Questions on the Eucharist and Confession
I Love Thy True Vine!!! But nobody seems to see the obvious were I come from. I feel like a Theologian compared to most of the Protestant pastors and elders. I served as an altar boy at St. Ann's in Pomona, was sent away by my parents to Holy Trinity Monastery as an young man for 6 months. I thought Orthodoxy was a cult.
It was not until I prayed out of a prayer book a very special Priest that I love, gave me, that my eyes could see Christ much clearer. I took it for granted how perfect the Liturgy is but I can't even convince my own wife of that.
But........ must I attend The Church (Orthodox Church) to receive the True Cup?
Is it wrong to reveal His Mystery to the ignorant?
Can I use the Saint's or Christ himself as my Confessor and Priest?
Whether or not He permits me to come back into his Holy Temple, I sure hope I meet an Orthodox Christian man who understands the significance of Tradition and history which is in perfect synchronization with the scriptures.
Truly I am sick in spirit and need a helper!
It's great to hear from you & I have also felt the way that you do now. The answer to your first question is yes, you do need to attend the Orthodox Church to receive the Eucharist. All churches claim to have the True Cup, but historically the Eastern Orthodox has never changed the Early Church teachings, nor broken away from any previous church, nor went through any reformations, etc. What the Early Church was, the Orthodox Church has been. However, the Catholic church was once part of the Early Church, until it broke away to form the papacy in AD 1054. They technically have the True Cup, yet their theology has become partly deviated from what the Apostolic Church had been and taught before AD 1054. Only when an Orthodox person is at the point of death, and there is no Orthodox priest available, is it acceptable that the dying Orthodox person may receive Communion from a Catholic priest. Otherwise, taking Communion from a Catholic priest is equivalent to accepting the altered doctrines of the papacy. So it is not advised.
The answer to your second question is no, it's not wrong to reveal Christ's Mystery to the ignorant. I assume that you mean by ignorant the people who are not part of the Church or who don't know the Gospel. It used to be in the Early Church that the Eucharist was never spoken about to Pagans and even to unbaptized Christians. In fact, unbaptized Christians were forced out of the main church area with the doors closed so that they would not see Communion taking place. But when Christianity became legalized and so many people knew the meaning of the Eucharist, even non-Christians, then it was no longer necessary to keep the Eucharist secret. The same is true today, even among Hindus, Buddhists, etc. They all know the basics of Christian worship, so talking about the Eucharist is not a problem, as long as everyone understands that it's a sacred belief of ours. In some cases, if it seems like the person may not respect or grasp it, then it may not be a good idea to say too much about the Eucharist being the literal Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. So there may be situations when talking about the meaning of the Eucharist should be minimized or kept secret.
The answer to your third question is no, you can't use the saints or Christ Himself as your confessor and priest. I assume you mean by confessor and priest the physical office of a human being on earth giving you Communion and hearing Confession beforehand. Though it's true that Confession and Communion with Christ can be spiritually practiced at home in private prayer or whatever, and the saints may be present with you during your devotions, the Bible and the Apostolic witnesses of the Early Church are unanimous in teaching that Confession and Communion should also be done through a priest on earth in the Apostolic Church. These are two Sacraments necessary for salvation, as taught in Scripture. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is the fact that an earthly confessor and priest will tell you things that you can't misinterpret or miss or ignore. Jesus taught the Apostles that whatever sins are forgiven then they are forgiven and whatever sins are retained then they are retained (John 20:22-23), which means that a confessor on earth must make that determination through what the Holy Spirit has arranged. This has always been interpreted this way since Early Church times. And when Jesus taught His disciples to remember His Eucharist (Matthew 26:26-29), the Early Church also referred these passages to teach Communion being the literal Body and Blood of Jesus. In both instances, they have been regarded as indicating how the Church on earth was to deal with sins and purify the soul before partaking of the actual Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.
I fully empathize with your feeling that you feel like a theologian around Protestant ministers, since they dismiss and selectively choose the teachings of the Early Church. But it's also possible to feel like that around Catholic priests, since Catholics assume that Early Church theology revolved only around Augustine and the popes. It can be quite discouraging in such an atmosphere and you may feel like you're crazy, especially with Protestants accusing you of going overboard with religion. It's also possible that you will be tempted to give up seeking or give up being so religiously motivated. But please don't get discouraged! There are Christians out there who have studied the Bible's spiritual context preserved in the writings of the Ancient Witnesses, the Early Christians. If you can't find them, then try to make contact with them and have some good discussions. If you like, you can write to me and/or some pen pals who I might find for you. Just let me know. It's quite encouraging and edifying to hear other people express what you're going through and talk about the Apostolic doctrines they've discovered, which Catholics and Protestants have suppressed.
I don't know how you can convince your wife about the Liturgy. The Liturgy is a time of prayer, when the Holy Spirit is expressed in body, soul, and spirit, and when Jesus Christ becomes immanent, not kind of being in the church, but actually present with us in worship. If she were to study its meaning with an open mind, read what the Early Christians said about it, and then was more exposed to it, then she might understand. But it's not easy for everyone to see it logically. You just have to pray for God's grace to come to her and to pray for the wisdom to express what the Liturgy is. I will say that the Liturgy is not designed by individuals, as it is in the Protestant churches. Protestant churches often try to make church services as fun and entertaining as possible, changing traditions all the time, and making people listen to ever-repetitive sermons. It's often true that a good or bad Protestant church is determined by who the minister is on the stage, I mean, altar. But the Liturgy is never affected by good or bad priests; the worship and the experience are the same because they come unchanged from the Apostles in the Holy Spirit. That is how the first Christians understood it, and that is how it has remained. In fact, Orthodox are taught that Christ is literally present in the Eucharist and that the saints and angels are literally present during Liturgy. Heaven and earth are united in reality, not just in theory, as Ephesians 1:7-10 teaches about Christ's Body and Blood being the Mystery uniting Heaven and earth. That's what the Liturgy is about and why the Holy Spirit is present in it, not as a semi-social club, but as a mystical devotion. The Early Christians believed this way because the Apostles taught them this way. Anything else is man-made.
Anyway, I hope that this e-mail has been some help for you. Keep praying and researching, & write back for more discussions and/or pen pals. I'll try my best to help.