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eremitism and the sacraments

Discussion in 'St. Athanasius Chapel and Reference Library' started by Diced Potatoes, Jul 6, 2022.

  1. Diced Potatoes

    Diced Potatoes New Member

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    I don't have a very good grasp of the eremitic way of life, or very much knowledge of Orthodoxy in the first place, but in what little reading I have done I have come across some stories about famous hermits who are venerated by the Church as saints.

    From what I understand, regular participation in the Eucharist and confession, etc. in Orthodoxy are the/a primary means of grace for people and are at least extremely helpful for salvation. That is what I understand. But how did someone like St. Mary of Egypt avail herself of the Eucharist and Confession during her time in the desert? She did take communion before going into the desert, but during all her time there I don't think that she did. I understand that St. Zosima brought her Communion after encountering her. Was she Confessed? I thought that Confession was extremely important in the life of a Christian.

    I don't remember the names, but that there have been lots of other hermits who only took communion or were confessed at very infrequent intervals due to their seclusion.

    On the basis of that assumption, what is the Orthodox teaching on the frequency that these sacraments should be received, and how that frequency relates to theosis and salvation? St. Mary is highly venerated, and I assume that she must have been extremely holy and very near to God during her time in the desert--how was this possible without access to the sacraments? On the one hand, the situation of a desert hermitess like St. Mary is pretty atypical, but on the other hand she was a human being so it seems relevant.

    I am abandoning Protestantism for lots of reasons, but the sort of individualistic "just me and Jesus" idea of religion is part of it. I'm not saying that's the outlook of holy hermits, but I don't have a way (yet) of reconciling this idea of eremitism as an individual spiritual exercise largely separated from the corporate life of the Church, and the all-important corporate aspect of Christianity, where the sacraments are received and so forth. I suppose there are false assumptions in what I just wrote, so please point them out to me. I don't really know what I'm talking about.
     
  2. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    those saints are exceptions, not the rule. someone like St Mary has a unique calling. but having said that, they all live intense lives of repentance and prayer, which actually helps unite them to the rest of the Church. and their lives still require the sacraments.
     
  3. Justin-H.S.

    Justin-H.S. (Constantine Option)

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    Think of it this way: In the case of Evangelicalism "Just me and Jesus" is the norm, whereas in Orthodoxy "Just me and Jesus" is not the norm. Hermits are the exception. Struggling as a community is the norm.
     
  4. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    and even with the hermits, it’s never, “Just me and Jesus.”
     
  5. Diced Potatoes

    Diced Potatoes New Member

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    I think I understand that, I was only talking about my hangups.


    Thank you for your answers!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2022
  6. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    it’s all good, these things take time. no rush.
     
  7. Andrew.H

    Andrew.H Member

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    No one in the Church is ever really alone, but that sense of disconnectedness was one of many things that cause my dissonance from the baptist tradition when I was young.
     
  8. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    These ascetics are often granted gifts of clairvoyance, through which they become aware of, then lift up their own prayers, for others out in the world.
    There were times where elder Joseph the Hesychast would be downcast and when the brothers asked him what was wrong, he would reply that "someone was suffering". In the next week a letter would arrive at the monastery from the very person the elder had become aware of. They are apart from the world but are actively praying for the same
     
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