Chastity, Purity, Integrity: Orthodox Anthropology and Secular Culture in the 21st Century

Holy Trinity Seminary
Jordanville, New York
March 7 – 9, 2019

This three-day conference focuses on the application of Orthodox teachings on anthropology and morality to contemporary challenges posed by secular American culture (even within the Church). It will include both scholarly and pastoral perspectives, with the goal of articulating the application of Orthodox Tradition and apologetics to current needs, in the face of current social trends regarding sex, body, and human nature. It seeks to do so in a prayerful and traditional framework, out of compassion for both struggling Orthodox Christians and families, and those of our neighbors facing spiritual shipwreck in our culture today.

Planning on attending? Please note:

The planning committee encourages attendants, in lieu of a set conference fee, to donate generously to the monastery and seminary, to help offset costs of hosting the conference and to support their blessed work.

On-site accommodations will be of limited availability for a fee, and donations will be needed for noonday meals. Other accommodations are available in neighboring towns such as Herkimer, Richfield Springs, and Cooperstown.

For more information, please contact:

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  1. A very good book on Russian revolution ; that is the first anti Tsar march 1917 one, is CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, PETROGRAD 1917 , Helen Rappaport. She is an excellent writer on Romanovs etc.. This book recounts the experiences of the St Petersburg’s large foreign colony, from intrepid brits, including anbassador and his wife to USA anbassador and his black valet as well as brave young american workers.
    Facinating account of collapse of a society from march to November 1917.
    But one vignette tells you all u need to know about what was to come. This was the destruction of police head quarters where the mob enter the chapel and despoil the eucharistic vessels on the altar while one soldier don’s a robe and mitre and starts to declaim mockingly from the Gospels. These are people who a week before would have crossed themselves etc in respect.
    Now this is in the first days of the march revolution. Tells you all you need to know.

  2. This is for GALE, THANK YOU FOR YR HUMANITY, and DBG. As it was my dying mother I feel i can say something.
    Firstly what happened has no connection to Ukraine and schismatics .
    It was an extreme personal situation. Perhaps ONE’S invective DGB should be pointed towards the greek priest in Southampton Uk who refused to come to the hospital because he could not be bothered, to give a life long deeply devout greek, greek Orthodox dying lady, the annointing and Holy Communion. And the response of her son to her DYING BEGGING FOR THE PRIEST. Stand in MY SHOES DBG and not that of the ‘rightious’ pharasee.
    On the eve of the fall of Constantinople just before Turkish final attack, on 28/May 1453 there was a final liturgy in Saint Sophia Cathedral where Catholic, and Orthodox, unionist ( Council of Florence) anti – unionist took COMNUNION together before facing the final hours.
    Had they removed their difference? NO, but they had for that one time and circumstances in the face of death as Christians shown an understanding. Thank you

    • Hi Niko, yes, Gail does have a big heart. You don’t need to explain or defend yourself and my intention was not to judge your actions. All that is between you and a good spiritual father who would have counselled you back then.

      Ask our Panagia to help you forgive the priest so that you do not burden yourself with that any longer. If nobody on here has already told you this, then know that they do not have your best interests at heart regardless of how supportive they may appear to be to you.

      You did also say that we Orthodox do not deny the reality of the sacraments of the Roman Catholics but it is my duty to let you know that this is not true. It is clear that most of our fellow posters also believe this and so it is disappointing that despite their vigorous posting that they would not make the effort to speak this truth to you with love.

      Well, that’s all I had to say. Forgive me for any offence that I may have caused you. May our all-good God grant eternal rest unto your mother!

  3. Hello, I have a question for anyone who might know the answer. How does a clergy person who is an alcoholic deal with drinking wine during Divine Liturgy? Hope this is not too impolitely phrased, but I was wondering and thought this would be a good place to ask. Thanks!
    – Beryl

    • Michael Bauman says

      Beryl, years ago my parish had a priest who had an alcohol problem.  He announced his problem to the congregation at the end of Liturgy one day.  The Bishop blessed him to appoint sub-deacons (we had no deacon) to consume the remaining gifts after Liturgy.  The priest continued to receive communion. I have known other recovering alcoholics to partake of the Body and Blood without difficulty.  

    • Addiction recovery says

      I would say that if a priest is an alcoholic, then he needs to be put on a leave of absence until the addiction is treated.  A priest or bishop’s position is such that he simply cannot serve if he is in active addiction (whether that be alcohol addiction, sex/porn addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, work addiction, etc.).  Many of us remember some high-profile cases (such as Bishop Demetri of the Antiochians) where priests/clergy have been put on leaves of absences because their addictions were not dealt with in a healthy manner and they eventually got themselves into severe consequences.
      The absolute worst thing is for faithful (or for other clergy or bishops) to enable a priest or bishop to continue in his addiction, to help hide it for fear that discussing it with him or with his matushka/presvytera would be more shameful.  Shame cannot survive being talked about.  The minute you start talking about it is the minute it starts healing.
      One of the worst aspects of our shame-based culture is that many think it is preferable to languish in addiction than to talk about and deal with the emotional hurts that drive one into addiction.  Pretty much always, it is deep shame and emotional hurt that the person never learned how to feel or deal with that’s the underlying driver.
      That’s the goal: to be “feeling what you’re feeling and dealing with those feelings.”  Stuffing feelings (as we Americans are taught to do too well, sadly) only leads to the numbed out/zoned out/dissociated state, which is the state that then leads right into addictions.  Our culture is replete with opportunities for us to numb out and dissociate (sex everywhere, endless video games, Facebook and internet dopamine to make us feel better temporarily, workaholics are praised in our culture, our President tells the non-military population to continue shopping and not think about the Iraq War, etc.). 
      We are told as a society that we shouldn’t be feeling what we need to feel, that we should numb out instead.  And there’s the old stereotype that women are never supposed to feel anger, men are never supposed to feel fear, and no one is ever supposed to feel pain.  Living life like this leads straight into addictions.
      So if you know this priest who’s an alcoholic, don’t waste time deliberating over how he deals with wine at Holy Communion.  Help him to get help, and don’t enable or hide his addiction.  If we enable or hide it, we are part of the problem.

    • Monk James Silver says

      We must bear in mind that the eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ retain the physical properties of bread and wine even after they become, by the action of the Holy Spirit, the very Body and Blood of Christ. This means that it is possible to get tipsy from too much Holy Communion, but that would be an abuse not contemplated in the following paragraphs.

      Orthodox Christian practice requires the bishop or priest who is officiating at the Divine Liturgy to receive both the Lord’s eucharistic Body and Blood in Holy Communion. He doesn’t need to receive a great deal of each, as we can see from the example of many priests serving together and each one gets only a small fragment of the Holy Bread and a tiny sip (or three) of the Holy Wine. He receives the fullness of Christ’s own Body and Blood no matter how small the portions. The same is true for the laity.

      If a priest is addicted to alcohol but continues to serve with his bishop’s blessing, he might take just the tiniest sip of the Blood of Christ, and the other priests or deacon(s) serving with him can consume what remains after the communion of the laity.

      If no deacon or other priests are present, the bishop might not bless an alcoholic priest to serve, or — as has happened (unusually) — a reader or other suitable lay person might be given the responsibility of consuming what remains of the Holy Gifts; this once happened to me, personally.

      If an alcoholic priest does not have his bishop’s blessing to continue serving the Divine Liturgy, he might possibly receive the Holy Communion of the Lord’s Body only, if he simply can’t handle even a tiny taste of His Blood.

      This is possible because of the way in which very young infants participate in Holy Communion: The priest touches the infant’s mouth with the merest quantity of the Lord’s Blood on the poon, but does not impart the Lord’s Body. The words of administration are altered accordingly.

      It’s impossible for people to imagine the sort of temptations which enter the soul of a priest. Let’s always remember the shepherds and pastors of The Church in our most earnest prayers, mindful that they are held to much higher standards than the rest of us.

      I hope this is helpful.

      • Monk James,
        “We must bear in mind that the eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ retain the physical properties of bread and wine even after they become, by the action of the Holy Spirit, the very Body and Blood of Christ. This means that it is possible to get tipsy from too much Holy Communion…”
        I wanted to thank you for saying this so clearly.
        My daughter-in-law has a very severe gluten allergy.  Because of this, when communing her priest gives her only the blood.  But it has sometimes presented issues when they are traveling and communing in a parish that doesn’t know her.
        She generally contacts the priest prior to visiting to explain her somewhat unique need. Unfortunately, she sometimes encounters resistance with an argument that usually goes something like, “It is no longer bread; it is the Body of Christ.  Thus, it cannot hurt you.”
        Aside from not being helpful or accommodating to her need (and trust me when I say that she has tried to partake fully with awful consequences), it seems to me to be an argument that comes perilously close to denying the full humanity of Christ.  Yes, His is not merely human flesh, even as the bread is not merely bread, but they are fully flesh and fully bread nonetheless.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I’d be interested. The Presbys were all grape juice so the issue never came up. The recovering alcoholic Lutherans I have known sat in the ‘grape juice pew’ at communion.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Until a century nd a half ago, when the Methodist pastor Welch arrived at a way to pasteurize grape juice so that it would not be fermented into wine, all Protestant groups — even those who railed against alcohol — used real wine for their version of communion. They sought an alternative only because they defied the scriptural definition of ‘wine’. Some really extreme sectarians, such as the Mormons — who aren’t even Christians — decided to use plain water instead.

        ‘Welch’s Grape Juice’ is still available in most grocery stores, and many of those naïve Protestants use it for their version of communion.

        But it’s not wine, it’s just grape juice, and it’s not Holy Communion.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          It’s quite true that the use of grape juice for communion is a phenomenon from the mid-19th century, and it went hand-in-hand with the Temperance movement. It was a big deal with the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. The Episcopalians and Lutherans would have none of it.

          Large numbers of parishioners in those denominations took the ‘pledge’ for generations. Long ago most retreated from personal teetotalism, and yet they retain it in communion practices, to this day. Most of it is identity stuff, like Greeks in Greek churches. “It’s always been that way.” But to this day, while the parson and all the congregation drink alcohol normally, communion in these denominations is still with grape juice.

          Moreover, to this day in most of these churches you can’t have alcohol at wedding receptions and the like; which can be inconvenient. It’s one of those things that most have considered superceded long ago on the theological side, but just persists.

          By the way, Welch’s grape juice will ferment very nicely and very fast if you leave it out of the refrigerator after opening, with container open, especially in the summer. I know this from multiple personal experiences. I reckon you could leave it in a warm place for a relatively short time, and you’d qualify it as wine for Communion purposes. Something to know in a pinch!

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            I should add that the dry wedding receptions of which I speak are receptions in church buildings, fellowship halls, etc. No problem is presented ‘off premises’ to most, if not all, of these larger denominations.
            The whole thing comes from the anti-alcohol movement in the US, which gathered powerful steam from the mid-19th century until the end of Prohibition. We shake our heads about it now, but, as we know, the movement became so socially powerful that it led to an amendment to the US Constitution. Theological gyrations followed the Movement: the Bible must be referring to ‘unfermented wine’; one of history’s greater oxymorons.

        • When I was a very young lad growing up in the rather bland (yet still faithful by today’s Protestant standards) “Christian Church,” communion (just a symbol to them) was served on trays like this.  Clean-up afterward was done on family rotation basis.  Quite a large number of these little glass cups were always left over, still full of Welch’s.  For a kid from a relatively poor family accustomed to Kool-Aid as the best tasting drink regularly served in our home (Coca-Cola was a very rare treat), ‘consuming the gifts’ (as it were) when it was our family’s turn was something I thoroughly enjoyed.  I would down as many as I could before mom and dad could pour them down the drain.  And this as an as yet unbaptized youngster who couldn’t partake during the service itself.
          To this day, I still love the taste of Welch’s.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            That is indeed your standard Protestant communion tray.
            I too like Welch’s grape juice, which is Concord grape juice. Had some this morning, though I like to dilute all juice with some water. One thing about it is that it is loaded with glucose (grape sugar after all) so it’s great before a swim or a hike or such for easy energy.

          • Monk James Silver says


            Brian (March 9, 2019 at 9:04 pm0 says:

            When I was a very young lad growing up in the rather bland (yet still faithful by today’s Protestant standards) “Christian Church,” communion (just a symbol to them) was served on trays like this. sSNIP

            Without commenting on the rest of ‘Brian’s’ interesting post, Id like to point out that, for us, the eucharistic Bread and Wine are symbols of Christ’s own Body and Blood, but not ‘JUST a symbol.

            St Basil the Great writes of the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion as ‘antitypes of the Body and Blood of Christ; he might just as well have called them ‘symbols’.

            The difference here is ontological: Protestants regard the eucharistic elements as a mere memorial, symbols of an ABSENT reality, while Orthodox Christians see them as symbols of a PRESENT reality, a way of making tangible a Mystery which would be inaccessible to us in its original form.

            Fr Alexander Schmemann used to analogize this by comparing it to a nation’s flag: At home, the flag is a symbol of the nation which is a present reality, but n a foreign land, the same flag is a symbol of an absent reality. All analogies ultimately fail, but this is a way of peering into the question.

            • Yes. Interestingly enough, the reality of symbol (properly understood) is one reason I had little difficulty accepting the Orthodox ‘understanding’ of (though one can never really fully grasp) the Eucharist. Even if they were ‘just’ symbols, why did we eat and drink them? And what, exactly, was being ‘symbolized’ by our doing so?

              In the same vein, if icons are only ‘things’ like any other thing, why the visceral human reaction to flag burning or crucifixes in jars of urine as ‘art’? I wouldn’t abuse or deface even a photo of a loved one. But why, if indeed it is nothing more than a chemical reaction on photographic paper?

            • Christopher says

              Flannery O’connor put it most succinctly:
              “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it”
              Flannery of course was referring to the modern nominalistic understanding of symbol (as in, “its just a symbol”) and not symbol properly understood in a realist sense.  Fr. Alexander Schmemann rightly saw what he called the “negation of worship” as a realist, symbological act as THE issue of Orthodoxy trying to be Orthodox within a modern, secular, nominalistic society/culture.
              Related to the point of this thread, a nominalistic understanding of creation/matter, and thus of the human body in all its particulars (such as sex) is at the root of the anthropological revolution (not sure “sexual revolution” covers it anymore) going on in our culture, and the import of this nominalistic anthropology, along with an ethic that relies too heavily on “fairness” as the premier virtue, is the cause of confusion within contemporary Orthodoxy.  Met. Kallistos Ware’s desire for women’s ordination and his strange pastoral recommendations  vis-a-vis homosexualism is an example we have discussed before.

  4. Good question or a communicant who is gluten intolerant.  I do not know. 
    There is a priest in USA, english as happens, fr Meletios Webber who has done vast amount of work with alcohol addiction, so he may know. Hope this helps