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Author Topic: Why a closed Eucharist?  (Read 3872 times) Average Rating: 0
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candora
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« on: December 21, 2012, 09:44:37 PM »

This is potentially a hot topic, and I'm not looking to start a huge debate/argument. 

I'm on the road to becoming Orthodox.  However, one thing that greatly troubles me and is holding me back from becoming Orthodox is the tightly closed Eucharist.  I've been to Protestant churches that had a somewhat closed Eucharist/communion (they would want to talk to you before hand to make sure you are an actual believer), but completely closing off the Eucharist to those who aren't "in" is worrisome to me.

Do the Orthodox feel they own the body of Christ?  Do the Orthodox know where Christ does and does not operate?  Are they not blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit by denying the Spirit anywhere He isn't branded as Eastern Orthodox? 

How is someone who daily pursues the will of their heavenly Father less qualified to receive the Eucharist than an infant who was simply born into a family that is already Orthodox?
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2012, 09:50:20 PM »

A wise priest once told me that the Eucharist is an expression of unity, not a means to it.
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2012, 09:55:42 PM »

Same reason for closed marriage.
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 10:24:44 PM »

Same reason for closed marriage.

I like this Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2012, 10:25:24 PM »

St. Paul makes it very clear that the Eucharist is very special and that certain people should NOT receive it in an unworthy manner.

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"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body."

We believe that as the Church, God has entrusted only us with the great privilage and responsibility of having the authority and grace to prepare, distribute and receive His Holy Body and His Holy Blood via the Eucharist. We take this responsibility very seriously, and--in accordance with St. Paul's instructions--we do not give it to anyone in an unworthy manner--including ourselves. It is not JUST the non-Orthodox that we bar from the Eucharist, but we will even bar ourselves from receiving it if we have not gone to Confession in a long time or did something really bad and haven't done the right thing yet. Because as St. Paul stated, we should not partake of it in an unworthy manner, or else we will be guilty of Jesus' body and blood. Likewise, we also shouldn't DISTRIBUTE to people who--as far as we know--are in an unworthy manner since they do not belong to the Church. If we were to give it out willy-nilly to them, then we would be condemning them to judgment because many of them would be partaking in an unworthy manner.

Now, moving onto you. We are not necessarily DENYING that God can and perhaps does work outside of the Church in SPECIAL INSTANCES if He desires to do so--but we just have no way of knowing for certain if God is really working among you UNLESS you formally become a part of the Church. Plus, if God was really working among you, I would think that He would lead you toward the Church, opposed to separating you from it. It is better to be safe than sorry.
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 10:30:06 PM »

Receiving Communion (nothing less than God Himself) in the Orthodox Church is a privilege, not a right. We should aim to conform to what God wants from us and for us. It is not for us to make God in our own image.
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 11:36:26 PM »

Do the Orthodox feel they own the body of Christ?  Do the Orthodox know where Christ does and does not operate?  Are they not blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit by denying the Spirit anywhere He isn't branded as Eastern Orthodox? 

How is someone who daily pursues the will of their heavenly Father less qualified to receive the Eucharist than an infant who was simply born into a family that is already Orthodox?

The Orthodox Church believes that it is the Church--not one of many, but the one. Thus only the Orthodox Church has sacraments, including Holy Communion, the true body and blood of Christ. The Orthodox do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His Holy Spirit to the Orthodox Church on Pentecost, and said of the Spirit that He would lead the Church into all truth. And so He has. "Eastern Orthodox" is not a brand.

Infants who are born of Orthodox parents cannot receive the Holy Mysteries without first being baptized and chrismated, just like everyone else. This is how we become members of the Church.

Do you presume to be worthy? Do you presume well? Would you be offended to be treated in the same way as Christ treated the Canaanite woman? Or would you say, "Yes, Lord, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children's table?"

The grace of God which He pours into the Church, the Orthodox Church, overflows and nourishes the whole world. It is through the Orthodox Church that God works His will--that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Ultimately, this means that those who are not Orthodox become so. But this is not always possible. So God, who knows the heart and mind of every man, uses what means He wills to work salvation.
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2012, 12:37:51 AM »

I appreciate all of the replies.  I wouldn't bother with this if I wasn't genuinely interested in joining the Orthodox Church.

I'm not sure what your all's experiences are with non-Orthodox Churches, but to me God is way bigger than the Orthodox Church or even all of the faiths in the entire world combined.  So when I see people writing that the Spirit might work in "special instances" outside of the Orthodox Church I'm a bit surprised that some people have such a small view of God.

Honestly, all of this reminds me of a very big debate in the early church.  Because both Christ and the apostles were Jews, some in the early church thought it necessary to be Jewish first.  The Apostle Paul fought strongly against that movement, and even St Peter was flabbergasted when the Holy Spirit came upon uncircumcised Gentiles.  Many early Christians simply thought that circumcision and Judaism were part of the journey into the Church.

In the same way, the Orthodox Church makes a very good argument for being the original Church and holding to the faith of the apostles.  But in all of their striving to be right all of the time, I think sometimes the Orthodox can be blind to what the Holy Spirit is doing outside of their own circles.  Like St Peter, I think they would be amazed that God is moving with amazing power and grace outside of Orthodoxy and He is not limiting His bride to only those in Orthodox circles. 

Now, I don't believe I am worthy to partake the body and blood of Christ.  It is a gift and something I will never earn -- even if I became the most pious Orthodox Christian.  I am being saved daily through Christ and no Orthodox theologian could ever convince me that I am outside of the body of Christ because I have experienced God so beautifully throughout my life. 
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2012, 01:25:03 AM »

I appreciate all of the replies.  I wouldn't bother with this if I wasn't genuinely interested in joining the Orthodox Church.

I'm not sure what your all's experiences are with non-Orthodox Churches, but to me God is way bigger than the Orthodox Church or even all of the faiths in the entire world combined.  So when I see people writing that the Spirit might work in "special instances" outside of the Orthodox Church I'm a bit surprised that some people have such a small view of God.

Honestly, all of this reminds me of a very big debate in the early church.  Because both Christ and the apostles were Jews, some in the early church thought it necessary to be Jewish first.  The Apostle Paul fought strongly against that movement, and even St Peter was flabbergasted when the Holy Spirit came upon uncircumcised Gentiles.  Many early Christians simply thought that circumcision and Judaism were part of the journey into the Church.

In the same way, the Orthodox Church makes a very good argument for being the original Church and holding to the faith of the apostles.  But in all of their striving to be right all of the time, I think sometimes the Orthodox can be blind to what the Holy Spirit is doing outside of their own circles.  Like St Peter, I think they would be amazed that God is moving with amazing power and grace outside of Orthodoxy and He is not limiting His bride to only those in Orthodox circles.  

Now, I don't believe I am worthy to partake the body and blood of Christ.  It is a gift and something I will never earn -- even if I became the most pious Orthodox Christian.  I am being saved daily through Christ and no Orthodox theologian could ever convince me that I am outside of the body of Christ because I have experienced God so beautifully throughout my life.  

Your reasoning rests on a faulty premise, from an Orthodox perspective. The "Body of Christ", the assembly...the Church...is an historical, visible body that is unified in faith, doctrine and worship. You speak of the "Orthodox Church" and the "Body of Christ" as if they are two separate concepts. For the Orthodox, they are not. To be in the Body of Christ is to be a baptized, chrismated member of the Church, and nothing less.

Now, this does not spurn other Christian groups (or any other religions even) and mean that we believe God is here and only here in the Church and can't ever be anywhere else and those who aren't Orthodox are just destined for hell. That's absolutely false. As St. Justin Martyr said, "the seed of the Word is in all places." Certainly many faithful Roman Catholics, Protestants and perhaps by God's grace Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. receive the grace of God and will, ultimately, accept Christ (if not in this life, then afterwards) and enter Paradise.

However, that can only be a hope, a desire, for us. We can't know, because we can't know the condition of a person's heart. We know that God resides in the Church because He says He does. Christ gives us "the norms", the regular mechanism by which we come to know God and be united to Him. This is the faith, doctrine and worship of the Orthodox Church. God may act outside of that, but we simply cannot know. The Eucharist is especially important to this, as it is the Body of Christ (the Church, the Orthodox Church) being what it truly is, a single Body that shares faith, doctrine and worship and together receives the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, by which it itself becomes that Body. Therefore, those who reside outside of the Body cannot participate in that which is the primary act of that Body.

That said, to paraphrase a wise priest I know, who was asked why we practice "closed" Communion: "We don't. Our communion is completely open! As long as you confess the Orthodox Faith and receive baptism and chrismation, you are welcome to participate fully!"
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2012, 01:26:27 AM »

Now, I don't believe I am worthy to partake the body and blood of Christ.  It is a gift and something I will never earn -- even if I became the most pious Orthodox Christian.

No one is worthy of receiving the body and blood of Christ.  Yet, we Orthodox approach the chalice with reverence and fear of God even if one had the Big Breakfast at McDonald's before coming to church.

I am being saved daily through Christ and no Orthodox theologian could ever convince me that I am outside of the body of Christ

No one knows who is inside and outside the Church.

because I have experienced God so beautifully throughout my life. 

Why not experience God through the Eucharist?
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2012, 01:45:51 AM »

No one knows who is inside and outside the Church.

I've little interest in getting into the debates about whether the heterodox can be "inside" the Church in some bizarre non-sacramental sense, but we certainly do know that those baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church are members of the same.
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2012, 02:28:28 AM »

Candora, have you talked to your Orthodox priest about this?
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2012, 04:00:36 AM »

No one knows who is inside and outside the Church.

Heresy
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2012, 06:25:50 AM »

No one knows who is inside and outside the Church.

Heresy

Huh

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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2012, 12:21:48 PM »

Thank you everyone for the replies, and thank you Benjamin the Red for digging a bit deeper.  The way you stated it does make some sense.  I still am not in agreement, but I am beginning to see your perspective.  From what I have seen in the New Testament, the word "church" simply meant a gathering of God's people.  Over the centuries the word evolved and rules were set up for determining who's in and who's out.  Now it no longer means what it meant to the apostles (a gathering of God's people), but to the Orthodox it means "a single Body that shares faith, doctrine and worship and together receives the Body of Christ in the Eucharist" as Benjamin the Red said.

So I guess part of the misunderstanding is a difference in how the word "church" is defined.  Most Orthodox have an extremely narrow definition of it which includes only themselves, while I have a more broad definition.

SolEX01, I would like to experience God through the Eucharist, that's part of why the closed Eucharist bothers me.  I don't want to join the Orthodox Church until I have a peace in my heart about several doctrinal issues.  Not that I expect to have all of my issues resolved, I just don't want to join feeling conflicted.

LBK, I have not spoken with my priest about this issue.  I've been wanting to get together with him for the past month or so but have been extremely busy traveling with my job and when I've been in town he's been out of town.  But I do plan to talk with him about this, I just wanted to know the Orthodox perspective on this so that I can have my own questions ready and be better prepared to receive his answers. 
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2012, 12:35:42 PM »

Now it no longer means what it meant to the apostles (a gathering of God's people) 

What is "a gathering of God's people"?
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2012, 12:56:17 PM »

Gathering is defined by the dictionary as "an assembly or meeting."  God's people would be those who have submitted their lives to Christ our God.  The apostles used the word "churches" (plural) many times to denote individual gatherings.  I'd challenge you to search for the word "church" and "churches" in the New Testament to see how the apostles used it.  At times it was used to refer to individual gatherings in people's homes, and other times it was used to mean all Christians. 

The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which simply meant gathering to Greek speakers, which I think would be why the apostles were ok with using the word as I stated above.
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2012, 01:04:09 PM »

How one does "submit his life to Christ our God"?

BTW, the Orthodox Church agrees with the fact that the Catholic Church consists of local Churches.
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2012, 01:06:18 PM »

In the Septuagint the word ekklesia was used for Israel, the people of God. In the NT the word ekklesia is used for the new Israel, the Church.
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2012, 01:07:53 PM »

When I went to Church today, before the communion, a man asked me if I knew that, because I was not an Orthodox Christian, that I could not take communion. I told him yes, I knew; I wasn't planning on taking it, because it would be wrong of me to do so.

They did give me a piece of blessed bread, however; they said it wasn't communion, and that everyone could have it. I thought that was interesting. In my short time as a Catholic, I can't remember that happening during communion.
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« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2012, 01:11:30 PM »

They did give me a piece of blessed bread, however; they said it wasn't communion, and that everyone could have it. I thought that was interesting. In my short time as a Catholic, I can't remember that happening during communion.

It used to be an exclusively western practice. Then later on it got adopted by the east and it slowly disappeared out of the west. Now the antidoron is only used in the liturgies of the east.
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« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2012, 05:26:11 PM »

Gathering is defined by the dictionary as "an assembly or meeting."  God's people would be those who have submitted their lives to Christ our God.  The apostles used the word "churches" (plural) many times to denote individual gatherings.  I'd challenge you to search for the word "church" and "churches" in the New Testament to see how the apostles used it.  At times it was used to refer to individual gatherings in people's homes, and other times it was used to mean all Christians. 

The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which simply meant gathering to Greek speakers, which I think would be why the apostles were ok with using the word as I stated above.

The NT is also full of exhortations for the people of the Church to be of "one mind" when it came to matters of faith and teaching. St Paul spends quite a bit of his time and effort in drawing back wayward folks and churches back onto the straight and narrow. From the very beginning, the Church understood the importance and necessity of "unity of faith". It is not a later phenomenon.
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« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2012, 06:05:43 PM »

Shouldn't we be grateful when a church has enough regard and respect for the Eucharist that they don't go giving it out willy nilly? Right or wrong I firmly believe in closed communion
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« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2012, 06:05:57 PM »

In the Septuagint the word ekklesia was used for Israel, the people of God. In the NT the word ekklesia is used for the new Israel, the Church.

Well, not the new Israel. Same Israel, new Covenant.
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« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2012, 06:07:27 PM »

From what I have seen in the New Testament, the word "church" simply meant a gathering of God's people.  Over the centuries the word evolved and rules were set up for determining who's in and who's out.
What are you referring to from the New Testament? What are you referring to from history?
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« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2012, 07:20:38 PM »

Shouldn't we be grateful when a church has enough regard and respect for the Eucharist that they don't go giving it out willy nilly? Right or wrong I firmly believe in closed communion

As a catechumen I do fully agree. The communion is something you should make effort to be able to partake in, as it is our meeting with the Living God Himself. That requires understanding of what is and it means: observing, learning, understanding, fasting from midnight to the start of the Divine Liturgy and before that, praying the eucharist prayers at home (or in church) and making confession.

My priest told me a while ago when I told him it sometimes hurts to watch the communion: "Tommy, listen, you must be patient and understand the meaning and the special privilegium that recieving God is, it is good for you to watch and see what lies ahead of you".

Did I like to hear this? In a way no, but I did need to hear it.

Patience and dedication. Yes, the keywords I come more and more to see as sundays comes and passes by.
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« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2012, 08:20:20 PM »

SolEX01, I would like to experience God through the Eucharist, that's part of why the closed Eucharist bothers me.  I don't want to join the Orthodox Church until I have a peace in my heart about several doctrinal issues.  Not that I expect to have all of my issues resolved, I just don't want to join feeling conflicted.

I used to have a good book on why the Orthodox practice closed communion and I no longer have it in my collection.  The idea of closed communion is to prevent people from other faiths from denying their own faith by receiving communion in the Orthodox Church that they do not believe.  The quote from the following website explains the concept of closed communion

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The reality of the closed chalice is not that Orthodox Christians are somehow bigoted and insensitive. Quite the opposite, we Orthodox are called to love and respect other Christians and their beliefs. In fact, we love and respect other Christians so much, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, that we will not allow them to make liars of themselves before God by receiving sacraments in a church with beliefs that are different than their own. It is a matter of maintaining the personal integrity of those who visit our churches. The example used for this article is a bit extreme; however, the same logic applies to any Christians who have any beliefs that are not in agreement with ours – whether those beliefs are about Scripture and Tradition, Ecclesiology, the Sacraments, the authority of the bishop of Rome, the Immaculate Conception of Mary (the belief that Mary was conceived by her parent, Joachim and Anna, without the original sin that all mankind is born under), iconography, etc. The reason that there are tens of thousands of Christian denominations in this country is that there are tens of thousands of ways to believe differently from us Orthodox Christians; thus, we are not in communion with those Churches.

So, to allow a Protestant or a Roman Catholic (Latin, Melkite, or Maronite) to commune from the Orthodox chalice is making him or her state that they reject their Church’s teachings. We are inviting them to lie. That is disrespectful, insensitive, and un-Orthodox. Asking a non-Orthodox visitor to refrain from partaking of the chalice maintains the personal integrity of the visitor and demonstrates the Orthodox Church’s respect, but not acceptance, of the differences that divide us. That is respectful, sensitive, and Orthodox. Let us pray that one day the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will bring all worshipping Christians to the True Faith so that all Christians will be one and that all may partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

http://www.allsaints-stl.org/ClosedChalice.shtml
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« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2012, 11:33:00 PM »

SolEX01, I would like to experience God through the Eucharist, that's part of why the closed Eucharist bothers me.  I don't want to join the Orthodox Church until I have a peace in my heart about several doctrinal issues.  Not that I expect to have all of my issues resolved, I just don't want to join feeling conflicted.

I used to have a good book on why the Orthodox practice closed communion and I no longer have it in my collection.  The idea of closed communion is to prevent people from other faiths from denying their own faith by receiving communion in the Orthodox Church that they do not believe.  The quote from the following website explains the concept of closed communion

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The reality of the closed chalice is not that Orthodox Christians are somehow bigoted and insensitive. Quite the opposite, we Orthodox are called to love and respect other Christians and their beliefs. In fact, we love and respect other Christians so much, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, that we will not allow them to make liars of themselves before God by receiving sacraments in a church with beliefs that are different than their own. It is a matter of maintaining the personal integrity of those who visit our churches. The example used for this article is a bit extreme; however, the same logic applies to any Christians who have any beliefs that are not in agreement with ours – whether those beliefs are about Scripture and Tradition, Ecclesiology, the Sacraments, the authority of the bishop of Rome, the Immaculate Conception of Mary (the belief that Mary was conceived by her parent, Joachim and Anna, without the original sin that all mankind is born under), iconography, etc. The reason that there are tens of thousands of Christian denominations in this country is that there are tens of thousands of ways to believe differently from us Orthodox Christians; thus, we are not in communion with those Churches.

So, to allow a Protestant or a Roman Catholic (Latin, Melkite, or Maronite) to commune from the Orthodox chalice is making him or her state that they reject their Church’s teachings. We are inviting them to lie. That is disrespectful, insensitive, and un-Orthodox. Asking a non-Orthodox visitor to refrain from partaking of the chalice maintains the personal integrity of the visitor and demonstrates the Orthodox Church’s respect, but not acceptance, of the differences that divide us. That is respectful, sensitive, and Orthodox. Let us pray that one day the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will bring all worshipping Christians to the True Faith so that all Christians will be one and that all may partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

http://www.allsaints-stl.org/ClosedChalice.shtml

SolEX01, that is the best answer I have seen/heard (at least for where I personally am in my faith journey).  In combination with what some of the others have said, that actually makes quite a bit of sense.  I'm going to ponder that for a while.  Thank you everyone for the responses.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 11:34:04 PM by candora » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2012, 02:26:16 AM »

Gathering is defined by the dictionary as "an assembly or meeting."  God's people would be those who have submitted their lives to Christ our God.  The apostles used the word "churches" (plural) many times to denote individual gatherings.  I'd challenge you to search for the word "church" and "churches" in the New Testament to see how the apostles used it.  At times it was used to refer to individual gatherings in people's homes, and other times it was used to mean all Christians.

Friend,

You misunderstand. Firstly, we are not doubting that the Church is composed of several smaller gatherings--we call these "jurisdictions"--however, we all share the same faith and apostolic succession and are in communion with each other. But Churches that are not in communion with us are NOT a part of the Apostolic Church--the reason for this is that--even though they may be good people, no doubt--their faith is ultimately false and thus falls short if it differs from the faith of the Orthodox Church--which has maintained and upheld the Apostolic faith just as it was delivered. We worship one God, therefore only ONE faith about Him can be true, thus, only ONE Church that possesses the true faith can be true. Just because you claim to believe in God does not make you a part of the Church--thus, all of the other groups that claim to be Christians are not necessarily Christians unless they practice the proper faith. When you adhere to false teachings and doctrines about God, then--to be blunt--you are not worshipping God but worshipping your own idol of what you think God is like. Likewise, even in the New Testament itself, St. Paul constantly urges us to uphold and remain faithful to the traditions that he taught us--not to just make up our own doctrines and practice our own faith. Plus, he also urged us to stay united in the same mind and to speak the same thing--fighting for unity. Thus, anyone who strays away from this one mind and faith--which is ONLY found in the Orthodox Church--is not a part of the Church. St. Paul makes this very clear and gives us this standard for deciding who is and is not a part of the Church.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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James, you have problemz.
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« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2012, 02:29:52 AM »

Following is an excerpt from the the booklet "Why the Orthodox Church Practices Closed Communion" by Fr. James A. Bernstein. The whole booklet can be had for about $1.50 http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Communion%3A-A-Family-Affair.html Before Fr. James converted to Orthodoxy he was president of IVP, an Evangelical Christian Press, and with Moshe Rosen had cofounded the organization Jews for Jesus).

Quote from: Fr. James A. Bernstein

Why the Orthodox Church Practices Closed Communion (Fr. James A. Bernstein)

For many inquirers into the Orthodox Faith, this is the most perplexing and disturbing question of all. Someone who is a sincere, faithful, upright member of another church may feel that he is being treated unfairly, even "judged" for not being Orthodox, because he is not allowed to receive the Lord's Supper. After all, in his own church, communion may be distributed freely, no questions asked, to all comers -sometimes even to those who are not baptized Christians. Who do these Orthodox think they are to be so exclusive?

This is a sensitive issue, and one that is difficult to comprehend without a thorough understanding of the Orthodox perspective on the nature of the Church and of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is impossible for a brief booklet like this to impart such an understanding completely. It may be helpful, however, to look at the way the Eucharist itself and participation in it were viewed in the Church of the first few Christian centuries.

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
An impartial examination of the New Testament and early Church writings reveals that the early Christians put a great emphasis on doctrine, morality, worship, and obedience. These four issues were so incredibly important that the early Church actually excluded from communion those baptized Christians who had forsaken them. As for a non-baptized person partaking -that was completely unheard of!

Surprising as it seems, the practice of "closed communion" was adhered to not only by all Eastern and Western churches since the earliest days -in other words, all of ancient Christendom- but it continued to be the standard, not only of the Orthodox Church, but of the Roman Catholic Church, and until recently, most Protestant denominations as well.

For example, until the beginning of the twentieth century, Anglicans and Episcopalians practiced closed communion. The various Lutheran synods did as well, and some of the more conservative still do. Most Baptist groups had closed communion, as do many Southern Baptist congregations to this day. Methodists had to review a "note of admission" to communion from the bishop every quarter. Reformed Presbyterians issued certificates or "sacramental tokens" to those who, after examination, were considered to be in good standing -a practice called "fencing the table."

Why was this careful guarding of Holy Communion, which numerous contemporary believers have ignored so widely, practiced by such a broad spectrum of churches? Let us examine its biblical and historical basis.

I. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

As a Jew who believes in Christ, I take some personal pride in the original Jewish Christian Church. Yet that church had serious problems. The Apostle Paul fought major battles with Jewish believers who demanded that Gentiles be circumcised and keep all the provisions of the Mosaic Law. Finally, the Council of Jerusalem, presided over by the Apostle James, decided that Gentiles could become Christians without circumcision or adherence to the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:1-31).

In his Epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul specifically addresses those desiring to impose Judaic legalism upon Gentile believers: "But even if we," he writes, "or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8, 9).

Saint Paul's conflict with the "Judaizers" (subsequently called Ebionites) was not minor, but was in fact so significant that he excluded them from fellowship. In dealing with the issue of the Gentiles mingling covenants, the Apostle was clearly restrictive.

It's a paradox: the Apostle Paul, who probably brought more people into the Church than any other Apostle, also excluded from the Church -and from Communion- those believers who did not hold orthodox Christian doctrine! So adamant was Saint Paul that he twice states his position toward the doctrinally aberrant with a most severe Greek term" anathema (which means "accursed").

Throughout the New Testament, doctrine was always considered to be a matter of great importance. Saint Luke tells us concerning the new believers on the Day of Pentecost, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42).

The Apostle John, known as the Apostle of love, wrote, with regard to the Gnostic heretics, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.... If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him" (2 John 7, 10).

And the Apostle Paul wrote, "But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.... Note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15).

To "keep company" is to "break bread" together; both terms are understood biblically as referring to Holy Communion. This passage with others contains a directive to exclue offenders from eucharistic fellowship, while also fulfilling Saint Paul's exhortations to "repay no one evil for evil... live peaceably with all men... do not avenge yourselves.... do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17, 18, 21).

Soon after the New Testament books were written, other heretical groups arose which, bu their error, excluded themselves from the Eucharist. In the third century, the Modalists rejected the Orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity. They denied that God the Father is the Fountainhead of the Trinity, teaching instead that God is somewhat distinct from the Trinity and has multiple modes of existence. The Sabellians, also in the third century, rejected the apostolic doctrine that the Three Persons of the Trinity are distinct. They sought to fuse Father and Son.

In the fourth century, Arianism arose, and for approximately two centuries engaged in moral combat with the Church. The Arians attacked the divinity of Christ, holding that in Jesus' preincarnate existence as Logos -Word of God- He had been created by God and was therefore neither divine nor God incarnate. The century also witnessed the rise of other heretical groups called Macedonians. They rejected the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity, teaching instead that the Holy Spirit is not divine but merely a creation of God. The Apollinarians were another fourth-century group not in communion with the Church. They taught that Jesus did not have a human mind.

The fifth century witnessed the rise of the Nestorians. They taught that the Virgin Mary did not conceive within her womb the preexistent Son of God in the flesh. These false teachers recognized only the humanity of Christ in her womb, not His divinity. Ad to these sects the Antinomianists, Docetists, Novatians, Donatists, Monothelites, Montanists, and Theopaschites, and you still only have a partial list of those who departed from the Faith.

All these groups held one thing in common: they claimed to be "Christian" and to believe in Jesus Christ." But they were universally excluded from Holy Communion by the Church because they rejected the fullness of the Apostolic Faith, "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

In excommunicating them as heretics and schismatics the early church was not making a statement as to their eternal destiny. This is for God alone to decide. The Church was simply following the biblical injunction of Christ Himself, to be sure the worship of the Father was conducted "in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:23). In the historic Church, orthodox doctrine was a prerequisite for eucharistic unity.

II. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MORALITY

As a parent with four children, I have at times had to exercise discipline. Our contemporary secular culture understands love primarily in its encouraging, understanding, sympathetic, and lenient aspects. It deemphasizes, and even calls abusive, love's directive, intervening, disciplinary, and painful aspects -and it also sponsors seminars to find out why children lack focus and motivation!

I remember as a young Jew reading in the Old Testament, "My Son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction, for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:11, 12).

The Apostle Paul quotes this passage in the Book of Hebrews, adding, "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons... Now no chastening seems to be joyful" (Hebrews 12:7-11). The discipline of which the Scripture speaks is not punitive or abusive, but loving and applied with wisdom and restraint.

The exercise of discipline in the Church is based upon the teaching of Jesus. How does the Church relate to an unrepentant brother? If a personal word does no good, Jesus says, "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:17-18).

Remarkable! These words come ffrom the same Lord who forgave the woman caught in adultery, saying to those who would have stoned her, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first" (John 8:7). This is the same Lord who said we should forgive our brother not "up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22) -the Hebrew idiom for infinity. And this is the same Lord who cried out upon the Cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" Luke 23:34).

This tell-it-to-the-church passage in Matthew 18 has universaly been understood as referring to the Church's responsibility to maintain internal discipline. Though we are called to be a loving and forgiving people, our kindness is not to prevent us from providing reasonable moral boundaries, guarding the integrity of our communion with God and with one another.

The Apostle Paul's castigation of the church in Corinth for ignoring the serious moral sin of an unrepentant Christian brother reinforces the Church's responsibility today to maintain a moral standard for communicants. In 1 Corinthians 5, Saint Paul says:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among Gentiles -that a man has his father's wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in the body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed... I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -not even to eat with such a person. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 5:1-6:10).

According to Saint Paul, Christian love within the Church was not wishy-washy warmth that ignored or winked at serious sin. For the Apostle to the Gentiles, love within the Church is tough love that calls the sinning brother to repentance for his own good. It is a love that excludes an immoral brother or sister from the eucharistic meal so as to stress the seriousness of sin. For our Savior and for Saint Paul, love was more demanding and discipline more severe toward those within the Church than toward those outside it. The Church has a responsibility for the moral conduct of her own that she doesn't have for others.

In addition to our individual responsibility for ourselves, our Mother Church also gives us a collective responsibility. Within the Church we call one another brothers and sisters. We bear the same last name: Christian. As with our nuclear family, the Church is morally accountable for her people and sets conditions for receiving Holy Communion. Both right doctrine and right morality are biblical prerequisites for eucharistic unity.

III. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
In addition to expressing unity of faith (doctrine) and unity of practice (morality), communion also expresses unity of worship. In contrast to the incredible variety of worship styles found in various churches today, the early Church had a form of worship that was quite consistent from one church to another across the Christian world.

The New Testament has little to say about worship other than to point out that the original Jewish Christians continued to worship as Jews in both the Jerusalem temple and the synagogues. They did so for as long as they were able, stopping only after the temple's destruction and their forced exclusion from the synagogues by the non-Christian Jews.

The New Testament epistles were written primarily to address problems and disputes within the Church. The fact that issues concerning worship are largely absent from the epistles indicates, therefore, that worship was not a problem. Though many theological issues were disputed uring the first few centuries, the form of worship was not.

Study of the writings of Christians from the first four centuries reveals a shape of worship that was based on temple and synagogue worship, and was remarkably unified throughout all the churches of Christendom. Of what did this shape of worship consist? It was essentially identical to present day Orthodox Christian worship.

Worship was universally centered upon weekly Sunday Eucharist, with the sermon serving a secondary, supportive role. The service was led by one person either a bishop or priest, who alone said the prayers consecrating the bread and wine.

Worship included a recounting of the Last Supper, the words of Institution, and an Epiclesis, or calling down the Holy Spirit upon the faithful and upon the bread and wine. Worship was understood to have a sacrificial aspect, as it re-presented the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Following the consecration, the bread and wine were called the Body and Blood of Christ. Statements were made indicating that the ancient Church universally understood the Eucharist to be the glorified Body and Blood of Christ.

The early Church took seriously such passages as "This is My body" and "This is my blood" (see Luke 22:19, 20 and 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25); and "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). They also heeded Saint Paul's warning that those who communed unworthily would be subject to possible sickness or even death (see 1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

Communicants were required to be baptized, be living a moral life, and be reconciled with those within the Church. Only the faithful, those properly received into the Church and in good standing within it, were permitted to receive communion. The clergy were responsible for the implementation of the rules of discipline and for deciding who would and who would not be permitted to commune.

If communion is, as the early Church held, literally the glorified Body and Blood of Christ, it makes sense that it should be approached with a certain fear and trembling. And it makes sense that it should not be shared with someone who believes the sacrament to be only symbolic.

IV. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE

In addition to expressing unity of faith (doctrine), unity of practice (morality), and unity of worship, communion also expresses a unity of obedience. In the early Church, a person could be excommunicated not only for blatant heresy or immorality, but also for severe and persistent factionalism of divisiveness. This area of offense may be the toughest for us modern Westerners to accept. After all, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, right? ...Besides, it is good to seek unity in diversity. We know these lines well -we've all used them. And certainly there are places for appropriate diversity, such as in the use of gifts, ministries, and activities (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

But as we have seen, there is no room for diversity in doctrine or morals. Nor is there a diversity in obedience. While our civil government aims for democracy, the Kingdom of God is a theocracy: it is ruled by God. The Church is the presence of the Kingdom in the world. Thus, in the Church, as was true in the Old Covenant, God's people refrain from "doing whatever is right in (their) own eyes" (Deuteronomy 12:8). Christianity is not a 'do your own thing' affair.

In Israel of old, God governed His nation through prophets, patriarchs, kings, elders, and judges. He raised up leaders who would bring unity and order to His people. In the Church, there is leadership and order as well. Saint Paul speaks of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. In fact, as far as polity is concerned, the New Testament also reveals the Church is composed of her bishops surrounded by the presbyters, deacons, and "the people of God," the laity. Thus we have such exhortations as 'Obey those who rule over you and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17); see also 1 Peter 5:1-3).

Note that obedience is voluntary -as is our adherence to true doctrine and morality. In the first New Testament book written, Saint Paul instructs his flock "And we urge you brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13). Then in the very next verse, he says, "Warn those who are unruly," a word which means insubordinate or ungovernable -people who are out of control. In the New Testament, when people refused to obey the Apostles and their coworkers, it was a serious offense. Thus the Scriptures teach, "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition" (Titus 3:10). The willingly divisive were ultimately excluded from communion.

A BROKEN UNITY

For the Apostles and the early Church, issues of doctrine, morality, worship, and obedience were never considered irrelevant or extraneous to a person's relationship with Christ. In regard to Holy Communion, the Sacrament of sacraments, no right-believing priest of the early period of the Church's history would have thought to offer the Holy Chalice to a person he knew had separated himself or herself from the Church in any of those areas.

For the first thousand years of her history, the Church in East and West was one. This meant that if a Christian was in good standing in any single church, he was in good standing in all churches and could receive communion in any. All the churches had unity of doctrine, morality, worship, and obedience to the bishops. B the same token, if a Christian had fallen out of fellowship with the Church in one of those areas, he could not simply walk out in a huff expecting to receive communion at the next Christian church own the street.

The Church's unity was most clearly manifest in her protection of the purity of the sacraments. For centuries, when at the Divine Liturgy the deacon proclaimed, "The doors, the doors," it was a sign that all but baptized believers in good standing were to depart. It was time to begin the Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy. Obviously, this state of unity no longer exists today... [cf. original booklet for further discussion of the Great Schism and the development and fragmentation of Protestantism]

COMMUNION IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

What does all this mean today for those non-Orthodox Christians who come to worship in the Orthodox Church?

Applying these four criteria of unity established in the ancient Church -doctrine, morality, worship, and obedience- the Orthodox church, which maintains the ancient Faith in its fullness, must and does refuse to admit to Holy Communion anyone who is not a baptized, chrismated Orthodox Christian (furthermore , even Orthodox Christians must be in good standing with the Church and must properly prepare themselves through regular confession and spiritual discipline).

With regard to doctrine, there is no non-Orthodox denomination I know of which holds to the fullness of the Orthodox Faith as expressed in the original, unaltered Nicene Creed. All but the Orthodox have either added to the Faith or subtracted from it. With regard to morality, of course there are many believers in other churches who lead upright, moral lives, but if they are not part of an Orthodox parish, regularly confessing their sins and receiving absolution, the priest has no way to be certain that they are not partaking unworthily...

Even if an individual holds the true belief and adheres to the correct practice... but is not a baptized, chrismated Orthodox Christian, the fourth criterion of obedience to the authority of the Church is still lacking. One must be born into the Church of God through these sacraments established by Christ himself to be fully in communion with her. If one is not in communion, one may not partake of Communion. It is as simple as that.

This policy of closed communion does not imply that those outside the Orthodox Church are considered not to be Christians, or not to be saved. The Church explicitly refuses to pass judgment concerning the salvation of any individual within or outside her walls. But having received the deposit of Faith from the Lord and His apostles, and having faithfully kept it intact down to this day, the Church must protect that deposit by extending communion only to those who have united themselves to her.

If you are surprised or saddened to hear that intercommunion is not possible between us, I am equally saddened to have to write these words. For more significantly, I believe that our Lord Himself is deeply wounded by the division which no exists between our churches. It is not because of callous indifference or pride that the Orthodox Church refuses communion to non-Orthodox Christians. It is rather an expression of the profound importance our Church throughout time has placed upon the Holy Eucharist -the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ our Savior. The fact that division and schism now exist -a schism which every devout Orthodox Christian prays daily that God will bring to an end- cannot, must not obscure the transcendent reality of this great sacrament. To lose sight of this, even for the sake of compassion, is to lose sight of the Orthodox faith. This we cannot do.

No Christian living today is responsible for what happened almost one thousand years ago, or for the chaotic state of Christendom which has resulted. We are, all of us, survivors of a cataclysmic disaster -a disaster which took place long before we were born and over which we had no control whatsoever. We do have control, however, over the way we respond to this tragic situation. It is open to each and every Christian to embrace the fullness of the Apostolic Faith once more, and to choose to unite himself or herself to the Church which holds the Faith intact -the Orthodox Christian Church.

I hope these words will in some way help you to understand the Orthodox position in this very sensitive and emotional issue.
May we in love and humility pursue that unity which existed for the first thousand years of the Church's life -setting aside the passions of pride, jealousy, and malice, which have served to worsen the division. And may we all pray for the true unity which Christ our Lord can provide through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2012, 02:12:15 AM »

Thanks xariskai.  My church usually has the Concillar Press booklets available free of charge and I plan on picking up the Closed Communion booklet if I see it in the display.   Smiley  Merry Christmas!
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« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2012, 05:23:05 PM »

Thanks xariskai.  My church usually has the Concillar Press booklets available free of charge and I plan on picking up the Closed Communion booklet if I see it in the display.   Smiley  Merry Christmas!
Christ is born!
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« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2012, 05:43:38 PM »

Thanks xariskai.  My church usually has the Concillar Press booklets available free of charge and I plan on picking up the Closed Communion booklet if I see it in the display.   Smiley  Merry Christmas!
Christ is born!

Glorify Him!
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« Reply #33 on: December 25, 2012, 11:17:55 AM »

Ever seen these videos:
http://youtu.be/Hsp4QrwJFpc
http://youtu.be/xvF-aOwlSJU
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« Reply #34 on: December 25, 2012, 10:45:24 PM »

A closed communion limited to those who hold the apostolic faith is as old as the Church. St. Justin Martyr wrote in 150 AD: "No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ." This was only some 55 yrs after the New Testament was finished being written and some 40 yrs. after St. John passed away.

Protestants do not believe that what the Orthodox teach about many things is true, including/ especially what we believe about the Eucharist. We believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ and they believe it is bread and wine/ grape juice. But St Justin said, "We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving."

If we are not in a communion of belief about what the Eucharist even is we cannot share communion in the Holy Mystery. It would be sacrilegious on our part to allow someone to receive the Body and Blood as if it were "ordinary food and drink" that only had a symbolic meaning added to it.
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« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2012, 08:41:57 AM »

I've been to Protestant churches that had a somewhat closed Eucharist/communion (they would want to talk to you before hand to make sure you are an actual believer),

I don't think very many Protestants would call that "closed communion".

(Incidentally, though, I agree with a lot of what you're saying here. I myself have strongly considered becoming Orthodoxy (not right now, but in recent memory) but am bothered by a lot of the unecumenical/antiecumenical attitudes among Orthodox (although not by closed communion specifically.)

On the lighter side, you might enjoy this video that a protestant made about closed communion.
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« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2013, 11:49:09 AM »

This is potentially a hot topic, and I'm not looking to start a huge debate/argument. 

I'm on the road to becoming Orthodox.  However, one thing that greatly troubles me and is holding me back from becoming Orthodox is the tightly closed Eucharist.  I've been to Protestant churches that had a somewhat closed Eucharist/communion (they would want to talk to you before hand to make sure you are an actual believer), but completely closing off the Eucharist to those who aren't "in" is worrisome to me.

Do the Orthodox feel they own the body of Christ?  Do the Orthodox know where Christ does and does not operate?  Are they not blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit by denying the Spirit anywhere He isn't branded as Eastern Orthodox? 

How is someone who daily pursues the will of their heavenly Father less qualified to receive the Eucharist than an infant who was simply born into a family that is already Orthodox?

Candora, I ponder these questions also. I am currently a catechumen of a ROCOR parish. It was not my first choice of jurisdiction. I landed here after a lifetime, yes a literal lifetime of searching for a church that at bare minimum adhered to the Bible. I was baptized a Roman Catholic, so the journey started as an infant. So as you mention above I have been pursuing the will of my heavenly Father which may have led me here yet He also led me to other places. My parents left the Roman Catholic church when I was young, so when I went back as an adult it had changed. And as listed also in this thread I have seen all those heretical groups active in every protestant denomination that I have been in AND left because I recognized or learned of the heresies. I am like the Bereans, who search the scriptures. I know my shortcomings and I have always been seeking the truth.

I first encountered what is called 'closed communion' on my first trek backwards in trying to find the 'true church' at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). They had a glitch in their requirements for communion, because I had just dis-membered myself from an apostate-independent-charismatic to reformed-non-denominational congregation I wasnt eligible. Yet had I simply been visiting this OPC and in good standing with the apostate church I would have been communed. This started my researching into this 'closed communion' dogma. It was very damaging to my soul to be passed by during communion and being denied to participate. I left the OPC a very hurt Christian. Then I encountered it at what I thought was THE first reformed church, Lutheranism. I put up with their confirmation process and partook of communion only to have been so emotional I could barely get back to my pew from the sheer overwhelming joy. Then we had a pastoral change that led to the rapid deterioration of our local church but learned that the whole denomination is based on schism from the Roman Catholic faith and what led us to try Orthodoxy. If the original pastor was still there I would probably have died a Lutheran. A God thing. That pastor would make a wonderful Orthodox priest.

Anyway, in my research I find that even Judas was offered the sop, he took it and then left. To his detriment I suppose. St. Paul's words

"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body."

say for a man to EXAMINE HIMSELF

not the church, not the priest, not the guy sitting next to him in church.

That is the problem I have with closed communion

You do not know the damage you do to one who knows what they are partaking of to be denied. Yes, I cry everytime I see a baby or a child who does not know what they are partaking being given the Eucharist. I die a little bit every Divine Liturgy. Its why I left an Antiochian parish after several months, it got too hard to bear standing while everyone else partook. The ROCOR parish being smaller I had at least a better chance to talk to the priest and start the catechumanate but I may not survive the waiting. Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2013, 11:53:35 AM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink
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« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2013, 11:54:39 AM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

^^

 Grin
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« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2013, 11:58:19 AM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

^^

 Grin

That goes with my response to, "why are you against gay marriage?"  We are not against gays marrying.  Gay men can marry women, and lesbians can marry men.
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« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2013, 11:59:28 AM »

This is potentially a hot topic, and I'm not looking to start a huge debate/argument. 

I'm on the road to becoming Orthodox.  However, one thing that greatly troubles me and is holding me back from becoming Orthodox is the tightly closed Eucharist.  I've been to Protestant churches that had a somewhat closed Eucharist/communion (they would want to talk to you before hand to make sure you are an actual believer), but completely closing off the Eucharist to those who aren't "in" is worrisome to me.

Do the Orthodox feel they own the body of Christ?  Do the Orthodox know where Christ does and does not operate?  Are they not blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit by denying the Spirit anywhere He isn't branded as Eastern Orthodox? 

How is someone who daily pursues the will of their heavenly Father less qualified to receive the Eucharist than an infant who was simply born into a family that is already Orthodox?

Even the new born need Baptism and Chrismation.....he simply isn't ready for the Eucharist simply by being born into an Orthodox family.
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« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2013, 12:00:16 PM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

^^

 Grin

That goes with my response to, "why are you against gay marriage?"  We are not against gays marrying.  Gay men can marry women, and lesbians can marry men.

 Roll Eyes
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« Reply #42 on: March 16, 2013, 12:57:58 PM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

It is these packaged answers that led me away from protestantism. Its why I walked out of a mostly-convert antiochian parish to a mostly cradle parish where people listen to what I ask and seriously consider before answering. Maybe a forum is not the right place for a catechumen or inquirer.

modified to add, are there any cradle orthodox who can answer my question?

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« Reply #43 on: March 16, 2013, 01:48:47 PM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

It is these packaged answers that led me away from protestantism. Its why I walked out of a mostly-convert antiochian parish to a mostly cradle parish where people listen to what I ask and seriously consider before answering. Maybe a forum is not the right place for a catechumen or inquirer.

modified to add, are there any cradle orthodox who can answer my question?

I don't understand your question.  I don't even understand how you wound up at ROCOR which is very strict on Communion.  Have you asked someone in ROCOR why they practice closed communion?
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« Reply #44 on: March 16, 2013, 02:38:27 PM »

The Orthodox practice open communion.  Everyone is welcome to convert to Orthodoxy and receive communion  Wink

It is these packaged answers that led me away from protestantism. Its why I walked out of a mostly-convert antiochian parish to a mostly cradle parish where people listen to what I ask and seriously consider before answering. Maybe a forum is not the right place for a catechumen or inquirer.

modified to add, are there any cradle orthodox who can answer my question?

But that is the truth, is it not?  Are people not open to come and become Orthodox?  And in fact is the true answer to this.  One must believe the same things as the Orthodox do and accept them and thus become Orthodox prior to communion.  And everyone is welcome to "Come and See".
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