; only adults of proven commitment were baptized, as
for example Constantine the Great on his deathbed. Most of
the Cappadocian Fathers and St. Ambrose were only baptized
late in life. Back then, Christianity was serious.
Christians dressed very modestly, as Moslems do now. The
Christians didn't go the public amusements. Actors and
actresses were forbidden baptism. However during the 5th
century, first the Imperial Court itself became Christian,
nominally, and there evolved a situation where non-Christians
were not socially acceptable, and later discriminated against
legally. When everybody was nominally Christian, the levels
of practice quickly deteriorated, (but not so much as
between the 19th century and today!) Frequent confession
was not practiced, except by monks, and when people came
for absolution, they had to do really serious penances for
their sins, standing outside the nave, wearing special
penitential (hair shirts and sackcloth) clothing, making many
prostrations, etc. Fewer and fewer Christians maintained the
piety of their grandparents. The inevitable reaction of the
clergy was to point out that if one was not living the
Christian Life of their grandparents, and of the monastics
who still preserved piety, they should not be receiving the
Mysteries as if they were. Private Confession had not yet
developed, and spread from Egypt, to Ireland and then from
West to East, in reaction to lowered standards.
> Even if we look at 19th Century Russia, or read
the Old Ritualist texts of Confession and Absolution we see
a very different world than here and now. In Russia,
drunkeness was the rule rather than the exception. The
aristocracy was quite Westernized, and farthest from the
Church. The frequent communion of the 5th Century was
obviously inappropriate to the 19th, where for example, even
the Czar smoked, and attended the ballet. Under Ottoman
rule, Christians felt (and still feel) that they should be
as different from Moslems as possible. Prostrations became
very rare. Christians thought that Modesty was Moslem.
Christians education, and books disappeared. Monasteries
decreased to almost nothing. The ideas of the educated
kolyvades were considered heresy.
> And then the whole world was scrambled by
immigration and the transfer of populations. Thousands of
strongholds and remnants of early Christianity vanished
between 1915 and 1925.
> People who moved to America were those least
attached to Christian Tradition. The introduction of
electricity, cinema and then television introduced a kind of
mind control. Anyone who lived in rural Greece or Syria
before television experienced a different world, now gone
with the wind. In 50 years, not to mention a hundred,
Christian standards have changed beyond recognition. How the
Church will adjust (if it can) remains to be seen. Early
Christians lived more strictly than monastics today. Frequent
Communion was natural. Today, consciences have been seared,
and what shall we do?"
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Tags: communion confession 
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