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  #21  
Vechi 28.07.2013, 00:00:06
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Lightbulb Communion Questions - explained by the Dean of the 2nd St Cathedral, NYC

Communion Questions


In the country I visit often I am denied communion for the following reasons:

1. Frequent communion is bad for you.

2. There is no one here that can hear your confession in English and you do not speak enough of our language to confess your sins. No Confession—no Communion.

3. You ate meat with us last night so you can not receive the mysteries today.

4. You have not been fasting from for the past three days. ok

These reason are all defended as being the tradition of the Church. This country is full of very pious people and I would like to see them return to the Lord’s Table. Any you help as far as pointing me in directions to find materials that could reveal the truth.
Answer

What you describe in your email is not uncommon in many Orthodox lands—and, for that matter, in some instances in North America.

Permit me, if you will, to offer explanations as to the rationale for each of the attitudes you have encountered.

1. “Frequent Communion is bad for you.”

This statement must be qualified. While the point of our lives as Christians is to enter into and grow in our common union—“communion”—with God and with His People, the reception of Holy Communion should not be approached casually. St. John Chrysostom tells us that, while the Eucharist is indeed the fountain of new life, it can also be for those who receive it casually or without proper preparation a fire which can condemn us. Hence, such a statement must be understood in light of the spirit in which the statement is made: that the reception of Holy Communion without proper preparation—without repentance, without a genuine desire to turn our lives around, without seeking God’s forgiveness, without prayer and reflection on the course of our lives—can indeed be spiritually harmful and can, as St. John Chrysostom asserts, ultimately condemn us. It is not “frequent Communion” per se that is “bad” for us but, rather, receiving Communion without appropriate preparation and repentance that is “bad” for us. There are many instances in which people receive Communion frequently without proper preparation simply because, in many places especially in North America, everyone is expected to commune at every Liturgy. While St. John Chrysostom once complained “that the sacrifice is offered, yet no one approaches the Lord’s table,” one must approach the chalice “in faith and love,” with humility, in a spirit of repentance, and without holding grudges or anger against others. Scripture itself reminds us that, if we have something against our brother, we should leave our gift at the altar, seek reconciliation with our brother, and then return to offer our gift (see Mt 5:23). Here we are clearly reminded of the importance of proper preparation for the reception of Communion.

2. “There is no one here that can hear your Confession in English and you do not speak enough of our language to confess your sins. No Confession—No Communion.”

On the one hand, one does not have to speak the same language as the confessor in order to “qualify” to have their Confession heard. Ultimately, it is to God that we confess our sins; the priest is His witness, as one of the prayers before Confession clearly states. And, while the Confessor may be limited in his knowledge of other languages, surely God is not bound by such limitations. On the other hand, the confessor who would refuse to witness a Confession based on his inability to understand the penitent errs, inasmuch as he is somehow defining the quality of one’s repentance by his personal ability to understand what the penitent is saying. Such is not the case.

What is more essential here is the understanding held in many places that one may not receive Holy Communion unless one has made an individual Confession prior to every reception of Communion. For many years, this was somewhat “standard” practice, primarily during the centuries when frequent reception of the Eucharist was unheard of. [There are many reasons, too many to recount in an email, that led to the infrequent reception of Communion—and as you have perhaps noted above, already in the time of St. John Chrysostom one finds that frequent reception of the Eucharist was not necessarily observed.] Until quite recently—I would say prior to the 1960s—it was common to find the faithful receiving the Eucharist only once every year, usually during Great Lent. Certainly, if one receives the Eucharist only once or twice every year, one should indeed observe individual Confession before receiving Holy Communion. As the frequent reception of Communion became more commonplace, especially in the Orthodox Church in America, the understanding of Confession and Communion as two separate sacraments began to become clearer, to the point that the Holy Synod of Bishops noted, in a lengthy report issued in the early 1970s, that it is not necessary to observe individual Confession every time one receives the Eucharist, provided one is communing regularly, is attentive to the guidance of his or her Spiritual Father, and is properly prepared through prayer and fasting to receive the Eucharist.

While this is generally the understanding in most OCA parishes today, it is not necessarily the understanding in Orthodox Churches abroad, where the practice of frequent reception of the Eucharist has yet to become a reality. Painful as what you have experienced here in terms of language and the like, one must humbly acknowledge that the level of Church life found in many parishes in North America is somewhat different than that found elsewhere—again for a wide variety of reasons—and that one should humbly respect the “wheres” and “whys” of the Church which one is visiting.

3. “You ate meat with us last night so you can not receive the Mysteries today.”

I have encountered this before, even from priests who have eaten with laypersons on the eve of the Liturgy, yet who themselves commune while chastizing the laity with whom they ate and drank the night before for doing likewise. The spirit of this regulation is, again, found in appropriate preparation for the Eucharist: One should not “party” the night before the reception of the Eucharist. Of course, if one has “partied hard” on the eve of the Liturgy, one should refrain from receiving the Eucharist; however, if one simply shared a normal Saturday evening meal, this should be no obstacle. Everyone does not understand the “spirit” of the regulation, which also must be humbly acknowledged without passing judgment, which can lead some individuals to feel that eating, even for the purpose of sustainence, is not permitted. Also, there are bound to be those to take the regulation which states that nothing should be taken by mouth from midnight the night before one receives the Eucharist to the N-th degree as well, thereby barring anything from being taken by mouth, not just from midnight, but for a longer period. It is only my opinion, but if one is given to associating with individuals who believe that eating on the eve of the Eucharist—without partying and drinking and carrousing in any way—is an obstacle to the reception of the Eucharist, one should avoid eating with such individuals, opting to eat alone or to eat with those who do not take the spirit out of the law, so to speak.

4. “You have not been fasting for the past three days.”

In many places, there is a custom of fasting for three days or even a full week prior to the reception of the Eucharist. This is not a universal custom among all Orthodox Christians, and there seems to be a variety of explanations as to why this custom has taken hold in some places. While this is not the custom among perhaps the majority of faithful within the OCA, it is a long-time, ingrained custom elsewhere. What is unfortunate is that generally the focus here is neither on repentance, nor on changing our lives, nor on seeking forgiveness or reconciliation or a common union with God or His People but, rather, on fulfilling a regulation or “obligation” to fast for three days—period. It is my opinion, however, that if this is the custom in the place where one is, one should again humbly and quietly follow it, rather than create further discomfort or scandal.

I, like you, have traveled to traditionally Orthodoxy countries on many occasions, and I, like you, have also witnessed such attitudes. I would say, however, that the return to the Lord’s Table will occur in God’s good time, rather than in ours.

In Russia, for example, one is likely to find the precise attitudes you have encountered above, even though one of the most revered saints at the present time, Saint John of Kronstadt, was an advocate of frequent Communion—with proper preparation, however. Icons of Saint John invariably acknowledge this, as he is generally depicted holding a chalice in his left hand while pointing to its opening with his right, in a gesture of invitation to commune. But one must keep in mind that, between the time Saint John passed away at the beginning of the 20th century and the time that the Church was free from communist persecution some 80 years later, a lot had happened that pushed back the process considerably. Hence, if you consider the attitudes you have encountered in light of the society and setting in which they are being held, you should come to a greater appreciation of why such attitudes have developed and continue to be perpetuated.

While you did not mention the country you visit often, and while I may be wrong to assume that it is a formerly communist country, I think that the same principles could be applied, even if you are speaking of traditionally Orthodox lands that did not have to endure persecution and repression under the communist regimes of the past.
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  #22  
Vechi 24.05.2014, 21:49:38
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Lightbulb prayer to the guardian angel

Holy angel who watch over my poor soul and my wretched life, do not abandon me, a sinner, nor turn away from me because of my shameful ways. Do not give room for the evil one to exercise his dominance over my passing life. Strengthen my weak and sinful hands and guide me along the path of salvation. O true and holy angel of the Lord, the guardian and shelter of my weak soul and body, forgive me for all in which I have sinned throughout my life, and for all the iniquities I have committed during the night; protect me from all temptations of the evil one so that I may not anger God by any sin. Intercede before the Lord for me, strengthening me in the fear of him, and show me, his servant, to be worthy of his unending blessings. Amen.
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  #23  
Vechi 25.05.2014, 21:45:16
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Implicit Prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion

I thank you, Lord my God, for you have not rejected me, a sinner, but have made me worthy to be a partaker of Your holy things. I thank you, for You have permitted me, the unworthy, to commune with Your most pure and heavenly Gifts. But, Master and Lover of mankind, who for our sakes died and rose again, and gave us these awesome and life-creating Mysteries for the good and sanctification of our souls and bodies; let them be for the healing of soul and body, the repelling of every adversary, the illumining of the eyes of my heart, the peace of my spiritual powers, a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, the fulfilling of wisdom, the observing of Your commandments, the receiving of Your divine grace and the attaining of Your Kingdom. Preserved by them in Your holiness, may I always remember Your grace and live not for myself alone, but for You, our Master and Benefactor. May I pass from this life in the hope of eternal life and so attain to the everlasting rest, where the voice of those who feast is unceasing and the gladness of those who behold the goodness of Your countenance is unending. For You are the true desire and the ineffable joy of those who love You, Christ our God, and all creation sings Your praise forever. Amen.


The Song of Simeon the Godbearer

Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;
for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people,
A light to enlighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of Your people Israel.
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  #24  
Vechi 25.05.2014, 22:07:00
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Implicit Other prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion

Lord Jesus Christ our God; let Your holy Body be my eternal life; Your precious Blood, my remission of sins. Let this eucharist be my joy, health and gladness. Make me, a sinner, worthy to stand at the right hand of Your glory at Your awesome Second Coming, through the prayers of Your most pure Mother and of all the saints.


A Prayer by St. Simeon Metaphrastes

Freely You have given me Your Body for my food. You are a fire consuming the unworthy; do not consume me, my Creator, but instead enter into my members, my veins, my heart. Consume the thorns of my transgressions. Cleanse my soul and sanctify my reasonings. Make firm my knees and body. Illumine my five senses. Nail me to the fear of You. Always protect, guard and keep me from soul-destroying words and deeds. Cleanse me, purify me and adorn me. Give me understanding and illumination. Show me to be a temple of Your One Spirit and not the home of many sins. May every evil thing, every carnal passion, flee from me as from a fire as I become Your tabernacle through communion.
I offer You as intercessors all the saints: the leaders of the bodiless hosts, Your Forerunner, the wise apostles and Your pure and blameless Mother. Accept their prayers in Your love, my Christ, and make me, Your servant, a child of light. For You are the only Sanctification and Light of our souls, Good One, and to You, our Master and God, we ascribe glory day by day.
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Vechi 25.05.2014, 22:51:29
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Implicit Cont.

A Prayer of St. Basil the Great

Master, Christ our God, King of the Ages, Maker of all things, I thank You for all the good things You have given me, especially for the communion with Your most pure and life-creating Mysteries. I pray You, gracious Lover of mankind: preserve me under Your protection, beneath the shadow of Your wings. Enable me, even to my last breath, to partake worthily and with a pure conscience of Your holy things, for the remission of sins and unto life eternal. For You are the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Holiness, the Giver of all Good; to You we ascribe glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
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  #26  
Vechi 26.05.2014, 03:29:46
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Implicit On Repentance

Do not despair of whatever sins you may have committed since Baptism and find yourself in true repentance, but await God's mercy. However many and however great and burdensome your sins may be, with God there is greater mercy.
Just as His majesty is, so likewise is His mercy. Only guard yourself from sinning henceforth, and walk according to the aforementioned points.

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk: Journey to Heaven
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  #27  
Vechi 26.05.2014, 07:05:25
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Smile sorry for late reply...

Citat:
În prealabil postat de Florin-Ionut Vezi mesajul
Several years ago I was in Belgium where I rented an apartment together with an Indian colleague. He was a "Worrier of Sick", wearing a turban and doing his prayers every day with regularity.

One day he asked me to tell him something about Orthodoxy. I couldn't tell him much, because at that time I was in apostasy and my English didn't help.

What would you answer to him, considering the fact that the guy does not know anything about Christianity?
You could start telling him the story of Abraham, and Moses, and the Profets ... and point out how the Jews were waiting for Messiah... then tell him about Joachim and Anna, and their daughter Mary, and the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel. And so on... :) Or you can start directly with the Gospels, the first miracle of Christ at the wedding of Cana, and the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fish, His teachings in the temple, His parables....and so on.
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  #28  
Vechi 26.05.2014, 19:51:25
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Implicit About the Georgian monks at Iveron

Georgian monks began to settle on Mt. Athos in the middle of the 10th century, and a Georgian monastery, Iveron, was founded there not long after.

At that time foreign armies were constantly invading Mt. Athos. In the 13th century the Crusaders stormed through the region, and between 1259 and 1306 the pope’s private army devastated Mt. Athos several times. Monks of Zographou and Vatopedi monasteries and the Protaton were martyred for the Orthodox Faith, and the monks of the Iveron Monastery eventually met the same fate.

During this period Georgian and Greek ascetics labored together at the Iveron Monastery, and many young ascetics of the new generation began to arrive from Georgia.

The Crusaders demanded that the Iveron monks convert to Catholicism and acknowledge the primacy of the Roman pope. But the monks condemned their fallacies and anathematized the doctrine of the Catholics.

According to the Patericon of Athos, the Iveron monks were forcibly expelled from their monastery. Nearly two hundred elderly monks were goaded like animals onto a ship that was subsequently sunk in the depths of the sea. The younger, healthier monks were deported to Italy and sold as slaves to the Jews.

Some sources claim this tragedy took place in the year 1259, while others record that the Georgian monks of the Holy Mountain were subject to the Latin persecutions over the course of four years, from 1276 to 1280.

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  #29  
Vechi 27.05.2014, 03:09:18
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Implicit

"People who trust solely in the apparent righteousness of the outward way of their life are like the foolish virgins (cf. Mt. 25:1-12), who did indeed preserve their outward virginity, yet in spite of this were not admitted to the marriage-feast; they also had some oil in their vessels, that is, they possessed some virtues and external achievements and some gifts of grace, so that their lamps remained alight for a certain time. But because of negligence, ignorance and laziness they were not provident, and did not pay careful attention to the hidden swarm of passions energized within them by the evil spirits."

St. Mark the Ascetic

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Vechi 29.05.2014, 08:07:49
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Implicit

How the Christian Life Begins in Us.

We must make clear for ourselves when and how the Christian life truly begins in order to see whether we have within ourselves the beginning of this life. If we do not have it, we must learn how to begin it, in so far as this depends upon us.
It is not yet a decisive sign of true life in Christ if one calls himself a Christian and belongs to the Church of Christ. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 7:21). And they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Rom. 9:6). One can be counted as a Christian and not be a Christian. This everyone knows.

The Path to Salvation
A Manual of Spiritual Transformation.
By St. Theophan the Recluse
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