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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« on: September 04, 2010, 12:07:39 AM »

are Orthodox Christians supposed to go to confession ONLY every four weeks?  would it be considered annoying or pesting by the priest if you go two weeks in a row?  if you've sonned, and it's rather major, should you wait until your next confession before recieving Holy Communion?
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2010, 12:35:15 AM »

My spiritual father has me confess once a week if I plan on receiving Communion.  Although I am aware of more than a few priests who complain when someone wants to confess "too often".  I have a friend who has a priest that is that way.  However, if your conscience is not clear and/or you committed a mortal sin, then you need to go to Confession.  So what if the priest appears to be put off by it (I think this is unlikely)?  I personally would brush it off and just go.

So go!  It is good for you! Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2010, 12:36:40 AM »

There is no hard and fast rule for the frequency of confession. If there is something that is bothering you, mortal sin or not, you should go to confession as soon as possible. Different traditions on confession have developed over time. In the Russian Orthodox Church a recent confession within the last week is usually needed to partake in the Holy Mysteries. Thus, if one intended to take communion weekly they would in fact need to have a weekly confession. Other jurisdictions do not mandate this so strictly, but I don't see anything wrong with going to confession weekly if you were so inclined.
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2010, 01:10:11 AM »

We do it weekly at my parish; actually even more than that if there is an additional liturgy for an important feast.
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2010, 10:36:18 AM »

We do it weekly at my parish; actually even more than that if there is an additional liturgy for an important feast.

IMHO this is where frequent confession become a problem. I feel preparation for Holy Communion should include a good confession. However, if there happens to be two liturgies in the same week, such as a Saturday feast-day and then a Sunday Liturgy the next day one should not be required to confess on both days. Of course if it is needed by all means go to confession twice. A strict one-to-one ratio of confession to communion should not be mandated as this begins to link these two different Mysteries together.
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2010, 10:52:50 AM »

On the two times I visited the ROCOR parish in Philly, I observed that everyone lines up before the liturgy for quick confessions... at least I assumed it was confession.
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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2010, 11:24:49 AM »

are Orthodox Christians supposed to go to confession ONLY every four weeks?  would it be considered annoying or pesting by the priest if you go two weeks in a row?  if you've sonned, and it's rather major, should you wait until your next confession before recieving Holy Communion?

The answer depends on the liturgical tradition of your church.  The slavic-influenced Churches (ROCOR, MP, SOC, etc.) tend toward confessing before each reception of communion.  The Rum-influenced Churches (Greek, Antiochian, Alexandrian, etc.) tend toward "frequent" but not tied to communion (e.g. you go to confession 4-6 times per year, but can commune weekly).  However, in both traditions there is a sense that confession should also be had as quickly as possible after you feel you "really, really need it."  That is to say, after you've committed a sin that keeps you from going about your life normally.  These types of situations (assault/murder, adultery, blasphemy, etc.) can have far-reaching effects, and in the ancient church would have led to separation from communion with public repentance; if you find yourself in this type of situation, then clarify that with your priest first, so he understands the gravity.

However, we cannot become "confession junkies" either, as this leads us into a false sense of worthiness.  Truth is, from a spiritually objective position, we are "unworthy" about 1 second after our confession ends - sin is too ingrained in our behavior to shake it.  It is precisely why we remind ourselves during the Liturgy that, "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father."  We must realize that in the course of our life, if we constantly seek to be "worthy" of God's grace (as manifest most concretely in Holy Communion, or less concretely every day) we must confess and receive communion within an instant of our absolution (and some would argue that even in that instant, sin enters our life).

If you're confessing every week or two, and something happens, you've got another confession coming up soon enough (probably).  If what you're going to confess is heavy enough to radically alter your life, then see your priest immediately.  However, remember that you must follow his directions.

Although I am aware of more than a few priests who complain when someone wants to confess "too often".  I have a friend who has a priest that is that way.  However, if your conscience is not clear and/or you committed a mortal sin, then you need to go to Confession.  So what if the priest appears to be put off by it (I think this is unlikely)?  I personally would brush it off and just go. 

I hope I don't come off as too combative here, but... True confession (repentance with life-change to try your best to "sin no more") depends on two important aspects, (a) true contrition, and (b) true obedience.  You can't satisfy (b) if your priest says you're going too often but you say, "I'm going to go anyway."

I think nowadays we teeter on the edge between two equally damaging positions, namely (a) that confession is not necessary in our lives (secularist position), and (b) that confession is as necessary (or even more necessary) than Holy Communion (a "pietistic" position).  We have to find the balance, methinks.  (There is a thread in the Liturgy Forum discussing the pros/cons to a 1:1 Confession: Communion ratio; I won't delve into it more here, to keep the thread on track with the question, which is more about frequency of confession when you feel you need it.)
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2010, 11:32:01 AM »

are Orthodox Christians supposed to go to confession ONLY every four weeks?  would it be considered annoying or pesting by the priest if you go two weeks in a row?  if you've sonned, and it's rather major, should you wait until your next confession before recieving Holy Communion?

The answer depends on the liturgical tradition of your church.  The slavic-influenced Churches (ROCOR, MP, SOC, etc.) tend toward confessing before each reception of communion.  The Rum-influenced Churches (Greek, Antiochian, Alexandrian, etc.) tend toward "frequent" but not tied to communion (e.g. you go to confession 4-6 times per year, but can commune weekly).  However, in both traditions there is a sense that confession should also be had as quickly as possible after you feel you "really, really need it."  That is to say, after you've committed a sin that keeps you from going about your life normally.  These types of situations (assault/murder, adultery, blasphemy, etc.) can have far-reaching effects, and in the ancient church would have led to separation from communion with public repentance; if you find yourself in this type of situation, then clarify that with your priest first, so he understands the gravity.

However, we cannot become "confession junkies" either, as this leads us into a false sense of worthiness.  Truth is, from a spiritually objective position, we are "unworthy" about 1 second after our confession ends - sin is too ingrained in our behavior to shake it.  It is precisely why we remind ourselves during the Liturgy that, "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father."  We must realize that in the course of our life, if we constantly seek to be "worthy" of God's grace (as manifest most concretely in Holy Communion, or less concretely every day) we must confess and receive communion within an instant of our absolution (and some would argue that even in that instant, sin enters our life).

If you're confessing every week or two, and something happens, you've got another confession coming up soon enough (probably).  If what you're going to confess is heavy enough to radically alter your life, then see your priest immediately.  However, remember that you must follow his directions.

Although I am aware of more than a few priests who complain when someone wants to confess "too often".  I have a friend who has a priest that is that way.  However, if your conscience is not clear and/or you committed a mortal sin, then you need to go to Confession.  So what if the priest appears to be put off by it (I think this is unlikely)?  I personally would brush it off and just go. 

I hope I don't come off as too combative here, but... True confession (repentance with life-change to try your best to "sin no more") depends on two important aspects, (a) true contrition, and (b) true obedience.  You can't satisfy (b) if your priest says you're going too often but you say, "I'm going to go anyway."

I think nowadays we teeter on the edge between two equally damaging positions, namely (a) that confession is not necessary in our lives (secularist position), and (b) that confession is as necessary (or even more necessary) than Holy Communion (a "pietistic" position).  We have to find the balance, methinks.  (There is a thread in the Liturgy Forum discussing the pros/cons to a 1:1 Confession: Communion ratio; I won't delve into it more here, to keep the thread on track with the question, which is more about frequency of confession when you feel you need it.)
well, you see, I went to confession 2 weeks ago.  two weeks ago, I went two weeks in a row Shocked   I've been praying for the Lord to show me my sins so I  can confess them, but I'm afraid my spiritual awareness has gotten me a bit nutty about confession!  I've committed several sins this week that I feel I must confess before recieving Holy Communion.  and, confession is tonight, so I should go, right?!  I just don't want my priest to think that I'm trying to impress him, or that I have this false sence of vanity that I can be alwayse "spiritually clean".  I understand that I'm in a constant state of sin.  it's hard for me to remember my sins, and when I do, I want to confess them right away!
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2010, 11:47:03 AM »

if I have a sin to confess, in the interest of maintaining a "confession every 3-4 weeks" pattern, should I just go without communion for the next week, even though I have a chance to confess tonight?
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2010, 01:35:37 PM »

Trevor, take Fr. George's advice.  And please forgive me for tempting you by telling you to disregard the concerns of a priest.  It was shameful. 

Ultimately, I think these concerns need to be taken to your priest.  Schedule a meeting with him outside of the services.  In your last post you mention being concerned about how he perceives you, these things need to be brought to his attention, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.  He is your father in the Lord!  He wants what is best for you.  There are a lot of reasons why he may or may not want you to confess weekly, but in order to figure it out, you have to talk with him. 

This is really a terrible place to obtain spiritual counsel that is truly specific to your needs.  People can give general advice, and maybe those here who know you relatively well can give better advice, but the best advice comes from a priest that knows you, hears your confession regularly, and knows your strengths and weaknesses. 

John
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2010, 04:07:02 PM »

I like what Father George says above. The way I feel on the subject is, that a meaning full confession. That comes from within is worth more than 1000 that are through obligation, but without those thousand that come forward through obligation as a good example. No one would come.
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« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2010, 06:20:24 PM »

IMHO this is where frequent confession become a problem. I feel preparation for Holy Communion should include a good confession. However, if there happens to be two liturgies in the same week, such as a Saturday feast-day and then a Sunday Liturgy the next day one should not be required to confess on both days. Of course if it is needed by all means go to confession twice. A strict one-to-one ratio of confession to communion should not be mandated as this begins to link these two different Mysteries together.

I'm sorry, I think I wasn't clear enough. I only meant that confession is made available during Great Vespers or Matins before each liturgy, not that someone absolutely must confess before they receive. If one's conscience is clear, then one should feel free to receive the Eucharist. But I think our priest would discourage someone from approaching who is convicted for a particularly grievous sin.
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« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2010, 09:33:40 PM »

It's interesting what Fr George said about "Rum-influenced" churches. The impression he gives is that weekly communion without confession is an ancient practice in the Greek church, but my understanding is that weekly communion is a fairly recent practice, and has become the norm in most (New Calendar) Greek churches due to the influence of an article about frequent communion by Fr John Romanides. He apparently argued that not receiving at each liturgy, unless one had a canonical impediment, was actually a kind of heresy (!). If anyone knows of this article, or can tell me I'm wrong about this, please say something.

I know that in the Early Church, weekly communion was the norm, but it is pretty much beyond doubt that for the past millennium or so, until a few decades ago, weekly communion has not been normative for the laity in the Orthodox Church, and that lay people, when they received, always prepared for it with fasting, confession and a special prayer rule.

In most Old Calendar churches weekly communion is still rare, except in the Boston-based HOCNA jurisdiction, which is heavily influenced by Fr Romanides' thought in other respects, so I don't think they're too representative.

The actual practice I observe at my church, St Markella's, is that practically no lay people receive every week, but when they do receive they always confess beforehand. My impression from the Russian jurisdictions (ROCOR under Met Hilarion, and the RTOC under Bp Stefan of Trenton) is the same: confession always comes before communion. Admittedly this sometimes takes on a kind of legalistic aspect, as in 'you can't receive unless you confess', even if your sins are pardonable. In the same way, not fasting for three days before receiving is often seen as a serious impediment, even though the amount of fasting required is really up to the confessor. I think traditionalist Greeks are more prone to this mentality, but not so much traditionalist Russians.

As for confessing without necessarily receiving afterward, it is quite possible, especially if one has committed a mortal sin that might form an impediment to communion, but which still needs to be confessed as soon as possible. It is also possible to confess at regular intervals, say every month or every other week, or even every week, without necessarily communing each time. Since in traditionalist churches fasting is also a requirement for communion, many may not be willing to fast so often, but would still like to partake of some sacramental grace by confessing their sins, whether mortal or pardonable.
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2010, 10:04:17 PM »

It's interesting what Fr George said about "Rum-influenced" churches. The impression he gives is that weekly communion without confession is an ancient practice in the Greek church...

The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2010, 10:19:43 PM »

It's interesting what Fr George said about "Rum-influenced" churches. The impression he gives is that weekly communion without confession is an ancient practice in the Greek church...

The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf

But this thread is about frequent confession, not about frequent communion.
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« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2010, 10:25:19 PM »

It's interesting what Fr George said about "Rum-influenced" churches. The impression he gives is that weekly communion without confession is an ancient practice in the Greek church...

The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf

But this thread is about frequent confession, not about frequent communion.

Patriarch Theodosios advises those who receive Communion every 40 days that it has to be after penance, i.e., confession.

Presumably he also intends those who commune weekly to confess weekly? That part is not clear to me.
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« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2010, 11:08:03 PM »

You're right, PtA. But it seems that the two go together. Smiley

Didn't the Kollyvades also believe in fasting and confessing before receiving, even when receiving frequently?

I think "penance" means more than just confession, but also fasting, prostrations and other acts of repentance. Do you think he just means confession?
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2010, 11:30:30 PM »

You're right, PtA. But it seems that the two go together. Smiley

Didn't the Kollyvades also believe in fasting and confessing before receiving, even when receiving frequently?

I think "penance" means more than just confession, but also fasting, prostrations and other acts of repentance. Do you think he just means confession?

I also think he would include those things but the primary act is the sacramental one of Confession.

And I very much doubt whether he would exempt those communing weekly from such acts of repentance.
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« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2010, 06:38:28 AM »

Quote
The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

But what about priests? When a priest serves at the alter each week he consumes the Holy Gifts. How often does he confess...surely not each week.
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« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2010, 06:09:58 PM »

Fr. I was Taught Never Approach Holy Communion with out Fasting and confession first.....So Each time If I was to Commune i would Fast and go to confession first then Holy Communion......

It's better to be one the safe side..... angel How is it that things changed so much like monthly or bi-weekly or whatever confessions...... Huh
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« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2010, 12:09:38 AM »

While I know not all Orthodox make a distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sins for fear of being accused of too much Latin influence, I know many do make such distinctions.

What types of sins must be confessed versus the types of things that can go unconfessed before receiving. I would think that confessing every week some might start confessing things that seem somewhat trivial, or perhaps not. Anyway, I'm just curious.
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« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2010, 03:32:41 PM »

I think something that is important to consider about this situation is that whether or not you go to confession on a 1-1 basis, you theoretically have your sins cleansed when you receive communion. The priest says before giving out communion: "The servant (handmaiden) of God ____________ receives the most precious body and blood of Christ for the remission of sins and unto life everlasting, Amen."

By partaking of the Eucharist we are able to receive a washing away of sins in some sense. Now please do not misinterpret this, I do not believe for a minute that frequent communion can replace confession... Confession is still very much a necessity.

In regards to the op specifically: I think that the frequency of confession for any given person is between them and their father confessor. If there is something that weighs heavily on you, its a good idea to go to confession even if you went yesterday. On the other hand, if your conscience is not nagging at you every second of every day its probably good to go about a routine. Just from my personal experience, my Father Confessor has suggested (although I use that term very loosely police) That I come to confession once a month. However, with my wife who is caring for our young daughter he has suggested a frequency which is greater than once a month. This "tailored" confession schedule is the best way, I believe, to handle the matter of frequency of confession

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« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2010, 03:49:09 PM »

While I know not all Orthodox make a distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sins for fear of being accused of too much Latin influence, I know many do make such distinctions.

What types of sins must be confessed versus the types of things that can go unconfessed before receiving. I would think that confessing every week some might start confessing things that seem somewhat trivial, or perhaps not. Anyway, I'm just curious.
\

Alveus--I think you are unto the real issue here. As Father Schmemann points out, one must go to private confession with a father confessor (usually your priest) if you have separated yourself from communion by a grave sin; thus the Mystery of Penance is best viewed as the Mystery of Reconciliation, as indicated in every prayer of absolution. Father Schmemann also points out that built into the Sunday cycle of prayer and worship, we ask for forgiveness, we confess our sins to our Lord many times, including right before communion ("I believe O Lord.. and receive me today..."). the blessed Father Alexander points out that there is no good reason to separate the Body into the clergy and laity before the cup, with the clergy receiving communion on the basis of their preparation and pre-communion prayers, and the laity who are also similarly prepared. That is, Father Alexander implicitly acknowledges that lay folks who do not regularly confess, pray, properly prepare themselves to take communion (and do not do so regularly), have in fact separated themselves from the Body and must be reconciled into the fold. These lay folks, as well as those who have committed grave sins, must confess before both the Lord and the Church (in the person of the Priest or father confessor). The rest of us who take communion frequently do in fact confess our sins at least two times every day and in particular before communion. However, in the final analysis it cannot be that a lay person can on his own decide how often and under what circumstances he must go to confess to the priest. It is best for the priest to guide each one of his parishioners on this very delicate and most important matter--just as Admiral Nick has suggested above.
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