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Author Topic: Paying for the Sacraments?  (Read 4208 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rosehip
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« on: October 17, 2008, 08:59:10 AM »

I was just reading some excerpts from the book "Russia's Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830-1917" by Sergei I. Zhuk, wherein the history of the dissatisfaction of pious Orthodox peasants with their corrupt, immoral Orthodox priests propelled them to become "Stundists" (Baptists). Apparently many priests demanded large sums of money for weddings, confessions etc. and many of the peasants, being unable to fork over the money, became highly resentful,turning to Protestantism where they could study the Bible and were encouraged to live righteous lives instead of lives of immorality and drunkeness.

I was discussing this recently with someone who informed me that we still are to pay the priest when we go to confession. This came as a total shock, as I so far knew nothing of this, and have never paid any money to go to confession. I don't quite know what to make of this, and it is a source of unease for me.  Is this true? Should I have been paying for confession all this time?
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 09:03:12 AM by Rosehip » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 09:02:07 AM »

I have never received a gift, tip, payment, or anything for hearing a confession or for counseling someone.

I wouldn't worry about it.
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 09:31:52 AM »

There are "gratuities" often given to the priest and others for sacraments such as baptism and marriage.  As a chanter, I have been given a small gratuity as a thank you, but I put that into the chanter's fund at the church.   But, I've never heard of such "gratuities" given to or required by a priest for confession or the eucharist.
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 09:43:01 AM »

Priests and chanters should be given gratuities for extra liturgical services such as baptisms, paraklasis, weddings, both for their time and expenses and also as a type of sacrifice on the part of the offerer.

A priest should never refuse a gratuity because while they may not need it, if they establish a custom of not giving in a parish, the next priest might come along and he might have three small kids and the family might suffer. So if the priest really doesn't need it, he should just accept it and put it in the general collection when no one is looking.

For confession though? That is a little too much for me.
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 09:52:14 AM »

Payment for sacraments is not a requirement of the Orthodox Church, however the tradition in many jurisdictions is that voluntary honorariums are paid when a priest visits a home to bless it, performs a marriage, or  a burial.  Orthodoxy is not the only  church that  has this as a tradition, when I was married in the Roman Catholic Church my wife's family let me know that the tradition of their church was to make a offering to God in an envelope tht I was to place it at the foot of a statue of the Holy Family in thanksgiving for our marriage. My father's Episcopal parish expected an honorarium to be given in memory of my father to his church after the funeral service. Do they require it for parish members ---no, but it is a tradition.

Some Orthodox Churches charge a fee for the use of the parish halls for receptions (often free to parishioners but at a fee for non-parishioners) to help meet the cost of maintenance, clean-up , and security.

Fees/Honorariums while not demanded in the Russian Tradition have come to be expected to the point that ROCOR at one time actually had a directive from the synod on how the fees/honorariums were to be divided--- 50% to the Priest, 30% to the Deacon, 10% to the Reader or Chanter, 10% to the Sexton.

Bishops often charge a parish an honorarium for official visits to meet the expenses of their trip and use the surplus to cover their visits  withiout honorariums to missions and for other charitable actions (Mission support, Clergy Retirement funds, disaster funds, and other philanthropic works).

Most priests do not  see these gifts or honoriums as income but rather forward it to parish building funds, charity funds in the parish, or meet shortfalls in the parish budget. One priest I knew kept the lights on in the parish when the budget had no money for the electric bill by accessing his honorarium fund account.

Thomas

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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 10:07:29 AM »

I thought charging for any sacrament was condemned in the canons.

Honorariums, freely given, are different, and not required.
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2008, 10:10:43 AM »

Thanks for all the excellent replies! However, I can still sympathize with the disenchantment of the pious Ukrainian peasants with this system, and understand how the corruption and lack of Christian teaching and godly examples amongst the clergy led many to become Evangelical Christians. I realize,of course, that  Orthodoxy in America is in a much better state than Orthodoxy was in say, Ukraine of the eighteen hundreds, or even the present day out in the remote villages, where it is no secret that most people receive very little Christian teaching.
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2008, 10:13:35 AM »

While a funeral is not a sacrament, one GOA Church in DC charges $1,000 for a funeral, which is waived if the deceased was a stewardship paying member for at least 1 year.  I don't believe MD Churches charge for funerals.
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2008, 11:21:37 AM »

Hmmm... The only Churches that I've encountered that "charge" for services do it for one of two reasons: (a) the money is being used to cover expenses (i.e. heating, A/C, electricity, having the sexton/janitor there for extra hours, etc.) - and these "charges" are usually relatively low and well-explained; (b) parishes that have large numbers of people who don't give to the Church (stewardship/dues/tithe) - I don't agree with this approach, but the couple of times I've seen it, it's the only way for them to keep the Church running (which is a shame).

Charging for confession is a sham - no one should ever do that.  I'm even against charging for the other sacraments, but at least I can understand why some of the parishes do it (even if I don't agree, the reasons are, well, reasonable).
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2008, 07:03:24 AM »

In my Protestant life I was taught to give regularly to the church in accordance with how God had provided for me, with the tithe (tenth) being the ideal. I have continued that practice since becoming Orthodox. It still perplexes me that there are so many Orthodox Christians who find it acceptable to contribute less each week than the tip they would leave a server in a decent restaurant. Yet these same Christians are quite happy to "pay for services" such as baptisms, memorials, house blessings, etc. They are also quite happy to contribute to anything on which they can get their names engraved. I try very hard to not be judgemental. I do realize that it's a matter of custom and training in many cases brought to North America from countries where churches are supported from state funds. It is probably true to say that there is neither a right nor wrong way so long as one seeks to serve God and is prepared to contribute when the need arises. I have learned that these things do have a way of working themselves out.

Just as a side note, my former denomination absolutely forbade pastors from charging for funerals. I never heard of an honorarium or charge for a baptism. However, weddings were a different matter. Those, of course, take up an excessive amount of time for just one event.

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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2009, 09:42:02 AM »

Payment for sacraments is not a requirement of the Orthodox Church, however the tradition in many jurisdictions is that voluntary honorariums are paid when a priest visits a home to bless it, performs a marriage, or  a burial.  

Most priests do not  see these gifts or honoriums as income but rather forward it to parish building funds, charity funds in the parish, or meet shortfalls in the parish budget.
Thomas


What is the etiquette for presenting this honorarium for a house blessing?  In the past, I have had the priest stay over for a nice dinner - he refused to accept money.  This week he will not be staying as a guest, so I would like to offer him an honorarium.  My question is - do I hand him cash?  Or present it in a weekly offering envelope?

Thanks.
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2009, 10:02:19 AM »

Priests and chanters should be given gratuities for extra liturgical services such as baptisms, paraklasis, weddings, both for their time and expenses and also as a type of sacrifice on the part of the offerer.

A priest should never refuse a gratuity because while they may not need it, if they establish a custom of not giving in a parish, the next priest might come along and he might have three small kids and the family might suffer. So if the priest really doesn't need it, he should just accept it and put it in the general collection when no one is looking.

For confession though? That is a little too much for me.

We had a priest, who took these gratuities and what was collected when people came up to venerate the Cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy, and had an account set up for charities.  So if anyone came in need of money, the priest would have this money to give out.
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2009, 10:07:44 AM »

For confession though? That is a little too much for me.

Agreed.   When I was a youngster and took over the spiritual care of the Russian parishes, people insisted on pushing money (notes) under the Gospels on the analogion.  It took quite a long-term effort to persuade them that Confessions were free.   Smiley  The ones with the least money, old age pensioners, were usually the most insistent! 

I don't usually expect much for a Baptism since these are young couples starting out in life, with mortgages, etc.

Marriages are another story and I have often been surprised by people's generosity.  When asked "how much?" for a wedding in London, Metropolitan Anthony Blooom would say:  "Consider how much you are are paying for the wedding, the gown, the reception and the honeymoon and then decide on the appropriate donation to the church."

The Greek people are hugely generous and during the six months I was de facto parish priest for them, I had money flowing into my pockets (and out again - streetkids, Russian refugees.)
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2009, 10:12:43 AM »

While a funeral is not a sacrament, one GOA Church in DC charges $1,000 for a funeral, which is waived if the deceased was a stewardship paying member for at least 1 year. 

Same with the synagogue next door to us.

Annual dues are $800.

If you need a funeral and haven't paid dues, then you are charged 3 years' dues.

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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2009, 11:11:35 AM »

What is the etiquette for presenting this honorarium for a house blessing?  In the past, I have had the priest stay over for a nice dinner - he refused to accept money.  This week he will not be staying as a guest, so I would like to offer him an honorarium.  My question is - do I hand him cash?  Or present it in a weekly offering envelope?

Definitely in an envelope.  Saves everyone embarassment.
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2009, 12:34:43 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it. In the course of conversations with other Orthodox people (not american converts either), they have told me they are getting a sick feeling from Orthodoxy, because "everything at the parish smells of money,money". They offered this on their own without any prior discussion. At times I do feel disillusionment too, I will be honest. Also, it is very plain to me that wealthy parishioners are esteemed higher than poorer ones. This I find very sad.
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« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2009, 01:01:30 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it. In the course of conversations with other Orthodox people (not american converts either), they have told me they are getting a sick feeling from Orthodoxy, because "everything at the parish smells of money,money". They offered this on their own without any prior discussion. At times I do feel disillusionment too, I will be honest. Also, it is very plain to me that wealthy parishioners are esteemed higher than poorer ones. This I find very sad.

I hope this comforts you: most parishes don't "charge" for sacraments, and the ones that do are usually the ones where people don't give much to the Church at all.  If you have no means, an Orthodox Church cannot deny you a sacrament, period.  If you feel that those who are wealthier are esteemed more than the poorer in your parish, then that is quite sad - maybe it's time for a new parish (if that's available to you)... If not, I'd caution you not to judge Orthodoxy by the people in the faith - remember, we're a hospital for sinners, so when you look around the room those are the people you'll see (like me).
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« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2009, 01:06:46 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it.

I do not think a priest would expect money from someone with no income.  Although it is reasonable for him to hope, if he is on a minimal income, that you would give him something to cover his busfare or petrol.

If you think that we clergy have it easy.... here is something from Fr Alexander Lebedeff...
"The fact is that with very few exceptions the clergy of the [Russian] Church Abroad receive a salary that is so far below the poverty line, that all of these clergymen and their families would be easily eligible for welfare."


As a former Chancellor of the largest Diocese of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside Of Russia (the Diocese of Eastern America and New York), I
was well acquainted with the salaries paid to clergy in the Church Abroad
(in addition to my own personal experience).

The fact is that with very few exceptions the clergy of the Church Abroad
receive a salary that is so far below the poverty line, that all of these
clergymen and their families would be easily eligible for welfare.

My predecessor at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Los Angeles, the
late Fr. Theodore Martynenko, who served at the parish for 16 years,
received throuout that entire time $230 per month, in addition to
housing--a very dilapidated one-bedroom bungalow, more a shack. This was a
married priest with two children, who served some 180 Liturgies (and
evening services) a year, taught at the parish school, and spent part of
every day visiting parishioners in hospitals and nursing homes.

Even in Bridgeport Connecticut, one of the largest Orthodox parishes on the
East Coast, the priest's salary was $600 per month, plus a rectory. No
insurance--no car allowance.

Two or three years ago, I was sent by the Ruling Archbishop of our diocese
to chair an Annual Parish Meeting in one of our parishes that had not had a
permanent priest for some time. At that meeting, the parishioners implored
me to persuade the Archbishop to send them a permanent priest. I asked what
they could pay a priest. "Six Hundred Dollars--with no insurance or car or
telephone allowance." And a "Rectory," whose kitchen, dining room and
bathroom were shared by the parish--meaning the priest had no privacy at
all. (I had the same situation in my first parish in Schenectady, NY--and
it was very difficult for us--Matushka and the baby, especially. Of course,
in that parish I was being paid $100 per month).

I am sure that we have many parishes where the priest is paid, right now,
in the year 2000, --$400 per month, $600 per month, $800 per month.

Just try to put food on the table for your family at $600 per month. Not to
mention medical costs (since there is no insurance)--or car insurance, much
less the cost of a car, car repairs or gasoline.


The number of parishes in the Church Abroad that pay their priest more than
$1,000 per month is very, very small.

And, another, typical problem is that once a salary is established, it
stays the same just about forever. When civilian employers typically give
annual cost-of-living raises and merit raises--this virtually never happens
in parishes. There, the priest receiving $600 per month will get the same
$600 per month ten years later in most cases.

And noone in the parishes seems to be bothered that they are paying clergy
below-welfare wages or not even keeping up with inflation through
cost-of-living adjustments or that the priest and his family have no health
insurance.

Stewardship is virtually unheard of in our parishes. The majority of
parishioners still drop the same dollar bill into the collection plate that
they did back in 1950, and complain if the parish dues are raised from
$2.00 per month for seniors to $5.00 per month. Most of our parishes have
monthly dues, for working individuals, from $5.00 to $10.00 per month.

Ten Dollars per month is less than the cost of a Happy Meal at McDonald's
each week--for an individual--not a family.

Truly sad--at the time when our Church parking lots are sporting more and
more Mercedes, BMWs, and Lexuses.

With love in Christ,

Prot. Alexander Lebedeff


 
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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2009, 01:10:16 PM »

When I asked some questions on this forum about house blessings there were some posters that tried to convince me that I should give money to the priest. I tried to tell that this would be very strange where I live, but I don't think I got trough. The priest could get quite embarrassed or even insulted if someone offered him money here. Things differ from place to place.

Everyone should feel free to give to the Church, but charging for sacraments is not allowed (AFAIK). If you, Rosehip, have gotten the impression that you have to pay for a sacrament it is truly a failure of the Church to communicate it's own rules.
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2009, 01:19:02 PM »

When I asked some questions on this forum about house blessings there were some posters that tried to convince me that I should give money to the priest. I tried to tell that this would be very strange where I live, but I don't think I got trough. The priest could get quite embarrassed or even insulted if someone offered him money here. Things differ from place to place.

I understand the the Finnish Goverment charges church members a tax intended for Church use.  This tax is collected by the Government and then given to the two State Churches - Lutheran and Orthodox.

Is this State income sufficient to ensure that Orthodox priests have an acceptable standard of living?
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« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2009, 01:28:12 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it. In the course of conversations with other Orthodox people (not american converts either), they have told me they are getting a sick feeling from Orthodoxy, because "everything at the parish smells of money,money". They offered this on their own without any prior discussion. At times I do feel disillusionment too, I will be honest. Also, it is very plain to me that wealthy parishioners are esteemed higher than poorer ones. This I find very sad.

Let's be honest there are priest out there who are all about money. I will also say this that there are far more parishioners who claim their priest are all about money as an excuse.

You don't need to answer these questions on the forum but they are more for your own reflection...
Do you think you priest expects money because he has told you or has his hand out after visiting you? or because other people have told you that he expects money?

Does "everything at the parish smells of money,money" because stewardship and tithing are being discussed? Are there real financial needs that your parish is having right now (roof, building fund, furnace)?

If you really think your priest is all about money, talk to him and tell him you would like him to visit you but you don't have any money to give him. If he really is all about the money he will say that he is too busy but more likely he will tell you that the money doesn't matter and he will come visit you.

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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2009, 01:39:39 PM »

Is this State income sufficient to ensure that Orthodox priests have an acceptable standard of living?

I believe the tax you pay for belonging to the Orthodox Church is some 2.0% (the tax for the Lutheran church is lower) this comes to about an average of 40 €/month. This tax is deducted directly from the salary, you never see the money. Even people who go to Church once a year or even less than that pay the same tax. The only way to avoid this tax is to formally leave the Church.

I don't know the exact salary of our priests but can safely assume that they are slightly less than average for a person of that level of education (university degree).

I do realize that there are parishes around the world that struggle financially and that priest do not get fairly paid, but I still find it sad that this has led to people believing that they have to pay for the sacraments.
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2009, 02:21:38 PM »

Apart from weddings, funerals, baptisms, molebyens and panichidas (sorry but don't know how is it in English) we pay for confession (it's not a must-to-do thing and it's not a high amount of money ('bout 3-5$) but its' tradition). We also pay for the commemoration the names during the proskomede and this litany after the Gospel.
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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2009, 02:32:43 PM »

See, I'm still inclined to view all this paying of money as pure simony. It fills me with horror. I know the matter of clergy salaries is a very complicated issue. And I'm still prejudiced from the influence of my former church, which had a volunteer, unpaid ministry. They had their own day jobs of course, and everyone in the church helped each other out whenever a need arose, and we always took up an offering to cover expenses for travelling ministers, but aside from that, it was a very different system. We were definitely encouraged to give though-on the offering plate. And to help poor people and support soup kitchens and foreign missions etc.

So many of my Russian friends are becoming disillusioned, because they see the church becoming exactly like a business in so many ways. You merely walk into the church doors and there are people buying and selling candles. Then there are molebens etc. and people put their lists down on a tray in the middle of the church, accompanied by bills of money. From the very beginning, I thought this looked terribly crass...I don't know...maybe it's just me, having grown up in such a different tradition-one which viewed such practices as verging on sinful...Why does it seem to me so revolting to see people putting down money in order to have someone read over a list of names? If only I could see it as merely an "offering". Somehow I can't see it that way...Sigh. Sometime is wrong with me, I am sure.
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« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2009, 02:54:36 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it. In the course of conversations with other Orthodox people (not american converts either), they have told me they are getting a sick feeling from Orthodoxy, because "everything at the parish smells of money,money". They offered this on their own without any prior discussion. At times I do feel disillusionment too, I will be honest. Also, it is very plain to me that wealthy parishioners are esteemed higher than poorer ones. This I find very sad.

Your post made me feel sad...send me your commemoration names via private message if you wish and I will remember them at my next liturgy if you wish.  If I could help you in some other way I would but obviously over the internet that is a bit difficult to celebrate other mysteries Wink

I am sure any other priest on this forum would extend you the same offer.

I would love to have a few more parishioners period (I have two small missions). Whether they have cash or not is irrelevant to me.  Too bad others do not treat people the same way.
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« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2009, 03:18:11 PM »

Thanks for your kind words, Fr. Athanasios! Just knowing there are such priests as yourself is heartening in itself. The thing is, I understand how the frantic sramble for money can overtake a person...it can happen so easily...
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« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2009, 03:18:22 PM »

I am sure any other priest on this forum would extend you the same offer.

Count me in...send me your lists (via private message) of living, deceased and special intentions, and I'll insert them into my commemorations at the Proskomedia (living & deceased) and in the Litany after the Gospel (for special intentions).
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« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2009, 03:26:04 PM »

Well, in my country there are so many fees in the Church because there aren't regular salaries for Priests. Those, who teach religion at schools (or theology in the Seminary, or Christian Theological Academy), are military/hospital/any chaplains or work simultaneously as journalists/have their own businesses - have money. The rest (the greater majority) takes money because they must support their families.
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« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2009, 03:35:01 PM »

Well, in my country there are so many fees in the Church because there aren't regular salaries for Priests. Those, who teach religion at schools (or theology in the Seminary, or Christian Theological Academy), are military/hospital/any chaplains or work simultaneously as journalists/have their own businesses - have money. The rest (the greater majority) takes money because they must support their families.

We certainly understand that (I don't have a regular church salary; I work another job) but the concern is with money being expected or the priest pushing for the money upfront instead of just accepting whatever donation comes his way.
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« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2009, 04:07:04 PM »

In the serbian orthodox church theres different collection trays put in the church fo people to put money in as a free will donation if they want iv never heard you had to..one is for the priest the other ones for other things...
When I had a parastos Memorial service in the church and at the grave site for my parents i Gave a Donation In memory of my late parents to the Priest for his living expense ..also to the Church...everything was freely given not demanded ...
Even on Great and holy Friday and saturday Serbs after they venerate the Holy shroud [plastanic]put money on it ,a donation to God And his Church Freely never heard you had to ..i did what the other faithful did..
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« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2009, 09:33:00 PM »

In the serbian orthodox church theres different collection trays put in the church fo people to put money in as a free will donation if they want iv never heard you had to..one is for the priest the other ones for other things...
When I had a parastos Memorial service in the church and at the grave site for my parents i Gave a Donation In memory of my late parents to the Priest for his living expense ..also to the Church...everything was freely given not demanded ...
Even on Great and holy Friday and saturday Serbs after they venerate the Holy shroud [plastanic]put money on it ,a donation to God And his Church Freely never heard you had to ..i did what the other faithful did..
Stashko,

I think your attitude is really a sensible one and pleasing to God..... It is the attitude with which I am familiar... we can each have a spirit of generosity in our own way, whether we are rich or poor...  and the widow's mite of 50 cents for a prosphora or the unemployed man's one dollar bill under an icon is just as pleasing to God as the rich man's $50 bill.
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« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2009, 10:04:05 PM »

I'm still not convinced of the correctness of this system. I currently have no job and no income, due to illness. My previous job paid very little. I am very hestitant to call the priest for any services due to the fact that I know he expects money, and I cannot afford to give it. In the course of conversations with other Orthodox people (not american converts either), they have told me they are getting a sick feeling from Orthodoxy, because "everything at the parish smells of money,money". They offered this on their own without any prior discussion. At times I do feel disillusionment too, I will be honest. Also, it is very plain to me that wealthy parishioners are esteemed higher than poorer ones. This I find very sad.

I don't know what church you are attending but I suggest that you transfer to a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  It should be more congenial.  Our priests are often just as poor, if not more poor, than the poorest parishioners, and they understand the depression of poverty.... especially when it comes to their families and there is not enough money to send the children on a school outing with the other students, or where matushka is waiting and waiting for some medical operation while they try to save the money for surgery.

Not all parishes are like that.... I am thinking of a friend who has a parish in Nth Dakota.   Unexpectedly a rich Russian moved into town.  He build a new church in Russian style, as well as a rectory for the priest and pays him a salary (which I suppose I should not mention but it is slightly more than the wage of the local headmaster at the city school.)
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« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2009, 11:30:55 PM »

Dear Roseheap,
I have met many Orthodox priests in different jurisdictions in this country. Recommendations, provided by Arimathea are very valuable.

The vast, overwhelming majority of priests in any jurisdiction would certainly care about you and your situation. Yes, the exceptions exist. On the other hand, sometimes parishioners tend to do something, which is familiar to them. May be their parents were giving large doantions for services and they decided to continue the trend. Well, if they can afford, it is a pious decision.

I am aware about a parish, where they have a basket near a place of confession. But the priest gives big donations to charity from his own pocket. Also, in certain situations he really helped a few other parishes, in some cases across jurisdictional lines, not caring for personal benefit or profit.

As Cleveland correctly pointed out, some parishes may be in a real financial need at the moment.

This will be a perfect way in order to figure out what is going on:

If you really think your priest is all about money, talk to him and tell him you would like him to visit you but you don't have any money to give him. If he really is all about the money he will say that he is too busy but more likely he will tell you that the money doesn't matter and he will come visit you.



And many priests and deacons would be ready to commemorate you in the services when contacted.
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2009, 12:05:05 AM »

Thanks to all my dear brothers and sisters for their kind words and advice! However, I feel slightly embarrassed, because I did not really intend this thread to be about me and my situation so much as a general area of possible weakness in the Orthodox Church at large. This problem has come increasingly to my attention over the years, simply because I notice and feel it for myself with my own eyes, and many other Orthodox people have come to me voicing the same worries and concerns without my having even raised the question. I sense in them, as much as in myself, a sort of helpless frustration about it all. That's all.
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2009, 01:16:37 AM »

So, wait.  When I am baptized into the Church at some point, should I pay for it???  Or is this something reserved for infant baptisms?  I mean I am a 26 year old man, so do people usually pay a baptism "tip" in my situation?  It just seems so bizarre...
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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2009, 01:40:43 AM »

So, wait.  When I am baptized into the Church at some point, should I pay for it??? ...... I mean I am a 26 year old man, so do people usually pay a baptism "tip" in my situation?  It just seems so bizarre...

Relax!  Alveus.  It will be your godparent/s who must make a donation to the church and also to the priest.  They will take care of it. Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2009, 01:41:28 AM »

I understand where you are coming from, Rosehip.  It is really easy to be more sympathetic towards some of the Protestant groups in Russia that struggled to live out their faith in the midst of persecution compared to an often decadent, tyrannical and irrelevant Orthodox Church.  I think it is frustrating that so few have read more academically oriented texts like the one you cited about rural parish life in Imperial Russia - a nearly levitical priesthood living off of simony.  It is all the more frustrating that so many people hail this as some sort of golden era of Orthodoxy.  And you know as well as anybody that history is repeating itself in the former USSR.

The problem lies in the fact that there really aren't many outlets for internal dissent these days.  Any criticism of corrupt practices is labelled as being Protestant heresy.  Pointing out the obvious errors of a member of the clergy is quickly quelled ... In times past this debate and check and balance system worked itself out through monastic-episcopal tension, but I'm not sure if today represents a break down of that system or if the past is being viewed with rose coloured lenses.        

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« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2009, 01:51:11 AM »

 It is all the more frustrating that so many people hail this as some sort of golden era of Orthodoxy.  And you know as well as anybody that history is repeating itself in the former USSR.        

Not quite.  A lot of post-Perestroika parishes put up prices for such things as baptisms and weddings in their church porches.  It seemed a sensible idea to save the embarrassemnt of every family wanting to baptize a new child from having to try and work out what is the normal donation.

However, Patriarch Alexey was not at all happy with these boards of prices in the porch and at a Synod meeting he forbade parishes to display them.

So now it is back to the old system .... you talk to your friends in the parish and see what they donated when they married their daughter.   Then you talk to the Church Warden or any member of the Church Council and they will suggest the donation, based on your personal circumstances.


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« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2009, 01:56:04 AM »

Pointing out the obvious errors of a member of the clergy is quickly quelled rest of post which made a reference to past moderatorial action removed...

Why don't you let sleeping dogs lie?   I take it this is a reference to my being accused, four times, of being a liar by a Moderator and then having the entire staff of OC.net making the same accusation in the Warning they issued.   What a nightmare that was!    I would have made a strenuous protest and fought to preserve my good name whether or not I was a priest.   What else would you really expect of a man?
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« Reply #39 on: February 20, 2009, 02:00:30 AM »

I agree with Fr Ambrose..in this ....Off topic......
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« Reply #40 on: February 20, 2009, 02:05:23 AM »

 It is all the more frustrating that so many people hail this as some sort of golden era of Orthodoxy.  And you know as well as anybody that history is repeating itself in the former USSR.        

Not quite.  A lot of post-Perestroika parishes put up prices for such things as baptisms and weddings in their church porches.  It seemed a sensible idea to save the embarrassemnt of every family wanting to baptize a new child from having to try and work out what is the normal donation.

However, Patriarch Alexey was not at all happy with these boards of prices in the porch and at a Synod meeting he forbade parishes to display them.

So now it is back to the old system .... you talk to your friends in the parish and see what they donated when they married their daughter.   Then you talk to the Church Warden or any member of the Church Council and they will suggest the donation, based on your personal circumstances.


Sorry I wasn't more clear - I have no objection to there being a certain expectation of some sort of financial compensation for a priest for his labours.  

What I see as history repeating itself is the rise of the Church as an authoritarian institution, surrounded by ignorance and corruption.  That's been my impressions from the three countries of the former USSR in which I have attended liturgy.  
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« Reply #41 on: February 20, 2009, 02:12:57 AM »

Pointing out the obvious errors of a member of the clergy is quickly quelled as a certain recent exchange on a certain message board showed...

Why don't you let sleeping dogs lie?  ...
Talk about letting sleeping dogs lie, Fr. Ambrose?  If you want to reopen old wounds once again, then DON'T DO IT HERE.
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« Reply #42 on: February 20, 2009, 02:17:49 AM »

Everbody know's who started it,,and it wasn't Father....
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« Reply #43 on: February 20, 2009, 02:19:04 AM »

Pointing out the obvious errors of a member of the clergy is quickly quelled as a certain recent exchange on a certain message board showed...

Why don't you let sleeping dogs lie?  ...
Talk about letting sleeping dogs lie, Fr. Ambrose?  If you want to reopen old wounds once again, then DON'T DO IT HERE.

My old wounds were reopened right here by Nektarios. Read his message up above.   It is perfectly obvious whom he is meaning.  The false accusations against me are only a few days old.  The incident is fresh.   Why don't you discipline him for reopening old wounds? 
 For continuing to rehash past grievances against forum moderation in defiance of an Admin's request that this stop, you are now on Warned status for 40 days.

Any further reiterations of ozgeorge being rude to Irish Hermit will simply be deleted by me.  Any claims that this forum supports moderators insulting or questioning the credentials of priests will be considered bearing false witness and punitive action will be taken.  This problem has been addressed numerous times, and it will not be discussed any longer in this public forum.

If you feel that my warning is unjust, feel free to appeal my decision to cleveland or Fr. Chris.

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« Reply #44 on: February 20, 2009, 02:25:15 AM »

Pointing out the obvious errors of a member of the clergy is quickly quelled as a certain recent exchange on a certain message board showed...

Why don't you let sleeping dogs lie?  ...
Talk about letting sleeping dogs lie, Fr. Ambrose?  If you want to reopen old wounds once again, then DON'T DO IT HERE.

My old wounds were reopened right here by Nektarios. Read his message up above.   It is perfectly obvious whom he is meaning.  The false accusations against me are only a few days old.  The incident is fresh.   Why don't you discipline him for reopening old wounds? 

I second it ...unless there's bias against Fr.Ambrose by some....
 For continuing to rehash past grievances against forum moderation in defiance of an Admin's request that this stop, and while you were already on Warned status, you are now on Post Moderation for 40 days.  Any posts you submit within the time of your moderated status will need to be approved by a moderator before they appear on the forum.

Any further reiterations of ozgeorge being rude to Irish Hermit will simply be deleted by me.  Any claims that this forum supports moderators insulting or questioning the credentials of priests will be considered bearing false witness and punitive action will be taken.  This problem has been addressed numerous times, and it will not be discussed any longer in this public forum.

If you feel that my warning is unjust, feel free to appeal my decision to cleveland or Fr. Chris.

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