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Author Topic: Concelebration in Orthodoxy  (Read 3408 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 22, 2007, 12:23:56 AM »

 According to what I understand Orthodox Canon law allows  only one Eucharist to be celebrated on one altar on one day.

In my church the OO church in India, concelebration is very rare, we do have multiple altars in one Church, and rarely if a pontiff is present, 3 bishops, or a Bishop and 2 priests will celebrate on the 3 altars individually, with the lead celebrant on the main altar chanting the prayers, and the remaining two celebrants whispering the anaphorae.

However in the EO church I have seen pictures of upto 3 priests concelebrating on one altar. How is this done? Does each priest celebrate portions of the Eucharistic liturgy?

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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2007, 12:38:03 AM »

I don't know if EO practice is the same, but the Byzantine Catholic Ordo has rubrics about which prayers the celebrant says and which the concelebrants say.  All recite the Anaphora but only the principal Celebrant aloud.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2007, 12:41:13 AM »

In my church the OO church in India, concelebration is very rare, we do have multiple altars in one Church, and rarely if a pontiff is present, 3 bishops, or a Bishop and 2 priests will celebrate on the 3 altars individually, with the lead celebrant on the main altar chanting the prayers, and the remaining two celebrants whispering the anaphorae.

However in the EO church I have seen pictures of upto 3 priests concelebrating on one altar. How is this done? Does each priest celebrate portions of the Eucharistic liturgy?

This is Coptic Orthodox practice also. In the Coptic Orthodox Church there are many parishes with three altars, but I have never witnessed or heard of more than one of them being used simultaneously. When we have more than one celebrant available, the highest ranking one leads the Liturgy; he kisses and leaves the altar for the other celebrants to perform various parts of the Liturgy on the same altar.
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2007, 01:04:29 AM »

EA,

  Can you elaborate, so are all the celebrants vested. A similar celebration took place in one of our churches, and a big debate over the canons has erupted in our online world Smiley.

Deacon Lance can you tell me more about how such a celebration is done in the Byzantine tradition.
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2007, 01:12:23 AM »

According to what I understand Orthodox Canon law allows  only one Eucharist to be celebrated on one altar on one day.

In my church the OO church in India, concelebration is very rare, we do have multiple altars in one Church, and rarely if a pontiff is present, 3 bishops, or a Bishop and 2 priests will celebrate on the 3 altars individually, with the lead celebrant on the main altar chanting the prayers, and the remaining two celebrants whispering the anaphorae.

However in the EO church I have seen pictures of upto 3 priests concelebrating on one altar. How is this done? Does each priest celebrate portions of the Eucharistic liturgy?

We try our best to carry over the ancient practice: one Liturgy that is the Synaxsis (gathering) of the community - if there are 3 or 4 or 10 Presbyters, and even a bishop or 2 or however many, then they celebrate together, the seniormost standing in front of the Altar and reading the Anaphora, with all the clergy rotating on the other prayers and exclamations.
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2007, 01:32:13 AM »

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Can you elaborate, so are all the celebrants vested?

Yes. There are some cases, however, of a clergyman merely attending inside the altar without being vested (and who is hence not technically a "celebrant"), and then vesting himself towards the end in order to assist the main celebrant in the distribution of the Eucharist. This however does not apply in cases where a higher ranking clergyman is present; in such cases, the lower ranking clergyman cannot proceed as the primary celebrant whilst the higher ranking clergyman is also present yet not celebrating. In the biography of St. Severus of Antioch we read of an incident where he attended a Liturgy in Wadi El Natroun, Egypt (where the famous Deir El-Sourian--the Monastery of the Syrians--resides in the midsts of many other Holy Monasteries) disguised as a monk; during the Liturgy the Eucharistic offering disappeared from the altar. After much prayer and tears, an Angel appeared to the celebrant priest notifying him of the presence of a higher ranking clergyman--St. Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch. Upon hearing of this, the priest begged St. Severus to enter the altar and continue the Liturgy. As soon as St. Severus entered the altar, the Eucharist re-appeared.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2007, 10:57:07 AM »

Here's a question to throw a spanner in the works.

It seems that it is commonly understood that only a single liturgy is to be prayed on a single altar on any one day. What if, then, we were to pray on a table with an altar board--would we need multiple altar boards or multiple tables or multiple combinations in order to be able to pray multiple liturgies on the same day???

Now I bet that one's got you scratching your head... Huh
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2007, 11:30:29 AM »

Here's a question to throw a spanner in the works.

It seems that it is commonly understood that only a single liturgy is to be prayed on a single altar on any one day. What if, then, we were to pray on a table with an altar board--would we need multiple altar boards or multiple tables or multiple combinations in order to be able to pray multiple liturgies on the same day???

Now I bet that one's got you scratching your head... Huh

Not really.  It's quite simple. 

I assume when you are speaking of an "altar board " you mean the wooden tablet used instead of an altar in OO  Churches.   In the Eastern Orthodox Church, what is needed for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy is an antimension.  This is a cloth of linen or silk with an iconic representation of the entombment of Christ on it.  It is consecrated and signed by the bishop, and has a relic sewn into it.  No priest can celebrate a liturgy without an antimension, which literally means "instead of the table". 

To answer your question, you would have to use a different antimension at each liturgy.  If you celebrated a couple of liturgies using the same kitchen table each time, that would be fine, but the antimension would have to be different each time. 

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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2007, 12:35:13 PM »

To answer your question, you would have to use a different antimension at each liturgy.  If you celebrated a couple of liturgies using the same kitchen table each time, that would be fine, but the antimension would have to be different each time. 

To say it would be fine to use the same table just as long as you use different antimension isn't really accurate. It may be done by some but the Eastern Orthodox as a whole prescribes to the "One Liturgy, One Altar" mantra. In churches were multiple liturgies are served you will often find multiple altars or small narrow movable tables that fit in front of the altar just wide enough to hold the antimension and Gospel book.
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2007, 08:45:32 PM »

Is there any reason for the restriction of one liturgy per altar per day? I mean if that's the case why not even go further and say one liturgy per church per day...It just seems like really an unnecessary restriction...
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2007, 07:09:04 PM »

Is there any reason for the restriction of one liturgy per altar per day? I mean if that's the case why not even go further and say one liturgy per church per day...It just seems like really an unnecessary restriction...

The altar, the priest, and the vessels have to fast for 9 hr before a Liturgy, and can only have one Liturgy per day.  So if for some reason there's an evening Liturgy for the eve of Monday, the Sunday Liturgy will have to end early so that both Liturgies are on different days, and there is 9 hr in between.  If there are two Liturgies in one day the altar and vessels have not been 'fasting' (unused) for 9 hr after the first one, so a second altar with vessels is used by a second priest to celebrate a second Liturgy in the same church.  This is commonly done in Coptic churches if the congregation is large, or if there is need for separate English & Arabic Liturgies (and multiple preists available).
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2007, 08:22:16 PM »

This is Coptic Orthodox practice also. In the Coptic Orthodox Church there are many parishes with three altars, but I have never witnessed or heard of more than one of them being used simultaneously.

Our GOA parish has 3 altars as well.
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2007, 08:25:28 PM »

When, how and why did this rule of one liturgy per altar come to be???
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2007, 09:50:21 PM »

When, how and why did this rule of one liturgy per altar come to be???

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think always... In the early church I believe it was always just one Liturgy per day with the whole church together, and later when it became needful to have multiple Liturgies for practical needs the way this was accomplished was by adding more altars.  Hopefully someone else knows more certainly about this though.
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2007, 01:10:36 AM »

My priest told me that the reason the restriction is for only one, was to keep the community a community. By having more than one liturgy, it supposedly divided the community since not all were present at the same time and in effect made multiple communities within the same parish...the 10 0 clock senior Liturgy-goers the 1 pm liturgy goers with babies etc...
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2007, 02:34:51 AM »

The altar, the priest, and the vessels have to fast for 9 hr before a Liturgy, and can only have one Liturgy per day.  So if for some reason there's an evening Liturgy for the eve of Monday, the Sunday Liturgy will have to end early so that both Liturgies are on different days, and there is 9 hr in between.  If there are two Liturgies in one day the altar and vessels have not been 'fasting' (unused) for 9 hr after the first one, so a second altar with vessels is used by a second priest to celebrate a second Liturgy in the same church.  This is commonly done in Coptic churches if the congregation is large, or if there is need for separate English & Arabic Liturgies (and multiple preists available).

I'd love to see the source for this information (I'm a liturgics nerd, what can I say?)...
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2007, 04:10:39 AM »

My priest told me that the reason the restriction is for only one, was to keep the community a community. By having more than one liturgy, it supposedly divided the community since not all were present at the same time and in effect made multiple communities within the same parish...the 10 0 clock senior Liturgy-goers the 1 pm liturgy goers with babies etc...

Do you have more than one divine Liturgy a week? Then you are dividing the community! Do you have more than one local Orthodox parish serving a divine Liturgy on the same day? Then you are dividing the community! "Dividing the community" is inevitable; it would take the enforcement of a rather onerous canon in order for there to be any real practical means of preventing a "division" of the community along the lines of time and place. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we are one community by virtue of our common participation of the Grace of God; the Eucharist partaken of by A at the 6:00 a.m. Liturgy at St. John's on Tuesday, is the same as the Eucharist partaken of by B at the 6:00 p.m Liturgy at St. John's on Tuesday, is the same as the Eucharist partaken of by C at the 6:00 p.m. Liturgy at St. John's on Wednesday, is the same Eucharist partaken of by D at the 6:00 p.m Liturgy at St. George's on Wednesday.
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2007, 04:13:26 AM »

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I'm a liturgics nerd, what can I say?

 Roll Eyes A liturgics nerd who passes up the opportunity to answer a liturgical question asked of him twice?! You are a disgrace to all liturgic nerds; you put their name to shame.
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2007, 09:51:49 AM »

When, how and why did this rule of one liturgy per altar come to be???

I can't quite pin down when the tradition comes into play - I haven't seen any accounts of the ancient Church having more than one.  Originally, the standard seemed to be one per community, and that community had an altar which they gathered at.  I suppose this answer can also go towards another question posed in another thread:

Cleveland and Anastasios,

I understand what you guys are saying, but I'm not sure you guys understood my argument as to why, in terms of practical reality, such a canon seems pretty useless.

Practically speaking, the most common max. frequency that the average Orthodox Christian would likely participate of the Eucharist, is once a week; wouldn't you agree? If we can assume that such is a reasonable general assumption to make, then you still have the same problem (and I am just granting the assumption that there is in fact a "problem" for arguments sake here) of dividing the congregation at any given parish that performs more than one weekly Liturgy. For example, for the congregation of the parish that serves Sunday and Friday Liturgies, Sunday may be the ideal time for some of the congregation, whilst Friday may be the ideal time for others. Essentially then, you have the possibility of two distinct sets of faithful communing weekly on two different occasions, which according to your logic, is in effect the creation of two churches a week. Does this then call for a canon to limit the performance of Liturgies to once a week in order that all weekly attendants partake of the Eucharist on a common day without being split between different days of the week? 

The standard of Community is this: Sunday is the Synaxsis of the Church, where its members gather to celebrate the Resurrection.  So the rule of "one liturgy per community per day" influences the dynamic in two real senses: it keeps a unified worshipping family on a particular Saint's day or Feast of the Lord/Theotokos, and it keeps a unified worshipping family on the Synaxsis of the Church.  Sunday is the day which the Fathers have said attendance at Church is really not optional - our status in the community of Faith depends on our attendance at Sunday Liturgy.  Missing Sunday Liturgy regularly separates us from the body of Christian believers (by both application of the theology and by canon).  Since we must attend Sunday Liturgy, the application of One Liturgy One Community puts all the members of the local Eucharistic Community together at least once a week, celebrating the Lord's Day.

The other weekday Liturgies are not intended to be alternatives to Sunday Liturgy, nor do the priests generally want them to compete with Sunday or take the burden from Sunday.  With that in mind, the rule "One Liturgy One COmmunity" when applied to the weekday Liturgies serves the same purpose: weekday Liturgies are only scheduled when they have significance to the Local Community - major feastdays which affect everyone, and other feastdays which impact the community either as a whole or through a few of its members.  Thus, weekday Liturgy is a Community event, and One Liturgy is the act of the community on that day.
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2007, 10:16:10 AM »

So I take it that the rule doesn't really apply in the case of weekday Liturgies that have no special significance. In our Church, as I mentioned before, we have at least one Liturgy every day of the week regardless. We certainly don't repeat Feast day Liturgies though.

Btw, using Sunday was a bad example; I never meant to imply that Sunday was optional. I could easily have said any other day; it wasn't important to the essential principle I was trying to argue for.

As to the practice of the "ancient Church", I guess your argument is really one that stems from silence. As far as I know though, one of the most ancient Coptic Churches that was destroyed in Adrib, had 12 altars. The original (4th century) Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia, also had 12 altars.

Anyway, thanks for the clarification.


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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2007, 02:46:04 PM »

Ethiopia maintains 3 Alters when possible in each parish church.

The liturgy is only celebrated at one time from start to finish on the center alter. The other two are not used for liturgy.

A second liturgy can be done on the center Alter after the first in the same day. This is allowed ONLY when there is 3 alters. However Ethiopia tries to limit one lliturgy per day as the norm.

A divine liturgy in Ethiopia requires no less than 3 deacons and 2 priests. The alter may have more clergy present but only the 3 D and 2 P are actually peforming the liturgy. If the arch bishop are bishop is present he will perform acts of blessing over the people when is required during the liturgy.


I notice that India allows the deacons to cense during the liturgy. I have not seen this in other OO Churches. The deacons are very good with the censor where I have seen it done I must say.
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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2007, 10:21:35 PM »

Cleveland,

In a thread on another Orthodox message board], an inquirer recently asked:

Quote
My understanding is that the rule is 1 Antimins/1 Priest/1 Liturgy per day. Assuming this is correct, does anyone have a reference to a canon regarding this, or is it more custom?

To which a Copt answered:

Quote
I believe if there is more than one altar and priest then multiple liturgies may be prayed just as long as it's not the same altar or priest on the same day...My understanding is that at least a 9 hour gap is required if the one altar is to be used or the same priest is to be praying...Well at least that's the tradition in the Coptic Orthodox Church...

To which a Russian Orthodox priest confirmed:

Quote
We can do the same which is why a lot of our larger churches have more than one altar.[/quote
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« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2007, 03:09:56 AM »

In India 3 altars is generally preferred, although finance is often the overriding decision maker. There are a couple of churches with 9 and 12 altars. Why do some churches require a deacon necessarily for a Eucharist.

In the Armenian Badarak i think it is the Deacon who reads the Gosplel. In India the Readers and Subdeacons read the epistles , the Gospel reading is done by the celebrant.
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« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2007, 03:23:53 AM »


To which a Russian Orthodox priest confirmed:

Quote
We can do the same which is why a lot of our larger churches have more than one altar.

EA, I don't think that was exactly what the Russian priest said. It seems that for EO they are only allowed a single liturgy per liturgical day however this does not necessarily equate to a single liturgy per 24 hr period...Actually, I don't think I've come across any EO churches that have an early and late liturgy like many westerners practise and we do the same in the Coptic church, although I'm not sure about other OO churches...
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« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2007, 05:29:47 PM »

The ROCOR Cathedral in DC has two Liturgies every Sunday. One in English, one in Slavonic, the same Liturgical day, the same 24 hour period.  Whether they simply switch Antimensions, have a second portable altar, or have a side altar I don't know. Perhaps some one in ROCOR could enlighten us?
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« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2007, 10:02:30 PM »

The ROCOR Cathedral in DC has two Liturgies every Sunday. One in English, one in Slavonic, the same Liturgical day, the same 24 hour period.  Whether they simply switch Antimensions, have a second portable altar, or have a side altar I don't know. Perhaps some one in ROCOR could enlighten us?

I can't speak to the practice in DC, but the ROCOR Cathedral in San Francisco also had two liturgies per Sunday/Feastday, and occasionally three.  The early liturgy is performed on a side altar, with the later liturgy at the main altar.  The occasional third (English) liturgy is performed in St. John's crypt.
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« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2007, 07:40:58 PM »

I remember one time seeing two liturgies done on the same Altar table, but by different priests.  A bishop was present...so it must have been OK.  I assume they used separate Antiminsion's...but I didn't pay attention.

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that however many Altars you have, might  be consecrated, in which case you don't technically need an antimension, you could just perform the sacrament on that table, and then use the Antimension later. 

How would that work though, if you had two liturgies in one day? 

Also, for EkhristosAnesti,

Is it really that big of a deal which priest serves?  I mean, I got the point from your story, but couldn't the highest ranking priest just tell the lesser ranking to just perform the Liturgy?  That's his right isn't it?  Or not...?
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« Reply #27 on: February 15, 2007, 10:21:41 PM »

I used to live in DC for a couple of years.
Orthodox parishes are great there! Those, which provide (2) liturgies per Sunday are:
-St. Catherine's Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA - GOA
-St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC - OCA
-St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Wahington, DC - ROCOR.

At of these, and numebr of others are multi-ethnic. So, languages at services were different. I know for sure that at St. Nicholas, they place a moveable altar table in front of a main altar for the earlier liturgy. I do strongly believe that is the case for other (2) parishes as well. All these churches change Antiminsions for the liturgies. In fact, St. John the baptist has really many Antminsions. At all these parishes, different clergy celebrate these liturgies.

At all UOC-USA parishes, where (2) liturgies transpire, different clergy celebrate those.

On a different note, several years ago I have read in a Polish Orthodox calendar that some Orthodox priest in Poland has a parish and a mission, which was already preparing to the construction of the chruch at that time. However, that mission did not have an assigned priest. So, this priest was driving to the misssion and serving another Liturgy every Sunday. I am not sure if that common in Poland, or that was a real exception. In any case, as long as Canons provide at least any opportunity of doing so in certain cases, I believe that Polish Autocephalous Church, which actually strengthens and grows, made a very valuable decision here.
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