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Author Topic: Judgmental Priests???  (Read 5838 times) Average Rating: 0
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Vicki
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« on: August 27, 2003, 09:10:59 PM »

Hello all...I just got in from a Daily Vespers service at an Antiochian Orthodox parish about an hour's drive from my own Greek Orthodox parish.  My own parish does almost all serivces, including Saturday Great Vespers, but not a Daily Vespers, so for that, I travel to the Antiochian parish every week.  After confession there, I was speaking with the Khouria, and telling her about my visit this past Sunday to a local (Russian) OCA church (we also have a nearby Romanian OCA church) and that I had been asked by a Parish Council member there had I been to confession...(in addition to the "usual name, rank, serial #, are you Orthodox)...Fortunately...I had been to confession in a CT parish...no I am not confused, I was meeting a friend...the night before, or I believe I would have been told no, you can't receive unless you went THIS WEEK...(MEMO: To forstall any who wish to make comments about GOA and confession: I am the first to admit that most Greeks are surprised to hear it is an Orthodox sacrament).  Khouria pointed out there is a parish near here (I won't say where)...where the priest brings out the sacrament, then turns right around and brings it back again if no one was at confession IN HIS PARISH THE NIGHT BEFORE!!! Has anyone else encountered this sort of thing?  Others heard and confirmed this...apparantly he is well known for this...Any priests on the board? I gave my "preamble" for sake of pointing out that it is entirely possible for a person to go to ~gasp~ several churches in the course of the week due to travel, etc., and may, so long as the church is canonical, have received the Sacrament of Confession at any of them, prior to Holy Communion on Sunday...and MAY be quite regular in attendence at bot Holy Communion and Holy Confession.  I am told it is normal OCA practice to call ahead to ID yourself to priest if traveling, but such is not normal in GOA/Antiochian, nor did I believe giving sacramental background (on answering machine, often) was "done" any thoughts, all?
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2003, 10:00:16 PM »

Vicky, I think that is up to each priest.  I've had priests who just ask me if I am current on confession.  Others may require confession.  That is up to each priest.  My priest has always told me that if I am going to visit another parish (when I'm out of town), to always contact the priest ahead of time, but particularly if you want to take communion.  That way, you can ask him what his policy is.  That way, if you need to, you could have your priest contact him by phone or e-mail to confirm that you are current on confession (if he wants that), or prepare for confession if he requires that confession always be done before each communion.  I've had two priests advise me to *always* contact the priest before going to services.  

In some ways, I can understand his policy--being in charge of the chalice and the people that commune from it is an awesome responsibility.  He is probably doing this to protect both himself and those that will be communing--he wants to make sure that nobody takes it to their judgment and condemnation.  Maybe, it would be a good idea to talk to your priest about this and see what he says.  I know my priest doesn't require confession each time you take communion but in his home church, you had to do confession every Saturday.
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TonyS
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2003, 11:00:08 AM »

Vicki,

I have heard some stories and seem some things I want to share here about this.  

A friend of mine, about my age, told me when he was younger 15 years ago or so he went "back home" to his Ukrainian BC parish somewhere in OH.  When he went up to communion the priest addressed him in Ukrainian which my friend did not understand.  The priest then put his epitrakhil/stole over my friends head and (apparently) absolved him and proceeded to communicate him.  It was clear in my friend's mind what had happened.  

Some other friends, also Ukrainian BCs went to a Ukrainian Orthodox parish on old calendar Christmas.  They told me they were shocked when the priest came out at the appropriate time (as if for communion) then simply turned around and went back in!  So, no Communion on Christmas.

Another friend is cradle Serbian Orthodox and she says that the priest in the local church simply wont give Communion every Sunday to an adult.  She now attend a ACROD parish.

I once attended a Romanian Orthodox parish (I think it was OCA but it's hard to be sure) and at communion only about 3 or 4 people went up.    

From my time as a BC and in BC seminary I heard the stories of how Communion was not distributed on Pascha (too many people?), yet it was on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, etc.  

Regular weekly communion is something of a restoration and it has not caught on in all places or in all jurisdictions.  

What one also has to remember is that the local pastor safeguards the Mysteries and is responsible for his actions.  When he was ordained priest he was given a stern warning by the bishop (I will look for it later from the Hapgood book) about the nature of dispensing the Eucharist.

So all-in-all "Judgemental Priest???" seems very judgmental on your part.  He is doing his job as it is done in his jurisdiction.

Tony
« Last Edit: August 28, 2003, 11:01:19 AM by TonyS » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2003, 11:05:45 AM »

Vicki,
     I have had similar experiences.  The custom of going to confession before EVERY Communion is rather entrenched in many areas of Orthodoxy, esp. among the Russians. In my experience, most priests within the Russian Church Abroad expect a confession before every Communion. In the OCA this can vary.  I've met some OCA priests that also require confession before every Communion.  I've also met many who are satisfied with monthly confession as well.  I have seen priests handle this in different ways.  I know one priest, who, when he sees a lot of visitors in church, says something like this:  "All Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves in the traditional manner of the Church, with prayer, fasting, and a recent confession, are invited to approach the Chalice for Holy Communion.  If you are an Orthodox visitor and unknown to me, please give me your Christian name, the name of your home church, and the date of your last confession when you approach the Chalice.  If you cannot remember when you made your last confession, or if has been longer than one month since your last confession, you need to prepare yourself either with me or another priest before receiving Holy Communion."
     In Orthodox Churches where I was a visitor and had prepared myself to receive, I have had a variety of experiences.  Some priests will ask me several questions at the Chalice, and upon receiving a satisfactory answer will commune me.  Some priests don't ask me anything at the Chalice at all, except my Christian name.  I don't volunteer any info about myself at the Chalice unless the priest asks me.  But as the guardian of the Holy Mysteries, it really does not bother me at all if he wants to know when I made my last confession.  If you are not used to it, such questioning might seem a bit intrusive, but he's simply trying to be a good priest by asking people.  The easy way out would be to just commune everybody without asking any questions.
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TonyS
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2003, 11:11:57 AM »

I agree that to not offer the chalice to anyone is a bit well...limited.  But, what is he gonna do?  In some places the people line up while the curtain and doors are closed (in the Russian usage).  If no one does this then what?  He is the pastor of that parish, not of any visitor that shows up.  Visitors need to make themselves known.  Right or wrong that is the way it is.  Easier to get over it and live with it than wrestle with something you can't change.
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2003, 11:12:53 AM »

The best advice is either to call ahead of time. Smiley Sometimes, of course, that's just not possible; I'd say that about half the messages I leave for priests never get to them, or if they do get to them, they get there a week later. In these (latter) cases, I'd suggest getting there as early as you can and pulling a Deacon, reader, or altar boy aside, and letting him know your situation and ask if he could inform the priest of who you are and ask permission to partake of communion. This might seem a bit much, but it's better than creating a very awkward (and possibly embarrassing) situation for the priest if you approach the chalice and he does not know you. Perhaps things were easier when the old custom was still in place where you would have a document showing who your priest was, where you were from, etc.
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TonyS
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2003, 11:21:09 AM »

A point someone made on another board a while back was interesting and useful.  

He said "In other countries people just walk up to Communion."  Well, Duh!  In places like Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, etc., of course they do!  They are the majority.  We are not here.  

Obviously some pastoral practice was put into place as an accomodation.  Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2003, 11:27:49 AM »

At the ordination of the priest (at least in the Russian usage) right after the Epiklesis the bishop tells the priest while he puts the CX portion of the Lamb in the hands of the newly-ordained and says "Receive thou this pledge, and preserve it whole and unharmed until thy last breath, because thou shalt be held to an accounting therefore in the sencond and terrible Coming of our great Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

That portion is returned at the "Holy Things..." then the newly-ordained is communicated.
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2003, 12:12:13 PM »

I fully understand the priest's awesome responsibility in celebrating the Holy Eucharist and his need for caution on behalf of his parishioners.

But is it not also a fearful thing to withhold the Body and Blood of Christ from Christians?

Are we as individual Christians not responsible before God to examine ourselves before receiving the Eucharist?

It seems to me the priest is responsible to God for the proper celebration of the Eucharist. How is it possible for him to be responsible for the conscience of each Christian, even one who has been to confession?

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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2003, 12:52:41 PM »

You are right, Linus

I have no problem if the Priest refuses communion to an Orthodox that he KNOWS should not be partaking (i.e. married outside the Church, etc.), but I think that it is VERY dangerous for him to just assume that someone is not able to take communion. He is judging.

What would his answer be to the Lord Lord if he withheld, or did not offer, communion to an Orthodox who was fully able to partake of the Eucharist, and then that person died before hs/she had another opportunity to partake?

These Priests are treading on very dangerous grounds.
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TonyS
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2003, 02:18:12 PM »

Dear Vicki and TomS,

Do you think that the baby that dies without being baptized is condemned?  If a person wishes to go to Confession or Communion and cannot because of Man, is that person condemned by God?  It is not my understanding that this is the teaching of the Orthodox Church.  AFAIK God is not limited by Man, which is what you seem to be implying.

Tony
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2003, 02:24:17 PM »

I note with interest, though, the post by TonyS, concerning weekly communion being somewhat of a restoration...I was always taught that this was THE central act of the Divine Liturgy, and cannot imagine "the point" of preparing the gifts then refusing to offer them to the people...on grounds of over caution....again...knowing whom you are communing *IS* necessary...

Vicki,

Ask your priest if 50 or 100 years ago most people in the parish went to Communion on Sundays.  The Greek Church is no different in this respect than the other national Orthodox Churches.  

I think you are confusing the ideal with the real.  Of course it is "THE central act of the Divine Liturgy."  Do you think every one acts in accord with what is right?

Tony
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2003, 02:26:05 PM »

I suggest this link as an interesting read:

http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A_OLD/Communion-Questions.html
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TomS
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2003, 02:42:57 PM »

Dear Vicki and TomS,

Do you think that the baby that dies without being baptized is condemned?  If a person wishes to go to Confession or Communion and cannot because of Man, is that person condemned by God?  It is not my understanding that this is the teaching of the Orthodox Church.  AFAIK God is not limited by Man, which is what you seem to be implying.

Tony

That is not what I am implying at all.
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2003, 03:09:24 PM »

I suggest this link as an interesting read:

OCA "Communion Questions" page

I had stayed away from this thread since Anglican practice is so different from Orthodox in this wise, but the page cited suggests that, at least for the OCA, their viewpoint isn't so far off from ours as one might think at first.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2003, 03:12:17 PM »

Interesting position about the Turkokratia...still I don't think that accounts for the same phenomenon across Christianity.  

Here is another link:

http://www.uocc.ca/confession-communion.htm

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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2003, 03:22:29 PM »

I do not need to ask my parish priest if 50-100 years ago it was common for everyone to receive Holy Communion every Sunday. It still isn't, if you ask some of the old ladies today who were brought up by their grandparents who remember their grandparents who lived under the Turkokratia...but the difference was that an ekonomia was pronounced at that time to protect the faithful, who might otherwise have been martyred.

Well, that may have been their rationale for it, but the fact is that this was the typical practice of medieval Christianity in all places. Communion in medieval England, for example, was typically taken at Easter and on one's deathbed, and maybe one other time during the year. It was largely a scrupulosity issue.
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2003, 03:30:16 PM »

Another good read I think:

http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A_OLD/Proof-of-Confession.html

Some exerpts are below:

"With regard to whether or not the parish priest can refuse to give an individual Communion, it must be understood that the priest is the guardian of the Holy Mysteries which, as the Holy Fathers warn, can be to our condemnation as well as our salvation. Technically a priest does not "refuse" to give Communion to someone; it would be more correct to say that the priest must discern, recognize, and respond to any circumstances by which an individual has cut off himself or herself from the Eucharist or any other sacrament. In other words it is not the priest who "refuses" to offer the sacrament but, rather, the circumstance in which the person is involved which makes it impossible for the priest to offer the sacrament.

Concerning the frequency of the reception of Holy Communion and its relationship to the frequency of Confession, this is a matter which must be thoroughly discussed with one’s parish priest and one’s Father Confessor, should they be two separate persons. There is no "standard" here, just as there is no "standard" frequency that should be followed in tending to physical ailments and needs under the guidance and direction of one’s family physician.
In every instance, it is always best to discuss such concerns with one’s pastor and to follow his guidance, just as one would discuss one’s physical health with one’s physician and follow his or her advice and direction."

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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2003, 03:33:21 PM »

I mentioned the Turkokratia as you mentioned the GOA, not intending to extend it to the rest of Orthodox Christianity!

Yes, but the issue here is that this did occur across the board in Christianity.
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2003, 03:35:09 PM »

Confession/Communion link...

 Tongue Link:


http://www.holy-trinity.org/spirituality/tikhon.penance.html
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2003, 03:54:01 PM »

Another link for the Communion - Confession link:

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

and in another form the same thing:

http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/documents/holysynod/confession.communion.html
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2003, 03:56:03 PM »

And others:

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/confession-and-communion.html

http://www.antiochian.org/midwest/Articles/Confession_And_CommunionNB.htm
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« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2003, 04:15:56 PM »

Well...that does it... Fr. Schmemann just made it impossible for the majority of GOA faithful to receive Communion...simply because the majority of our churches don't have Great Vespers on Satuday...I thank God mine does.

I expect Matins/Orthros takes its place.
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2003, 06:39:24 PM »

Vicki,

Even though that document seems to have some weight I think it must be thought of as the ideal.  If you travel around in OCA parishes and compare Saturday evening attendance with Communion on Sunday morning you will not find a 1:1 ratio.  

Since the GOA normally does not have Saturday evening services nor apparently enforce any practice regarding Confession, I think this is rather moot.  I should not have made the comparision.  Obviously Father Alexander (of blessed memory) did not pretend to speak regarding other jurisdictions.

Tony
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« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2003, 11:55:11 PM »

Friends,

I guess part of the issue here is that jurisdictions have differing practices.  These need to be respected, these are not "made-up" by the local priest but rather reflect the will of the bishop and the general practice of that jurisdiction.

On a non-Orthodox board in which I participate in a very limited fashion not long ago the discussion was about why Orthodox wont communicate BCs.  Someone made the statement "what business is it of the priest's if I am BC?"  Well, good grief!  It is not the practice of the Orthodox Church to routinely communicate non-Orthodox.  

Somehow this thread made me remember that one.

Tony

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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2003, 10:59:15 AM »

Friends,

Another thought on this.  This morning I came into work and ran this past my GOA co-worker (who had been on vacation).  

He response about this whole questioning-about-Confesssion issue was that one of the reasons this is asked is to ensure that the person approaching is not under ban or excommunicated.  Having been to Confession recently is verification that one is most likely not under ban.  I have only heard of three people to whom this has happened (meaning been banned/excommunicated) but apparently it happens more often that most of us suspect.

If you doubt that being under ban is an issue look at the funeral service where release from the ban or excommunication is offered as part of the church funeral.  This is a serious matter folks.

Tony
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2003, 11:22:51 AM »


It is not the practice of the Orthodox Church to routinely communicate non-Orthodox.  

Somehow this thread made me remember that one.

Tony




  Although it is not "standard practice", in the Middle East, it is the "de facto" practice for intercommunion to exist between Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics who often belong to the same families.
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« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2003, 12:39:12 AM »

My issue was with a priest who assumes that because HE, personally, did not confess you, that you are not worthy.  (Insofar as any man is worthy, ever, to approach the chalice).  

I think several issues remain:

1) You have introduced the issue of worthiness.  No one is worthy as you acknowledge.  I have never heard any priest say anything about someone's worthiness or not to commune.  Be careful that you do not become guilty of libel.  

2) You seem to know better than the priest or the bishop how to administer the sacraments.  What about the authority of the Church?  Are you Orthodox or Protestant?

3) The priest is bound to be assured that he is communicating someone who can communicate.  This has absolutely NOTHING to do with being worthy (as one can commune to his salvation or damnation) but with the canonical state of the communicant.  As Fr. Schmemann said in the article I posted earlier the only requisite is to be a member (not excommunicated, not banned)  of the Church.   The only way the priest can be assured of that is by confessing you.

I really feel like there is a general lack of respect for other disciplines here.  Not all Orthodox Churches keep the same practice.   When I am the guest in someone's home I don't tell them how to run their house nor do I make demands.  When one is visiting a parish it seems to me like a similar attitude is appropriate.   The notion that "when I go to Rome the Romans have to do it my way" is honestly, mind-boggling.

The priest in that parish knows why he does what he does, he is responsible to the bishop.
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« Reply #28 on: November 27, 2012, 02:19:18 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?

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« Reply #29 on: November 27, 2012, 02:23:34 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



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« Reply #30 on: November 27, 2012, 02:25:42 PM »

Dear Vicki and TomS,

Do you think that the baby that dies without being baptized is condemned?  If a person wishes to go to Confession or Communion and cannot because of Man, is that person condemned by God?  It is not my understanding that this is the teaching of the Orthodox Church.  AFAIK God is not limited by Man, which is what you seem to be implying.

Tony

Indeed Tony. God cannot be limited by Man. And trying to do so, is a blasphemy, of the worst kinds.





I may be wrong. But if God is the Almighty. Then he is the ALMIGHTY. Period.
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« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2012, 02:33:55 PM »

Dear Vicki and TomS,

Do you think that the baby that dies without being baptized is condemned?  If a person wishes to go to Confession or Communion and cannot because of Man, is that person condemned by God?  It is not my understanding that this is the teaching of the Orthodox Church.  AFAIK God is not limited by Man, which is what you seem to be implying.

Tony

Indeed Tony. God cannot be limited by Man. And trying to do so, is a blasphemy, of the worst kinds.





I may be wrong. But if God is the Almighty. Then he is the ALMIGHTY. Period.

Why are you replying to a thread from 2003?
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« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2012, 02:34:51 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



i hope you are kidding
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« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2012, 03:48:37 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



I ask you to please tell us what Orthodox jurisdiction (church) that you belong to. I am asking this as a moderator per Forum policy. Thanks, Carl Kraeff
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« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2012, 09:18:38 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



Because that would be ecumenism......  Oh wait...  Roll Eyes

I have seen priests do this as well and some branches of the Orthodox church have a "strict" policy of confession before communion.   Unless of course, you are sin free.
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« Reply #35 on: November 27, 2012, 09:26:38 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



Because that would be ecumenism......  Oh wait...  Roll Eyes

I have seen priests do this as well and some branches of the Orthodox church have a "strict" policy of confession before communion.   Unless of course, you are sin free.

who is sin free?
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« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2012, 10:52:38 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?



Because that would be ecumenism......  Oh wait...  Roll Eyes

I have seen priests do this as well and some branches of the Orthodox church have a "strict" policy of confession before communion.   Unless of course, you are sin free.

who is sin free?

Not me, that's for sure.
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« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2012, 11:10:32 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?




What is wrong with it is that, to be admitted to the holy chalice, one must first be admitted to the Church. There can be no communion if one does not believe in the Orthodox faith and if one has not been received into the Church. It's been that way from the beginning. We have this as instruction from the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers. But I'm sure you know better than they do.
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« Reply #38 on: November 28, 2012, 01:27:43 AM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?

What is it about closed communion you don't understand?
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« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2012, 01:41:12 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?

What is it about closed communion you don't understand?
tweety234 will have to answer for himself, of course. Anecdotally, I have noticed that cradle Orthodox are more likely to wonder what is wrong with communing the non-Orthodox than converts. I see two reasons for that: 1 - simply poorly catechized; 2 - little to no experience with non-Orthodox Christianity, so they don't see how different the two are. (Exceptions both ways exist.)
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« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2012, 11:46:10 PM »

 Otherwise we might be communing non-Orthodox.

So what? Isn't the holy communion supposed to be for every christian believer? what is wrong with communing non-orthodox?

What is it about closed communion you don't understand?
tweety234 will have to answer for himself, of course. Anecdotally, I have noticed that cradle Orthodox are more likely to wonder what is wrong with communing the non-Orthodox than converts. I see two reasons for that: 1 - simply poorly catechized; 2 - little to no experience with non-Orthodox Christianity, so they don't see how different the two are. (Exceptions both ways exist.)

I agree. I think it is both.

However, I don't think the phrase "poorly catechised" really captures the abject failure of my parents' and grandparents' generations to teach their children the faith of our fathers.
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« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2012, 12:03:45 PM »

Anecdotally, I have noticed that cradle Orthodox are more likely to wonder what is wrong with communing the non-Orthodox than converts. I see two reasons for that: 1 - simply poorly catechized; 2 - little to no experience with non-Orthodox Christianity, so they don't see how different the two are. (Exceptions both ways exist.)

But it's also because a lot of western converts come to orthodoxy specifically out of rejection of their own church.
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« Reply #42 on: December 01, 2012, 12:38:07 PM »



However, I don't think the phrase "poorly catechised" really captures the abject failure of my parents' and grandparents' generations to teach their children the faith of our fathers.
[/quote]

This is a very interesting observation, how long and for how many generations do you think that the faith of the fathers has been "failed"
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« Reply #43 on: December 01, 2012, 01:07:16 PM »

how long and for how many generations do you think that the faith of the fathers has been "failed"
33 AD?
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« Reply #44 on: December 01, 2012, 01:22:36 PM »

how long and for how many generations do you think that the faith of the fathers has been "failed"
33 AD?
Is it the faith of the fathers that failed or the people failing to hold to the faith?

In Christ,
Andrew
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