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Author Topic: What if you cannot make it to Divine Liturgy?  (Read 2788 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carole
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« on: April 30, 2007, 09:30:13 AM »

As I'm sure you all know the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is a matter of mortal sin to not fulfill your "Sunday Obligation" to attend Mass, unless not attending is a matter of serious necessity.  Much discussion has ensued on many Catholic message boards about just how sick you have to be, or how dire your circumstances must be to justify missing Mass - with the concluding comment usually being, "Confess it anyway."  Opinions of course range from "if you think you might be contagious better to stay home" to "unless you're in the hospital there's no justifiable reason for missing Mass."

So I'm wondering what is the Orthodox position on this?

For instance this past week.  On Wednesday, my husband, after working a full day at work in Alabama, had to drive 7.5 hours to Virginia for a 2-day training class that began on Thursday morning at 9:00 AM.  The class ran from 9:00 AM to midnight on Thursday and then resumed Friday morning at 9:00, running until 8:00 PM.  On Saturday after a few hours sleep he drove the 7.5 hours to get home.  Rather than sleeping he spent the remainder of the day running errands with dd and me.  He even mowed the yard since it was desperately overdue.  On Saturday night my daughter complained of neck pain so I gave her ibuprofen and sent her to bed with a neck massage and a heating pad.  But I know she did not sleep well at all since she was up to nearly 1:00 AM.

We all slept through our alarms on Sunday morning.  Which means that we missed the Divine Liturgy.  Now we're not Orthodox yet, and technically as we are still under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church we are sinning greatly by missing Mass of our own fault to attend the Divine Liturgy.  But I still feel very badly about missing the DL (much worse in fact than I feel about skipping Mass).

Now in the Roman Catholic setting missing one Mass doesn't mean that you cannot fulfill your Sunday obligation because if you miss one Mass there's usually another one an hour later.  Some parishes have as many as 6 Masses on Sunday.

Obviously when there is one Divine Liturgy on Sunday and you miss it ... you've missed it.

In Holy Orthodoxy is missing Divine Liturgy a sin?  I realize that we need to attend Divine Liturgy/Mass for the benefit of our own souls and I would never take lightly the overwhelming need we have in this regard.  But I wonder if the Orthodox see this as a matter of sin as does the Catholic Church.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2007, 09:40:55 AM by Carole » Logged

Carole
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2007, 09:58:18 AM »

Christ is Risen! Indeed he is Risen!
In orthodox teaching we don't know such thing as a leglistic "Sunday Obligation" (stress legalistic) and under normal circumanstances it is not being looked as sin to miss Divine Liturgy.  In the liturgy of St. Basil we even pray for "all who are absent with a good cause".
That having said: sure you should not take it lightly to miss a Divine Liturgy because for example you would rather attend the race track, beach day , <fill in the blank>. As I always like to put it: Orthodoxy treats you as a grown up: You should have a natural desire to attend a service - simply out of the love for God. However there might be reason that you are not able to - and that doesn't constitute automatically a sin.
The example you were describing - I personally would not see any sin in that. That you feel bad about missing the Divine Liturgy can also be a good thing: it shows that you hunger for the love of God. Only don't fall into the trap of despair.
One side note: A good orthodox practice is if you are not able to attend the Divine Liturgy to pray the order of the Typica. What is basically a very condensed form of the Divine Liturgy -  minus the Eucharist of course.
My humble 2 cents - and as always: If in doubt please consult your priest!
Wishing you a joyful Pascha
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2007, 10:09:12 AM »

Yes, there is an "obligation" to attend liturgy on Sunday, but merely one must join in the regular cycle of worship on the Lord's Day. Missing several DL's in a row technically leads to excommunication, which of course, must be applied by the bishop.

The reasons you specified certainly are understandable reasons. Just remember that there is not just a "sin vs no sin" distinction: missing Divine Liturgy means you miss out on the worship of God and participation in the mysteries, and that won't be the same as going even if you have a good reason.  But you did not incur sin by missing if you had an honorable reason. The Lord understands we cannot always be perfect though. Missing DL for no reason would be a sin. I think you understand all of this internally already though.

Typica as Innocent suggested is a great way to handle Sunday worship when you can't make DL.  It doesn't take super long if you plain chant and can be very useful for those that have to work on a Sunday, are forced to travel on Sunday, etc.

Yours in Christ,

Anastasios
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Carole
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2007, 10:12:30 AM »

Thank you both.  Your answers mirrored what I thought I understood to be the case.  But I wanted to be sure that I did understand.  It is very interesting to see the different approaches to spirituality between East and West.  I think it's going to take a very long time to even begin to understand the differences. 

Thank you again.
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Carole
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2007, 08:39:54 AM »

Carole,

Christ is Risen!  The Greek Orthodox Website www.goarch.org has been helpful for me when I have to cover work on a Sunday when a coworker is ill. I simply watch the Divine Liturgy on the web. It is usually in a mixture of English and Greek and it is helpful, if like me, you have a Greek-English text to follow.  While this is not my favorite way to participate in a Liturgy, it does enable me to participate. If my family is traveling on a Sunday, we will do a Typika Service if there are no Orthodox Churches around. On most Sundays however we travel the 110 miles round trip to  our parish church.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2007, 04:13:17 PM »

Yes, there is an "obligation" to attend liturgy on Sunday, but merely one must join in the regular cycle of worship on the Lord's Day. Missing several DL's in a row technically leads to excommunication, which of course, must be applied by the bishop.
In my jurisdiction, the OCA, one technically excommunicates him/herself by missing Divine Liturgy on three consecutive Sundays without the blessing of his/her priest.  The person excommunicated for this reason must then go to Confession to receive the priest's blessing to return to Communion.  However, if your reason for missing one Liturgy is honorable and worthy of a blessing, your priest will probably not have a problem with it.
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2007, 12:41:12 AM »


Carole,

I think everyone has summed up the position of the Orthodox church well, and also highlighted a big difference between "East" and "West". But one of your own comments also summed up the differences very neatly:

Quote
But I still feel very badly about missing the DL (much worse in fact than I feel about skipping Mass).

With the Catholic Mass, the legalistic aspect is over stressed IMO. Therefore you feel guilty about missing what you are "obliged" to attend. With the Divine Liturgy, you actually feel bad - because you are missing out on the thing that Christ Himself said gives us life: His flesh and blood. The need to attend Church does not come from leaglistic obligation, but from a real spiritual, even physical, need. The church as a hospital for sinners.

This subject is close to my heart because I live in China and cannot attend the Divine Liturgy regularly (though there is a weekly lay-service in the church of the Russian embassy here in Beijing). Not sure if there is any obligation for me to attend these services, but I still prefer to go for the opportunity to pray in relative piece in front of icons of the Christ, the Theotokos, and the Hospitality of Abraham (there are other icons there of course)
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2007, 01:11:29 AM »

This subject is close to my heart because I live in China and cannot attend the Divine Liturgy regularly (though there is a weekly lay-service in the church of the Russian embassy here in Beijing). Not sure if there is any obligation for me to attend these services, but I still prefer to go for the opportunity to pray in relative piece in front of icons of the Christ, the Theotokos, and the Hospitality of Abraham (there are other icons there of course)
China?  I was there for three weeks in May of 1999.  We actually have Orthodox churches there?  (I am aware of the state-sanctioned Protestant and RC churches.)  Or is your embassy church the only one?
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2007, 04:18:42 AM »

China?  I was there for three weeks in May of 1999.  We actually have Orthodox churches there?  (I am aware of the state-sanctioned Protestant and RC churches.)  Or is your embassy church the only one?

China?  I was there for three weeks in May of 1999.  We actually have Orthodox churches there?  (I am aware of the state-sanctioned Protestant and RC churches.)  Or is your embassy church the only one?

Unfortunately the church on the Russian embassy (not my embassy as I'm British) grounds is the only operating church in China at the moment. This means that Chinese citizens cannot attend, though I think there are lay-services held in some Catholic churches with govenment approval. I think at Easter some Divine Liturgies were held elsewhere in China, including Guangzhou, but I don't know any more than that (and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to reveal more).

There are church buildings in Harbin, Tianjin and Shanghai that are un-used, but mercificlly they are not used for any other purpose now (the one in Shanghai used to be a nightclub Sad )
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2014, 07:49:19 PM »

Yes, there is an "obligation" to attend liturgy on Sunday, but merely one must join in the regular cycle of worship on the Lord's Day. Missing several DL's in a row technically leads to excommunication, which of course, must be applied by the bishop.
In my jurisdiction, the OCA, one technically excommunicates him/herself by missing Divine Liturgy on three consecutive Sundays without the blessing of his/her priest.  The person excommunicated for this reason must then go to Confession to receive the priest's blessing to return to Communion.  However, if your reason for missing one Liturgy is honorable and worthy of a blessing, your priest will probably not have a problem with it.
You actually have to do this? Even for a legit reason? Do you have to get some sort of dispensation or is this solely an after the fact affair?
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 07:49:33 PM by Anastasia1 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 03:18:42 PM »


With the Divine Liturgy, you actually feel bad - because you are missing out on the thing that Christ Himself said gives us life: His flesh and blood. The need to attend Church does not come from leaglistic obligation, but from a real spiritual, even physical, need. The church as a hospital for sinners.


This! I think you're priest would definitely understand. Things have been crazy and you missed. If you are feeling bad about missing then you have a true desire to be there. Hold on to this desire and do your best to attend next time but don't beat yourself up over it. I missed today. Sad I'm not converted yet either and am new to this but I've enjoyed attending the last couple of weeks and really wanted to go today. I work weekend nights and had to work late last night. My husband thought he was doing me a favor by letting me sleep so I woke up and it was too late to make it. I hope I can make it next week but I definitely feel it missing today.
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 05:36:17 PM »


With the Divine Liturgy, you actually feel bad - because you are missing out on the thing that Christ Himself said gives us life: His flesh and blood. The need to attend Church does not come from leaglistic obligation, but from a real spiritual, even physical, need. The church as a hospital for sinners.


This! I think you're priest would definitely understand. Things have been crazy and you missed. If you are feeling bad about missing then you have a true desire to be there. Hold on to this desire and do your best to attend next time but don't beat yourself up over it. I missed today. Sad I'm not converted yet either and am new to this but I've enjoyed attending the last couple of weeks and really wanted to go today. I work weekend nights and had to work late last night. My husband thought he was doing me a favor by letting me sleep so I woke up and it was too late to make it. I hope I can make it next week but I definitely feel it missing today.
I have no quibble with what you've said (I miss church all the time for work/financial/distance reasons), but I hope the OP isn't still feeling guilty about a missing a Sunday seven years ago. Smiley
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