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Communion Spoons & Covid

Bizzlebin

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Ok. Some great quotes you gave, thanks. But you lost me on viruses being fulfilled by Christ vs. Him destroying them. Are not sicknesses, blindness, viruses that kill, etc. not a result of the fall of mankind and how that corrupted everything in this world? Our actions brought death into the world. Could not St. John Chrysostom have really meant that his being born blind had nothing to do with his or his parents personal sins not "sin" in the bigger picture?
Great follow-up question. No, these things are not the result of the fall, but are part of creation—which is *good*. It can be said that creation was "subjected to futility" (Romans: 8.20). But also read Who did the subjecting: Jesus Christ! Any theology which makes (general) biological death, bacteria, or bodily fluids evil is not just heterodox, but is quite likely to be already recognized as heretical (possibly a form of Marcionism).

St John Chrysostom was clearly talking about all situations, because he used the phrase "the evils of the present life". And this is a common theme among the orthodox Christian Fathers: all things are created good. If there is a problem, it is not the thing, but the *misuse* of the thing. That is also why I (and St Athanasios) was careful to distinguish willing acceptance of sickness vs "falling" sick: the sickness is the same, but our relationship to the sickness (and to the divine will) can be markedly different. The saints experience the same sorts of physical things that other people do, but it is their synergy with the divine will—their acceptance with total *thanksgiving*—which allows them to transfigure the "falling" into "fulfilling".

Theophany is a really interesting feast because it is an example of this very thing: sanctifying and fulfilling all creation. We already know the little paradigm shift about how Jesus Christ wasn't baptized so the water could cleanse Him, but so He that could cleanse the water. Well, Theophany is actually about *all* of those little sanctifications and fulfillments, all the way down to the depths of Hell after the Crucifixion (eg, we "were baptized into His death" (Romans: 6.3)). That's one of the big reasons that Theophany is such a big feast (1 of the top 3, along with Pascha and Pentecost): it commemorates not just the baptism or even the revelation of the Trinity, but the similar sanctifications that happen throughout Jesus Christ's entire life. It encapsulates the sanctification of the whole universe, and the universe as revelation of the Trinity!

And that gets back to bacteria and viruses. They are clearly created things, so they're good—full stop. We can't live without them: we actually have more bacterial cells than human cells in and on our body! As for sanctifying them, we know that Christ did that too because (eg, by Theophany) the teleology of *everything* must be in Him: I'm not sure if the denial of that is part of the actual definition of heresy (as per the video thread), but just think of the logical conclusion if something were *not* fulfilled in Christ. Who would have created it? What could possibly fulfill it? How would it even be possible for it to exist if it didn't have a relationship to God? It is just totally nonsensical. *Everything* must have it's end in God, or He cannot be called "the Alpha and the Omega" (Revelation: 1.8, 1.11, et al).

And it is not just God—by His grace, we get to partake of that sanctifying grace. We already know the prayer to the Holy Spirit, Who Is "everywhere present and fills all things"—that includes bacteria and viruses. But recall the hymn to the Theotokos that is normally appointed for St Basil's Liturgy, All Creation Rejoices In You: that really means *all* creation, also including bacteria and viruses. And that means that, by partaking of the divine nature, we also get to participate in that telos of all things, which includes bacteria and viruses. In other words, by being saints, bacteria and viruses are not just fulfilled in Jesus Christ but, by His grace, they are fulfilled in us—and they rejoice!
 

Bizzlebin

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Also, St. Nicholas Planas once communed a leper. The disease had worn the man's lips away, so the Holy Gifts fell out of his mouth. Papa Nicholas took the fallen mysteries and consumed them. Nothing happened to him.
These stories, and those like them, do not help us answer the questions in this thread, though. They are addressed towards the "control" case, not the "test" case, so no amount of such stories (even if true) could ever prove anything contrary. Let me give an example, from a very different field.

Suppose there is someone who doesn't believe in gravity. A friend comes up, and tosses a ball in the air. The person says, "But when you threw it, it went up!", as if the going up somehow proves that gravity doesn't exist. Clearly it exists, and we know this not only from the slowing down (far faster than due to air resistance alone), but by the *test* case, where it begins falling down. Throw a million balls in the air and watch them go up: it doesn't change the result that gravity exists—and that they eventually fall.

The same can be said of these stories about the Eucharist. Of course people partake of communion and live: we see that happen everyday. And we're not just talking about canonized saints, either. So "living" is the expected result, the control. No amount of stories like this, however true, can really add to the discussion, because we need to see the *test* case (somebody dying) and study that—though, if we accept that the Eucharist can kill (which is normal Church teaching), then these control cases can tell us about the *statistical likelihood* of dying—but that's a different question.
 

Bizzlebin

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Not only was he healed, he was resurrected and brought back to life. His initial death was to show the Glory of God...

...and I never said we would not suffer... even if we believe without a doubt.

We are not here to party, relax, and simply enjoy life. ...and we live in the fallen world, and as a consequence of the fall of mankind... we suffer, we get old, we get sick, we die....
....but, she did not commune due to doubt of the sanctity of the Eucharist... but, because she was busy working out her own salvation through repentance and prayer...

If only those people who claim we do not need the Eucharist... behaved as she... and used the time they were not spending in Church, praying, partaking of the Sacraments, etc... to meditate upon their own actions and salvation...
And then he died again. Being close to Jesus, or Jesus's friend, didn't stop him from dying, then being resurrected didn't stop him from dying again. If Jesus Christ, present in His hypostatic union, did not do these things, then why is there the supposition that the Eucharist is going to confer this power?

Could it not also be to God's glory for people to get CoViD from the cup? These arguments you're making can go either way. Which gets us back to the classic advice (which I've already noted): short of clear, public heresy, obey the bishop. I would think that the fear and worry are not from those who are obeying their bishop, calmly following the health orders, etc, but instead those worrying about everything (the spoon, the government, etc) *except* Jesus Christ. Better not to impute "Eucharistic doubt" to those who are acting according to the Patristic traditions but to live a Eucharistic life as did St Mary Of Egypt, whether we're able to partake physically or not—in either case, orthodox Christians will give thanks, and can be recognized thereby.
 

Bizzlebin

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I think 60% may be a safe measure, since it's usually theorised that winemaking started for antibiotic reasons.
A little bit off topic, but this is somewhat mythological. As @Deacon Lance said, the percentage is too low for a guaranteed kill. And we know that stuff grows in alcohol all the time (such as vinegar). The key with fermentation is not alcohol, but the pH. In low pH environments (*generally*), the acid disfavors bacteria and mold-type fungus (including many that are pathogenic), but favors yeasts and such (including many that are beneficial). This is why getting food to a low pH doesn't necessarily make it safe if it is already contaminated, but is used (even by modern government standards) in the processing of clean food to preserve it, can it, and/or otherwise keep it safe; the ancients used this pH trick as well.
 

Bizzlebin

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To me, it came across that the hierarchs were afraid rather than allaying any fears the flock may have had.
I did not get that impression from *any* statement, letter, or other official communication from *any* jurisdiction I was checking in on; care to share your source?
 

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Great follow-up question. No, these things are not the result of the fall, but are part of creation—which is *good*. It can be said that creation was "subjected to futility" (Romans: 8.20). But also read Who did the subjecting: Jesus Christ! Any theology which makes (general) biological death, bacteria, or bodily fluids evil is not just heterodox, but is quite likely to be already recognized as heretical (possibly a form of Marcionism).
Ok, where is my "mind blown" emoji when I need it?

Of all the information I have read re: Orthodoxy, I have never come across what you've written here. I was just on the OCA website and their page on "Sickness" (as explained by the the Orthodox faith) seems to state the exact opposite of what you said. Am I missing something here?

"....When one is visited by sickness in this world, whether bodily or mental, he is a victim of the devil and the “sin of the world”

 
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Deacon Lance

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Ok, where is my "mind blown" emoji when I need it?

Of all the information I have read re: Orthodoxy, I have never come across what you've written here. I was just on the OCA website and their page on "Sickness" (as explained by the the Orthodox faith) seems to state the exact opposite of what you said. Am I missing something here?

"....When one is visited by sickness in this world, whether bodily or mental, he is a victim of the devil and the “sin of the world”

You are misinterpreting what was said. Viruses and bacteria were created by God and have a purpose and are good. That they sometimes make us sick is a consequence of the fall. Just like animals are created by God and are good. A consequence of the fall is that some of them attack and eat us. (And we do the same to them)
 

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Ok, where is my "mind blown" emoji when I need it?

Of all the information I have read re: Orthodoxy, I have never come across what you've written here. I was just on the OCA website and their page on "Sickness" (as explained by the the Orthodox faith) seems to state the exact opposite of what you said. Am I missing something here?

"....When one is visited by sickness in this world, whether bodily or mental, he is a victim of the devil and the “sin of the world”

What Dn. Lance said above is spot on.

I'd just like to add that I don't think there's anything wrong or inconsistent with what Bizzlebin wrote compared to what Fr. Hopko wrote. Looking at this from a slightly different angle, illness from whatever supposedly “causative” agent occurs, first of all (primary causation), as a result of the Fall. But the secondary and any other “causations” (what we seem to be discussing here to some extent) are dependent upon (at least) two other things—susceptibility of the individual, and what is referred to as “terrain” (or milieu or environment)--and they're intimately related. Both of these concepts can be quite complex, but to boil things down to essentials, the Terrain Theory of Disease (as opposed to the Germ Theory of Disease) goes at least some way to explaining this. Because viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. are in, on, and around us ALL the time, as Bizzlebin alludes to, their out of control reproduction and activity which spawns all manner of “waste products” in the human organism occurs only when conditions in the organism favor that and allow for it to happen. Otherwise, we'd all be “sick” all the time. And we're not. Put very simplistically, microbes are only “bad” opportunistically and if the internal terrain/environment of any given individual is healthy enough (many would say at the proper pH level), their (the microbe's) opportunities become severely limited. The better the terrain, the worse the opportunity for the microbe to do what it does which results in damage to the host and illness.* Because we suffer the consequences of the Fall and sin, in this life we are never able to arrive at a state where the terrain is always healthy enough to prevent disease all the time.

I realize this doesn't address the issue of illness related to Holy Communion but it hopefully sheds a little light of a somewhat different nature on what Bizzlebin said and which blew your mind. :)




*I appreciate that this is NOT the thread in which we should discuss or debate Terrain Theory vs. Germ Theory, so maybe another thread should be started if anyone wants to do that. I only mention it here as a possible way to help "unblow" Irened's mind.
 

Irened

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Thank you for your replies. I guess what I was really reacting to was the idea that the "effect" that viruses, genetic mutations and bacteria which are known to ravage people, are wonderful things to be praised and called "good". I know that the Lord can "work out" bad things for the good of those who love Him but for others it seems to just destroy their lives, so I can't say I'm leaping for joy over such things as pathogenic viruses, genetic mutations and bacteria.

Regarding body fluids being good (because they are necessary for life on this earth), I think I've read a Father or Saint say that our bodily fluids are naturally revolting and "unappealing" as to remind us how revolting our sins are.

@Bizzlebin, you wrote that the Lord can decide to "give" someone COVID through the means of Holy Communion, chalice/spoon? Isn't that blasphemy. I'm not referring to getting sick from the unworthy reception here, it sounds like you're saying that Christ would impart that as a blessing??

Also I thought death (and sickness) was the enemy of man (isn't sin, the devil, sickness, death a sort of non-existence or an absence of the Light?) not something good or originally intended or full of God. God trampled it down and transformed it into the "possible" doorway to eternal life. For those who haven't gained salvation, then it's very bad. Maybe I'm just reading your words too literally.
 
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Irened

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@J Michael I appreciate your concern for and attempt to resuscitate my blown mind. 😲
 

Tzimis

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Everyone knows that fly's and all kinds of bugs land on just about every fruit or vegetable. We clean them with water "not even disinfectant" and eat without a second thought.
 

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Here and now (well...sometimes...)
Thank you for your replies. I guess what I was really reacting to was the idea that the "effect" that viruses, genetic mutations and bacteria which are known to ravage people, are wonderful things to be praised and called "good". I know that the Lord can "work out" bad things for the good of those who love Him but for others it seems to just destroy their lives, so I can't say I'm leaping for joy over such things as pathogenic viruses, genetic mutations and bacteria.

Regarding body fluids being good (because they are necessary for life on this earth), I think I've read a Father or Saint say that our bodily fluids are naturally revolting and "unappealing" as to remind us how revolting our sins are.

@Bizzlebin, you wrote that the Lord can decide to "give" someone COVID through the means of Holy Communion, chalice/spoon? Isn't that blasphemy. I'm not referring to getting sick from the unworthy reception here, it sounds like you're saying that Christ would impart that as a blessing??

Also I thought death (and sickness) was the enemy of man (isn't sin, the devil, sickness, death a sort of non-existence or an absence of the Light?) not something good or originally intended or full of God. God trampled it down and transformed it into the "possible" doorway to eternal life. For those who haven't gained salvation, then it's very bad. Maybe I'm just reading your words too literally.
And then there's this:

Note it says "Glory to God for All Things!" Nothing is excluded.
 

JTLoganville

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JTLoganville

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Aye.

On another board I was roasted like a Pascha lamb for daring to assert that the Symbol's affirmation Gof of creating "all things visible AND INVISIBLE" included microscopic viruses.
 

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Ok, where is my "mind blown" emoji when I need it?

Of all the information I have read re: Orthodoxy, I have never come across what you've written here. I was just on the OCA website and their page on "Sickness" (as explained by the the Orthodox faith) seems to state the exact opposite of what you said. Am I missing something here?

"....When one is visited by sickness in this world, whether bodily or mental, he is a victim of the devil and the “sin of the world”

The chapter ends with the following statement:

"
All spiritual persons follow the example of Christ and Saint Paul and all of the saints in their appreciation of sickness. They say to the Father, 'Thy will be done', and transform their weakness, by the grace of God, into the means of salvation for themselves and others.
"

Pr Thomas sometimes gets a little sloppy due to his tendency to write and/or speak on and on about a topic, so some of the earlier sentences reflect more of a pop understanding than an EO one, but he brings it back at the end.

@Bizzlebin, you wrote that the Lord can decide to "give" someone COVID through the means of Holy Communion, chalice/spoon? Isn't that blasphemy. I'm not referring to getting sick from the unworthy reception here, it sounds like you're saying that Christ would impart that as a blessing??
I'm not sure how easily we can make that distinction, because we're all unworthy recipients, despite the posting of a few here that seem to think they are too holy. There are plenty of extremely recent writings (as in, during the pandemic) that try to link blasphemy to science (ie, accepting the germ theory of disease as-is), but these are also largely the ramblings of schismatic and heterodox sources who wish to use orthodox Christianity for some other purpose (political, social, etc). The safest course is to accept that Christ became *fully* man, and thus there is *nothing* natural which cannot potentially occur (excepting that, in Christ, such natural things are also 100% voluntary).

Also I thought death (and sickness) was the enemy of man (isn't sin, the devil, sickness, death a sort of non-existence or an absence of the Light?) not something good or originally intended or full of God. God trampled it down and transformed it into the "possible" doorway to eternal life. For those who haven't gained salvation, then it's very bad. Maybe I'm just reading your words too literally.
These things are the enemy in the sense that they cut us off from Christ. In one way, that means they were not the enemy even pre-Resurrection, since death does not cause us to sin (in a purely moral sense). But because of sin, those things "eternalized" the state of sin, "sealing" us in sin forever. Yet when Jesus Christ came, He didn't just rise again to conquer death, but first was fully *Incarnate*, uniting Himself to our nature. Thus, in another sense, even things like happiness and family could be enemies pre-Incarnation (not just death—read the Fathers when they talk about all the passions!), because they do not necessarily bring us closer to Christ—all theology must be Christological first and foremost, not moralistic, or it looses its meaning and becomes a set of talking points, ideas, and opinionated argument.
 

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The chapter ends with the following statement:

"
All spiritual persons follow the example of Christ and Saint Paul and all of the saints in their appreciation of sickness. They say to the Father, 'Thy will be done', and transform their weakness, by the grace of God, into the means of salvation for themselves and others.
"
Is this redemptive suffering?
 

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“Every saint who ever lived suffered bodily infirmities. And all of them, virtually without exception—even when healing others by their prayers—did not ask for or receive deliverance for themselves. This is the case most evidently of Jesus Himself, the suffering servant of God.”

Is this saying we should not ask for personal deliverance? That we don’t pray for ourselves? That we don’t ask others to pray for us? Do we ask Guardian Angels and Saints and our Beloved Mother Theotokos to pray for us? Do we say about all that befalls us, “ Thank you God. Thy will be done “? And only that?
Is this accepting suffering and praying for others healing and deliverance *instead* of our own? Using our suffering as a means of prayer? Bearing in our own body for the Body of Christ - again, redemptive suffering?
 

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We should remember Our Lord's prayer in agony in Gethsemane as His Passion drew near:

"Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me,
nevertheless not my will but Thine be done"
 

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We should remember Our Lord's prayer in agony in Gethsemane as His Passion drew near:

"Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me,
nevertheless not my will but Thine be done"
Yes, thank you. See Jesus prays for Himself here. This passage and our Lord’s example was brought up in that link . Just now I’m thinking of the Lord’s prayer “ Our Father” and it’s for our instruction for prayer.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…*Give us* : bread, forgive us, lead us not into temptation…deliver us from the evil one. “ So we do pray for ourselves in context of being one in the body? *Us*
Getting off topic from thread…
 

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“Every saint who ever lived suffered bodily infirmities. And all of them, virtually without exception—even when healing others by their prayers—did not ask for or receive deliverance for themselves. This is the case most evidently of Jesus Himself, the suffering servant of God.”

Is this saying we should not ask for personal deliverance? That we don’t pray for ourselves? That we don’t ask others to pray for us? Do we ask Guardian Angels and Saints and our Beloved Mother Theotokos to pray for us? Do we say about all that befalls us, “ Thank you God. Thy will be done “? And only that?
Is this accepting suffering and praying for others healing and deliverance *instead* of our own? Using our suffering as a means of prayer? Bearing in our own body for the Body of Christ - again, redemptive suffering?
This is tough to answer because we are so self-focused, and even our "unselfishness" is preoccupied with self ("How much self is too much?", etc). I once read or heard something like "We are not to have high self-esteem nor low self-esteem, but no self-esteem.". That is, the question of "I" should almost be unthinkable: we serve Christ and do what needs to be done, regardless. It is not just a matter of "redemption" but of existence: unlike what much philosophy claims, we have no absolutely objective existence, but exist relatively to others. So it is only when living and praying and existing for others that there is even an "us" to save.
 

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You are misinterpreting what was said. Viruses and bacteria were created by God and have a purpose and are good. That they sometimes make us sick is a consequence of the fall. Just like animals are created by God and are good. A consequence of the fall is that some of them attack and eat us. (And we do the same to them)
Microbiological entities are created by God to function in the complex web of life that He blesses to proliferate throughout the universe. That some of them, like large carnivores, may affect us men adversely is, I think, on us. Adam could have been a master of life sciences had he remained obedient, but chose to be a doofus, and I suppose this explains why we die of the flu or a sore throat.
Nevertheless, the web of life in which we live by Grace, including the myriad flora and fauna necessary for our temporal health and metabolism inside, in and throughout our bodies, seems providential to our place on Earth and how we relate to it biologically and subtly. Only those who live in painful alienation from their own bodies and the rest of creation can call viruses ad bacteria evil in and of themselves. Those who study the life and physical properties and processes of viruses, fungi and bacteria potentially dangerous to us certainly do not hate them, but often come to admire the ingenuity of their design, the study of which helps disclose the workings of other life forms yielding a deeper appreciation for the beauty (inherent goodness) of creation. One doesn’t have to specifically go to church to cultivate this appreciation, and it is not necessarily pagan worship of nature as such.
 
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