In the Eastern Catholic Church, Can One Receive Communion with a Serious Sin on One's Soul?


#1

I read some comments on another thread that disturbed me but since we hijacked the thread, I thought I’d start a new thread here.

I understand that Eastern Theology does not refer to “mortal sins”. I also understand, I think, that according to EC theology, all sin wounds our relationship with God.

I would like to understand if EC’s believe that one can receive communion with a serious or grave sin on his soul?

Thank you.


#2

I think that you have to add a qualifier here. I think that there is a big difference between repented and un-repented. I would encourage everybody to stick only to the case of repented mortal/grave/serious sin.


#3

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:

1457 ... Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.57 ...

57 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1647; 1661; CIC, can. 916; CCEO, can. 711.

The Catechism References there the Eastern Code Canon 711 which goes into that one is not to receive the Divine Eucharist if one is conscious of serious sin (mortal sin) (outside the exceptional circumstance of a serious reason (grave reason) etc etc as noted above).

scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm


#4

I always thought that the general rule of thumb for all Catholics (Eastern and Western) was that anyone with an un-repented mortal sin on their soul could not receive the Holy Eucharist especially since St. Paul really emphasized this in his letter to the Corinthians


#5

ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA --Bl. Pope John Paul Encyclical

“If a Christian’s conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:

1457 … Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.57 …

57 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1647; 1661; CIC, can. 916; CCEO, can. 711.

The Catechism References there the Eastern Code of Canon Law 711 which goes into that one is not to receive the Divine Eucharist if one is conscious of serious sin (mortal sin) (outside the exceptional circumstance of a serious reason (grave reason) etc etc as noted above).

scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm


#6

Absolutely not! This misconception stems often from any discussion where it is noted that the definitions of venial and mortal sin are not part of the Eastern theological framework. Grave sin constitutes a separation from God requiring reconciliation.

While nuances abound, mortal sin and grave sin are more or less analogous, and having committed grave sin would bar one from being properly disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist.

CCEO 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.

BTW - our priests are generally always available up to 10 minutes before the Divine Liturgy to hear confessions, so instances where a penitent would not be able to confess before receiving the Holy Eucharist should be rare in our context.


#7

Right Grave sin =serious sin =mortal sin --the terms are interchanged in the Catholic Church for the same thing. The differing terms only bring emphasis to different aspects of the same thing.


#8

For all practical purposes, yes, but Eastern Catholics are compelled to understand the implications of grave sin from the perspective of their own theological framework.


#9

Which are the same as for the rest of the Catholic Church.

Written in Latin or Greek – means the same in the end :slight_smile: (see the respective sections in the two codes of Canon Law)

I can describe a murder that took the life of so and so --in many ways-- but they all add up to his death…:wink:

And those three terms are *interchanged *on even just the western side …

Are there differing theologies? yes of course…but that is not at issue really here. The Church is clear on this question – in both Codes of Canon Law --which say basically the same thing.


#10

Yes, but the reasons for which we seek reconciliation, and the implication for future steps in the path to Salvation, are viewed rather uniquely on both sides.

I don’t intend (nor did I attempt here) to exaggerate any differences, yet they should not be denied, either - the Catholic Church compels us otherwise to embrace the fullness of all its rich traditions.


#11

I just wanted to post what I had said in the original discussion:


If you genuinly want to understand the Eastern perspective, you have get out of the Western mindset of the division of sins. I could go more indepth about this, but it is a side topic.

Compare it to this. I hear the debate come up on this forum (I have actually floated around here since 2004) quite frequently - can a confessor require a murder to turn himself in as penance? Answer: no, but if he is truly repentant he should turn himself in on his own.

Now take that and apply it to this discussion. In the Eastern perspective, there are three ways to receive forgiveness of sins (annointing of the sick - we all receive it at least once a year because we also give it for spiritual sickness, not just physical-, confession and Eucharist). All three offer the ability to forgive sins and heal the person. Only confession, however, offers you the ability to discuss these shortcomings with a confessor who can offer advice, guidance, a spiritual regiment to help you improve, and support. If there is something that is severely hampering your path to God, what one might say is a serious sin (but keep in mind in the East this could potentially be different for everyone depending on their personal spiritual place - ie what consitutes serious may very from a monk on Mt Athos to a recent convert), then for true repentance, you should see your spiritual father (confessor) for guidance to ensure you can overcome the shortcomings and prepare for the Eucharist. It is the same double sword as above. You have to be truly repentant, and to be truly repentant you must experience metanoia (a desire to change), and to express that desire to change you need to see and discuss the matter with a confessor.

On a side note, Eastern Christian culture places a very heavy emphasis on people developing close relationships with spiritual fathers and mothers who know there personal circumstances and can advise them on an intimate level. Confession is expected to be done on a very regular basis, often weekly, regardless of sins committed. Everyone needs guidance. Of course, many EO and EC have allowed this practice to fall wayside in the face of secularism the way the Western churches are troubled as well.


#12

But still essentially the same.

Yes I am not saying Eastern Catholics – do as the Latins and Latins do instead as the Easterns (though we can be enriched by each other etc). The whole riches of the Whole Catholic Church are wonderful!

But on this issue it is simply the same…


#13

[quote="Bookcat, post:12, topic:297781"]
But still essentially the same.

[/quote]

We assume you speak from personal experience and witness.


#14

Thank you Byz. This means more to me than you know. :slight_smile:

BTW, someone advised me of my error in putting Eastern Catholic **Church **in the title. I mean “Churches”.


#15

Yes. Same as in the West.

But mortal sins must be confessed in the Sacrament of Penance --prior to Holy Communion.

Holy Communion is simply NOT the Sacrament ordered to the forgiveness of serious sins.

An in terms of the other Sacrament – if the person recovers and is able to --they are to confess the mortal sins that were forgiven when they were not able to confess them when they received the Anointing.

It is not that all are the ways one can just go be forgiven a mortal sins.

Serious sins are to be confessed and absolved.


#16

No worries, TL! :slight_smile: Keep the Faith!


#17

:smiley:


#18

I remember reading a commentary some time ago on St. Nicodemos’ tome on penance, where the author cited several differing definitions of a sin which might be mortal. Some took it to mean a passion, others took it to mean complete apostasy (blaspheming the Holy Spirit), others still had a view somewhere in between. The modern understanding of being in a state of grace doesn’t really fit in very well with the old canons and prayers from the East, to be honest. This is why the canon which states that those who abstain from communion for three weeks without reason should be excommunicated seems so inexplicable today (it was intended to fight what might be loosely termed as scrupulosity). Similarly, the precommunion prayers presuppose the forgiveness of our sins, if we are contrite. Confession (and penitential periods of excommunication), were meant primarily as an expiatory exercise, rather than an attempt to ‘regain a state of grace’, so it seems. At any rate, Eastern Catholics are still bound to the Latin proscription against communing when not in a state of grace, I suppose.

By the way, if any of you are willing to risk going into despair over your sins for a while (i.e., I do not recommend this for people who are scrupulous), read the canons of St. John the Faster on penance. The penances he prescribes are shockingly harsh to our modern sensibilities, and are a good example of why the use of differing degrees of oikonomia when applying the canons to an individual case is absolutely necessary.


#19

#20

Dear brother, are we of Eastern Christian bent taught to consider merely the circumstances that require us to confess, or also the manner in which we are to continue to strive to unite with Christ afterward and avoid similar instances of sin?

I admit I have early formative experiences in this regard, as my mom (cradle Roman Catholic) would guide me one way in making an examination of conscience, whereas my father (cradle Byzantine Catholic) took a decidedly different approach in his guidance. It wasn’t until much later in life when I began to study Eastern theology more closely and formally that I began to appreciate those different perspectives.

“Go in peace and sin no more!”


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