Author Topic: 1 Corinthians 11:19  (Read 116 times)

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Offline Daedelus1138

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1 Corinthians 11:19
« on: August 11, 2016, 08:30:59 AM »
"For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves." 1 Corinthians 11:19

The standard Orthodox understanding of this seems to be that you should not receive Communion when you are "living in sin" or have committed some sin unconfessed.  This is often extended to other sacraments as well, including to reception into the Church.

I would like to hear more of an explanation of this from an Orthodox standpoint.

I know Lutheran pastors that would say that if that is the standard- sinlessness, for receiving the Eucharist then it has never been a certain means of grace.  Most mainline scholars believe the above passage is a warning to not be a glutton at the agape meal and ignore poor people in the congregation.

Of course the Eucharist should be approached with appropriate dignity but the asceticism with which some approach the Eucharist seems to be one difference I have with Orthodox custom/tradition.  It's especially telling that the majority of Orthodox in Russia have never received communion.  I can only guess this teaching somehow contributed to the practice of infrequent communion.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2016, 08:32:54 AM by Daedelus1138 »

Offline Iconodule

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:19
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2016, 10:37:16 AM »
On this matter, I follow Fr. Alexander Schmemann:

When the communion of the entire congregation at each Liturgy, as an act expressing their very participation in the Liturgy, ceased to be a self-evident norm and was replaced by the practice of a very infrequent, usually once-a-year communion, it became natural for the latter to be preceded by the Sacrament of Penance — i.e. confession and the reconciliation with the Church through the prayer of absolution.

This practice, and I repeat once more, a natural and self-evident one in the case of infrequent, once-a-year, communion, led to the appearance in the Church of a theory according to which the communion of laity, different in this from the communion of clergy, is impossible without the sacrament of penance, so that confession is an obligatory condition — always and in all cases — for communion. I dare to affirm that this theory (which spread mainly in the Russian Church) not only has no foundation in Tradition, but openly contradicts the Orthodox doctrine of the Church, of the Sacrament of Communion and of that of Penance.

To be convinced of that, one has to recall, be it very briefly, the essence of the Sacrament of Penance. From the very beginning this sacrament was, in the consciousness and teaching of the Church, the sacrament of reconciliation with the Church of those excommunicated from her and this means of those excluded from the eucharistic assembly. We know, that at first, the very strict ecclesiastical discipline allowed for only one such reconciliation in one’s lifetime, but that later, especially after the entrance into the Church of the entire population, this discipline was somewhat relaxed. In its essence, the Sacrament of Penance, as the sacrament of reconciliation with the Church was for those only who were excommunicated from the Church for definite sins and acts clearly defined in the canonical tradition of the Church. This is still clearly stated in the prayer of absolution: "reconcile him with Thy Holy Church in Christ Jesus Our Lord . . ." (This, incidentally, is the prayer of absolution, used universally. As to the second one, unknown to the Eastern Orthodox Churches — "I, unworthy priest, by the power given unto me, absolve . . ." — is of Latin origin and was adopted in our liturgical books at the time of the domination of Orthodox theology by Western theology.)

All this, however, does not mean that the "faithful," i.e. the "non-excommunicated," were considered by the Church to be sinless. In the first place, according to the Church’s teaching, no human being is sinless, with the exception of the Most Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos. In the second place, a prayer for forgiveness and remission of sins is an integral part of the Liturgy itself (cf. the Prayer of the Trisagion and the two prayers "of the faithful"). Finally, the Church always considered Holy Communion itself as given "for the remission of sins." Therefore the issue here is not sinlessness, which no absolution can achieve, but the distinction always made by the Church between, on the one hand, the sins excommunicating a man from the Church’s life of grace and, on the other hand, the "sinfulness" which is the inescapable fate of every man "living in the world and wearing flesh." The latter is, so to speak, "dissolved" in the Church’s liturgy and it is this sinfulness that the Church confesses in the "prayers of the faithful" before the offering of the Holy Gifts. Before the Holy Chalice itself, at the moment of receiving the Mysteries, we ask for forgiveness of "sins voluntary and involuntary, those in word and in deed, committed knowingly or unknowingly," and we believe that, in the measure of our repentance, we receive this forgiveness.

All this means, of course, and no one really denies it, that the only real condition for partaking of the Divine Mysteries is membership in the Church and conversely, that membership in the Church is fulfilled in the partaking of the sacrament of the Church. Communion is given "for the remission of sins," "for the healing of the soul and body," and it implies, therefore, repentance, the awareness of our total unworthiness, and the understanding of communion as a heavenly gift which never can be "deserved" by an earthly being. The whole meaning of preparation for communion, as established by the Church ("The Rule for Holy Communion") is not, of course, in making man feel "worthy" but, on the contrary, in revealing to him the abyss of God’s mercy and love ("I am not worthy, Master and Lord . . . yet since Thou in Thy love . . . dost wish to dwell in me, in boldness I come. Thou commandest, open the gates . . . and Thou wilt come in love . . . and enlighten my darkened reasoning. I believe that Thou wilt do this . . .). Before the Lord’s table the only "worthiness" of the communicant is that he has been and realized his bottomless "unworthiness." This, indeed, is the beginning of salvation.

It is therefore of paramount importance for us to understand that the transformation of the sacrament of penance into an obligatory condition for communion not only contradicts Tradition, but obviously mutilates it. It mutilates, in the first place, the doctrine of the Church by creating in her two categories of members, one of which is, in fact, excommunicated from the Eucharist, as the very content and fulfillment of membership, as its spiritual source. But then it is no longer surprising that those whom the Apostle called "fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) become again "worldly" (kosmiki, miriane), are "secularized" and their membership in the Church is measured and defined in terms of money ("dues") and "rights." But also mutilated is the doctrine of Communion, which is understood then as the sacrament for a few "worthy ones" and no longer as the sacrament of the Church: of sinners who by the infinite mercy of Christ, are always transformed into His Body. And finally, equally mutilated is the doctrine of Penance. Transformed into a formal condition for communion, it begins more and more obviously to replace the real preparation for communion, that genuine inner repentance, which inspires all the prayers before communion. After a three-minute confession and absolution a man feels "entitled" to communion, "worthy" and even "sinless," feels, in other terms, that which is in fact the very opposite of true repentance.

From here:

Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:19
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2016, 09:47:55 PM »
Thanks for the response.

As usual I agree with Fr. Schmemann (I also agree with his Eucharistic doctrine).  Except for extreme circumstances, I do not believe communion should be linked to private confession.