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Author Topic: Communion, Confession, Confusion  (Read 7126 times) Average Rating: 0
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Tamara
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« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2008, 03:28:00 PM »

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

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

Theophan.

Fear of God may be what initially brings one into Orthodoxy but if a person never moves beyond fear as a reason to serve Christ then there is a problem. In time, the heart is changed due to uniting ourselves with Christ (communing) so that love and mercy is what motivates our actions, thoughts and words. The fruits in our parish are evident. The poor are being served, the lost are being found, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit is very evident during Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2008, 03:34:26 PM »

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


Bishop Hilarion mentions the recent book burnings ( Schmemann and Meyendorff texts) in Russia. Communism held back the theological development.
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« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2008, 05:35:59 PM »

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

Wow - I know many monks who would completely disagree with you!  Monks are generally not purer but rather more strongly tempted, and many monks are actually sources of great temptation for the few Holy Elders that exist.  Your line of thinking in the above statement does not match up with reality - monasticism is a hard road to walk on, and only a very small percentage of those who do tread upon it actually succeed. 

I've split off the discussion spurred by my above comment:
Monasticism and Salvation
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14614.0.html

- Cleveland, Global Moderator


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

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

Of all your statement, this is the most relevant (I think).

Quite frankly, you're right, there has been a radical change in Orthodox fronema from our ancestors to the present day, and there is no clear road laid out for how to adapt.  How should we adapt to it?  Well, for starters, I don't think frequent communion should mean every week.  Maybe 2-3 times per month (including major feasts and weekdays).  Frequent confession should also be included in this (at least 4-6 times per year).  I also think, though, that we need to begin living our lives as if we don't have forever - maybe the extension of our lifespan over the last three hundred years has impacted our fronema more than some of these other factors; we're not afraid of the Eschaton coming so soon, not because we don't have a doomsday circled on our calendar, but because we've become less aware of our own impending death.  In some ways, our modern fear of death has led to this: we've been so attuned to extending our lives that we've failed to maintain the spiritual quality within them.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 01:55:13 PM by cleveland » Logged

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Tamara
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« Reply #48 on: February 06, 2008, 01:36:25 AM »


Quite frankly, you're right, there has been a radical change in Orthodox fronema from our ancestors to the present day, and there is no clear road laid out for how to adapt.  How should we adapt to it?  Well, for starters, I don't think frequent communion should mean every week.  Maybe 2-3 times per month (including major feasts and weekdays).  Frequent confession should also be included in this (at least 4-6 times per year).  I also think, though, that we need to begin living our lives as if we don't have forever - maybe the extension of our lifespan over the last three hundred years has impacted our fronema more than some of these other factors; we're not afraid of the Eschaton coming so soon, not because we don't have a doomsday circled on our calendar, but because we've become less aware of our own impending death.  In some ways, our modern fear of death has led to this: we've been so attuned to extending our lives that we've failed to maintain the spiritual quality within them.

But most of our ancestors and our grandparents were unable to serve and evangelize because most of them were persecuted and in need. So here we are, living in North America and in other western countries, with the means to help others (ex:IOCC). We are also in the position to share the faith with many who were never exposed to Orthodoxy (OCMC and domestic ministry programs). Maybe every age has its purpose and God's plan for us is just beginning to be revealed. The worst thing we could do is to go into hiding to escape the work He has set before us because we are afraid. Does the Great Commission no longer have any meaning for us today?

note: I take issue with one point of the article Theophan shared by Fr. Elia. Fr. Elia mentions most who left the traditional Orthodox lands for western countries were the least traditional. I do not agree. Most of our grandparents left because to stay would have meant almost certain death under the Ottoman empire. If they were so nontraditional why did they sacrifice so much to build churches in the western world and bring clergy from their homelands?
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« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2008, 02:49:08 AM »

But most of our ancestors and our grandparents were unable to serve and evangelize because most of them were persecuted and in need. So here we are, living in North America and in other western countries, with the means to help others (ex:IOCC). We are also in the position to share the faith with many who were never exposed to Orthodoxy (OCMC and domestic ministry programs). Maybe every age has its purpose and God's plan for us is just beginning to be revealed. The worst thing we could do is to go into hiding to escape the work He has set before us because we are afraid. Does the Great Commission no longer have any meaning for us today?

Just because we have IOCC and OCMC doesn't mean that our fronema isn't different than it was 1000 years ago, or more specific to the dialogue, 1500 years ago.  I'm glad that we have these things available to us, and I'm glad we take advantage of our opportunities.  But how many of our brethren do we find giving up all their wealth and giving 100% of it to the poor?  How imminent is the Coming of Christ to us?  I think it's fairly obvious that our state of mind is very different from the Early Christians, and to a certain degree it's not a good change, in that we have a bit more disconnect between our faith and our day-to-day lives.  There is no need to be defensive about it - no one is saying we should crawl into a hole, ignore the Great Commission, etc - heck, I don't even know why you brought them up, as they have little to nothing to do with the discussion at hand.  They could be relevant if you're willing to make the tie between experiencing the Light of Christ and the Power of His Body and Blood, and not being able to hold that it, but instead feeling compelled to share it with the world - but you haven't made that tie, and instead bring up IOCC and OCMC and the Great Commission as if this discussion is attacking them; far from it.  We are participating in these activities (IOCC, etc.), and to our benefit and the benefit of the world.  But unless we all begin to realize that we must have a sense of Christian urgency to our lives (and thus we don't need to hoard wealth, etc.) we will risk becoming stagnant / complacent and trapped in sin.

note: I take issue with one point of the article Theophan shared by Fr. Elia. Fr. Elia mentions most who left the traditional Orthodox lands for western countries were the least traditional. I do not agree. Most of our grandparents left because to stay would have meant almost certain death under the Ottoman empire. If they were so nontraditional why did they sacrifice so much to build churches in the western world and bring clergy from their homelands?   

It did seem like too broad a statement to me as well.  But you're a bit off on the timeline - the major influx of Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Arabs came after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire - indeed, it was the secularists in Turkey and economic depression that led to most Greek immigration, and the post-WWI / post-WWII condition of the Middle East that led to the Arabs coming over.
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« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2008, 11:51:52 AM »

Just because we have IOCC and OCMC doesn't mean that our fronema isn't different than it was 1000 years ago, or more specific to the dialogue, 1500 years ago.  I'm glad that we have these things available to us, and I'm glad we take advantage of our opportunities.  But how many of our brethren do we find giving up all their wealth and giving 100% of it to the poor?  How imminent is the Coming of Christ to us?  I think it's fairly obvious that our state of mind is very different from the Early Christians, and to a certain degree it's not a good change, in that we have a bit more disconnect between our faith and our day-to-day lives.  There is no need to be defensive about it - no one is saying we should crawl into a hole, ignore the Great Commission, etc - heck, I don't even know why you brought them up, as they have little to nothing to do with the discussion at hand.  They could be relevant if you're willing to make the tie between experiencing the Light of Christ and the Power of His Body and Blood, and not being able to hold that it, but instead feeling compelled to share it with the world - but you haven't made that tie, and instead bring up IOCC and OCMC and the Great Commission as if this discussion is attacking them; far from it.  We are participating in these activities (IOCC, etc.), and to our benefit and the benefit of the world.  But unless we all begin to realize that we must have a sense of Christian urgency to our lives (and thus we don't need to hoard wealth, etc.) we will risk becoming stagnant / complacent and trapped in sin.

I am not arguing that are phronema has not been effected by the new world, our lack of an Orthodox culture, materialism,  the media etc. I guess I was getting defensive because people tend to look back and think things were better way back when (3rd century, 6th century, 19th century etc.). If we continually look back and mourn what we might have lost, then we cannot live in the present moment. We can't do the work God has placed before us. And then our communing (whether we believe in doing it often or not) means nothing because we haven't allowed our liturgical lives to change our everyday lives.
Every age has its challenges. For us, the challenge is to try and maintain an Orthodox lifestyle in a very secularist environment. But we also have been given great freedom and wealth to do things our ancestors couldn't even dream of doing. (I wasn't implying you were saying any of what I have stated. It was the message from Fr. Elia that made become defensive)

Quote
It did seem like too broad a statement to me as well.  But you're a bit off on the timeline - the major influx of Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Arabs came after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire - indeed, it was the secularists in Turkey and economic depression that led to most Greek immigration, and the post-WWI / post-WWII condition of the Middle East that led to the Arabs coming over.
I made a mistake in regard to mentioning the Ottoman empire. Regardless, most of these immigrants had to leave due to persecution. My grandfather and his uncle came over at the beginning of the last century. They had no choice. They had to leave Syria or face being put on the front lines of the Turkish army for a certain death. They were only teenaged boys when they came to North America. They didn't leave the warmth of their homes because they were non-traditionalists.
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« Reply #51 on: March 28, 2011, 01:21:47 PM »

* BUMP *

There is material in this thread which bears on our current discussions.
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