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Something that has puzzled me

David Young

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Aware that you Orthodox understand the Eucharist as the means whereby you receive Christ (if I have understood aright), I am puzzled as to how you see yourselves as being nourished and surviving spiritually during times when the Holy Communion is not possible: during the Communist era (e.g. in Albania), during covid lockdown, &c &c.. What is the solution to the puzzle? (As you know, from a Baptist point of view, Communion is one means of grace, but we don't see ourselves as spiritually starving when it is not possible.)
 

Alpo2

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Quite simple. We believe in God, not a compilation of abstract theological formulas. We are limited to sacraments but God isn't. He can provide us grace however he wishes and won't fault if something prevents us from participating to sacraments.
 

idahoon1

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Although I don't remember comunist times, I can tell from my experience that the first lockdown was a nightmare. How did I fell - well, I was told to approach the Holy Chalice as often as I can - and always, every single time I received the Holy Gifts it was an out-of-this-world experience. I'm not talking about just the emotions and feelings - sometimes God allows you to "feel" the Grace, sometimes this extatic feeling is somehow supressed. But always it is a Big Event.

And not being able to receive the Holy Communion is devastating, it is like not receiving and "oxygen for your soul". Although it is not like dying spiritually, but rather like a spiritual starvation. And it influences other aspects of ones life, including health and mental condition. Everything is falling apart.

When the lockdown was over - receiving Communion was like being born again, born again in Christ. It was like having a jug of water after crossing a desert.

from a Baptist point of view, Communion is one means of grace
What can I say, I converted to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism. When I was a member of the Western church, I have never experienced the Holy Communion in such a deep, intense and profound way. Now I think it is because in the Orthodox Church has all the fullness of the truths of faith - and the Grace somehow manifest Itself in a more prominent way. I am giving this advice to the everyone I know - attend Orthodox Liturgy, experience the prayer, the closeness of the Allmighty God, The Most Holy Theotokos and Saints. And you will understand why the Holy Communion is the most important thing in our lifes.
 

Asteriktos

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Exceptions have to stay exceptions and can't become the norm, but as was said above, God judges mercifully and takes into consideration circumstances.

Then, you will say, if a living man has the dispositions you mention in his soul, and yet does not partake of the holy mysteries, will he nevertheless receive the sanctification which the sacrament gives? Not in all cases; only when it is physically impossible for him to receive the elements, as it is for the dead. Such was the case of the solitaries who lived in the desert, or in caves and grottoes in the mountain-side, and could not avail themselves of priest or altar. Christ gave them this sanctification in an invisible manner. We know this because they had life, which they could not have had without partaking of the sacrament, for Christ himself said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Another proof is the fact that God sent angels to several of these men with the sacrament.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. 1392), Commentary on the Divine Liturgy 42
Snatch your soul away from the world; flee from Sodom; flee from the burning; travel on without turning back, lest you should be fixed as a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26). Escape to the Mountain lest you be destroyed with the plain. But if you are already bound and constrained by the chain of necessity, reason thus with yourself; or rather let me reason thus with you. It is better both to attain the good and to keep the purification. But if it be impossible to do both it is surely better to be a little stained with your public affairs than to fall altogether short of grace; just as I think it better to undergo a slight punishment from father or master than to be put out of doors; and to be a little beamed upon than to be left in total darkness.

And it is the part of wise men to choose, as in good things the greater and more perfect, so in evils the lesser and lighter. Wherefore do not overmuch dread the purification. For our success is always judged by comparison with our place in life by our just and merciful Judge; and often one who is in public life and has had small success has had a greater reward than one who in the enjoyment of liberty has not completely succeeded; as I think it more marvellous for a man to advance a little in fetters, than for one to run who is not carrying any weight; or to be only a little spattered in walking through mud, than to be perfectly clean when the road is clean. To give you a proof of what I have said: Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality (Jos. 6:; James 2:25), though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct; and the Publican was exalted by one thing, his humility (Luke 18:14), though he received no testimony for anything else; so that you may learn not easily to despair concerning yourself.

-- St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40.19
 

David Young

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It was Jim Forest's book The Resurrection of the Church in Albania that prompted my question, as it was the first book I had read about Orthodoxy in Communist Eastern Europe, and the experiences of God's sustaining and blessing presence seemed so akin during Communist times to the ones I had read of earlier (from the 1960s onwards) about Baptists, Pentecostals and similar that it felt like the same Spirit. Yet in normal times the ethos is very different between them and the Orthodox.
 

Nathanael

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It was Jim Forest's book The Resurrection of the Church in Albania that prompted my question, as it was the first book I had read about Orthodoxy in Communist Eastern Europe, and the experiences of God's sustaining and blessing presence seemed so akin during Communist times to the ones I had read of earlier (from the 1960s onwards) about Baptists, Pentecostals and similar that it felt like the same Spirit. Yet in normal times the ethos is very different between them and the Orthodox.
Yes. I had the same impression when I read the stories about christians in Romanian prisons during Communist times.
 

xariskai

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When circumstances made it for a time difficult for my wife and I to receive the Eucharist our priest wrote us the following note:

"There is a kind of martyrdom when we cannot participate in the holy Eucharist because of distance as in the cases of St. Mary of Egypt or Seraphim of Sarov, who were able only rarely to share in the Body and Blood of Christ. But always they could participate in the Spirit wherever they were; and so can we."
 
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