Archive for the ‘Sacraments’ Category

Confession of sins in the Scripture.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


Here is a list of Scriptures to use as talking points to teach about confession. I just threw this together. I have another one started with gleanings fomr the Fathers. I would appreciate additions, and more commentary about Psalm 50. I have not checked all Psalm references to correspond to the Septuagint.


Examples in the OT. 1

Examples in the NT. 1

Instruction. 2

The Mandate given to the Apostles. 2

What is necessary for a saving confession. 2

Commands to forgive others and to not judge others. There is no wiggle room! 2

Parable of the debtor. Do not judge others. This ability comes out of knowledge of our own infirmities and gratitude. 3

Humble Thyself. 3

Psalm 50. 3

He asks for cleansing, the legal status of being “forgiven”. 4

Self-knowledge. We must know and always be aware that we are sinners. 4

Sin is against God, cleansing and healing are from God. No wisdom is possible without healing from sin. 4

Repentance and subsequent healing will  lead to perfection and joy. 4

Sin can cause the Holy Spirit to Withdraw. 4

The best teacher is a repentant and cleansed man. 4

The primary requirement for cleansing. 4

Confession in Scripture can also mean a declaration concerning God and dogma: 5

 

Examples in the OT.

 

Confession line drawing. http://www.orthodox.net/images/confession-drawing-01.gif from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pr_confession.aspxEzra 10:1  Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.

 

Nehemiah_9:2  And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

 

Psalm_32:5  I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Proverbs_28:13  He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

 

Daniel_9:20  And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;

 

Psalm 50  (covered in detail later)

 

Examples in the NT.

 

Confession http://www.orthodox.net/images/confession-drawing-02.gif from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/guide-to-confession.aspxMatthew 3:6  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

Act_19:18  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

 

Instruction.

 

1 John_1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Ezekiel 18:21-23   But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  (22)  All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.  (23)  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

 

 

The Mandate given to the Apostles.

 

John 20:21-23   Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  (22)  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:  (23)  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

 

What is necessary for a saving confession

 

  • Forgive others
  • Do not judge others.
  • Know thyself, thine own infirmities
  • Humble thyself.

 

Commands to forgive others and to not judge others. There is no wiggle room!

 

Matthew 6:12-15   And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (13)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  (14)  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  (15)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

Mark 11:25-26   And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  (26)  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

Luke 6:37   Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 

Matthew 7:1-5   Judge not, that ye be not judged.  (2)  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  (3)  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  (4)  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  (5)  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

 

Mark 4:24   And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

 

Parable of the debtor. Do not judge others. This ability comes out of knowledge of our own infirmities and gratitude.

 

Matthew 18:21-35   Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  (22)  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.  (23)  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  (24)  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  (25)  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  (26)  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  (27)  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.  (28)  But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.  (29)  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  (30)  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.  (31)  So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  (32)  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  (33)  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?  (34)  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  (35)  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

 

The parable of the Good Samaritan also contains important mystical teaching about human nature. Since we share our nature with all mankind, the more we know about ourselves, the more we forgive others.

 

Humble Thyself.

 

Psalm 50:17 A Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit: a broken and humbled heart God will not despise.

 

Psalm 33:18  The Lord is near to them that are of a contrite heart; and will save the lowly in spirit.

 

Isaiah 66:2  For all these things are mine, saith the Lord: and to whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek, and the man that trembles at my words?

 

Ezekiel 36:26  And I will give you a new heart, and will put a new spirit in you: and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh.

Psalm 50

 

 

For the End: A Psalm of David. When Nathan the Prophet Came unto Him. When He Went in unto Bersabee, the Wife of Urias.

 

He asks for cleansing, the legal status of being “forgiven”.

 

50:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression.

50:2  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

 

Self-knowledge. We must know and always be aware that we are sinners.

 

50:3  For I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me.

 

Sin is against God, cleansing and healing are from God. No wisdom is possible without healing from sin.

 

50:4  Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged.

50:5  For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me.

50:6  For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou made manifest unto me.

50:7  Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

 

Repentance and subsequent healing will  lead to perfection and joy.

 

50:8  Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice.

50:9  Turn Thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

50:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

 

Sin can cause the Holy Spirit to Withdraw.

 

50:11  Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

 

The best teacher is a repentant and cleansed man.

 

50:12  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit establish me.

50:13  I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee.

50:14  Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness.

50:15  O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

50:16  For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased.

 

The primary requirement for cleansing.

 

50:17  A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.

 

50:18  Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Sion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded.

50:19  Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings.

50:20  Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.

 

Confession in Scripture can also mean a declaration concerning God and dogma:

 

Romans_10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans_14:11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

 

Romans_15:9  And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/confess/confession-of-sins-in-scripture.html

http://www.orthodox.net/confess/confession-of-sins-in-scripture.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

 

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Excellent Russian/English Confession charts for confession and preparation for confession

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Many Russian people find it difficult to  confess in English, even if they are fluent. These two charts are excellent. The longer one is great to use for preparation, and FOR A PERSON TO TAKE NOTES AND BRING THE NOTES TO CONFESSION. Of course, this PRESUPPOSES that there is preparation for confession, which is absolutely necessary for a good confession

These charts are in pdf format, and were provided to one of our ROCOR clergy list some time ago.

Confession chart, 2 column, Russian and English, longer version, suitable for preparation for confession

 

Confession chart, brief version, Russian and English, suitable to bring to confession.


 

More confession links


 

PREPARING FOR CONFESSION

EXAMPLES OF CONFESSIONS

ABOUT CONFESSION

 

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The relationship between Confession and Communion How do we stay “sinless” between confession and communion?

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The relationship between Confession and Communion

How do we stay “sinless” between confession and communion?

[This is an oldy but a goody - first put on our website in 1996.Pr S.]

There is a common misunderstanding of the relationship between mysteries of Holy Confession and Holy Communion. There often seems to be a predominant idea that the link between these two is somehow a legal concrete thing – that there must be a 1:1 correspondence or some specific ratio and that any deviation from that ratio constitutes an abrogation of tradition or requires some kind of formal "dispensation".

But this is not the relationship that really exists.

While it is true that there is often a functional relationship that appears as though a formal ration exists, this is actually a coincidental observation.

These two mysteries, actually form part of a larger whole of the spiritual life and both form a closely connected but not dependant link in producing a spiritual life. There are of course other components such as fasting, prayer, self denial, obedience, righteous deeds, etc. to living a spiritual life which are also a part of this picture, but in this case I wish to confine myself only to the issue at hand – confession and communion.

These two mysteries are not part of the same process, but rather are themselves parallel and often intertwined processes.

Holy Communion is not dependent on Holy Confession, nor is Holy Confession dependent upon Holy Communion.

Each is independent but at the same time they work together toward the same goal.

Just as a physician might see you and diagnose an illness and then prescribe therapy that includes many components, (for example medication, diet, physical therapy & counseling) which all are targeted toward the goal of recovery so also the spiritual condition might be diagnosed in confession, and various spiritual remedies prescribed by the confessor.

And one of those spiritual remedies may be to refrain from receiving Holy Communion for a time (just as a physician might temporarily restrict your diet for a particular purpose) or perhaps the remedy prescribed might be to receive Holy Communion (like taking medication – or to stay with the diet analogy, to eat the proper nutritional foods).

The frequency that one goes to the Doctor is determined by the severity and course of the illness and the various restrictions on the diet are governed again by the patient’s condition and improvement. So also the "ratio" of confession to communion is determined by the spiritual physician (your confessor) and corresponds to the severity of your spiritual condition, your relative spiritual health, your particular spiritual needs, etc.

There are times when you cannot receive Holy Communion (such as a period of epitimia – penance – following a divorce for example) but when you should receive the mystery of Holy Confession regularly. OTOH, there may be times when the priest may permit one to receive Holy Communion weekly but only require confession on a biweekly basis. And just because you develop a particular rhythm at one time doesn't mean that it is constant – just as your frequency of seeking medical help is not constant.

Holy Confession in and of itself is not a prerequisite to Holy Communion. To take this position is to subordinate the one mystery to the other and so lessen its importance. Rather both mysteries are necessary and often they are combined for the health of the soul.

The "prerequisite" for Holy Communion is not a completely pure soul, but rather one that is "healthy" and prepared. And most frequently the way to guarantee that state is through receiving the mystery of Holy Confession.

Now on a practical note, there is the question of how to "stay" sinless from confession on Saturday evening until communion on Sunday morning.

If you structure your Saturday evening such that all overt sources of temptation are removed:

(TV

,Movies

,Games

,parties, etc.)

and are replaced with spiritually beneficial activities

(participation in vigil;

the service of preparation, including canons and akathists [1];

spiritual reading;

prayer;

psalmody [2];

spiritual conversation; etc.)

then you will have gone a long ways toward avoiding sin.

This is all very simple to do – except for the fact that one must deny oneself to accomplish all this.

In the "wisdom" of the world, Saturday night is a night of parties and entertainment and leisure and mindless activity. It is hard to rule out all these things and concentrate only on the fact that you will be receiving in yourself He Who is an all consuming purifying fire, He Who is the Creator of All, He Who is Uncontainable; you are about to encounter God face to face.

Read carefully the prayers and hymns that are appointed to be said in preparation and choose those images (they are many) which create in your soul the most beneficial effects. Use those images (verbal icons) as a framework to which you conform your mind and thoughts. If this is your Saturday night activity, then you will be able to keep yourself far from sin.

Edited and footnotes added, from a post to an Orthodox mailing list, dated Fri, 8 Nov 1996 by Priest David Moser,
St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (stseraphimboise.org), 872 N 29th St, Boise ID
Email: frdavid@stseraphimboise.org
Used with permission

 

  St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

  http://www.orthodox.net/articles/confession-and-communion.html

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/confession-and-communion.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Articles Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/articles

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

Sermons Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[1] The service for Preparation for communion is in any complete prayer book, like the “Jordanville” prayerbook. It consists of  some introductory prayers, three psalms, a canon of preparation, and a selection of beautiful and highly theological and comprehensive prayers preserved from various holy Fathers. It takes about 40 minutes or less to complete. A short discussion of these prayers is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html under item #5. This rule is also found here: http://www.orthodox.net/services/canons-for-communion.html (also in PDF and Word format) . If you are not accustomed to this rule, you need to be. Do not be afraid of it. It could be done in parts each day.

[2] “Psalmody” means chanting from the Psalter, the preeminent “hymn book “ of Christian History. It is well worth it to learn how to “chant” the Psalms” and make it a habit to chant them daily. Your priest or chanter should be able to teach you, and will be willing!

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Preparation for Holy Communion. 10 Things. Part 9,10. Summary

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

 

9. If we are truly to prepare for communion, we must understand what it is.

 

This is impossible for mortals to completely understand, but we can make a good start by attendance at the evening service, observing the “pre-communion” prayers, and meditating upon the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John

 

I am that Bread of Life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the Bread which cometh down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that Bread which came down from Heaven, not as your fathers ate manna and are dead; he that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever. [5]

 

10. Preparation for Holy Communion includes (not an exhaustive list!)

 

  • Fasting according to the typikon of the church, under the guidance of the confessor.
  • Prayer in at least a portion of the evening service.
  • Saying the Pre-Communion prayers.
  • Fasting from all food in the morning of liturgy, under the guidance of the confessor.
  • Husband and wife should abstain from sexual relations the evening before liturgy.
  • A quiet evening before liturgy, without movies, parties, etc.
  • Arriving on time to liturgy.

 

 

From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

[5] John 6:48-58

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Preparation for Holy Communion. 10 Things. Part 8. Confession.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

8. Confession is part of preparation for Holy Communion.

 

The frequency of confession is dependent on the individual, and the confessor. Certainly, if one has not been to confession for a long time, they should have confession before they commune.

 

The three active principals in confession are self-examination, repentance, and forgiveness of sins. This tract cannot go into all details of confession, but citing the Apostle Paul is apropos:

 

Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and then let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

 

The church provides a very safe way for self-examination and useful repentance, to help us to fulfill the admonition of the Apostle.

 

When confessing to another human being, in the context of a grace filled conversation which includes the priest, the one confessing and Christ, it is easier to avoid the lies we easily tell ourselves when we are alone. These are rarely conscious lies – they are the result of ignorance, borne of our pride and overall spiritual blindness. It is much safer to consider spiritual things with a mentor – a confessor. In addition to a more complete self-examination, the one confessing often receives useful advice which will help them to conquer the sins they wish to repent from.

 

Again, it must be stressed: It is not correct to determine YOURSELF that you are unworthy of the mystery of the Eucharist. This is the assigned task (from God!) of your confessor.

 

Come to confession as often as possible, and you will  come to appreciate the spiritual “safety” of such a practice.

 

I greatly desire that everyone in my flock confesses at least monthly.

 



From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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Preparation for Holy Communion 10 Things. Parts 6,7. The Evening before Liturgy, the Marital Fast

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

6. On the evening before Holy Communion, we should not behave as if it is just another day.

 

We should prepare ourselves for an awesome mystery (and attendance at the evening service, and the pre-communion rule are important for this).  It is not an appropriate time for parties, and movies and entertainments, especially if they are instead of attendance at the evening service.

 

7. It has always been Christian tradition that a man and wife abstain from sexual relations on the evening before Holy Communion.

 

This was even the case in Old Testament times before important events. The reason we observe this important tradition is because marriage is an IMAGE of the love of the bridegroom (Christ) for the church, and therefore, of how we should love God. An image is inferior to the prototype, so we abstain from sexual relations, which are inferior to our love for God.

 

There is not a shred of feeling that sexual relations are in any way not a holy thing, in their proper context.

 

We live in a time when self-restaint is at low ebb. A couple who sacrifices their “Saturday night”, an “American tradition”, but not an Orthodox one, will benefit greatly.


From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net


This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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Preparation for Holy Communion – 10 Things. Part 5. Pre-Communion prayers

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

 

5. Sometime before Divine Liturgy, you should say the “Pre-communion” prayers.

 

They are in any complete prayer book. They begin with some psalms, then a canon, then some pre-communion prayers from various saints.

 

This prayer rule is easy for some and very difficult for some. If it is hard for you, then split it into pieces. For instance, say the canon Saturday morning and the other prayers Saturday afternoon, or evening, or say a part on Saturday and a part on Sunday morning. It is even possible to split the rule up over some days throughout the week.

 

As in all things, if you have trouble with this rule, talk to your confessor.

 

There is a custom among some to say a very long rule in addition to the “pre-communion” prayers. Among Russians, this is called the “Pravilo” (or rule). It consists of three canons which are combined, and an Akathist. Usually the canons are the ones in a typical complete prayer book – “To our Lord Jesus Christ”, the Supplicatory canon to the Theotokos, and the canon to the Guardian Angel. The Akathist is usually to Christ or the Theotokos. There us some variability in the canons and Akathist that are said.

 

This is an excellent rule to follow, and clergy usually observe it. I have known some lay people to observe it also, but I have never required it of anyone. I am more interested in getting people to come to confession and the evening service regularly, and this rule is too big for someone who is not accustomed to attendance at vigil.


From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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Preparation for Holy Communion. 10 things. Part 4. The Evening Service.

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

 

4. Typical preparation for Holy Communion includes prayer at the evening service.

 

In our parish, on Saturdays, this is Vigil, consisting of Vespers and Matins and the First Hour. It is about two and a half hours long, and contains detailed and exalted, intricately theological prayers of praise, supplication and thanksgiving, all interwoven with the theme of the Resurrection, and its implications, since every Sunday of the year is a commemoration of the resurrection.

 

The principle here of “if you can do something, you must do it” surely applies here.

 

Some people have the strength to attend the whole vigil regularly, and they benefit greatly from this practice. Others have varying levels of strength, but if they follow this all important Christian principle, they will grow in strength.

 

Practically, a person should not commune unless they have attended Vespers at a minimum.

 

In general, the confessor must be aware of why you were absent from the evening service if you wish to commune.

 

I have allowed many to commune who have not attended the evening service, if as, the petition in our ectenia says they were “absent for honorable cause.” There are honorable reasons to be absent, such as work, or some family needs, distance, health, etc. 

 

I am well aware that we live in an “all or nothing” culture. Evening attendance would surely increase for some mysterious reason if I only served Vespers. If I did this, then nobody in our church would ever be benefited by matins, which in my opinion is the most important service of the week. You can attend a service that is not served!

 

If you only have the strength for Vespers, then come to the Vespers portion of the vigil. If you need to confess, in this case, you would need to confess before Vespers (4-5 pm) or make an appointment with me for confession Sunday morning.

 



From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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Preparation for Holy Communion. 10 things. Part 3. Fasting.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

 

3.  Fasting is generally a part of preparation for Holy Communion.

 

Since the chief thing we must do to prepare for Holy Communion is try to live a Christian life, we should fast according to the typikon of the church (that is, according to the fasting rules for various days of the year), and according to our strength, and always under the guidance of our confessor.

 

Any confessor has many fasting rules for different people, depending on their spiritual maturity, physical health, zeal and strength of will.

 

In our day, there is much misunderstanding about fasting. Many people see our fasting tradition to be any or all of the following:

 

1.      Fasting is not applicable to lay people, but only to monks. 

2.      Fasting is only done during short parts of the year, and usually with accommodations to our apparently difficult modern life – for instance, abstaining from meat on the first week of Great Lent and Holy Week.

3.      Fasting is obligatory for three days, or perhaps a week before receiving Holy Communion, but usually not at any other times.

4.      Fasting is a set of arbitrary rules, which have little or no application to daily life, but a person feels “bad” when they do not fast, which is a good part of the time.

5.      There is one fasting rule for everyone, and it is too hard to do, so in essence, fasting is not attempted, except perhaps in the case of #3, above.

6.      Some are even influenced by sectarian ideas and believe fasting is some sort of attempt to be “saved by works”.

 

None of these things is remotely true. Fasting is a way of life; it is the way to life. It is not arbitrary rules that make us feel “bad’ when we do not follow them. If the reason for fasting is understood, it is immediately apparent that it is not just a set of arbitrary rules. It is also not a set of optional rules. It has never been “only for monks”.

 

An explanation of fasting is not part of the scope of this document, so the interested person, included the one “who has trouble fasting”, should talk to his confessor. Of course, if his confessor does not fast (and there is no medical reason), he should find another confessor!

 


From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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Preparation for Holy Communion 10 Things. Part 1,2 of 10 – Strive to be a Christian, Concerning all communion rules

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Preparation for Holy Communion

10 Things [1]

Part 1 , 2 of 10 – Strive to be a Christian, concerning all communion rules

O God the Lord and Creator of all, Thou are become poor, uniting a created nature to Thyself, while remaining free from passion. Since Thou art the Passover, Thou hast offered Thyself to those for whose sake Thou wast soon to die; and Thou hast cried: 'Eat My Body, and ye shall be firmly established in the faith. [2]

 

1. The most important “thing” about preparation for preparing for communion is that one must strive to be a Christian. If you are not trying to live a Christian life, you should not be going to communion.

 

Definitely, go to confession and seek counsel, but if you are not trying to live a Christian life, then you should not approach the cup.

 

I cannot emphasize enough that you should not make this decision for yourself. This is the role and responsibility of the confessor.

 

You may consider yourself to be “not trying” but the confessor may see things very differently. Sometimes being addicted to a sin, or being unable to start something good (such as prayer, or consistent fasting, and a thousand other things) can make a person think that they are not trying, when actually, they are trying, but failing, because they do not have the strength of will to accomplish their desire.

 

The point of Holy Communion is to give medicine to the sick, so such a person is precisely the one who should commune, with as much preparation as their weak will allows them to, under the guidance of their confessor. In time, if they approach the chalice with fear and expectation, they will get stronger.

 

If you are unable to commune for some long-standing reason, keep coming to confession, and do whatever you CAN do.  Anything you do, even if it seems to be a “little thing” to you and you are embarrassed to be “repeating the same sins over and over”, will help you, and is definitely at least an effort at repentance.

 

Sometimes we need to “want” to repent before we repent. Or perhaps we even need to “want to want to repent”. A terrible mistake that those who are enmeshed in some difficulty or sin, such that they are unable or not allowed to commune is to give up on the small things they CAN do, even if they cannot do what they feel they should be doing. With effort, even what seems to be a small effort, comes eventual success, as long as you do not just give on everything because you feel unworthy.

 

The confessor is even more important for such a person, who needs guidance and encouragement.

 

2. All “rules” for preparation for Holy Communion MUST be understood as “general rules”, under the guidance of a confessor.

 

There are some hard and fast rules. If you never want to confess, ever, or accept the guidance of one of God’s priests, ever, then you definitely should never commune!  Certain other things are obvious to some, but not to others.

 

We are proud creatures, and we think we know stuff, when we really don’t. The way this ignorance comes to light is when we humble ourselves and seek counsel, and over time.

 

Do not decide to go to communion, or to not go to communion on your own!

 

This is a very difficult lesson for modern man, because our culture is polluted with a sense of enlightenment, and ruinous self-reliance. Don’t fall into this trap. Fight it!

 

Humble yourself, and accept the church’s way of doing things, and you will be much more peaceful. You do not know a better way to prepare for communion than the church does.

 

This does not mean that you collect a list of 27 “rules” that you slavishly follow. Doing this without counsel is just another form of self-reliance. Talk to your confessor. Do not treat him like a holy guru (but his priesthood is holy) who knows all mysteries, but submit to his authority in a healthy way, and everything will be as it should.

 

Perhaps one may ask “what does submit to your confessor in a healthy way” mean? This is a difficult question to answer. If you have a healthy confessor, he will be sure that your submission to his authority is healthy. This is one of those things that you will know when you experience it.

This is an important subject that is too big for this little tract, but I must leave you with at least something:

 

“One of the signs by which a layman can recognize his spiritual Father is this: a spiritual guide is not longing to give anyone advice; on the contrary, he knows that of himself he is empty and incapable — as even Elder Makarios wrote: "I have told you nothing that is an invention of my own. All of what I say comes from the writings of the Fathers. Mine is only the humble work of choosing passages suitable to your particular case."

 

Similarly, Bishop Ignatios says that the Fathers forbid us to give advice to our neighbor of our own accord, without our neighbors asking us to do so. The voluntary giving of advice is a sign that we regard ourselves as possessed of spiritual knowledge and worth, which is a clear sign of pride and self-deception.

 

How many spiritual Fathers today can withstand such a test? Yet, there may be a handful. Such true spiritual guides give advice with fear of God and only because it was asked of them; knowing their own grievous inadequacies, they do not expect instant obedience, but leave it to the judgment of their spiritual child. In this way they protect both themselves and their spiritual children.

 

The spiritually mature layman, however, knows that if he obeys his spiritual Father in all things that do not conflict with the Law of God or his God-given common sense, God will not at all abandon him.” [3]

 

A person cannot learn about healthy submission without the help of God, and of course, his effort to submit to another human being regarding his sins. As the scripture has said, “this is a hard saying” [4], and very few are able to do this. May God help you and guide you.


From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.doc

& http://www.orthodox.net/10things/preparation-for-holy-communion.html

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

[2] Triodion p. 549 Matins Canon Irmos, Ode III, taken from an unpublished term paper by Reader Nicholas Park: “The Eucharist”, Spring 2008

[4] “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60 KJV) This was said regarding out Lord’s assertions about Himself being the “bread of Life”, that is, what we call the Holy Eucharist. The scripture has many “hard sayings”. May God help us to hear them, and follow them, even if we also have fear.

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