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Author Topic: Catechumenate: Not being able to receive Holy Communion. How to handle this?  (Read 2391 times) Average Rating: 0
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Maria
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« on: August 21, 2013, 01:51:54 PM »

I have seen some posts here scattered throughout the convert threads discussing the anguish that catechumens, inquirers, and Non-Orthodox visitors face when attending the Divine Liturgy since they are not allowed to receive Holy Communion.

Sometimes, the faithful also must refrain from receiving Holy Communion, especially women who have just recently born a child or those who have had a miscarriage and must wait the 40 days.

In addition, if we have had an argument with our spouse or parishioners and have not yet reconciled, then it is advised not to receive Holy Communion.

Finally, those who have recently divorced are told that they cannot receive Holy Communion until an Ecclesiastical Court or their Spiritual Father gives them permission.

What can people do who find themselves not able to receive Holy Communion?

When I was an Orthodox Catechumen, I learned to focus on the Holy Eucharist as the Priest was giving it to the parishioners. And I prayed, I realized that Christ was all around me, everywhere present, and sanctifying the faithful. From my Catholic background, I made a spiritual communion, asking the Lord to come into my heart, and make me worthy to receive Him, the King of Kings, into my very being. Feeling the love of the Lord all around me was awesome.

When I had a miscarriage, I used the opportunity to pray for my little one and asked the Lord to come and fill me with His Love that I felt all around me as the faithful received Holy Communion.

In addition, I joined my prayers with the holy Neo-Martyrs of Russia who persevered in prisons and in hiding places without the benefit of the Holy Mysteries. All they had was the Jesus Prayer, prayers that they had committed to memory, and hope in Christ Jesus, their Lord and God.
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 02:01:42 PM »

Quote
What can people do who find themselves not able to receive Holy Communion?

"Wisdom, let us attend."  I try to really listen to what is being said and receive what I can into my heart.  And I hope that I'm not a distraction or a stumbling block to people around me that are going to commune.  I am not offended that I am not able to eat and drink, because I'm not part of the Church just yet.  I knew that going in that this was something far more special, far more precious than the mere symbol I grew up with.
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 02:42:42 PM »

While by no means a good thing, attendance at Liturgy without Communion was the standard for the vast majority of Orthodox until relatively recently. In many countries, particularly places like Serbia, Communing once a year, or only on great feasts, is still the norm. I don't believe this was a traumatic or difficult experience for those people, nor do I think they left the Liturgy unedified.
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2013, 02:44:39 PM »

Antidoron?
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2013, 03:01:14 PM »

While by no means a good thing, attendance at Liturgy without Communion was the standard for the vast majority of Orthodox until relatively recently. In many countries, particularly places like Serbia, Communing once a year, or only on great feasts, is still the norm. I don't believe this was a traumatic or difficult experience for those people, nor do I think they left the Liturgy unedified.

Does the Church of Serbia encourage the continuation of this once-a-year Communion practice?
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2013, 03:13:26 PM »

While by no means a good thing, attendance at Liturgy without Communion was the standard for the vast majority of Orthodox until relatively recently. In many countries, particularly places like Serbia, Communing once a year, or only on great feasts, is still the norm. I don't believe this was a traumatic or difficult experience for those people, nor do I think they left the Liturgy unedified.

Does the Church of Serbia encourage the continuation of this once-a-year Communion practice?

Reading For the Life of the World by Father Alexander Schmemann would help.
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2013, 03:16:22 PM »

Antidoron?

Indeed.

Once people know you, the amount increases because folks want to include you as they can.

On a busy Sunday my having between 5-10 pieces handed to me is not unusual.
We have a contingent of pre-teens who make sure that all visitors are included.
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2013, 03:46:26 PM »

Antidoron?
Are visitors allowed?
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2013, 04:10:35 PM »

Technically antidoron is for those Orthodox Christians who cannot take Communion,  but it's only ever been in a monastery where I've found the custom preserved. 
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2013, 04:10:53 PM »

Antidoron?

Yes, I think would help if people emphasised the fact that antidoron means "instead of the gift", given specifically to those who cannot partake of the Eucharist, rather than just being a bonus at the end of the service.

Does the Church of Serbia encourage the continuation of this once-a-year Communion practice?

I've heard quite a few stories of priests who basically do a pirouette at "With the fear of God" and go straight back into the altar to conclude the Liturgy unless someone has arranged to have Communion in advance. To what extent such a thing is actively encouraged or discouraged at an official level, I don't know.

Are visitors allowed?

In practice at least, yes. I've never been to a church where non-Orthodox were denied the antidoron, though I've been to several where they were specifically encouraged to receive it.
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2013, 04:31:14 PM »

Technically antidoron is for those Orthodox Christians who cannot take Communion,  but it's only ever been in a monastery where I've found the custom preserved. 

I once visited Holy Transfiguration Monastery, in Brookline, MA, the then monk Ephrem invited me to attend the divine Liturgy.  He said while I could not receive there was nothing forbidding me from taking the Antidoron.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2013, 04:35:49 PM »

Quote
What can people do who find themselves not able to receive Holy Communion?

"Wisdom, let us attend."  I try to really listen to what is being said and receive what I can into my heart.  And I hope that I'm not a distraction or a stumbling block to people around me that are going to commune.  I am not offended that I am not able to eat and drink, because I'm not part of the Church just yet.  I knew that going in that this was something far more special, far more precious than the mere symbol I grew up with.

Excellent response.
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2013, 08:49:22 PM »

Patience, participation in what one can, and the realization that the time is a blessing, that God's grace provides for those who desire, but cannot receive the sacraments.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2013, 10:13:42 PM »

I guess I never came in expecting communion right away, so I don't quite understand people that do.  Huh  It's not exactly a secret that only full Orthodox can receive. I do appreciate that Anitdoron that was a nice surprise, and we've never gone Sunday without it even if the people that regularly give it to us are gone that day. But back to communion it's said absence makes the heart grow fonder and I've found that the longer I wait for something the more special it is when i get it. So, I'm not bothered at all by waiting. I very much  look forward to the Eucharist, when it's time.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2013, 11:04:27 PM »

While by no means a good thing, attendance at Liturgy without Communion was the standard for the vast majority of Orthodox until relatively recently. In many countries, particularly places like Serbia, Communing once a year, or only on great feasts, is still the norm. I don't believe this was a traumatic or difficult experience for those people, nor do I think they left the Liturgy unedified.

Does the Church of Serbia encourage the continuation of this once-a-year Communion practice?
As far as I know SOC does not encourage this....There was a discussion among SOC about this with one side encouraging frequent communion and other a less crequent one but in any case nobody was discouraged from receiving the communion. As for it being a norm ... hard to tell but have ssen it happen.
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2013, 11:39:11 PM »

Quote
Technically antidoron is for those Orthodox Christians who cannot take Communion,  but it's only ever been in a monastery where I've found the custom preserved. 

Same here.
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2013, 01:50:33 PM »

Maybe tough it out and deal with it?
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2013, 04:14:08 PM »

Antidoron?

Yes, I think would help if people emphasised the fact that antidoron means "instead of the gift", given specifically to those who cannot partake of the Eucharist, rather than just being a bonus at the end of the service.

Interesting. Do you mean only them (not those who received communion)?

Are visitors allowed?

In practice at least, yes. I've never been to a church where non-Orthodox were denied the antidoron, though I've been to several where they were specifically encouraged to receive it.

Indeed, before joining this forum I don't believe I was ever exposed to the idea of non-Orthodox Christians not being allowed to receive the antidoron.
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2013, 11:10:12 PM »

I have not been Chrismated yet, so I do not partake of Holy Communion. However, I do receive the priest's blessing as well as the Eucharist. I will admit at first I was a little confused and offended, when I didn't know that I couldn't partake in Holy Communion and I was standing before the priest. I also admit that I most likely will not be fasting nearly as much as is prescribed by the Church, if at all, seeing as I am a growing boy, but as with Holy Communion, the Lord knows our hearts, and that is all that really matters. Partaking in Holy Communion when I am Chrismated will only make it so much more special. So just hang in there, you will not be condemned in any way. Honestly, I believe everyone that is present and willing has the right to partake in Holy Communion, but then again I do come from a Protestant background. I wish to join the Church, as I feel that it is the true Church of Jesus Christ and is therefore the correct way to worship. The Orthodox Church is complete, whole and beautiful and I wish to be eternally joined to it. If I have to hold off on Holy Communion to do so, then so be it. 
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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2013, 11:16:26 PM »

Welcome Dale.  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2013, 11:23:06 PM »

Welcome Dale!

Are your parents converting with you?
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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2013, 01:45:16 AM »

Welcome Dale.  Smiley
Thank you! Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2013, 02:07:00 AM »

Welcome Dale!

Are your parents converting with you?
Thank you for welcoming me!

My mom was joined to the Church last year, I recently made the conscious decision to become Chrismated and eternally joined to the Church. I will say, the OC truly is America's best kept secret! After coming to an Orthodox Liturgy, I can never attend another Protestant service! The services are just absolutely profound, the doctrine is just complete, and it really does feel like the true Church of Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2013, 07:34:38 AM »

Dear Dale,

Welcome!  Orthodoxy is indeed blessedness! 

I'm sure that over time everything will make sense as you continue learning.  You certainly sound like you are starting with a good attitude.  I'll  look forward to hearing from you again.

Love, elephant
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« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2013, 08:43:43 AM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy, unlike perhaps a Protestant who spent a lifetime "communing" once a week/month/year with a piece of bread that was merely "symbolic".

I like the Antidoron. I call it "consolation bread". It reminds me of the trophies they hand out to children to make them feel better for losing at a sports tournament.
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« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2013, 09:26:28 AM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy, unlike perhaps a Protestant who spent a lifetime "communing" once a week/month/year with a piece of bread that was merely "symbolic".

I like the Antidoron. I call it "consolation bread". It reminds me of the trophies they hand out to children to make them feel better for losing at a sports tournament.
+1

I 100% agree.  I am from a protestant background, and I love the seriousness in which the Church takes in protecting the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is fine to pass bread and grape juice out to every Joe that walks through the door when it is just a symbol you do once a month, but when it is actually your Lord and you understand the danger of giving it to someone who is not prepared to consume it, you can no longer afford to hand it out anyone who walks through the door, both for the sanctity of what It is and for the wellbeing of the person.
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« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2013, 09:45:30 AM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy, unlike perhaps a Protestant who spent a lifetime "communing" once a week/month/year with a piece of bread that was merely "symbolic".

I like the Antidoron. I call it "consolation bread". It reminds me of the trophies they hand out to children to make them feel better for losing at a sports tournament.
+1

I 100% agree.  I am from a protestant background, and I love the seriousness in which the Church takes in protecting the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is fine to pass bread and grape juice out to every Joe that walks through the door when it is just a symbol you do once a month, but when it is actually your Lord and you understand the danger of giving it to someone who is not prepared to consume it, you can no longer afford to hand it out anyone who walks through the door, both for the sanctity of what It is and for the wellbeing of the person.

Agreed, although I wouldn't call it consolation bread.  You don't lose anything when you show up to Liturgy! Smiley  This is coming from someone who has many consolation trophies proudly on display in my study from many years of rec baseball and soccer.   Cry
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« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2013, 02:17:17 PM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy,

Strangely, I think that sometimes traditional Catholics and Orthodox can understand each other better than others can. I find that a lot of my fellow Catholics can have pretty strange (to me at least) ideas with regard to catechumens-not-receiving-communion; for example, an article I read recently by a Legion of Christ priest, saying that Orthodox-joining-Catholicism can receive communion during their catechumenate.
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« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2013, 02:28:30 PM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy,

Strangely, I think that sometimes traditional Catholics and Orthodox can understand each other better than others can. I find that a lot of my fellow Catholics can have pretty strange (to me at least) ideas with regard to catechumens-not-receiving-communion; for example, an article I read recently by a Legion of Christ priest, saying that Orthodox-joining-Catholicism can receive communion during their catechumenate.

Is it really a catechumenate, though, when it's considered that all Orthodox sacraments are "valid?"  According to the article, the writer makes it seem as if it's merely adding just a bit to the profession of faith.  Like it's not a big deal or anything. Huh
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« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2013, 02:32:52 PM »

Our focus should be on God and his Grace. Sometimes it is possible that refraining from Eucharist gets us closer God than participating in it. Participating in Eucharist is not our subjective right nor magical cure-all.
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« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2013, 03:05:25 PM »

As a current Orthodox catechumen, I can honestly say that I'm not offended in the least at not being able to partake of the Holy Eucharist just yet. Then again, I am of a traditional Catholic background, so I already knew how important the Eucharist was before deciding to convert to Orthodoxy,

Strangely, I think that sometimes traditional Catholics and Orthodox can understand each other better than others can. I find that a lot of my fellow Catholics can have pretty strange (to me at least) ideas with regard to catechumens-not-receiving-communion; for example, an article I read recently by a Legion of Christ priest, saying that Orthodox-joining-Catholicism can receive communion during their catechumenate.

Is it really a catechumenate, though, when it's considered that all Orthodox sacraments are "valid?"  According to the article, the writer makes it seem as if it's merely adding just a bit to the profession of faith.  Like it's not a big deal or anything. Huh

Yeah, maybe that's more how he sees it, i.e. that in such cases there isn't any catechumenate. At any rate, I notice he never used the word catechumen[ate]. (I've also had conversation with Catholics who regard it as unecumenical to speak of Orthodox "converting" to Catholicism ... and I notice with no great surprise that the aforementioned article doesn't contain the word convert.)
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« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2013, 03:09:39 PM »

Our focus should be on God and his Grace. Sometimes it is possible that refraining from Eucharist gets us closer God than participating in it. Participating in Eucharist is not our subjective right nor magical cure-all.

?

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Purpose of Divine Liturgy

http://stgeorgegreenville.org/OurFaith/Divine%20Liturgy/Divine%20Liturgy-Introduction.html

"We come to this service to be transformed through the partaking of Holy Communion. This is the same as saying we partake of Jesus Christ's Flesh and Divinity. Holy Communion and the Divine Liturgy cannot be separated. This the greatest of all mysteries. All should come prepared to be partakers of the Divine gift."
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« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2013, 03:20:04 PM »

The Church has always and everywhere asked people to refrain from Eucharist on some occasions. Eucharist is not magical cure-all as it can also harm you participate in it unworthily.  I believe that refraining from Eucharist when the Church asks for it gets us closer more close to God than actively disregarding our hierarchs orders.
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2013, 03:31:06 PM »

The Church has always and everywhere asked people to refrain from Eucharist on some occasions. Eucharist is not magical cure-all as it can also harm you participate in it unworthily.  I believe that refraining from Eucharist when the Church asks for it gets us closer more close to God than actively disregarding our hierarchs orders.

Do you therefore also refrain from attending Divine Liturgy? If that is the purpose of the Liturgy, and you are not participating do you therefore not go? Just trying to understand its purpose. If you do not receive, why go? I have found solace in vespers where the purpose is prayer.
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2013, 03:33:51 PM »

The Church has always and everywhere asked people to refrain from Eucharist on some occasions. Eucharist is not magical cure-all as it can also harm you participate in it unworthily.  I believe that refraining from Eucharist when the Church asks for it gets us closer more close to God than actively disregarding our hierarchs orders.

Do you therefore also refrain from attending Divine Liturgy? If that is the purpose of the Liturgy, and you are not participating do you therefore not go?

Because God wants you to go. Eucharist is not the only way to partake in God's grace.
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2013, 03:34:57 PM »

The Church has always and everywhere asked people to refrain from Eucharist on some occasions. Eucharist is not magical cure-all as it can also harm you participate in it unworthily.  I believe that refraining from Eucharist when the Church asks for it gets us closer more close to God than actively disregarding our hierarchs orders.

Do you therefore also refrain from attending Divine Liturgy? If that is the purpose of the Liturgy, and you are not participating do you therefore not go? Just trying to understand its purpose. If you do not receive, why go? I have found solace in vespers where the purpose is prayer.
The purpose of Liturgy is to worship.  If your priest advises you not to partake of the Mysteries, that doesn't mean you should chill at home Sunday morning.
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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2013, 03:46:46 PM »

The Church has always and everywhere asked people to refrain from Eucharist on some occasions. Eucharist is not magical cure-all as it can also harm you participate in it unworthily.  I believe that refraining from Eucharist when the Church asks for it gets us closer more close to God than actively disregarding our hierarchs orders.

Do you therefore also refrain from attending Divine Liturgy? If that is the purpose of the Liturgy, and you are not participating do you therefore not go? Just trying to understand its purpose. If you do not receive, why go? I have found solace in vespers where the purpose is prayer.

With work and family circustances, I can go to Liturgy only once or twice a month.  I can't partake of the Eucharist, but I am as close to His Body as I can be.  It is truly a blessing to worship with His Church.  I participate in what I can.
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2013, 03:48:54 PM »

*totally flippant answer and thus not totally serious.*


I cope by having breakfast.
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2013, 03:50:18 PM »

*totally flippant answer and thus not totally serious.*


I cope by having breakfast.
I do currently enjoy a nice breakfast before DL, which I know will stop upon chrismation.
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« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2013, 03:52:08 PM »

*totally flippant answer and thus not totally serious.*


I cope by having breakfast.
I do currently enjoy a nice breakfast before DL, which I know will stop upon chrismation.

Wait, wha...So I can't go to Waffle House before DL after I get chrismated?Huh Huh Huh Huh Cheesy
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« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2013, 03:58:20 PM »

*totally flippant answer and thus not totally serious.*


I cope by having breakfast.
I do currently enjoy a nice breakfast before DL, which I know will stop upon chrismation.

Wait, wha...So I can't go to Waffle House before DL after I get chrismated?Huh Huh Huh Huh Cheesy
Only in the South would someone consider going to the Waffle House before Church.  Cheesy
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« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2013, 03:59:55 PM »

*totally flippant answer and thus not totally serious.*


I cope by having breakfast.
I do currently enjoy a nice breakfast before DL, which I know will stop upon chrismation.

Wait, wha...So I can't go to Waffle House before DL after I get chrismated?Huh Huh Huh Huh Cheesy
Only in the South would someone consider going to the Waffle House before Church.  Cheesy
'Tis the nobler of many institutions.
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« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2013, 04:09:22 PM »

I was advised by my spiritual father while still a catechumen to abstain from breakfast in preparation for Chrismation, i.e., to have nothing from midnight until after the Divine Liturgy.

Those Orthodox Christians especially senior citizens who need to take medications and who cannot fast before receiving Holy Communion are often advised to eat only fasting foods. For example, a breakfast that would not break the fasting rules would be oatmeal with applesauce instead of milk, toast with peanut butter and/or jam, or waffles made without eggs or milk.

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« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2013, 04:17:45 PM »

I was advised by my spiritual father while still a catechumen to abstain from breakfast in preparation for Chrismation, i.e., to have nothing from midnight until after the Divine Liturgy.

Those Orthodox Christians especially senior citizens who need to take medications and who cannot fast before receiving Holy Communion are often advised to eat only fasting foods. For example, a breakfast that would not break the fasting rules would be oatmeal with applesauce instead of milk, toast with peanut butter and/or jam, or waffles made without eggs or milk.


Using the list you provided, bacon is fine.  As is hash browns covered and topped.  Thanks be to the Lord.
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« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2013, 04:35:14 PM »

I was advised by my spiritual father while still a catechumen to abstain from breakfast in preparation for Chrismation, i.e., to have nothing from midnight until after the Divine Liturgy.

Yeah, I too was taught to fast before every Liturgy as if for Communion, even if not receiving.  Obviously the sick, children, pregnant and nursing women, etc. would be dispensed to one degree or another, but otherwise it applies to everyone.  How serious a requirement this is is another question.  I think it would be weird to eat before church, but I also love breakfast foods.  Smiley
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