Author Topic: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?  (Read 1108 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ignatius

  • Baptacathadox
  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,696
  • My Son Aidan... :-)
Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« on: May 03, 2011, 08:06:17 AM »
Grace and Peace,

Is there a tradition of Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”

Offline Shanghaiski

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,978
  • Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti, Georgia
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2011, 08:22:04 AM »
What do you mean by viaticum? The prayer of St. Ambrose before communion calls the holy gifts themselves a viaticum. Or do you mean last rites? If you mean last rites, there is certainly a tradition of confession and communion before death, if it's at all possible and an Orthodox priest is available.
Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.

Offline ignatius

  • Baptacathadox
  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,696
  • My Son Aidan... :-)
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2011, 09:17:31 AM »
What do you mean by viaticum? The prayer of St. Ambrose before communion calls the holy gifts themselves a viaticum. Or do you mean last rites? If you mean last rites, there is certainly a tradition of confession and communion before death, if it's at all possible and an Orthodox priest is available.

I was inquiring about 'Last Rites'...
St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”

Offline bogdan

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,615
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 10:26:04 AM »
Yes, it is ideal to partake of the Eucharist before death if possible. This is taken from the reserved Gifts stored in the Tabernacle, which are also given to the sick and aged who cannot attend the Liturgy.

Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.

There is also the Office at the Departure of the Soul from the Body. I believe it is only read after the person dies, however. I'm not aware of special prayers that are read to the person while they are in the final throes, as the Western tradition has. (Though I have heard of the Psalter being read in these times.)
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 10:27:50 AM by bogdan »

Offline podkarpatska

  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 9,200
  • Pokrov
    • ACROD (home)
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2011, 10:33:13 AM »
To add to Bogdan's post, it should be noted that due to the Western influences on our culture and the fact that for centuries many Slavic Orthodox in this country labored under the Unia and its creeping Latinizations, many Orthodox faithful today will erringly refer to the need to call the priest for the 'last rites' at the time someone is dying. We pray in our Liturgy for a 'Christian end to our life' and that has always been explained to me in the ideal as having confessed our sins, received the Eucharist, having partaken in the Holy Unction and being in a peaceful place with family at our sides.

So, in the end, while there are some differences in theology between Orthodoxy's understanding of Holy Unction and that of the Roman Church, the differences are not as deep as some may want them to appear as I suspect that a faithful Roman Catholic's view of a Christian death is the same as I have described.

Offline Wyatt

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,402
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2011, 12:52:32 PM »
Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.
Only administering Anointing of the Sick (Unction) before death was the older practice, but now the Sacrament is much more commonly given within the Catholic Church. People are anointed before going in for surgery and I am sure there are many other reasons that the Sacrament is given. When I was in RCIA preparing to become Catholic I remember our director of religious education at the time saying that the Sacrament could even be given to bring about spiritual healing. I am not sure whether that is very common or if he was just stating an opinion.

Offline Schultz

  • Christian. Guitarist. Scooterist. Zymurgist. Librarian.
  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 6,536
  • Scion of the McKeesport Becks.
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2011, 02:07:24 PM »
Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.
Only administering Anointing of the Sick (Unction) before death was the older practice, but now the Sacrament is much more commonly given within the Catholic Church. People are anointed before going in for surgery and I am sure there are many other reasons that the Sacrament is given. When I was in RCIA preparing to become Catholic I remember our director of religious education at the time saying that the Sacrament could even be given to bring about spiritual healing. I am not sure whether that is very common or if he was just stating an opinion.

The RC church near my house used to have monthly Unction and the priest specifically included "spiritual healing" in his pre-anointment sermon as reasons for approaching. 
"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." --Abp. Fulton Sheen

Offline Alveus Lacuna

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,008
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2011, 02:14:30 PM »
Why does everybody approach for the Mystery of Unction on Holy Wednesday? Shouldn't this be reserved for physical sickness, as everyone has "spiritual sickness"?

Offline Maria

  • Orthodox Christian
  • Merarches
  • ***********
  • Posts: 10,986
  • O most Holy Theotokos, save us.
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: GOC
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2011, 02:24:08 PM »
Why does everybody approach for the Mystery of Unction on Holy Wednesday? Shouldn't this be reserved for physical sickness, as everyone has "spiritual sickness"?

At the Holy Wednesday Matins service in the Greek tradition (Greeks and Antiochians), the prayers for forgiveness of sins are read just before the Priests administer Holy Unction to all Orthodox Christians in good standing who have been baptized, chrismated, and have been married in the Holy Orthodox Church.

There are 7 Epistles and 7 Gospels read during the Holy Wednesday Evening Service. It is beautiful and very healing for soul and body.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 02:24:28 PM by Maria »
Ἅγιος ὁ Θεός
Ἅγιος ἰσχυρός
Ἅγιος ἀθάνατος
ἐλέησον ἡμας

Offline Shanghaiski

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,978
  • Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti, Georgia
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2011, 02:36:29 PM »
Why does everybody approach for the Mystery of Unction on Holy Wednesday? Shouldn't this be reserved for physical sickness, as everyone has "spiritual sickness"?

At the Holy Wednesday Matins service in the Greek tradition (Greeks and Antiochians), the prayers for forgiveness of sins are read just before the Priests administer Holy Unction to all Orthodox Christians in good standing who have been baptized, chrismated, and have been married in the Holy Orthodox Church.

There are 7 Epistles and 7 Gospels read during the Holy Wednesday Evening Service. It is beautiful and very healing for soul and body.

Like communion, unction is for "the healing of soul and body." We don't separate them. The separation of soul and body at death is itself unnatural and the result of the fall. Why would/should people be denied unction?
Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.

Offline Wyatt

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,402
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2011, 03:43:43 PM »
Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.
Only administering Anointing of the Sick (Unction) before death was the older practice, but now the Sacrament is much more commonly given within the Catholic Church. People are anointed before going in for surgery and I am sure there are many other reasons that the Sacrament is given. When I was in RCIA preparing to become Catholic I remember our director of religious education at the time saying that the Sacrament could even be given to bring about spiritual healing. I am not sure whether that is very common or if he was just stating an opinion.

The RC church near my house used to have monthly Unction and the priest specifically included "spiritual healing" in his pre-anointment sermon as reasons for approaching. 
That's good to hear. I am glad that was not just something out of our DRE's mind. It was hard to be sure because he wasn't exactly always orthodox (small 'o') in his beliefs. Do you guys also believe, like we do, that Unction also brings remission of sins in addition to the possibility of physical healing? I remember we derive that teaching from the Epistle of St. James I believe.

Offline bogdan

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,615
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2011, 03:49:44 PM »
Why does everybody approach for the Mystery of Unction on Holy Wednesday? Shouldn't this be reserved for physical sickness, as everyone has "spiritual sickness"?

As well as healing, Holy Unction is also given for the forgiveness of sins, as the prayers of consecration say. It is a very appropriate way to enter upon the final part of Holy Week, I think. And as was noted, it is for both soul and body.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 03:49:56 PM by bogdan »

Offline ialmisry

  • There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 38,487
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2011, 03:50:31 PM »
Christ is risen!
Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.
Only administering Anointing of the Sick (Unction) before death was the older practice, but now the Sacrament is much more commonly given within the Catholic Church. People are anointed before going in for surgery and I am sure there are many other reasons that the Sacrament is given. When I was in RCIA preparing to become Catholic I remember our director of religious education at the time saying that the Sacrament could even be given to bring about spiritual healing. I am not sure whether that is very common or if he was just stating an opinion.

The RC church near my house used to have monthly Unction and the priest specifically included "spiritual healing" in his pre-anointment sermon as reasons for approaching.  
That's good to hear. I am glad that was not just something out of our DRE's mind. It was hard to be sure because he wasn't exactly always orthodox (small 'o') in his beliefs. Do you guys also believe, like we do, that Unction also brings remission of sins in addition to the possibility of physical healing? I remember we derive that teaching from the Epistle of St. James I believe.
Yes. Somewhere we have a thread on the issue of some receiving unction instead of going to confession.  Many only go to communion on Great and Holy Thursday, as the Unction is blessed on Great and Holy Wednesday.  I make a point of when we go (the Romanian Patriarchal cathedral has unction every first Friday of the month) to tell my sons that they do not need to go to confession.  Conversely, they received unction after confession this Holy Week.

Btw, in the original Greek there is an interplay between the words for "oil" and "mercy" which come from the same root in Greek.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 03:52:02 PM by ialmisry »
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth

Offline bogdan

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,615
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2011, 03:52:04 PM »
Holy Unction is also often given, but unlike the practice of Roman Catholicism (as I understand it), it is not particularly reserved for the time of death, as it can and should be administered in all times of illness.
Only administering Anointing of the Sick (Unction) before death was the older practice, but now the Sacrament is much more commonly given within the Catholic Church. People are anointed before going in for surgery and I am sure there are many other reasons that the Sacrament is given. When I was in RCIA preparing to become Catholic I remember our director of religious education at the time saying that the Sacrament could even be given to bring about spiritual healing. I am not sure whether that is very common or if he was just stating an opinion.

The RC church near my house used to have monthly Unction and the priest specifically included "spiritual healing" in his pre-anointment sermon as reasons for approaching. 
That's good to hear. I am glad that was not just something out of our DRE's mind. It was hard to be sure because he wasn't exactly always orthodox (small 'o') in his beliefs. Do you guys also believe, like we do, that Unction also brings remission of sins in addition to the possibility of physical healing? I remember we derive that teaching from the Epistle of St. James I believe.

Yes, and I have been told that we must approach with much the same reverence as Holy Communion (having been to confession, repentent, etc.)

Offline ialmisry

  • There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
  • Hypatos
  • *****************
  • Posts: 38,487
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2011, 03:53:57 PM »
Christ is risen!
Why does everybody approach for the Mystery of Unction on Holy Wednesday? Shouldn't this be reserved for physical sickness, as everyone has "spiritual sickness"?
Be pro-active.
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth

Offline synLeszka

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 532
Re: Viaticum in the Eastern Church?
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2011, 03:55:31 PM »
First friday? Sounds like a latinisation..
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 03:56:02 PM by synLeszka »