Monday, February 6, 2012

Athonite meets World

Excerpt from a letter dated 23 April, 1903, to Father John of Kronstadt, from the Hieromonk (priest-monk) Kirill, an Athonite monk recently reassigned to Odessa:
I have never had to encounter confessees like the ones in Odessa...and because of this it is hard for me to absolve great sins at confession. At the same time, I don't see how I can apply the church strictures in all their force, and so I am utterly baffled as to what to do . Here are the most puzzling questions:
1. May one absolve a murderer who has committed this sin only a few days before confessing it, and what sort of an epitimia (penance) should one give him? 
2. May one absolve--and give the Holy Mysteries to: 1) a fornicator; 2) an adulterer; 3) men who commit bestiality (скотоложник); 4) a pederast (мужеложник)--who committed the sin a few days ago? What sort of penance should I give him? 
3. What do I say to people who are living in sin, and do not want to stop? 
4. What do I say to a married couple that practices withdrawal to avoid having children? 
5. What do I say to men who lie with men, and women who lie with women? 
6. Can lawful spouses who have had intercourse the previous night be allowed to communion? 
7. May lawful spouses who have had relations "through the back way" be absolved? What about unlawful [unmarried] ones? And what sort of penance should they receive?

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