I have heard that, among RC and EO confessors, a penitent who struggles with frequent Masturbation is not always required to abstain from Communion. I was told by my confessor that this issue which I struggle with should not deny me the chance to partake of the sacrament every sunday. In fact, while he admitted that the Church holds it as a "gravely disordered act" my case it would not be considered a mortal sin due to his judgment on the state of my personality and factors which mitigated its seriousness.
I was at first puzzled by this, but I have heard that there are factors which mitigate the seriousness of this sin and that many confessors advice their penitents to receive Communion frequently as a way to combat this disordered act. I trust in the judgment of my confessor in this matter, yet my mind is still sometimes plagued with doubts.
Is this the usual practice of EO confessors, as well as RC ones?
I suppose it depends on the person's individual struggle with the issue, and how often they've come for correction. I find a 3-step response appropriate:
1. Why is it (action, not person) bad? With masturbation, this answer must be comprehensive, covering the various physical (addiction), social (withdrawl, disordered view of relationships, etc.), and spiritual ailments it (and its usual compatriot, pornography) can lead to. I do not think that folks fully grasp how serious the entire experience is; when they hear about how long it takes to flush an image from our memory/consciousness*, how addictive sexual stimulation actually is (i.e. the rat study with 1 heroin group and 1 sexually stimulated group), etc., they fully understand the Church's wisdom in discouraging the practice.
2. How available forgiveness is. You know, speaking about St. Mary of Egypt, the Thief on the Cross, etc.
3. How to combat it. Full-scale spiritual assault on the passion.
Of course, this methodology is usually fairly effective with speaking with someone who is confronting a passion for the first time.
* Father Nathaniel (of blessed memory) of St. Theodore the Studite Monastery in Galion, OH (formerly of St. Gregory Palamas in Hayesville, OH) once went to our Summer Camp to give a presentation about contemporary TV. This was about 20 years ago. Before going to camp, he had a friend record about 20 minutes of MTV (at a random point in the day - nothing specific). He took the recording to camp, and played about 15-16 minutes of it, describing the various occult, sexual, and satanic images that would pop up in the videos. He did not prepare in advance for the presentation (i.e. when he saw the video with the kids, it was his first time seeing it). The presentation shocked the kids; but more so his final reflection (my paraphrase): "It will take me 4 1/2 months of intense praying and fasting to rid my mind of these images." As my koumbaro pointed out to others that day, that's assuming a monastic
definition of intense prayer and fasting.