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Author Topic: Confession before Communion  (Read 19368 times) Average Rating: 0
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PeterTheAleut
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« on: March 29, 2006, 05:20:23 PM »

I'm mildly familiar with the arguments on both sides of the issue of whether Orthodox should be required to go to Confession before receiving every Communion.  I know that this is the practice in some parishes.  In other parishes, such as my own, one must go to Confession before receiving Communion only if the person has failed to receive from the Holy Mysteries for three consecutive Sunday for no reason worthy of a blessing.

Personally, the one of my objections to requiring Confession before Communion that is closest to the surface of my thinking is the practical challenges that such a requirement would present to such parishes as mine.  We celebrate the Divine Liturgy every Sunday and on major feast days.  In our liturgies, virtually everyone present (with the exception of non-Orthodox visitors, inquirers, and catechumens) receives Communion, so that the majority of parishioners in my church receive Communion weekly.  We also have only one preist serving a congregation of easily over 100 communicants.  It would be almost impossible to require our one priest to hear over 100 confessions the night before every Liturgy or the next morning immediately before the Liturgy and still expect him to fulfill his ritual responsibilities to the preparatory services (Vespers and Matins/Orthros).  The practice of requiring Confession as a preparation for Communion may have been an absolute necessity in 18th and 19th Century Russia where this practice developed in part because laity received Communion only once or twice per year.  But I don't see it being a practical possibility in those parishes where the faithful receive Communion every week.  I have deeper theological reasons for my other objections to this practice, but I need more time than I have at the moment to be able to articulate my thoughts on this issue.

I'm interested to know what your various parish practices are and what reasoning is presented for both sides of this issue.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2006, 05:33:16 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2006, 03:25:54 PM »

Peter,

Quote
The practice of requiring Confession as a preparation for Communion may have been an absolute necessity in 18th and 19th Century Russia where this practice developed in part because laity received Communion only once or twice per year.

I think you hit the nail on the head here.  I'm loath to blame this phenomenon totally upon the encounters of the Orthodox with Roman Catholicism, but I do think it had a contributing influence.  While obviously one who receives regularly must do so with discernment and without an unduly burdened conscience, the idea that there is anything wrong or suspect with frequent Holy Communion is a relatively recent and isolated notion - it's not in keeping with the universal beliefs and practices of the Church on this matter.

However, ultimatly this is a matter of pastoral discretion - the Priests ultimately act as guardians of the Holy Mysteries, so who they are allowed to admit to the Chalice and on what basis is fundamentally decided by their Bishops.  We can question whether a given practice is timely or prudent (like so many others - ex. the whole question of how converts from heterodoxy ought to be received), but that's a burden that doesn't really rest on the layman's head, but those of our shepherds.

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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2006, 01:02:08 AM »

Well, in my parish (ROCOR), it is required to take confession before communion. Obviously our one priest could not commune our 300+ parish every Sunday so how we do this is have a Divine Liturgy mostly every Saturday and two or three times during the weekdays. Most people in my parish (including myself) take communion twice a month, while a small minority, including the babas, take it every week. Confession is held before Vespers every night before the Liturgy. It works out quite well, since the newly arrived (from former Soviet Blockade countries) have their ESL class on Friday nights right before Vespers, so they confess then, and take communion on Saturday, while the children have their Church School Saturday afternoon, so they confess then, and then the adults confess Saturday night before Vespers, and the teens show up early Sunday morning and confess then and all the adults, teens, and children commune on Sunday. The babas and the elderly all confess during weekday night Vespers, and commune during the weekday Liturgies.

This works out quite well, since it would be impractical for us to commune 300+ people every Sunday, I believe my knees would buckle and we wouldn't be finished till 2 in the afternoon.

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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2006, 01:07:07 AM »

Quote
the idea that there is anything wrong or suspect with frequent Holy Communion is a relatively recent and isolated notion

I was always under the impression that the concept that there was something suspect or improper with frequently communing came from the old world, and was brought to the west by immigrants. Perhaps this is partly due to the unique confessional clergy system the Greeks have, though Slavs also infrequently communed at various times and places. Wasn't there a battle during the middle of the 20th century in which Fr. Alexander Schmemann and others tried to get this notion (ie. that frequent communion is improper) out of people's heads?
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2006, 01:45:46 AM »

Frequent communion is common and encouraged in the Coptic Orthodox Church. However, it is assumed that the believer confesses regularly; he need not have confessed immediately before partaking of the Eucharist, or even a week before partaking of the Eucharist, but he nonetheless is expected to have maintained a consistent schedule with intervals of reasonable length (I guess this is to be decided by the parish priest - in my parish for example, once a month is considered the norm).

If a priest knows that a particular person has consistently failed to maintain this schedule for unworthy reasons, he can, and most probably will, refuse that person Communion; but they're not generally very "tight" about it. You don't usually see the priest stop every person approaching the Eucharist, in order to ask them when the last time they confessed was.

The Holy Liturgy itself is full of reminders to the congregation, that they must approach worthily: "The holies are for the holy..." (said by the Priest) and "Pray for the worthy Communion of the Immaculate, Heavenly, and Holy Mysteries" (said by the Deacon) etc.

I guess the main reason for frequent Communion, is that the Grace dispensed to the repentent sinner through partaking of the Eucharist, is required to assisst them in their life of repentence, and ultimately their journey to Salvation.
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2006, 12:58:11 PM »

I was always under the impression that the concept that there was something suspect or improper with frequently communing came from the old world, and was brought to the west by immigrants. Perhaps this is partly due to the unique confessional clergy system the Greeks have, though Slavs also infrequently communed at various times and places. Wasn't there a battle during the middle of the 20th century in which Fr. Alexander Schmemann and others tried to get this notion (ie. that frequent communion is improper) out of people's heads?

St. John of Kronstadt celebrated the Divine Liturgy daily and advocated for the faithful in his church to receive Communion frequently.  (Of course, he also received a blessing from his bishop to hear mass Confessions from his congregation--everyone confesses at the same time and St. John reads the prayers of absolution once over the entire congregation--in large part because he didn't have the time in his super-busy life to hear each Confession privately.)

As far as your assessment of Fr. Schmemann's battle for frequent Communion, you are correct.  He did fight very hard to make frequent Communion normative again.
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2006, 01:04:53 PM »

Frequent communion is common and encouraged in the Coptic Orthodox Church. However, it is assumed that the believer confesses regularly; he need not have confessed immediately before partaking of the Eucharist, or even a week before partaking of the Eucharist, but he nonetheless is expected to have maintained a consistent schedule with intervals of reasonable length (I guess this is to be decided by the parish priest - in my parish for example, once a month is considered the norm).

If a priest knows that a particular person has consistently failed to maintain this schedule for unworthy reasons, he can, and most probably will, refuse that person Communion; but they're not generally very "tight" about it. You don't usually see the priest stop every person approaching the Eucharist, in order to ask them when the last time they confessed was.

The Holy Liturgy itself is full of reminders to the congregation, that they must approach worthily: "The holies are for the holy..." (said by the Priest) and "Pray for the worthy Communion of the Immaculate, Heavenly, and Holy Mysteries" (said by the Deacon) etc.

I guess the main reason for frequent Communion, is that the Grace dispensed to the repentent sinner through partaking of the Eucharist, is required to assisst them in their life of repentence, and ultimately their journey to Salvation.


What you describe is identical to my parish's practice.
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2006, 09:56:07 AM »

I'm a ROCOR person so confession before communion is the norm that I've grown up with. I never approached the chalice without confession the night before, save for a consecutive day communion (liturgy Saturday and Sunday, or Sunday and Monday). Recently one priest blessed us throughout the entire Holy Week to commune w/o a repeat confession. That's the longest stretch I recall.

To me it makes sense on several levels. The most important is that the two sacraments reinforce each other. It really works very nicely, to be honest. A confession the night before feels more fulfilled when you commune the next morning. Approaching the chalice with a total sense of having cleaned yourself of your sins the night before is good, it's reinforcing you. I've always liked that feeling.

Another issue is that it 'levels the playing field' with the parishioners. Everyone who approaches the chalice the priest has seen for confession the night before or in the morning. If someone walks up to the chalice just like that, they will be stopped by the priest and asked if they confessed. That's for their own benefit, even if it's embarrasing for them at that moment, because communion isn't something to be taken lightly. I think, personally, it's better for a subdeacon or altar boy to ask people further down in line if they confessed and fasted because it lessens the embarrasment factor when someone is in front of the congregation before the chalice and is turned away, but that's a fine point. In any case, there's no case of 'you confessed X amount of times so you're okay, you didn't so..." Either you went the night before or you didn't. Period.

Also, I don't think that very frequent (once a week) communion is something all people can properly accept from a spiritual POV, there are some dangers that can evolve from a careless approach to the chalice and the more often you do it, the more likely you'll be subject to such a temptation.

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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2006, 12:50:08 PM »

I'm a ROCOR person so confession before communion is the norm that I've grown up with. I never approached the chalice without confession the night before, save for a consecutive day communion (liturgy Saturday and Sunday, or Sunday and Monday). Recently one priest blessed us throughout the entire Holy Week to commune w/o a repeat confession. That's the longest stretch I recall.

To me it makes sense on several levels. The most important is that the two sacraments reinforce each other. It really works very nicely, to be honest. A confession the night before feels more fulfilled when you commune the next morning. Approaching the chalice with a total sense of having cleaned yourself of your sins the night before is good, it's reinforcing you. I've always liked that feeling.

Another issue is that it 'levels the playing field' with the parishioners. Everyone who approaches the chalice the priest has seen for confession the night before or in the morning. If someone walks up to the chalice just like that, they will be stopped by the priest and asked if they confessed. That's for their own benefit, even if it's embarrasing for them at that moment, because communion isn't something to be taken lightly. I think, personally, it's better for a subdeacon or altar boy to ask people further down in line if they confessed and fasted because it lessens the embarrasment factor when someone is in front of the congregation before the chalice and is turned away, but that's a fine point. In any case, there's no case of 'you confessed X amount of times so you're okay, you didn't so..." Either you went the night before or you didn't. Period.

Also, I don't think that very frequent (once a week) communion is something all people can properly accept from a spiritual POV, there are some dangers that can evolve from a careless approach to the chalice and the more often you do it, the more likely you'll be subject to such a temptation.

Kaminentz,
While I understand the your/the ROCOR pov on this, ponder these points though:

1) Have you (or anyone here) REALLY cleansed yourself of ALL sins just because you went to Confession the day/night before?  If so, then I expect you to be well on the path to theosis.

2) What about those who travel frequently and often visit other parishes?

3) What about those who maybe went to services that lasted late, have family responsibilities and just didn't have the time to properly do their prayers?

4) What if someone is going through tough times spiritually and praying is difficult (this is something that was brought up during one of the lectures at the retreat I attended this weekend) - should they not Communion at all?

I think we need be careful of not being to legalistic regarding preparation for Communion, as deliberately withholding from potential Communicants could be as spiritually dangerous as Communing haphazardly or w/o proper preparation.  We all have different circumstances that need to be addressed individually.
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2006, 01:12:37 PM »

1) Have you (or anyone here) REALLY cleansed yourself of ALL sins just because you went to Confession the day/night before?  If so, then I expect you to be well on the path to theosis.

Well in that case we can argue, by going to church are we guaranteeing our salvation? Does baptism? Of course not! But we're simply making it more likely. If I go to confession I'm giving myself a push, I've emerged from the sacrament cleaner than I have before I came even if I didn't leave all my sins there.

Quote
2) What about those who travel frequently and often visit other parishes?

I like visiting other parishes, 'pan-Orthodoxing' as I call it, even though I'm not a frequent traveller per sey. I like to keep my sacramental life within my church, however - even though I have no problem going to confession and communion to another church so long as its canonical (and I don't visit non-canonical, schismatic Orthodox churches).

Quote
3) What about those who maybe went to services that lasted late, have family responsibilities and just didn't have the time to properly do their prayers?

I've had instances where I decided to confess at the last minute. I saw a bunch of people in line and I said "Why not, my friends are also going." I had a brief confession, but it was a real confession and a productive one. I really felt differently afterwards. I unloaded a sin I had in myself for over six months just like that.

Quote
4) What if someone is going through tough times spiritually and praying is difficult (this is something that was brought up during one of the lectures at the retreat I attended this weekend) - should they not Communion at all?

I think the first step is to go under the epitrahilion of a priest for confession. To me, that's the number one sacrament in terms of getting yourself to give a spiritual push. That reminds me of that time I went just at the last minute, at a whim. It was in fact God giving me a push. If we just say "well, don't feel like confession? that' okay, just go to the chalice' we're not doing a person a service. The eucharist isn't a magic potion that restores you just by taking it. As it is said when the chalice is bought out, 'with fear of God and faith approach!'. Without those two elements in place, we risk parttaking of the mystery 'in judgement'.

As a matter of fact I find going to the chalice more difficult than going to confession. I've even gone to confession without going to the chalice sometimes, because going up to the chalice is a very public thing. I don't actually like it when people look at me and say 'congradulations' for parttaking in the gift (that's a Russian tradition, don't know if others have it). I like to be left alone and in peace, and that rarely happens. If I had it my way, I'd commune as privately as I'd confess. Also, the fact that people witness that I now have Christ inside of me makes me aware of a great responsibility that I now bear in front of them for my behavior.

Quote
I think we need be careful of not being to legalistic regarding preparation for Communion, as deliberately withholding from potential Communicants could be as spiritually dangerous as Communing haphazardly or w/o proper preparation.  We all have different circumstances that need to be addressed individually.

I agree that there needs to be individual discretion. However, there have to be certain rules and guidelines. Otherwise we run into a descending liberal spiral. Today we'll say confession is unnecessary, tomorrow we'll say fasting is unnecessary, arguing 'What if a person just walks into a church and will get run over by a car in the next two hours, wouldn't it be great if they didn't get turned away from communion, even if they have a greasy omlette and sausages churning in their stomach from their breakfast?" Yes, if he's already lying out in the street dying, that certainly won't matter. But we need to be reasonable about how we bend the rules and for whom.

This is what I call the 'ramp effect'. Sometimes we try to make a ramp to make climbing the spiritual ladder easier for people besieged by this anti-spiritual day and age. But just as a ramp can make it easier to go up, it can make it easier to go down, too.
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2006, 02:13:59 PM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I'll reserve my comments about this for later when i have more time...
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2006, 02:25:14 PM »

Kaminetz,
I understand, but my main point is the old "middle road" reference.  I think there are many clergy and laity who are both unnecessarily restrictive and lax about access to Communion and appropriate prior preparation (Confession/fasting/prayers).
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2006, 02:37:15 PM »

From Fr. Alexander Schmemann's Report to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Sunday of the Prodigal Son, 1972
(link to the full report: http://www.oca.org/DOCencyclical.asp?SID=12&ID=3):

Eucharistic Decay and Renewal

It is impossible, and even unnecessary to present in this short report the questions of lay communion in all its dogmatical and historical aspects. What is essential can be summarized as follows:

It is a well-known and undisputed fact that in the early Church the communion of all the faithful, of the entire ecclesia, at each Liturgy was a self-evident norm. What must be stressed, however, is that this corporate communion was understood not only as an act of personal piety and personal sanctification but, first of all, as an act stemming primarily from one's very membership in the Church, as the fulfillment and actualization of that membership. The Eucharist was both defined and experienced as the "sacrament of the Church," the "sacrament of the assembly," the "sacrament of unity." "He mixed Himself with us," writes St. John Chrysostom, "and dissolved His body in us so that we may constitute a wholeness, be a body united to the Head." The early Church simply knew no other sign or criterion of membership but the participation in the sacrament. The excommunication from the Church was the excommunication from the eucharistic assembly in which the Church fulfilled and manifested herself as the Body of Christ. Communion to the Body and Blood of Christ was a direct consequence of Baptism, the sacrament of entrance into the Church, and there existed no other "condition" for that communion. The member of the Church is the one who is in communion with the Church in and through sacramental communion, and one early liturgical formula dismissed from the gathering, together with the catechumens and the penitents, all those who are not to receive communion. This understanding of communion, as fulfilling membership in the Church, can be termed ecclesiological. However obscured or complicated it became later, it has never been discarded; it remains forever the essential norm of Tradition.

One must ask therefore not about this norm, but about what happened to it. Why did we leave it so far behind us that a mere mention of it appears to some, and especially clergy, an unheard-of novelty, a shaking of the foundations? Why is it that for centuries nine out of ten Liturgies are being celebrated without communicants? - and this provokes no amazement, no frustration, whereas the desire to communicate more frequently, on the contrary, raises a real fear? How could the doctrine of a once-a-year communion develop within the Church, the Body of Christ, as an accepted norm, a departure from which can be but an exception? How, in other words, did the understanding of communion become so deeply individualistic, so detached from the Church, so alien to the eucharistic prayer itself: "and all of us partaking of the same Bread and Chalice unite one to another for the communion of the one Spirit..."? The reason for all this, however complex historically, is spiritually a simple one: it is the fear of profaning the Mystery, the fear of unworthy communion, of the desacralization of holy things. It is a fear which is, of course, spiritually justified, for "the one who eats and drinks unworthily drinks and eats his condemnation." This fear appeared soon after the victory of the Church over the pagan Empire, a victory which transformed Christianity into a mass religion, a state Church and a popular cult. If during the era of persecution the very belonging to the Church compelled each of her members to follow a "narrow path" and set between the Christian and "this world" a self-evident dividing line, now, with the entrance of the entire "world" into the Church, that line was abolished and there appeared a very real danger of a nominal, superficial, lukewarm and minimalistic understanding of Christian life. If before the very entrance into the Church was difficult, now, with obligatory inclusion of virtually everyone into the Church, it became necessary to establish internal checks and controls; it was around the sacrament that such controls developed.

One must stress, however, that neither the Fathers nor the liturgical texts can supply us with any encouragement for non-partaking of the Mysteries, nor do they even hint at such a practice. Emphasizing the holiness of communion and its "awful" nature, calling to a worthy preparation for it, the Fathers never endorsed nor approved the idea that since the Mystery is holy and awful, one must not approach it too often. To the Fathers, the view of the Eucharist as the sacrament of the Church, of her unity, fulfillment and growth, was still self-evident.

"We must not," writes St. John Cassian, "avoid communion because we deem ourselves to be sinful. We must approach it more often for the healing of the soul and the purification of the spirit, but with such humility and faith that considering ourselves unworthy... we would desire even more the medicine for our wounds. Otherwise it is impossible to receive communion once a year, as certain people do... considering the sanctification of heavenly Mysteries as available only to saints. It is better to think that by giving us grace, the sacrament makes us pure and holy. Such people manifest more pride than humility... for when they receive, they think of themselves as worthy. It is much better if, in humility of heart, knowing that we are never worthy of the Holy Mysteries we would receive them every Sunday for the healing of our diseases, rather than, blinded by pride, think that after one year we become worthy of receiving them."

With regard to an equally wide-spread theory, according to which there is a difference between the clergy and laity in approaching communion, so that the former are to receive it at each Liturgy, whereas the latter are discouraged from doing so, it is fitting to quote St. John Chrysostom, who more than anyone else, insisted on worthy preparation for communion: "There are cases," writes the great pastor, "when a priest does not differ from a layman, notably when one approaches the Holy Mysteries. We are all equally given them, not as in the Old Testament, when one food was for the priests and another for the people and when it was not permitted to the people to partake of that which was for the priest. Now it is not so: but to all is offered the same Body and the same Chalice..."

Let me repeat once more that it is simply impossible to find in Tradition a basis and justification for our present practice of extremely infrequent, if not yearly, communion of laity; all those who seriously and responsibly have studied our Tradition, all the best Russian liturgiologists and theologians, have seen in this practice a decay in Church life, a deviation from Tradition and the genuine foundations of the Church. And the most dreadful aspect of this decay is that it is justified and explained in terms of respect for the holiness of the sacrament, in terms of piety and reverence. For if it were so, the non-communicants would experience at least some sadness during the Liturgy, a frustration, a feeling of lacking fullness. In reality, however, this is simply not true. Generation after generation of Orthodox "attend" the Liturgy totally convinced that nothing more than attendance is required from them, that communion is simply not for them. And then, once a year, they fulfill their "obligation" and receive communion after a two-minute confession to a tired and exhausted priest. To see in all this a triumph of reverence, a protection of holiness, more than that - a norm, and not a downfall and a tragedy, is indeed incredible.

In some of our parishes those who expressed the desire to receive communion more frequently were subjected to a real persecution, were asked not to do it "for the sake of peace," were accused of deviation from Orthodoxy! I could quote parish bulletins explaining that since communion is for penitents, one ought not to receive it at Easter, for it "obscures" paschal joy. And the most tragic thing is that all this provokes no mystical horror, that apparently the Church herself becomes an obstacle on man's path to Christ! Truly - "when you shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place..." (Matthew 24:15).

Finally, it would not be difficult to show that whenever and wherever a genuine renewal of the life of the Church has taken place it has always originated with what has been termed "eucharistic hunger," In the twentieth century there began a great crisis of Orthodoxy. There began an unheard of, unprecedented persecution of the Church and the apostasy of millions of people. And whenever this crisis was understood and perceived, there was a return to communion as the "focus of Christian life." This happened in communist Russia, as is attested by hundreds of witnesses; this happened in other centers of Orthodoxy and the diaspora. The movements of Orthodox youth in Greece, Lebanon, France have all grown out of a renewal of liturgical life. All that is genuine, living, churchly has been born from a humble and joyful response to the words of the Lord: "He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, dwells in Me and I in him" (John 6:56).

Now, by a great mercy of God, this eucharistic revival, this thirst for a more frequent, more regular, communion, and thus, the return to a more genuine life within the Church, has made its appearance in America. I am convinced that nothing would give a greater joy to the pastors and especially Bishops than this renewal, pulling us away from the spiritually dead controversies about "properties" and "rights," from the idea of the Church as a social-ethnic club with picnics and entertainment, from youth organizations in which religious life and interests are kept at a bare minimum. For, as I already said, no other foundation exists for the regeneration of the Church as a whole, and none can exist. The ethnic, national foundation is fading away. All that which is only custom, only form, an addition to life but not life itself, is disappearing. People are seeking the genuine, the true and the living. Therefore, if we are to live and grow, it is obviously only on the basis of the very essence of the Church, and this essence is the Body of Christ, that mystical unity into which we are integrated through partaking "of the one Bread and Chalice in the communion of the same Spirit..."

I am confident, therefore, that our Bishops, to whom God has entrusted above all care for the spiritual essence of the Church, will find the words proper to bless and to encourage this spiritual and sacramental renewal, proper to remind the Church of the immeasurably rich and immeasurably joyful content of her teaching about the Divine Mysteries.

All this, however, raises - with a new acuteness and depth - the question of the preparation for holy communion, and, first of all, of the place in that preparation for the Sacrament of Penance.


To be continued in my next post:

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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2006, 02:37:56 PM »

continued from the previous post:


Penance and Holy Communion

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how then could such a practice have appeared and become a norm, defended today by many as truly Orthodox? To answer this question one must consider three factors. We have already mentioned one of them: that nominal and lukewarm approach to faith and piety of Christian society itself which led, at first, to an infrequent communion and, finally, reduced it to a once-a-year "obligation." It is clear that a person approaching the Divine Mysteries once a year must be really "reconciled" with the Church by means of an examination of his conscience and life in the Sacrament of Penance. The second factor is the influence on the Church of monasticism, which from the very beginning knew the practice of the "opening of thoughts," of the spiritual guidance by an experienced monk of a less-experienced one. But, and this is essential, such a spiritual father or "elder" was not necessarily a priest, for this type of spiritual guidance is connected with spiritual experience and not priesthood.

In the Byzantine monastic typika of the 12th-13th centuries, a monk is forbidden both to approach the Chalice and to abstain from it by himself, of his own will, without the permission of his spiritual father, for "to exclude oneself from communion is to follow one's own will." In women's monasteries the same power belongs to the abbess. Thus we have here a confession of a non-sacramental type, confession based upon spiritual experience and permanent guidance. But this type of confession had a strong impact on sacramental confession. At a time of spiritual decadence (which can be seen in its true scope and meaning in the canons of the so-called Council in Trullo, 6th century A.D.) monasteries became centers of spiritual care and guidance for the laity. In Greece, even today, not every priest has the right to hear confessions but only those who are especially authorized by the Bishop. Yet for the laity this spiritual counseling naturally led to sacramental confession. We must stress, however, that not every parish priest is capable of such spiritual counseling, which implies and presupposes a deep spiritual experience, for without that experience "counseling" may lead, and in fact often leads, to genuine spiritual tragedies. What is important here is that the sacramental penance became somehow connected with the idea of spiritual guidance, solution of "difficulties" and "problems," and that all this in the present conditions of our parish life, of "mass" confessions concentrated during some evening of Great Lent and reduced to a few minutes, is hardly possible and does more harm than good. Spiritual guidance, especially in our time of deep spiritual crisis, is necessary, but to be genuine, deep, useful, it must be disconnected from sacramental confession, although the latter must obviously be its ultimate goal.

The third and decisive factor was, of course, the influence of the Western Scholastic and juridical understanding of penance. Much has been written about the "western captivity" of Orthodox theology but few people realize the depth and the real meaning of the distortions to which Western influence led in the life of the Church and, above all, in the understanding of sacraments. This is especially obvious in the Sacrament of Penance. Here the distortion consisted in that the whole meaning of the sacrament was shifted from repentance and confession to "absolution" understood juridically. Western Scholastic theology transposed into juridical categories the very concept of sin and, accordingly, the concept of absolution, as dependent not so much on the reality of repentance, but on the power of the priest. If in the initial Orthodox understanding of the Sacrament of Penance the priest is the witness of repentance and, therefore the witness of the fulfilled "reconciliation with the Church in Christ Jesus. . .," the Latin legalism puts the emphasis on the power of the priest to absolve. Hence the practice, totally alien to Orthodox doctrine, yet quite popular today, of "absolutions" without confession. The initial distinction between sins (which because they excommunicate from the Church require a sacramental reconciliation with her) and sinfulness (not leading to excommunication) was rationalized by Western Scholasticism in the distinction between the so-called mortal sins and the so-called venial sins. The first ones, by depriving man of the "state of grace" require sacramental confession and absolution; the others require only an inner repentance and contrition. In the Orthodox East, however, and especially in Russia (under the influence of the Latinizing theology of Peter Moghila and his followers), this theory resulted in a simple, compulsory and juridical connection between confession and communion.

And it is ironic indeed that the most obvious of all Latin "infiltrations" is viewed by so many Orthodox as an Orthodox norm while a mere attempt to re-evaluate it in the light of the genuine Orthodox doctrine of Church and sacraments is denounced as "Roman Catholic."
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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2006, 03:00:40 PM »

I'm not going to go into debating what Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote, he's certainly a very bright clergyman - although I don't by far agree with his outlook on many things.

If you told me tomorrow that I can come up to the sacrament of communion without confession, and I could do this for weeks at a time, I don't see myself feeling right about it. For some of you such a sacramental life is normal, and I'm fine with that personally too. I'm not about to jump in front of you during liturgy and scream 'stop this apostasy!' Besides, the priest is the guardian of the chalice and it is his responsibility to know what is spiritually beneficial for his flock.

I like the ROCOR tradition that I was raised in, and I've seen plenty of people live that way including converts to Orthodoxy, without any problem. Enough of these people have a fairly regular sacramental life.

What I don't generally like is this idea of liberalizing the sacrament to encourage participation in numbers. Flexibility is okay, as in being lax about placing a epetimya on someone, and it's absolutely necessary for being flexibile with the elderly/infirm. But there's a limit at which point we begin lowering the gates to get people 'in', when in fact we're not doing them any spiritual benefit. That is just as dangerous, in my view, as having a prelest' influenced, Phariseeic attitude towards everything - and believe you me, I have enough harsh words to reserve for the Pharisees I've seen in Orthodox churches, too!
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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2006, 03:29:42 PM »


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8315.75


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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2006, 04:04:48 PM »


Thank you for posting this link on this thread.  I found the linked post very informative and uplifting.
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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2006, 07:30:04 PM »

I concur.  It would have been a pain to rewrite everything or to find all the posts, etc.  

Thanks!  
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2006, 06:32:51 PM »

My pleasure!  I'm glad it was helpful.   Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2006, 06:56:16 PM »

I would advise for all people reading that thread to back it up to page 2 so you can see all of my original thoughts as well.

Once again, I respect the idea of trying to commune frequently, but it's important to be mindful and I really see nothing wrong with going to confession before each communion. Just as we keep our stomach clear to receive communion, so we should do the best to clear our souls. Any person who goes to confession is always emerging somehow cleaner than before they came, and that in my view is an appropriate and respectful way to prepare for the sacrament of communion.

The sacrament of communion in itself needs discretion. If it is viewed as something to do for 'good luck', like taking a vitamin suppliment, that is dangerous. With a high level of frequency this risk becomes greater.

To bring up a point from the earlier thread, the Church is the same as it always was, but the TIMES WE LIVE IN are different, attitudes of people towards spirituality are tainted with different dangers and temptations than in the times of the early church.

In the early church we had public confession, everyone confessed their sins publicly. Can you imagine offering such an opportunity today? How many would have the fortitude to do something like that? That's what I meant when I said that the early Christians were people of immense spiritual fortitude, people who could properly handle a high frequency of communion.

Another example, back in the Byzantine era we had such rules that gave a person 7 years (!) without communion for premarital intercourse. Imagine applying that epitemya to someone today, it would almost guarantee that they would never come back to church and continue living in sin.

A person living outside the Orthodox church in Byzantium was an exception, a person living outside of the Orthodox church in America is the rule. Go to any metropolitan area from 10 am to 12 pm on Sunday morning and see how many people are walking and driving around, and how many more are in their beds sleeping or watching TV. Doesn't that tell us where we are living today?

Sure we all have the same opportunity for holiness as did the early members of the church. We will have this same opportunity when the last times come. But to believe that frequency of communion is the way to do it - I disagree. I've seen kids who've frequently communed (where confession was optional) and no longer even attend church. It's more than one person, too. To them communion became little more than a snack tied to a pretty ritual, which they got sick of as soon as they gave up their Sunday morning for more sleep or other activities.
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2006, 07:59:49 PM »

I'm not going to go into debating what Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote, he's certainly a very bright clergyman - although I don't by far agree with his outlook on many things.

If you told me tomorrow that I can come up to the sacrament of communion without confession, and I could do this for weeks at a time, I don't see myself feeling right about it. For some of you such a sacramental life is normal, and I'm fine with that personally too. I'm not about to jump in front of you during liturgy and scream 'stop this apostasy!' Besides, the priest is the guardian of the chalice and it is his responsibility to know what is spiritually beneficial for his flock.


I like this tradition too as I also attend an ROCOR parish.  While if your priest encourages frequent communion without so much confession, I personally couldn't go through with it either.  Confession helps me prepare more for Communion - the fact that we're truly taking in Christ's body and blood.  I mean, I also find confession easier than having Communion (not in a bad way) ... I go up to the chalice literally shaking, praying "Lord Jesus please accept me an unworthy communicant."  I know I'm unworthy even having been to Confession.  It must be the whole holy fear thing.  Nevertheless, I try, if I can to have Communion at least once a month and always go to confession beforehand.
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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2006, 11:56:53 PM »

Nothing I do will ever make me worthy to receive Holy Communion, not even Confession, although this is an absolutely necessary sacrament, nonetheless.  For me, a proper preparation for Communion is to remind myself--the prayers of preparation for Holy Communion are ideal for this--how unworthy I am to receive and how awesome Christ's mercy is that He offers me His Body and Blood to me, unworthy sinner though I am, for my spiritual health and salvation.

The Holy Mysteries can be trivialized just as easily when they are received once a month as when they are received once a week or more often.

I don't shun the Holy Mysteries because I am unworthy and receive only after making Confession as if the prayers of absolution and/or the cleansing of conscience somehow make(s) me worthy.  Rather, I receive the Holy Mysteries because Christ says "O taste and see that I am good" even to me, the first of sinners.
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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2006, 12:12:18 AM »

Let's take a case example, one that might be more common than you think...

Someone goes to church on a regular basis. Friday night they hang out at a party. They get a little carried away with the drinking, and the liquor starts encouraging that person do stupid things, such as getting sexually involved with someone. Then this person simply reads communal prayers and says "I know no matter what I'm not worthy to receive the sacrament, so I should take it anyway". Tell me, how much respect does THAT show for communion?

In that case, why fast before communion? We should say "we're not worthy even if we fast", so let's just skip out on that. Why make it obligatory? Go ahead and let the flesh and blood of Christ mix up with your cereal and orange juice, for even if our stomach is clean we are still not worthy to receive Christ...

Do you catch the logic here? Yes, we are unworthy all the same, but let us make the best effort to come to the chalice as clean as we can. We clean out our stomach, why not clean out our hearts too?
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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2006, 12:24:14 AM »

Let's take a case example, one that might be more common than you think...

Someone goes to church on a regular basis. Friday night they hang out at a party. They get a little carried away with the drinking, and the liquor starts encouraging that person do stupid things, such as getting sexually involved with someone. Then this person simply reads communal prayers and says "I know no matter what I'm not worthy to receive the sacrament, so I should take it anyway". Tell me, how much respect does THAT show for communion?

In that case, why fast before communion? We should say "we're not worthy even if we fast", so let's just skip out on that. Why make it obligatory? Go ahead and let the flesh and blood of Christ mix up with your cereal and orange juice, for even if our stomach is clean we are still not worthy to receive Christ...

Do you catch the logic here? Yes, we are unworthy all the same, but let us make the best effort to come to the chalice as clean as we can. We clean out our stomach, why not clean out our hearts too?

I think you misunderstand me, and if so, this is my fault for not making myself as clear as I should have.  I do not in any way advocate the logic you just attached to my earlier statements, for the behavior you describe is not at all appropriate at any time for Orthodox Christians.  (You are right in saying that anyone who commits such serious sins as you describe should not receive Communion without first going to Confession.)

I had hoped that my statements would be understood within the context of an ongoing commitment to a repentant, Eucharistic lifestyle of which regular Confession is a necessary component.  I had hoped that I would be understood as speaking of a continuous preparation for Communion through a virtuous life, a life that gives context to specific preparations for Communion such as fasting and the prayers of preparation.



(Coming back to this post after calming down a bit):

Holy Communion is meaningful only for the life committed to constant repentance and obedience to Christ's commandments.  No one who is not committed to this life or falls out of this life into serious sin should be allowed to receive Communion without first repenting of his/her sins, this through Confession.  But within the context of a life devoted to Jesus Christ and His Church, the fasting and prayers of preparation for Communion are intended to reveal to me the depth of the abyss between my unworthiness and Christ's love for me, the chief of sinners.  Regular Confession is indeed necessary to keep me on the path of repentance, but keeping this repentance ongoing is the key.  Confession is not necessary to prepare me for each and every Holy Communion (as if Confession will somehow make me worthy to receive) so much as it is to work together with Holy Communion to bring me to theosis.

Christ intends to work through Holy Communion and through Confession to cleanse and sanctify every believer.  Connecting the two Sacraments so tightly by requiring Confession before every Communion actually works to separate the sacraments from the larger context of this life of theosis by placing too much emphasis on the Sacraments in isolation from the rest of the Christian life.  It is the ongoing work of Christ in the process of theosis that gives meaning to Confession and Communion, and isolating the Sacraments from this context only strips them of their ultimate meaning, IMHO.
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2006, 12:50:20 AM »

In our Romanian Church one is expected to confess always before  Communion; but, from my experience, I think that this might be due to the fact that the norm in our Church is to recieve the Holy Communion very rarely: at Easter or during Lent, at Christmas or during Advent,
and on the Feast of Dormition. The Feast of the Holy Apostles might be another occasion, too. Back in my home parish, on most of the  Sundays , only the priests recieve the Eucharist; nevertheless, the text of the Liturgy is not skipped, and the priest comes out of the altar, with the chalice in his hands saying: "With fear of God and love, draw ye near." We even sing the hymn "Let our mouths be filled...", even if nobody, in fact, recieved the Holy Communion. Things might be different in larger towns and cities, but in our little town, and the whole surrounding region, they are, as I've said.
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« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2006, 01:50:47 AM »

Once again, I respect the idea of trying to commune frequently, but it's important to be mindful and I really see nothing wrong with going to confession before each communion.

Who said there was anything wrong with it?  If you want to go to communion every week and confession before it every time, and both you and your spiritual father think it's beneficial for you, then who is anyone else to judge you for this?  I used to know a baba who did this all the time, and it worked for her.
I totally respect that if you want to do that.  

Quote
The sacrament of communion in itself needs discretion. If it is viewed as something to do for 'good luck', like taking a vitamin suppliment, that is dangerous. With a high level of frequency this risk becomes greater.

Ummm.....this is what, about the 17th time you've made this point on this thread and the last one?  I think you've made your point.  

Quote
To bring up a point from the earlier thread, the Church is the same as it always was, but the TIMES WE LIVE IN are different, attitudes of people towards spirituality are tainted with different dangers and temptations than in the times of the early church.

Then all the more reason to go to frequent communion when you are properly prepared.  If you are not prepared, then it should be made clear that you shouldn't go, as I have mentioned at least once over the course of this discussion (if you count the previous thread).

Quote
A person living outside the Orthodox church in Byzantium was an exception, a person living outside of the Orthodox church in America is the rule. Go to any metropolitan area from 10 am to 12 pm on Sunday morning and see how many people are walking and driving around, and how many more are in their beds sleeping or watching TV. Doesn't that tell us where we are living today?

So what? St. John Chrysostom used to rail against huge numbers of  people who came to church to hear his sermon, and who would then promptly take off for the horse races for the rest of the day(!)  And when it comes to adherence to a moral way of living, I'm not sure which century I would pick, the 4th or the 21st!  The fourth century was notorious for its unmitigated outbursts of hedonism and lechery.  Or how about 10th or 11th century Constantinople, in which St.Symeon the New Theologian accused an archbishop of being unfit to be a layman, let alone a bishop, and also  lamented that church positions were bought and that church life was totally stagnant and bureaucratized......I could go on and on with more examples.....just what is the point you are trying to make?  Because if it's that somehow living in an  "Orthodox" culture gives you a better chance at holiness, my response would have to be "maybe...maybe not."

Quote
Sure we all have the same opportunity for holiness as did the early members of the church. We will have this same opportunity when the last times come. But to believe that frequency of communion is the way to do it - I disagree.

I choose to disagree with you and agree instead with the Fathers,  St. John of Kronstadt,
and other saints of the Church.

Quote
I've seen kids who've frequently communed (where confession was optional) and no longer even attend church. It's more than one person, too. To them communion became little more than a snack tied to a pretty ritual, which they got sick of as soon as they gave up their Sunday morning for more sleep or other activities.

Once again I will say that you have made this same point almost verbatim earlier.
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2006, 02:06:50 AM »

In our Romanian Church one is expected to confess always before  Communion; but, from my experience, I think that this might be due to the fact that the norm in our Church is to recieve the Holy Communion very rarely: at Easter or during Lent, at Christmas or during Advent,
and on the Feast of Dormition. The Feast of the Holy Apostles might be another occasion, too. Back in my home parish, on most of the  Sundays , only the priests recieve the Eucharist; nevertheless, the text of the Liturgy is not skipped, and the priest comes out of the altar, with the chalice in his hands saying: "With fear of God and love, draw ye near." We even sing the hymn "Let our mouths be filled...", even if nobody, in fact, recieved the Holy Communion. Things might be different in larger towns and cities, but in our little town, and the whole surrounding region, they are, as I've said.

I think that there are many, many parishes like your's.  In fact, I would venture to guess that, worldwide, many more parishes are like it than not like it when it comes to Eucharistic discipline.
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« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2006, 09:50:00 AM »

Holy Communion is meaningful only for the life committed to constant repentance and obedience to Christ's commandments.  No one who is not committed to this life or falls out of this life into serious sin should be allowed to receive Communion without first repenting of his/her sins, this through Confession.  But within the context of a life devoted to Jesus Christ and His Church, the fasting and prayers of preparation for Communion are intended to reveal to me the depth of the abyss between my unworthiness and Christ's love for me, the chief of sinners.  Regular Confession is indeed necessary to keep me on the path of repentance, but keeping this repentance ongoing is the key.  Confession is not necessary to prepare me for each and every Holy Communion (as if Confession will somehow make me worthy to receive) so much as it is to work together with Holy Communion to bring me to theosis.

We have a lot of serious sins we commit. Sexual ones for some reason always attract the biggest attention, often at the cost of noticing many other very grave and profound sins. Hence the reason I used it in my example, to attract a greater attention to what is really going on.

I sin EVERY DAY (although not by having extramarital sexual relations,  Grin). Hardly a single day goes by when I don't doubt God's will towards me, or when I don't harbor anger, or when I don't behave in a gluttenous manner at the table, or when I write some angry post on the internet that offends someone else, or when I forget to attend to my loved ones who do so much for me, or when I'm slothful and waste the hours of life that God has so kindly granted to me, or when I'm full of greedy thoughts, or when I am full of want, or when I raise myself egotistically above others, or when I am lazy to pray. All of this shows a disrespect for God and his commandments, and it happens with me ALL THE TIME. I don't for some reason imagine I'm the only one who feels this way, as one priest said 'there are no new sins'.

When I come to the table to eat, I wash my hands. They may be reasonably clean, but I can be sure that if I've been outside of my house I probably got some germs somewhere. Same concerns sins. In a week's time, I know I've accumulated some sins, and what does it cost to wash them away with confession before coming to communion? Why shouldn't I, out of respect to the sacrament, make it a requirement of myself to wash my soul?

If I say to myself that I can come up to the chalice without confession, in a way I'm saying 'I don't need to clean myself before I invite the Lord inside of me, it's really too much of a bother for me to do that and He loves me anyway'.

I don't know about the rest of you but I certainly don't feel like I'm living a committed life to Christ. I would like to think that I am trying, and I know that I am trying by going to church for liturgy, by trying to observe the fast, by trying to go to confession/communion more often. I never woke up one morning and said 'this is it, from now on I will lead an Orthodox life'. I was born and raised Orthodox, this has always been who I am by my faith. I have always been inside the church, I never left. So there was never a point where I said 'from now on...'. The only moment to me that means 'from now on...' is after each confession, where I leave my sins and I say to myself "Christ is coming inside of me tomorrow, and I am receiving this because I have confessed and said to God that I want to make an effort to stop sinning the way I have before I came here".

Btw, totally different and unrelated note - I love Pravoslav Bob's avatar Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2006, 10:02:57 AM »

I could go on and on with more examples.....just what is the point you are trying to make?  Because if it's that somehow living in an  "Orthodox" culture gives you a better chance at holiness, my response would have to be "maybe...maybe not."

I think an Orthodox culture always gives you a greater chance for holiness. We should always be trying to Christify our surroundings, to make them reflect the life in Christ we want everyone to lead. This is why it is important, imho, to support legislation that is Christian, i.e. to suppress the propaganda of homosexuality and so on. By creating a Christian environment (and all the more better if it is Orthodox Christian) we are in a way doing the same as bringing society into a church building. It certainly doesn't guarantee that everyone will choose a life in Christ, but the environment encourages spiritual growth. There is a greater environment of support, sort of like a greenhouse for plants. Christian Byzantium was one such place - it was hardly immune from sin of course, but it was a more positive environment for Christian growth, overall, than the west village is in New York City Smiley Anyway, this is getting off tangent.
 
What I am concerned about is that too often the sacrament of communion is dispensed without discretion, almost haphazardly. I remember as a child, I didn't really understand how holy communion was. I felt it was certainly something important, but the older I got the more I understood what it really meant. I'm afraid, sadly, many people do not even understand what it is. I'm even more afraid that there are a significant amount of people in line for communion who don't even believe it is 'real', who doubt what the gifts are. They simply go out of tradition.

We really don't know what a person's state is when they approach the chalice, but confession on the other hand provides a greater opportunity for a cleric to see and understand what is inside of a person. This can be a great help in preparing someone to receive the gifts, although I'm also afraid that many clerics don't do thorough confessions either.

To sum it up, I think by setting that certain bar of confession we are helping prevent a careless approach on behalf of the less spiritually attuned people that are in church. We are guarding the sacrament for their benefit.

Anyway, this can become a very long and tiresome discussion Smiley


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« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2006, 01:16:55 PM »

Kaminetz,

I hope you don't feel that this discussion is tiring you out.  When I started this thread, I had hoped to engage others in a meaningful discussion of something that is indeed very important to us all as Orthodox Christians, and I think it's been a very good discussion so far.  I really appreciate the insightful posts that you've contributed to this thread, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

Now let me give a brief statement of what I see in this subject.  First off, I see that we hold fundamentally different viewpoints regarding Holy Communion; each side believes it is reverencing the Holy Sacrament appropriately and that the other side's viewpoint doesn't give the Sacrament enough reverence.

My beliefs outlined:

The ultimate goal of the Christian life is theosis.

Confession and Communion are primary and parallel means that Christ has given us to accomplish His goal of theosis.

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  (James 5:16)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."  (John 6:53-58)

Requiring Confession before every Communion isolates both Sacraments from the larger context of the Orthodox process of theosis, transforming both Sacraments into something less than they are within this larger context.

Confession:
  • Once seen as the Sacrament of the repentance necessary for theosis
  • Now seen as the means of cleansing one's conscience so as to make one "worthy" to receive Communion

Communion:
  • Once seen as our participation in the life of Christ, our participation unto salvation
  • Now seen merely as a rite of such holiness that we risk polluting it with our impurity if we don't cleanse ourselves with Confession before receiving of the Sacrament

This transformation of the two Sacraments essentially takes our eyes off the goal of theosis, a goal to which both Sacraments are a means, and turns our focus instead toward Confession and Communion alone, making them an end in and of themselves.  I see in the recent rethinking of the relationship between Confession and Communion an attempt also to reconsider the relationship of the two Sacraments to the whole of the Christian life of theosis.
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« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2006, 01:34:19 PM »

I would argue that no sacrament at all is complete outside of the Eucharist in the Church; to subjugate partaking communion to the need for confession is misleading, for no one is worthy to partake, even if they had confession two minutes before.  Instead, as part of God's Divine Condescension, Mercy, and Love, He allows us to partake with Fear and Awe.
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« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2006, 02:06:05 PM »

Naturally, we have proof that the two are not interdependent, there are instances where people are communed without confession being required. If that wasn't the case I wouldn't be able to commune twice during Easter (once during liturgy on Great Saturday, then again Easter liturgy).

At the same time, we know also that if a person is in a critical condition or otherwise is ill and cannot fast, they are permitted to accept communion without fasting.

But to me, both the confession and the fasting are ways of preparation that we use independently of communion as well.

We are all comfortable with requiring fasting before communion, right? If a priest stops us before the chalice and asks 'have you fasted' we will not be surprised or offended. I view confession in the same way, it is helping prepare ourselves out of respect for the sacrament, just as we clean our stomachs. A priest sets that bar, he says 'this is the condition under which I will administer the sacrament'. To me, confession is a small thing to ask out of respect for communion.

Is communion BOUND to confession? No. But we are bound to show the respect deemed necessary by the cleric for the sacrament. Bp. John of Shanghai for instance would not commune women that wore lipstick, nor would he give them the cross to venerate, because he felt it was disrespectful to leave traces of lipstick on the communal spoon and on crosses/icons.
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« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2006, 02:12:20 PM »

nor would he give them the cross to venerate, because he felt it was disrespectful to leave traces of lipstick on the communal spoon and on crosses/icons.


Not to mention the damage that the chemicals in lipstick can do to the paint in icons.
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« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2006, 06:18:11 PM »

actually, there is a definite sense that some forms of fasting are independent of Communion - the Wed and Fri fast are perfect examples.  The Lent, Advent, Apostle's and Theotokos' fasts are tied to the Eucharist insofar as the EUcharist of those feasts is the pinnacle and ultimate end-goal of the periods.  Where I see a problem with the practice of only communing after these fasting periods, though, is that the practice denies that every Sunday is Pascha - this is the faith of the Church and the practice of its Tradition, that our Church has 51 or so Paschas a year (The Feast, plus every Sunday save Palm Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and Pentecost, but then adding Lazaros Saturday, subtracting Christmas, Epiphany, and Transfiguration if they fall on Sundays).  Does anyone else see this as a problem?
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« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2006, 08:25:47 PM »

Btw, totally different and unrelated note - I love Pravoslav Bob's avatar Smiley

Gee, thanks.  I was going to change it, but I guess it will have to stay for a while longer!   Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2006, 08:44:43 PM »

Gee, thanks. ÂÂ I was going to change it, but I guess it will have to stay for a while longer! ÂÂ  Smiley

I mean, combining that with the name is very effective too, it gives me a sense that a big bear by the name of Bob was made Orthodox and now that bear is kind and relaxed - like he seems in the photo  Grin
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« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2006, 09:02:40 PM »

I think an Orthodox culture always gives you a greater chance for holiness. We should always be trying to Christify our surroundings, to make them reflect the life in Christ we want everyone to lead. This is why it is important, imho, to support legislation that is Christian, i.e. to suppress the propaganda of homosexuality and so on. By creating a Christian environment (and all the more better if it is Orthodox Christian) we are in a way doing the same as bringing society into a church building. It certainly doesn't guarantee that everyone will choose a life in Christ, but the environment encourages spiritual growth. There is a greater environment of support, sort of like a greenhouse for plants. Christian Byzantium was one such place - it was hardly immune from sin of course, but it was a more positive environment for Christian growth, overall, than the west village is in New York City Smiley

I see what you mean.  However, I don't think Christianity really rubbed off on Byzantium until many hundreds of years after its supposed "Chrisitanisation."  And even when it did, many practices continued that you and I would find barbaric.  And degenerate.  I don't wish to denigrate what Byzantium did manage to achieve, which was amazing in many ways,I'm just trying to be realistic.  Russia I find kind of different in this respect.  It seems that in this society, things were wonderful at first, and then deteriorated later.  I think that "Holy Russia" was genuinely there, but so was "Oppressive Degenerate Russia."  Sure, one could always go to a monastery to seek holiness.  I guess a lot of the time one might have found amazing holiness.  Mediocrity  more often than not, as well.  So I'm really not sure if one would have been better off in one of these societies than our own.  Perhaps just not having all the ridiculous distractions that we have nowadays would have made one better off.
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« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2006, 09:07:35 PM »

I mean, combining that with the name is very effective too, it gives me a sense that a big bear by the name of Bob was made Orthodox and now that bear is kind and relaxed - like he seems in the photo  Grin

Well, then this bear will just have to try and restrain his passions and become more kind and relaxed, so that he fits your vision of what an Orthodox bear should be!  Forgive me if I sometimes too strident.
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« Reply #38 on: April 08, 2006, 01:31:07 AM »

Well, then this bear will just have to try and restrain his passions and become more kind and relaxed, so that he fits your vision of what an Orthodox bear should be!  Forgive me if I sometimes too strident.

I once heard a story about an Orthodox man who came upon a hungry bear in the woods.  The hunter dropped to his knees and prayed, "Lord, make this bear an Orthodox bear!"  Immediately afterward, the bear made the sign of the Cross over the man and prayed, "Lord God, bless the food and drink of your servant..."   Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2006, 08:40:27 AM »

THAT was truly funny!  Cheesy
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« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2006, 10:01:00 AM »

Here at school, some of the students' children on campus re-enacted it at our talent show - quite a riot, if you ask me!
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« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2006, 12:47:01 AM »

THAT would have been cute!  Roll Eyes
I would have loved to have seen that.
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« Reply #42 on: October 26, 2010, 02:05:45 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
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« Reply #43 on: October 26, 2010, 02:27:47 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I'll reserve my comments about this for later when i have more time...
I have to say that's is sort of funny....I was taught to fast several days , is that still required ,or did the Serbian Church shorten the Fast requirement...This is How Our mom raised us kids, plus we never communed every Sunday ,but  Give or take 4 Times a year...Or Mostly On Major Feast days.....

Just to clarify a little more ,When Mom Fasted we all Fasted ,She would cook only fasting Food and nothing else...But we learned and Grew to accept it and got use to it.....
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« Reply #44 on: October 26, 2010, 03:54:33 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?
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« Reply #45 on: October 26, 2010, 04:22:30 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
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« Reply #46 on: October 26, 2010, 05:02:07 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
Well, he did say that he learned this from a number of priests. I think that may be more accurate and fair than the experiences of one individual priest.
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« Reply #47 on: October 26, 2010, 05:05:19 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
Well, he did say that he learned this from a number of priests. I think that may be more accurate and fair than the experiences of one individual priest.

Do you believe this testimony from one individual?  Why?

Shall we ask him how many Serbian priests gave him this information?
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« Reply #48 on: October 26, 2010, 05:23:45 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
Well, he did say that he learned this from a number of priests. I think that may be more accurate and fair than the experiences of one individual priest.

Do you believe this testimony from one individual?  Why?
Why should I believe your testimony and not his, since you are, after all, one individual?

Shall we ask him how many Serbian priests gave him this information?
No, I don't think that will be necessary.
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« Reply #49 on: October 26, 2010, 05:41:29 AM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
Well, he did say that he learned this from a number of priests. I think that may be more accurate and fair than the experiences of one individual priest.

Do you believe this testimony from one individual?  Why?
Why should I believe your testimony and not his, since you are, after all, one individual?


Well, you've made a choice and it's not clear why you have made it.  Never mind, I believe me.. and it is backed by 30 years in the Serbian Church, 20 of them as a monk and and as a parish priest.

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.
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« Reply #50 on: October 26, 2010, 09:27:45 AM »

I can tell you how one Serbian Priest does it, mine:

1. No communion without following the previous week's fasting requirements.

2. Confession before communion unless the last confession was VERY recent (example, I had confession on Sunday, so I am probably OK for tomorrow - Feast of St. Petka).

3. One should not let more than 40 days pass without taking communion.

The old Priest that he replaced (may his memory be eternal) had similar requirements.
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« Reply #51 on: October 26, 2010, 11:24:20 AM »

I am with a small (~20-25 people) GOA mission parish where the Divine Liturgy is celebrated only once a month, at best. We do not have our own building, so we rent a small Episcopalian chapel, which is available to us only on Saturdays. There is no real iconostasis there, and there is practically no space between the nave and the ambo, so it is difficult even to imagine, just where would penitents confess their sins if they want confidentiality. Also, the people who attend our parish are dispersed over vast space in the east-central and northcentral parts of our state. For our priest, who lives in Jackson, MS, it would take several hours to reach the place where we gather for DL, or the residences of most of our parishioners.

I guess these circumstances make routine, regular Confession difficult. However, I in fact have no idea when and where do the people in my parish go to confession. As far as I am aware, it may take place every day. Nobody ever talks about it though, and that's perhaps a good idea.

The Eucharist is always given to EVERY person who is Orthodox and present at the DL. I do not think anyone is ever asked the question, did this one confess recently, or fast.
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« Reply #52 on: October 26, 2010, 03:06:35 PM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

I was responding to the inaccurate and unfair generalisation from Serb1389. 
Well, he did say that he learned this from a number of priests. I think that may be more accurate and fair than the experiences of one individual priest.

Do you believe this testimony from one individual?  Why?
Why should I believe your testimony and not his, since you are, after all, one individual?


Well, you've made a choice and it's not clear why you have made it.  Never mind, I believe me.. and it is backed by 30 years in the Serbian Church, 20 of them as a monk and and as a parish priest.

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

You're not boring me  Wink Grin

I will answer your question about my experience, because I think it has a bearing on the topic at hand. 

My experience has been with my parish priest of 27 years, the parish priests of almost every single Serbian Orthodox priest who has been through St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox School of Theology from 1990 - Present, as well as my experiences with priests on the East Coast, Midwest & West Coast. 

I have very rarely see anyone spend more than 2 minutes at the confessional stand, and I can tell you that talking to these priests ALL of them say that there is a large group of people who just come up and say "I have nothing to confess"...regularly. 

Suffice it to say...i'm definitely not making this up. 
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« Reply #53 on: October 26, 2010, 06:08:15 PM »



I have very rarely see anyone spend more than 2 minutes at the confessional stand, and I can tell you that talking to these priests ALL of them say that there is a large group of people who just come up and say "I have nothing to confess"...regularly.  

Suffice it to say...i'm definitely not making this up.  

In the 1970s at Belgrade and the monastery of Zica we were taught to respond to non-penitents who came up for confession and said to the priest:   "I have no sins to confess" --  "Well, go away then because confession is about confessing sins and I cannot absolve you from no sins.  Come to confession when you have sins on your soul."

We were taught to follow this up with a private conversation outside of confesion time to see what the problem was with the "sinless" person.  We did not pursue it at the time of confession because it would throw the person into confusion and require too much conversation at the naloj while others were waiting.

Obviously this is a ONCE only occasion in the life of a penitent when an explanation is needed from the priest and in the future the penitent has a proper understanding.
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« Reply #54 on: October 26, 2010, 07:18:11 PM »

In the 1970s at Belgrade and the monastery of Zica we were taught to respond to non-penitents who came up for confession and said to the priest:   "I have no sins to confess" --  "Well, go away then because confession is about confessing sins and I cannot absolve you from no sins.  Come to confession when you have sins on your soul."

I believe it was +ANTHONY (Bloom), Archbishop of Surozh, who used to say to such people, "well, then please let me fall on my knees in front of you and confess MY sins to you."  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #55 on: October 26, 2010, 09:21:41 PM »

actually, there is a definite sense that some forms of fasting are independent of Communion - the Wed and Fri fast are perfect examples.  The Lent, Advent, Apostle's and Theotokos' fasts are tied to the Eucharist insofar as the EUcharist of those feasts is the pinnacle and ultimate end-goal of the periods.  Where I see a problem with the practice of only communing after these fasting periods, though, is that the practice denies that every Sunday is Pascha - this is the faith of the Church and the practice of its Tradition, that our Church has 51 or so Paschas a year (The Feast, plus every Sunday save Palm Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and Pentecost, but then adding Lazaros Saturday, subtracting Christmas, Epiphany, and Transfiguration if they fall on Sundays).  Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Would it be improper for someone who recieves communion on a weekly basis to view the wednesday and friday fasts as part of that week's preparation for receiving Communion that sunday? Could commemorating Christ's betrayal (wednesday) and crucifixion (friday) be seen as a weekly "Holy Week" leading up to and preparing for the weekly Pascha?
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« Reply #56 on: October 26, 2010, 09:22:13 PM »

In the 1970s at Belgrade and the monastery of Zica we were taught to respond to non-penitents who came up for confession and said to the priest:   "I have no sins to confess" --  "Well, go away then because confession is about confessing sins and I cannot absolve you from no sins.  Come to confession when you have sins on your soul."

I believe it was +ANTHONY (Bloom), Archbishop of Surozh, who used to say to such people, "well, then please let me fall on my knees in front of you and confess MY sins to you."  Roll Eyes

Both of these are excellent responses.  If you have no sins, you have no need for Communion, or the Church.
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« Reply #57 on: October 26, 2010, 09:24:27 PM »

A quote from the pre communion prayers

http://www.orthodox.cn/liturgical/prayerbook/daily/precommunionprayer_en.htm
Quote
For it is not insolently that I draw near to Thee, O Christ my God, but as taking courage from Thy unspeakable goodness, and that I may not by long abstaining from Thy communion become a prey to the spiritual wolf.
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« Reply #58 on: October 26, 2010, 09:24:36 PM »

actually, there is a definite sense that some forms of fasting are independent of Communion - the Wed and Fri fast are perfect examples.  The Lent, Advent, Apostle's and Theotokos' fasts are tied to the Eucharist insofar as the EUcharist of those feasts is the pinnacle and ultimate end-goal of the periods.  Where I see a problem with the practice of only communing after these fasting periods, though, is that the practice denies that every Sunday is Pascha - this is the faith of the Church and the practice of its Tradition, that our Church has 51 or so Paschas a year (The Feast, plus every Sunday save Palm Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and Pentecost, but then adding Lazaros Saturday, subtracting Christmas, Epiphany, and Transfiguration if they fall on Sundays).  Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Would it be improper for someone who recieves communion on a weekly basis to view the wednesday and friday fasts as part of that week's preparation for receiving Communion that sunday? Could commemorating Christ's betrayal (wednesday) and crucifixion (friday) be seen as a weekly "Holy Week" leading up to and preparing for the weekly Pascha?

That would be consistent with what I have been taught.  The Wednesday and Friday Fast certainly are part of the preparation for Communion.
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« Reply #59 on: October 27, 2010, 01:13:04 AM »



I have very rarely see anyone spend more than 2 minutes at the confessional stand, and I can tell you that talking to these priests ALL of them say that there is a large group of people who just come up and say "I have nothing to confess"...regularly.  

Suffice it to say...i'm definitely not making this up.  

In the 1970s at Belgrade and the monastery of Zica we were taught to respond to non-penitents who came up for confession and said to the priest:   "I have no sins to confess" --  "Well, go away then because confession is about confessing sins and I cannot absolve you from no sins.  Come to confession when you have sins on your soul."

We were taught to follow this up with a private conversation outside of confesion time to see what the problem was with the "sinless" person.  We did not pursue it at the time of confession because it would throw the person into confusion and require too much conversation at the naloj while others were waiting.

Obviously this is a ONCE only occasion in the life of a penitent when an explanation is needed from the priest and in the future the penitent has a proper understanding.


Well Father, as to your last comment, I respond "when you get out of fantasy land let me know".  Honestly, if you can tell me EVER of a case in your life when you told someone something ONCE and they just said "alright" and never made that mistake again, i'd love to know about it and who that person is because they're the next saint of the church. 

Beyond fantasy land, I will tell you that my experiences have been with congregations that are heavily influenced by immigrants from former communism, who were heavily involved in that culture.  There's always good people who take their faith seriously, and there's always wonderful people who truly have that wonderful Serbian piety of which both you and I have spoken about at length. 

However, in this case there is a glaring problem and I for one have noticed it.  I actually envy you that you were able to live in a ministry full of holy & faith engaging people, but that has not been the case for me. 

If that is hard to believe for you, well...i'm sorry.  Like I said..you have had a different experience than I have, and i believe that the question is whether or not there SHOULD be confession before Communion.  I believe we both agree that this is a must.  How one goes about that confession...we may have differing opinions. 

Forgive me if I have caused you consternation. 
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« Reply #60 on: October 27, 2010, 07:53:38 PM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

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« Reply #61 on: October 27, 2010, 08:06:22 PM »

actually, there is a definite sense that some forms of fasting are independent of Communion - the Wed and Fri fast are perfect examples.  The Lent, Advent, Apostle's and Theotokos' fasts are tied to the Eucharist insofar as the EUcharist of those feasts is the pinnacle and ultimate end-goal of the periods.  Where I see a problem with the practice of only communing after these fasting periods, though, is that the practice denies that every Sunday is Pascha - this is the faith of the Church and the practice of its Tradition, that our Church has 51 or so Paschas a year (The Feast, plus every Sunday save Palm Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and Pentecost, but then adding Lazaros Saturday, subtracting Christmas, Epiphany, and Transfiguration if they fall on Sundays).  Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Would it be improper for someone who recieves communion on a weekly basis to view the wednesday and friday fasts as part of that week's preparation for receiving Communion that sunday? Could commemorating Christ's betrayal (wednesday) and crucifixion (friday) be seen as a weekly "Holy Week" leading up to and preparing for the weekly Pascha?

Well, our whole life is movement toward union with the Lord, so in a way it would not be improper to make that connection.  But as far as purpose goes, those fasts are not there to prepare us for Holy Communion, but rather as sober remembrances of serious events (betrayal and crucifixion).  However, it can (and should) be argued that not observing the fasts when we are perfectly capable of it should deter someone from receiving Communion that week. 
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« Reply #62 on: October 27, 2010, 11:33:54 PM »



Well Father, as to your last comment, I respond "when you get out of fantasy land let me know".  Honestly, if you can tell me EVER of a case in your life when you told someone something ONCE and they just said "alright" and never made that mistake again, i'd love to know about it and who that person is because they're the next saint of the church. 

Father I have ministered to Serbs for 30 years and to Russians for 30 years.   In every case when I have encountered a person with "I don't have anything to confess" then the refusal to grant absolution and the consequent refusal of Communion, plus of course a talk and explanation and pamphlet on confession later in the church hall, has meant that nobody has ever approached for confession with the same line again.

Quote
Beyond fantasy land, I will tell you that my experiences have been with congregations that are heavily influenced by immigrants from former communism, who were heavily involved in that culture.  There's always good people who take their faith seriously, and there's always wonderful people who truly have that wonderful Serbian piety of which both you and I have spoken about at length. 

However, in this case there is a glaring problem and I for one have noticed it.  I actually envy you that you were able to live in a ministry full of holy & faith engaging people, but that has not been the case for me. 
 

My work has a priest has been with Serbs and Russians, 99% of them being immigrants.  People from the Communist countries may have to deal with difficult and serious sins of the past which are holding them back from confession and communion, often for many many years.  It is my practice to offer such people a one-time-only "discount" deal.  In the bad old days of Tito grannies would being their grandchildren to the monastery at Zica and almost every Sunday afternoon we would have a baptism or two,.  This was usually done quietly and without the knowledge of the parents.  So these babies become mature people who are technically Orthodox but without much knowledge and the option of baptism which would cleanse all their grown up sins does not exist because of the secret baptism while a baby.  So I allow them to make their first confession in total silence between them and God and at the end of this silent confession of sins I want to know if they have confessed ALL their sins and if they are truly sorry for them and have a firm intention not to repeat them.  If they say yea (and I cannot think of anyone who hasn't) then they receive absolution.   Future confessions will be done in the normal manner.

Quote
If that is hard to believe for you, well...i'm sorry.  Like I said..you have had a different experience than I have, and i believe that the question is whether or not there SHOULD be confession before Communion.  I believe we both agree that this is a must.  How one goes about that confession...we may have differing opinions. 


What you have said indicates the real necessity of auricular confession before communion.   If people with an "I have nothing to confess" estimate of their own spiritual sate are slipping through to communion then God only knows what other errors they have and especially what erroneous beliefs they may have about the nature of the consecrated Bread and Wine they are receiving.   The priest, following the responsibility placed on him at his ordination when the Lamb is placed in his hands, has a duty to challenge and correct these things.
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« Reply #63 on: October 27, 2010, 11:49:52 PM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

Prior to Vatican II most Catholics went to confession very often, many of them once a week.  This was on Friday nights and on Saturday mornings and evenings.  The churches would have several confessional boxes in those days and there would be queues of people waiting outside each box.  The priests considered it a privilege and a blessing from Christ to spend several hours hearing confessions.  Things changed rapidly after Vatican Ii.
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« Reply #64 on: October 28, 2010, 12:21:22 AM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

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Britt

Given that there is a variety of practice in this area, you're probably gonna have to work out the details with your priest when you get close to being Chrismated. Some priests require confession on a regular basis more often than others, and some indivuduals may have a more urgent need to confess more often than others.
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« Reply #65 on: October 28, 2010, 12:07:47 PM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

In Christ,
Britt

Given that there is a variety of practice in this area, you're probably gonna have to work out the details with your priest when you get close to being Chrismated. Some priests require confession on a regular basis more often than others, and some indivuduals may have a more urgent need to confess more often than others.

The Priest only has authority through the Church. If he is "requiring" something then all Priests under the same Bishop will also "require" the same thing. The Priest requiring something different is a red flag that he is acting outside of the authority of his office.
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« Reply #66 on: October 28, 2010, 08:32:39 PM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

In Christ,
Britt

Given that there is a variety of practice in this area, you're probably gonna have to work out the details with your priest when you get close to being Chrismated. Some priests require confession on a regular basis more often than others, and some indivuduals may have a more urgent need to confess more often than others.

The Priest only has authority through the Church. If he is "requiring" something then all Priests under the same Bishop will also "require" the same thing. The Priest requiring something different is a red flag that he is acting outside of the authority of his office.

Maybe "require" was a bad choice of word, but my point was that on the internet with everyone but your father confessor is last place for a person to try to figure out the exact details about when, why, how, etc their confession should be. I'll be honest, I'm new to this, but I trust the guidance of my priest. I don't know the when, how often, why, etc details of how other jurisdictions do confession, other dioceses in the OCA, other priests in the diocese, or even other individuals in my parish, but I do know that how, when, etc I do my confession is between Christ and myself and before the witness of and under the guidance of my priest.
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« Reply #67 on: October 28, 2010, 09:32:29 PM »

We must be boring anybody reading this thread.

Far from it.  As someone who hopes to be Chrismated in the coming months, I look forward to being able to participate fully in both Mysteries.  Even if the "price" of frequent reception of Holy Communion was an equally-frequent participation in Confession, that is a "price" I would gladly pay.  I may not know much as a total newbie, but one thing that I do know is that my soul needs a fair bit of work.  Undecided

In Christ,
Britt

Given that there is a variety of practice in this area, you're probably gonna have to work out the details with your priest when you get close to being Chrismated. Some priests require confession on a regular basis more often than others, and some indivuduals may have a more urgent need to confess more often than others.

The Priest only has authority through the Church. If he is "requiring" something then all Priests under the same Bishop will also "require" the same thing. The Priest requiring something different is a red flag that he is acting outside of the authority of his office.

Maybe "require" was a bad choice of word, but my point was that on the internet with everyone but your father confessor is last place for a person to try to figure out the exact details about when, why, how, etc their confession should be. I'll be honest, I'm new to this, but I trust the guidance of my priest. I don't know the when, how often, why, etc details of how other jurisdictions do confession, other dioceses in the OCA, other priests in the diocese, or even other individuals in my parish, but I do know that how, when, etc I do my confession is between Christ and myself and before the witness of and under the guidance of my priest.

If you trust him and voluntarily submit then he is not your Priest but your Spiritual Father. I do everything my Spiritual Father says without question. Big difference atleast in my opinion.
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« Reply #68 on: October 28, 2010, 09:39:26 PM »

The Priest only has authority through the Church. If he is "requiring" something then all Priests under the same Bishop will also "require" the same thing. The Priest requiring something different is a red flag that he is acting outside of the authority of his office.  

If you're speaking of generalities (i.e. he's requiring this of everyone, versus what he requires of an individual based on their particular circumstances), then we agree.  You've made a very good point.
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« Reply #69 on: March 21, 2011, 09:49:47 PM »

As far as things go, I've been in all practices. In Wappinger's Falls, there is frequent communion, but confession is mostly non-existent.
In the ROCOR church, you must go to confession, but communion is infrequent. In Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral (OCA) people confess and commune frequently.
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« Reply #70 on: March 21, 2011, 09:57:02 PM »

actually, there is a definite sense that some forms of fasting are independent of Communion - the Wed and Fri fast are perfect examples.  The Lent, Advent, Apostle's and Theotokos' fasts are tied to the Eucharist insofar as the EUcharist of those feasts is the pinnacle and ultimate end-goal of the periods.  Where I see a problem with the practice of only communing after these fasting periods, though, is that the practice denies that every Sunday is Pascha - this is the faith of the Church and the practice of its Tradition, that our Church has 51 or so Paschas a year (The Feast, plus every Sunday save Palm Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and Pentecost, but then adding Lazaros Saturday, subtracting Christmas, Epiphany, and Transfiguration if they fall on Sundays).  Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Would it be improper for someone who recieves communion on a weekly basis to view the wednesday and friday fasts as part of that week's preparation for receiving Communion that sunday? Could commemorating Christ's betrayal (wednesday) and crucifixion (friday) be seen as a weekly "Holy Week" leading up to and preparing for the weekly Pascha?

That would be consistent with what I have been taught.  The Wednesday and Friday Fast certainly are part of the preparation for Communion.

I recently finished up Fr. Schmemman's "Great Lent" and in the appendix on confession and communion, he suggests the people read the prayers of preparation more than just on Saturday night/Sunday morning (and, likewise, the thanksgiving prayers on Monday and Tuesday, as well) in an effort to really get them to think about spending the entire week preparing for Communion instead of just the 12 hours or so before Sunday Liturgy.  I've read that appendix at least a dozen times but I don't ever recall reading that particular suggestion.  It got me really thinking about such a practice and adding them to Wednesday and Friday night prayers seem to be a way to work those prayers in. 
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« Reply #71 on: March 21, 2011, 10:09:18 PM »

In my parish our priest expects us to confess once a month if we commune every Sunday.
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« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2011, 10:12:42 PM »

In my parish our priest expects us to confess once a month if we commune every Sunday.

Same. At the least. IIRC, this is the policy of the entire OCA.
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« Reply #73 on: March 21, 2011, 10:22:44 PM »

I'm also in a ROCOR parish, and both our priests advise (not expects) for confession every 3-4 weeks (or when there is an urgent need and a person feels it's necessary).  Also, if there is something I've done but am not sure as to whether or not I should go, I will ask my priest b/c that is a serious thing and plus the advice helps and comforts me.

Personally speaking, I wouldn't feel right about going to Communion without a thorough Confession first--it would leave me with a nagging, terrible feeling on my conscience (since I seem to have a conscience that seems to take mental notes on everything I do anyway).  The Body and Blood of our Savior is so very precious and priceless to me, I don't want to lose it.  IT just feels like if I partook unworthily, it would kill me in a sense. But that is just me personally.
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« Reply #74 on: March 21, 2011, 10:55:55 PM »


In my church, everyone who approaches for Holy Communion, has gone to Holy Confession.

While two separate sacraments, they are linked.

Cleaning your soul, is part of preparing yourself to receive the Eucharist, and is more important than putting on a clean dress and clean socks.

...I've been to churches were I was encouraged to approach Holy Communion...almost "forced" and had to politely excuse myself. 

My priest encourages weekly Communion, however, he also promotes weekly Confession.

Rare is the person who hasn't accumulated any sins in a week's time.  It only takes me minutes.    angel

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« Reply #75 on: March 21, 2011, 11:27:26 PM »


In my church, everyone who approaches for Holy Communion, has gone to Holy Confession.

While two separate sacraments, they are linked.

Cleaning your soul, is part of preparing yourself to receive the Eucharist, and is more important than putting on a clean dress and clean socks.

...I've been to churches were I was encouraged to approach Holy Communion...almost "forced" and had to politely excuse myself. 

My priest encourages weekly Communion, however, he also promotes weekly Confession.

Rare is the person who hasn't accumulated any sins in a week's time.  It only takes me minutes.    angel


My priest requests the same from us. It makes sense to me. The way I understand it, if we believe that is truly Christ present on the altar and in the chalice, we should strive to prepare as best as we can with the grace God gives us. Obviously, we can never make ourselves worthy, but from what I have been taught, putting forth the effort to prepare with all our heart and understanding and accepting the Lord's grace is what He asks of us.

I agree with you. It only takes me minutes to accumulate sins upon my soul. I actually look forward to confessing before I receive the Eucharist. Not because I feel it makes me righteous or worthy, but it's wonderful to get the counsel and loving admonition to keep running the race and then of course there is the blessing of actually receiving Holy Communion the following day. Smiley

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« Reply #76 on: March 22, 2011, 05:16:30 PM »

One priest, whom I respect enormously, has said that he "suggests" frequent Communion and confession roughly 4 times per year.  He is an OCA priest.

Another, Antiochian, priest used to tell us that we need not confess before each Communion, that once every month or two was sufficient, and if we felt we needed to confess more often, he was all for it.

So, it seems, that even within various jurisdictions there is flexibility and leniency.  As has been said so well previously, *none* of us are *ever* "worthy" to receive Communion, even if we have confessed just a minute or 2 ago.  The first priest I mentioned told me that just as important as the act of confession is whether or not we approach the chalice with a deep sense of our sinfulness, of our sins, and of our unworthiness.

On that basis, I commune most weeks, and confess at least 4 times per year--often once a month or more.  I wish I could say that *every* time I approach the chalice it was with awareness of my sins, sinfulness, and unworthiness, but I'd be lying if I did.  Sometimes even having just confessed my sins and received absolution, by the time I get to the chalice, my mind is somewhere else  Sad.  May God have mercy on me, a sinner.
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« Reply #77 on: March 22, 2011, 06:22:56 PM »

As far as things go, I've been in all practices. In Wappinger's Falls, there is frequent communion, but confession is mostly non-existent.
In the ROCOR church, you must go to confession, but communion is infrequent. In Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral (OCA) people confess and commune frequently.
Are you near Wappingers?
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« Reply #78 on: March 22, 2011, 07:05:49 PM »


In my church, everyone who approaches for Holy Communion, has gone to Holy Confession.

While two separate sacraments, they are linked.

Cleaning your soul, is part of preparing yourself to receive the Eucharist, and is more important than putting on a clean dress and clean socks.

...I've been to churches were I was encouraged to approach Holy Communion...almost "forced" and had to politely excuse myself. 

My priest encourages weekly Communion, however, he also promotes weekly Confession.

Rare is the person who hasn't accumulated any sins in a week's time.  It only takes me minutes.    angel


My priest requests the same from us. It makes sense to me. The way I understand it, if we believe that is truly Christ present on the altar and in the chalice, we should strive to prepare as best as we can with the grace God gives us. Obviously, we can never make ourselves worthy, but from what I have been taught, putting forth the effort to prepare with all our heart and understanding and accepting the Lord's grace is what He asks of us.

I agree with you. It only takes me minutes to accumulate sins upon my soul. I actually look forward to confessing before I receive the Eucharist. Not because I feel it makes me righteous or worthy, but it's wonderful to get the counsel and loving admonition to keep running the race and then of course there is the blessing of actually receiving Holy Communion the following day. Smiley

In Christ,
Andrew

Hi Andrew--I believe as you do that we can accumulate sins very, very fast. Would you agree that this is a problem for all of us--bishops, priests, deacons, and regular folks? If so, how is it that the clergy take communion every time the Liturgy is celebrated and yet they do not have the opportunity and the requirement to receive the sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation/Confession) before each Communion? What makes them so very different from you and I?

I may be wrong here but of the various charisma bestowed upon the clergy, not one iota of the charisma is to make them sinless. What they have on their corner, among other things, is a much better informed and thorough prayer and sacramental life, which we could all strive to. I am sure that if any clergy commits a grave sin, he would not hesitate to call his father confessor and receive the Mystery of Reconciliation, even over the phone. I suspect that this not happen every time that he sins but only for those sins that he and his father confessor have agreed on.

I am sure that almost all of the clergy have a daily cycle of prayers, which normally include numerous confessions and vows of repentance. Finally, each member of the clergy prays repeatedly for the remission of their sins--a process that culminates in the two prayers before communion and the mind set of unworthiness before the Holy Chalice. Let me ask one last question: how is this different from what we called to do?
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« Reply #79 on: March 22, 2011, 07:49:57 PM »

I also think it is more difficult for the clergy to "confess"....as they are usually the only priest at the parish.
Who is to hear their confession?
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« Reply #80 on: March 22, 2011, 09:23:27 PM »

In my parish our priest expects us to confess once a month if we commune every Sunday.

Same. At the least. IIRC, this is the policy of the entire OCA.

The OCA has no such "policy" that I've ever read, and I've been to at least 20 OCA parishes where such was not the case.
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« Reply #81 on: March 22, 2011, 09:51:37 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

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« Reply #82 on: March 22, 2011, 11:25:42 PM »


In my church, everyone who approaches for Holy Communion, has gone to Holy Confession.

While two separate sacraments, they are linked.

Well, in the sense that the entire sacramental life is linked, yes, this is true.  But in actual fact, confession is linked much more closely to baptism than to anything else.  The patristic consensus is that confession returns the penitent to their original baptismal state, if it has indeed wavered from this state. 

Quote
Cleaning your soul, is part of preparing yourself to receive the Eucharist, and is more important than putting on a clean dress and clean socks.

...I've been to churches were I was encouraged to approach Holy Communion...almost "forced" and had to politely excuse myself. 

My priest encourages weekly Communion, however, he also promotes weekly Confession.

Rare is the person who hasn't accumulated any sins in a week's time.  It only takes me minutes.    angel

I'm not trying to suggest that there should be no preparation for communion, and I'm not saying that you have nothing  good to say here.  I have already written elsewhere my opinions regarding confession before every communion, and I will not repeat myself here.  However, if we truly believe the lex orandi, lex credendi principle, then why do we sometimes seem to give so little credence to what the priest himself says to each communicant as he or she partakes of the dread mysteries:  "the servant of God N. partakes of the precious and holy Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for the remission of his/her sins, and unto life everlasting, amen."?  Clearly, the understanding here is that the Holy Gifts themselves cleanse us of our sins.  If we are in a state where we have deviated somewhat from our spiritual path (and as you have pointed out, that would include everyone), but have not distorted the Grace that we have received in baptism and have tried to prepare ourselves to receive the Gifts, why should we find it necessary to go to confession every time before communing?
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« Reply #83 on: March 22, 2011, 11:32:22 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.
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« Reply #84 on: March 22, 2011, 11:46:12 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.

Cradle Mothers And Fathers Raise their children to confess ,always before communing....It's the Lack's Clergy
That Come Across our lives that want to Change things and some do ,to make it Easiers for themselfs....

Heaven Is Loaded with simple  Mothers and Fathers that taught there Children not to approch unconfessed but to always be in aaw...Plus Heaven Has A Clergy Shortage Because Some do things Fast and easy ...
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« Reply #85 on: March 22, 2011, 11:50:16 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.

Cradle Mothers And Fathers Raise their children to confess ,always before communing....It's the Lack's Clergy
That Come Across our lives that want to Change things and some do ,to make it Easiers for themselfs....

Heaven Is Loaded with simple  Mothers and Fathers that taught there Children not to approch unconfessed but to always be in aaw...Plus Heaven Has A Clergy Shortage Because Some do things Fast and easy ...

I don't think a priest would ever tell someone to confess less frequently they do however set a minimum of how often you should go.
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« Reply #86 on: March 23, 2011, 12:01:56 AM »

I Know What i Speak of ....Growing up a married serbian priest wouldn't teach sunday School because it cut into his outside jobs and his two homes he was paying for.....The Bishop Metropolitan eventually Closed the Church....

The First Day He was to teach Sunday Class he Slamed The Bible on the Floor Claiming we were to unrully but we were just kids about 7 of us, and Stormed Out ,never to teach again or even make it the first time...I Never Had A Chance ever again to attend Sunday School After that incident .... police
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« Reply #87 on: March 23, 2011, 12:08:52 AM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

That's right!  Who are those pesky bishops to tell us what to do?!
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« Reply #88 on: March 23, 2011, 12:27:21 AM »


Even the Cradle Bishops Are Being Swayed By The Converts...Everthing has to come to pass ,Christ did say when he returns will he find any Faith left..... police

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

That's right!  Who are those pesky bishops to tell us what to do?!
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« Reply #89 on: March 23, 2011, 01:05:38 AM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?
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« Reply #90 on: March 23, 2011, 01:16:17 AM »

No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?
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« Reply #91 on: March 23, 2011, 02:49:26 AM »

I am uncomfortable when people insist that the Faithful must Confess before Communing because we are talking about two Mysteria which each stand alone. Communing is not a "right" as though the Faithful have some sort of "Bill of Rights" of which Communing is one. And no one and nothing -not even Confession- can make us "worthy" of Communion. We can only ask that God "count us worthy" of it, that is, we ask that, in His mercy, He would treat us as though we were worthy even though we are not. Confession is the witnessed acknowledgement and Repentance of our sins before Christ, and the opportunity for the Church to apply medicine to our souls which are ailing from our sins, and part of that healing is humility, and as such, it is not for us to decide for ourselves when and if we are ready to approach for Communion, but rather, our Spiritual Father's judgement should be sought on this matter. If we think we are worthy to Commune, then we most definitely are not ready to approach the Chalice. So rather than the two Mysteries of Repentance and Communion being inextricable linked to one another with statements such as "one must Confess before each Communion" which can lead to the plani or prelest of believing that we have somehow "earned the right" to Commune by Confessing, we should keep them separate, and rather speak of seeking our Spiritual Father's blessing to Commune (which, for most lay people, occurs in the context of Confession).
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« Reply #92 on: March 23, 2011, 03:24:55 AM »

No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?
Your words betray you.
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« Reply #93 on: March 23, 2011, 04:11:20 AM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.


The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf


Patriarch Theodosios advises those who receive Communion every 40 days that it has to be after penance, i.e., confession.

Presumably he also intends those who commune weekly to confess weekly? That part is not clear to me.

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« Reply #94 on: March 23, 2011, 04:36:02 AM »

Do we know what the pre-Nicene practice was, or even the pre-Slavic practice?
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« Reply #95 on: March 23, 2011, 08:32:13 AM »

The pre-Nicene practise was that the faithful were given Eucharist and brought them back home so that they could took it every day. They confessed sins in front of the whole congregation although IDK how often.
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« Reply #96 on: March 23, 2011, 08:39:24 AM »

Our parish is much like yours:  One priest, lots of people - and every Sunday and Feasts.  We are required to go to confession at least once a quarter and not to receive communion if there is something between ourselves and our brother or sister.  We are to go and settle it with our brother or sister first, go to confession and then go to communion.  I have heard that 'grievous' sin needs to be confessed before communion, as well.  . . .though I'm not really sure what grievous sin is as apposed to lesser sins.  I didn't think the Orthodox held mortal vs venial sins like the RC does. 
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« Reply #97 on: March 23, 2011, 08:42:55 AM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.
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« Reply #98 on: March 23, 2011, 09:28:34 AM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.


The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf


Patriarch Theodosios advises those who receive Communion every 40 days that it has to be after penance, i.e., confession.

Presumably he also intends those who commune weekly to confess weekly?
Why do you presume that?
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« Reply #99 on: March 23, 2011, 10:22:56 AM »

From what I can tell, there are two issues that determine the practice: 1) How prepared is the communicant, and 2) how seriously does the priest take his responsibility for a person's soul.  I have dealt with two extremes here.  All of the priests that I have discussed the matter with agree that a person must be prepared for communion or else the communion can be taken to his / her damnation rather than blessing.  The divergence seems to come with No. 2.  One priest told me that it is the individual Christian's responsibility to follow the rules and be prepared when he / she comes up to take the sacrament.  He would only deny them communion if he had knowledge of a sin that would make them in danger of communing wrongly.  Two other priests have told me that they believe that they have a responsibility to be as sure as they can be that they are giving the individual a blessing and not a poison.  The best way to do this is confession.  Even though both of these priest were nominally "one confession - one communion", they would not require a confession if you had recently confessed and they knew you well enough to know that if your concience was burdened, you would either not commune or you would confess.  Another thing, the first priest was a strong believer in frequent communion and in fact incouraged it.  The latter two priests believe that a person should commune as often as they are prepared to do so by prayer and fasting.  One of the later priests said that it was the Church's policy that if one had not communed for 40 days, they were to be excommunicated (not considered to be in good standing as a voting member of the parish).  They were still Christian, however, and would just need to confess prior to communing again.  So, I have seen a bit of difference in practice.  I don't agree with all of them, but I find them at least logical.


Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.
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« Reply #100 on: March 23, 2011, 10:23:23 AM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.

Then what are your thoughts on the practices of certain jurisdictions (or maybe just priests within those jurisdictions) who demand a 1:1 ratio?

Here in Russia, for instance, the priests will even ask you when you approach if you have confessed, and if not, you will be refused. This has happened to my wife both here and at a ROCOR church in the states, and additionally, she approached once here and was asked if she had confessed, which she had, then if she had fasted, which she had not, and she was also denied. She now always does both if she intends to receive, and is always asked. In contrast, she has never been asked these things at OCA.

I, as a catechumen, have never gone up, so I have no personal experience, but I'm really curious what all of these things mean...
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« Reply #101 on: March 23, 2011, 11:44:30 AM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.

Then what are your thoughts on the practices of certain jurisdictions (or maybe just priests within those jurisdictions) who demand a 1:1 ratio?

Here in Russia, for instance, the priests will even ask you when you approach if you have confessed, and if not, you will be refused. This has happened to my wife both here and at a ROCOR church in the states, and additionally, she approached once here and was asked if she had confessed, which she had, then if she had fasted, which she had not, and she was also denied. She now always does both if she intends to receive, and is always asked. In contrast, she has never been asked these things at OCA.

I, as a catechumen, have never gone up, so I have no personal experience, but I'm really curious what all of these things mean...

That is the long-standing practice of the Patriarchate of Moscow which is expected of everyone within the jurisdiction, but they don't hold it up as a dogmatic principle, otherwise they would have broken communion with the Churches that don't practice 1:1 a long time ago.  Btw: it's a double-standard; the priests are not required to confess each time they commune.

As for fasting: which fast?  The only fast that is directly tied to receiving the Eucharist is its own Eucharistic fast - don't eat from Compline the night before until the reception of the Mysteries on the day of (regardless of time - morning, afternoon, evening).  This fast is the reason why evening DL's for Christmas and Theophany are forbidden on Saturdays - you're not allowed to fast on Saturday except for Great and Holy Saturday.  The other fasts (Wed and Fri; Great Lent, Christmas, Apostles, and Dormition; Holy Cross and the Beheading of St John) are part of our daily life, and as such have no bearing on reception of Holy Communion necessarily.

On a related note: there are some very harsh admonitions in the Fathers and canons for those who leave the Divine Liturgy before Communion.  Why?  Liturgy is for communion!  If we were a church that did not wish for frequent communion, then we wouldn't hold frequent Liturgies (every Sunday, plus feastdays, plus saint days; and forget about Presanctified Liturgy), but would rather have Protestant-esque services with hymns and readings, but no Body and Blood of Christ.
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« Reply #102 on: March 23, 2011, 02:53:22 PM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.

Then what are your thoughts on the practices of certain jurisdictions (or maybe just priests within those jurisdictions) who demand a 1:1 ratio?

Here in Russia, for instance, the priests will even ask you when you approach if you have confessed, and if not, you will be refused. This has happened to my wife both here and at a ROCOR church in the states, and additionally, she approached once here and was asked if she had confessed, which she had, then if she had fasted, which she had not, and she was also denied. She now always does both if she intends to receive, and is always asked. In contrast, she has never been asked these things at OCA.

I, as a catechumen, have never gone up, so I have no personal experience, but I'm really curious what all of these things mean...

That is the long-standing practice of the Patriarchate of Moscow which is expected of everyone within the jurisdiction, but they don't hold it up as a dogmatic principle, otherwise they would have broken communion with the Churches that don't practice 1:1 a long time ago.  Btw: it's a double-standard; the priests are not required to confess each time they commune.

As for fasting: which fast?  The only fast that is directly tied to receiving the Eucharist is its own Eucharistic fast - don't eat from Compline the night before until the reception of the Mysteries on the day of (regardless of time - morning, afternoon, evening).  This fast is the reason why evening DL's for Christmas and Theophany are forbidden on Saturdays - you're not allowed to fast on Saturday except for Great and Holy Saturday.  The other fasts (Wed and Fri; Great Lent, Christmas, Apostles, and Dormition; Holy Cross and the Beheading of St John) are part of our daily life, and as such have no bearing on reception of Holy Communion necessarily.

On a related note: there are some very harsh admonitions in the Fathers and canons for those who leave the Divine Liturgy before Communion.  Why?  Liturgy is for communion!  If we were a church that did not wish for frequent communion, then we wouldn't hold frequent Liturgies (every Sunday, plus feastdays, plus saint days; and forget about Presanctified Liturgy), but would rather have Protestant-esque services with hymns and readings, but no Body and Blood of Christ.
Huh. So then it's not actually dogma? If so, how is it enforced, i.e., how is denying people communion justified? I guess I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this. I would understand if it were a cultural tradition, and thereby encouraged and practiced by many, but if it's not dogma, how can someone be denied communion for not following it?

We may not have good info on this, but I seem to remember hearing that in ROCOR a week-long fast is required for communion. This is not the case here in Russia.
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« Reply #103 on: March 23, 2011, 02:55:27 PM »

No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?

I wish you would cut out the emoticons when you are not really laughing or smiling or winking. They make your babblings worse than they are. BTW, I wish I could comment on your recent postings but I cannot as they are nothing but incoherent and ill formed thoughts being flung about, just like my daughter's Great Dane's spittle--with those irritating emoticons to boot!!!
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« Reply #104 on: March 23, 2011, 02:58:11 PM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.

Then what are your thoughts on the practices of certain jurisdictions (or maybe just priests within those jurisdictions) who demand a 1:1 ratio?

Here in Russia, for instance, the priests will even ask you when you approach if you have confessed, and if not, you will be refused. This has happened to my wife both here and at a ROCOR church in the states, and additionally, she approached once here and was asked if she had confessed, which she had, then if she had fasted, which she had not, and she was also denied. She now always does both if she intends to receive, and is always asked. In contrast, she has never been asked these things at OCA.

I, as a catechumen, have never gone up, so I have no personal experience, but I'm really curious what all of these things mean...

That is the long-standing practice of the Patriarchate of Moscow which is expected of everyone within the jurisdiction, but they don't hold it up as a dogmatic principle, otherwise they would have broken communion with the Churches that don't practice 1:1 a long time ago.  Btw: it's a double-standard; the priests are not required to confess each time they commune.

As for fasting: which fast?  The only fast that is directly tied to receiving the Eucharist is its own Eucharistic fast - don't eat from Compline the night before until the reception of the Mysteries on the day of (regardless of time - morning, afternoon, evening).  This fast is the reason why evening DL's for Christmas and Theophany are forbidden on Saturdays - you're not allowed to fast on Saturday except for Great and Holy Saturday.  The other fasts (Wed and Fri; Great Lent, Christmas, Apostles, and Dormition; Holy Cross and the Beheading of St John) are part of our daily life, and as such have no bearing on reception of Holy Communion necessarily.

On a related note: there are some very harsh admonitions in the Fathers and canons for those who leave the Divine Liturgy before Communion.  Why?  Liturgy is for communion!  If we were a church that did not wish for frequent communion, then we wouldn't hold frequent Liturgies (every Sunday, plus feastdays, plus saint days; and forget about Presanctified Liturgy), but would rather have Protestant-esque services with hymns and readings, but no Body and Blood of Christ.

Hear, hear!
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« Reply #105 on: March 23, 2011, 02:59:42 PM »

No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?

I wish you would cut out the emoticons when you are not really laughing or smiling or winking. They make your babblings worse than they are. BTW, I wish I could comment on your recent postings but I cannot as they are nothing but incoherent and ill formed thoughts being flung about, just like my daughter's Great Dane's spittle--with those irritating emoticons to boot!!!
At least you've never had to deal with those big, doe-eyed smileys he used to use in his posts. Tongue
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« Reply #106 on: March 23, 2011, 03:05:31 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin

But this 1 confession : 1 communion practice is not universal even among the "cradle" Orthodox.


The Kollyvades movement and their desire to introduce frequent communion caused uproar and division on the Holy Mountain.  It was so disruptive that several Patriarchs tried to intervene and pour oil on troubled waters.

For example there is this from Patriarch Theodosius II to the Athonite monks in about 1770:

"He wrote to the monks of Athos saying that the early Christians
received Holy Communion every Sunday, while those of the subsequent
period received it every forty days, after penance; he advised
that whoever felt himself prepared should follow the former, whereas
if he did not he should follow the latter."

http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2008/11/29/20081129bMannafromAthos.pdf


Patriarch Theodosios advises those who receive Communion every 40 days that it has to be after penance, i.e., confession.

Presumably he also intends those who commune weekly to confess weekly?
Why do you presume that?

Because it was the practice on Athos when I visited there, the last occasion being 1980.
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« Reply #107 on: March 23, 2011, 03:07:08 PM »

No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?

I wish you would cut out the emoticons when you are not really laughing or smiling or winking. They make your babblings worse than they are. BTW, I wish I could comment on your recent postings but I cannot as they are nothing but incoherent and ill formed thoughts being flung about, just like my daughter's Great Dane's spittle--with those irritating emoticons to boot!!!
At least you've never had to deal with those big, doe-eyed smileys he used to use in his posts. Tongue

You mean like the one here?
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« Reply #108 on: March 23, 2011, 03:12:40 PM »

Confession (when it was public) was originally only for those sins that would separate one from communion with the Church.

On the subject:

I won't disparage the entire population within Orthodoxy that practices a 1:1 Confession:Communion ratio.  However, I would consider it heresy if one were to assert as a dogmatic principle that one must confess each and every time one wishes to commune.  Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is dependent only on Baptism and Chrismation and no other sacraments.

Then what are your thoughts on the practices of certain jurisdictions (or maybe just priests within those jurisdictions) who demand a 1:1 ratio?

Here in Russia, for instance, the priests will even ask you when you approach if you have confessed, and if not, you will be refused. This has happened to my wife both here and at a ROCOR church in the states, and additionally, she approached once here and was asked if she had confessed, which she had, then if she had fasted, which she had not, and she was also denied. She now always does both if she intends to receive, and is always asked. In contrast, she has never been asked these things at OCA.

I, as a catechumen, have never gone up, so I have no personal experience, but I'm really curious what all of these things mean...

That is the long-standing practice of the Patriarchate of Moscow which is expected of everyone within the jurisdiction, but they don't hold it up as a dogmatic principle, otherwise they would have broken communion with the Churches that don't practice 1:1 a long time ago.  Btw: it's a double-standard; the priests are not required to confess each time they commune.

As for fasting: which fast?  The only fast that is directly tied to receiving the Eucharist is its own Eucharistic fast - don't eat from Compline the night before until the reception of the Mysteries on the day of (regardless of time - morning, afternoon, evening).  This fast is the reason why evening DL's for Christmas and Theophany are forbidden on Saturdays - you're not allowed to fast on Saturday except for Great and Holy Saturday.  The other fasts (Wed and Fri; Great Lent, Christmas, Apostles, and Dormition; Holy Cross and the Beheading of St John) are part of our daily life, and as such have no bearing on reception of Holy Communion necessarily.

On a related note: there are some very harsh admonitions in the Fathers and canons for those who leave the Divine Liturgy before Communion.  Why?  Liturgy is for communion!  If we were a church that did not wish for frequent communion, then we wouldn't hold frequent Liturgies (every Sunday, plus feastdays, plus saint days; and forget about Presanctified Liturgy), but would rather have Protestant-esque services with hymns and readings, but no Body and Blood of Christ.
Huh. So then it's not actually dogma? If so, how is it enforced, i.e., how is denying people communion justified? I guess I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this. I would understand if it were a cultural tradition, and thereby encouraged and practiced by many, but if it's not dogma, how can someone be denied communion for not following it?

We may not have good info on this, but I seem to remember hearing that in ROCOR a week-long fast is required for communion. This is not the case here in Russia.

We do indeed have many customs that are not dogma but are enforced and pursued dogmatically. Having been in many churches and lived amongst many nationalities, it is my impression that if the Greeks to anything 100%, the Russians must do it 150% (ROCOR of course would at least double it). In case folks think that I am deriding Russian practice, I am currently attending a wonderful OCA parish that does does things about 100% roughly Russian style but informed by the Paris School/SVS approach.  And, I am perfectly happy with it. One of the things that I like in America is the prevalence of frequent communion and the understanding of the Holy Mystery of Penance as being essentially a sacrament of reconciliation. I really do not care if that is because of this movement or that school; it seems to me that when the three principal jurisdictions (GOA, OCA and AOA) have a common approach to this central element of our faith, only good things will ensue. Remember folks, there are really no great division between cradles and converts here; the division is between those who understand the meaning of words and practices and those who do not and consequently tend to emphasize the rubrics, or what an obscure and remote Romanian village did, or the pious habits of Serbian ancestors, etc...
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« Reply #109 on: March 23, 2011, 03:16:09 PM »

Huh. So then it's not actually dogma? If so, how is it enforced, i.e., how is denying people communion justified? I guess I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this. I would understand if it were a cultural tradition, and thereby encouraged and practiced by many, but if it's not dogma, how can someone be denied communion for not following it?

The Bishop (and the priests that he charges with the responsibility of guarding the chalice) has the pastoral authority to determine these matters. It's not a question of "denying" or "dogma" or "rights", but of pastoral care. There are various traditions of pastoral care, just like there are various liturgical traditions.

We may not have good info on this, but I seem to remember hearing that in ROCOR a week-long fast is required for communion. This is not the case here in Russia.

This is certainly not a ROCOR-wide policy. On Mt Athos, it is not uncommon to fast for three days before communion. Quite simply, you do what your bishop and priest say.

On a more theoretical level, if one is interested in history, the sacramental theology of confession (and hence its practice) is an even later entry into the tradition than marriage, so that's one reason why there is so much variation. When Rome instituted mandatory (yearly) confession for lay people in the 13th century, many parish priests had to be taught what this novel practice of "confession" was (for centuries, it was mainly a monastic thing). The Byzantines were even less sure about it and the practice took even longer to take root in the East. Eventually, just as the liturgical services were "monasticized," so too were the parochial practices of confession and communion. Some people, a la Schmemann, prefer to see this phenomenon as an accretion and move back to an older model of pastoral care/sacramental theology. Others find that to be an unorthodox exercise in renovationism and arbitrarily anachronistic. Hence, the various practices.
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« Reply #110 on: March 23, 2011, 03:30:14 PM »

We may not have good info on this, but I seem to remember hearing that in ROCOR a week-long fast is required for communion. This is not the case here in Russia.
Wait, what? So it's basically fasting 365 days a year?

Hardcore  Shocked

From what I know at my church (GOA), it's strict fast on Wednesday and Friday. I don't know about confession, though.
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« Reply #111 on: March 23, 2011, 03:37:56 PM »

We may not have good info on this, but I seem to remember hearing that in ROCOR a week-long fast is required for communion. This is not the case here in Russia.
Wait, what? So it's basically fasting 365 days a year?

Hardcore  Shocked

From what I know at my church (GOA), it's strict fast on Wednesday and Friday. I don't know about confession, though.

A fast of that duration would most likely be associated with more infrequent communion, rather than weekly.
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« Reply #112 on: March 23, 2011, 03:50:20 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?

I'm just trying to understand, as I've been to churches that require confession before communion and some that don't.

If it is deemed to be crucial to partake of Holy Communion weekly, why is it not as important to confess, repent and get absolution weekly?  If it's not an inconvenience for the priest, and he doesn't mind, why are so many people against it?

Isn't Confession a way for us to return to our baptismal state?  To clean ourselves off?  How can that not be important?

If I only confess four times a year, I would forget to mention the argument I had with a friend 3 weeks ago, or that I judged someone 2 months ago,  etc.  What if I were to die before the 4th month's Confession...and I've got 3 months of unconfessed sins weighing me down?

I understand they are separate Sacraments. However, without the Sacrament of Baptism, you cannot move on to any other Sacrament.  While it is a separate Sacrament, others hinge on it.  Therefore, they are inter-related.

I see both sides, and understand both arguments. 

I am coming from a background that requires Confession before Communion, and I am just trying to understand why that is frowned upon?

 
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« Reply #113 on: March 23, 2011, 04:25:27 PM »

Just Ignore My Post's if they Bother you , and I'll Ignore Yours ...... Now lets Move On, but before that.......   A Question  Grin,By your Criticism does this mean your going to stalk my posts as mod looking for whatever you interpret to Moderate ,Go right Ahead ...... Im slowly drifting away from this Forum anyway, by posting less and less ...Be Patient i'll be gone soon..... Grin Grin Grin


No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?

I wish you would cut out the emoticons when you are not really laughing or smiling or winking. They make your babblings worse than they are. BTW, I wish I could comment on your recent postings but I cannot as they are nothing but incoherent and ill formed thoughts being flung about, just like my daughter's Great Dane's spittle--with those irritating emoticons to boot!!!
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« Reply #114 on: March 23, 2011, 04:49:59 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion.  If, on the other hand, confession is taken seriously, and both penitent and confessor are comfortable with it, then how could anyone condemn the practice out of hand?  I would just like to point out that confession can be abused as a sacrament too.  In fact, part of one prayer before confession said by the confessor (in the Greek tradition?) at the end of the prayer mentions something to the effect:  "...take heed, lest having come to the physician, you depart unhealed."

Quote
If it is deemed to be crucial to partake of Holy Communion weekly, why is it not as important to confess, repent and get absolution weekly?

I tried to answer this question in my previous post....I will elaborate a little here...

Quote
 
Isn't Confession a way for us to return to our baptismal state?  To clean ourselves off?  How can that not be important?

First of all, baptism is much more than simply a "cleansing", but that is a topic for another thread.  One of the thngs I was alluding to without coming right out and sayinig it in my last post was that it is quite a serious thing for people to be in danger of losing baptismal grace: to be in such a situation one would probably have comitted quite serious sin(s) or should I rather say, be in a spiritual state that is quite unbalanced.  I am not saying that this is so unusual or that it never happens, but many times our spiritual condition is such that we do not need to renew our baptism.  As I tried to illustrate in my last post, receiving the Holy Gifts in as prepared a way as possible will oftentimes put us back on the narrow path we need to walk: the Gifts themseleves are "for the remission of [our] sins", the Church tells us so!


Quote
If I only confess four times a year, I would forget to mention the argument I had with a friend 3 weeks ago, or that I judged someone 2 months ago,  etc.  What if I were to die before the 4th month's Confession...and I've got 3 months of unconfessed sins weighing me down?

I think it's important to not be legalistic about these things.  If you have something on your conscience, by all means confess it as soon as possible.  Sinful man that I am, that is what I try to do.  But is is always important to rely on and ask for the mercy of the Lord, and not to be too circumspect or legalistic.
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« Reply #115 on: March 23, 2011, 04:51:47 PM »

However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?

The sacraments are encounters with God; in that sense, if we're not willing or ready to take our shoes off and step into the darkness, then any encounter can be bad for us.  If Communion can be fire, can confession not be in some cases?

I'm just trying to understand, as I've been to churches that require confession before communion and some that don't.

If it is deemed to be crucial to partake of Holy Communion weekly, why is it not as important to confess, repent and get absolution weekly?  If it's not an inconvenience for the priest, and he doesn't mind, why are so many people against it?

If people need confession weekly, then so be it; there's no one against it if its voluntary.  Saying that reception of communion is dependent on whether you've confessed immediately beforehand, however, is a different matter.

Isn't Confession a way for us to return to our baptismal state?  To clean ourselves off?  How can that not be important?

And unction is for the healing of body and soul; but you don't see us celebrating that sacrament weekly and anointing everyone so frequently, do you?  The sacraments have a place, time, and purpose associated with them.  Communion is a unifying sacrament of the Church, participation in the Body's eschatological destiny, and partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ; it is meant to be offered and partaken weekly.  Confession is reconciliation with the Church (through the agent of the priest) and with the Lord through the repentance from sins committed, and through a renewed effort to "go and sin no more."  However, confession isn't for every sin and situation in the moment; if we were to argue that the weight of our sins compels us to weekly confession, then (spiritually) we are compelled to do it more often than that.

If I only confess four times a year, I would forget to mention the argument I had with a friend 3 weeks ago, or that I judged someone 2 months ago,  etc.  What if I were to die before the 4th month's Confession...and I've got 3 months of unconfessed sins weighing me down?

What if you go to confession and then get angry within 15 minutes and die?  One sin is still separation, and we acknowledge that we commit more sins than the grains of sand at the sea... So we continue to depend on God's mercy and love.  We must be careful about our arguments in favor of frequent confession, lest we make the spiritual life into a meritocracy and not what it is: God's grace.

I understand they are separate Sacraments. However, without the Sacrament of Baptism, you cannot move on to any other Sacrament.  While it is a separate Sacrament, others hinge on it.  Therefore, they are inter-related.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime sacrament, and thus completely different in scope than Communion, Unction, and Confession (and, in a certain sense, Ordination).

I see both sides, and understand both arguments.  

I am coming from a background that requires Confession before Communion, and I am just trying to understand why that is frowned upon?

The practice isn't frowned upon, at least not in my case; just the insistence.
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« Reply #116 on: March 23, 2011, 05:05:52 PM »

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?
A certain "savoir faire" about things and often "laissez faire" attitude Wink
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« Reply #117 on: March 23, 2011, 05:06:03 PM »

When I was a member, the ROCOR practice was to fast the week before.  That is also the practice of the Serbian Church that I attend.  However, fasting the week before is not what it seems to mean to some here.  It means to follow the fasting guidelines for the week before you commune.  In other words, if it is Brite Week, you don't fast.  If it is a regular week, you fast Wed and Fri.  If it is Lent, you follow the fast for that week.  It does NOT mean that you have to create fasts where there are none.
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« Reply #118 on: March 23, 2011, 05:10:51 PM »

Thank you all for the clarifications.

I am trying to learn...and accept, that things I have held sacred, might not be so.  

It's hard to unlearn something you've been doing your whole life.

This is all food for thought, and I'll have to chew on it a bit.

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« Reply #119 on: March 23, 2011, 05:14:18 PM »

When I was a member, the ROCOR practice was to fast the week before.  That is also the practice of the Serbian Church that I attend.  However, fasting the week before is not what it seems to mean to some here.  It means to follow the fasting guidelines for the week before you commune.  In other words, if it is Brite Week, you don't fast.  If it is a regular week, you fast Wed and Fri.  If it is Lent, you follow the fast for that week.  It does NOT mean that you have to create fasts where there are none.

That is exactly our practice in our OCA church as well. Thanks for the info.
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« Reply #120 on: March 23, 2011, 05:15:30 PM »


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion. 

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
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« Reply #121 on: March 23, 2011, 05:16:15 PM »

Just Ignore My Post's if they Bother you , and I'll Ignore Yours ...... Now lets Move On, but before that.......   A Question  Grin,By your Criticism does this mean your going to stalk my posts as mod looking for whatever you interpret to Moderate ,Go right Ahead ...... Im slowly drifting away from this Forum anyway, by posting less and less ...Be Patient i'll be gone soon..... Grin Grin Grin


No Animosity, just stating my thoughts and experiences..... Grin

Nothing is worst than Having Converts, be they Bishops, Priests or Lay, Tell us Cradle Orthodox, how to do Confession ,either  weekly,or monthly..If I was to Commune daily or weekly, or even monthly , I would do Daily Confession ,or weekly or monthly...But Alway's Before Recieving Holy Communion....  Grin
Why this animosity toward converts? Are we not all Orthodox by virtue of our baptism and chrismation? What makes a "convert" Orthodox any different from a "cradle" Orthodox?

I wish you would cut out the emoticons when you are not really laughing or smiling or winking. They make your babblings worse than they are. BTW, I wish I could comment on your recent postings but I cannot as they are nothing but incoherent and ill formed thoughts being flung about, just like my daughter's Great Dane's spittle--with those irritating emoticons to boot!!!

Oh, Stashko.. Forgive me for I should not have been irritated. Be well.
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« Reply #122 on: March 23, 2011, 05:17:47 PM »


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion. 

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
Sometimes not even after you confess, depending on the content of confession. It happened to me once.
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« Reply #123 on: March 23, 2011, 05:37:01 PM »

Exactly.  The purpose of having confession prior to communion is to determine if the communion will be for your salvation or your damnation.  In some cases, we need the strength of communion to help us overcome sin.  In others, we may need to do a bit more work on our own.  There are some sins for which the canons specify a period of time away from communion.  If you have committed one of these, a priest that is doing his job will deny you the chalice until he (or sometimes even the Bishop) believe that it is the proper time.  This is not just some quaint old world custom, but a practice spoken of often in the writings of the Fathers and in the canons.  It was explained to me this way, a person who sins is in need of communion for the remission of sins.  A person who is living in sin, on the other hand, should not approach the chalice until he has repented of that sin (keeping in mind that repentence means to turn around and go the other way).  I was excommunicated from a Church once, not that I cared at the time since I was attending another.  However, when I reconciled with the former Church, I was told (per the Bishop) to attend as a penetent for a period of time before communing.  It made perfect sense to me.  Since the original issue had much to do with Pride, a little humility before communing certainly did me no harm.


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion. 

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
Sometimes not even after you confess, depending on the content of confession. It happened to me once.
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« Reply #124 on: March 23, 2011, 05:37:55 PM »


Thats Exactly How I and my brother and sisters And Parents, Were Taught and they taught us to Fast, A week's Preparation....No one or Two Day fasts and then Holy Communion........Things Are Progressing not for the Better but for the worse it seems to me...... Is Orthodoxy coming to a Hour Fast Like the catholic Church and eventually no fasting at all required police 

How is Baptisim tied in with confession anyway , being a GodFather several times at  Baptisims ,i never witnessed anyone confessing ,just the baptisim that washes away the sins from the Baptised..... Huh Huh


When I was a member, the ROCOR practice was to fast the week before.  That is also the practice of the Serbian Church that I attend.  However, fasting the week before is not what it seems to mean to some here.  It means to follow the fasting guidelines for the week before you commune.  In other words, if it is Brite Week, you don't fast.  If it is a regular week, you fast Wed and Fri.  If it is Lent, you follow the fast for that week.  It does NOT mean that you have to create fasts where there are none.
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« Reply #125 on: March 23, 2011, 05:40:31 PM »

Just Ignore My Post's if they Bother you , and I'll Ignore Yours ...... Now lets Move On, but before that.......   A Question  Grin,By your Criticism does this mean your going to stalk my posts as mod looking for whatever you interpret to Moderate ,Go right Ahead ...... Im slowly drifting away from this Forum anyway, by posting less and less ...Be Patient i'll be gone soon..... Grin Grin Grin


May I speak up in Stashko's defence.  There is a whole 'nother world of Orthodoxy alive and thriving in the countries of Eastern Europe.   Their traditions are not the same as in the US which has been kind of confused by an admixture of multiple varying practices by immigrant Churches, confusion by priests adopting or half-adopting the thoughts of the Paris School in the States.... etc., etc.   So there is a major lack of uniformity in the States.  In the home countries there is much more uniformity of custom.   I like Stashko's presence because he reminds of us this older world of Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #126 on: March 23, 2011, 05:53:38 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?



I reply to you to add a consideration to the excellent replies already given by Pravoslavbob and Father George. That is why I isolated your first sentence above.

If we can look at "confessing" as a process, something that we do, it is clear that we confess at least once a week during Divine Liturgy:

"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Moreover, I believe that this is truly thine immaculate Body and that this is truly thy most precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance. And grant that I may partake of thy Holy Mysteries without condemnation, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting."

Daily, the Trisagion Prayers presuppose that when we pray for the Lord to forgive our sins we do not pray in an abstract fashion but are truly sorry for our real, concrete sins and that we promise that we will try to sin no more. I am highlighting the places that emphasize this.

"O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal: have mercy on us. (Thrice)
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Also, the evening prayers may include the following:

"PSALM 50: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out mine iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge mine iniquity: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged..."

"A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE: O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

SAINT EPHRAIM’S PRAYER:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

JESUS PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ , Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

In addition, it seems to me that each time that we catch ourselves doing something bad or falling short, we have the opportunity (that we should take advantage of) to confess right then and there.  One more thing, my Priest tells each penitent to hold nothing back because we are confessing to the Lord and He knows everything anyway. (I know I am paraphrasing but that's the way I remember this exhortation).

So, we confess to the Lord almost all of the time and we ask for forgiveness almost all of the time. The Holy Mystery of Penance (formal name but also called Confession and Reconciliation), is something that we do in addition, and rightly so. The issue is simply whether we MUST do so each and every time before we take communion. Now, if we take communion minimally, it is obvious that for some reason we have separated ourselves from the Church and must be reconciled. If our shortcoming is a grave sin or if we persist in falling short in a particular vice that we have, we should also avail ourselves of the Mystery of Penance. Each individual is different so it would be impossible to say how often one should receive the Sacrament of Confession. That is why the frequency is set between the spiritual father and ourselves. I want to reemphasize the critical role each one of us has in this process. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to confess, correct and partake all of the time by (a) leaving it all up to the priest, (b) observing the minimal requirements, or (c)playing a game before the priest and our fellow parishioners (We may succeed in fooling them, and ourselves, but there is no way that we are going to fool the Lord).




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« Reply #127 on: March 23, 2011, 06:04:17 PM »


Thats Exactly How I and my brother and sisters And Parents, Were Taught and they taught us to Fast, A week's Preparation....No one or Two Day fasts and then Holy Communion........Things Are Progressing not for the Better but for the worse it seems to me...... Is Orthodoxy coming to a Hour Fast Like the catholic Church and eventually no fasting at all required police 

How is Baptisim tied in with confession anyway , being a GodFather several times at  Baptisims ,i never witnessed anyone confessing ,just the baptisim that washes away the sins from the Baptised..... Huh Huh


When I was a member, the ROCOR practice was to fast the week before.  That is also the practice of the Serbian Church that I attend.  However, fasting the week before is not what it seems to mean to some here.  It means to follow the fasting guidelines for the week before you commune.  In other words, if it is Brite Week, you don't fast.  If it is a regular week, you fast Wed and Fri.  If it is Lent, you follow the fast for that week.  It does NOT mean that you have to create fasts where there are none.

Stashko--I hope you will not mind if I point out to you that you may have misunderstood Punch's words. He says no special fasting is required the week before other than the fasting prescribed for that week. In a normal week, we would fast Wednesday and Friday, in addition to the ascetic fasting from the meal the night before the Liturgy. In the weeks after Pascha and Nativity, we would not fast Wednesday and Friday but keep the ascetic fast. During Great Lent, we would fast each and every day, plus the ascetic fast. Is this how you remember the practice was in the Old Country?
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« Reply #128 on: March 23, 2011, 06:10:02 PM »


Stashko--I hope you will not mind if I point out to you that you may have misunderstood Punch's words. He says no special fasting is required the week before other than the fasting prescribed for that week. In a normal week, we would fast Wednesday and Friday, in addition to the ascetic fasting from the meal the night before the Liturgy. In the weeks after Pascha and Nativity, we would not fast Wednesday and Friday but keep the ascetic fast. During Great Lent, we would fast each and every day, plus the ascetic fast. Is this how you remember the practice was in the Old Country?
Yes, color me confused. What you described is how I thought it's supposed to be. (Thanks to everyone who cleared that up for me!)

Unless Stashko is going all monastic on us, I'd say that it would appear to be a pretty tough fasting schedule for most people already. I'm not sure how that = almost no fasting required.
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« Reply #129 on: March 23, 2011, 06:21:18 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?



I reply to you to add a consideration to the excellent replies already given by Pravoslavbob and Father George. That is why I isolated your first sentence above.

If we can look at "confessing" as a process, something that we do, it is clear that we confess at least once a week during Divine Liturgy:

"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Moreover, I believe that this is truly thine immaculate Body and that this is truly thy most precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance. And grant that I may partake of thy Holy Mysteries without condemnation, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting."

Daily, the Trisagion Prayers presuppose that when we pray for the Lord to forgive our sins we do not pray in an abstract fashion but are truly sorry for our real, concrete sins and that we promise that we will try to sin no more. I am highlighting the places that emphasize this.

"O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal: have mercy on us. (Thrice)
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Also, the evening prayers may include the following:

"PSALM 50: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out mine iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge mine iniquity: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged..."

"A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE: O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

SAINT EPHRAIM’S PRAYER:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

JESUS PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ , Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

In addition, it seems to me that each time that we catch ourselves doing something bad or falling short, we have the opportunity (that we should take advantage of) to confess right then and there.  One more thing, my Priest tells each penitent to hold nothing back because we are confessing to the Lord and He knows everything anyway. (I know I am paraphrasing but that's the way I remember this exhortation).

So, we confess to the Lord almost all of the time and we ask for forgiveness almost all of the time. The Holy Mystery of Penance (formal name but also called Confession and Reconciliation), is something that we do in addition, and rightly so. The issue is simply whether we MUST do so each and every time before we take communion. Now, if we take communion minimally, it is obvious that for some reason we have separated ourselves from the Church and must be reconciled. If our shortcoming is a grave sin or if we persist in falling short in a particular vice that we have, we should also avail ourselves of the Mystery of Penance. Each individual is different so it would be impossible to say how often one should receive the Sacrament of Confession. That is why the frequency is set between the spiritual father and ourselves. I want to reemphasize the critical role each one of us has in this process. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to confess, correct and partake all of the time by (a) leaving it all up to the priest, (b) observing the minimal requirements, or (c)playing a game before the priest and our fellow parishioners (We may succeed in fooling them, and ourselves, but there is no way that we are going to fool the Lord).


Thank you for all these example of prayers for forgiveness.  But you will notice one important element missing - *absolution*.   None of these prayers are certain to confer absolution.  This is a power which the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to His ordained priests.  That is why a sacramental Confession with its certitude of absolution has greater value than these prayers.   We say these prayers over and over, asking forgiveness again and again, often for the same sins.   But with one short declaration by a priest we are vouchsafed absolution.
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« Reply #130 on: March 23, 2011, 06:23:48 PM »

 When the Spirit Moves Some one to Partake Of Holy Communion,let's say at a major feast day like the Domitian Fast,we were taught to prepare ourselfs by fasting a week ,then confession and recieve Holy Communion on the Feast Day.......

Fasting and confession and Recieving Holy Communion  was 3 or 4  times a year..Not Weekly of monthly, like it is now.....

I prefer the 2 , 3 , Times a year of recieving Holy Communion than weekly or Monthly......
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« Reply #131 on: March 23, 2011, 06:32:54 PM »

In the Serbian church it is common to confess before communion.  each time.  Most people just go up to the priest and when he says "do you have anything to confess" they say "no"  (this is from the priests, its not like i'm listening in or anything  Wink)

I was a Serbian priest for two decades.  I have neither administered nor experienced a shonky Confession such as you describe.   If you visit a Serbian church you will see with your own eyes how much time the priest spends with each penitent.
Fr. Ambrose, are you accustomed to make such generalizations from your own personal experience?

Sorry if you see it that way.  I was responding to the generalisation offered by Serb1389 above.  "Most people just go up to the priest... etc."  In my experience that is a generalisation I would probably find hard to accept.   But obviously it is a generalisation which fits with what Serb1389 has been told by priests.  Two different experiences, two different generalisations.
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« Reply #132 on: March 23, 2011, 06:36:29 PM »

/\  Hmm, don't know what happened there.  The site seems to have jumped back to Page 1 and I responded to that message as if it were a new one.
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« Reply #133 on: March 23, 2011, 06:41:58 PM »

When the Spirit Moves Some one to Partake Of Holy Communion,let's say at a major feast day like the Domitian Fast,we were taught to prepare ourselfs by fasting a week ,then confession and recieve Holy Communion on the Feast Day.......

Fasting and confession and Recieving Holy Communion  was 3 or 4  times a year..Not Weekly of monthly, like it is now.....

I prefer the 2 , 3 , Times a year of recieving Holy Communion than weekly or Monthly......


I think that what is confusing some people is what you mean by "fasting for a week".  You use the Dormition Fast as an example.  I have seen that people who believe in infrequent communion tend to commune during one or more of the Great Fasts (Advent, Lent, Apostles and Dormition).  However, if the Spirit moved you to commune after Brite Week, would you still fast during that week?  Or, if you were moved to commune during a regular week, would you abstain from meat and dairy all week or just Wed and Fri?
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« Reply #134 on: March 23, 2011, 06:55:20 PM »

The whole week which ever  one chooses be it a Feast Day or a regular week one abstains from meat and dairy prior to Holy Communion......Thats how I was taught...

When the Spirit Moves Some one to Partake Of Holy Communion,let's say at a major feast day like the Domitian Fast,we were taught to prepare ourselfs by fasting a week ,then confession and recieve Holy Communion on the Feast Day.......

Fasting and confession and Recieving Holy Communion  was 3 or 4  times a year..Not Weekly of monthly, like it is now.....

I prefer the 2 , 3 , Times a year of recieving Holy Communion than weekly or Monthly......


I think that what is confusing some people is what you mean by "fasting for a week".  You use the Dormition Fast as an example.  I have seen that people who believe in infrequent communion tend to commune during one or more of the Great Fasts (Advent, Lent, Apostles and Dormition).  However, if the Spirit moved you to commune after Brite Week, would you still fast during that week?  Or, if you were moved to commune during a regular week, would you abstain from meat and dairy all week or just Wed and Fri?
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« Reply #135 on: March 23, 2011, 07:06:44 PM »

The whole week which ever  one chooses be it a Feast Day or a regular week one abstains from meat and dairy prior to Holy Communion......Thats how I was taught...

When the Spirit Moves Some one to Partake Of Holy Communion,let's say at a major feast day like the Domitian Fast,we were taught to prepare ourselfs by fasting a week ,then confession and recieve Holy Communion on the Feast Day.......

Fasting and confession and Recieving Holy Communion  was 3 or 4  times a year..Not Weekly of monthly, like it is now.....

I prefer the 2 , 3 , Times a year of recieving Holy Communion than weekly or Monthly......


I think that what is confusing some people is what you mean by "fasting for a week".  You use the Dormition Fast as an example.  I have seen that people who believe in infrequent communion tend to commune during one or more of the Great Fasts (Advent, Lent, Apostles and Dormition).  However, if the Spirit moved you to commune after Brite Week, would you still fast during that week?  Or, if you were moved to commune during a regular week, would you abstain from meat and dairy all week or just Wed and Fri?
Now I'm awfully confused. At any rate, I'm fairly certain that at the ROCOR parish my wife attended when we were in the US, fasting for the week prior to communion meant just that, abstaining from meat/dairy, etc. for the entire week and confession. Hence, the only time I ever saw anyone other than small children commune was Pascha.
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« Reply #136 on: March 23, 2011, 10:50:46 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?



I reply to you to add a consideration to the excellent replies already given by Pravoslavbob and Father George. That is why I isolated your first sentence above.

If we can look at "confessing" as a process, something that we do, it is clear that we confess at least once a week during Divine Liturgy:

"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Moreover, I believe that this is truly thine immaculate Body and that this is truly thy most precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance. And grant that I may partake of thy Holy Mysteries without condemnation, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting."

Daily, the Trisagion Prayers presuppose that when we pray for the Lord to forgive our sins we do not pray in an abstract fashion but are truly sorry for our real, concrete sins and that we promise that we will try to sin no more. I am highlighting the places that emphasize this.

"O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal: have mercy on us. (Thrice)
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Also, the evening prayers may include the following:

"PSALM 50: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out mine iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge mine iniquity: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged..."

"A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE: O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

SAINT EPHRAIM’S PRAYER:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

JESUS PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ , Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

In addition, it seems to me that each time that we catch ourselves doing something bad or falling short, we have the opportunity (that we should take advantage of) to confess right then and there.  One more thing, my Priest tells each penitent to hold nothing back because we are confessing to the Lord and He knows everything anyway. (I know I am paraphrasing but that's the way I remember this exhortation).

So, we confess to the Lord almost all of the time and we ask for forgiveness almost all of the time. The Holy Mystery of Penance (formal name but also called Confession and Reconciliation), is something that we do in addition, and rightly so. The issue is simply whether we MUST do so each and every time before we take communion. Now, if we take communion minimally, it is obvious that for some reason we have separated ourselves from the Church and must be reconciled. If our shortcoming is a grave sin or if we persist in falling short in a particular vice that we have, we should also avail ourselves of the Mystery of Penance. Each individual is different so it would be impossible to say how often one should receive the Sacrament of Confession. That is why the frequency is set between the spiritual father and ourselves. I want to reemphasize the critical role each one of us has in this process. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to confess, correct and partake all of the time by (a) leaving it all up to the priest, (b) observing the minimal requirements, or (c)playing a game before the priest and our fellow parishioners (We may succeed in fooling them, and ourselves, but there is no way that we are going to fool the Lord).


Thank you for all these example of prayers for forgiveness.  But you will notice one important element missing - *absolution*.   None of these prayers are certain to confer absolution.  This is a power which the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to His ordained priests.  That is why a sacramental Confession with its certitude of absolution has greater value than these prayers.   We say these prayers over and over, asking forgiveness again and again, often for the same sins.   But with one short declaration by a priest we are vouchsafed absolution.

Bless Father.

Dear Father Ambrose, I was merely concentrating on one side of the coin--that of the individual confessing to the Lord. What happens next is another matter. Nonetheless, let's talk about it. Do you not think that the Body and Blood of the Lord are as efficacious as the prayer of absolution? Indeed, even after we have received absolution, are we not approaching the Holy Chalice as unworthy sinners? Once the Mystery of Confession reconciles us to the Church, through the prayer of absolution, the only certitude that we have, IMO, is that we will need to come to the Holy Chalice and partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord "for the remission of sins and for life everlasting" and "for the healing of soul and body."
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« Reply #137 on: March 23, 2011, 11:00:04 PM »

The whole week which ever  one chooses be it a Feast Day or a regular week one abstains from meat and dairy prior to Holy Communion......Thats how I was taught...

When the Spirit Moves Some one to Partake Of Holy Communion,let's say at a major feast day like the Domitian Fast,we were taught to prepare ourselfs by fasting a week ,then confession and recieve Holy Communion on the Feast Day.......

Fasting and confession and Recieving Holy Communion  was 3 or 4  times a year..Not Weekly of monthly, like it is now.....

I prefer the 2 , 3 , Times a year of recieving Holy Communion than weekly or Monthly......


I think that what is confusing some people is what you mean by "fasting for a week".  You use the Dormition Fast as an example.  I have seen that people who believe in infrequent communion tend to commune during one or more of the Great Fasts (Advent, Lent, Apostles and Dormition).  However, if the Spirit moved you to commune after Brite Week, would you still fast during that week?  Or, if you were moved to commune during a regular week, would you abstain from meat and dairy all week or just Wed and Fri?
Now I'm awfully confused. At any rate, I'm fairly certain that at the ROCOR parish my wife attended when we were in the US, fasting for the week prior to communion meant just that, abstaining from meat/dairy, etc. for the entire week and confession. Hence, the only time I ever saw anyone other than small children commune was Pascha.

I was afraid of that. That is why I was overjoyed when Punch indicated that his own experience in ROCOR was similar to my experience in the OCA. But, going back to your experience, did it not seem odd, off kilter, strange, (pick any other description) that when the priest invites the congregation to "With fear of God, with faith and with love, draw near," nobody but children respond? No one else believes and loves the Lord? What kind of dissonance is this that the Lord suffered and died for our sins and we do not make the infinitely smaller sacrifice to make the effort to partake what is offered to us freely? Why even have a Divine Liturgy when the only communicant is the priest?
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« Reply #138 on: March 23, 2011, 11:15:08 PM »


However, does anyone believe there is something "wrong" with confessing weekly?



I reply to you to add a consideration to the excellent replies already given by Pravoslavbob and Father George. That is why I isolated your first sentence above.

If we can look at "confessing" as a process, something that we do, it is clear that we confess at least once a week during Divine Liturgy:

"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Moreover, I believe that this is truly thine immaculate Body and that this is truly thy most precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, in word or in deed, in knowledge or in ignorance. And grant that I may partake of thy Holy Mysteries without condemnation, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting."

Daily, the Trisagion Prayers presuppose that when we pray for the Lord to forgive our sins we do not pray in an abstract fashion but are truly sorry for our real, concrete sins and that we promise that we will try to sin no more. I am highlighting the places that emphasize this.

"O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal: have mercy on us. (Thrice)
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Also, the evening prayers may include the following:

"PSALM 50: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out mine iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge mine iniquity: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged..."

"A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE: O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of thy mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

SAINT EPHRAIM’S PRAYER:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

JESUS PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ , Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

In addition, it seems to me that each time that we catch ourselves doing something bad or falling short, we have the opportunity (that we should take advantage of) to confess right then and there.  One more thing, my Priest tells each penitent to hold nothing back because we are confessing to the Lord and He knows everything anyway. (I know I am paraphrasing but that's the way I remember this exhortation).

So, we confess to the Lord almost all of the time and we ask for forgiveness almost all of the time. The Holy Mystery of Penance (formal name but also called Confession and Reconciliation), is something that we do in addition, and rightly so. The issue is simply whether we MUST do so each and every time before we take communion. Now, if we take communion minimally, it is obvious that for some reason we have separated ourselves from the Church and must be reconciled. If our shortcoming is a grave sin or if we persist in falling short in a particular vice that we have, we should also avail ourselves of the Mystery of Penance. Each individual is different so it would be impossible to say how often one should receive the Sacrament of Confession. That is why the frequency is set between the spiritual father and ourselves. I want to reemphasize the critical role each one of us has in this process. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to confess, correct and partake all of the time by (a) leaving it all up to the priest, (b) observing the minimal requirements, or (c)playing a game before the priest and our fellow parishioners (We may succeed in fooling them, and ourselves, but there is no way that we are going to fool the Lord).


Thank you for all these example of prayers for forgiveness.  But you will notice one important element missing - *absolution*.   None of these prayers are certain to confer absolution.  This is a power which the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to His ordained priests.  That is why a sacramental Confession with its certitude of absolution has greater value than these prayers.   We say these prayers over and over, asking forgiveness again and again, often for the same sins.   But with one short declaration by a priest we are vouchsafed absolution.


I was taught when I converted that God forgives us when ever we ask him with sincerity and a desire to amend our lives. Yes confession is for the forgiveness of sins and of course we are assured of absolution but that the formal confession was so that we may be reconciled with the church and receive spiritual counsel. I may have misunderstood my priest when he explained it to me, Thats just my understanding. 
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« Reply #139 on: March 23, 2011, 11:47:30 PM »


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion. 

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
Well, then, Fr. Ambrose, why don't you knock them on the head here?
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« Reply #140 on: March 24, 2011, 01:34:16 AM »


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion. 

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
Well, then, Fr. Ambrose, why don't you knock them on the head here?

I find it hard to answer. Is it the the assertion that after having been to Confession, sincerely repented with a firm purpose of amendment and received sacerdotal absolution - is that what constitutes a "free pass"?  I honestly see no impediment to Communion if these things have taken place.  It is all as it should be and a spiritually beneficial preparation has taken place..
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« Reply #141 on: March 24, 2011, 03:12:22 AM »


If confessing weekly (or monthly or yearly or whatever, for that matter) is used as a "ticket" to get to communion, then it is clearly wrong.  There is a lot of talk about abusing the sacrament of communion by taking it too lightly, but little about abusing confession as a "free pass" to communion.  

All my Orthodox life I have been in Churches (Russian and Serbian) where priests will not, generally speaking, give Communion without prior Confession.

I find this talk of "Ticket to Communion and "free passes" a bit of a boogeyman since if you pick up any of the brochures dealing with Confession and Communion in these Churches these notions are always knocked firmly on the head.
Well, then, Fr. Ambrose, why don't you knock them on the head here?

I find it hard to answer. Is it the the assertion that after having been to Confession, sincerely repented with a firm purpose of amendment and received sacerdotal absolution - is that what constitutes a "free pass"?  I honestly see no impediment to Communion if these things have taken place.  It is all as it should be and a spiritually beneficial preparation has taken place..
First, I don't quite understand your grammar here. "Free pass" means no impediment.

The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality, however, is that many who follow the practice of confessing before every communion will use confession as nothing more than a means to receiving Communion and will not as the rite of penitential self-examination that it should be. This manifests itself particularly in those persons who will go to confession seeking absolution without confessing anything and in those unscrupulous priests who will grant such absolution. I'm not saying that you or any other priests and faithful who follow the requirement of confession before every communion will abuse the rite of confession in this way, but a 1:1 correspondence of the two rites does lend itself far too easily to this kind of maltreatment.
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« Reply #142 on: March 24, 2011, 03:53:38 AM »

No thats Not true......People That Confess Everytime probably fasted the week plenty of time for self examination before partaking of Holy Communion ,And also Have a Healthy Fear of Approaching unworthily ,thats how much we love and trust in the Lord when  he says not to partake unprepared.....Some People that confess periodically may justify in there minds and find any excuse to postpone confession, and approach Holy Communion with sin or think it's not that bad of a sin....... police
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« Reply #143 on: March 24, 2011, 07:15:58 AM »


The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality, however, is that many who follow the practice of confessing before every communion will use confession as nothing more than a means to receiving Communion
 

How do you know that?   As a priest who has spent his whole life in Churches which have a strong link of Confession and Communion I have not found this.

Quote

and will not as the rite of penitential self-examination that it should be.


How do you know this?  Many Churches with a strong link between Confession and Communion supply their parishioners with booklets on Confession. These include lists of sins over which the penitent is expected to examine his conscience carefully.   Self-examination is expected to take place.

Quote


This manifests itself particularly in those persons who will go to confession seeking absolution without confessing anything


I have written of this unusual concept in earlier threads.  No priests will allow a penitent to proceed if he or she announces "I have no sins" and he will insist that the person go away and examine his conscience.    This happens very very rarely since penitents learn from a very young age (around 5 or 6 years) when they first start to confess as children that coming to the priests and declaring "I am sinless" won't let them pass go; the Confesion comes to a halt while the priest explains to the young boy or girl why this is unacceptable.

Quote
a 1:1 correspondence of the two rites does lend itself far too easily to this kind of maltreatment.

How do you know this?   1:1 is the majority custom of the Orthodox world.   If this kind of maltreatment were common, much more would be said about it in sermons, lectures on the nature of Confession, etc.
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« Reply #144 on: March 24, 2011, 12:49:20 PM »


The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality, however, is that many who follow the practice of confessing before every communion will use confession as nothing more than a means to receiving Communion
 

How do you know that?   As a priest who has spent his whole life in Churches which have a strong link of Confession and Communion I have not found this.
The operative words in this: YOU have not found this. You may also have spent your whole life in churches that require confession before every communion, but how many churches have you spent your life in? One or two or even a small handful is not sufficient for such generalizations as you wish to make.

Quote

and will not as the rite of penitential self-examination that it should be.


How do you know this?  Many Churches with a strong link between Confession and Communion supply their parishioners with booklets on Confession. These include lists of sins over which the penitent is expected to examine his conscience carefully.   Self-examination is expected to take place.
I don't doubt that many churches who make a strong connection between confession and communion do things the right way regarding confession, but do you have the background to state that ALL churches are like this or have always been like this?

Quote


This manifests itself particularly in those persons who will go to confession seeking absolution without confessing anything


I have written of this unusual concept in earlier threads.  No priests will allow a penitent to proceed if he or she announces "I have no sins" and he will insist that the person go away and examine his conscience.    This happens very very rarely since penitents learn from a very young age (around 5 or 6 years) when they first start to confess as children that coming to the priests and declaring "I am sinless" won't let them pass go; the Confesion comes to a halt while the priest explains to the young boy or girl why this is unacceptable.
CORRECTION: No priests of whom YOU know will do this. But what of the priests you don't know?

Quote
a 1:1 correspondence of the two rites does lend itself far too easily to this kind of maltreatment.

How do you know this?   1:1 is the majority custom of the Orthodox world.   If this kind of maltreatment were common, much more would be said about it in sermons, lectures on the nature of Confession, etc.
1.  Your argument from silence, as are most arguments from silence, is very weak here.
2.  What I have spoken here I speak not from experience, so I acknowledge that the reality of our practice in many churches may be as you describe it from your experience. But I have read the writings of other priests who paint a very different picture from the one you paint, priests whose word I deem much more authoritative than yours. There are priests who have spoken of having seen in some churches a reality very different from what you have seen and done and have spoken from their expansive knowledge of church practice over the centuries, so please don't generalize from your limited experience of the churches you have known only in your own lifetime.
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« Reply #145 on: March 24, 2011, 01:23:03 PM »

No thats Not true......People That Confess Everytime probably fasted the week plenty of time for self examination before partaking of Holy Communion ,And also Have a Healthy Fear of Approaching unworthily ,thats how much we love and trust in the Lord when  he says not to partake unprepared.....Some People that confess periodically may justify in there minds and find any excuse to postpone confession, and approach Holy Communion with sin or think it's not that bad of a sin....... police
You do realize that using the word "probably" means you really don't know for sure?
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« Reply #146 on: March 24, 2011, 02:15:01 PM »


How do you know this?   1:1 is the majority custom of the Orthodox world.   If this kind of maltreatment were common, much more would be said about it in sermons, lectures on the nature of Confession, etc.

Dear Father--That may be true but does it translate into frequent communion? Put another way, are we discussing a chicken-or-the-egg situation here? If frequent communion is the goal, how can you have 1:1 for the laity and 1:whatever for the clergy? Is infrequent communion a goal or is it simply what we have come to practice in many places? If it is the latter case, what  caused the 1:1 custom to have been established? Is it possible that the practice of infrequent communion, with the accompanying 1:1 approach, is not a good thing but a dumbing down of the laity's sacramental life?
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« Reply #147 on: March 24, 2011, 03:23:28 PM »

The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality, however, is that many who follow the practice of confessing before every communion will use confession as nothing more than a means to receiving Communion
 

Quote

The operative words in this: YOU have not found this.

"The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality"

I see the same problem with this "many of us" of which you speak - who is this amorphous  "us"?
 

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« Reply #148 on: March 24, 2011, 03:33:36 PM »

2.  What I have spoken here I speak not from experience, so I acknowledge that the reality of our practice in many churches may be as you describe it from your experience. But I have read the writings of other priests who paint a very different picture from the one you paint, priests whose word I deem much more authoritative than yours. There are priests who have spoken of having seen in some churches a reality very different from what you have seen and done and have spoken from their expansive knowledge of church practice over the centuries, so please don't generalize from your limited experience of the churches you have known only in your own lifetime.

Could you substantiate this claim that priests have spoken of this over the centuries.  Are you referring to their published letters, sermons, writings on theology?  It would be interesting to read them and to judge if your generalisation from reading them is justified.  The reason I find your generalities dubious is that 1:1 Confession and Communion remains by far and wide the majority practice of the Orthodox Church and if it were so aberrant the matter would have been addressed and corrected with some urgency centuries ago..
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« Reply #149 on: March 24, 2011, 03:41:31 PM »

Quote
If frequent communion is the goal, how can you have 1:1 for the laity and 1:whatever for the clergy?

This question has been asked many times and has never been answered.

Fr. Ambrose, can you please clarify why there is a dichotomy between priest and laity in regard to the reception of the Eucharist?
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« Reply #150 on: March 24, 2011, 03:54:34 PM »

Quote
If frequent communion is the goal, how can you have 1:1 for the laity and 1:whatever for the clergy?

This question has been asked many times and has never been answered.

Fr. Ambrose, can you please clarify why there is a dichotomy between priest and laity in regard to the reception of the Eucharist?

May I address this as if it were a question about Confession. 


1.  This is true of the Churches which practice a 1:1 Confession and Communion.   However, if a priest is blessed to have a spiritual father who is versed in the problems which face a man in Orders and skilful enough to direct a priest's spiritual life, then he will have frequent Confession.   I used to go to the local Romanian priest but he passed away 5 years ago and now, in my old age I am left an orphan.

Priests who have not been blessed with a spiritual father will use other priests for Confession but they tend to be formal affairs.  In really isolated situations a priest may have Confession only once a year when he attends the annual Priests' Seminar and a priest is appointed by the Bishop to hear clergy confessions.

2.  In the smaller Churches which do not have 1:1 Confession and people confess only irregularly I am guessing that the clergy would be confessing about the same number of times per year as the laity?
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« Reply #151 on: March 24, 2011, 03:57:42 PM »

The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality, however, is that many who follow the practice of confessing before every communion will use confession as nothing more than a means to receiving Communion
 

Quote

The operative words in this: YOU have not found this.

"The problem many of us see in this "free pass" mentality"

I see the same problem with this "many of us" of which you speak - who is this amorphous  "us"?
It's really not all that amorphous. Just read this thread to see who "we" and "us" are.
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« Reply #152 on: March 24, 2011, 04:04:11 PM »

2.  What I have spoken here I speak not from experience, so I acknowledge that the reality of our practice in many churches may be as you describe it from your experience. But I have read the writings of other priests who paint a very different picture from the one you paint, priests whose word I deem much more authoritative than yours. There are priests who have spoken of having seen in some churches a reality very different from what you have seen and done and have spoken from their expansive knowledge of church practice over the centuries, so please don't generalize from your limited experience of the churches you have known only in your own lifetime.

Could you substantiate this claim that priests have spoken of this over the centuries.
That's not my claim, as even a cursory reading of my grammar will show. My claim is that those priests I have read on the matter have studied church practice over the centuries and drawn conclusions from it. You just need to read my first two or three posts on this thread to see some of what I've read.

Are you referring to their published letters, sermons, writings on theology?  It would be interesting to read them and to judge if your generalisation from reading them is justified.
I'm not making generalizations, Fr. Ambrose, so stop trying to deflect my criticism by throwing it back at me.

The reason I find your generalities dubious is that 1:1 Confession and Communion remains by far and wide the majority practice of the Orthodox Church and if it were so aberrant the matter would have been addressed and corrected with some urgency centuries ago..
Again, an unconvincing argument from silence, as well as a fallacious appeal to the "majority". You should know by now that the majority doesn't make something right, especially when an analysis of the theology of the 1:1 confession/communion practice reveals its fundamental flaws.
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« Reply #153 on: March 24, 2011, 04:15:04 PM »

I see I have a message in my Outlook folder which I posted somewhere at some time.....

There is no "magic pass", Father Michael.  I would think that the "magic pass' is given to those in the Churches who may freely approach communion without confession.  That is the real "magic pass."

We have seen the results in modern Orthodoxy of no link between confession and communion - the virtual disappearance of the use of the Mystery of Confession in some Orthodox Churches. (The same has happened in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II but the disappearance of confession there has several factors.)   

For example, the Orthodox Church of Antioch uses our Russian parish church since they have none of their own at the moment.  I was quite shocked when their priest told me that he has not heard a Confession - EVER!  He has been a priest 6 years.  I asked him how this could come about because a large proportion of his people are rather recent immigrants from Lebanon and Egypt and surely they are formed in the tradition of their home countries.  He replied that they are not familiar with confession and actually see it as a Roman Catholic thing.

So on the basis of "by their fruits ye shall know them" I postulate that the practice of the Slav Churches is preferable.    In the Churches which maintain the link between Confession and Communion, Confession is certainly a regular Sacrament, alive and flourishing,  and it is also used outside of the Communion link too - when a person believes he needs to come and confess some serious sin.
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« Reply #154 on: March 24, 2011, 04:39:08 PM »

Quote
If frequent communion is the goal, how can you have 1:1 for the laity and 1:whatever for the clergy?

This question has been asked many times and has never been answered.

Fr. Ambrose, can you please clarify why there is a dichotomy between priest and laity in regard to the reception of the Eucharist?

May I address this as if it were a question about Confession.  


1.  This is true of the Churches which practice a 1:1 Confession and Communion.   However, if a priest is blessed to have a spiritual father who is versed in the problems which face a man in Orders and skilful enough to direct a priest's spiritual life, then he will have frequent Confession.   I used to go to the local Romanian priest but he passed away 5 years ago and now, in my old age I am left an orphan.

Priests who have not been blessed with a spiritual father will use other priests for Confession but they tend to be formal affairs.  In really isolated situations a priest may have Confession only once a year when he attends the annual Priests' Seminar and a priest is appointed by the Bishop to hear clergy confessions.

2.  In the smaller Churches which do not have 1:1 Confession and people confess only irregularly I am guessing that the clergy would be confessing about the same number of times per year as the laity?
Back home, FWIR, the priests would only confess once a year, in the morning of the great Wednesday when all the priests of our deanery would gather in our church (as we had a protopop) for the liturgy of the presanctified and then a couple of old, retired priests would hear their confessions before and during the liturgy.
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« Reply #155 on: March 24, 2011, 04:44:39 PM »

I see I have a message in my Outlook folder which I posted somewhere at some time.....

There is no "magic pass", Father Michael.  I would think that the "magic pass' is given to those in the Churches who may freely approach communion without confession.  That is the real "magic pass."

We have seen the results in modern Orthodoxy of no link between confession and communion - the virtual disappearance of the use of the Mystery of Confession in some Orthodox Churches. (The same has happened in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II but the disappearance of confession there has several factors.)   

For example, the Orthodox Church of Antioch uses our Russian parish church since they have none of their own at the moment.  I was quite shocked when their priest told me that he has not heard a Confession - EVER!  He has been a priest 6 years.  I asked him how this could come about because a large proportion of his people are rather recent immigrants from Lebanon and Egypt and surely they are formed in the tradition of their home countries.  He replied that they are not familiar with confession and actually see it as a Roman Catholic thing.

So on the basis of "by their fruits ye shall know them" I postulate that the practice of the Slav Churches is preferable.    In the Churches which maintain the link between Confession and Communion, Confession is certainly a regular Sacrament, alive and flourishing,  and it is also used outside of the Communion link too - when a person believes he needs to come and confess some serious sin.
So why not advocate frequent confession without the theological errors intrinsic to the 1:1 confession:communion connection? Have you not been reading this thread closely enough to see that many churches actually do?
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« Reply #156 on: March 24, 2011, 04:54:33 PM »

Quote
If frequent communion is the goal, how can you have 1:1 for the laity and 1:whatever for the clergy?

This question has been asked many times and has never been answered.

Fr. Ambrose, can you please clarify why there is a dichotomy between priest and laity in regard to the reception of the Eucharist?

May I address this as if it were a question about Confession. 

1.  This is true of the Churches which practice a 1:1 Confession and Communion.   However, if a priest is blessed to have a spiritual father who is versed in the problems which face a man in Orders and skilful enough to direct a priest's spiritual life, then he will have frequent Confession.   I used to go to the local Romanian priest but he passed away 5 years ago and now, in my old age I am left an orphan.

Priests who have not been blessed with a spiritual father will use other priests for Confession but they tend to be formal affairs.  In really isolated situations a priest may have Confession only once a year when he attends the annual Priests' Seminar and a priest is appointed by the Bishop to hear clergy confessions.

2.  In the smaller Churches which do not have 1:1 Confession and people confess only irregularly I am guessing that the clergy would be confessing about the same number of times per year as the laity?

I have never in my life heard of a rule which was applied to the laity more strictly than the clergy.  If the standard is confession before each communion, then the priests are to be held to a more stringent model of that rule, as they are in all other fields.  This is, of course, burdensome when the clergy are receiving at least once per week (there is a strict canonical prohibition against celebrating the Liturgy and not communing), and oftentimes are receiving 3-4 times per week (around major feasts, during lent if one celebrates the Presanctified Liturgy on Wed and Fri with Sat of Souls, etc.).
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« Reply #157 on: March 24, 2011, 05:02:21 PM »

[I have never in my life heard of a rule which was applied to the laity more strictly than the clergy.  If the standard is confession before each communion, then the priests are to be held to a more stringent model of that rule, as they are in all other fields. 


Have you encountered any Church which applies this more stringent model for its priests?

I can think of a local example where the five local Greek clergy are all close spiritual children of the Metropolitan, almost like a monastic community.  They go to Confession frequently as part of their spiritual praxis. The faithful,on the other hand, are mostly content with a general confession in the days leading up to Pascha.
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« Reply #158 on: March 24, 2011, 10:15:07 PM »

[I have never in my life heard of a rule which was applied to the laity more strictly than the clergy.  If the standard is confession before each communion, then the priests are to be held to a more stringent model of that rule, as they are in all other fields. 

Have you encountered any Church which applies this more stringent model for its priests?

In all my discussions with hierarchs, priests, and professors on the subject of confession and the priesthood, they all indicated that we (clergy) should be going to confession more than what we expect our people to, for the cleansing of our own sin, and for our strengthening as we take on the responsibility of hearing those confessions.  So yes, I have only encountered a model where the clergy are held to a more stringent confessional routine.
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« Reply #159 on: March 24, 2011, 11:39:56 PM »

/\  Dear Father George,

In the Orthodox world where the faithful are required to fast for 3 to 6 days prior to Holy Communion the clergy are obliged to follow a less strict requirement.   If they needed to fast as the laity do before each of their Communions, they would soon wither away and their wives would surely start to complain about the rarity of the marital embrace.
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« Reply #160 on: March 25, 2011, 03:15:53 AM »

I see I have a message in my Outlook folder which I posted somewhere at some time.....

There is no "magic pass", Father Michael.  I would think that the "magic pass' is given to those in the Churches who may freely approach communion without confession.  That is the real "magic pass."

We have seen the results in modern Orthodoxy of no link between confession and communion - the virtual disappearance of the use of the Mystery of Confession in some Orthodox Churches. (The same has happened in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II but the disappearance of confession there has several factors.)   

For example, the Orthodox Church of Antioch uses our Russian parish church since they have none of their own at the moment.  I was quite shocked when their priest told me that he has not heard a Confession - EVER!  He has been a priest 6 years.  I asked him how this could come about because a large proportion of his people are rather recent immigrants from Lebanon and Egypt and surely they are formed in the tradition of their home countries.  He replied that they are not familiar with confession and actually see it as a Roman Catholic thing.

So on the basis of "by their fruits ye shall know them" I postulate that the practice of the Slav Churches is preferable.    In the Churches which maintain the link between Confession and Communion, Confession is certainly a regular Sacrament, alive and flourishing,  and it is also used outside of the Communion link too - when a person believes he needs to come and confess some serious sin.
So why not advocate frequent confession without the theological errors intrinsic to the 1:1 confession:communion connection? Have you not been reading this thread closely enough to see that many churches actually do?

Yes, I have been following this thread and I find that many contributors favour the practice of 1:1 Confession prior to Communion:

Justinian
Kaminetz
QuoVadis
Augustin717
Punch
Knytshade
LizaSymonenko
Stashko
Shlomokh

and of course Irish Hermit.

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« Reply #161 on: March 25, 2011, 03:29:02 AM »

I see I have a message in my Outlook folder which I posted somewhere at some time.....

There is no "magic pass", Father Michael.  I would think that the "magic pass' is given to those in the Churches who may freely approach communion without confession.  That is the real "magic pass."

We have seen the results in modern Orthodoxy of no link between confession and communion - the virtual disappearance of the use of the Mystery of Confession in some Orthodox Churches. (The same has happened in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II but the disappearance of confession there has several factors.)  

For example, the Orthodox Church of Antioch uses our Russian parish church since they have none of their own at the moment.  I was quite shocked when their priest told me that he has not heard a Confession - EVER!  He has been a priest 6 years.  I asked him how this could come about because a large proportion of his people are rather recent immigrants from Lebanon and Egypt and surely they are formed in the tradition of their home countries.  He replied that they are not familiar with confession and actually see it as a Roman Catholic thing.

So on the basis of "by their fruits ye shall know them" I postulate that the practice of the Slav Churches is preferable.    In the Churches which maintain the link between Confession and Communion, Confession is certainly a regular Sacrament, alive and flourishing,  and it is also used outside of the Communion link too - when a person believes he needs to come and confess some serious sin.
So why not advocate frequent confession without the theological errors intrinsic to the 1:1 confession:communion connection? Have you not been reading this thread closely enough to see that many churches actually do?

Yes, I have been following this thread and I find that many contributors favour the practice of 1:1 Confession prior to Communion:

Justinian
Kaminetz
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Augustin717
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LizaSymonenko
Stashko
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and of course Irish Hermit.
But that's not what I asked. Besides, so what if they favor theological error? Am I to follow them?
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« Reply #162 on: March 25, 2011, 03:40:45 AM »


But that's not what I asked.


Answering in the specifics of your question as I understand it.   Those advocating in this thread against the practice of Confession required prior to Communion are members of the Orthodox Church in America.  Early on ozgeorge makes a contribution agreeing with the OCA members and Fr George has expressed agreement..

So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."

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« Reply #163 on: March 25, 2011, 08:30:42 AM »

Quote
So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."

Regardless of which or how many churches follow this practice, the questions are focused on the merit of the practice. So, there are two main questions:

1) Is the 1:1 ratio appropriate for the life of an Orthodox christian (and, of course, the church community)?

2) How is the dichotomy between the frequency of confession to communion for laity versus clergy justified?

Regarding question #2, it seems that those who are in favor of a 1:1 ratio feel that it is intrinsically (and not simply a matter of praxis) wrong to communion without recent (one day) confession. But in regards to the clergy, it simply becomes a matter of praxis. In other words, it is not practical for a clergyman to confess before each Liturgy. Hence, there is a separate praxis (or really a "dispensation") for confession/communion.

If it is wrong for a layman to commune without recent confession (i.e. he would be communing unto his condemnation), then it should also be wrong for the clergy to do likewise.
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« Reply #164 on: March 25, 2011, 09:53:12 AM »


But that's not what I asked.


Answering in the specifics of your question as I understand it.   Those advocating in this thread against the practice of Confession required prior to Communion are members of the Orthodox Church in America.  Early on ozgeorge makes a contribution agreeing with the OCA members and Fr George has expressed agreement..

So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."
"Many" is not a generalization, Fr. Ambrose.

Do you not also recognize that "churches" has many meanings? To you--and maybe this is just the definition you have chosen to adopt for the sake of this debate--"church" is synonymous with "jurisdiction" (e.g., OCA, GOAA, the Antiochian church), but it can also mean the local parish church, which is the definition I intended.
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« Reply #165 on: March 25, 2011, 10:33:21 AM »


But that's not what I asked.


Answering in the specifics of your question as I understand it.   Those advocating in this thread against the practice of Confession required prior to Communion are members of the Orthodox Church in America.  Early on ozgeorge makes a contribution agreeing with the OCA members and Fr George has expressed agreement..

So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."



Father, I have yet to comment on this thread because as a new Orthodox Christian I don't really feel that my opinion is fully informed.  This thread has been some great reading, and I love an opportunity to learn the various ways other Orthodox communities view the sacraments.  For what it's worth I lean toward more frequent confessions in my opinion, although I'm not so sure as to a 1:1 confession/communion ratio.  Despite my opinions on the matter I go along with what my priest requires.

The main reason I am replying here is because while a new and inexperienced Orthodox Christian in one sense, due to much moving across various state lines over the past year I have been fortunate enough to attend various American jurisdictions.  I thought I would share my experiences to give an overall view of "what many churches actually do".

In the GOA where I was chrismated my priest was actually surprised about my willingness to confess.  This was a parish with a good sized immigrant population, and it seems that many had not confessed more than once or twice in their entire lives.  My priest counted himself lucky if he could get anyone to show up for Confession during Lent.  Communion was up in the air, a good portion of the parish communed frequently, but a good portion of the parish also abstained.

In the Antiochian parishes I have attended frequent Communion was the rule, while Confession was required during the fasting periods of the year: Lent, Apostles' Fast, Dormition, and Nativity.

The OCA parish I am currently attending is somewhat of a special case- under normal circumstances it would at least offer Confession every Saturday Vespers, but it is currently being served by an interim priest who has come out of retirement until we find a new priest.  Saturday Great Vespers is at this moment cancelled due to our interim priest's advanced age and health problems, he mainly hears Confession during the fasting periods.

So, it is not an OCA specific approach and it is spread out across four states (Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia), covering the North and South and Midwest and East Coast and finally it is the approach of the three largest American jurisdictions, one of which is actually more infrequent due to the higher immigrant population.

So, PeterTheAleut is correct in that the not 1:1 Communion/Confession is what "many (American, and guessing by the actions of our immigrants, Greek) churches actually do".  As to whether or not this is actually right I leave to you and Father George to hammer out.
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« Reply #166 on: March 25, 2011, 10:35:40 AM »


But that's not what I asked.


Answering in the specifics of your question as I understand it.   Those advocating in this thread against the practice of Confession required prior to Communion are members of the Orthodox Church in America.  Early on ozgeorge makes a contribution agreeing with the OCA members and Fr George has expressed agreement..

So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."



With all due respect Father, nobody is advocating that confession is not required before Communion. There are some pointed questions that folks have been making:

1. How often and for which reasons must a person be formally reconciled to the Church through the Mystery of Penance/Confession/Reconciliation?

2. Absent the need for formal reconciliation, is the normal regime that is followed by the clergy also sufficient for the laity? That is, between Holy Communions, one would keep the prescribed fasts, attend as many services as one can (especially the services of Sunday that start with Vespers on Saturday night), daily prayers, well as self-examination and preparation for Holy Communion, that includes confession to the Lord directly.

3. How can the Church justify a double standard where the clergy is set aside as if it was special species of Christians?  BTW, you remarked: "In the Orthodox world where the faithful are required to fast for 3 to 6 days prior to Holy Communion the clergy are obliged to follow a less strict requirement.   If they needed to fast as the laity do before each of their Communions, they would soon wither away and their wives would surely start to complain about the rarity of the marital embrace."  I appreciate the humor but fail to see why you are putting up the "3 to 6 day" fasting as something more important than Holy Communion. Also, if we were to take seriously all relevant Biblical teachings, as well as the prayers of the Liturgy, we would expect the Church to urge and prepare everybody to take communion once a week at least. But, if that was the case, would it not be true that the laity would also experience the same marital problems as the clergy (the married ones of course, the celibates should have no problems I guess), in addition to not being productive and thus earning less money and thus not being able to support the Church and their communities as much?  

4. The very nature of Holy Communion becomes problematic in the 1:1 model; is it for the healing of soul and body, as well as for the remission of sins and life everlasting OR is it merely the "final act" of the Holy Mystery of Penance, where the remission of sins occurs but the healing of soul and body must await Communion?

5. The very nature of Divine Liturgy becomes problematic in the 1:1 model:

a. If Liturgy means common work and if the laity rarely communes, some prayers of the Divine Liturgy or at least their wording do not make sense. For example, how could anyone but those who have communed sing: "Let our mouths be filled with thy praise, O Lord, that we may sing of thy glory, for Thou hast made us worthy to partake of thy holy, divine, immortal, and life-creating Mysteries. Keep us in thy holiness, that all the day we may meditate upon thy righteousness. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!" I believe the rubrics assign this prayer to the Choir (singing for the people) which becomes a hollow echo of what it was and should be rather than reality.

b. The priest and deacon themselves are assigned prayers and roles that they say and do not on behalf of themselves but for the entire congregation. Should not the wording of the prayers be made variable, using "I" for when only the Priest will commune and "we" when there is at least one congregant who will commune?

c. If there a few congregants who week in and week out comply with all of the 1:1 requirements for Communion, how in the world would you have "common" work when it is really the work of the few? As it is, in any liturgy without communicants other than the priest, it seems to me that we have something that is frighteningly similar to the Roman Catholic practice of private masses.

Anyway, I started out to make one point but it avalanched. Sorry.
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« Reply #167 on: March 25, 2011, 12:17:52 PM »


But that's not what I asked.


Answering in the specifics of your question as I understand it.   Those advocating in this thread against the practice of Confession required prior to Communion are members of the Orthodox Church in America.  Early on ozgeorge makes a contribution agreeing with the OCA members and Fr George has expressed agreement..

So I do not see, within this thread, support for your generalisation that "many churches actually do."



With all due respect Father, nobody is advocating that confession is not required before Communion.

Common sense would tell us that, whether we are 1:1 advocates, once a month advocates or once a year advocates.   For all of these categories of penitents there will always be times when Confession before Communion is imperative and appealing to "forgiveness prayers" in the preparatory prayers for Holy Communion or in a Holy Wednesday Anointing  just won't cut the mustard nor satisfy the inner spiritual dynamic of the person conscious of his sin and wounded by it.
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« Reply #168 on: March 25, 2011, 01:27:26 PM »

In the Orthodox world where the faithful are required to fast for 3 to 6 days prior to Holy Communion the clergy are obliged to follow a less strict requirement.   If they needed to fast as the laity do before each of their Communions, they would soon wither away and their wives would surely start to complain about the rarity of the marital embrace.

"If they needed to fast as the laity do."  Interesting.  They need to fast more than the laity do, but the key here is that they are not required to do so - something that, IMO, is not Orthodox.

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« Reply #169 on: March 25, 2011, 01:29:51 PM »

Common sense would tell us that, whether we are 1:1 advocates, once a month advocates or once a year advocates.   For all of these categories of penitents there will always be times when Confession before Communion is imperative and appealing to "forgiveness prayers" in the preparatory prayers for Holy Communion or in a Holy Wednesday Anointing  just won't cut the mustard nor satisfy the inner spiritual dynamic of the person conscious of his sin and wounded by it.

I do not think that anyone should or will dispute this point, actually.  There are times when confession is certainly an imperative before reception of Holy Communion.  The discussion here, though, is not about sometimes, but rather about all the time.
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« Reply #170 on: March 25, 2011, 01:38:51 PM »

I see no issue with the practices of laymen and those of monks and priests.  I don't know the praxis of New Calendar priests, but the priests that I have known in my churches live a lifestyle far different from the average layman in those parishes.  The the priests were blessed with having the priesthood as full time employment, and one of them had a part time job of translating Orthodox texts from the original languages to English.  In the cases that I am familiar, the priests lived a life of prayer and fasting according to the Church Calendar, and had only minimal contact with "the World" outside thier parish.  In addition, as priests, they had the added Grace of Ordination that we laymen do not have.  This does not make them sinless.  However, one who swims daily in clean water probably needs a bath less frequently than one who swims in a sewer.  I should point out that the priests in question were very strong 1:1 proponents.  Yet even at that, if they knew the person and knew how they lived and worshiped, they would relax the requirements somewhat.  One would even, with the blessing of his Bishop, allow a person to confess to another pious layman and the priest would pronounce absolution after a short "general" confession.  This was the case with women more than men.  So, in the cases where I am aware, even those who were strong 1:1 proponents still used some discretion in applying the rule.  However, if they did not know you, or (or sometimes because they knew you all too well), they would not commune you if you did not confess.  In fact, one would not commune you if you did not attend the vigil the night before without good excuse.
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« Reply #171 on: March 25, 2011, 01:47:29 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html
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« Reply #172 on: March 25, 2011, 01:51:44 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html

Does everyone has to show a confession certificate to his Parish Priest?
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« Reply #173 on: March 25, 2011, 01:57:07 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html

Does everyone has to show a confession certificate to his Parish Priest?

No, but he can be challenged at the Annual General Meeting of the Parish, whether he has the right to speak and to be elected to office.
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« Reply #174 on: March 25, 2011, 01:58:30 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html
Why do you ask? The topic of discussion is the use of confession as a means to receiving Communion, NOT as a means to maintaining parish membership "in good standing".
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« Reply #175 on: March 25, 2011, 02:07:53 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html
Why do you ask? The topic of discussion is the use of confession as a means to receiving Communion, NOT as a means to maintaining parish membership "in good standing".

From the OP:

"I'm mildly familiar with the arguments on both sides of the issue of whether Orthodox should be required to go to Confession before receiving every Communion."

and

"I'm interested to know what your various parish practices are and what reasoning is presented for both sides of this issue."

There seems to be a connection with the OP and the Russian practice of requiring Confession and Communion once a year as a minimum.  This minimum parish practice is seen as so important that it is incorporated in the Parish By-Laws.
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« Reply #176 on: March 25, 2011, 02:17:49 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html
Why do you ask? The topic of discussion is the use of confession as a means to receiving Communion, NOT as a means to maintaining parish membership "in good standing".

From the OP:

"I'm mildly familiar with the arguments on both sides of the issue of whether Orthodox should be required to go to Confession before receiving every Communion."

and

"I'm interested to know what your various parish practices are and what reasoning is presented for both sides of this issue."

There seems to be a connection with the OP and the Russian practice of requiring Confession and Communion once a year as a minimum.  This minimum parish practice is seen as so important that it is incorporated in the Parish By-Laws.
I wrote the OP. I'm therefore qualified to tell you that what you wish to discuss is not connected to the OP and looks merely like an attempt to distract us with a red herring.
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« Reply #177 on: March 25, 2011, 03:15:40 PM »

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad requires Confession and Communion at least once a year to be a parish member.  Do other Churches and dioceses have the same requirement?

http://www.orthodox.net/roca/parish-bylaws.html

Every 40 days in our parish.  Priest keeps a record of confessing personnel in his diary (not what was confessed) and who attends special services and classes.  Like your parish, a person's right to speak and vote at the annual and quarterly meetings can be challenged based on this.  This is a drastic change from the previous practice of issuing a membership card upon reciept of the yearly "dues".  All that had to be done to vote is to present the membership card.  Church attendence was not even required.
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« Reply #178 on: March 25, 2011, 04:34:54 PM »

I am very disappointed because the proponents of 1:1 are not truly engaging those posters who do not agree with them. The proponents are not answering questions of substance and are concentrating on their own actual practices as if they should be normative for all. In short, the proponents do not entertain even the possibility that their practices may be wrong or that differing practices may also be right. This is like two trains going in opposite directions at high speed; we know that the object moving in the opposite direction is a train, but that's about it. In a way, the Orthodox may be more deeply divided amongst themselves than they think.
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« Reply #179 on: March 25, 2011, 05:06:01 PM »

With all respect, I am not sure about what you are talking about.  I thought that the question was what we do and why.  From my standpoint, I really don't care what is done in other jurisdictions than my own.  You know, the whole get the beam out of my eye before worrying about the mote in yours thing.  I also don't know of any jurisdiction that has broken communion with the others over the issue of 1:1 communion.  If I attend my wife's church (Antiochian), I can line up for communion with the other 100 or so people even if I just left an orgy with 10 married women and killed two cops on the way over.  The priest would not know, and evidently would not be too concerned since he would not bother to ask.  I am well within the span of my yearly confession.  On the other hand, if my wife comes to my church (Serb), like she did a week ago, she will have to confess before she communes (as well as wear a head covering, which she did).  Now, some people do not have a problem with this situation.  I do.  However, it does not stop me from communing in the Antiochian church (as I did this past Wednesday), nor does it stop her from communing in mine.  We just follow the other's practice when we are attending the other's church.  I seriously doubt that anything that I have to say will change the mind of a die hard non-confessor.  Nor will anything they have to say change my view.  We both believe the way that we do in accordance with our concience and point of view concerning the sacraments.  Obviously, if we thought the other was doing it correctly, we would be following that practice and not our own.  I don't see what there is to "engage" since I am not trying to change anyone's mind.   

I am very disappointed because the proponents of 1:1 are not truly engaging those posters who do not agree with them. The proponents are not answering questions of substance and are concentrating on their own actual practices as if they should be normative for all. In short, the proponents do not entertain even the possibility that their practices may be wrong or that differing practices may also be right. This is like two trains going in opposite directions at high speed; we know that the object moving in the opposite direction is a train, but that's about it. In a way, the Orthodox may be more deeply divided amongst themselves than they think.
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« Reply #180 on: March 25, 2011, 06:30:47 PM »

With all due respect Father, nobody is advocating that confession is not required before Communion. There are some pointed questions that folks have been making:

1. How often and for which reasons must a person be formally reconciled to the Church through the Mystery of Penance/Confession/Reconciliation?
.

Getting around to some of your questions...

1.a     In the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad the faithful must come to the Holy Mystery of Confession no less than once a year.

1.b   The reason is so that they may obtain the absolution of all sins sincerely repented and for which there exists the intention, by God's grace, of avoiding them in the future.

In the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church the same requirement applied - Confession at least once a year.  I do not know contemporary requirements.

The Serbian Orthodox Church stipulates the same requirement of its faithful- Confession no less than once a year.
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« Reply #181 on: March 25, 2011, 06:44:44 PM »


That just blows my mind. 

Once a year?!?

Is it truly THAT difficult to humble yourself and admit your shortcomings, that you only do it only once a year?  1 Sunday out of 52?

...and yet the other 51 Sundays you still partake of Holy Communion.

Why is the one Sacrament honored each week, and the other only once a year?



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« Reply #182 on: March 25, 2011, 06:46:02 PM »


2. Absent the need for formal reconciliation, is the normal regime that is followed by the clergy also sufficient for the laity? That is, between Holy Communions, one would keep the prescribed fasts, attend as many services as one can (especially the services of Sunday that start with Vespers on Saturday night), daily prayers, well as self-examination and preparation for Holy Communion, that includes confession to the Lord directly.


I imagine the answer is yes, between Holy Communions the same fasts apply to the laity as to the clergy.  But there is one difference (as Punch has noted) that many priests will generally speaking be following the annual fasting cycle of the Church with more strictness than many of their parishioners. They are also more likely to fuflil the prayer rule of several canons and akathists before Communion whereas laypeople will