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Praying for "Orthodox Christians Only"?


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#1 Bob L.

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 06:25 PM

I was going through my mail and found a charity solicitation from a monastery. It included what I assumed was a prayer request slip with a column "for the living" and a column "for the departed". At the bottom of the slip it said "Orthodox Christians only".

 

Just wondering what the members of this forum think of that slip.


Edited by Bob L., 01 November 2015 - 06:25 PM.


#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 06:44 PM

It's not a matter of what we members here think but of what the Church prescribes. Only Orthodox Christians should be commemorated in the Proskomidi because the particles of prosphora by which people are commemorated go into the chalice and so have a mystical communion. Holy Communion may only be given to Orthodox Christians (who have their spiritual father's blessing to partake). In the west, the commemoration of only Orthodox Christians is not followed by some priests (usually converts) who either think in an 'inclusive' way or 'leave it to God to sort out'. There have been earlier threads about this matter.



#3 Phoebe K.

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 06:49 PM

It is the tradition in the Orthodox Church that we can only pray publicly for Orthodox Christians, I would assume that the list would be used in the Proskomidi, where we may only mention these in communion whit the Church as Reader Andreas says.

 

What we do in our own prayers at home can vary, but should be guided by our spiritual father.

 

Phoebe



#4 Bob L.

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 08:30 PM

O.k. that explains. I suppose there is no reason to criticize the monastery for the slip when it is simply standard practice.

 

These exclusive policies with communion were the primary reasons I left Orthodoxy. I was also not well psychologically while I was Orthodox. As I got better, I naturally returned to being an atheist. But I still find it amazing that these policies don't bother more people like they bothered me.



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 08:49 PM

We live in times in which we are likely to be condemned if we do not ascribe to liberal secular notions of inclusivity. But it must be emphasized that the Orthodox Church is not exclusive - anyone can join. As has been said, we can and must pray for all, including our non-Orthodox relatives and friends. The Divine Liturgy is offered for the whole world - but what is on offer has to be accepted. How can someone who does not believe all that the Orthodox Church teaches yet purport to join it by taking its chief sacrament? If you believe it all, join - if not, you can't. Also, not including non-Orthodox in liturgical commemoration in no way implies any condemnation of the non-Orthodox: it is simply acknowledging their non-acceptance of the Church.



#6 Kosta

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 02:49 AM

It would make no sense to include non-Orthodox names as this is ritual prayer. Just like I wouldnt want to be mentioned by name in buddhist or hindu prayers or Anglican prayers. Just like most protestants would not want to be named in an Orthodox memorial service as they reject prayers for the dead and the offering names over the Eucharist etc.

Edited by Kosta, 02 November 2015 - 02:51 AM.


#7 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 03:57 AM

It seems to me that the exclusivity of these prayers is a direct result of the exclusivity of communion. And the exclusivity of communion comes from fears of harming the person who receives communion unworthily or disrespecting the body and blood of Jesus or something. That is how I always understood it. The exclusivity is not about "oh he's a Baptist, so he wouldn't really want to receive communion anyway." If a Baptist asked to receive communion, the priest would refuse.

 

Is that an accurate description, or did I misunderstand the reasoning? That is how it always seemed to me when I was Orthodox. None of that seems consistent with the stories in the gospel where Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by skipping the washing ritual, welcoming prostitutes to dinner, etc. I know it is pointless to argue - especially now that I'm an atheist.

 

Thanks, everybody, for those answers. I can see that I shouldn't criticize the monastery for their prayer slip.



#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 07:48 AM

And the exclusivity of communion comes from fears of harming the person who receives communion unworthily or disrespecting the body and blood of Jesus or something.

 

That is not how I have always understood this issue. It's to do with faith. Look at it the other way round - Orthodox Christians are not allowed to take communion in any other Church. Why do we exclude ourselves from others' communion? Because we don't share the same faith as any other Church. Communion and faith are inextricably linked. Communion is given to those who share the same faith as the Bishop who oversees the Eucharistic celebration. The chalice is the boundary of the Church - if non-Orthodox Christians could take Orthodox communion, you then have to wonder where and what the Orthodox Church is. Christ scandalized the Pharisees and others by placing love above their rules. The Orthodox Church prays for the world out of love; if the Church did not maintain its integrity and identity, it would dissolve and the love of the Church for the world could not then exist.



#9 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 11:52 AM

@Reader Andreas , what you are describing is using participation in communion as a demonstration of shared beliefs - a way of snubbing the heretic - "members only - sorry, heretic". That is turning one of the most sacred rituals of Christianity into a political statement.



#10 Olga

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 12:28 PM

It is worth noting that "open communion" was unheard-of throughout the Christian world until about a century ago. Non-Orthodox figures such as Luther and Calvin regarded the idea as completely unacceptable, insisting on the professing of the faith espoused by their respective churches.



#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 12:47 PM

I reject what is said at post #9. I was basing myself on what Metropolitan Kallistos says in his booklet, 'Communion and Intercommunion'. Just now, I cannot paste an extract but will do so later.



#12 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 03:17 PM

Here is something from the Didache. Notice the emphasis on gathering and unity. "Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..". Even the word "communion" emphasizes this. It is sad that people professing to follow Jesus who gathered disciples among tax collectors, mad men, lepers, Samaritans, etc. now have perverted this ceremony as a symbol of the division between orthodox and heterodox.

I doubt anybody will listen to me, and I'm an atheist anyway.

Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:

We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..
And concerning the broken bread:

We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..

But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

But after you are filled, give thanks this way:

We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name's sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.

http://www.earlychri...he-roberts.html

Edited by Bob L., 02 November 2015 - 03:17 PM.


#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 03:25 PM

The one thing that has been missing from this entire discussion is the awareness that the Liturgy (and the sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord) is not a mere symbol or ritual.  It is reality.  The liturgy is the real participation in the eternal worship of the heavenly Kingdom.  By placing the particles of the prosphora on the paten, we bring those whom we commemorate into the moment of eternity as well. Receiving the eucharist (and the other ritual actions of the liturgy) is not a "symbol" of our unity, nor does it create unity where none existed before, it is the result of the unity that already exists by virtue of the grace of new birth that is received in Baptism (also not a mere symbol - but reality). Yes, there is an element of "symbolism" in all these things because the reality is beyond our ability to comprehend or even conceptualize and so we require these "symbolic" images (icons) of the reality of the eternal in order to function within it in this life.

 

Bob, rejecting the reality of the spiritual world (he is, by his own admission an atheist - that is one who rejects the reality of God) will have a hard time grasping the essence of the matter since for him, nothing beyond the surface can exist - there is no reality beyond what we see and perceive by our own senses (I hate telling people what they believe, so, Bob, if I am in error here about what you believe please forgive my rash expression and correct me).  Therefore all the ritual and symbolism of Orthodoxy are just that - ritual and symbolism with no real basis (other than perhaps filling an emotional need that helps some people function in life).

 

But these things are real - the "rules" are not exclusive since they are not rules but simply and expression of the way things are in eternity.  We cannot include those who are outside the faith in these rituals because they are not part of the reality that the ritual expresses for us.  To make that inclusion would, in fact, create a ritual which was disconnected with eternal reality and thus nothing more than a non-believer sees it to be.

 

Fr David Moser



#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 03:47 PM

Metropolitan Kallistos examines communion in the light of 'Eucharistic Ecclesiology'. The Church exists as a Eucharistic community. Any community is characterised by unity, what it holds in common. The unity of the Church, it's 'Oneness', is 'realised and maintained through the act of Holy Communion'. For this to be real, there must be unity of faith. 'The Bible, the Church Fathers, and the Holy Canons know of only two possibilities: communion and non-communion.'

 

There is nothing in the quotation at post #12 which contradicts what we are all saying; in fact, it supports what we are saying - those taking communion must first be baptised into the Church, and there was only One Church - 'Remember O Lord Thy Church' means the One Church. It is 'gathered from the four winds' much more so now than then. The Church gathers to itself the faithful who profess their faith when received into the Church. The falling away of many from the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has been tragic but they cannot be reconciled to it by taking its Holy Communion - right faith must come first. How can a Protestant take the Body and Blood of Christ if he does not believe that it is truly the Body and Blood of Christ?



#15 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 04:00 PM

@Father David Moser , the reason I care about this is because I had a vision (or hallucination) during communion while I was Orthodox, and it seemed to me that Jesus was trying to tell me what I have tried to explain in my posts above. The atheist part of my personality can rationalize this as a hallucination that drew its ideas from my Episcopalian upbringing. Part of me is not quite satisfied with that explanation.

So why should an atheist care if the Orthodox, Catholics, and others have perverted communion into a supreme act of hypocrisy relative to its intended meaning and the personality and purpose of Jesus? Well I go back and forth. I believe the Church and Christianity is a disgrace, but I sometimes wonder if I encountered a real Jesus and God.

If Jesus is really present in communion, shouldn't it reflect his personality? Isn't it sad that it has become an expression of segregation instead of an expression of gathering. Jesus who scolded the Pharisees for their loyalty to ancestral traditions is now represented by a Church that has fallen into the same errors. The Church has become a club with humans deciding who is in and who is out. (IMO)

Edited by Bob L., 02 November 2015 - 04:02 PM.


#16 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 04:04 PM

Thanks, @Reader Andreas , those are good observations. I don't agree, but that is a reasonable point of view.

#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 06:27 PM

Bob L, I hope I may address you directly on this. You indicate that you abandoned not only the Orthodox Church but God Himself over this issue. Surely in your catechesis you were told, or you may have become aware subsequently, that only Orthodox Christians may take Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. That being so, how is it that you now hold the view you do?



#18 Bob L.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 09:22 PM

Bob L, I hope I may address you directly on this. You indicate that you abandoned not only the Orthodox Church but God Himself over this issue. Surely in your catechesis you were told, or you may have become aware subsequently, that only Orthodox Christians may take Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. That being so, how is it that you now hold the view you do?

No problem. I didn't have any instruction in Orthodoxy before joining the church. I was raised as an Episcopalian and lost my faith in college. I believe Episcopalians had open communion, but I can't remember. Episcopalians had a less exclusive attitude. So I had been irreligious for 20 years after college. Then one day, I had a psychotic breakdown. I didn't know what was happening, so I became very religious and joined the Orthodox church that others in my family had joined. As I started to get better psychologically, I stopped having as many "visions" and "paranormal experiences". This made me think that God was disappointed with me, so I decided to try a weekly bible study at a Methodist church in hopes that this would recharge my faith.

So there I was at the Methodist church bible study for the first time. I vaguely knew that Orthodox were not supposed to take communion at other churches, but I wasn't sure of the details of the policy or whether it was a minor thing that most people ignored. The bible study was on Romans chapter 2. It was an awful presentation, but I had read the chapter myself before the study. Here is the part that seemed significant to me was Romans 2:12-29 ( https://www.biblegat...-29&version=RSV ). Paul is criticizing Jews for their exclusion of Gentiles over circumcision and the dietary laws and so forth. At the end of the bible study, the pastor had a Eucharist ceremony. I didn't know what to do at that point, because I knew I wasn't supposed to participate, but I also had this eerie feeling that God was testing me somehow. So I said a quick prayer that God would show me what communion is really about. Then a guy that I hadn't noticed came up into this circle beside me and held my hand. He seemed so peaceful and humble and calm, that I felt more relaxed myself. I thought if that guy beside me thinks this is o.k., then it must be o.k. Then when it came my turn to take communion I had a frightening hallucination or vision. I was too shocked to take communion. Afterwards the guy beside me just walked out of the room without saying a word while everybody else chatted amongst themselves cheerfully.

I talked to my priest afterwards, and I thought a lot about the meaning of what I saw. It made this whole issue seem very important. It was a little like the story in Acts where Peter is instructed to eat non-kosher food ( https://www.biblegat...ch=Acts 10:9-16 ). I wanted to know what God wanted from me - not what the Orthodox Church wanted from me.

I had several other experiences like that. They seemed to challenge me to think and question Christianity. Gradually I felt more and more depressed and unhappy with church until I stopped attending and never returned. Then a year or so later I learned about hallucinations and began to doubt my basis for believing in Christianity at all.

I hope that makes sense. It is hard to explain these things.

#19 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 09:56 PM

I'm not qualified to say anything - it's beyond me.



#20 Phoebe K.

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 11:22 PM

Bob L.

 

I hesitate to say anythings about what you experienced as that is the place only of those who have reached a high level spiritually.  What I can say however comes from my own experience.

 

I had a lot of experiences when I was younger before I came into the Orthodox Church, however the wisdom of the fathers is that we do not trust things we see or hear as we are always at risk of being deceived by ourselves, and I have found this to be true by at time painful experiences.  The Fathers speak about the dangers of trusting ourselves in all things but especially in what we see.

 

I come from the Anglican tradition which I came to from agnosticism so understand the issues entering Orthodoxy, although I chose to come to Orthodoxy from studying the early church tradition at length while studying Theology.  A deep understanding of the traditions of the Church however takes many years if not a lifetime to achieve.

 

I have admittedly noticed though that in places catichisam is lacking especially for adult converts.  I would also note also from experience that it is never a good time to make a big life decision when there are ongoing mental heath issues.

 

If you have time these things are best descused with experiences elders (such as those on mont Athos) who are steeped in the tradition of the church who may be able to help you understand what is going on.






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