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Author Topic: RC/EO pastoral response to Masturbation?  (Read 11080 times) Average Rating: 0
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Robb
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« on: July 17, 2011, 05:19:52 PM »

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?
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2011, 05:28:12 PM »

I think the penance proscribed in the canons is 40 days without communion and only bread and water for consumption. This is up to the confessor, and it all depends on the severity and frequency, etc. Most confessors show mercy on this and over time if they deem stricter means necessary to initiate repentance, then they go from there. It really just depends on the priest, like anything else.
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 05:39:11 PM »

I think the penance proscribed in the canons is 40 days without communion and only bread and water for consumption. This is up to the confessor, and it all depends on the severity and frequency, etc. Most confessors show mercy on this and over time if they deem stricter means necessary to initiate repentance, then they go from there. It really just depends on the priest, like anything else.

Yeah, I can imagine most EO priest this day and age use economy on that matter.
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2011, 06:59:09 PM »

Regarding masturbation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following (bold added for emphasis):

Quote
2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."138 "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."139

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

The last part is the part I want to focus on, because I am sure that is the point that your confessor is also focusing on, which is things in your life known perhaps only to you and him that "lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability." This would mean that each and every act of masturbation in every person's life is not necessarily a mortal sin. Sure, it, like many other things, could have the potential to be in certain situations, but there are also many situations when it may not be. I would definitely trust the advice of your confessor on this. The Eucharist draws us closer to Jesus Christ. We commune with Him when we receive the Blessed Sacrament. As such, scrupulously abstaining from the Eucharist when not in a state of mortal sin is not only unnecessary, but is actually probably not spiritually healthy. Jesus, the Bread of Life which came down from Heaven, gave us Himself as holy food. We should make every effort to take advantage of this wonderful gift which none of us deserve, yet are freely given.
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 07:28:03 PM »

In Roman Catholicism, the views are pretty widespread. I've heard of a man who was told at 11 years old that he could go to Hell for masturbating. Other priests say exactly what others have said above, that you can receive communion and then go to confession at the next available time.
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2011, 07:39:06 PM »

"gravely disordered act" hmmmm.

I once asked a fomer Jesuit seminarian on female masturbation, given the claim of the Onan incident as the scriptural basis of the teaching.  He was utterly dumbfounded, and it was very amuzing to watch him go through the scholastic method to come up with an answer.
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2011, 07:50:40 PM »

Thanks for the helpful advice.  I have in the past suffered greatly from overscrupulousity and it has definitely damaged my spiritual life at times.  Luckily I found a very good and helpful confessor who gave me the necessary counsel I need to fight this type of destructive thinking.  Still, being sometimes plagued with overscrupulousness is a curse and I just try to find spiritual peace (Without having to run back to my confessor and confess not trusting in his judgment (which is kind of awkward and embarrassing to do).
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 07:51:15 PM by Robb » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 08:00:15 PM »

I think it is important to keep in mind the clear scriptural teaching that marriage is (amongst other things, I stress) a way of controlling and channelling sexual energy in a way that is appropriate and godly.

For the vast majority of Christian history, if you struggled with lust, you got married -- and early.

In this world where those of us who are not monastics are marrying at 25, 30, 40, the struggle against self-abuse is not one which lasts a few years but rather the majority of our lives, which we live out in a culture suffused with free-of-consequences sex.

The "solution" (I use the term loosely) to lust for those of us who are in the world is to contract a marriage but, as we all know, the world simply doesn't work that way any more.

I think our confessors are right to take a more nuanced approach to this issue: it is not necessary to declare the activity completely guiltless or to go to the other extreme of excommunicating the few unmarried young people who come to church as it is.
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2011, 09:34:01 PM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2011, 09:38:38 PM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2011, 09:40:52 PM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Well, when you consider the sexual sins that people can participate in, discussing this one in particular seems like a fairly tame thing. Wink
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2011, 09:44:29 PM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.


I am also tempted to wonder why you feel the need to needlessly chastise a fellow brother in Christ who is in need.
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 09:58:12 PM »

I think it is important to keep in mind the clear scriptural teaching that marriage is (amongst other things, I stress) a way of controlling and channelling sexual energy in a way that is appropriate and godly.

For the vast majority of Christian history, if you struggled with lust, you got married -- and early.

In this world where those of us who are not monastics are marrying at 25, 30, 40, the struggle against self-abuse is not one which lasts a few years but rather the majority of our lives, which we live out in a culture suffused with free-of-consequences sex.

The "solution" (I use the term loosely) to lust for those of us who are in the world is to contract a marriage but, as we all know, the world simply doesn't work that way any more.

I think our confessors are right to take a more nuanced approach to this issue: it is not necessary to declare the activity completely guiltless or to go to the other extreme of excommunicating the few unmarried young people who come to church as it is.

If only some segment of Christian society would still be like some Orthodox Jews and Muslims and have matchmakers who set up a marriage with just a couple of meetings between a man and a woman looking to be married.  It would make things much simpler.
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2011, 10:22:41 PM »

I find it hard to believe that God gave ppl "toys" on their body and then canes them for playing?? Shocked
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 12:13:14 AM »

I once asked a fomer Jesuit seminarian on female masturbation, given the claim of the Onan incident as the scriptural basis of the teaching.  He was utterly dumbfounded, and it was very amuzing to watch him go through the scholastic method to come up with an answer.

I actually always though a biblical prohibition came from Christ's teachings about lust and adultery in the heart; it was only several years ago that I first encountered this term "Onanism".
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2011, 12:37:43 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?
it seems that people like to talk about fornication and adultery all the time.  This one, not so much.  But then I'm one who finds fornication and especially adultery far, far more serious than masturbation, rather than the other way around.  In fact, I find the very idea of masturbation being more a "disordered act" or a graver, deadlier sin than adultery insane.
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2011, 12:38:48 AM »

I think it is important to keep in mind the clear scriptural teaching that marriage is (amongst other things, I stress) a way of controlling and channelling sexual energy in a way that is appropriate and godly.

For the vast majority of Christian history, if you struggled with lust, you got married -- and early.

In this world where those of us who are not monastics are marrying at 25, 30, 40, the struggle against self-abuse is not one which lasts a few years but rather the majority of our lives, which we live out in a culture suffused with free-of-consequences sex.

The "solution" (I use the term loosely) to lust for those of us who are in the world is to contract a marriage but, as we all know, the world simply doesn't work that way any more.

I think our confessors are right to take a more nuanced approach to this issue: it is not necessary to declare the activity completely guiltless or to go to the other extreme of excommunicating the few unmarried young people who come to church as it is.

If only some segment of Christian society would still be like some Orthodox Jews and Muslims and have matchmakers who set up a marriage with just a couple of meetings between a man and a woman looking to be married.  It would make things much simpler.
Not with no fault divorce the law of the land it wouldn't.
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2011, 12:43:15 AM »

I once asked a fomer Jesuit seminarian on female masturbation, given the claim of the Onan incident as the scriptural basis of the teaching.  He was utterly dumbfounded, and it was very amuzing to watch him go through the scholastic method to come up with an answer.

I actually always though a biblical prohibition came from Christ's teachings about lust and adultery in the heart; it was only several years ago that I first encountered this term "Onanism".
Yes, that would first occur to me. But no, Onan is blamed.  This comes up when a spouse is entered into the equation.  The Onanists make no distinction, whereas Christ leaves only the question if you are treating your spouse as a person or a thing.
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2011, 12:44:58 AM »

I think it is important to keep in mind the clear scriptural teaching that marriage is (amongst other things, I stress) a way of controlling and channelling sexual energy in a way that is appropriate and godly.

For the vast majority of Christian history, if you struggled with lust, you got married -- and early.

In this world where those of us who are not monastics are marrying at 25, 30, 40, the struggle against self-abuse is not one which lasts a few years but rather the majority of our lives, which we live out in a culture suffused with free-of-consequences sex.

The "solution" (I use the term loosely) to lust for those of us who are in the world is to contract a marriage but, as we all know, the world simply doesn't work that way any more.

I think our confessors are right to take a more nuanced approach to this issue: it is not necessary to declare the activity completely guiltless or to go to the other extreme of excommunicating the few unmarried young people who come to church as it is.

If only some segment of Christian society would still be like some Orthodox Jews and Muslims and have matchmakers who set up a marriage with just a couple of meetings between a man and a woman looking to be married.  It would make things much simpler.
Not with no fault divorce the law of the land it wouldn't.

The most contradictory and counter-to-all-jurisprudence concept in the entire corpus of anglosphere family law, if I may say so.
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2011, 12:48:59 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?
it seems that people like to talk about fornication and adultery all the time.  This one, not so much.  But then I'm one who finds fornication and especially adultery far, far more serious than masturbation, rather than the other way around.  In fact, I find the very idea of masturbation being more a "disordered act" or a graver, deadlier sin than adultery insane.

I'm with you, Isa -- especially in the cultural context I described, above.
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« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2011, 01:15:12 AM »

That's very true Isa.  I've never been a particularly big fan of no-fault divorce.
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« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2011, 01:56:52 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.


I am also tempted to wonder why you feel the need to needlessly chastise a fellow brother in Christ who is in need.

Believe me, I never, never talked about Masturbation on a public forum before.  This is extremely embarrassing for me, but I hold that it's far better to discuss subject matter like this with other people and get their advice then to just bottle all these worries and fears up inside you until you either have a nervous breakdown or go crazy (Both of which almost happened to me a couple years ago because of overscrupulous fears).  I would try and talk it over with someone else, like a family member, but no chance that's gonna happen (I tried to discuss this with my younger brother and he said "man, I'm not going to talk to you about that").  Besides my priest, this forum is about the only place I can turn to for advice on this difficult subject.

Thank you all for your input. 
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« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2011, 02:00:03 AM »

Robb, I know you already know this, but ...

Our opinions might be helpful for you to have and bear in mind, but please do not treat them as determinative. You should be guided by and obedient to your confessor in such matters unless he says something which you fear might be damaging to your spiritual state.

Hope you've had some solace from this thread.
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« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2011, 02:15:22 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.


I am also tempted to wonder why you feel the need to needlessly chastise a fellow brother in Christ who is in need.

Believe me, I never, never talked about Masturbation on a public forum before.  This is extremely embarrassing for me, but I hold that it's far better to discuss subject matter like this with other people and get their advice then to just bottle all these worries and fears up inside you until you either have a nervous breakdown or go crazy (Both of which almost happened to me a couple years ago because of overscrupulous fears).  I would try and talk it over with someone else, like a family member, but no chance that's gonna happen (I tried to discuss this with my younger brother and he said "man, I'm not going to talk to you about that").  Besides my priest, this forum is about the only place I can turn to for advice on this difficult subject.

Thank you all for your input. 
You're fine, Robb. We're all adults here and should all be able to discuss this maturely.  Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2011, 10:01:55 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?

Yes.  I think so.  We tend not to discuss these things though.  When was the last time you remember multiple discussion threads on someone who steals habitually?...or kills with some regularity...or envies deeply enough for it to being to hinder their ability to face themselves in the mirror?

Actually the Holy Fathers tell us NOT to dwell on these things because that will lead us further into temptation.  Rather they suggest that we pray and fast and give alms...that we spend time and energy cultivating those virtues that keep us from sin.

So I don't think I am too far off base here by suggesting that Robb is doing something that is most unwise spiritually and that the rest of you should not encourage it.

M.
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2011, 10:05:18 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.


I am also tempted to wonder why you feel the need to needlessly chastise a fellow brother in Christ who is in need.

Believe me, I never, never talked about Masturbation on a public forum before.  This is extremely embarrassing for me, but I hold that it's far better to discuss subject matter like this with other people and get their advice then to just bottle all these worries and fears up inside you until you either have a nervous breakdown or go crazy (Both of which almost happened to me a couple years ago because of overscrupulous fears).  I would try and talk it over with someone else, like a family member, but no chance that's gonna happen (I tried to discuss this with my younger brother and he said "man, I'm not going to talk to you about that").  Besides my priest, this forum is about the only place I can turn to for advice on this difficult subject.

Thank you all for your input. 

We all know I like to give you a hard time, but I have to commend you for having the courage to talk about this in an adult manner.  Putting this up for all to see with the normal accompanying embarrassment you feel is also means of making you accountable for your actions which is a good thing, psychologically (and spiritually) speaking.  
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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2011, 10:08:59 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.


I am also tempted to wonder why you feel the need to needlessly chastise a fellow brother in Christ who is in need.

Believe me, I never, never talked about Masturbation on a public forum before.  This is extremely embarrassing for me, but I hold that it's far better to discuss subject matter like this with other people and get their advice then to just bottle all these worries and fears up inside you until you either have a nervous breakdown or go crazy (Both of which almost happened to me a couple years ago because of overscrupulous fears).  I would try and talk it over with someone else, like a family member, but no chance that's gonna happen (I tried to discuss this with my younger brother and he said "man, I'm not going to talk to you about that").  Besides my priest, this forum is about the only place I can turn to for advice on this difficult subject.

Thank you all for your input. 

We all know I like to give you a hard time, but I have to commend you for having the courage to talk about this in an adult manner.  Putting this up for all to see with the normal accompanying embarrassment you feel is also means of making you accountable for your actions which is a good thing, psychologically (and spiritually) speaking.  

Yes.  Please all do try to understand that I did not make my comments out of prudishness.  I've explained them further and hope they are understood in the spirit that I offered them.
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« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2011, 10:13:34 AM »

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?

Yes.  I think so.  We tend not to discuss these things though.  When was the last time you remember multiple discussion threads on someone who steals habitually?...or kills with some regularity...or envies deeply enough for it to being to hinder their ability to face themselves in the mirror?

Possibly because lust is something that most people struggle with on a very palpable level on a daily basis, especially now in today's culture of hypersexualized advertising.  Part of the problem with it being a problem, I think, is our inability to discuss sexuality openly.  

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Actually the Holy Fathers tell us NOT to dwell on these things because that will lead us further into temptation.  Rather they suggest that we pray and fast and give alms...that we spend time and energy cultivating those virtues that keep us from sin.

The Holy Fathers also tell us not to become repeatedly engaged with others in a contentious manner, yet we do that all the time.  It's our whole reason for being here.

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So I don't think I am too far off base here by suggesting that Robb is doing something that is most unwise spiritually and that the rest of you should not encourage it.

And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.
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« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2011, 10:17:23 AM »


And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.

On this one, I will stay closer to the response of the Holy Fathers to their pupils who struggled with lust.

No harm, no foul.  Just agreeing to disagree.

M.
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« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2011, 10:30:24 AM »

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.
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« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2011, 10:57:31 AM »


And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.

On this one, I will stay closer to the response of the Holy Fathers to their pupils who struggled with lust.

No harm, no foul.  Just agreeing to disagree.

M.
Do the Fathers say anything about scrupulosity? As someone who struggles with being scrupulous as well, I can tell you that it can feel like absolute hell on earth sometimes. It feels like there is no mercy or no forgiveness, or if there is it is hopeless because it's not something I can ever attain. Part of getting relief from these false feelings, besides having a good confessor, is talking it over and getting reassurance from people. Robb did that (on a Christian forum) and should not be attacked for it. This should be a safe environment to be able to discuss such things maturely if need be.
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« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2011, 11:03:58 AM »


And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.

On this one, I will stay closer to the response of the Holy Fathers to their pupils who struggled with lust.

No harm, no foul.  Just agreeing to disagree.

M.
Do the Fathers say anything about scrupulosity? As someone who struggles with being scrupulous as well, I can tell you that it can feel like absolute hell on earth sometimes. It feels like there is no mercy or no forgiveness, or if there is it is hopeless because it's not something I can ever attain. Part of getting relief from these false feelings, besides having a good confessor, is talking it over and getting reassurance from people. Robb did that (on a Christian forum) and should not be attacked for it. This should be a safe environment to be able to discuss such things maturely if need be.

One of the signs of pernicious scrupulosity is the need to talk about your scrupulosity and sin.

You don't stop that by doing more of it.

I know it sounds harsh and I am not going to beat it to death here. But it is worth considering.

Mary
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2011, 11:09:59 AM »


And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.

On this one, I will stay closer to the response of the Holy Fathers to their pupils who struggled with lust.

No harm, no foul.  Just agreeing to disagree.

M.
Do the Fathers say anything about scrupulosity? As someone who struggles with being scrupulous as well, I can tell you that it can feel like absolute hell on earth sometimes. It feels like there is no mercy or no forgiveness, or if there is it is hopeless because it's not something I can ever attain. Part of getting relief from these false feelings, besides having a good confessor, is talking it over and getting reassurance from people. Robb did that (on a Christian forum) and should not be attacked for it. This should be a safe environment to be able to discuss such things maturely if need be.

One of the signs of pernicious scrupulosity is the need to talk about your scrupulosity and sin.

You don't stop that by doing more of it.

I know it sounds harsh and I am not going to beat it to death here. But it is worth considering.

Mary

I lied.  I'll beat it this much further.  Scrupulosity in secular terms is obsessive compulsive disorder.  For both spiritual and psychological manifestations the cure comes in being busy:  almsgiving:  give of your time, your talent, your resources and do it till the nagging abates...and when the interior nagging begins again...start over.  Prayer and alms-giving...being busy at all times is the best way to push back against this nagging.

Beating off a true temptation is not easy work, and it is never done. We can say "NO" to darn near everyone but ourselves.

M.
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« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2011, 11:14:55 AM »

Thanks for the helpful advice.  I have in the past suffered greatly from overscrupulousity and it has definitely damaged my spiritual life at times.  Luckily I found a very good and helpful confessor who gave me the necessary counsel I need to fight this type of destructive thinking.  Still, being sometimes plagued with overscrupulousness is a curse and I just try to find spiritual peace (Without having to run back to my confessor and confess not trusting in his judgment (which is kind of awkward and embarrassing to do).
This may be the real problem, and the rest just symptoms.
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« Reply #34 on: July 18, 2011, 11:28:51 AM »


And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.

On this one, I will stay closer to the response of the Holy Fathers to their pupils who struggled with lust.

No harm, no foul.  Just agreeing to disagree.

M.
Do the Fathers say anything about scrupulosity? As someone who struggles with being scrupulous as well, I can tell you that it can feel like absolute hell on earth sometimes. It feels like there is no mercy or no forgiveness, or if there is it is hopeless because it's not something I can ever attain. Part of getting relief from these false feelings, besides having a good confessor, is talking it over and getting reassurance from people. Robb did that (on a Christian forum) and should not be attacked for it. This should be a safe environment to be able to discuss such things maturely if need be.

One of the signs of pernicious scrupulosity is the need to talk about your scrupulosity and sin.

You don't stop that by doing more of it.

I know it sounds harsh and I am not going to beat it to death here. But it is worth considering.

Mary

I lied.  I'll beat it this much further.  Scrupulosity in secular terms is obsessive compulsive disorder.  For both spiritual and psychological manifestations the cure comes in being busy:  almsgiving:  give of your time, your talent, your resources and do it till the nagging abates...and when the interior nagging begins again...start over.  Prayer and alms-giving...being busy at all times is the best way to push back against this nagging.

Beating off a true temptation is not easy work, and it is never done. We can say "NO" to darn near everyone but ourselves.

M.
Since scrupulosity can be a symptom of a legitimate mental disorder (OCD) as you said, it may take more than prayer and almsgiving. It may take counseling and/or medication. I don't think it's far-fetched to say that part of the healing process could be discussing your issues with other people.
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« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2011, 11:31:30 AM »

Our opinions might be helpful for you to have and bear in mind, but please do not treat them as determinative. You should be guided by and obedient to your confessor in such matters unless he says something which you fear might be damaging to your spiritual state.

I agree with this.

Being new to Orthodoxy and practicing confession, I have recently struggled with questions on how confession and Communion should be approached. From what little experience I have had with my priest and what I have found to read on the subject, here is my understanding.

It is typically one's parish priest who both hears confessions and serves the Eucharist. He has a responsibility as a confessor to provoke you to repentence of your sins, but more importantly to guide you in what is necessary to reconcile you or keep you reconciled to the church. As serving the Mass, he has a responsibility to guard the Eucharist and give it only to those who are united in communion with his church and to prevent anyone from taking it unto condemnation. It is one thing to abstain from Communion under the direction of ecclesiastical authority, and another to simply refuse the invitation when it is given. I once heard this referred to as saying "no thanks" to the Lord's meal of "Thanksgiving" (Eucharist).

As a spiritual "child", you should submit in obedience to him out of love and trust. Unless he tells you that something you know to be a sin is not a sin and does not need to be confessed, or gives such a strict pennance that you lose all hope of salvation, you should trust him more than yourself. While the canons often call for what we would today consider to be extreme pennances, they also give the bishop/priest/confessor the authority to exercise extreme economy when and where they see fit to work toward one's salvation. Remember it was to the apostles and passed on to bishops and exercised through priests that the authority to bind and loose was given, not a rule book that must be strictly followed with no exceptions, and not just simply left to the personal discretion of individuals who may do everything from self-justify to being over-scrupulous of themselves.

If it helps you (I know it helps me, and I don't particularly know if your church has a rule of prayer for preparing for Communion), here is a link I found with the pre-communion prayers that you would typically find listed in an Orthodox prayer book (I believe this is a copy of the translation used in the Jordanville book). Reading these prayers before receiving Communion will both fill you with fear of God as a "consuming fire", and at the same time give you hope in His mercy that you will partake for pruification, healing, and defense against future sins and not toward condemnation.

http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/precommunion.htm

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #36 on: July 18, 2011, 11:44:42 AM »

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?

It's been some years since I read this, so I won't try to say too much about it, but you may find it helpful:

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« Reply #37 on: July 18, 2011, 11:48:24 AM »


Since scrupulosity can be a symptom of a legitimate mental disorder (OCD) as you said, it may take more than prayer and almsgiving. It may take counseling and/or medication. I don't think it's far-fetched to say that part of the healing process could be discussing your issues with other people.

I have found several truths in life:

1.  Most mental illness can be cured using the spiritual guidance of the desert fathers...rigorously applied.

2.  Most talk therapy winds up being the next best thing to useless...entirely.

3.  Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.

4.  Unless you are running around naked in traffic, drugs administered for the average neurosis tend to make you complacent and fat, rather than well.  I began therapy about 20 years ago with seven other women that I knew who entered the mental health system about the same time I did.  I am the only one who refused drug therapies and I am the only one who has not undergone electroshock therapy to try to undo what the meds finally did to these women.

Now you can shoot all kinds of holes in this if you choose but I will follow what I have found through experience.  

Talking about a  neurosis...feeds the wolf.

Don't feed the wolf.

M.
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« Reply #38 on: July 18, 2011, 11:52:22 AM »


Since scrupulosity can be a symptom of a legitimate mental disorder (OCD) as you said, it may take more than prayer and almsgiving. It may take counseling and/or medication. I don't think it's far-fetched to say that part of the healing process could be discussing your issues with other people.

I have found several truths in life:

1.  Most mental illness can be cured using the spiritual guidance of the desert fathers...rigorously applied.

2.  Most talk therapy winds up being the next best thing to useless...entirely.

3.  Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.

4.  Unless you are running around naked in traffic, drugs administered for the average neurosis tend to make you complacent and fat, rather than well.  I began therapy about 20 years ago with seven other women that I knew who entered the mental health system about the same time I did.  I am the only one who refused drug therapies and I am the only one who has not undergone electroshock therapy to try to undo what the meds finally did to these women.

Now you can shoot all kinds of holes in this if you choose but I will follow what I have found through experience.  

Talking about a  neurosis...feeds the wolf.

Don't feed the wolf.

M.
There is no one-size-fits-all with this kind of thing. Just because medication may not have been the best thing for you or for those women that you knew doesn't mean that it is harmful for everyone. I happen to be on medication for anxiety and, while it has not totally gone away, it is much more tolerable now than it used to be. The same goes for talking with peers...you can't say that no one will benefit from that.
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« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2011, 11:52:59 AM »

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?

It's been some years since I read this, so I won't try to say too much about it, but you may find it helpful:


That is excellent, Peter.  Thanks for bringing it to our awareness!!

M.
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« Reply #40 on: July 18, 2011, 11:56:08 AM »

The same goes for talking with peers...you can't say that no one will benefit from that.

I talked with peers for over 30 years as I sinned and felt guilty.   I talked incessantly.

When I shut up and chose to reorient my life in Christ, I no longer felt the need [nor did I have the time] for the constant chatter.

See what the fathers say about idle talk...and they are not just talking about gossip.

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« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2011, 12:16:59 PM »

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?

It's been some years since I read this, so I won't try to say too much about it, but you may find it helpful:


That is excellent, Peter.  Thanks for bringing it to our awareness!!

M.

You're welcome.
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« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2011, 12:18:25 PM »

I began therapy about 20 years ago with seven other women that I knew who entered the mental health system about the same time I did.  I am the only one who refused drug therapies and I am the only one who has not undergone electroshock therapy to try to undo what the meds finally did to these women.

I don't know how much stock I would put in that kind of anecdotal evidence.
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« Reply #43 on: July 18, 2011, 12:29:21 PM »

My thoughts exactly.  When I read the OP, my first thought was "if communion was denied to everyone who masturbated, we could pretty much dispense with the second half of the Liturgy".

I am always tempted to wonder, when I see a thread on this topic, which is the worse sin...to masturbate incessantly, or to talk about it incessantly...publicly.

Curious.

Would you have the same reaction about the sins of pride, anger or covetousness?

Yes.  I think so.  We tend not to discuss these things though.  When was the last time you remember multiple discussion threads on someone who steals habitually?...or kills with some regularity...or envies deeply enough for it to being to hinder their ability to face themselves in the mirror?

Possibly because lust is something that most people struggle with on a very palpable level on a daily basis, especially now in today's culture of hypersexualized advertising.  Part of the problem with it being a problem, I think, is our inability to discuss sexuality openly.  

Quote
Actually the Holy Fathers tell us NOT to dwell on these things because that will lead us further into temptation.  Rather they suggest that we pray and fast and give alms...that we spend time and energy cultivating those virtues that keep us from sin.

The Holy Fathers also tell us not to become repeatedly engaged with others in a contentious manner, yet we do that all the time.  It's our whole reason for being here.

Quote
So I don't think I am too far off base here by suggesting that Robb is doing something that is most unwise spiritually and that the rest of you should not encourage it.

And I don't think I'm too far off base here in suggesting that unless you've struggled with this type of sinful behavior, you don't know what you're talking about (please note I'm not trying to be snide towards you, either, in saying that).  People who want to take their faith seriously and avoid masturbating because of the way it affects your entire life often feel alone, like they're the only one who wants to stop.  It takes great courage in today's world to do what Robb is doing.  The real test is to see if we can actually discuss this in a plain, adult manner.
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« Reply #44 on: July 18, 2011, 12:35:18 PM »

I began therapy about 20 years ago with seven other women that I knew who entered the mental health system about the same time I did.  I am the only one who refused drug therapies and I am the only one who has not undergone electroshock therapy to try to undo what the meds finally did to these women.

I don't know how much stock I would put in that kind of anecdotal evidence.

 laugh laugh laugh

All evidence of the neuroses and their treatments is more anecdotal than anything else.  Any competent doctor will tell you that drug trials are just that...trials...and no drug, particularly drugs used to treat neuroses, will affect all people the same way, and they often do more harm than good, and most of them loose their effectiveness over time, and only masque the symptoms but do not cure the neurotic.

The news is not good on the drug front unless you benefit from a climate of treatment that allows...nay encourages self-diagnosis...and liberal dispensation of tabs and caps and drops and tinctures.

Take it or leave it, boss.
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