The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
jsunseri, Andrew_the_Ascetic, Giovanni1, SeekingTruth, friendly_pilgrim
5,863 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
2 members (2 invisible), 84 guests, and 19 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Holy Saturday from Kirkland Lake
Holy Saturday from Kirkland Lake
by Veronica.H, April 24
Byzantine Catholic Outreach of Iowa
Exterior of Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Parish
Church of St Cyril of Turau & All Patron Saints of Belarus
Byzantine Nebraska
Byzantine Nebraska
by orthodoxsinner2, December 11
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics35,191
Posts415,118
Members5,863
Most Online3,380
Dec 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,125
E
Za myr z'wysot ...
Member
OP Offline
Za myr z'wysot ...
Member
E
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,125
Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Originally Posted by Epiphanius
... it's easy to see how "infrequent communion" became the norm in the West, since it was the "presence" of Christ that mattered, rather than His invitation to "take and eat/take and drink." What is not so easy to see is how infrequent communion also became the norm in the East.
Personally, I believe that the old rules of strict fasting and prayer, including abstention from sexual relations prior to Communion in the East are the probable culprits . . .

The canons of the Kyivan Metropolitan St John II prescribed fasting, including fasting from sex on all Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If someone was planning on going to Communion one week, the whole week would be like that.

The prayer rules of preparation for Holy Communion would be prescribed for an entire week. The Canon of St Andrew with all the prostrations had to be done following any Confession in those days.

Not a spirituality for "wusses" would you say?
Alex,

I had been wanting to follow up on this point, but since it really isn't part of the discussion on Transubstantiation, I'm going to try opening a new thread.

ISTM that regulations like these tend to get imposed at times when a period of intense piety is going into decline, and the bishops are desperate to keep it going. I think it's really sad, because what was previously being done out of love becomes a matter of formal regulations, with the result that people become discouraged, and start thinking of Holy Communion as something that's just not a major part of their personal religiosity.

(What's really sad is that there will always be a few that embrace the formal regulations for their own sake, then congratulate themselves and look down on the others who can't live up to their standards. cry)

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Also, there is a kind of implicit "Jansenism" in the idea connoted by the popular imagery of "Holy things for the Holy."
Hmm ... I suppose that if people are misconstruing this beautiful prayer as a reason for staying away from Communion, there's a real problem (and if the clergy are approving of their staying away, there's even more of a problem!).


Peace,
Deacon Richard

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Likes: 1
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Likes: 1
The issue of people abstaining from communion began to emerge in the 5th century, in both the West and the East. Based on the commentaries of the Fathers, all of whom were opposed to this innovation, people were refusing to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ out of feelings of unworthiness. The Fathers were unanimous in their condemnation of this abuse. If you attended the Liturgy, you ought to receive; feelings of unworthiness are natural, but no excuse, because none of us is worthy to receive the great gift that Christ has bestowed upon us.

By the eighth or ninth centuries most people, in both the West and the East, were receiving only once or twice a year. Canons were implemented in the East requiring those who missed Liturgy for three consecutive weeks without good cause to confess before being readmitted to communion; this may have been picked up in the West as well. It is the origin of the requirement that one MUST confess before receiving; it became universal because NOBODY was receiving regularly, hence everybody was covered by the canon.

In the West, the Church by the 13th century had to mandate that people confess and receive at least once a year. In the East, there was also a canonical requirement to confess at least twice a year (before Nativity and before Pascha), associated with the Nativity Fast and Lent.

The fascination in the West on "seeing" was the result of infrequent communion, and not the cause of it. Not consuming the Body and Blood of Christ on a regular basis, and confronted with a liturgical language they did not understand, the elevation of the Host became the focus of liturgical piety among the Western laity. People would run from church to church to see as many elevations as possible, believing that this was a channel of grace. From there, it was a short step to changing the focus of popular piety from receiving the Body of Christ, to gazing upon it. The practice arose from the bottom up, and seems to have taken the Latin hierarchy by surprise. In response, the Latin Church sought to regulate and channel this enthusiasm into orthodox beliefs, going so far as to commission Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgy for Corpus Christi day.

One of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council was to reassert the primacy of receiving communion over Eucharistic Adoration, though, in typical Western fashion, many in the Church went from one extreme to the other, effectively marginalizing the practice, even to the extent of putting the Tabernacle and Ciborium into a side chapel, and scheduling Benediction and Adoration services at odd and inconvenient times.

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 1,240
A
Member
Offline
Member
A
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 1,240
StuartK

I wouldn't go so far as to say that there was ever a universal requirement to go to confession prior to communion, certainly not in the Eastern Orthodox Churches of the Mediterranean basin. The one to one correlation has never been there canonically. The canons which you cite and with which I am quite familiar specifically have to do with participation in the corporate worship, not reception of the eucharist. There are many other canons regarding the reception of the eucharist and they do not prescribe confession, excepting when the sin is one which has excommunicated the believer.

In fact, it was widely commented upon in village circles when one was seen going to confession. The salacious gossip would be that the person had committed a "mortal" sin (to use a Western term) which required confession and absolution prior to reception of the eucharist. While in fact, the individual may have simply been seeking to unburden him or her self of "venial" sins, the resultant gossip along with declining clergy formation and preparation to give wise penitential counsel (during the 500 years of the Turkokratia) proved a further disincentive to confession, but not to reception of the eucharist.

Monastic confessors, in whom a vocation to give wise counsel had been discerned by the abbot/bishop, were usually sent to the villages and towns. My own grandparents, having grown up in this situation in the Balkans, testified to its frequency. The youngest is still living at 101 years - so that tells us up through the early 20th century.

In a post on the thread "Transubstantiation" (which I should have posted here) I mention the commonly-held confusion between ascetical discipline and pre-eucharistic discipline. It is somewhat germane as background to the "lowliness of mind' (or perceived self-unworthiness) which traditionally has kept so many of the faithful away from the chalice.

The canons are rulers against which we measure ourselves so as to know that we have sinned.

In the risen Christ,
Andrew

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,125
E
Za myr z'wysot ...
Member
OP Offline
Za myr z'wysot ...
Member
E
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,125
Originally Posted by StuartK
The issue of people abstaining from communion began to emerge in the 5th century, in both the West and the East. Based on the commentaries of the Fathers, all of whom were opposed to this innovation, people were refusing to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ out of feelings of unworthiness. The Fathers were unanimous in their condemnation of this abuse. If you attended the Liturgy, you ought to receive; feelings of unworthiness are natural, but no excuse, because none of us is worthy to receive the great gift that Christ has bestowed upon us.
Stuart,

Thanks. I had been under the impression that this only went back to about the 9th century.

It's good to know that the Holy Fathers were opposed to this practice (a good example of our regarding as "tradition" what was really an abuse! shocked).

Originally Posted by StuartK
... Canons were implemented in the East requiring those who missed Liturgy for three consecutive weeks without good cause to confess before being readmitted to communion ... It is the origin of the requirement that one MUST confess before receiving; it became universal because NOBODY was receiving regularly, hence everybody was covered by the canon.
Hmmm ... from what you're saying here, it seems that the canon was clearly intended as referring to those who had missed Liturgy, and yet came to be interpreted as referring to those who had missed Communion, which was therefore everybody.

Originally Posted by StuartK
The fascination in the West on "seeing" was the result of infrequent communion, and not the cause of it. Not consuming the Body and Blood of Christ on a regular basis, and confronted with a liturgical language they did not understand, the elevation of the Host became the focus of liturgical piety among the Western laity. People would run from church to church to see as many elevations as possible, believing that this was a channel of grace. From there, it was a short step to changing the focus of popular piety from receiving the Body of Christ, to gazing upon it.
Thanks. I hadn't meant to imply that the emphasis on seeing was the cause of infrequent communion, only that Western eucharistic theology clearly reflected that emphasis.

What's interesting is the fact that although infrequent Communion was practiced in both East and West, the East did not change their theology to fit the practice.


Peace,
Deacon Richard

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,298
Likes: 21
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,298
Likes: 21
Andrew's point about the spiritual Father is a very good one.

Such Elders played a key role in the areas where they became well-known.

If one has a spiritual Confessor to whom one may go and who knows us, it makes attending Confession easier, at least in the experience of those I know who have such Confessors in their lives.

My Confessor gave me very good advice to attend his weekley prayer group meeting. It is very much like a "public confession" where people obtain insights into the spiritual life, prayer life etc.

Unworthiness is an issue which the Fathers addressed as well. St John Chrysostom once wrote, "You think you are unworthy? Well then, prayer will make you worthy!"

In fact, we feel unworthy when our prayer life is weak. If we don't pray the Office, the Psalter, the Jesus Prayer or read the Gospel and other readings - how can we indeed approach the Sacred Mysteries in the Most Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of OLGS Jesus Christ?

The feeling of unworthiness is a good thing. It tells me I haven't partaken of God in prayer to the extent that my soul requires.

Alex


Moderated by  Alice, Father Deacon Ed, theophan 

Link Copied to Clipboard
The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2022 (Forum 1998-2022). All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5