Tag Archives: Communion

Confession and Communion: A False Problem

Is it that confession is obligatory before every communion or is that you take communion whenever you want and have confession whenever you want?

Such is the false question which I first heard over forty years ago, to which any answer must also be false, for false questions can only have false answers. What is the reality?

Confession and communion are two different sacraments. Thus, you can have confession and not take communion and you can, in some circumstances, take communion without confession. In other words, you can have confession very often and take communion less often. This is the opposite of the modernism’s apparent hatred of confession and love of obligatory communion – which is not part of the Church. The impression given is that modernism does not believe that its adherents have any sins and that therefore they have nothing to repent of. If this is so, then it is spiritual pride. Of course, this impression may be quite wrong, but it is the one made. After all, a doctor does not prescribe medicine, if he cannot first make a diagnosis, and confession is precisely diagnosis.

If we are talking about nominal Orthodox who take communion only occasionally, perhaps once or twice a year or once or twice every ten or twenty years, then confession before every communion is the rule.

What about communion whenever you want and confession whenever you want? This statement is a piece of consumerism that treats the Church as a supermarket and has its roots in the anti-sacramental and therefore anti-priestly Protestant mentality that lies behind consumerism: ‘Do whatever you want whenever you want’. Little wonder that this mentality is that of certain unChurched converts, precisely of Protestant origin, who always take communion without confession and even scorn cradle Orthodox who do not take communion at every Liturgy. The result is that cradle Orthodox no longer attend convert services, feeling hostility. And that is a pity because it means that unChurched converts can no longer meet anyone they can learn from, with the result that convert ghettos are only reinforced.

What then is the ideal? It is to take communion, voluntarily, according to personal spiritual needs, when you spiritually need it (not when you want it – ‘want’ is the word of consumerists) and to have confession beforehand because we should need confession before communion. If we do not feel the need for confession, it suggests that we do not need communion. Put simply, if a full dustbin does not know that it needs emptying (confession), then it does not need filling (communion).

There are exceptions to this. Firstly, in parish life, for example during Passion Week or Bright Week or at other times as before the Nativity or Theophany, when there may be liturgies on several consecutive days and simply we may feel no need for confession two or more days running because the faithful are striving to live a quiet and devout life ‘in all godliness and honesty’. The second exception is in monastic life or among those who are living a monastic-style life in the world and may take communion more regularly but only have confession every few days or even every few weeks, according to their spiritual father’s directions.

Preparation before communion assumes not only confession, but also that the fast days in the week before communion and due abstinence are observed, together with the fast from midnight, that the faithful attend the vigil service (or vespers and matins) before the Liturgy and that they also read the rule before communion.

Modernism which has more or less abandoned the sacrament of confession (if it ever knew it) will say that it does not need confession frequently because the ‘early Christians’ took communion every day. This is dangerous spiritual pride. Are modernists seriously claiming that they live on the spiritual level of Orthodox in the first centuries who faced possible martyrdom every single day? Let us face reality. Those in modernist groups who want weekly or even daily communion (impossible for menstruating girls and women) are simply copying heterodox, for whom, in any case, there is no Body and Blood of Christ, but just biscuit wafers with or without some wine. And what is unconsumed among them, they throw away. Such modernism is not Orthodox and should learn what the Apostle Paul says and tremble:

Wherefore whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep. (I Cor 11, 27-30).

Confession and communion form a virtuous circle, for the benefits of communion depend directly on our preparation for it. Modernism which superstitiously misbelieves that communion is a sort of magic, which confers its benefits (listed in the prayers before and after communion) automatically, without any effort on our part, is sadly and dangerously mistaken. I have often seen the sorrowful consequences of this mistake in the past decades and they always lead to lapsing from the Faith, which is the only thing that Satan wants us to do.

On Being in Communion and Ecumenism


Thank you dear father for the quick response.

What do you think, is it time to leave communion with Constantinople because of the heresy of ecumenism? This is my personal opinion, but I admit I may be wrong… I am looking for answers to my questions about the consequences of communion with bishops who consider ecumenism as a path to the union of all Non-Orthodox with Orthodox.
Look at Patriarch Bartholomew’s meeting with a New York rabbi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN5TFb9fzvo (Preview)

…But the Jews still do not confess Christ!

I have also been a little bit confused when I saw a video with the then Metropolitan Kyrill in Canberra at the WCC in 1991:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTq7u0CEj6U (Preview)

“The World Council of Churches is the cradle of the One Church of the future… it is our common home”, he said, “and we bear a special responsibility for its destiny.”

Could you help me to understand these things?



Dear X,

I now understand your confusion. There are two points to make here:

1. We do not leave a whole Patriarchate just because a few individuals in it speak heresy. Can you imagine falling out of communion with the fathers of Mt Athos and the many excellent and faithful laypeople and clergy in Constantinople just because of a few heretical, politically-appointed individuals? Fr Paisios on Mt Athos stayed in communion with that Patriarchate. So should we too.

Forgive me, here I think you do not understand what the phrase ‘to be in communion with’ means. What does it mean to be in communion? For example, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is in communion with ROCOR, but I have never celebrated on the new calendar and no heretic has ever celebrated in my Church. This is because when new calendar priests come to our churches to concelebrate, they immediately have to change to the old calendar (though the new calendar is not a heresy, just a mistake) and if ever a heretic came to our church, I would not invite him to celebrate. This is something I practise, since we know a nearby priest who is a heretic, giving communion to heterodox. (Of course he is not part of the Russian Church (or of Constantinople) and is totally isolated from all other Orthodox – basically because he has excommunicated himself). To be in communion does not mean that we concelebrate with heretics and they concelebrate with us. To be in communion means that we are in communion with other Orthodox, who can be found in abundance in every Local Church, and that they are in communion with us. In any case, heretical individuals do not come to our churches and we do not go to their churches to concelebrate and they do not invite us. So in fact those individuals have already cut themselves off from communion with us and the rest of the Church. They have already excommunicated themselves.

2. 22 years ago, in 1991, the hierarchy of the Patriarchal part of the Russian Church was still under the control of the Communist Party which had imposed ecumenism on it in the 1960s. Its hierarchy was therefore not in communion with the free ROCOR. It is true that the then Metr Kyrill did make this statement about the WCC in Canberra. Since then, however, he has become free and he has renounced this heretical teaching several times, for example, in 2000 when he accepted the statement called the Social Concept of the Church at the first free Council of the Patriarchal Church, again in, I think, 2004, when the Patriarchal hierarchy repented publicly before ROCOR for falling under the influence of Communism and making invalid political statements, and again in 2008 when Metr Kyrill openly called Non-Orthodox ‘heretics’ at a speech at the Trinity St Sergius Lavra. The Patriarchal administration today publicly rejects all prayers with heretics, in tune with the masses of bishops, priests and people, and Patriarch Kyrill today is a free man who is openly Orthodox, without any of the old compromises of the past.

In other words, we must allow for repentance. Since God allows for repentance, so must we, especially since we too are imperfect sinners, needing repentance ourselves. It is no good quoting statements from 22 years ago made by people who were then slaves of an atheist State, in order to try and incriminate them, if they have repented since then. And this is exactly the case. We do not live in the past, but in the present and we look forward to the future.

Similarly, it is useless quoting Patriarch Bartholomew, since he is the slave of the Turkish State (an American puppet) and of the American State Department. This took over the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1948, deposing the last legitimate Patriarch, Patr Maximos, flying in their American puppet on the US Presidential jet to replace him, and funding it ever since. Simply, Patr Bartholomew is not free, so of course he makes heretical statements as a political appointee. What he actually believes we do not know, he is not free – and that is why we pray for him, just as we pray for all, including all our enemies. Indeed, this is how we recognise sects – they refuse to pray for the people they see as their enemies, which is against the Gospel. After all we all pray for the government authorities which rule the country where we live, whether we agree with them or not, for they may be atheist, homosexual or Muslim. This is because we want God to influence them so that they avoid making mistakes and acting against the Faith.

May God keep you in His Church!

Fr Andrew