Why are women forbidden from receiving the Holy and Blessed gift of the Eucharist during a natural, and rather necessary, biological process?
These are the answers I have heard being given: (in my opinion, rather absurd explanations)
1 - During the menstrual cycle women are considered "unclean" according to the OT(e.x. Lev 19) No comment on this one, except read Mark 5.
2 - Because the woman is bleeding, the Blood somehow magically mixes with the uterine lining (which has been collecting the whole month!) and gets released together. Well, what about the excretory process??? This sounds so much like when the Catholic Church refused to believe the earth was round. Why are we materializing and "sciencizing" the Holy Communion?
3 - It was a late tradition (small t) that arose to "ease the burden" of having to attend a long liturgy while cramping, being uncomfortable before modern innovations like pads and air conditioning. This is rather absurd because we are not talking about a social gathering. We are talking about the Holy Body and Blood of our Saviour, the renewal of our baptism, the life-saving Mysteries of the Church!
I would appreciate it if someone could tell me when/where this tradition started, and WHY. And why it is still practiced today?
Indeed, there is nothing wrong with sweating. It's a natural biological process that happens after exercising or physical endurance - but you cannot be in this state and walk into church when the altar is open.
There is NOTHING wrong when a woman menstruates. The Bible doesn't say she is filthy or condemned or she is unholy. She is unclean to enter the Holy of Holies. The same for a man who has also a bodily discharge. He too is unclean.
All this is respect towards the Holy of Holies. I think this is very important. The respect towards the sanctuary of The Lord is really impressive in the Orthodox Church.
ABOUT WOMEN DURING MENSTRUATION
Is it allowed for a woman while menstruating to receive
Communion, and if not, why not? Because after all, this is
something natural which she can't help.
And if she just sits down at home, is she allowed to worship
privately, to pray and read the Bible etc.?
At home she can worship God however she likes at this time of
the month, but if she takes Communion in church, or outside it,
this is absolutely not allowed.
A person is not permitted to receive Communion if blood is
flowing from his body, and this applies to both sexes, and it
also applies to any secretion of a sexual nature: this is clear
from the Bible.
There are many Biblical texts and many Church regulations
which confirm this point and have made it clear for people to
But someone might plead that it isn't fair on women, since
nothing comparable applies to men. For when men have wet
dreams or if any discharge comes from their bodies, they can
still enter Church and no-one is likely to prevent them, and no
rules can be enforced against them. So why should this happen
Perhaps someone might ask that there are some men who aren't
deacons but who nevertheless enter the sanctuary and take
Communion. How is that so?
In actual fact, this was only ever permitted to the king who had
been crowned in the Orthodox manner, and had been anointed
with the holy oil in view of the fact that he was the Lord's
As for other people entering, perhaps they have another reason
for doing so which could be one of the following:
Many of the men who do this have actually been admitted to
one of the lower degrees of deacon, but might not be wearing
their proper deacon's dress at the time that they enter the
sanctuary, as they should, and this is a mistake which the
Church is trying to remedy, by forbidding all deacons from
entering the sanctuary, even those decreed to be at one of the
lower levels, but who don't happen to be serving or wearing
their tunics on that day.
But there is also another mistake which I have observed which
has been necessitated really by a professional situation which is
that some men, such as builders, engineers or decorators mightneed to enter the sanctuary during the course of their work, but
this obviously wouldn't be during a service. In a similar way, it
might be necessary at times for painters, television or radio men
to enter the sanctuary.
The answer is that the most the man is permitted to do is to
enter the church after having cleansed himself bodily, but he is
not allowed to receive Communion.
There is a basic difference though between the kind of discharge
coming from the man and the woman, which is that: the man's is
incidental and temporary, whereas the woman's continues for
several days. The following point, however, would make them
both equal and that is if the man's discharge were continuous, he
would also be forbidden to take the communion in exactly the
But there remains the point that it is not the woman's fault, that
it is something natural which she can't help.
No, it's nobody's fault: there is nothing wrong in it, and no one
is being blamed but God just wants to always remind
us of the first sin of mankind.
If we are mindful of that first sin, we are more likely to value
the ransom paid out for us.
The wages of sin is death, and even though Christ died for us,
He still left us with a mark to remember this by, which is for
men, that "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food"
and for women, that "with pain you will give birth to children.
" (Gen. 3:19,18)
In the case of pregnancy, the woman's menstruation stops, and
she is reminded of Eve's original sin by the pains of pregnancy,
birth and delivery, and outside the period of pregnancy she
recalls her sin at the time of menstruation and this makes her
realise how much her sins forbid her from receiving holy
blessings, not only those which are associated with Communion
and the Church.
Men, on the other hand, are reminded of their first sin because
they are supposed to labour throughout their lives on account of
earning their daily bread. The remembrance of this is the aim,
though the means might vary enormously.
It would be better for us to try and derive spiritual benefit from
thinking more deeply about the meaning of these things rather
than complaining about them.
we can break this rule if we need to give Holy Communion to someone who is seriously ill.
we shouldn't get too worried about these rules, like i did one day when i bit the loose skin next to my nail after Holy Communion and my finger bled slightly! (it reminded me that doing this is a bad idea anyway)
There is no "judaizing" in our church. In fact, quite the opposite. The Church has made a conscious effort to remove unspiritual Jewish customs. If the reason for not allowing communion during menstruation was a refractory judaizing custom that infiltrated the early Church, then the Church would still require circumcision and food laws (since these were much more important to Judaism than menstruation or any other physical deformity or impurity)
The reason no woman or man can take communion during any flow of bodily fluid is to remind us of the devastating effect sin had on humanity. It is not about finding fault in women or men. It is not about an impurity. It is not about old customs that don't mean anything nowadays. It is to remind us of Christ's love and victory over sin and death.
If someone is bleeding, it reminds us of the corruptibility of our body. (Isn't any body fluid flow a result of getting rid of something dangerous, toxic or changed inside the body?) As Pope Shenouda said, if it is a momentary or temporary corruptibility - like sweating for example - it is not a reason to avoid communion. But if it is a long term flow (i.e., more than a few minutes), it is a sign of the corruptible body. The fathers, through the Holy Spirit and the revelation of God's love in Scripture, have instructed us to avoid communion until such corruptible bodily flow is over.
It is not cultural. It is not a Jewish custom. It is not a punishment. It is not some sort of a hidden "scarlet-letter" type of condemnation. It is a spiritual exercise forcing us to remember our corruptibility so that we can enjoy and appreciate our incorruptibility through the Eucharist and the Eschaton (The final judgment).
The didiscalia says, "For if thou think, O woman, that in the seven days of thy flux thou art void of the Holy Spirit; if thou die in those days, thou wilt depart empty and without hope. But if the Holy Spirit is always in thee, without (just) impediment dost thou keep thyself from prayer and from the Scriptures and from the Eucharist. For consider and see, that prayer also is heard through the Holy Spirit, and the Eucharist through the Holy Spirit is accepted and sanctified, and the Scriptures are the words of the Holy Spirit, and are holy. For if the Holy Spirit is in thee, why dost thou keep thyself from approaching to the works of the Holy Spirit ?"
I'm OK with the explanation of this being a mere mnemonic device. Indeed many canons and rites of the church aim to teach in this manner, but I disagree that the mnemonic methodology should extend to restricting communion.
The Church fathers restrict Women because they are bleeding. They are not somehow unclean, or they wouldn't be allowed in the Temple At all, which was done in the Old days of Moses.
Leviticus 15:19-30 ESV
“When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. ...
25 If a woman has a flow of blood for several days outside her monthly period or if her flow continues beyond her regular period, she remains unclean as long as the flow continues, just as she is during her monthly period. 26 Any bed on which she lies and anything on which she sits during this time is unclean.
It clearly states that a flow of blood from a woman renders her "UNCLEAN". I think i was pretty clear: It does not say she is filthy, unholy, or a bad person.
She is JUST UNCLEAN.
Hence, having a shower, even without menstruating, for men or women, BEFORE the liturgy is really important.
You have to be clean.
For Doxa, I just want to ask you then why there is no mention made in the Gospels of Christ purifying Himself or taking account of the purity laws when the woman with the flow of blood touched Him. "What God has cleansed you must not call common (or unclean)" Acts 10:15.
Its for OT purity laws then thats just not good enough
I, as normal, am with RO on this.
For Doxa, I just want to ask you then why there is no mention made in the Gospels of Christ purifying Himself or taking account of the purity laws when the woman with the flow of blood touched Him. "What God has cleansed you must not call common (or unclean)" Acts 10:15.
Its for OT purity laws then thats just not good enough
For goodness sake, take it up with Abouna. I'm just repeating what he told me.
Doxa, I can tell you are a very serious person about your faith, and I respect that tremendously
Please pray for me, brother
First, because it is fixated on the physical, exterior being, rather than the inner - which is EXACTLY why the pharisees were so condemned. They were likened to tombs - clean on the outside but carrying dead man's bones. I think it is very clear that Christ wanted to shift the focus away from what appeared to what was inside.
Secondly, there is NOTHING about menstration that is unclean. Maybe 2000 years ago, when there were no ways of actually dealing with a bleeding woman. But what makes a woman standing beside you in church unclean? You wouldn't be here if women did not have this life-giving gift FROM God.
Thirdly, there is no likeness between a routine, monthly menstruation and having a cut, or going to the gym and being sweaty. They are not even remotely comparable! We are not talking about being physically presentable at a social gathering. We are talking about receiving the LIFE-GIVING MYSTERY of the Body and Blood of our Saviour.
Fourthly, we are NOT showing respect to the Holy Communion by saying that if we bleed it 'flows out' or whatever other medieval biological thinking that is used in support. In fact, I view it as an insult to the Holy of Holies since we degrade it to something that is so easily materialized, as if it mixes with our cells and our blood as a blood transfusion would. I like to believe that I am receiving something more than some cells.
This cannot be viewed as a matter of obedience or not. It needs to be seriously questioned, and seriously examined.
I would also like to add two notes,
1) The Antiochian Orthodox Holy Synod ruled that women may partake of communion at all times including during menstruation recently. I can not find the ruling but I will link it when I can.
2) Here is a link to an interesting post on the matter. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9448.0.html
The post I am referring to is by falafel33.
This to me is a small 't' tradition and in the age where we have measures to allow this time for a women to be easily managed and coped with quite well, I do think it needs to be looked at and discussed and not just flatly accepted as a big 'T' tradition. This, in my humble opinion, has no bearing on salvation and does not seem to have been universally practiced at all times (note the didasclia).
Looking forward to more posts
Pray for me
Pope Kyrollos 6th called both this and the practice of restricting men from communing after wet dreams a gnostic practice.
Respectfully, this is Pope Kyrillos' opinion. There is no evidence that Gnostics had communion at all. There is no comparison The Gnostics were not Christian. They did have a very misogynist view. In the last verse in the Gospel of Thomas, we read "Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."" This ridiculous misogynist view is not Christian. It is inappropriate to compare Christian practices with Gnosticism, regardless of how apparently un-Christian the practice appears. It is important to note that only the Syriac version of the Apostolic canons has this quote. The Arabic, Greek, Ethiopic and Coptic do not (as far as I can tell). This does not mean it is a forgery but that its universality is not absolute. This may simply be a local Syriac tradition that found its way into the Apostolic Canons. It's more than mnemesia extending to a restriction of communion. I don't think it's meant to be seen as restricting communion but as a proper process for taking communion. Let me try to give a hypothetical example to clarify.
Let's suppose there are about 1000 Copts scattered throughout the world who have episodic hyperemesis (uncontrolled vomitting) that lasts 1- 3 days. I think we can all agree that any person, whether male or female, should not take communion during a particular episode of uncontrolled vomitting. But suppose that a majority of those 1000 Copts do take communion on the first day of a vomitting episode. They feel that they are somehow sick (physically and spiritually) and that the Eucharist is the proper medicine. The rest of those 1000 Copts and those who are not sick (i.e., not one of those 1000 Copts), seeing a person who continuously vomits the Eucharist, feel that such a person "eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner" (1 Cor 11:27) Give it enough time, this issue will become a dividing issue. Now let's suppose that it has become such an issue that the Holy Synod decides to rule no communion during hyperemesis episodes. They base this decision partly on Leviticus 12 and Leviticus 15:16-33 and partly on the following canons:
1. St Dionysus of Alexandria (13th Coptic Pope)
"Concerning menstrous women, whether they ought to enter the temple of God while in such a state, I think it superfluous even to put the question. For I opine, not even they themselves, being faithful and pious, would dare when in this state either to approach the Holy Table or to touch the body and blood of Christ. For not even the woman with a twelve years' issue would come into actual contact with Him, but only with the edge of His garment, to be cured. There is no objection to one's praying no matter how he may be or to one's remembering the Lord at any time and in any state whatever, and petitioning to receive help; but if one is not wholly clean both in soul and in body, he shall be prevented from coming up to the Holies of Holies. (Letter, Canon #2)"
2. St Timothy of Alexandria (22nd Coptic Pope)
Question 7 asks: "If a woman finds herself in the plight peculiar to her sex, ought she to come to the Mysteries on that day, or not?" Timothy's answer was very short, "She ought not to do so, until she has been purified."
3. St. John the Faster, (Eastern Orthodox) who lived in the late sixth century.
Anyone, who has been polluted in sleep by reason of an emission of semen, shall be denied communion for one day; but after chanting the fiftieth Psalm and making forty-nine metanies, it is believed that he will thus be purified.
The decision to avoid communion during an episode of uncontrolled vomitting is not a condemnation of the person, nor is it a declaration that only healthy, sinless people can take communion, nor is it a political maneuver in taking sides. It is simply an organizational decision based on spiritual revelation to create a protocol that ensures people abide by a certain process that complies with the Old and New Testament passages.
One can argue that the Church is a hospital and the Eucharist is medicine. It is during times of uncontrolled vomitting or menstruation that a person must take medicine, not be cast away as it says in John 6:37: "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." We must, however, look at Jesus "the author and finisher of our faith." Jesus did not allow Judas Iscariot to partake of the First Eucharist (Judas already left to betray Jesus) because taking communion "in an unworthy manner, [one] will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord....For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body."
Look at the process of organ transplantation. There is a protocol for organ recipients. Even if you are in dire need of a liver transplant with only one day to live, if you have a history of alcoholism, you will be rejected. If you are not a US citizen, you will likely be rejected. You won't even get on the transplant list. Is it simply because there is more demand than supply of transplant organs? Partly. But it is also because people who don't appreciate the value of the donor organ will simply be destroying it, "not discerning" the body organ.
In the case of Communion, it's not simply a lack of appreciation of a body organ, it is complete judgment if one takes communion like it was nothing special.
Now how exactly does this apply to male nocturnal emissions and female menstruation? Well it's obvious that nocturnal emissions, which is a natural process in males, is a sign of the corruption that came as a result of the first sin. The same is true for menstruation. Menstruation is a sign of the corruption that came as judgment for the first sin. Menstruation is part of the process of human reproduction. Eve's judgment was pain in reproduction. If there was no first sin, there would be no menstruation or nocturnal emissions (as well as death obviously). But the moment when nocturnal emissions occur, I am unclean; just like when I vomit on my clothes, I am unclean. If I continually vomit on my clothes, I remain unclean. So following the protocol established by the fathers (at least the Alexandrian fathers, past and present), it would be inappropriate for me to take communion if I didn't have the proper garments or if I had stained garments (See Matthew 22:11-13). If I did take communion with inappropriate "garments" then the Lord' body is nothing special to me and I condemn myself to judgment.
Does this make sense?
More to follow.
"For instance, he [satan] compels Judas, straightway after receiving the sop, as holding him now in his power, at once to proceed to that unholy deed; being very probably afraid as well of his repentance as of the effective power of Christ's gift, lest this, shining as a light in the heart of the man, should persuade him rather to make a deliberate choice of well-doing, or at any rate should give birth to the genuine honest temper of one who had been at length persuaded against his better feelings even to attempt the betrayal" St. Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on Gospel of John, book 9.
"In haste he hurries away in obedience to the will of Satan, and like one stung and goaded on to madness he rushes from the house. [b]He sees nothing that can overcome his love of gain, and, marvellous though it is, we shall find him in no way benefited by the gift from Christ,[/b] of course because of his irrepressible inclination for getting money"
"Ah! how great is the blindness of the traitor! Even partaking of the mysteries, he remained the same; and admitted to the most holy2947table, he changed not. And this Luke shows by saying, that after this Satan entered2948into him, not as despising the Lord’s body, but thenceforth laughing to scorn the traitor’s shamelessness. For indeed his sin became greater from both causes, as well in that he came to the mysteries with such a disposition, as that having approached them, he did not become better, either from fear, or from the benefit, or from the honor. But Christ forbad him not, although He knew all things, that thou mightest learn that He omits none of the things that pertain to correction. Wherefore both before this, and after this, He continually admonished him, and checked him, both by deeds, and by words; both by fear, and by kindness; both by threatening, and by honor. But none of these things withdrew him from that grievous pest." St. John Chrysostom Homilies on Matthew 26:26-28.
"To this, however, he adds, that he was one of the twelve: and this also is a matter of great importance to demonstrate more fully the guilt of the traitor's crime. For he who had been equally honoured with the rest, and adorned with apostolic dignities; he, the elect and beloved, deigned admittance to the holy table, and the highest honours, became the pathway and the means for the murderers of Christ. What lamentation can suffice for him, or what floods of tears must not each shed from his eyes, when he considers from what happiness that wretched being fell into such utter misery! For the sake of worthless pence he ceased to be with Christ, and lost his hope toward God, and the honour, and crowns, and life, and glory prepared for Christ's true followers, and the right of reigning with Him." St. Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on Gospel of St. Luke Sermon 148.
"You raise the objection that all Israelites had the same measure of manna, an homer, and were alike in respect of dress, and hair, and beard, and shoes; as though we did not all alike partake of the body of Christ. In the Christian mysteries there is one means of sanctification for the master and the servant, the noble and the low-born, for the king and his soldiers, and yet, that which is one varies according to the merits of those who receive it.4875“Whosoever shall eat or drink unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Does it follow that because Judas drank of the same cup as the rest of the apostles, that he and they are of equal merit? But suppose that we do not choose to receive the sacrament, at all events we all have the same life, breathe the same air, have the same blood in our veins, are fed on the same food. Moreover, if our viands are improved by culinary skill and are made more palatable for the consumer, food of this kind does not satisfy nature, but tickles the appetite." St. Jerome Against Jovianus Book II.
Thus I do not think one can say that Judas partook of the Eucharist, and thus the system you developed around judas not partaking because he was unworthy.... it doesnt work
Please pray for me.
If Dionysius's reasoning is to hold any water, we must also conclude that sinners must not raise their eyes to heaven during prayer, because the publican did not do so. Timothy merely wrote in light of what was passed on to him from Dionysius.
As for the EO canon, it is not relevant to an OO discussion, but I will provide an EO canon tomorrow which supports my point (dating to the 6th century)
Least of all,
My defense of the current practice of not allowing communion is not developed or revolved around Judas' attendance of the Last Supper. That was simply adjunct evidence. My defense is based on (1) 1 Cor 11, Matthew 22, Leviticus 12, 15, (2) patristic evidence (regardless if we agree with it or not), and (3) Pope Shenouda's decision, authority and comments.
It seems that in trying to defend the controversial issue of communion and menstruation, I stumbled on another controversy. The presence or absence of Judas at the Last Supper is not universally accepted. From a quick look on Google, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox sites disagree if Judas was or was not present. The patristic also do not unanimously agree. Hiliary of Poiters said Judas did not partake of the Eucharist. Thomas Aquinas disagrees and explicitly says Judas did partake of the Eucharist. Aquinas references St John Chrysostom and St Augustine. When the father disagree with each other, we can't simply pick and choose the Fathers we want to adhere to. We need to look at the spirit of the fathers and additional evidence.
It is well known that Pope Shenouda refused to consecrate icons where Judas was present at the Last Supper. In this book, it mentions Pope Shenouda decreed that certain customs were to be changed because "the authentic Apostolic traditions [have] not been blurred by current customs".
It seems that ancient apologetic and patristic tradition lend to Judas being present at the Last Supper, but the modern tradition (not just Coptic) lend to Judas not being at the Last Supper. This seems to be a result of a stricter look at the Gospel accounts. Judas was present at the Passover (which many call the Last Supper). Judas started eating with Jesus and the other disciples but then in the middle of supper, Jesus gets up and washes the feet of the disciples. And while they are reclining (not at a table), the disciples - including Judas - are eating bread dipped in wine (sop). It is at this point Judas leaves. And after Judas leaves, Jesus institutes the Eucharist where he says "Eat this is my body..." Matthew 26:26. It now becomes a question of how we define the Eucharist - a last Passover meal or a new covenant meal. The ancient fathers believed the first and modern fathers (and biblical scholars) believe the latter.
Regardless if Judas was or was not present at the first Eucharist, and I agree with Pope Shenouda that Judas was not present, Judas had some sort of uncleanliness in his "wedding feast garment". In his case, it was a self-inflicted stain of his garment because of the sin in his heart. If there is another type of stain, not self-inflicted but present because of the result of the first sin, it still means we should not approach the Mysteries.
I want to also add that if you walk down the slippery slope that not everything in the Bible is right and by extension current traditions should be changed, then you will soon find that one can "rationalize" much change. A few examples come to mind. 1. If women who menstruate, or men who emit bodily fluids should take Communion unconditionally - rationalized by the notion that the person must take the sacraments immediately- then catechumens who go through a long catechesis period must take baptism immediately instead of waiting at all. 2. By the same rationalization, there is no need for male children to wait 40 days and female children to wait 80 days. 3. There is no need for an absolution for the mother during baptism. 4. No need to wait 9 hours fasting in order to take Communion. 5. No need to attend the liturgy from the beginning since we are there to partake (eat and drink) of the communion. The list goes on and on.
The fact is the canon/instruction/ecclesiastic process (whatever you want to call it) is not a free for all. The forbiddance to take communion while bodily fluids are emitted is
1. Orthodox Christianity, not Gnosticism, Judaism, or any antiquated understanding of bodily functions
2. Based on an ancient tradition that has been followed for centuries at least in the Coptic Church
3. Based on scriptural evidence
4. not a contradiction of Eucharist or sacramental theology.
I look forward to a healthy discussion.
"All creatures of God are good and clean. For there is nothing useless or unclean that the Logos of God has made. “For we are a fragrance of Christ among the saved” says the Apostle (II Cor. 2:15). But inasmuch as the Devil’s arrows are various and versatile, and suffice to disturb the minds even of the most honest men, by inseminating them with cogitations of uncleanness and of pollution, let us proceed to dispel the Evil One’s delusion briefly, with the grace of our Savior, and bolster up the mind of simpler men. “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15): but the conscience and everything of the impure. I am moved to admiration by the Devils ingenuity, because though it breeds corruption and pestilence it suggests thoughts that seem to be pure, yet the result is rather an ambush than a test. For, as I said before, in order to occupy ascetics with, mannerly and salutary meditation, and appear in this respect to the winner, he nevertheless breeds such maggots as produce nothing good in life, but only empty argumentations and twaddle which one ought to forgo. For tell me, dear and most reverent friend, what sin or uncleanness is there in a natural excretion? It is as if one should find fault with mucus exuding from noses, and with the spittle expelled through the mouth. And we can say still more than this: the secretions of the stomach, which are necessary to the animal economy and to its vital processes. Furthermore, if we believe man to be a work of God’s hands, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, how could any work be polluted when made by a pure power And if we are a race or kindred of God (cf. Acts 17:28-29), as the divine Acts of the Apostles assert, we have nothing in us that is impure or unclean. For it is only then that we may be polluted when we perpetrate the foulest sin. But when any natural excretion occurs involuntarily, then, as we have said before, we must patiently put up with the necessity of nature. But simply because those who are inclined to dispute whatever is said aright, or rather done by God, are wont to cite a passage in the Gospel, on the ground that “it is not what goeth into the mouth that defiles a man, but that which cometh out” (Matt. 15:11), we must needs disprove also this illogicality (for we shall not call it an argumentation). For first of all, being unbolstered, they force the Scriptures to fit their ignorance. For the explanation of this divine assertion is as follows. Some men like these used to be in doubt about foods, and the Lord Himself, by way of exposing their ignorance, or, at any rate, making the deception patent to all, says that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, or makes him unclean, but what comes out of him. Then he goes on to say from where it comes out, namely, from the heart. For there He knows the evil treasures of profane thoughts and of the other sins to be. The Apostle who has had it taught to him says more concisely: “Food commendeth us not to God” (I Cor. 8:8). But even now one might reasonably enough say that no natural excretion commends us to God for punishment. Even the children of physicians (to be ashamed of their externals) might counter to this that certain necessary passageways have been given to the animal for the purpose of enabling each of us to eliminate superfluous humors that accumulate in our members. Thus, for instance, the hairs of the head are superfluities, or excess baggage; and the aqueous ejections from the head, and the expulsions from the stomach, and above all the emissions of seminal passages. After all, what sort of things, for God, O most God-beloved old fellow, constitute the sinfulness when the Lord has created the animal such and has wanted to have it have such passages in its members’?
summary dude? haha
St. Athanasius supports your position.
I am what you call, "Athanasius Re-incarnate!" (Of course, minus the genius, the boldness, the spirituality, the faith, the wisdom, the love, the Orthodoxy.... Ok, I'm nothing like him :'() haha
Regarding the Eucharist:
No, I do not agree. Why? Why should they not take communion? Communion is not a snack that will go to waste if we partake of it, and then happen to vomit. It is not something so perishable, so material and so degraded as common food.
Christ said "eat the FLESH of the Son of Man and drink HIS BLOOD". Jn 6:53 . (And even later in that chapter, Christ compared His perfect sacrifice to perishable matter "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead").
I believe this is the crux of the problem. We do not comprehend the true nature, purpose and mystery of the Eucharist, and we are losing ourslevs linguistically over worthiness and cleanliness. This issue is beyond that!
We take communion for salvation and the remission of sins: Christ also said: “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt 26:28)
Also consider the promises of partaking of the Eucharist.
- He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.
- Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
- Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
There is serious danger in viewing Holy Communion in a material way, because in an attempt to be more respectful towards it, we devalue the Holy Sacrifice and remove His real presence from the Sacrament .
"For in the type of bread, his body is given to you, and in the type of wine, his blood is given to you, so that by partaking of the body and blood of Christ you may become of one body and one blood with Him.” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
Regarding the partaker: How is this a deterrent from taking communion? This is actually the reason we all as chief sinners, take communion!
“For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord's death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy” (Saint Ambrose)
I'd also like to add that there is no relation between the flow of bodily fluid and the effect of sin. Firstly, because as Saint Athansius says (posted by Stavros) "All creatures of God are good and clean. For there is nothing useless or unclean that the Logos of God has made". And secondly, because the flow of blood, and vomiting are not reflections of a sinful nature and thus should not prevent anyone, man or woman, from partaking of the blessed mystery. We should approach Holy Communion with a clean and contrite heart. First of all, the parable really has no bearing on the convo as Christ was not talking about actual garments/physical appearance. He was using the parable to proclaim the transfer of the Kingdom from the faithless Jews to the Gentiles.
However, I do agree with you to some degree. We do need to approach the Eucharist with respect and reverence, being worthy by recognizing our unworthiness (because we are all unworthy to partake of the Communion of our Creator). So I agree with the attitude you have, but I strongly disagree with what you are defining as ‘inapprpriate garments’. I don’t think it should ever be defined by something as exterior and material as bleeding, but more of an inward thing.
This is why we pray in the prayer before communion:
“O Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should come under the roof of my house, for I am sinful, but say Thou first a word and my soul shall be healed… O Thou who disdained not to enter into the leper's house and to heal him, forbid me not to approach Thy pure Body and Thy Holy Blood, O Thou who prevented not the woman, who was a sinner, from kissing they feet.” (this one is taken from the st takla site, but they are all along the same lines)
I am so sorry this is so long! Lol
2.What do you say then to the fathers who claim that judas did not eat the passover nor did Christ,
"But after His public ministry He did not eat of the lamb, but Himself suffered as the true Lamb in the Paschal feast, as John, the divine an evangelist, teaches us in the Gospel written by him, where he thus speaks: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover.” And after a few things more. “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the third hour,” as the correct books render it, and the copy itself that was written by the hand of the evangelist, which, by the divine grace, has been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful. And again the same evangelist says: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath-day (for that Sabbath-day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” On that day, therefore, on which the Jews were about to eat the Passover in the evening, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified, being made the victim to those who were about to partake by faith of the mystery concerning Him, according to what is written by the blessed Paul: “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;” and not as some who, carried along by ignorance, confidently affirm that after He had eaten the Passover, He was betrayed; which we neither learn from the holy evangelists, nor has any of the blessed apostles handed it down to us. At the time, therefore, in which our Lord and God Jesus Christ suffered for us, according to the flesh, He did not eat of the legal Passover; but, as I have said, He Himself, as the true Lamb, was sacrificed for us in the feast of the typical Passover, on the day of the preparation, the fourteenth of the first lunar month. The typical Passover, therefore, then ceased, the true Passover being present: “For Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,” as has been before said, and as that chosen vessel, the apostle Paul, teaches."
St. Peter, Seal of The Martyrs. ANF volume 6, page 282-283
"But he has fallen into error by not perceiving that at the time when Christ suffered He did not eat the Passover of the law. For He was the Passover that had been of old proclaimed, and that was fulfilled on that determinate day."
St. Hippolytus of Rome, Against all heresies, ANF volume 5, page 240. If you want to find error with St. Cyril the pillar of the faith and go with Anba Shenouda then thats your prerogative, but i will not agree that St. Cyril the great taught error. A natural flow of blood is in no way equivalent, nor will it ever be, to that of catechumens who must be made to know and the live the faith that they are about to be baptized into. This is not a logical outcome of what you are saying. Absolutely. To be frank, I abhore this whole females wait 80 days and males 40 thing. Uhm, we are all absolved in each liturgy, i can live with the mother being absolved considering she has been removed from the church for 40 days likely for reasons of preserving her health. NO, and no, these are not logical outcomes of what is being said and they are both necessary things. I have yet to see who the person who partakes during their natural monthly processes are not appreciating the Eucharist. Plus Christ is the ultimate translant of life, the ultimate vine which we are grafted into and the preparation for this is Holy Baptism and Chrismation. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:25-28.
I do not think it is healthy to be so continually focused with the outward and external condition of man. I do not think that means that one should go with ripped jeans or scantily clad towards the Eucharist but nto because of their external appearance or garment. Rather I do believe that this reflects and internal disposition and one for whom the Eucharist is meaningless, and to this person it will be condemnation.
St. Paul tells us,
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”[g]
55 “O Death, where is your sting?[h]
O Hades, where is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:50-57.
and later he tells us,
26" For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29.
We have put on Christ in the sacrament of Baptism, we have become partakers of His death and His resurrection and His life.
St. Athanasius teaches us,
"The body of Christ was of the same substance as that of all men… and he died according to the common lot of his equals…. The death of all was being accomplished in the body of the Lord, and on the other hand, death and corruption were destroyed by the Word which dwelt in that body.” De Incarnatione. 20, PG, 25, col. 132 b.
St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches us,
"We maintain, therefore, that since human nature was suffering corruption because of Adam’s transgression, and since our intellect was being tyrannized by the pleasures or rather the innate impulses of the flesh, then it was necessary that the Word of God should be incarnated for the salvation of us who are on this earth. This was so that he could make his own that human flesh which was subject to corruption and sick with its desires, and destroy corruption within it since he is Life and Life-giver, bringing its innate sensual impulses to order." St. Cyril first letter to succensus Chapter 9 in Saint Cyril and The Christological Controversy John A. McGuckin SVS Press. (page356)
Now if we believe that Christ destroyed corruption within us through His death and resurrection and ascension, and that we are made partakers of Christ through baptism and the Eucharist, why would we need 'reminders of our former corruption"? What purpose would that serve? I think that outwardly its a nice argument and makes us feel nice about our answer as to this question but ultimately it is not satisfactory. For if this was a reminder of our corruption subsequent upon sin we should be running to the "medicine of immortality" (as St. Ignatius calls the eucharist) to rise above the corruption and to partake of incorruption and immortality through Christ.
pray for me.