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Author Topic: Sacrament of Penance  (Read 2894 times) Average Rating: 0
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Brigid of Kildare
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« on: January 03, 2003, 10:59:44 AM »

I noticed that the BBC have recently added some new pages on Orthodoxy to their religion website and was interested to see the start of the piece on the sacrament of penance:

All Orthodox Churches use the Mystery of Penance, or Confession, but in Greek speaking churches only priests who have been blessed by the Bishop as 'Spiritual Fathers' are allowed to hear confession.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/orthodox5.shtml

Is this true? I had assumed that any priest could hear a person's confession.

Brigid
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Stephen Barrow
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2003, 11:37:26 AM »

Yes this is true.  It is a tradition within the Greek Church that only Priests blessed by their Bishops to hear confessions can due so.  I do believe that here in America that is relaxed and that the average parish priest will hear confessions.  Truth be told, though that regular confession has died out in the Greek churches.  

I had a woman I met when in University, who was a Serb, tell me that the Serbs did not have the Mystery of Reconciliation!  Of course I knew better but it is interesting how popular religion can become distorted when there is no education of the faithful.
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Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2003, 11:28:04 PM »

One sure way to recognize a Greek Orthodox priest who has been blessed by his bishop to hear confessions is that such a priest will wear an epignation (palitza), the diamond-shaped thigh shield, hanging on his right hip while vested for Divine Liturgy.  But, alas, in many GOA parishes, the Mystery of Repentance and Confession is a forgotten relic of the past.  I know of GOA parishes which have not had Sacramental Confessions in over 30 years!!!   Sad

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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2003, 12:19:18 AM »

FWIW, today was my first mystery of repentace at a GOA parish, with a GOA priest.  And frequent confession will be part of my new Orthodox life.  The GOA has many holy and pious people...just thought I would add another perspective.
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2003, 12:26:49 AM »

FWIW, today was my first mystery of repentace at a GOA parish, with a GOA priest.  And frequent confession will be part of my new Orthodox life.  The GOA has many holy and pious people...just thought I would add another perspective.

I don't disagree with what the others have said because there is truth to it.  The Greek church has gotten away from confession but then again as you have stated there are Greek churches that do have confession.  Each individual church is different.   Some individual churches are warm while others are lukewarm while still others are cold.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2003, 07:13:48 AM »

I do not think that such things as infrequent confession need be frowned at, unless of course we think parts of our holy tradition are faulty. There have been times in Church history when confession was something people only did a few times in their life, and then there have been other times in Church history (including today) where, in various local churches, confession was only suppose to be experienced a couple times a year. To seek out confession more times than this in these churches would be just as stigmatized as infrequent confession is being stigmatized by you guys/gals. Consider also that at various times in Church history, in various places, the eucharist was rarely taken during the year, or even rarely over the course of a person's entire life (consider the life of Saint Mary of Egypt). Consider that at one point baptism was sometimes performed at the end of a person's life, while at other times it was performed in the middle of one's life, while at other times it the baptism of children was strongly endorsed, and even insisted upon. The sacraments have never been either uniformly explained or experienced: I don't think we need to insist now on one variety over another. I agree with you and the saints who said that frequent confession (and communion) was the best thing, but we don't need to insist on it, do we? At the very least, I think we need to be more understanding and less of the mindset of being ready to stigmatize those pratices which don't match our own views of piety. (though, ironically, I guess I'm doing that myself right now Lips Sealed ). Lord have mercy!
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TonyS
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2003, 12:26:29 PM »

I noticed that the BBC have recently added some new pages on Orthodoxy to their religion website and was interested to see the start of the piece on the sacrament of penance:

All Orthodox Churches use the Mystery of Penance, or Confession, but in Greek speaking churches only priests who have been blessed by the Bishop as 'Spiritual Fathers' are allowed to hear confession.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/orthodox5.shtml

Is this true? I had assumed that any priest could hear a person's confession.

Brigid

Brigid,

What happens in some places is that men are ordained priests but are not given faculties to perform certain duties such as preach or hear confessions.  As you note this happens somewhat in Greece (although I would guess this is changing).  This seems to be due to education/lack of eduction.  There was a parallel situation among RCs and even BCs, men were ordained priest "simplex" without faculties to perform certain duties, they were basically ordained to celebrate Mass/Liturgy and some other sacraments but not all.  

Remember that the ancient canons which guard order in the Church contemplated such things.  Sure when a man is ordained priest he is enabled to perform sacramental actions but he needs faculties from his (or another) bishop to perform them.  So, here in the USA and Canada and much of the West, the GOA and other priests are given blanket faculties.

Faculites, of course, is a Western term, I think it is easy to get the point across.
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Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2003, 12:56:36 PM »

FWIW, today was my first mystery of repentace at a GOA parish, with a GOA priest.  And frequent confession will be part of my new Orthodox life.  The GOA has many holy and pious people...just thought I would add another perspective.

Nektarios, then you are indeed blessed and your priest is an exceptional example to be followed by other GOA priests.  I know of only one GOA priest in this entire 5 or 6 state area who regularly hears Confessions, other than one of the priests at the GOA seminary.  Maybe things are improving spiritually in the GOA under the guidance of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, and the influence of the Elder Ephraim's monasteries  Let us pray that it is indeed so!

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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2003, 01:37:38 PM »

[The sacraments have never been either uniformly explained or experienced: I don't think we need to insist now on one variety over another. I agree with you and the saints who said that frequent confession (and communion) was the best thing, but we don't need to insist on it, do we? ]

Couldn't disagree with you more.  The whole purpose of the Liturgy is centered around the Eucharist.  Since that is the case, then why even go to Church at all, or attend the Liturgy at all if you do not intend to partake?   You come to your Fathers house, he offers you a meal and you turn your back on it.  It's like the Greek Orthodox Church I've seen with the sign outside that says - Divine Liturgy at 10:00.  Communion at 11:00!  Like they were two separate and disctinct events.  Not to mention when the vast majority of the people in that parish show up!

Many of these times in history you speak of were because of historical circumstances.  The Orthodox Catholic Church was under captivity.  In many areas the Church was under Ottoman rule and not entirely free.  Priests were poorly educated and were not prepared to give counselling.  Which is part of the Confessional process.  In fact, in certain areas  people would go to elders (Staretz) to confess their sins and then to the priest to receive penance, absolution, and communion.

The whole purpose of the Liturgy is, once again, the Eurcharist, which is prepared so we can once again be reconciled with God through our partaking of it.

But, what do I know?

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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2003, 02:31:08 PM »

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Nektarios, then you are indeed blessed and your priest is an exceptional example to be followed by other GOA priests.  I know of only one GOA priest in this entire 5 or 6 state area who regularly hears Confessions, other than one of the priests at the GOA seminary.  Maybe things are improving spiritually in the GOA under the guidance of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, and the influence of the Elder Ephraim's monasteries  Let us pray that it is indeed so!

I hope it is indeed so.  At least among people in this area St. Anthony's monastery is influencial .  All my expierence with the GOA has been nothing but solid Orthodoxy, but I have no idea what things are like outside Arizona.
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2003, 02:38:12 PM »

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Couldn't disagree with you more.  The whole purpose of the Liturgy is centered around the Eucharist.  Since that is the case, then why even go to Church at all, or attend the Liturgy at all if you do not intend to partake?

I have never partaken of communion because I am only Catechumen (but for only five and a half hours more!) so there is purpose of going to liturgy without partaking.  Some can't keep the fast every Sunday for various reasons, couldn't go to confess, aren't properly prepared etc.  Grace is still bestowed even without partaking of communion at liturgy.  Of course frequent communion is ver very good, but coming from the RCC I can see some damage thier attemps at overly frequent communion have done.  Most take it for granted, lack of beleif in the real presence is rampant, confession is all but forgoten etc.
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2003, 03:40:04 PM »


I have never partaken of communion because I am only Catechumen (but for only five and a half hours more!) so there is purpose of going to liturgy without partaking.  Some can't keep the fast every Sunday for various reasons, couldn't go to confess, aren't properly prepared etc.  Grace is still bestowed even without partaking of communion at liturgy.  Of course frequent communion is ver very good, but coming from the RCC I can see some damage thier attemps at overly frequent communion have done.  Most take it for granted, lack of beleif in the real presence is rampant, confession is all but forgoten etc.  

I agree with Nektarios although I have never been a Catholic.  Sometimes I have not prepared myself properly to receive holy communion.  It is sacred and for me requires that I be prepared to take it(fasting, going to confession).
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2003, 05:21:15 PM »

"I have never partaken of communion because I am only Catechumen (but for only five and a half hours more!) so there is purpose of going to liturgy without partaking.  Some can't keep the fast every Sunday for various reasons, couldn't go to confess, aren't properly prepared etc.  Grace is still bestowed even without partaking of communion at liturgy.  Of course frequent communion is  very good, but coming from the RCC I can see some damage thier attemps at overly frequent communion have done.  Most take it for granted, lack of beleif in the real presence is rampant, confession is all but forgoten etc."

----------------------------

I agree with what you are saying.  And offer this as an addition to the conversation rather than a rebuttal.

Taken from 'Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church'

Taken from the last two paragraphs regarding the word 'Eucharist'.  (I think the last paragraph marked within the  [] fits into our conversation) -

For Orthodox it is important to say that the Eucharist manifests the mystical communion of the  individual believer with God,  of believers with one another, and of the unity of the church. (See Ecclesiology.)  There is no church, no theology, no mysticism, no individual that may disregard the Eucharistic assembly (cf "The Life of St Seraphim of Sarov").  Fortunately, the East was not doctrinally affected by the exhausting Western debates regarding transubstantiation, and maintained a holistic view of the process of the  entire Divine Liturgy - probably due to the understanding of the Eucharist expressed within the Liturgical prayers themselves.  (A recognized spiritual discipline of the East demands that one not overintellectualize a mystical event, and humbly and silently experience that reality - rather than merely talk about it).

[Temptations to Orthodox communities in their communion practices have come and continue to come from other sources:  a misquided understanding of sin and confession, and a "hyper-pious" attitude to sacraments, which puts them beyond human reach.  These temptations are being addressed through new translations of the liturgical texts that make the "plain meaning" and Liturgical action intelligible, and through the sound spiritual advice that christians are judged not only in what they do, but also in what they refuse to do sacramentally.]

Excerpts  from  "The Complete Book Of Orthodoxy" regarding the Eucharist.

A community which does not have the Eucharist at the heart of its worship cannot properly call itself a Christian Church.  As Felix, an early apologist of the church  said, "A Christian cannot exist without the Eucharist, neither can the Eucharist exist without Christians."  As the most ancient experience of Christian worship the Eucharist is traced back to the Last (Mystical) Supper, which  Christ celebrated with His Apostles at the beginning of His passion and death.  At this meal Christ instructed His Apostles to offer the bread and wine forever, in His memory.

In the Eucharist, the Church gathers to remember and celebrate the death and Ressurection of Our Lord,.  We thereby participate in the mystery of our slavation.  The word "Liturgy" means "the work of the people" and this serves to underscore the corporate character of the Divine Liturgy when the church assembles to worship the Holy Trinity.  The Eucharist is truly the center of the life of the church and the way we nourish ourselves on our journey through life.  To understand how important the Eucharist is in the life of Christians, read the Gospel of St John, Chapter 6, verses 1-71.  After reading this section you will gain a new appreciation for the Liturgy  and begin to understand more fully why the Holy Eucharist must be at the core of every Christians existence.
If we do not commerate and celebrate the Holy Eucharist regularly, we are denied the very essence of life itself.  Truly then, Christ gave His flesh as food and  His blood as drink so that He might continue to live within us, and actually be present in our lives.  That is why the Divine Liturgy is the highest form of thanksgiving to God that mankid, has the power to render.
The Divine Liturgy is not a re-enactment of the Eucharistic Mystery, but a timeless, eternal recapitulation  (i.e. repeat in concise form), and a mystical participation in the Divine Kingdom.  (St Matthew 26:26-29; St Luke 22:14-20; St John6:53-59; Acts 2:42-46; I Corinthians 10:14-22; I Corinthians 11:17-24; I Corinthians 11:23-25; and Acts 20:7)

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2003, 06:43:21 PM »

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The whole purpose of the Liturgy is centered around the Eucharist.  Since that is the case, then why even go to Church at all, or attend the Liturgy at all if you do not intend to partake?  

When/if you get to heaven, you can ask that question of the saints who endorsed (and in some cases required) infrequent communion. It's not me you disagree with.

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But, what do I know?

Apparently, how to defend your stated position, even if in defending said position you make holy fathers and saints look like pawns or slaves in the tight grip of historical circumstances or ignorance. Oh well, we know better now, right? Roll Eyes

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2003, 03:15:30 PM »

I came back to apologize for being a complete, arrogant, ignorant arse. I don't know whether to be said because I'm such a fool, or angry at my great sins. I should be both, I suppose. Though I don't deserve it, I hope you'll forgive me.
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