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ConfusedRC
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« on: July 24, 2012, 12:22:38 PM »

The RCC is very legalistic, especially when it coms to sin, Confession, Communion etc.

For example, if we commit a mortal sin, we must receive absolution before we can receive Commuinion. However, unless we do indulgences, we will have to spend some time in Purgatory.

So here are my questions:

1. I know this is a broad question, but where do the two churches agree and differ?

2. I noticed that some Orthodox churches only offer Confession a few times a year. If the person has committed a mortal sin, like masturbation or adultery, do they not receive Communion until they can go to Confession? What if that person dies before his Confession can be heard?

I know these are broad questions. Thanks in advance for any answers.
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 01:16:52 PM »

Dear ConfusedRC,

The Orthodox Church considers Holy Confession a healing sacrament.  We receive a benefit from Holy Confession because it heals wounds that result from sin and helps keep us from new ones, not only by avoiding future torment. 

Frequency of confession varies by jurisdiction, and probably by parish.  In fact, it even varies by individual, as it may be worked out with one's confessor.  So you will get answers all over the place. 

For an overview of this sacrament from the Greek Archdiocese of America, you may wish to read this:   http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8493

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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2012, 01:35:01 PM »

1. I know this is a broad question, but where do the two churches agree and differ?

Well, both agree that Confession is a Sacrament. Both believe absolution comes through the priest. In Orthodoxy Confession is done facing an Icon of Christ with the priest beside you, not in a confessional. During absolution you kneel and the priest places his stole over your head and prays the prayer of absolution. He calls you by name (pretty sure your name is used in all Sacraments in Orthodoxy)

Quote
2. I noticed that some Orthodox churches only offer Confession a few times a year. If the person has committed a mortal sin, like masturbation or adultery, do they not receive Communion until they can go to Confession? What if that person dies before his Confession can be heard?

We do not believe in the mortal/venial distinction. Sin is not a transgression of the law but a turning away from the path of God. We receive Confession before Communion as often as our priest judges we should. For some that's every week. For others that's every now and then. If one dies with unconfessed sins the fact that they committed one sin is not going to automatically condemn them to hell, it's just going to effect how close to Christ they are in eternity (and I mean closeness not like, physically, but spiritually). Salvation is a process of being made more and more like Christ, called Theosis, not a black or white "you go in that door, you go in the other door" type thing.

I know these are broad questions. Thanks in advance for any answers.
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 01:37:32 PM »

2. I noticed that some Orthodox churches only offer Confession a few times a year.
I think those are local "rules" to get people who don't often go to confession to go at least a few times a year.

I can't imagine a priest flat out refusing to hear confession at a different time.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 01:37:50 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 01:39:52 PM »

The RCC is very legalistic, especially when it coms to sin, Confession, Communion etc.

For example, if we commit a mortal sin, we must receive absolution before we can receive Commuinion. However, unless we do indulgences, we will have to spend some time in Purgatory.

You have some good questions here, and I'll endeavor to answer to the best of my ability. I'm sure others are more qualified, so I look forward to hearing what they have to say, as well. Firstly, though (and I know you didn't ask about this) I'd point out that there's no doctrine of Purgatory, per se, in Orthodoxy. There are the Arial Tollhouses, which are part of the particular judgment, but their literal existence is not dogma and is controversial. Whether they exist or not, I don't mean to debate, I just mean to point out that Orthodoxy and Catholicism differ. Catholicism focuses on purifying from venial sin, whereas Orthodoxy focuses on commitment to the Gospel and the grace of Christ (as your guardian angel supposedly would defend you at the tollhouses against demonic accusers). Again, please don't let this start a debate, I simply mean to indicate a difference of opinion concerning after-death experience for Orthodox and Catholics.

So here are my questions:

1. I know this is a broad question, but where do the two churches agree and differ?

IMO, it's really a difference in emphasis, more than a substantial difference, though some argue (and I tend to agree) that Catholicism emphasizes legality far too much. I think some Orthodox can overemphasize our primary view (that is, sin as an illness) as well. There's a balance to be had there, and both metaphors are biblical.

Sin is both a legal and medical reality. We are all born with a fallen nature, one that is inclined to sin (though not guilty of Adam's sin, as in the RC doctrine), and that is how it is medical. But we also struggle with choices and decide whether to sin or not...whether to breach what we know is wrong or not, and that is how it is legal. Both views are important. We should see ourselves both as "guilty" of sin and "inflicted" with sin. The focus, then, should be on treatment and rehabilitation of the sinner, rather than on some sort of punishment. Excommunication, that is a temporary ban from receiving the Eucharist, is not a punishment but a reminder of our spiritual breach with Christ because of sin. How could we physically commune with Christ when we have broken with Him in our hearts? Excommunication is used to show us the gravity of our sins, and to bring about repentance and healing...not to punish us for acting badly.


2. I noticed that some Orthodox churches only offer Confession a few times a year. If the person has committed a mortal sin, like masturbation or adultery, do they not receive Communion until they can go to Confession? What if that person dies before his Confession can be heard?

I know these are broad questions. Thanks in advance for any answers.

Traditions differ. Russian-tradition jurisdictions tend promote more frequent confession (ROCOR is usually weekly, the OCA monthly, etc.) whereas Greek/Antiochian-traditions jurisdiction are usually less so (usually quarterly). Sometimes, Orthodox will only commune once a year...usually Pascha, making an annual confession during Holy Week or right before. Others will confess/commune for the twelve Great Feasts, but not every Sunday. My point is, this differs by jurisdiction as well as by person, due to the personal and pastoral nature of the sacrament.

Mortal vs. venial sin isn't really a defined idea for Orthodoxy. We have an understanding of the gravity of different sins (evidenced by different suggested penances by differing canons), but we don't usually talk about it in these terms. Though, confession and communion are usually strongly linked for us. I know I've always been instructed that if I commit a "big" sin, to come to confession before I commune.

As far as dying...of course, the ideal is to receive confession and communion prior to death (loosely, our version of "Last Rites"). But, at the funeral for Orthodox, there is an absolution performed over the person postmortem, as well as many prayers for the remission of their sins.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 01:44:25 PM by Benjamin the Red » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 01:49:01 PM »

Sin is both a legal and medical reality. We are all born with a fallen nature, one that is inclined to sin (though not guilty of Adam's sin, as in the RC doctrine), and that is how it is medical.

The RCC does not teach that we are guilty of Adam's sin. From the CCC:


Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 01:57:49 PM »

Sin is both a legal and medical reality. We are all born with a fallen nature, one that is inclined to sin (though not guilty of Adam's sin, as in the RC doctrine), and that is how it is medical.

The RCC does not teach that we are guilty of Adam's sin. From the CCC:


Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.


You know, I've had that portion of the CCC quoted at me before. But then, I point out, that if the RCC share with us the proper understanding of original sin, then the Immaculate Conception is unnecessary, and most likely (and in my opinion is) heretical. I've never gotten a good answer back to be convinced.

Perhaps the RCC reversed on original sin, but vestigially maintained the no-longer-relevant IC? I don't know. I find it rather contrived and very confusing. But, I apologize that this is a tangent. If I'm too off-topic and folks want to discuss that further, I'd welcome a topic split to the Private Fora, or maybe the public Orthodox-Catholic forum...since Convert Issues isn't the place to discuss such topics.
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 01:59:50 PM »

The RCC does not teach that we are guilty of Adam's sin. From the CCC:

Maybe not anymore, but from Trent (all emphasis mine):

Quote from: The Council of Trent
2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

and again:

Quote
4. If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

And just a snippet from another one:

Quote
5. If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted;
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 02:01:42 PM by Joseph Hazen » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 02:10:31 PM »

Sin is both a legal and medical reality. We are all born with a fallen nature, one that is inclined to sin (though not guilty of Adam's sin, as in the RC doctrine), and that is how it is medical.

The RCC does not teach that we are guilty of Adam's sin. From the CCC:


Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.


You know, I've had that portion of the CCC quoted at me before. But then, I point out, that if the RCC share with us the proper understanding of original sin, then the Immaculate Conception is unnecessary, and most likely (and in my opinion is) heretical. I've never gotten a good answer back to be convinced.

Perhaps the RCC reversed on original sin, but vestigially maintained the no-longer-relevant IC? I don't know. I find it rather contrived and very confusing. But, I apologize that this is a tangent. If I'm too off-topic and folks want to discuss that further, I'd welcome a topic split to the Private Fora, or maybe the public Orthodox-Catholic forum...since Convert Issues isn't the place to discuss such topics.

Different thread. There is no difference.
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 02:12:21 PM »

IMO, it's really a difference in emphasis, more than a substantial difference, though some argue (and I tend to agree) that Catholicism emphasizes legality far too much. I think some Orthodox can overemphasize our primary view (that is, sin as an illness) as well. There's a balance to be had there, and both metaphors are biblical.

YES! The desire to ignore any sense of Divine Law, or flow with a liberation of 'all things permitted' through no rules, is both a flaw in thinking and a desire to reject all things West at the expense of reality.
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 02:15:33 PM »

The RCC is very legalistic, especially when it coms to sin, Confession, Communion etc.

For example, if we commit a mortal sin, we must receive absolution before we can receive Commuinion. However, unless we do indulgences, we will have to spend some time in Purgatory.

So here are my questions:

1. I know this is a broad question, but where do the two churches agree and differ?

2. I noticed that some Orthodox churches only offer Confession a few times a year. If the person has committed a mortal sin, like masturbation or adultery, do they not receive Communion until they can go to Confession? What if that person dies before his Confession can be heard?

I know these are broad questions. Thanks in advance for any answers.

1.  Some of the others have fielded this question.  I would but add that Orthodox have no indulgences, and, in fact, the Synods of Constantinople of 1819 and 1838 condemned the practice.  There was for a time during the 17th and 18th centuries where in some patriarchates a donation was requested for a bull of pardon for one who committed a grievous public sin/crime requested by the spiritual father (as evidence that they fulfilled their penance and are in good standing with the church).  This, however, although not appropriate, cannot be equated with indulgences as some might say.  There was no connection toward a release from "time in purgatory" or any such thing.  

2.  Orthodox Churches offer confession at any time it is necessary for a person.  Most priests will give confession anytime by appointment.  But it is emphasized, offered generally, during Great Lent & Holy Week, as well as the other three periods of repentence.   Some offer it generally every week either midweek or Saturdays at an appointed time (such as before or after Vespers or Matins).   We may not take communion after committing a sin unto death before going to Confession.  If a person dies before his Confession can be heard, and was a member in good standing who generally went to confession and communion, there is an absolution prayer said during the funeral service.  
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 03:00:13 PM »

Thanks everyone. One more question please:

Is there an online source I can use to determine what the Orthodox Church considers sin? For us RCC'ers, we have what's called an Examination of Conscience.

Thanks.
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 03:06:39 PM »

Thanks everyone. One more question please:

Is there an online source I can use to determine what the Orthodox Church considers sin?
Anything by which you are entangled with something or do something that separates you from God, afaik.

I don't normally like this site, but this is a good piece:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/selfexam.aspx
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 03:14:21 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 03:10:40 PM »

Thank you for starting this thread.  And thank you to all those who have responded... the responses have been quite helpful!
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 07:59:28 PM »

St. Nicholas ROCOR in McKinney, TX (Dallas area) has a bunch of resources for a ton of stuff. I've found them invaluable. This is their page on Confession: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/index.html
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2012, 08:03:39 PM »

Thanks everyone. One more question please:

Is there an online source I can use to determine what the Orthodox Church considers sin? For us RCC'ers, we have what's called an Examination of Conscience.

Thanks.

In another thread on this forum, I think within the past year, I posted the 7 levels of sin as detailed by St. Nikodemos (Nicodemus) of the Holy Mountain, from the pardonable to the wholly mortal (deadly).   
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2012, 10:22:16 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thanks everyone. One more question please:

Is there an online source I can use to determine what the Orthodox Church considers sin? For us RCC'ers, we have what's called an Examination of Conscience.

Thanks.

The Lamentation of Sin by Saint Basil covers just about all the sins that could or should be confessed.  These matters are set down in canons and laws to be sure, but the reality is these matters are more importantly up to the individual confessor. In the Catholic Church, confession has become an almost anonymous thing, and so things follow a sort of text book rule.  In Orthodox, people are generally close to their Confessor, and this relationship is individual, direct, and personal.  The priests guide us as to help us know what to confess and what not to, how often, and when we need to receive Absolution for Holy Communion and when not.  Further, we are encouraged to confess our sins often, in our private prayers to God, for our sins and take these confessions as serious as going to the priest.  Repentance is a lifestyle and a process.  So more importantly than consulting canons and various legislation's, it is more crucial to have a functional relationship with a Confessor to help sort out spiritually what is what.  This is because the Holy Spirit is flexible to our needs, because the Church is a healing place, a spiritual hospital. Absolution is not an instant cleansing in the legalistic sense.  It is a process of growing closer to God and further from Sin.  What keeps us from sin is the combined Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, but not necessarily always in that order.  As we like to say, "Ask your priest. " Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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