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zebu
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« on: November 06, 2005, 05:42:53 PM »

This is something I have been wondering for quite some time.  Before communion every Sunday, the priest says "The Holy Mysteries are open to all members of canonical Orthodox churches who make regular confession".  And then today in his sermon, the priest was talking about how we must make regular confession, because we must partake of the Eucharist every time we go to Divine Liturgy and that according to the canons of the church, you can be excommunicated for not doing this.  And we can't avoid taking communion by not going to Divine Liturgy either since he said the canons you can be excommunicated for missing more than three Sunday Divine Liturgies in a row if you are physically able to go to church.   So my question is: What does "regular confession" mean?  Every week?  Every few weeks? Every few months? Or just during the fasting periods?  Of course, I am still a catechumen and so I cannot yet go to confession...
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2005, 06:12:30 PM »

That means go about once a year whether you need it or not.
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2005, 06:13:51 PM »

This is something I have been wondering for quite some time. Before communion every Sunday, the priest says "The Holy Mysteries are open to all members of canonical Orthodox churches who make regular confession". And then today in his sermon, the priest was talking about how we must make regular confession, because we must partake of the Eucharist every time we go to Divine Liturgy and that according to the canons of the church, you can be excommunicated for not doing this. 

I don't recall 100%, but I think the canons speak of coming to the Liturgy and leaving early being banned; I don't remember if there is something about coming and not receiving.  THe practice of coming but not receiving actually was the dominant Liturgical practice in the Orthodox Church for a number of centuries across the various local Churches; in many places you will still find that the priest will come out and say "With the Fear of God..." and then immediately turn around and say "Lord, save your people and bless your inheritence" and will go back into the Altar, almost without pause.  This is a sad reality; on the one hand, it is good that people have the most reverance for Communion; on the other hand, Communion only exists to be partaken!!!  Our teaching is that one should be ready to partake, and not to partake if you're not ready; but the addendum to this that many people forget is that the Church says you should keep yourself ready every day!

The answer to the next part will supplement this.

And we can't avoid taking communion by not going to Divine Liturgy either since he said the canons you can be excommunicated for missing more than three Sunday Divine Liturgies in a row if you are physically able to go to church.

If you are physically able to go to Church, but you decide not to, it is practically seen as if you have separated yourself from the BOdy of Christ; the excommunication would only formally recognize the split.  The Church is the Body of Christ that is attempting to move towards Him and grow closer to Him; each individual is an integral part of this Body.  Those who chose to remove themselves from the sacramental participation of the community have indeed said to the others that they don't think participation is necessary, or that they don't care for their salvation.  Needless to say, the greater damage is the separation that the individual had done themselves, the excommunicaiton is secondary.

Of course, there is no such thing as automatic excommunications in the Orthodox Church; your spiritual father, parsih priest, or hierarch/synod would have to impose the punishment on you.  If none of them do, then you're not excommunicated.

So my question is: What does "regular confession" mean? Every week? Every few weeks? Every few months? Or just during the fasting periods? Of course, I am still a catechumen and so I cannot yet go to confession...

Well, the definition of "regular confession" depends on which Liturgical tradition you go to.  With the Greeks, it means frequently, like 1 a month or 1 every other month; in the Slavic traditions, it is almost a 1:1 ratio with the number of times you plan to receive communion, and normally it is almost immediately preceeding the Liturgy.  Of course, these practices can get skewed by different social factors: the Greeks, when they came to this country, didn't have enough father confessors, so the practice of confession was almost completely lost.  The priests have been working on this for a few decades now, but it is hard to get the older parishoners to see the spiritual benefits...
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2005, 06:27:32 PM »

After you are Chrismated and start going to Confession, you can talk to your priest and he will advise you how freq to come to Confession, and that will be 'regular' for you.
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2005, 09:52:11 PM »

Well, the definition of "regular confession" depends on which Liturgical tradition you go to.  With the Greeks, it means frequently, like 1 a month or 1 every other month; in the Slavic traditions, it is almost a 1:1 ratio with the number of times you plan to receive communion, and normally it is almost immediately preceeding the Liturgy.  Of course, these practices can get skewed by different social factors: the Greeks, when they came to this country, didn't have enough father confessors, so the practice of confession was almost completely lost.  The priests have been working on this for a few decades now, but it is hard to get the older parishoners to see the spiritual benefits...

Maybe you haven't explained it well, but in the OCA "regular" seems to be around 1/month, sometimes less or more often. 
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2005, 11:20:22 PM »

Maybe you haven't explained it well, but in the OCA "regular" seems to be around 1/month, sometimes less or more often. 

Well, the way I explained it was if each tradition could have the ideal; many people in the GOA confess rarely if at all, which I find disturbing; but it is going to take awhile to change the mindset.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2005, 11:50:48 PM »

Well, the way I explained it was if each tradition could have the ideal; many people in the GOA confess rarely if at all, which I find disturbing; but it is going to take awhile to change the mindset.

Do you know if some of these recalictrants still go up w/o confession?  If so, maybe they Clergy can try to guard the chalice better - like refuse.  I know a few OCA (and Antiochian) priests who are more on the strict side of this issue.  Then, I visited another OCA parish where the rector is more of the conservative sort and the message was something like "...Confession since Lent." and I was rather surprised and the apparent liberalness.  Oh well.
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2005, 12:39:26 AM »

Do you know if some of these recalictrants still go up w/o confession? If so, maybe they Clergy can try to guard the chalice better - like refuse. I know a few OCA (and Antiochian) priests who are more on the strict side of this issue. Then, I visited another OCA parish where the rector is more of the conservative sort and the message was something like "...Confession since Lent." and I was rather surprised and the apparent liberalness. Oh well. 

I'm sure they do... of course, again this depends on the context within the particular local church: is there an expectation of going to confession before each time one is to receive communion?  While I don't like to disparage that practice, it also flies in the face of our sacramental theology.  On the other hand, one must be active in the full sacramental life of the church to receive the body and blood; so coming to church, being baptized and chrismated, participating in confession, seeking healing from the Church, etc - these are all essential, and without one, we are not participating in the Church's fullness..

As far as denial of communion: it depends on the bishop.
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2005, 01:52:54 AM »

Thank you for all your replies.  It sounds as though it is quite varied, so I guess I will just ask the priest what he conisders regular.  Though I am guessing people haven't been going enough since he got quite huffy about it during the sermon when he was talking about how we need to go...
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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2005, 06:21:42 AM »

Thank you for all your replies. It sounds as though it is quite varied, so I guess I will just ask the priest what he conisders regular. Though I am guessing people haven't been going enough since he got quite huffy about it during the sermon when he was talking about how we need to go... 

This is the best way to approach it.  In the end, whatever frequency is best for your spiritual growth is what your pastor/spiritual father will use.

I hope the Lord continues to bless and enlighten you on your journey to Orthodoxy!
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2005, 05:40:29 PM »

This is quite different from my experiences.

I asked my priest about this a week ago (I am also a Catechumen), and he stated that most people come once before Christmas, and then right before Easter. He also made the point of saying that only major sins need confession (like adultery, murder, or pre-marriage sex), but smaller offences done occasionally (like stealing, swearing, lying, etc.) need only a prayer to God before you go to sleep that night. Continuing one of these bad habits, however, needs a confession .

He also stated he would never even think of excommunicating anyone, not even a murderer who hasn't come to church in 10 years. Communion is regularly given out, even if the person hasn't confessed or been missing church. Though he wishes for people to come every week, Greek families in my area have a bad habit of coming in 25 minutes late or not showing up at all if it's cloudy with a slight drizzle.


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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2005, 05:46:52 PM »

Though he wishes for people to come every week, Greek families in my area have a bad habit of coming in 25 minutes late or not showing up at all if it's cloudy with a slight drizzle.

Heh, the general policy in my parish for people coming in late is no Eucharist that day.
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2005, 12:40:32 AM »

This is all very interesting to read.ÂÂ  I know in my parish, some people go once a year, some once a month, and others (like old people, and the young who are under the age of 7 and don't need to go to confession) go every week!ÂÂ  Personally, I try to go every month ... but in my heart I wish I could go every week! I could not imagine not going to confession before communion, as I see this as a very worthwhile process (if you can call it worthwhile!) - and this is coming from a convert (I used to be Baptist!)ÂÂ  It's interesting to read that there are folks who go to communion without confession.ÂÂ  As I said, I find it worthwhile, particularly I guess because as I step up to communion I am constantly praying that God will accept me as a WORTHY communicant.ÂÂ  I don't want to get before His throne one day and He say to me that I didn't accept communion worthily because I had an unclean heart and didn't confess.ÂÂ  

I guess when I go to confession - I may not be a murderer - but I see all things that I do that go against God are sins, whether it be an unclean thought, impure motive, jealously, greed ... whatever.  And I confess all this to my priest.  At first when I started to go to confession, I found it hard and it's almost like I was "looking" for sins to confess.  Of course, after I've sinned, I do ask Christ for forgiveness, so couldn't quite understand why I had to go to confession to confess it again.  But my priest explained it all to me ... now, I realise I don't have to "look" for my sins anymore, they stand out to me like a sore thumb!  I am so sinful!  May God have mercy on me!
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2005, 12:59:44 AM »

These days priests are so busy its hard to go for a confession sometimes and one that you can say all you have to

At my parish, people don't go that much...at least I don't see people going that much. The youth don't go as much as the adults. And even then the adults are also usually kind of scared to go through it unless its Pascha of course. Before Easter, I am amazed at the long line ups for confession @ Easter are and how suddenly everybody becomes religious for a week or 40 days.

I like the Western method of confession: your on the opposite side of the screen in the box where the priest might or might not recognize you by your voice. I know it would make me comfortable to say a lot more than when the priest is staring you blank in the face wondering what exactly you are talking about Smiley What again is exactly wrong with that? Is it the way absolution is given.
You kneel down o nthe other side of the box and when your all done the priest opens the window thingy and blesses your bowed head...so he does give you the absolution so I don't see a problem with that.
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2005, 11:17:42 PM »

In my church, we dont have a window box thing. Pretty much you schedule a confession for a certain time, and you both sit in front of the altar and converse about your sins. He also doesn't "forgive" you, he's just there as a witness.
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