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Author Topic: Autoeroticism and the Fathers: RC POV  (Read 5952 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2011, 04:28:00 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.

This has been my understanding. That it shows an entrenched sin in your soul that still needs dealing with. Or even that your flesh is being fueled by over eating, drinking, etc. It shows a lack of peace within someone.


The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that masturbation is a sin.  The same text indicates that some sins are mitigated by the spiritual maturity of the person engaging in the behaviors.  Again it is something for discussion with ones confessor.  It's hardly the worst of all possible voluntary acts.

Just adding this to justify the topic being under the heading here.

Agreed, and yet people freak out about it.  

It is a dangerous step to start ranking sins; all sin results in death.
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« Reply #46 on: March 31, 2011, 04:30:50 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.

This has been my understanding. That it shows an entrenched sin in your soul that still needs dealing with. Or even that your flesh is being fueled by over eating, drinking, etc. It shows a lack of peace within someone.

LOL. One's wife, perhaps?

The catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that masturbation is a sin.  The same text indicates that some sins are mitigated by the spiritual maturity of the person engaging in the behaviors.  Again it is something for discussion with ones confessor.  It's hardly the worst of all possible voluntary acts.

Just adding this to justify the topic being under the heading here.

Agreed, and yet people freak out about it.  

It is a dangerous step to start ranking sins; all sin results in death.


Ranking, and ranking it among the worst, is part of the freaking out.
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« Reply #47 on: March 31, 2011, 04:38:32 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.

This has been my understanding. That it shows an entrenched sin in your soul that still needs dealing with. Or even that your flesh is being fueled by over eating, drinking, etc. It shows a lack of peace within someone.

LOL. One's wife, perhaps?

Haha  Cheesy


Ranking, and ranking it among the worst, is part of the freaking out.

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.
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« Reply #48 on: March 31, 2011, 04:42:52 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

There are degrees of sin, but generally Orthodox these days don't rank them, and are even uncomfortable with the concept (perhaps wrongly thinking it's some type of Catholic innovation).
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« Reply #49 on: March 31, 2011, 04:46:29 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

There are degrees of sin, but generally Orthodox these days don't rank them, and are even uncomfortable with the concept (perhaps wrongly thinking it's some type of Catholic innovation).

By degrees do you mean there is a process to sinning and you can find yourself in different moments? Or that some sins are actually looked at as not as bad as others?
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« Reply #50 on: March 31, 2011, 04:52:13 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

We don't rank them in the sense of putting sin X in the mortal column and sin Y in the venial column. That being said, some sins are certainly more grave than others. Also, even though we don't use a formal ranking system like Catholics in practice we are very similar. For example, if you commit adultery you certainly shouldn't present yourself for Communion until you have confessed; but if you were selfish with the TV remote last night it probably doesn't prevent you from communing, just confess it next time you have confession. 
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« Reply #51 on: March 31, 2011, 05:01:08 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

There are degrees of sin, but generally Orthodox these days don't rank them, and are even uncomfortable with the concept (perhaps wrongly thinking it's some type of Catholic innovation).

By degrees do you mean there is a process to sinning and you can find yourself in different moments? Or that some sins are actually looked at as not as bad as others?

Well, let me put it this way, I've read in Church Fathers the idea that sometimes we need to pick "lesser evils". It's not that people want to say "Oh, that's a little sin". There are no little sins, just perhaps worse choices when you're stuck between two bad choices. Here are some quotes that illustrate what I mean...

Quote
It is better both to attain the good and to keep the purification. But if it be impossible to do both it is surely better to be a little stained with your public affairs than to fall altogether short of grace; just as I think it better to undergo a slight punishment from father or master than to be put out of doors; and to be a little beamed upon than to be left in total darkness. And it is the part of wise men to choose, as in good things the greater and more perfect, so in evils the lesser and lighter. Wherefore do not overmuch dread the purification. For our success is always judged by comparison with our place in life by our just and merciful Judge; and often one who is in public life and has had small success has had a greater reward than one who in the enjoyment of liberty has not completely succeeded; as I think it more marvellous for a man to advance a little in fetters, than for one to run who is not carrying any weight; or to be only a little spattered in walking through mud, than to be perfectly clean when the road is clean. To give you a proof of what I have said: Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality, though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct; and the Publican was exalted by one thing, his humility, though he received no testimony for anything else; so that you may learn not easily to despair concerning yourself. - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40, 19 

"But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints." He has spoken of the bitter passion, of wrath; he now comes to the lesser evil: for that lust is the lesser evil, hear how Moses also in the law says, first, "Thou shalt do no murder" (Ex. 20:13), which is the work of wrath, and then, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14), which is of lust. For as "bitterness," and "clamor," and "all malice," and "railing," and the like, are the works of the passionate man, so likewise are "fornication, uncleanness, covetousness," those of the lustful; since avarice and sensuality spring from the same passion. But just as in the former case he took away "clamor" as being the vehicle of "anger," so now does he "filthy talking" and "jesting" as being the vehicle of lust; for he proceeds, Ver. 4. "Nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting; but rather giving of thanks." - John Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Ephesians

Moreover, when he blames dissensions and schisms, which undoubtedly are evils, he immediately adds heresies likewise. Now, that which he subjoins to evil things, he of course confesses to be itself an evil; and all the greater, indeed, because he tells us that his belief of their schisms and dissensions was grounded on his knowledge that "there must be heresies also." For he shows us that it was owing to the prospect of the greater evil that he readily believed the existence of the lighter ones; - Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heresies, 5

Some members we can dispense with and yet live: without others life is an impossibility. Some offences are light, some heavy. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe a farthing. We shall have to give account of the idle word no less than of adultery; but it is not the same thing to be put to the blush, and to be put upon the rack, to grow red in the face and to ensure lasting torment. Do you think I am merely expressing my own views?Hear what the Apostle John says: "He who knows that his brother sinneth a sin not unto death, let him ask, and he shall give him life, even to him that sinneth not unto death. But he that hath sinned unto death, who shall pray for him?" You observe that if we entreat for smaller offences, we obtain pardon: if for greater ones, it is difficult to obtain our request: and that there is a great difference between sins. - St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, 2, 30

…in the case of Cain, what was done was not a murder only, but worse than even many murders; for it was not a stranger, but a brother, whom he slew; and a brother who had not done but suffered wrong; not after many murderers, but having first originated the horrid crime: so here too that which was perpetrated was not murder only. For it was no ordinary man that did it, but a prophet: and he slays not him that had done wrong, but him that had suffered wrong; for indeed he had been mortally wronged, by the forcing away his wife: nevertheless after that he added this also. - Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Matthew

For although, as far as a man's own conscience is concerned, it is a greater evil to deceive than to be deceived, nevertheless it is a far less evil to tell a lie in regard to matters that do not relate to religion, than to be led into error in regard to matters the knowledge and belief of which are essential to the right worship of God. To illustrate this by example: suppose that one man should say of some one who is dead that he is still alive, knowing this to be untrue; and that another man should, being deceived, believe that Christ shall at the end of some time (make the time as long as you please) die; would it not be incomparably better to lie like the former, than to be deceived like the latter? and would it not be a much less evil to lead some man into the former error, than to be led by any man into the latter? - St. Augustine, The Enchiridion, 18

Jn. 19:11 might be a scriptural example of this concept as well.
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« Reply #52 on: March 31, 2011, 05:07:47 PM »

Thus I have read- If it happens the night before communion, one must refrain from communion that day OR one can get up, say Psalm 50, and do a certain number of metanies (I forget the number.)

I don't get this.  Nocturnal emission is an involuntary psychosomatic function.  How could something that can't be controlled be a sin and require penance?  I don't see any issues of volition here.

Y'know, a lot of these penitential manuals &c. were written at a time when psychosomatism and affective states were unknown.  Augustine thought the same as the confessor cited above.  I'm not a priest so I can't say, but I can't see why a penance would need to be assigned for a bodily function that is probably on a par with renal voiding.

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 

I can understand involuntary acts being sinful in that way, but I can't understand Confessing them/asking for forgiveness for them, something which to me seems inherently tied up with guilt and wrongfulness.
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« Reply #53 on: March 31, 2011, 05:14:44 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

There are degrees of sin, but generally Orthodox these days don't rank them, and are even uncomfortable with the concept (perhaps wrongly thinking it's some type of Catholic innovation).

By degrees do you mean there is a process to sinning and you can find yourself in different moments? Or that some sins are actually looked at as not as bad as others?

Well, let me put it this way, I've read in Church Fathers the idea that sometimes we need to pick "lesser evils". It's not that people want to say "Oh, that's a little sin". There are no little sins, just perhaps worse choices when you're stuck between two bad choices. Here are some quotes that illustrate what I mean...

Quote
It is better both to attain the good and to keep the purification. But if it be impossible to do both it is surely better to be a little stained with your public affairs than to fall altogether short of grace; just as I think it better to undergo a slight punishment from father or master than to be put out of doors; and to be a little beamed upon than to be left in total darkness. And it is the part of wise men to choose, as in good things the greater and more perfect, so in evils the lesser and lighter. Wherefore do not overmuch dread the purification. For our success is always judged by comparison with our place in life by our just and merciful Judge; and often one who is in public life and has had small success has had a greater reward than one who in the enjoyment of liberty has not completely succeeded; as I think it more marvellous for a man to advance a little in fetters, than for one to run who is not carrying any weight; or to be only a little spattered in walking through mud, than to be perfectly clean when the road is clean. To give you a proof of what I have said: Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality, though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct; and the Publican was exalted by one thing, his humility, though he received no testimony for anything else; so that you may learn not easily to despair concerning yourself. - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40, 19 

"But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints." He has spoken of the bitter passion, of wrath; he now comes to the lesser evil: for that lust is the lesser evil, hear how Moses also in the law says, first, "Thou shalt do no murder" (Ex. 20:13), which is the work of wrath, and then, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14), which is of lust. For as "bitterness," and "clamor," and "all malice," and "railing," and the like, are the works of the passionate man, so likewise are "fornication, uncleanness, covetousness," those of the lustful; since avarice and sensuality spring from the same passion. But just as in the former case he took away "clamor" as being the vehicle of "anger," so now does he "filthy talking" and "jesting" as being the vehicle of lust; for he proceeds, Ver. 4. "Nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting; but rather giving of thanks." - John Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Ephesians

Moreover, when he blames dissensions and schisms, which undoubtedly are evils, he immediately adds heresies likewise. Now, that which he subjoins to evil things, he of course confesses to be itself an evil; and all the greater, indeed, because he tells us that his belief of their schisms and dissensions was grounded on his knowledge that "there must be heresies also." For he shows us that it was owing to the prospect of the greater evil that he readily believed the existence of the lighter ones; - Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heresies, 5

Some members we can dispense with and yet live: without others life is an impossibility. Some offences are light, some heavy. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe a farthing. We shall have to give account of the idle word no less than of adultery; but it is not the same thing to be put to the blush, and to be put upon the rack, to grow red in the face and to ensure lasting torment. Do you think I am merely expressing my own views?Hear what the Apostle John says: "He who knows that his brother sinneth a sin not unto death, let him ask, and he shall give him life, even to him that sinneth not unto death. But he that hath sinned unto death, who shall pray for him?" You observe that if we entreat for smaller offences, we obtain pardon: if for greater ones, it is difficult to obtain our request: and that there is a great difference between sins. - St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, 2, 30

…in the case of Cain, what was done was not a murder only, but worse than even many murders; for it was not a stranger, but a brother, whom he slew; and a brother who had not done but suffered wrong; not after many murderers, but having first originated the horrid crime: so here too that which was perpetrated was not murder only. For it was no ordinary man that did it, but a prophet: and he slays not him that had done wrong, but him that had suffered wrong; for indeed he had been mortally wronged, by the forcing away his wife: nevertheless after that he added this also. - Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Matthew

For although, as far as a man's own conscience is concerned, it is a greater evil to deceive than to be deceived, nevertheless it is a far less evil to tell a lie in regard to matters that do not relate to religion, than to be led into error in regard to matters the knowledge and belief of which are essential to the right worship of God. To illustrate this by example: suppose that one man should say of some one who is dead that he is still alive, knowing this to be untrue; and that another man should, being deceived, believe that Christ shall at the end of some time (make the time as long as you please) die; would it not be incomparably better to lie like the former, than to be deceived like the latter? and would it not be a much less evil to lead some man into the former error, than to be led by any man into the latter? - St. Augustine, The Enchiridion, 18

Jn. 19:11 might be a scriptural example of this concept as well.

I see. Its like the recovery from a lesser sin is easier so it would be beneficial to take that road instead.
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« Reply #54 on: March 31, 2011, 05:34:26 PM »

Being raised a protestant I was taught sin is sin is sin; there is no ranking or better/worse. Is this the Orthodox viewpoint? Sorry I'm just confused by the exchange.

We don't rank them in the sense of putting sin X in the mortal column and sin Y in the venial column. That being said, some sins are certainly more grave than others. Also, even though we don't use a formal ranking system like Catholics in practice we are very similar. For example, if you commit adultery you certainly shouldn't present yourself for Communion until you have confessed; but if you were selfish with the TV remote last night it probably doesn't prevent you from communing, just confess it next time you have confession. 

I see no difference here between the Roman rite teaching on mortal and venial sins.  One of the things that gets argued in the Catholic Church is whether or not habitual small sins eventually lead to the death of the soul.  I follow the teachings of the reformed Carmelite saints and others who say that indeed a habit of small sins is just as deadly to the soul as a masterfully willful mortal sin...a sin that is of the gravest matter.

The great sins must be confessed.  A periodic lesser sin can be healed by receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #55 on: March 31, 2011, 07:59:38 PM »

I see no difference here between the Roman rite teaching on mortal and venial sins.  One of the things that gets argued in the Catholic Church is whether or not habitual small sins eventually lead to the death of the soul.  I follow the teachings of the reformed Carmelite saints and others who say that indeed a habit of small sins is just as deadly to the soul as a masterfully willful mortal sin...a sin that is of the gravest matter.

One of my strange meditative practices is to recite the Confiteor* very quietly and continuously for a hour or two.  I often do this when I want to meditate in public but not be seen with a rosary.  In this way I am continuously conscious of my need for sacramental repentance.  I view it as a very long term examination of conscience between confessions.

* The Confiteor is the confession of sin said at the beginning of the Mass and just before the administration of Holy Communion.  It is a remission of venial sin, but is also meant to strengthen those in grace as they prepare to participate in the Holy Sacrifice and receive the sacrament.     
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« Reply #56 on: March 31, 2011, 08:11:07 PM »

I see no difference here between the Roman rite teaching on mortal and venial sins.  One of the things that gets argued in the Catholic Church is whether or not habitual small sins eventually lead to the death of the soul.  I follow the teachings of the reformed Carmelite saints and others who say that indeed a habit of small sins is just as deadly to the soul as a masterfully willful mortal sin...a sin that is of the gravest matter.

One of my strange meditative practices is to recite the Confiteor* very quietly and continuously for a hour or two.  I often do this when I want to meditate in public but not be seen with a rosary.  In this way I am continuously conscious of my need for sacramental repentance.  I view it as a very long term examination of conscience between confessions.

* The Confiteor is the confession of sin said at the beginning of the Mass and just before the administration of Holy Communion.  It is a remission of venial sin, but is also meant to strengthen those in grace as they prepare to participate in the Holy Sacrifice and receive the sacrament.     

That is a very beautiful habit, Peter. 

You hit on something here that is often overlooked...and that is the blessing of graces coming from the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist that should help keep us from sinning again. 

You also hit on another favorite of mine which is the practice of "useless"  Smiley repetitions.
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« Reply #57 on: March 31, 2011, 08:15:19 PM »

Thus I have read- If it happens the night before communion, one must refrain from communion that day OR one can get up, say Psalm 50, and do a certain number of metanies (I forget the number.)

I don't get this.  Nocturnal emission is an involuntary psychosomatic function.  How could something that can't be controlled be a sin and require penance?  I don't see any issues of volition here.

Y'know, a lot of these penitential manuals &c. were written at a time when psychosomatism and affective states were unknown.  Augustine thought the same as the confessor cited above.  I'm not a priest so I can't say, but I can't see why a penance would need to be assigned for a bodily function that is probably on a par with renal voiding.

In the Orthodox Church, sin isn't necessarily something that we will to happen.  It's something that's part and parcel of being a broken human.  Indeed, one of our most oft-repeated prayers asks God for forgiveness of sins "voluntary or involuntary, committed in knowledge or in ingnorance". 

I can understand involuntary acts being sinful in that way, but I can't understand Confessing them/asking for forgiveness for them, something which to me seems inherently tied up with guilt and wrongfulness.

Back to the note I just sent in response to Peter.  The most important aspect of penitential confession and absolution are the graces not to repeat our sinfulness.  It is not a matter of guilt as much as it is a matter of working to align ourselves with God's will...in our voluntary acts, and in our involuntary acts as well.  I would think I would be in perhaps greater need of help to avoid those things I rarely consider, but do in any event.
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« Reply #58 on: March 31, 2011, 08:55:16 PM »

Back to the note I just sent in response to Peter.  The most important aspect of penitential confession and absolution are the graces not to repeat our sinfulness.  It is not a matter of guilt as much as it is a matter of working to align ourselves with God's will...in our voluntary acts, and in our involuntary acts as well.  I would think I would be in perhaps greater need of help to avoid those things I rarely consider, but do in any event.

What I don't understand is why this grace to avoid involuntary acts cannot be received through Holy Communion without Confession. And I also don't understand how it would be appropriate to bar a person from Holy Communion for an involuntary act.
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« Reply #59 on: March 31, 2011, 09:06:30 PM »

Back to the note I just sent in response to Peter.  The most important aspect of penitential confession and absolution are the graces not to repeat our sinfulness.  It is not a matter of guilt as much as it is a matter of working to align ourselves with God's will...in our voluntary acts, and in our involuntary acts as well.  I would think I would be in perhaps greater need of help to avoid those things I rarely consider, but do in any event.

What I don't understand is why this grace to avoid involuntary acts cannot be received through Holy Communion without Confession. And I also don't understand how it would be appropriate to bar a person from Holy Communion for an involuntary act.

You would not be barred from communion for an involuntary act.  One should not be barred from communion for being too immature or underdeveloped in some way to know right from left.  

But for those of us who know right from left and who know that we have these little knee-jerk habits that we know are not good...even if they are not very very bad....it is a necessary thing for us to admit to that fact, ask pardon for our ignorance and hope for the best since that is what He has promised to us.

And for these small things that we scuffle with in life we are indeed forgiven by communion and blessed with the graces to become more aware of our habits of heart and mind, thought word and deed.

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« Reply #60 on: April 01, 2011, 12:12:15 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.
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« Reply #61 on: April 01, 2011, 12:24:53 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

I think sometimes we fail to distinguish between evil, or the privation of a due good, and sin.

Involuntary sins, I have always understood as something that is objectively evil that is outside of our control.
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« Reply #62 on: April 01, 2011, 12:56:56 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

I think sometimes we fail to distinguish between evil, or the privation of a due good, and sin.

Involuntary sins, I have always understood as something that is objectively evil that is outside of our control.
Can one really be culpable for an action that is 100% involuntary and out of their control? I cannot imagine confessing a nocturnal emission as if I personally am to blame for such a thing.
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« Reply #63 on: April 01, 2011, 01:05:32 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

And this is because you* may view sin as something that you "do" (or even "don't do") as opposed to the sickness we all have due to the consequence of the Fall.


* please note I'm not trying to be accusatory or even inflammatory by using the word "you". 
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« Reply #64 on: April 01, 2011, 01:09:07 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

I think sometimes we fail to distinguish between evil, or the privation of a due good, and sin.

Involuntary sins, I have always understood as something that is objectively evil that is outside of our control.
Can one really be culpable for an action that is 100% involuntary and out of their control? I cannot imagine confessing a nocturnal emission as if I personally am to blame for such a thing.

That's it.  It is more like bearing the burden of evil because of a personal sin, rather than bearing the personal sin itself.  That is why, even with the Catholic teaching on the "stain" of original sin, it is possible to also truthfully assert that we do not teach that we bear the guilt for the personal sin of Adam.

The burden of evil that we carry till our Baptism, the stain if you will, is a darkened intellect and a weakened will.  That darkness is what is laved away by the waters of Baptism.  That is why Baptism is referred to as an illumination in both east and west.  The **intellect is illumined as a result of our baptism, and the will against evil is strengthened.  However we are still burdened by other aspects of the ancestral curse which include death and corruption, and so even after Baptism, we die, we suffer, we bear the burden of evil.

**The intellect [nous] carries not only the secular meaning of the capacity for knowledge and understanding, memory and recall,  but also the meaning of the intersection of the human capacity for these things and the Indwelling Trinity.  The illumination comes from the Trinity Indwelling at Baptism, and though we sin thereafter the Indwelling remains with us because of our Baptism.
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« Reply #65 on: April 01, 2011, 04:22:09 PM »

And this is because you* may view sin as something that you "do" (or even "don't do") as opposed to the sickness we all have due to the consequence of the Fall.


* please note I'm not trying to be accusatory or even inflammatory by using the word "you". 
So since Eastern Orthodoxy views sin as only a sickness (we use that description too but we also see it as offenses we commit as well because of the sickness), does that mean that an Eastern Orthodox Christian would be obligated to confess a nocturnal emission? Should an Eastern Orthodox Christian abstain from the Eucharist if they have a nocturnal emission the night before and do not go to confession first?

Actually...now that I think about it, I am not sure if we see sin itself as "the sickness." The sickness for us, as Catholics, would be concupiscence, or the tendency to sin due to a weakened, imperfect will caused by the fall of Adam and Eve. Sins are a result of the sickness of not being in perfect communion with God anymore, but as far as whether we see the sickness itself as sin I do not know. It seems to me that if we believed the spiritual sickness itself is sin then we, too, would say that a nocturnal emission is a sin, but we do not.
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« Reply #66 on: April 01, 2011, 04:27:10 PM »

And this is because you* may view sin as something that you "do" (or even "don't do") as opposed to the sickness we all have due to the consequence of the Fall.


* please note I'm not trying to be accusatory or even inflammatory by using the word "you". 
So since Eastern Orthodoxy views sin as only a sickness (we use that description too but we also see it as offenses we commit as well because of the sickness), does that mean that an Eastern Orthodox Christian would be obligated to confess a nocturnal emission? Should an Eastern Orthodox Christian abstain from the Eucharist if they have a nocturnal emission the night before and do not go to confession first?

Actually...now that I think about it, I am not sure if we see sin itself as "the sickness." The sickness for us, as Catholics, would be concupiscence, or the tendency to sin due to a weakened, imperfect will caused by the fall of Adam and Eve. Sins are a result of the sickness of not being in perfect communion with God anymore, but as far as whether we see the sickness itself as sin I do not know. It seems to me that if we believed the spiritual sickness itself is sin then we, too, would say that a nocturnal emission is a sin, but we do not.

I would think that if it were possible to confess in the morning before DL, the confession would not affect preparation for communion anymore than if one confessed that they had eaten breakfast.
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« Reply #67 on: April 01, 2011, 04:30:35 PM »

And this is because you* may view sin as something that you "do" (or even "don't do") as opposed to the sickness we all have due to the consequence of the Fall.


* please note I'm not trying to be accusatory or even inflammatory by using the word "you". 
So since Eastern Orthodoxy views sin as only a sickness (we use that description too but we also see it as offenses we commit as well because of the sickness), does that mean that an Eastern Orthodox Christian would be obligated to confess a nocturnal emission? Should an Eastern Orthodox Christian abstain from the Eucharist if they have a nocturnal emission the night before and do not go to confession first?

Actually...now that I think about it, I am not sure if we see sin itself as "the sickness." The sickness for us, as Catholics, would be concupiscence, or the tendency to sin due to a weakened, imperfect will caused by the fall of Adam and Eve. Sins are a result of the sickness of not being in perfect communion with God anymore, but as far as whether we see the sickness itself as sin I do not know. It seems to me that if we believed the spiritual sickness itself is sin then we, too, would say that a nocturnal emission is a sin, but we do not.

I would think that if it were possible to confess in the morning before DL, the confession would not affect preparation for communion anymore than if one confessed that they had eaten breakfast.
So you do not require confession before receiving the Eucharist, or is it just certain sins that require confession before receiving? Are nocturnal emissions confession worthy or is it not worth mentioning?
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« Reply #68 on: April 01, 2011, 09:03:37 PM »

I would think that if it were possible to confess in the morning before DL, the confession would not affect preparation for communion anymore than if one confessed that they had eaten breakfast.

Fr. Bob Levis of EWTN fame once said that if a layperson came to him exactly one hour before Mass (the Roman fast) and told him that he had finished eating a ham sandwich just when the clock struck one hour before, Fr. Bob would tell the layperson that it'd be okay to go receive Communion.

So, there are three steps behind your statement.  First, there's the presumption that the layman has had a nocturnal emission and that this is evident of "spiritual sickness". Fr. Bob might well judge nocturnal emission not relevant to the reception of communion, as he's a Roman priest. Your priest might think otherwise. 

Nocturnal emission is a deviation from the prelapsarian state before ancestral sin (i.e. "spiritual sickness"), but it is not a sin of volition.  The question of whether Adam and Eve had Wheaties for breakfast is irrelevant.  Breaking the Eucharistic fast is a conscious decision that is a bar to the reception of the Eucharist and is quite relevant, but in a different sense.

Your statement that a nocturnal-emission befallen layman could be absolved soon before the DL in the same way as a person who broke fast could be absolved and admitted to the Eucharist presents a legalistic view of confession, and not "physician of souls" view of confession.  The legalism of a quick confession as a "wipe away" of two distinct questions of human frailty equates spiritual sickness to the level of an act of volition (eating cereal before heading out to temple).  At this point the Orthodox use of confession and the Roman use of confession are no different.  The Orthodox notion of "spiritual sickness" is compromised.   
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« Reply #69 on: April 01, 2011, 09:18:36 PM »

Back to the note I just sent in response to Peter.  The most important aspect of penitential confession and absolution are the graces not to repeat our sinfulness.  It is not a matter of guilt as much as it is a matter of working to align ourselves with God's will...in our voluntary acts, and in our involuntary acts as well.  I would think I would be in perhaps greater need of help to avoid those things I rarely consider, but do in any event.

What I don't understand is why this grace to avoid involuntary acts cannot be received through Holy Communion without Confession. And I also don't understand how it would be appropriate to bar a person from Holy Communion for an involuntary act.

You would not be barred from communion for an involuntary act.  One should not be barred from communion for being too immature or underdeveloped in some way to know right from left.  

But for those of us who know right from left and who know that we have these little knee-jerk habits that we know are not good...even if they are not very very bad....it is a necessary thing for us to admit to that fact, ask pardon for our ignorance and hope for the best since that is what He has promised to us.

And for these small things that we scuffle with in life we are indeed forgiven by communion and blessed with the graces to become more aware of our habits of heart and mind, thought word and deed.

Howzzat?

What you are saying is correct. But I feel it still hasn't addressed the issue.

"Wet dreams" seem to me to neither be something that we do out of immaturity devoid of responsibility or through habit that can be controlled by conscious effort. So where do they fit in?
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« Reply #70 on: April 01, 2011, 09:19:36 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

In your own theological language, I have only ever heard mortal sin being defined as necessarily voluntary.
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« Reply #71 on: April 01, 2011, 09:24:37 PM »

So since Eastern Orthodoxy views sin as only a sickness (we use that description too but we also see it as offenses we commit as well because of the sickness),

No, you've totally inverted the statement he was making. He was saying that all in is sickness but not all sin is moral offense, but that you saying that you refuse to call nocturnal emission a sin was indicative of a lack of understanding of a type of sin that is only sickness. And at that I agree with him; if you understand some sin to qualify only as sickness, your refusal to recognize nocturnal emission as sinful because of lack of culpability betrayed that understanding.

does that mean that an Eastern Orthodox Christian would be obligated to confess a nocturnal emission? Should an Eastern Orthodox Christian abstain from the Eucharist if they have a nocturnal emission the night before and do not go to confession first?

This is what I am still confused about. Iconodule seemed to express a need for penance in response to a nocturnal emission. I do not understand this attitude.
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« Reply #72 on: April 01, 2011, 09:31:57 PM »

Back to the note I just sent in response to Peter.  The most important aspect of penitential confession and absolution are the graces not to repeat our sinfulness.  It is not a matter of guilt as much as it is a matter of working to align ourselves with God's will...in our voluntary acts, and in our involuntary acts as well.  I would think I would be in perhaps greater need of help to avoid those things I rarely consider, but do in any event.

What I don't understand is why this grace to avoid involuntary acts cannot be received through Holy Communion without Confession. And I also don't understand how it would be appropriate to bar a person from Holy Communion for an involuntary act.

You would not be barred from communion for an involuntary act.  One should not be barred from communion for being too immature or underdeveloped in some way to know right from left.  

But for those of us who know right from left and who know that we have these little knee-jerk habits that we know are not good...even if they are not very very bad....it is a necessary thing for us to admit to that fact, ask pardon for our ignorance and hope for the best since that is what He has promised to us.

And for these small things that we scuffle with in life we are indeed forgiven by communion and blessed with the graces to become more aware of our habits of heart and mind, thought word and deed.

Howzzat?

What you are saying is correct. But I feel it still hasn't addressed the issue.

"Wet dreams" seem to me to neither be something that we do out of immaturity devoid of responsibility or through habit that can be controlled by conscious effort. So where do they fit in?

I expanded on my comments on reply #64 in this thread...see if that helps.
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« Reply #73 on: April 04, 2011, 01:03:01 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

In your own theological language, I have only ever heard mortal sin being defined as necessarily voluntary.
Wrong. Mortal Sin is 1. A sin of serious matter, 2. committed with full knowledge, and 3. Full consent of the will. A venial sin is a sin missing any of three. Venial sin can still be committed with full knowledge and full consent if it's not a sin of serious matther.
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« Reply #74 on: April 04, 2011, 01:58:58 PM »

I am given to understanding (and I want to stress that I may be wrong) that yes, it is, in so far as were we to have complete control of our bodies as the good Lord intended before the Fall, we would not have such things happen.
I would agree that something such as a nocturnal emission may be a defect introduced by the fall, yet I would disagree that it is a sin in and of itself because it is involuntary.

In your own theological language, I have only ever heard mortal sin being defined as necessarily voluntary.
Wrong. Mortal Sin is 1. A sin of serious matter, 2. committed with full knowledge, and 3. Full consent of the will. A venial sin is a sin missing any of three. Venial sin can still be committed with full knowledge and full consent if it's not a sin of serious matther.

Dear Papist,

I was going to allow this to pass but I think it is important to note:  Sin by western definition occurs primarily by volition, so that to be called sin, an act must have knowledge and consent.  If there is a lessening of either one or the other or both, it is by degree and not by elimination of one or the other.

I am sure you grasp this idea quite well but the way you've said it makes it seem as though you could drop knowledge and still have consent of the will.  That would make no sense of course. 

Serious matter has always seemed to me to be the determining characteristic between greater and lesser sins.

Habits are also volitional but they may not consist of acts that are forbidden outright,  but are acts that when repeated set up a situation where sin is inherent in the perpetuation of the habit.

And then involuntary acts can be a more profound habit that occurs without conscious thought.  These things too can be extremely dangerous to the soul and so are not sinful by definition but can be equally lethal.

Sorry if I am a drone here.

Mary
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« Reply #75 on: April 04, 2011, 02:25:25 PM »

Did anyone ever answer my question about whether a nocturnal emission would be something one would be required to bring to confession in Eastern Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #76 on: April 04, 2011, 02:33:34 PM »

Did anyone ever answer my question about whether a nocturnal emission would be something one would be required to bring to confession in Eastern Orthodoxy?

I usually dislike when people say "ask your priest"... but this is one of those times when I think you have to say: ask your priest. Wink It is to the priest that you are confessing, it is the priest that is watching out for your soul (Heb. 13:17). The priest has a responsibility to guard the chalice, but likewise does he have a responsibility to guard the integrity of the other sacraments. He is the person who can best answer the question for each person's situation. Apart from perhaps the bishop, he is the only person who has authority to answer, IMO.
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« Reply #77 on: April 04, 2011, 06:47:48 PM »

Did anyone ever answer my question about whether a nocturnal emission would be something one would be required to bring to confession in Eastern Orthodoxy?

I usually dislike when people say "ask your priest"... but this is one of those times when I think you have to say: ask your priest. Wink It is to the priest that you are confessing, it is the priest that is watching out for your soul (Heb. 13:17). The priest has a responsibility to guard the chalice, but likewise does he have a responsibility to guard the integrity of the other sacraments. He is the person who can best answer the question for each person's situation. Apart from perhaps the bishop, he is the only person who has authority to answer, IMO.
I can't imagine having to confess such a thing. It would be like having to confess hiccups. Hopefully most EO priests wouldn't require it.
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« Reply #78 on: April 04, 2011, 08:45:54 PM »

I can't imagine having to confess such a thing. It would be like having to confess hiccups. Hopefully most EO priests wouldn't require it.

Fwiw, I agree with you on all three points. If it was an issue I'd just ask anyway so that things were clear and I knew where I stood.
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« Reply #79 on: April 11, 2011, 04:03:12 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

Many urologists already think this.
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« Reply #80 on: April 11, 2011, 04:20:54 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

Many urologists already think this.
Many urologists already think what? That men should masturbate for prostate health or that they should obey Christian morality?
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« Reply #81 on: April 11, 2011, 04:21:56 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

Many urologists already think this.
Many urologists already think what? That men should masturbate for prostate health or that they should obey Christian morality?

The two need not be mutually exclusive  angel
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« Reply #82 on: April 11, 2011, 04:31:27 PM »

Btw, part of that health-related aspects includes fertility: studies have shown that it boosts fertility after leaving it on the shelf for a while to clear it out first.

What if sometime in the near future, multiple thirty-year longitudinal studies will convincingly prove that men should masturbate for prostate health and to keep the sperm count high and viable.  Could a theologian plausibly contend that the suppression of fertility (the thwarting of a natural good) is a necessary consequence of obeying Christian morality?

Many urologists already think this.
Many urologists already think what? That men should masturbate for prostate health or that they should obey Christian morality?

The former. A friend, a celibate monk, has chronic prostatitis. He is constantly being told he should masturbate for prostate health, as though a healthy prostate is so much more important than honoring his vow.
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« Reply #83 on: April 11, 2011, 04:36:23 PM »

Did anyone ever answer my question about whether a nocturnal emission would be something one would be required to bring to confession in Eastern Orthodoxy?

I usually dislike when people say "ask your priest"... but this is one of those times when I think you have to say: ask your priest. Wink It is to the priest that you are confessing...

This is specifically not the Orthodox view. We are confessing to God. The priest is standing as a witness to that act. The preparatory prayers make that clear.
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« Reply #84 on: April 11, 2011, 04:38:32 PM »

God forgives through the priest, he's not just some schlub standing there as a witness. I doubled checked the prayers the priest says after confession, at least in the Antiochian tradition.
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« Reply #85 on: April 11, 2011, 08:19:19 PM »

God forgives through the priest, he's not just some schlub standing there as a witness. I doubled checked the prayers the priest says after confession, at least in the Antiochian tradition.

You are right. The 12th edition of the Antiochian "Service Book" says,

"Priest: God it was who forgave David through Nathan the Prophet, when he confessed his sins, and Peter weeping bitterly for his denial, and the sinful woman in tears at his feet, and the Publican, and the Prodigal Son: May that same God forgive thee all things, through me a sinner, both in this present world, and in that which is to come, and set thee uncondemmed before his dread Judgement Seat. And now, having no further care for the sins which thou hast declared, depart in peace."

Some relevant quotes:

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

John 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

"Did you commit sin? Enter the Church, repent for your sin, for here is the physician, not the judge. Here one is not investigated; one receives remission of sins." - St John Chrysostomos

"Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed." St Jerome


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« Reply #86 on: April 11, 2011, 08:23:29 PM »

Did anyone ever answer my question about whether a nocturnal emission would be something one would be required to bring to confession in Eastern Orthodoxy?

I usually dislike when people say "ask your priest"... but this is one of those times when I think you have to say: ask your priest. Wink It is to the priest that you are confessing...

This is specifically not the Orthodox view. We are confessing to God. The priest is standing as a witness to that act. The preparatory prayers make that clear.
Actually my priest says he is paraclete, counsel for the defense.
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« Reply #87 on: April 11, 2011, 10:15:27 PM »

Read St Nicodemus' Exomologetarion. You will see that the distinction between mortal and venial (forgivable) sin is Orthodox, not just RC. You'll also see that both voluntary and involuntary sins exist, but that the voluntary ones are usually the only ones that earn a penance (epitimia). But there are involuntary sins that earn a penance: nocturnal emissions, menstruation, and even drinking wine into which an unclean thing, like a dead mouse, has fallen!

There is also a distinction in the gravity of different sins. Otherwise, why would St John the Faster penance certain sins more severely than others? Dying in mortal sin will prevent you from attaining Paradise, but even then the severity of your sins will determine the severity of your future punishments.

In Orthodoxy, sin is a transgression but it's also an illness. We don't rely exclusively on one metaphor or the other. You can call it a moral sickness; the moral aspect of it involves transgressing a law, but the effect it has upon the soul is like a bodily disease.
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« Reply #88 on: April 11, 2011, 10:59:48 PM »

Read St Nicodemus' Exomologetarion. You will see that the distinction between mortal and venial (forgivable) sin is Orthodox, not just RC. You'll also see that both voluntary and involuntary sins exist, but that the voluntary ones are usually the only ones that earn a penance (epitimia). But there are involuntary sins that earn a penance: nocturnal emissions, menstruation, and even drinking wine into which an unclean thing, like a dead mouse, has fallen!

There is also a distinction in the gravity of different sins. Otherwise, why would St John the Faster penance certain sins more severely than others? Dying in mortal sin will prevent you from attaining Paradise, but even then the severity of your sins will determine the severity of your future punishments.

In Orthodoxy, sin is a transgression but it's also an illness. We don't rely exclusively on one metaphor or the other. You can call it a moral sickness; the moral aspect of it involves transgressing a law, but the effect it has upon the soul is like a bodily disease.
Can you cite something that predates the Western Captivity, rather than something in the midst of it?

I am tempted to say that the idea of penancing menstruation as a sin, even involuntary, is the sure sign of the Vatican's influence, but I don't think I can blame them for such a silly notion.

Since Pope St. Athanasius the Great's canons do not penance nocturnal emissions etc., and were confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils, in contrast to the canons of St. John, which were not, I'm not sure St. John's reasoning mean much, except for you to make a historical argument that Orthodoxy has the scholastic moral/venial categories of sin.
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« Reply #89 on: April 11, 2011, 11:39:54 PM »

Read St Nicodemus' Exomologetarion. You will see that the distinction between mortal and venial (forgivable) sin is Orthodox, not just RC. You'll also see that both voluntary and involuntary sins exist, but that the voluntary ones are usually the only ones that earn a penance (epitimia). But there are involuntary sins that earn a penance: nocturnal emissions, menstruation, and even drinking wine into which an unclean thing, like a dead mouse, has fallen!

There is also a distinction in the gravity of different sins. Otherwise, why would St John the Faster penance certain sins more severely than others? Dying in mortal sin will prevent you from attaining Paradise, but even then the severity of your sins will determine the severity of your future punishments.

In Orthodoxy, sin is a transgression but it's also an illness. We don't rely exclusively on one metaphor or the other. You can call it a moral sickness; the moral aspect of it involves transgressing a law, but the effect it has upon the soul is like a bodily disease.
Can you cite something that predates the Western Captivity, rather than something in the midst of it?

I am tempted to say that the idea of penancing menstruation as a sin, even involuntary, is the sure sign of the Vatican's influence, but I don't think I can blame them for such a silly notion.

Since Pope St. Athanasius the Great's canons do not penance nocturnal emissions etc., and were confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils, in contrast to the canons of St. John, which were not, I'm not sure St. John's reasoning mean much, except for you to make a historical argument that Orthodoxy has the scholastic moral/venial categories of sin.

1 John 5:16-17

St Nicodemus gives plenty of citations from earlier Orthodox sources for the mortal/venial distinction. Read the sections devoted to mortal and venial sins in the Confessional (pp 79-84 in my edition, Uncut Mountain Press, 2006). You'll find that there are different ways to define the distinction, but the distinction is definitely there.

And please define the period of "Western Captivity". And no, you can't simply use it as a garbage bin in which to put every Orthodox authority you disagree with.

And St Nicodemus gives three other authorities for penancing nocturnal emissions.
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