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Author Topic: Payment for sacraments?  (Read 10751 times) Average Rating: 0
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JimCBrooklyn
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« on: February 16, 2011, 03:24:59 PM »

Greetings in Christ!

I don't mean to stir the pot here, but I heard something that sincerely disturbed me a few days ago, and I meant to ask about it here, but had forgotten about it:

A friend here told me that it is a common custom here in Russia to pay a priest for major sacraments, i.e., baptisms, weddings, etc. This, I understand, makes plenty of sense, as it helps upkeep the church and pay the priests who can be quite poor here, and it is not unlike customs in any church I know of; it's not that there is a fee, but more like a "suggested donation".

That said, this person went on to say that in some instances, people even pay/tip for confession, and that there are scattered parishes where actual prices for sacraments are listed on the wall. This would be a major departure from "suggested donations", and seems borderline blasphemous to me.

Obviously, this is not something that would be universally supported by the church at-large, and I don't mean to suggest that, but I wonder if anyone has encountered this, or maybe could explain it better than the one source I had, who certainly isn't the end all. I understand that all churches have people in them, of course, and that folks can be corrupt. I am coming from the RC church, which obviously has its own struggles, and I live in Russia now, which is not exactly corruption-free, so it's not shocking to me, but I wondered how widespread this is, and if there might be a better explanation for it that I haven't thought of.
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 03:27:42 PM »

Hmm, I have never heard of this before. Have you had a chance to discuss this with your priest that you spoke with the other day? Do you know if this is the common practice in his parish?
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2011, 03:32:35 PM »

Hmm, I have never heard of this before. Have you had a chance to discuss this with your priest that you spoke with the other day? Do you know if this is the common practice in his parish?

I haven't spoken with him about it, though I intend to when we next meet. I don't know it to be common practice in his parish, no, particularly not the signs or confession, in fact, I'm quite certain it's not.
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 03:43:25 PM »

I have been told by multiple priests that it is forbidden to accept money for confession.

Personally, I don't have a problem with "suggested donations" for all the other sacraments. While conducting divine services is the priest's job, it seems right to give a token for something that might take him a lot of time (such as catechumenate classes, weddings/receptions that take up most of a day, etc.). Especially when a priest is not paid very well, or has a second job, this is important I think.

But to virtually require a set amount, I don't think that's right. Though I'm sure that if someone did not have the cash, the priest would not withhold the sacrament (if he did, I would avoid him and talk to the bishop).
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 03:44:09 PM »

Hmm, I have never heard of this before. Have you had a chance to discuss this with your priest that you spoke with the other day? Do you know if this is the common practice in his parish?

I haven't spoken with him about it, though I intend to when we next meet. I don't know it to be common practice in his parish, no, particularly not the signs or confession, in fact, I'm quite certain it's not.

This is good, I would ask him about it as well. AFAIK, the only universal financial obligation which we are encouraged to give to the Church is our tithe, which is non-specific. Also, I do not believe catechumens are obliged to follow under this rule, as they are not fully members (however, no parish would turn away good money, of course!)
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 03:49:09 PM »

It's common in Poland.
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2011, 03:53:59 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

But to virtually require a set amount, I don't think that's right. Though I'm sure that if someone did not have the cash, the priest would not withhold the sacrament (if he did, I would avoid him and talk to the bishop).

We just recently had this very discussion regarding the Saint Sophia Cathedral here in Los Angeles posting "sacrament fees" on their website in regards to having weddings or baptisms at the Cathedral.  Essentially, the end result was what you are saying, if the priests refuse to perform a Sacrament over financial issues, that would be highly immoral and not Orthodox, however most of us agree there is no harm in charging fees for certain Church services, though I think it is in the best taste to as its been said call these fees "suggested donations"

When it comes to money and the Church, attitude and intention are what define these otherwise gray matters.

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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 03:57:32 PM »

I have seen at some of the parishes I frequent in Russia that the babushkas on duty in the church won't accept your written prayer requests and hand them on to the priest unless you pay the sum noted on the wall. Once I had to struggle with them for quite some time, as I had left my wallet at my lodgings, but to no avail.
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 04:15:44 PM »

I have seen at some of the parishes I frequent in Russia that the babushkas on duty in the church won't accept your written prayer requests and hand them on to the priest unless you pay the sum noted on the wall. Once I had to struggle with them for quite some time, as I had left my wallet at my lodgings, but to no avail.

Wow. That's hardcore.  Shocked
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2011, 04:19:03 PM »


That said, this person went on to say that in some instances, people even pay/tip for confession, and that there are scattered parishes where actual prices for sacraments are listed on the wall. This would be a major departure from "suggested donations", and seems borderline blasphemous to me.


 Undecided Yes, it is common in Romania. People leave a small bill/amount of money in a plate by the priest's chair after confession. I know some priests (younger) who refuse the practice though. Most priests do not care, either way, they'll give you absolution anyway, but people know that they should leave some money.

For baptisms/weddings prices are a lot of time negotiated with the parents/godparents.
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2011, 05:36:33 PM »

It's common in Poland.

same thing in Serbia...at least in my experience. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2011, 05:44:53 PM »

So in the above countries, is this payment substitute for tithing, because most ppl don't tithe, or what?
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2011, 05:51:36 PM »

So in the above countries, is this payment substitute for tithing, because most ppl don't tithe, or what?

Sort of.  In serbia, that's definitely part of the "reasoning" but it's not an official policy because not every church has the pricing thing, just some of them.  It always upset me, especially when that was the first thing the priest would tell you. 
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2011, 07:29:59 PM »

So in the above countries, is this payment substitute for tithing, because most ppl don't tithe, or what?

Sort of.  In serbia, that's definitely part of the "reasoning" but it's not an official policy because not every church has the pricing thing, just some of them.  It always upset me, especially when that was the first thing the priest would tell you. 

I think that this practice is common throughout Eastern Europe and can be found in both the Orthodox and the Greek Catholic traditions. ( I never saw a 'price list' posted growing up in the post-war era, but in old parish financial annual printed reports from the 1920's and 30's I have seen suggested 'stipends' for various services listed.)

I have heard from my late father that in years' past when he was a young priest that some 'old timer's' would try to leave money for confessions but that he was taught in Seminary not to accept these donations.

I will also say that I have personally never known a priest who would refuse to perform a wedding or funeral or other sacramental without a donation or stipend of sorts, but I am sure there are some who would behave in such an un-Christian manner.  In many American parishes, the salary set by the congregation for the pastor would hardly be sufficient to raise a family and it simply was expected and accepted that the pastor's compensation would be augmented by the 'payment' of these stipends for funerals, weddings, baptisms etc.... To a large extent this has changed in recent times in the US and Canada. I don't think that there was anything insidious about the practice although I can understand how some folks coming from other traditions might misunderstand it.
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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2011, 09:54:29 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
So in the above countries, is this payment substitute for tithing, because most ppl don't tithe, or what?

I would say that is likely part of it.  Remember in much of the Orthodox world, for most of its history, the Church was the local landlord and even tax collector.  Now that the government collects most of these directly and in the US and other countries even exempts churches from paying taxes, the Church has a significantly smaller income stream.  It seems then that these payments and exchange of monies to priests would be the residual evolution of the original status of the Church in history, just to a far diminished scale.  This is what I understand "Church membership dues/fees" are for, to replace what was originally the legally prescribed tithe, along with any rent due to those who lived on extensive Church lands.  We have only been in this "modern" era for a century or two, so the Church is still in reasonable adjustment.Also, this kind of money exchange seems to be a deeply embedded cultural trait of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucuses Wink

stay blessed,
habte selasssie
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2011, 10:29:03 PM »

At one Serbian parish in my city, there is a bar in the basement for hard drinking after liturgy, and next to the bar by the bathrooms there is a list with the prices for the Holy Mysteries with two price lists: one for members who pay their "dues", and one for non-members who just come for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2011, 10:31:41 PM »

Sort of.  In serbia, that's definitely part of the "reasoning" but it's not an official policy because not every church has the pricing thing, just some of them.  It always upset me, especially when that was the first thing the priest would tell you. 

Another reason why I'm still 100% against it.  Simony is sin, always!
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2011, 10:56:02 PM »

In the early years after Perestroika in 1991 in Russia it was not uncommon for parishes to display boards with the suggested cost of services.  This was not totally unreasonable when people had no knowledge of what would be appropriate and whether they should offer $10 or $100 for their baby's Baptism.   

However the practice of displaying prices was not liked by many parish priests and nor was it liked by the bishops and finally the Patriarch and the Synod forbade displaying prices.
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2011, 11:00:48 PM »

For the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's suggestion about donations for services at the cathedral in London, please see message 1 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,33042.msg522321.html#msg522321
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2011, 11:15:25 PM »

Sort of.  In serbia, that's definitely part of the "reasoning" but it's not an official policy because not every church has the pricing thing, just some of them.  It always upset me, especially when that was the first thing the priest would tell you. 

Another reason why I'm still 100% against it.  Simony is sin, always!

Ah I knew there was a word for it, just couldn't place my finger on it!
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2011, 06:13:49 PM »

Sorry to dig back in to an older thread now, but I'm kind of tormenting myself with this issue. Since I out this topic up, I have seen one of these boards with a list of prices for sacramental services (though not confession/communion) at one parish here. I also can't help but take note of the part of liturgy when (forgive me, I keep forgetting the proper term for this practice) the priests all pray for the names of those written down by the faithful, and that all the people in church directly pay to have those names prayed for.

I am totally comfortable with giving a donation or things, if I feel so inclined; Inhave no issue with collection baskets, etc, and I was blessed to be born financially secure, and as such try to be generous. My issue is that such practices as I mentioned above make me feel REALLY uncomfortable and it just seems like simony, it makes me think of the indulgences that allegedly paid for St. Peter's, something I always had a lot of trouble with as a RC.

I even had trouble at first accepting that any church could have a gift shop for books, icons, candles, etc., as it made me think of Christ in the temple. I've gotten past this.

Are sacraments such as baptism, matrimony, or burial ever refused if no donation is made? Or even a blessing of a house?

I know that running into stumbling blocks on the road to conversion is normal, and this is the biggest one I have yet encountered. Again, I do not wish to stir the pot here, I'm just troubled by this.
In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2011, 09:19:29 PM »

Quote
Are sacraments such as baptism, matrimony, or burial ever refused if no donation is made? Or even a blessing of a house?

If they are, then an approach to the local bishop should be made, if the priest insists on payment. Sacraments are not for sale.  Angry Angry Angry
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2011, 05:45:44 AM »

Quote
Are sacraments such as baptism, matrimony, or burial ever refused if no donation is made? Or even a blessing of a house?

If they are, then an approach to the local bishop should be made, if the priest insists on payment. Sacraments are not for sale.  Angry Angry Angry
I would hope so, and this is NOT something that I have seen.

That said, I guess I'm still looking for a satisfactory answer as to:
A) Why there are prices listed for sacraments at a number of/if not most churches here in Russia (I can't speak for anywhere else)?
B) Why one must pay a set price to have people prayed for in the written prayers in church? I was in line today to buy a candle behind person after person being charged 200 rubles (7 dollars) a sheet for Lenten prayers, which apparently cost more than regular prayers. (Again I don't know the name for those)

I know it has been discussed above to some extent, but I still can't really understand WHY it's done, or what justifies it.

It's become a thorn in my journey.
In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2011, 10:29:05 AM »

A) Why there are prices listed for sacraments at a number of/if not most churches here in Russia (I can't speak for anywhere else)?
B) Why one must pay a set price to have people prayed for in the written prayers in church? I was in line today to buy a candle behind person after person being charged 200 rubles (7 dollars) a sheet for Lenten prayers, which apparently cost more than regular prayers. (Again I don't know the name for those)

I don't know about Russia but I can explain how we have those in Poland.

Priests in Poland do not receive regular salaries from the state (as in Greece) or from their Dioceses. They have to get money by themselves. Most of them do not have secular jobs (whether their duties disable them or it is a cultural thing it's another one case). The money from sacraments, funerals and these paper lists goes to them (in the contrary to the money from collects that goes to the Church).

I suppose the reasons in Russia are similar.
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2011, 10:54:52 AM »

A) Why there are prices listed for sacraments at a number of/if not most churches here in Russia (I can't speak for anywhere else)?
B) Why one must pay a set price to have people prayed for in the written prayers in church? I was in line today to buy a candle behind person after person being charged 200 rubles (7 dollars) a sheet for Lenten prayers, which apparently cost more than regular prayers. (Again I don't know the name for those)

I don't know about Russia but I can explain how we have those in Poland.

Priests in Poland do not receive regular salaries from the state (as in Greece) or from their Dioceses. They have to get money by themselves. Most of them do not have secular jobs (whether their duties disable them or it is a cultural thing it's another one case). The money from sacraments, funerals and these paper lists goes to them (in the contrary to the money from collects that goes to the Church).

I suppose the reasons in Russia are similar.

I understand this, though I think that here in Russia many priests are salaried, and I have no issue with it at all. I'd be more than eager to donate a large amount to a priest for those sacraments (though never, confession or communion). We gave generously for our children's chrismations, and intend to do so for mine. My qualm is that there is an actual listed price, which infers that one MUST pay for the sacrament, which would have to be heretical, right?


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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2011, 11:04:56 AM »

My qualm is that there is an actual listed price, which infers that one MUST pay for the sacrament, which would have to be heretical, right?

There is no 'must'. If you can't afford it your children will get baptised, period.
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« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2011, 02:13:47 PM »

I guess you haven't seen yet people leaving money on a plate by the chair of the priest after confession. It is very costumary in Romania (there confessions are heard priest sitting on a chair and penitent kneeling on a cushion in front of him). The fact that there is a plate for money by the priest, means that money this way is accepted, but also means that people feel obligated to leave money. I was amused when I was a teenager and a priest refused to accept money from me after my confession because I was a student. Cheesy Or when, also as a teen, the older priest who heard my confession told me, as I was leaving the room where confessions were heard having forgotten to leave some money said: "What, don't you have anything for the priest?" There are also priests who refuse money, period. But many don't. Also it is costumary to leave money on the table where the after-communion wine and bread is served. To put money on the book held by the reader who read the post-communion prayers in the back of the church. Or to leave money by the Gospel book exposed during Matins for veneration.

Everybody knows that you need quite a bit of money to get your kids baptized or to get married, so everybody saves money for that. Even the poorest.

Yes, money is expected to be prayed for during lent. And it's not cheap. But you can leave less money if you can't afford it, but most people would do what they have to do in order to have the right kind of money. Yes, money is expected if you want to have your car/house/etc. blessed. Money is expected when the priest comes to bless the house before Christmas and at Epiphany. I remember my mom asking the neighbors around what's the right amount that year (for the priest, for the guy who sings, for the guy who carries the holy water bucket, for the kids who run in front of the priest shouting "kiralesa"...). My grandma was dirt cheap and she would only give as little as she could. Cheesy

So you'd better get used to it, it's just part of the culture. Some priests try to change it, no faithful likes it, but feels as if it's part of the whole thing.
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« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2011, 06:46:51 PM »

This is just a reality that I'm having trouble coming to terms with/being comfortable with. How can such practices be allowed in Christ's church?

I just keep thinking of Christ in the temple, and what He would say about seeing prices for sacraments listed on a wall, or plates for confession money.

I know that in every/any church that is made up of men, wrong will be done, constantly, and I know that much graver offenses have been committed, but this seems different from one man/clergy member acting poorly; it seems like it's just casually institutionally accepted.

I guess I just want to find a good way to come to terms with this. Over the whole process of inquiry/catechesis, I've run into, as anyone will, plenty of hurdles. At each one, I've asked, prayed and learned, and left that hurde behind, more encouraged than in was before. This one is staying with me.

Please pray for me,
In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2011, 07:37:49 PM »

Jim, I feel that these questions which disturb you won't find a satisfactory answer on this Forum which is primarily American.    You are asking questions about the practices in the parishes of Petersburg and it is there that you need to turn for your answers.  If someone is leading you through your catechumenate period in a Petersburg parish, I would try enquiring of him or her.
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« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2011, 08:24:25 PM »

I think the "donation" idea is fine on some (depending on wealth of the area or country it is in.  More of a courtesy than a requirement for certain sacraments.

For instance, a couple getting married in let's say San Diego who is using the church, A/C, and hall afterwards should be willing to pay for the building & the priests time. 

However a poor village in some country somewhere and the population mostly lives in hovels, sod, etc., No, I think the priest should be there strictly to give the Sacraments of Christ.   

But even in a rich area, if the couple just wants something simple and are members of the church there should never be a charge.  But I think most Orthodoxy Christians "understand" to give a bit.

Baptism /  is "wishy washy" (no pun intended) in my opinion as far as giving $.  It may be a good idea in a well to do area for the parents, godparents, or relatives of the parents to give a little extra for the time in donation that day.  Again voluntary.  Of course again, in a poor country don't worry about $.  Adult baptism should be a courtesy of heavy donation.  Chrismation same situation.  But again voluntary.

Ordination again.... Donation should be heavier.

I think there are some sacraments that absolutely no money whatsoever in courtesy or not should be given. 
1) Communion - This one because it is a complete miracle.  God is in us, and we in him. 
2) Confession - Hehe, I think this is obvious.  $20 for anger, $30 for adultery - but you get a $5 coupon at Mardi Gras.  Shocked
3) Holy Unction - This is a powerful sacrament.  In those distressful times we need to focus on our spirit.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on it.  I know some churches do differently than others, but most that I have seen go pretty much on the "honor & courtesy system".

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« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2011, 08:28:19 PM »


Ordination again.... Donation should be heavier.


Ordination?   That one caught me by surprise!   Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2011, 08:38:01 PM »

I would express your concerns to your priest, tell him you're not comfortable with it, and ask him about donating to church instead via tithing...
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« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2011, 08:41:25 PM »

I guess you haven't seen yet people leaving money on a plate by the chair of the priest after confession. It is very costumary in Romania (there confessions are heard priest sitting on a chair and penitent kneeling on a cushion in front of him). The fact that there is a plate for money by the priest, means that money this way is accepted, but also means that people feel obligated to leave money. I was amused when I was a teenager and a priest refused to accept money from me after my confession because I was a student. Cheesy Or when, also as a teen, the older priest who heard my confession told me, as I was leaving the room where confessions were heard having forgotten to leave some money said: "What, don't you have anything for the priest?" There are also priests who refuse money, period. But many don't. Also it is costumary to leave money on the table where the after-communion wine and bread is served. To put money on the book held by the reader who read the post-communion prayers in the back of the church. Or to leave money by the Gospel book exposed during Matins for veneration.

Everybody knows that you need quite a bit of money to get your kids baptized or to get married, so everybody saves money for that. Even the poorest.

Yes, money is expected to be prayed for during lent. And it's not cheap. But you can leave less money if you can't afford it, but most people would do what they have to do in order to have the right kind of money. Yes, money is expected if you want to have your car/house/etc. blessed. Money is expected when the priest comes to bless the house before Christmas and at Epiphany. I remember my mom asking the neighbors around what's the right amount that year (for the priest, for the guy who sings, for the guy who carries the holy water bucket, for the kids who run in front of the priest shouting "kiralesa"...). My grandma was dirt cheap and she would only give as little as she could. Cheesy

So you'd better get used to it, it's just part of the culture. Some priests try to change it, no faithful likes it, but feels as if it's part of the whole thing.

Yuck. just yuck. Sorry, but I think this goes beyond the cultural differences explanation and borderlines on corruption.

I can see how this type of thing could easily translate into those who are well off in the parish getting 'special treatment' (i.e. extra prayers, etc.) while those who can't afford to get the bare minimum (if that).
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« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2011, 08:54:55 PM »



Yuck. just yuck. Sorry, but I think this goes beyond the cultural differences explanation and borderlines on corruption.

Well, that's actually not all of it. Apparently, at least in Romania, or parts of it, there's an unofficial tax for ordination, as in 10.000 euro for ordination and appointment to a good, urban parish. Under the guise of some present to the bishop...

These are sad realities in the old orthodox countries, and I think that, although they might raise terrible concerns, it is good to know about them, and come to terms with them, before an actual and serious committment.

On the other hand: although it might sound yucky to a westerner, most locals wouldn't even bet an eye, it's just the way you do things, not only in church stuff, but also in education, justice, etc. Teachers receiving gifts from their students, including money? Most normal thing in the world! And anyhow: nowadays, nobody would force you to leave money after confession, or at the gospel book, or whatever. Nobody puts in the plate more than the equivalent of 25 cents, up to a dollar. It's really symbolic. But it does happen. And it does change here and there with the younger priests.
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« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2011, 03:24:34 AM »

I guess you haven't seen yet people leaving money on a plate by the chair of the priest after confession. It is very costumary in Romania (there confessions are heard priest sitting on a chair and penitent kneeling on a cushion in front of him). The fact that there is a plate for money by the priest, means that money this way is accepted, but also means that people feel obligated to leave money. I was amused when I was a teenager and a priest refused to accept money from me after my confession because I was a student. Cheesy Or when, also as a teen, the older priest who heard my confession told me, as I was leaving the room where confessions were heard having forgotten to leave some money said: "What, don't you have anything for the priest?" There are also priests who refuse money, period. But many don't. Also it is costumary to leave money on the table where the after-communion wine and bread is served. To put money on the book held by the reader who read the post-communion prayers in the back of the church. Or to leave money by the Gospel book exposed during Matins for veneration.

Everybody knows that you need quite a bit of money to get your kids baptized or to get married, so everybody saves money for that. Even the poorest.

Yes, money is expected to be prayed for during lent. And it's not cheap. But you can leave less money if you can't afford it, but most people would do what they have to do in order to have the right kind of money. Yes, money is expected if you want to have your car/house/etc. blessed. Money is expected when the priest comes to bless the house before Christmas and at Epiphany. I remember my mom asking the neighbors around what's the right amount that year (for the priest, for the guy who sings, for the guy who carries the holy water bucket, for the kids who run in front of the priest shouting "kiralesa"...). My grandma was dirt cheap and she would only give as little as she could. Cheesy

So you'd better get used to it, it's just part of the culture. Some priests try to change it, no faithful likes it, but feels as if it's part of the whole thing.

Yuck. just yuck. Sorry, but I think this goes beyond the cultural differences explanation and borderlines on corruption.

I can see how this type of thing could easily translate into those who are well off in the parish getting 'special treatment' (i.e. extra prayers, etc.) while those who can't afford to get the bare minimum (if that).

Right. I have seen this sort of thing happen all over; my grandmother is a very prominent figure in Atlanta, and for a time there was an Anglican pastor that played her shadow, one who had a history of working his way into wills.

Even my RC priest, who I like and respect, I believe treated me somewhat differently and gave me extra attention because he knew that I was wealthy. That is something I dobt I can ever avoid, utbwhen you are setting up these kinds of precedents, I could just see things going off the deep end, i.e., wealthy Italian families deciding who the pope was for however many hundreds of years. Especially with the oligarch situation being what it is in Russia, it's a dangerous thought.

I'm trying to determine how to address it with my priest here; I don't want to offend him, which is why I was seeking to understand the practice first by asking here, at least to contextualize it for me.
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« Reply #35 on: March 14, 2011, 03:34:12 AM »


I'm trying to determine how to address it with my priest here; I don't want to offend him, which is why I was seeking to understand the practice first by asking here, at least to contextualize it for me.

Dear Jim,

As I mentioned, I am unsure if responses from America will be of much use to you.  They simply are not familiar with the situation you are describing in Petersburg and in fact they could get you "all fired up" and set up your conversation with your catechumen teacher and your priest in Russia for failure.   Best to deal with your local people.
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« Reply #36 on: March 14, 2011, 03:51:42 AM »

As far as those who are in the states, did you pay any money for your baptism/chrismation services?  Huh

Did you pay for anything (besides marriage services and tithing)?
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« Reply #37 on: March 14, 2011, 02:46:54 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer. I do not understand what this is all about.
Americans being shocked not all cultures are imbued with strong Calvinist work ethic? Good grief. Get over it.
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« Reply #38 on: March 14, 2011, 03:08:40 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer. I do not understand what this is all about.
Americans being shocked not all cultures are imbued with strong Calvinist work ethic? Good grief. Get over it.

Like I've said a number of times, my personal wealth is totally irrelevant in terms of how I feel about this. I don't really feel comfortable going into details, but I am happy to donate generously to the Church and Her clergy, and I do so, all the time! I intend to, as God has been kind to me in terms of my birth, be a great benefactor of the Church in my life. It has nothing to do with an unwillingness to give money, or some sort of "Calvinist work ethic".

My issues in principle, are that
A) It is downright un-Christian to directly charge for services of the Church, Christ would be appalled by this, and some of these practices being discussed seem very close to this to me.
B) It is troubling to me when I feel that the Church or a member of clergy shows favor to a layperson based on the layperson's social status.
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« Reply #39 on: March 14, 2011, 03:27:55 PM »

Jim: I don't think this is news to you, but the Church IS made of sinners. All sorts of sinners. The same as I think that leaving the Latin church for the sex abuse scandals is really superficial, the same I think that stumbling over the sort of financial murckiness that one could find in the OC is also not a reason to leave it or not joining it. It's a non issue, faith-wise. Sure, one might want to know what is the underlying problem that causes this, is this dogmatic, cultural, or what?

For your comfort: I live in the Netherlands and it's normal for catholic churches here to have on their website a list of prices for weddings, funerals, preparation for first communion and confirmation. Sometimes for baptism as well. Nobody is scandalized, the prices are there for everybody to see, and yes indeed, there are discounts for those who pay for their parish membership annualy. Through, I have never ever seen people leaving money after confession. And the priest blessed cars and bikes and rosaries and the like without expecting any compensation.

On the other hand, I read on the Dutch Orthodox Romanian parish's  website that the priest will not officiate any service, as in moleben, blessings, memorial services, baptisms, weddings, house blessings, I guess confessions also, to those who are not paying members of the parish.  Undecided I've never been there to see that this is indeed done, but that's on the website...Doesn't make me wanna go visit though, I guess I'll just stay with teh catholics.

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« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2011, 03:28:54 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer. I do not understand what this is all about.
Americans being shocked not all cultures are imbued with strong Calvinist work ethic? Good grief. Get over it.

Like I've said a number of times, my personal wealth is totally irrelevant in terms of how I feel about this. I don't really feel comfortable going into details, but I am happy to donate generously to the Church and Her clergy, and I do so, all the time! I intend to, as God has been kind to me in terms of my birth, be a great benefactor of the Church in my life. It has nothing to do with an unwillingness to give money, or some sort of "Calvinist work ethic".

My issues in principle, are that
A) It is downright un-Christian to directly charge for services of the Church, Christ would be appalled by this, and some of these practices being discussed seem very close to this to me.
B) It is troubling to me when I feel that the Church or a member of clergy shows favor to a layperson based on the layperson's social status.

Your concerns are perfectly legitimate. There are, however, certain Ortho-hipsters who see corruption and indifference as the seal of authenticity.
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« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2011, 04:05:06 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer. I do not understand what this is all about.
Americans being shocked not all cultures are imbued with strong Calvinist work ethic? Good grief. Get over it.

Like I've said a number of times, my personal wealth is totally irrelevant in terms of how I feel about this. I don't really feel comfortable going into details, but I am happy to donate generously to the Church and Her clergy, and I do so, all the time! I intend to, as God has been kind to me in terms of my birth, be a great benefactor of the Church in my life. It has nothing to do with an unwillingness to give money, or some sort of "Calvinist work ethic".

My issues in principle, are that
A) It is downright un-Christian to directly charge for services of the Church, Christ would be appalled by this, and some of these practices being discussed seem very close to this to me.
B) It is troubling to me when I feel that the Church or a member of clergy shows favor to a layperson based on the layperson's social status.

I TOTALLY agree with this.

I must say, I don't know any priests (my husband certainly included) who would refuse a sacrament because of some sort of financial issue (like not paying "minimum dues").  In fact, most of the priests I know (my husband again included) work very hard to separate the financial issues from sacraments.  I also don't know any priests who would even consider taking money for a confession!

Personally, when my husband comes home, having been given a gift by someone for performing a sacrament, we view it as exactly that- a gift.  And we are very grateful for it.  If he isn't given one, we don't even think twice about it.  Because that's not why he (or we, if I'm chanting) is there.  And in all cases, the money he is given goes toward his vestments, other things he may need for his ministry (such as a new anderi or a new communion kit or a liturgical book), and we view it strictly as a gift that someone has given out of love for the Church.

I have found in my experience that often these "fees" or "suggested donations" are something set up by parish councils, often to the priests' shagrin.  It ranks up there with "minimum dues/minimum stewardship" in my book-- absolutely unacceptable.  This is a battle we have been fighting in our parish.  They finally did away with the "minimum dues" and have instead replaced it with a "fee for using the building" of equivalent price.  I think that's no better (and maybe even worse), but I guess it's a start.

I have only known one priest in my time who was one of these as you describe, JimC, who goes after people for their money.  I was completely disgusted by it.  Especially when he was successful.  I think it's manipulative.  What's worse, it totally disregards the person as a child of God, one of your flock to whom you are supposed to minister- not take advantage of.  

**Edited for clarity**
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« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2011, 04:18:08 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer.

And what of those who are not wealthy? Do we not deserve the best of the services the Church has to offer?  Huh  Tongue
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« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2011, 04:23:13 PM »

I have found in my experience that often these "fees" or "suggested donations" are something set up by parish councils, often to the priests' shagrin.  It ranks up there with "minimum dues/minimum stewardship" in my book-- absolutely unacceptable.  This is a battle we have been fighting in our parish.  They finally did away with the "minimum dues" and have instead replaced it with a "fee for using the building" of equivalent price.  I think that's no better (and maybe even worse), but I guess it's a start.


And what of these minimum dues? If you aren't able to pay them then you're out?  Huh
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« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2011, 04:23:57 PM »

To the OP:
You say you are wealthy. Then you should afford the best of the services the Church has to offer.
Is this a serious statement or sarcasm?

Quote
I do not understand what this is all about.
Americans being shocked not all cultures are imbued with strong Calvinist work ethic? Good grief. Get over it.
Do you think it's okay for the Church to charge money for services?
Don't you think it smacks of the money-changers in the temple whom Christ Himself threw out?

That Gospel always comes to my mind when I walk in and see people making change at the Pangari to "buy" a candle to light, and when I see people making change in the collection plate (which I'm also against- but that's another topic, I guess).
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