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  #16  
Old Jul 8, '12, 3:37 pm
babochka babochka is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by ConstantineTG View Post
If you are receiving Communion, then yes.

That is the ideal. That is probably not what is happening in most cases.
It is not fair to compare the ideal in the Eastern Church to the common practice in the Western Church. Weekly Confession prior to the reception of Communion is ideal in both traditions. I know an active, practicing Greek Orthodox woman who hasn't been to Confession in years. She does receive Communion. When I asked her about Confession in her church, she was surprised and replied that she didn't think they really did that much anymore. That is exactly the response that I might expect from a person of her generation at my local Roman Catholic church. In 1972 the OCA authorized the use of "General Confession Services" , which were supposed to strengthen and encourage individual Confessions. In many places, it had the opposite effect. People stopped coming to individual Confession. Does that sound familiar? Think 2x a year "Penance Services". Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, are not immune from the same sicknesses that affect the Western Church.
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  #17  
Old Jul 8, '12, 4:14 pm
babochka babochka is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by ConstantineTG View Post
There is no degree of separation from God. Sin and death are synonymous in Eastern Theology. Sin is death and when Christ died and conquered death, he conquered sin. Every sin needs healing. That is why in Eastern theology sin is seen as a sickness that leads to death. Like in biology, there are some sicknesses that does not lead to death immediately. But all do if you leave them alone. So whether you have a common cold or cancer, you need to treat it. So there is no concept of venial sin that can be disregarded as light.
I found this on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website. With a few minor differences, it could easily be a Catholic description of the Sacrament.

CONFESSION

As members of the Church, we have responsibilities to one another and, of course, to God. When we sin, or relationship to God and to others distorted. Sin is ultimately alienation from God, from our fellow human beings, and from our own true self which is created in God's image and likeness.

Confession is the Sacrament through which our sins are forgiven, and our relationship to God and to others is restored and strengthened. Through the Sacrament, Christ our Lord continues to heal those broken in spirit and restore the Father's love those who are lost. According to Orthodox teaching, the penitent confess to God and is forgiven by God. The priest is the sacramental witness who represents both Christ and His people. The priest is viewed not as a judge, but as a physician and guide. It is an ancient Orthodox practice for every Christian to have a spiritual father to whom one turns for spiritual advice and counsel. Confession can take place on any number of occasions. The frequency is left the discretion of the individual. In the event of serious sin, however, confession is a necessary preparation for Holy Communion.
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  #18  
Old Jul 8, '12, 8:45 pm
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by rciadan View Post
Thank you, you are always very informative. I am quite confident that Father is in no way "liberal" in his theology! I just wanted some clarification and Father had no time to chat with me after the Liturgy today. I expected it to be more of a case of the Eastern Church having never really had the need to define sin as such.
But, scripture does say, "He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask." This leads to the conclusion that there is a type of sin that is far more serious than the other, thus Mortal and Venial, which would seem to speak to the degree of separation from God...
Hi rciadan

I just wanted to complete my thought from earlier. I actually had to post with my primary thought completed, but a few other thoughts not yet in the original content. I did this because I had company show up suddenly and, therefore, didn't have time to complete my post.

With regards to your quote from Scripture my first question is, where is it in the NT? I ask because I've been looking for that passage for some time and, for whatever reason, have been unable to locate it. Several years ago I heard a Ukrainian Catholic (former OCA) priest quote this passage in the context of the same conversation we are having now. Ever since then I've been looking to find it, with no success.

The second thing I would say in regards to that passage is that I believe we ought to do further exegesis on it in order to discern what the original intent of the passage was. It is easy for us to impose our own understandings upon such passages (i.e. that the author is talking about mortal vs. venial sin), but it requires a great deal more work to understand what it was that the author was actually saying. I'm not saying that the interpretation you imply here is incorrect, only that I'd like to look into it more.

Now, with regards to my other thoughts on mortal vs. venial sin in the Eastern(Byzantine) tradition. Again, it is not language that is typically used, but our tradition certainly recognizes that some sins are more serious than others, and that we ought not to approach the Divine Mystery of the Eucharist when we are aware of being in a state of serious sin. That being said, I've never seen delineated a list of "serious sins" among the Byzantines in the same way that I have seen such lists in Roman Catholic examination of conscience pamphlets. The quote that dvdjs provided was good, and it pointed out what certain Byzantine spiritual Fathers from the Patristic era classified as the roots of all other sins (and presumably, therefore, the more serious of sins): i.e. gluttony, fornication, love of money, discontent([i]acedia[i]), anger, despondency, vainglory, and pride. This was the list given by Evagrius of Pontus, and the East has more or less stuck to it. In the West it was adapted and became the "seven deadly sins."

I would point out again - just because it bears repeating (perhaps not for your ears, but for those of others) - that just because the (Byzantine)East does not typically(traditionally) make the distinction between mortal and venial sin, does not mean that we don't take sin very seriously. In the Slavic traditions there are some wonderful prayers prayed publicly prior to reception of Communion that give one pause to examine oneself to ensure that we are receiving in a state of /relative/ worthiness (for who is ever really "worthy" to receive our Lord and Savior into our very bodies!). There was also an old tradition, largely no longer practiced, of going to Confession immediately prior to receiving Communion every time one attended the Liturgy planning to receive. Whether or not this was an "ancient" (i.e. Patristic) practice, I do not know. But it was practiced nonetheless, and I believe it illustrates just how seriously the Byzantines take the reality of sin.
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  #19  
Old Jul 8, '12, 8:58 pm
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by dvdjs View Post
If the idea is that some sins are of such gravity that one should not approach the chalice without confession, then I also believe the the preponderance of opinion in the East would be in agreement - although the last time we went through this, PR said that his deacon held a contrary opinion. That opinion, however, is clearly a modern one, as, for centuries before this one, the common practice was infrequent communion and a rigorous preparation, including confession, before every communion.
Hi dvdjs

I'm inclined to agree with you here with regards to my deacon's position being a more modern one. I've simply found no evidence of it in the writings of the great spiritual masters of the (Byzantine)East. All that I've ever come across in the writings and prayers is that we need to approach Communion in awe and trembling, seriously discerning beforehand the state of our soul and our /relative/ worthiness to receive our Lord and Savior. Certainly there is a strong sense of the possibility of receiving unworthily, and of that unworthy reception being unto our own condemnation.
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  #20  
Old Jul 9, '12, 10:41 am
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Celticnovice Celticnovice is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by Phillip Rolfes View Post
Hi rciadan

I just wanted to complete my thought from earlier. I actually had to post with my primary thought completed, but a few other thoughts not yet in the original content. I did this because I had company show up suddenly and, therefore, didn't have time to complete my post.

With regards to your quote from Scripture my first question is, where is it in the NT? I ask because I've been looking for that passage for some time and, for whatever reason, have been unable to locate it. Several years ago I heard a Ukrainian Catholic (former OCA) priest quote this passage in the context of the same conversation we are having now. Ever since then I've been looking to find it, with no success.:
Hi Phillip,

The verses in the NT are 1 John 5:16-17
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  #21  
Old Jul 10, '12, 5:16 am
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by Celticnovice View Post
Hi Phillip,

The verses in the NT are 1 John 5:16-17
Hi Celticvoice,

Thanks for providing the book, chapter, and verses. I looked them up in the Ignatius study bible last night. It's hardly conclusive, but Dr. Hahn does point out that St. John was probably originally referring to heresy/apostasy as the "sin unto death," not mortal vs. venial sin. He said it wasn't until later that the Western Church started interpreting the text as mortal vs. venial sin. I'm not trying to discredit the validity of the interpretation. I'm trying, rather, to understand the process. Further study will be done.
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  #22  
Old Jul 10, '12, 7:53 am
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Celticnovice Celticnovice is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip Rolfes View Post
Hi Celticvoice,

Thanks for providing the book, chapter, and verses. I looked them up in the Ignatius study bible last night. It's hardly conclusive, but Dr. Hahn does point out that St. John was probably originally referring to heresy/apostasy as the "sin unto death," not mortal vs. venial sin. He said it wasn't until later that the Western Church started interpreting the text as mortal vs. venial sin. I'm not trying to discredit the validity of the interpretation. I'm trying, rather, to understand the process. Further study will be done.
You're welcome sir. Let me know what you find, also, I know paragraphs #1855-1875 in the CCC talks about this as well.

Also, the Western Church might be building this idea from an earlier Jewish concept, here is a link from EWTN

Last edited by Celticnovice; Jul 10, '12 at 8:09 am.
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  #23  
Old Jul 10, '12, 6:54 pm
rciadan rciadan is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by Phillip Rolfes View Post
Hi rciadan

Quote:
...because I had company show up suddenly and, therefore, didn't have time to complete my post.
You meant you let mere company get in the way of a fine discussion!?...LOL.

Quote:
... I've never seen delineated a list of "serious sins" among the Byzantines in the same way that I have seen such lists in Roman Catholic examination of conscience pamphlets. The quote that dvdjs provided was good, and it pointed out what certain Byzantine spiritual Fathers from the Patristic era classified as the roots of all other sins (and presumably, therefore, the more serious of sins): i.e. gluttony, fornication, love of money, discontent([i]acedia[i]), anger, despondency, vainglory, and pride. This was the list given by Evagrius of Pontus, and the East has more or less stuck to it. In the West it was adapted and became the "seven deadly sins."
I agree that a definitive list is impractical. As discussed by others in this thread, a sin that may be normally a "minor" thing of relative insignificance in one set of circumstances may be a very serious sin in another...

Quote:
I would point out again - just because it bears repeating (perhaps not for your ears, but for those of others) - that just because the (Byzantine)East does not typically(traditionally) make the distinction between mortal and venial sin, does not mean that we don't take sin very seriously.
Thank you for realizing that I would never presume such a thing.
Quote:
In the Slavic traditions there are some wonderful prayers prayed publicly prior to reception of Communion that give one pause to examine oneself to ensure that we are receiving in a state of /relative/ worthiness (for who is ever really "worthy" to receive our Lord and Savior into our very bodies!).
In the DL, we pray something similar to what you describe before receiving Him in Holy Communion.
I will go on record as saying that, the more I look into Eastern thought and theology, the more convinced I am that we think very much alike in essence, even if we describe and explain what we believe differently. I also find myself not really concerned when I find out something the Eastern Church teaches that seems "foreign" at first because I have grown to expect that, once I have taken the time to understand the thought process, there is nothing amiss... in fact, I am finding myself ever more drawn to the East, even to the point of discussing the ramifications of changing rites with Father....
And I must state further that I am running away from nothing, but rather, finding myself irresistibly drawn toward something great and beautiful and true...
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  #24  
Old Jul 10, '12, 11:29 pm
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Vico Vico is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by rciadan View Post
Does the Byzantine Church teach the concept of Mortal and venial sin? At the DL, the priest said that the Eastern Church does not believe in such...
Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” -- John 19:11

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. -- I John 5:16-17
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  #25  
Old Jul 11, '12, 4:03 am
rciadan rciadan is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by Vico View Post
Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” -- John 19:11

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. -- I John 5:16-17
The 1 John verses have already been introduced and commented on. Read some of the posts between the op and this one and you will get a few interesting insights on them. John 19:11, you mention for the 1st time.
Most on this thread seems to be in agreement that all sin is serious, with the danger of delivering death to the soul, even though there are sins more serious than others. And yet, those more serious sins are not so easily listed because it is more a matter of circumstance and attitude than "type" or "name" of sin. Can we agree on this, or would some amend this statement?
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  #26  
Old Jul 11, '12, 6:36 am
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by rciadan View Post
The 1 John verses have already been introduced and commented on. Read some of the posts between the op and this one and you will get a few interesting insights on them. John 19:11, you mention for the 1st time.
Most on this thread seems to be in agreement that all sin is serious, with the danger of delivering death to the soul, even though there are sins more serious than others. And yet, those more serious sins are not so easily listed because it is more a matter of circumstance and attitude than "type" or "name" of sin. Can we agree on this, or would some amend this statement?


One thing that a priest once told me is that in the East there is no real concept of a definitive moment wherein the soul is separated from God. All sin is a gradual separation from the Trinitarian life; hence the need for frequent confession. The longer we remain in sin and refuse to go to confession and participate in the other saving Mysteries, the further we find ourselves from the life of God, until one day we realize that the Trinitarian life within us (i.e. Baptismal grace) has died.

Such a description by no means invalidates the theories of venial and mortal sin, much less contradicts them. Rather it just looks at the reality of sin differently. Whereas the West tends to define the moments of a definitive break from the Trinitarian life, the (Byzantine)East views sin as a whole trending away from that Trinitarian life. To such the extent that we remain in sin - any sin, venial or mortal - to that extent we have not yet fully surrendered ourselves to the Trinitarian life and worked synergistically with God for our salvation (and remember, salvation is not just "salvation from" but also "salvation for").
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  #27  
Old Jul 11, '12, 9:20 am
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Celticnovice Celticnovice is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by Phillip Rolfes View Post


One thing that a priest once told me is that in the East there is no real concept of a definitive moment wherein the soul is separated from God. All sin is a gradual separation from the Trinitarian life; hence the need for frequent confession. The longer we remain in sin and refuse to go to confession and participate in the other saving Mysteries, the further we find ourselves from the life of God, until one day we realize that the Trinitarian life within us (i.e. Baptismal grace) has died.

Such a description by no means invalidates the theories of venial and mortal sin, much less contradicts them. Rather it just looks at the reality of sin differently. Whereas the West tends to define the moments of a definitive break from the Trinitarian life, the (Byzantine)East views sin as a whole trending away from that Trinitarian life. To such the extent that we remain in sin - any sin, venial or mortal - to that extent we have not yet fully surrendered ourselves to the Trinitarian life and worked synergistically with God for our salvation (and remember, salvation is not just "salvation from" but also "salvation for").
Agreed on all points
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  #28  
Old Jul 11, '12, 5:11 pm
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Vico Vico is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by rciadan View Post
The 1 John verses have already been introduced and commented on. Read some of the posts between the op and this one and you will get a few interesting insights on them. John 19:11, you mention for the 1st time.
Most on this thread seems to be in agreement that all sin is serious, with the danger of delivering death to the soul, even though there are sins more serious than others. And yet, those more serious sins are not so easily listed because it is more a matter of circumstance and attitude than "type" or "name" of sin. Can we agree on this, or would some amend this statement?
When the eastern Catholic bishops constucted the canon laws they knew that the entire Church shares in the same Holy Mysteries. Therefore Holy Confession must also be in essence the same. There are differences in the administration of the Mystery between the various Catholic ritual churches. Where the CIC uses the term mortal sin, the CCEO uses the term serious sin. Also no waiting to confess (such as in Lent) in the eastern ritual Churches, but as soon as possible.
CCEO Canon 711
A person who is conscious of serious sin is not to celebrate the Divine Liturgy nor receive the Divine Eucharist unless a serious reason is present and there is no opportunity of receiving the sacrament of penance; in this case the person should make an act of perfect condition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible.
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Old Aug 19, '12, 2:01 am
5Loaves 5Loaves is offline
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Default Re: Venial and Mortal sin?

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Originally Posted by babochka View Post
It is not fair to compare the ideal in the Eastern Church to the common practice in the Western Church. Weekly Confession prior to the reception of Communion is ideal in both traditions. I know an active, practicing Greek Orthodox woman who hasn't been to Confession in years. She does receive Communion. When I asked her about Confession in her church, she was surprised and replied that she didn't think they really did that much anymore. That is exactly the response that I might expect from a person of her generation at my local Roman Catholic church. In 1972 the OCA authorized the use of "General Confession Services" , which were supposed to strengthen and encourage individual Confessions. In many places, it had the opposite effect. People stopped coming to individual Confession. Does that sound familiar? Think 2x a year "Penance Services". Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, are not immune from the same sicknesses that affect the Western Church.
In the East, EC and Orthodox we have four extended Fasts in preparation for Feasts:Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast, and Dormition Fast. Going to confession during these Fasts is an important part of the Fast. So, at least 4 times a year one should go to confession. In the case of serious sin of course one should seek confession as soon as possible. The Greeks do seem to be much less frequent with confession than are we slavs. This could be partly because some priests are not permitted to hear confessions. So the parish could have a priest who is able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and Baptisms/Chrismations, but not yet able to hear confessions. This I understand is part of what has led to less frequent confession even when a confessor priest is available.

Quote:
Fasting also partners with prayer, almsgiving and confession, readying the whole person like an athlete, body, mind, and soul, for an upcoming feast, similar to the way in which Orthodox Christians would hope to be properly prepared for the Second Coming. For this reason, during fasting seasons, no marriages should take place. Another important part of any fasting period is going to Confession.
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