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Self discipline on communing...


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#1 kshaft

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:15 PM

Hello. I attend a parish where there is absolutions given but not so much confessions unless it is a lenten season. Thats no big deal. If you want the Father will give you one. However one time I did not take communion at another parish and the Father asked me why I did not, and I said I had not confessed (or got absolution). He said you dont have to. Now I have problems with sins of the flesh. If I do this and dont get absolution I will not partake of the mysteries. In fact even obtaining absolution I am weary of this as I feel that I should have some restriction. I dont want it, but I feel it is the right thing to do. I want to commune I mean, and I know we are never worthy, but sometimes just going to confession without any consequences seems wrong. Im just wondering if this is typical in some other parishes (like ROCOR or Serbian but anyone feel free to chime in...) or if there is some penance served with time restricted from communion like the canons say for some sins of the flesh. My sin is self gratification amongst others that are reoccuring like lust, doubt, violent thoughts, etc... I feel like Im getting off too easy.

Thank you.

#2 Niko Barounis

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:50 PM

In my parish Greek Orthodox, conffesion is not a requirement.
Our priest mentiones conffesion from time to time and reccomends it but (i think) he knows it is difficult for most people to do it.
I have said it before our Religion has changed, it is a watered down version of the original.
Confession being an example, also fasting. used to be to recive you would have to fast for, idealy one week, 3-4 days at a min, less is a medical condition exists.
now i understand you just dont eat on the day of communion. to me (old school) is a big WOW!
So, K. Shaft just follow your Priests instructions and be content with what he says u should do. I fyou feel guilt or unworthyness then maybe say a few extra prayers the days before or maybe fast a few more days. I reccomend fasting--Fasting and praying helps my concience a lot, i cant just go to receive ONLY with not eating breakfast the day of communion, have not done it and wont. I wanted to go to church to receive this sunday but i will not receive. i had a hickup and ate meat when i should not have.
Anyway your priest is responcible for your soul as well as you so listen to him.

#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 11:28 PM

In the Russian Church, confession is part of the preparation for each communion. Confession should be given usually the day before or the day of receiving (although usually within 2 or 3 days is acceptable). A person who receives frequently and who lives a pious life may be given a bit of a "break" on the "every time" rule, but that's the exception at the discretion of the priest. Whether or not an obedience is given in confession is up to the confessor and depends on the spiritual condition of the person making their confession.

If you feel as though you need more "intense" spiritual oversight than is the norm in your parish, ask your priest for a blessing to visit a nearby monastery and ask the spiritual fathers there for advice or direction.

Fr David

#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:38 AM

I was cautioned about confessing at a monastery. It is possible for the priest confessor to give as much as 20 years penance and when you get back to your home parish, you are still under that penance. Choose your confessors wisely.

Paul

#5 Ben Johnson

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:08 AM

20 years is a long time.

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:11 AM

I wonder how often the sin K. Shaft mentions goes unconfessed for the opposite reason - fear of being given a severe penance or deprivation of Holy Communion for a long time?

#7 Niko Barounis

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:18 AM

In the Russian Church, confession is part of the preparation for each communion. Confession should be given usually the day before or the day of receiving (although usually within 2 or 3 days is acceptable). A person who receives frequently and who lives a pious life may be given a bit of a "break" on the "every time" rule, but that's the exception at the discretion of the priest. Whether or not an obedience is given in confession is up to the confessor and depends on the spiritual condition of the person making their confession.

If you feel as though you need more "intense" spiritual oversight than is the norm in your parish, ask your priest for a blessing to visit a nearby monastery and ask the spiritual fathers there for advice or direction.

Fr David


"In the Russian Church, confession is part of the preparation for each communion"---- Yes i know, that IS great!~~we should follow our Russian brothers example!!! All my life in the Greek Orthodox Church is is mentioned and in some parishes even pushed, but it is not made a requirement, unfortunetly. I also hear you guys not have pews in the church...like it should be! Thats is in part why i say our religion is "watered down".
I realy want to go to a Russian chrurch just to see.

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:25 AM

I've posted this story before somewhere but I'll mention it here. Bishop Irenaeos once told me that a man told him that he, the man, was ashamed of confessing the same sin all the time. The Bishop said he replied to the man, 'do you think it is better to work your way through the alphabet of sins?'

#9 Jeff Johnson

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 03:40 AM

In the Russian Church, confession is part of the preparation for each communion. Confession should be given usually the day before or the day of receiving (although usually within 2 or 3 days is acceptable). A person who receives frequently and who lives a pious life may be given a bit of a "break" on the "every time" rule, but that's the exception at the discretion of the priest. Whether or not an obedience is given in confession is up to the confessor and depends on the spiritual condition of the person making their confession.

If you feel as though you need more "intense" spiritual oversight than is the norm in your parish, ask your priest for a blessing to visit a nearby monastery and ask the spiritual fathers there for advice or direction.

Fr David


So in other words, an Orthodox cannot just wander into any Orthodox church on Sunday and assume s/he will be able to receive Eucharist... is that correct? Because if the priest has never met you he has no way of knowing your history, etc.

Confession in the Orthodox Church can be a scary thing. And of course you're usually making it bowed before Christ's icon in church, kind of a preview of the judgment to come. My old confessor was a stern man, and he didn't mince words or spare your feelings. He'd usually give penances too but nothing like 20 years! I'd often leave confession with him feeling worse than beforehand. On the other hand I've had confessions where I felt great comfort, and it really did feel like a huge weight was lifted.

Before I became Orthodox I was Roman Catholic, so I've experienced how they do it. You walk into a little closet and kneel in front of a screen, like on TV. It's very anonymous unless the priest knows you well enough to recognize your voice. Sometimes it's done face to face, but I'm guessing that's a new thing. Very seldom are elaborate penances meted out--usually 3 or 4 short prayers. Pretty simple.

Lutheran churches still offer private confession too, though they don't consider it a sacrament. I'd imagine 99% of Lutherans have no clue...

IMHO, perhaps there needs to be a middle ground in this day and age. People don't confess much as is--if it's a bad experience for them, that may hinder them coming back. On the other hand, one can be overly lenient.

#10 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 02:33 PM

One extreme would be the people I see in my parish who come in with their small children AFTER the entire eucharistic prayer and who go up and receive communion with their children. At the opposite extreme is an extreme compunction about receiving communion at all, as for example, in Serbian Churches I have visited. St. John Chrysostom offers six things, each of which is sufficient preparation for communion, not all of them each time: fasting, alms giving, charity, prayer, confession, and tears. The point is that one is not in a state of self-centeredness, and to some degree, a great degree in fact, the discipline is upon the individual to discern. Not to be critical of Russian practice, but it has been influenced by a strong Roman Catholic (French Jesuit) influence on the Russian court back in the day. That is not to say that confession prior to communion each time is a bad idea! But just that it does not seem to be the Orthodox standard historically. Of course, the practice in the early Church was public confession, and that went the route of the Dodo bird. It is said that St. John of Kronstadt got his parish to confess out loud in Church in unison prior to communion.

#11 John S.

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:28 PM

used to be to recive you would have to fast for, idealy one week, 3-4 days at a min, less is a medical condition exists. now i understand you just dont eat on the day of communion. to me (old school) is a big WOW! . . . i cant just go to receive ONLY with not eating breakfast the day of communion, have not done it and wont.


I was under the impression that it was very common to receive communion very frequently in the ancient church. If one were to receive each week, and is required to fast “ideally for one week” beforehand, he would always be fasting. That seems a bit extreme... I have not heard before of any custom that one should fast for “idealy one week, 3-4 days at a min” before communion.

Does any clergy have some insight?

#12 Phoebe K.

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:23 PM

I have herd of the fasting for a week or 3-4 days but this was associated with baptism and first communion, for the catacumin and the bishop or presbtyer presiding over the service, also this was only associated with adult converts. There may have been a simmaler requirement for those returning from a period of excommunication and penece, but not other members of the community who were in good standing who would have received at least once a week if not more frequently if there were festivles.

well that is what I remember from my studies of early liturgy.

Phoebe

#13 Matt Varley

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 10:58 PM

Hello. I attend a parish where there is absolutions given but not so much confessions unless it is a lenten season. Thats no big deal. If you want the Father will give you one. However one time I did not take communion at another parish and the Father asked me why I did not, and I said I had not confessed (or got absolution)...



I'm confused. The post seems to say that the priest will give absolution outside of confession. Why would a priest do that? Is it part of Orthodox tradition?

#14 Matt Varley

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:30 PM

St. John Chrysostom offers six things, each of which is sufficient preparation for communion, not all of them each time: fasting, alms giving, charity, prayer, confession, and tears.


Could you please share the text in which this advice is given? I was not aware that any Father - above all St. John Chrysostom - had suggested anything other than scrupulous preparation.

#15 Moses Anthony

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 02:16 AM

The Apostle Paul wrote that those who received the Body and Blood of the Lord in an 'unworthy manner', "...ate and drank damnation unto themselves...." Whether or not confession to your priest confessor is included in that, I don't know. Do not underestimate the work of the devil in making Christians feel that they need penance above and beyond what they're able to endure.

Be satisfied with, and obedient to what your priest counsels; after all, he is there for the welfare of your soul.


the sinful and unworthy servant,

#16 Niko Barounis

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 02:50 AM

I was under the impression that it was very common to receive communion very frequently in the ancient church. If one were to receive each week, and is required to fast “ideally for one week” beforehand, he would always be fasting. That seems a bit extreme... I have not heard before of any custom that one should fast for “idealy one week, 3-4 days at a min” before communion.

Does any clergy have some insight?



Actually, my understanding is that it is/was NOT common to receive often. that is a new thing.
I remember people fasting for 2 weeks to receive, when i was a kid.
Just for clarification, youu mentioned the "ancient church", what im describing in withing the last 40 years or so---yes im old (er) but i dont think im ancient.
We have had this chat on here before. basically someone said they only fast the day of or some start at midnight or 6 pm, and i was shocked to hear this.
So you dont think its just me----I mentioned this to othere relatives both living here in the USA and living in greece and no one belived me.
I looked it up on the GOA website and its there in black and white. Still shocking.
that is why i say "watered down Orthodoxy". the Church has changed things in order (i think) to make it more easy to attend church and to get converts......its a more friendlyer orthodoxy. and is hould say they might be right to do so, i dont know if it would be a dying religion if they did not do it???

#17 Niko Barounis

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 02:53 AM

John s.---ment to ask are you new to orthodoxy, a convert. Cause i realise this is normal for a convert new to orthodoxy to be supised at this. just as i was suprised to hear the reverse.

#18 Niko Barounis

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:05 AM

I have herd of the fasting for a week or 3-4 days but this was associated with baptism and first communion, for the catacumin and the bishop or presbtyer presiding over the service, also this was only associated with adult converts. There may have been a simmaler requirement for those returning from a period of excommunication and penece, but not other members of the community who were in good standing who would have received at least once a week if not more frequently if there were festivles.

well that is what I remember from my studies of early liturgy.

Phoebe


No Phoebe K, this was for everyday life.
if you wanted to receive communion you needed to fast for at least three days. Most would say thats not enough 1 week is needed!
again, you also imply im ancient :) u say "from my studies of early liturgy". Im reffering to my life time, not anchient times, think abt that.
thats a huge change in the church! and there are even more changes made just as vital, that you are not aware of, becuse you are new to orthodoxy.

#19 John S.

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:46 PM

Actually, my understanding is that it is/was NOT common to receive often. that is a new thing. . . . Just for clarification, youu mentioned the "ancient church", what im describing in withing the last 40 years or so---yes im old (er) but i dont think im ancient. . . . the Church has changed things in order (i think) to make it more easy to attend church and to get converts..... No Phoebe K, this was for everyday life. if you wanted to receive communion you needed to fast for at least three days. Most would say thats not enough 1 week is needed! again, you also imply im ancient :) u say "from my studies of early liturgy". Im reffering to my life time, not anchient times, think abt that. thats a huge change in the church!


I think that’s the point Niko. Your experience is admittedly from your lifetime (i.e., the past “40 years” or so). When we talk about the ancient church, we mean the church from the beginning—or at least from a little older than “40 years” ago.

What you are describing sounds like the practices I’ve heard about in Russia or in certain foreign jurisdictions. From what I’ve been taught, these practices originated in the 18th-19th centuries (or thereabouts?) when there were not enough priests to commune every person ever week at every church. So people got in the practice of receiving very infrequently, sometimes only once a year, and therefore thought or felt they had to do extreme acts of fasting in order to prepare for their rare reception of the Eucharist.

That is to say, from what I’ve been taught, it is the practice YOU describe of fasting for days/weeks at a time in preparation that is the innovation!

I’m also surprised that you are so “shocked” to hear that people only fast from midnight the night before. I have never heard anyone—convert, cradle, priest, bishop, or otherwise—or any book or writing requiring laypeople to fast for a greater period of time.

Clergy: Am I off base here? If so, I would really like to know.

Thanks.

#20 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 02:01 PM

Actually, my understanding is that it is/was NOT common to receive often. that is a new thing.
I remember people fasting for 2 weeks to receive, when i was a kid. ... basically someone said they only fast the day of or some start at midnight or 6 pm, and i was shocked to hear this.
... that is why i say "watered down Orthodoxy". the Church has changed things in order (i think) to make it more easy to attend church and to get converts......its a more friendlyer orthodoxy. and is hould say they might be right to do so, i dont know if it would be a dying religion if they did not do it???


Niko,

I disagree that this is "watered down Orthodoxy". The key here is how often a person receives. If you receive frequently this changes the quality of your spiritual life. You remain nearer to Christ than if you only approached Him once or twice a year. The prolonged fasting and preparation are designed for those who do not commune regularly (and when that was the common practice - such as when you were younger) that was what everyone did. Now there are many people who have the practice of communing weekly and their prayer life and spiritual life reflects this. They keep the Wed/Fri fasts, there is a regular twice daily prayer rule, They have a constant awareness of the presence of God (not just when you are in trouble) and live accordingly and there remains a significant prayer rule for preparation and of course the absolute fast (no food or drink at all) from midnight before until you receive. The frequent communion presumes a higher level of spiritual life on a day to day basis - and thus since this state of readiness is kept up, it takes less of an effort to prepare to approach God and to touch and be touched by Him.

Think of running a marathon. If I were to run a marathon, it would take months, if not years of training to get to the point where I was able to do so without harming myself in some way since I don't really keep up my physical conditioning. But for someone who maintains a higher level of conditioning, who runs every day and stays in an elevated state of fitness -they might need only to "warm up" for a day or two before to run that same marathon. The elevated state of fitness requires less last minute preparation than one that is much lower on the scale. This is why those who commune frequently are asked to prepare less rigorously.

Are there those who abuse this and who do not maintain this elevated level of spiritual fitness while communing weekly (with the accompanying "light" preparation) - yes. But that doesn't mean that the whole concept is in error. It does mean, however, that some negligent person may find themselves in a place of abusing the Gifts and thus may (as the Apostle Paul mentioned ) eat and drink damnation to themselves.

Fr David




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