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Author Topic: Evening Divine Liturgies  (Read 7228 times) Average Rating: 0
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frost
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« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2007, 12:22:55 AM »

Dear Friends:

I must respectfully disagree with those who say there is no precedent for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the evening. 

In the 20th chapter of the book of Acts, the story is related of a young man, Eutychus, who falls asleep because the sermon lasts until after midnight during the Liturgy ( the breaking of bread).

In the 11th chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes the Eucharist taking place during an evening meal. He even complains about those who start eating before the others and those who get drunk !

We should also remember that our Lord instituted the Eucharist during the Mystical Supper; not the Mystical Breakfast !

We need to be discerning. Tradition does not mean a slavish imitation of what was done one hundred years or six hundred years ago. The church's liturgy has evolved overtime. At one time, the short Kontakion hymn was an entire cantata. The fact is *every* parish uses an abbreviated form of the Typicon. if we celebrated the entire Orthros according to the monastic Typicon, the Orthros alone would last nearly 4 hours.

When I was first trained as a cantor in the Russian church, over thirty years ago, I was taught out of a text called "Nastol'naya Kniga", an explanatory description of the church services. I remember that descriptions often concluded with "or at the discretion of the rector". I may not be quoting this correctly - it was a *very* long time ago; but I do remember that the Typicon does give some latitude to the parish priest as to the manner in which the services are performed, with the blessing of his bishop of course.

It seems to me, that the evening celebration of the Eucharist, is not so much an "innovation " as a practical return to an ancient practice.

Best wishes,

Francis Frost
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« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2007, 05:15:16 AM »

Francis,

I would submit that the issue of whether or not there is precedence for the practice is moot, since there are examples of many practices in the Bible which are not continued.  The same 11th Chapter of 1st Corinthians tells us to eat if we're hungry before gathering for the Lord's Supper - a practice which may have been followed at first, but which later the Church dec, aided in Her Wisdom to discontinue.  In the end, Orthodoxy's view that Holy Tradition is equal or greater than Holy Scripture should guide the discussion - the practice of Evening Liturgy has been reserved for special times of the year (prescribed only for a few feasts and Presanctified in Lent), and even then the Vesperal Liturgy has been placed in the morning so as not to put undue burden on the people (go ahead, read the Typikon - it says that Vesperal Liturgy for Christmas and Epiphany is to take place in the morning after Royal Hours, the day before the feast; same with Presanctified, which is to take place the in the morning the day before the feastday). 

The Church saw that people wouldn't/couldn't do the all-day fast that would be required for a Vesperal Liturgy, so she moved her Liturgies to the morning.  The same 11th Chapter of 1st Corinthians speaks of making sure one is prepared to receive the Body and Blood of Christ... So while we, out of "pastoral concern," wish to do Evening Liturgies so people can make it after work, we're not being very pastoral when we ask of them to not eat during a full workday.  Our usual compromise - telling them not to eat for 6 or 8 hours before - ruins the picture of the daily nature of Liturgy and the fast of the day that is associated with it, instead attaching only some idea of the empty belly to our Eucharistic Fast.
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« Reply #47 on: January 24, 2007, 09:52:42 AM »

I agree with Cleveland, but I am of the mind that "something" is better than "nothing."  We should probably state that the morning liturgy is the best way to celebrate the weekday feasts and let the priest use his discretion.

In regards to fasting 6 to 8 hours before, my older Greek friends say that's all they used to fast for Sunday mornings. Meaning, they always ate late on Saturday night (as they did every day of the week) and Liturgy began at 7am. The church was also in the village so fasting wasn't an issue. You just woke up, dressed and walked to church a few hundred yards. These 10:30am Liturgies and American "supper at 6" lifestyles makes fasting for communion difficult for most.

Basil
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frost
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« Reply #48 on: January 24, 2007, 11:11:13 PM »

Dear Cleveland:

Not to belabor a point, but..

When the church moved the Liturgy from evening to mornings, it was for the sake of the people. That *was* an innovation. If serving the Liturgy in the evening is *now* an innovation, so what ? - if it is done for the sake of the people.

The Liturgy is the "people's work". There is something profoundly anti-liturgical about a Liturgy with no people. For many years I worked the graveyard shift so that I could be available to sing those feast day Liturgies - in both an OCA and a Greek parish. I could not count the number of Liturgies attended by myself and the priest, or *maybe* a few baba's or yaya's. To me, there is something wrong with that picture.

When a new priest in our OCA parish started evening Liturgies, the church was filled - the same for the Presanctified liturgies. Most parishes have a lenten pot-luck after the Presanctified Liturgies. People not only participate in the Liturgy, they are encouraged to keep the fasts - not a small accomplishment in this day and age.

In our Wichita diocese of the Antiochian Archdiocese, the hybrid Vesperal Liturgies are no longer served; but the Liturgy *is* sometimes served on the eve of a feast - with the usual festal Liturgy preceded by the Orthros. These services are well attended -at least in Wichita and Tulsa where we attend services.

Our Lord said: "The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath".  Could we not say the same for the Typicon ?  Please understand, I don't mean to advocate *for* any particular form; but I do believe that our bishops and priests should be able to exercise some discretion about the performance of the Liturgy in a way the best benefits their parishioners. Is that not reasonable ?

The good news is that at least, we are talking about such things. When I was young, no one knew or cared much about liturgical practice. In those days, the church was just for old folks. Now there are young people and families filling the church. Glory to God for that !

Best wishes,

Francis Frost
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« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2007, 02:18:02 PM »

When the church moved the Liturgy from evening to mornings, it was for the sake of the people. That *was* an innovation. If serving the Liturgy in the evening is *now* an innovation, so what ? - if it is done for the sake of the people.

Baseless conjecture. I challenge you to come up with ONE 1rst or 2nd century source that speaks of a Christian community that used to celebrate the eucharistic liturgy in the evening, but then decided to move the time "for the sake of the people."

Regardless, if we are to base things solely on antiquity and the scriptural witness, we shouldn't forget that no early source records a weekday eucharistic "feast." As far as we know (from extant evidence), the earliest communities only celebrated the liturgy on Sundays. The Didache, Pliny's Letter to Trajan, Justin Martyr and the reconstructed text of Celsus' "On the True Doctrine" all speak of the assembly on the Lord's Day (the day of the Sun). Pliny and Celsus specifically mention that the assembly took place early in the morning, since this was both the day and the time of the Lord's resurrection.

Of course, Tertullian tells us that some Christians would take the Eucharist home with them, so as to commune on it in between eucharistic gatherings, but this practice fell out of use for obvious reasons. According to Taft (if I remember correctly...do you remember, cleveland?), this was one of the reasons why the Church created the first Vesperal Liturgy, i.e. the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. Since there could only be ONE eucharistic celebration (and that on the Lord's Day), and since the people still wanted to receive more than once a week, the Church needed to do a liturgy without a consecration. We still think along similar lines during Great Lent, wherein the Divine Liturgy itself is reserved for Saturdays or Sundays.

Anyway, any change in the Typikon is a matter for the Bishops. I'm thankful that those in the Ecumenical Patriarchate have more-or-less resisted weekday Vesperal Liturgies and find it noteable that the most knowledgeable Antiochian hierarch has done the same.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2007, 02:55:11 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2007, 09:13:38 PM »

Dear Pensateomnia:

Please be more specific.  What is baseless conjecture ?

If you mean the fact the the first Liturgies were in the evening, then we need look no further than the New Testament.

Matthew 26:20    "And when it was evening... '"
Mark 14:17    "And when it was evening..."
Luke 22:20   "And likewise the cup after supper..."
John 13:2    "and during supper..."
Luke 24:29  "stay with us, for it is toward evening, the day is now far spent... and He took the bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened."

Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them... and he prolonged his speech until midnight...""

I Corinthian 11:17 - 33

Each of these scriptural references to the Eucharist, places it in the evening.

This in *not* baseless conjecture. It is the Bible !

As Cleveland pointed out, the Liturgy was later moved to the morning in order to accommodate those who were fasting before communion. This was *at that time* an innovation. What it tells us, is that an innovation is permissible for the sake of the flock.

You are absolutely right to say that it is the prerogative of our bishops to decide *when*, and *how* the Liturgy is to be performed. What is more, they need no imprimatur from me, or you, to do so.

While it is true that we do not use the Vesperal Liturgy format in our diocese, Bishop Basil does serve the Divine Liturgy in the evening - most notably on his Name's Day, if it does not fall on a weekend. I can tell you this with confidence, as I have attended those Liturgies every year for the past seven years. This too, is not conjecture.

What troubles me about so many of these postings is that while there are multiple references to  patrisitcs and  liturgical references - there is no reference to the scriptures at all ! Hopefully this is not indicative of what our seminaries are teaching these days !  Tradition and Scripture are inseparable. They are two sides of the same coin. The holy Fathers never made an argument without reference to the Scriptures.

What is far more troubling about these arguments, is the implied criticism of others. "Look at what those Antiochians,.. or those Greeks, ... or those Russians are doing! " Those people, whatever they are doing, are our fellow Orthodox Christians. Last fall, on another web-site, a retired bishop of the OCA roundly criticized the Greek bishops for holding an Aghiasmo followed  by a barbeque for the Holy Cross. "What kind of Typicon are following, he said"  Never mind, that the offending barbeque was held the weekend *after* the fast day !  It is this kind of self-righteous, Pharisaical bickering that keeps us Orthodox separated from each other. St Paul told us: "Let all that you do, be done in love".

We will not be saved by our perfect performance of the Typicon; but we may be damned by our scorn for our brothers and sisters.

Forgive me for speaking so boldly; but many of my generation sacrificed much for the sake of Orthodox unity - hopefully it was not in vain !

Best wishes to all for the coming Holy Fast

Sincerely,

F Frost
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pensateomnia
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« Reply #51 on: January 27, 2007, 05:51:12 PM »

What is baseless conjecture ?

You seem to have read too quickly. I shall simply re-post what I previously wrote with some added emphasis. Perhaps the bold function will help clear things up.

I challenge you to come up with ONE 1rst or 2nd century source that speaks of a Christian community that used to celebrate the eucharistic liturgy in the evening, but then decided to move the time "for the sake of the people."

As for the other stuff: It's really a non-issue for me personally. I simply follow what my Bishop says. End of story.

If I must engage in a general commentary, however, I would venture to say that (in my experience) the American clergy is more likely to err on the side of unilaterally altering the Typikon (or even ignoring it!). The best priests and bishops I have known (as in, the best pastors and spiritual fathers) have always been keenly attentive to proper teleturgical praxis. Of course, the Typikon carries no dogmatic or salvific value, but humble obedience, good order and uniformity in practice are too easily replaced with laxity or innovation -- often without proper consultation.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 05:54:20 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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