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Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102675 08/27/03 05:52 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dear Diak,

Clean Monday is not on the calendars that I use as such, but many folks do keep the first three days of Great Lent as strict fasting days. In Albania, many young people and monastics go three days with just water or tea.

Of course, you realize that originally all fasted during Holy Week. The catechumens and their sponsors fasted for the fourty days plus Holy Week. Eventually, as a measure of communal solidarity, the great body of the Church also took up the fourty day Lenten Fast.

I'm not trying to go back in time or jettison the fourty day fast, but rather establish a baseline upon which the faithful, according to ability, can build.

The same with abstinence from sexual relations. Canonically, the baseline appears to be the eve of the reception of the eucharist (which one of the Orthodox partners is preparing to receive). I (and most) would include the five strict fasting days in this baseline. The eve of Holy Friday does not normally precede an eucharistic celebration, but it is still a time to abstain.

In Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102676 08/27/03 08:37 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Getting back to contraception, I would imagine that an economic allowance might be given to a couple in the case where conception of a child would likely lead to the death of the mother during the pregnancy. I'm not a medical professional, but I believe that it has to do with rhesus + mother and a rhesus - baby (I may have this reversed) during the first pregnancy. During a second pregnancy, because of "antibodies" or the like formed during the first pregnancy, the tendency would be for the mother's blood to coagulate, possibly killing her.

Economy might argue for a sparing use of such non-abortifacient contraceptives in order that they not fall into temptation and thus adultery. Sort of like a second marriage, it might be allowed to avoid worse.

Of course, the clergy should always be held to the model: one marriage, no contraceptives, etc.

I certainly agree that the model of Christian married life excludes the use of contraceptives.

In Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102677 08/27/03 08:43 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dear Alex,

I'm not under the authority of the Metropolitan of Kyiv (Kiev) or any of his councils. biggrin

However, I do believe that the universal canons of the seven ecumenical councils require abstinence prior to the eucharist.

In a separate, canonized response to a query, a "recommendation" is made for abstinence on both Saturdays and Sundays. It says something like, "it may be good if...."

I just don't recall anything regarding Wednesdays and Fridays, either in the canons or from seminary studies.

With love in Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102678 08/28/03 02:00 PM
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Seraphim Reeves Offline
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Alex,

I'm an Orthodox catechuman.

Seraphim


"A sign of spiritual life is the immersion of a person within himself and the hidden workings within his heart." - St.Seraphim of Sarov
Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102679 08/28/03 02:07 PM
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Diak Offline
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Dear Andrew, thanks for your reply. On many Greek Catholic wall calendars Clean Monday is indicated as a strict fast day.

I also recently picked up a set of some of Bishop +FAN Noli's English liturgical translations. What a great man. Vichnaja pam'jat (don't know the Albanian equivalent wink )

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102680 08/28/03 02:32 PM
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Orthodox Catholic Offline
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Dear Reader Andrew,

Since you know so much about sex, could you comment on another issue?

What about married priests who celebrate Liturgy daily?

I guess if they are married, they cannot. Correct?

Alex

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102681 08/28/03 02:42 PM
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Chtec Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
What about married priests who celebrate Liturgy daily?

I guess if they are married, they cannot. Correct?
I recall hearing a story about a now-reposed Orthodox Archbishop.

A priest posed the question, "Vladyka, is it true that on the night before serving a priest is not to have relations with his wife?"

"This is true."

The priest asked further, "Then what is a priest to do?"

And the good bishop replied:

"What do you think afternoons are for?"

wink

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102682 08/28/03 03:14 PM
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Our Lady's slave Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Chtec:
Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
What about married priests who celebrate Liturgy daily?
I guess if they are married, they cannot. Correct?
I recall hearing a story about a now-reposed Orthodox Archbishop.
A priest posed the question, "Vladyka, is it true that on the night before serving a priest is not to have relations with his wife?"
"This is true."
The priest asked further, "Then what is a priest to do?"
And the good bishop replied:
"What do you think afternoons are for?"
wink
This is an example of obeying the letter of the Law

wonderful !!

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102683 08/28/03 09:18 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dear Alex, doctorus maximus,

Chtec's response was one that I had originally heard from you and had found to be most correct and in keeping with the letter and the spirit of the law (the canon). It's all about preparation.

In general, of course, Eastern Rite priests do not make a daily eucharistic offering. And in monasteries, where they might, it shouldn't be an issue.

As for my alleged knowledge base, I accept your compliment and point to my son, Isaak (who resembles me greatly, God help him) as living verification of your estimate. smile

With love in Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102684 08/28/03 09:26 PM
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Dear Chtec,

I LOVE it! smile

Can't wait to share this Orthodox religious anecdote with my husband!

In Christ,
Alice

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102685 08/28/03 09:52 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dear Diak,

Per shume vjet! (For many years!)

Metropolitan Theofan was indeed a great man:

Orator, Prime Minister, composer, Harvard graduate, Peabody graduate, Boston University Graduate, poet, author, actor, translator, delegate to Versailles, friend of President Wilson, and bishop.

His translations from Greek to Albanian were excellent. He was also excellent from Greek into English, but kept cutting out whole pieces in order to accommodate an ever less patient society.

Exorcisms? Nah! Who needs them. There are no devils at a baptism, anyway.

He was a man ahead of his time in many ways. He served the first all-English liturgy in his Cathedral in Boston in 1936! By comparison, when the Albanian Archdiocese enntered the OCA in 1971, none of the OCA's bishops present at the reception could even speak English! (I know personally the English-Russian translator that they were obligated to use.)

The fact that he was never a canonical bishop in North America, but only in Durres, Albania, caused his isolation from North American Orthodoxy and fostered his ongoing war with the Greek episcopacy. Noli ultimately did several things which would have been sure grounds for deposition. Patriarch Athenagoras, himself an ethnic Albanian (Arvaniti), sent a competitor to supplant Noli. The split continues to this day with two Albanian dioceses in the Americas.

I pray that those times are behind us and that Christ will be the center of attention for Albanian Orthodox Christians in the Americas.

With love in Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102686 08/29/03 08:25 AM
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Sub-Deacon Ghazaros Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Andrew J. Rubis:
Getting back to contraception, I would imagine that an economic allowance might be given to a couple in the case where conception of a child would likely lead to the death of the mother during the pregnancy. I'm not a medical professional, but I believe that it has to do with rhesus + mother and a rhesus - baby (I may have this reversed) during the first pregnancy. During a second pregnancy, because of "antibodies" or the like formed during the first pregnancy, the tendency would be for the mother's blood to coagulate, possibly killing her.

Economy might argue for a sparing use of such non-abortifacient contraceptives in order that they not fall into temptation and thus adultery. Sort of like a second marriage, it might be allowed to avoid worse.

Of course, the clergy should always be held to the model: one marriage, no contraceptives, etc.

I certainly agree that the model of Christian married life excludes the use of contraceptives.

In Christ,
Andrew
Dear Andrew,

I appreciate your understanding and position on this topic very much. It is truly admirable. Allow me to present a question to you which is relative to your above quote.

If there are seious reasons for delaying or avoiding conception, I've been persuaded that NFP is morally superior to ABC (artificial birth control). I realize not all Orthodox who reject ABC are sold on NFP. But this post isn't about this question, so please bear with me.

If I can get personal for a moment, with the birth of Sahag (our Isaac smile ) we have six children now. As we are told everywhere we go, we now have "our hands full." An additional child would not be life threatening but challenging. Plus, my wife had some minor complications with the last birth which will probably get worse with another birth. Also, she home-educates which is very demanding.

Due to these considerations, my wife and I have been contemplating whether it is time for us to employ NFP or not. Being a person like yourself who considers ABC sinful and not compatible with the call of the Gospel, I have also reflected on the situation you have described above. "What if," I asked myself, "MY WIFE was told by a doctor that her life would be in jeapordy if she were to conceive again?" Would we have the faith to practice making use of the infertile periods rather than employing ABC?

In truth, people don't know what they would do until they are actually faced with a given situation. With God's Grace, we would have the faith to continue to reject ABC. But in considering the use of the infertile periods, it seemed to me like we would really be living dangerously and putting my wife's life in harm's way.

But then I thought even more about this. If my wife could be killed by conception, why would we have marital relations at all? Everyone knows that all ABC also have their failure rates. So either way, NFP or ABC, if the women's life is in jeapordy, we are playing Russian roulette with every marital embrace (I know, bad analogy -and that on a forum filled with Slavs! smile ).

Therefore based on this fact, which seems very obvious to me, to say that ABC is allowed in the case of the life of the wife, seems to be a very irresponsible, short-sighted and haphazard approach. This is a problem which requires a much more serious response, medically and spiritually.

Does what I write make any sense?

Let me know,
Ghazar

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102687 08/29/03 02:08 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dearest Ghazar,

First, let me wish you and your whole family bountiful health!

I think that your response is right on target/hitting the mark (i.e. sinless wink ).

Just like the allowance of second and third marriages where the Church would counsel that God's grace of a first marriage should have sufficed but we allow the second or third to prevent even greater sin; I think that in this case the mind of the Church would tend toward saying that the blessing of normal marital relations for the first ten (?) years should have sufficed, but lest someone fall under temptation, we understand that such ABC may be an alternative.

Trust me, I'm not comfortable with it and know that it is not the model, but I think that it may indeed be salvific in cases where the great divider is prowling at the edges of an otherwise successful Christian marriage.

With love in Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102688 08/29/03 04:43 PM
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Andrew J. Rubis Offline
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Dear Ghazar,

I didn't want to imply in my previous post any defects in your own marriage. Please forgive me if I gave that impression. The great divider is prowling around at the edges of everyone's marriage, in one way or another!!!

The possible medical situations that we have both outlined just seem to fall in line with other risky behaviors that we take, such as travelling in airplanes and motor vehicles, operating power saws, or working as a fireman or policeman. We take precautions to lessen the risk, but short of complete abstinence, travelling on foot, or abandoning a profession as a wood-worker, fireman, or policeman, we accept some risk because of the benefits of marital conjugal relations, quickened travel, or the financial and personal rewards of a career.

So ABC might be considered in this case is for a couple who is afraid or who have already found that practicing abstinence would open the door for temptation.

I view NFP much differently from ABC, except in cases where the goal of using NFP is to permanently avoid having children. If used to space out pregnancies or address a medical situation, I see it as quite normal. If a spouse were headed off to combat in a war, this might be an acceptable aspect of conjugal relations until the at-risk partner returned alive, lest an orphan be conceived and never know his or her father or mother.

As the RCC has so beautifully taught, NFP really trusts much more in God's providence. The fact that this ancient method of family planning has never been unambiguously condemned in the East or West leads one to place it in a different category from ABC, which remains clearly outside of the model of Christian marriage, although widely practiced.

Said in another way: ABC is relatively new and is being attacked by the Church. NFP is ancient and has not been condemned. There is something there.

In Christ,
Andrew

Re: Orthodoxy and Contraception #102689 08/29/03 09:22 PM
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Dear Brother Andrew,

May God give you and your family good health and many years!

I appreciate your perspective very much. Thank you for sharing this with me. I didn't take anything you said personally, I know we are both speaking hypothetically here. But thanks for your considerate words.

Based on what you have said, allow me to ask you this:

Being a former Roman Catholic, I became familiar with a maxim very common in that Church which states,

"it is never licit to do evil that good may come."

Assuming they don't qualify such a statement, but take it at face value -based on what you have said- is it fair to say that in the Eastern Orthodox Church the corollarly maxim would be,

"it is only licit to do evil inorder to avoid a greater evil" ?

If I have misunderstood, please forgive me. I certainly do not want to put words into your mouth. Please let me know how you would understand this question.

In Christ's Light,

Wm. DerGhazarian

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