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Author Topic: The Minutiae of being Orthodox  (Read 2537 times) Average Rating: 0
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zaphod
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« on: November 13, 2007, 11:24:24 PM »

Hi,

I was recently baptized  into the Orthodox Church, into a tiny congregation of about 10 people, without a proper church building.

Something I find confusing is the minutiae of what to do if I was to visit another Orthodox Church, because the exact way we do things in our tiny group is not going to be the same as in a proper large church. Also, I realize some of these things will probably differ between the different branches of Orthodoxy. Basically, I wish I knew the little details so that I don't feel stupid or like an outsider if I turn up one day at another church.

For example, if I'm visiting should I attempt to take communion if my local priest would have allowed me? (i.e. if I've been to confession according to the frequency we agreed on). If so, what is the procedure? Would I have to make contact before I even turn up, or would I talk to the altar boy during the service, or do I just front up and see what happens? If I have to make contact, how early in the service would I have to do it?

Same question again if I turned up at another sacramental event, such as blessing with oil.

If I want to go to confession at a visited church, when are the times that priests normally hear them? I often find it hard to figure out what times even my priest is prepared to do it, and I have no idea what other churches do.

Buying prosphera. What exactly do you ask for. What exactly do you do? Up to what point in the service can you do it? How do you get the bread back at the end? Again, the way we do it in our little group isn't like they do in cathedrals with the little stall at the front.

Do many Orthodox visit other branches of Orthodoxy when they are away from home, or do they tend to stick in their own branch? I remember one girl in the Russian church who visited us and it sounded like she had also visited Serbian and maybe even Greek, but I've talked to others who seem to stick to visiting their own brand.



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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2007, 11:30:54 PM »

Welcome!

I will leave most of your questions to the other more learned users.

Recently my priest was away, and although my city has other churches from my jurisdiction, I did go to the local Antiochian parish. In this case, I had met the priest and I also emailled him to give him a heads up.

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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 12:57:37 AM »

A basic rule if you intend to Commune in a Church in a different jurisdiction is to introduce yourself to the Priest first. In some (if not most) cases, you will need to provide your baptismal/chrisimation certificate, or a letter from your Priest confirming you are an Orthodox Christian. This is a matter of courtesy to the Priest and the Parish. Some Priests from other jurisdictions also require you to confirm that you have recently made a Confession before they Commune you.
I am under the jurisdiction of the Oecumenical Patriarchate, but have also attended Antiochian, Serbian and ROCOR Churches, and have communed in all.
I didn't know you could buy prosfora. They've always been made by the Faithful (including myself) in my jurisdiction.
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 01:23:02 AM »

If I want to go to confession at a visited church, when are the times that priests normally hear them? I often find it hard to figure out what times even my priest is prepared to do it, and I have no idea what other churches do.
I think for this the priest is most often available immediately following any service of which he is a celebrant.
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 04:31:07 PM »

A basic rule if you intend to Commune in a Church in a different jurisdiction is to introduce yourself to the Priest first. In some (if not most) cases, you will need to provide your baptismal/chrisimation certificate, or a letter from your Priest confirming you are an Orthodox Christian. This is a matter of courtesy to the Priest and the Parish. Some Priests from other jurisdictions also require you to confirm that you have recently made a Confession before they Commune you.

Wow, I've communed at several churches but haven't been required to produce anything. I just go in the communion line, and when I reach the front, the priest asks my name, and it's a done deal.

Do many Orthodox visit other branches of Orthodoxy when they are away from home, or do they tend to stick in their own branch? I remember one girl in the Russian church who visited us and it sounded like she had also visited Serbian and maybe even Greek, but I've talked to others who seem to stick to visiting their own brand.

I'm in the GOA, and I tend to go to those churches. This has much less to do with ethnicity, however (I'm a convert as well), and more with the fact that GOA far outnumber any Russian/Serbian Orthodox churches in the area. And, not to sound rude, but I would be a little nervous going to a Russian church. I'm sure it's very nice, but I don't know how well I would do without a pew, and I'm sure most of the service would be in Russian, whereas the Greek/Antiochians are more Americanized. [/generalization]
« Last Edit: November 14, 2007, 04:35:59 PM by Simayan » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2007, 04:39:32 PM »

Wow, I've communed at several churches but haven't been required to produce anything. I just go in the communion line, and when I reach the front, the priest asks my name, and it's a done deal.

Same for Mr. Y and me... we've visited a few other churches (mostly OCA and Antiochian) and we've just provided our names to the priest serving.  I can see how they would prefer a more formal introduction but we've not been required to do this.
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2007, 05:23:34 PM »

A basic rule if you intend to Commune in a Church in a different jurisdiction is to introduce yourself to the Priest first. In some (if not most) cases, you will need to provide your baptismal/chrisimation certificate, or a letter from your Priest confirming you are an Orthodox Christian. This is a matter of courtesy to the Priest and the Parish. .

This should be followed as the rule becuase, as Oz says, it is a courtesy to the priest and the parish.  To simply get in the communion line and receive the Body and Blood will not always be an indicator of Orthodoxy, because there are some priests who will refuse to commune you if you don't speak with them first and/or have a letter of credentials.  Ask your priest and keep one with you. It's really not that burdensome.
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2007, 09:27:40 PM »

Hi,

I was recently baptized  into the Orthodox Church, into a tiny congregation of about 10 people, without a proper church building.

Something I find confusing is the minutiae of what to do if I was to visit another Orthodox Church, because the exact way we do things in our tiny group is not going to be the same as in a proper large church. Also, I realize some of these things will probably differ between the different branches of Orthodoxy. Basically, I wish I knew the little details so that I don't feel stupid or like an outsider if I turn up one day at another church.

I have been to dozens of different churches across the globe, and no two did things exactly the same.  Don't fall into phariseeism.

I have seen huge Cathedrals full of nominal/ethnic Orthodox, who haven't a clue on proper (one time at a certain church, the bishop was celebrating Vespers during the Dormition Fast.   As he came out a number of parishoners (who did not attend services) offered him a hot dog from the cook out on the church lawn.  This church was over a century old, and they were cradle Orthodox).  Then I've been in tiny house Churches the EP or MoP would be proud to celebrate in.

Act as the Spirit, and your growth into Orthodoxy, moves you and you won't go wrong.

At a Pan-Orthodox service one year, a woman you evidently had been watching me and my sons, asked me if I was Russian. "No, Arab" I replied, and when she seemed shocked, I added "but I go to a Russian (actually OCA) Church."  "I knew it," she said, identifying herself as Greek, "you do things right."

Quote
For example, if I'm visiting should I attempt to take communion if my local priest would have allowed me? (i.e. if I've been to confession according to the frequency we agreed on). If so, what is the procedure? Would I have to make contact before I even turn up, or would I talk to the altar boy during the service, or do I just front up and see what happens? If I have to make contact, how early in the service would I have to do it?

You should do him the courtesy of calling beforehand, and he can tell you.  If you don't get to speak to him, ask someone to get an altar server/deacon to give the priest a heads up, so if he had an issue (after all, HE's bound to answer how and to whom he administers communion), it can be dealt with before you're before the chalice.

I you get to speak to him, you might ask him any tips on the local custodm, e.g. some parishes venerate the chalice after communing, some don't, some priests prefer you open wide and he drop Him in, others that you use the spoon, etc.

Quote
Same question again if I turned up at another sacramental event, such as blessing with oil.

Less a problem.  Usually you will get to see how he is administering the oil, and most priests will assume (and it's not as big an issue as Eucharist) that you are Orthodox if you come to be anointed.

Quote
If I want to go to confession at a visited church, when are the times that priests normally hear them? I often find it hard to figure out what times even my priest is prepared to do it, and I have no idea what other churches do.

Varies widely. Don't expect every priest will hear right before DL.

Quote
Buying prosphera. What exactly do you ask for. What exactly do you do? Up to what point in the service can you do it? How do you get the bread back at the end? Again, the way we do it in our little group isn't like they do in cathedrals with the little stall at the front.

None of the parishes I've been to (3) did we ever buy prosphera, but I know (vaguely, and at a distance) that it is done.  Why would you want the bread back?  It is a GIFT, after all.  Somehow I think that there is a legitamate use you are putting it to that I am not aware of.

Quote
Do many Orthodox visit other branches of Orthodoxy when they are away from home, or do they tend to stick in their own branch? I remember one girl in the Russian church who visited us and it sounded like she had also visited Serbian and maybe even Greek, but I've talked to others who seem to stick to visiting their own brand.

Many stick with the familiar.  Others, like myself, go to different ones on the road to witness to the Catholicism and unity that is Orthodoxy.



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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2007, 09:43:28 PM »

I have noticed since reading Orthodox forums on the internet customs regarding confession and communion differ from jurisdictio to jurisdiction.

For example, in my church/ parish if a stranger stood in the communion line, the priest would ask him who he is.  It is also our tradition to go to confession either at Matins before the Divine Liturgy or after or before Vespers the night before.  The 2 priests tend to remember who was in the confession line.  Our chrch does not have general confession as in the Greek Orthodox Church.

So as others have said it is best to give the priest a heads up.

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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2007, 11:28:41 PM »

Wow, I've communed at several churches but haven't been required to produce anything. I just go in the communion line, and when I reach the front, the priest asks my name, and it's a done deal.

I'm in the GOA, and I tend to go to those churches. This has much less to do with ethnicity, however (I'm a convert as well), and more with the fact that GOA far outnumber any Russian/Serbian Orthodox churches in the area. And, not to sound rude, but I would be a little nervous going to a Russian church. I'm sure it's very nice, but I don't know how well I would do without a pew, and I'm sure most of the service would be in Russian, whereas the Greek/Antiochians are more Americanized. [/generalization]

Is this your experience in only Greek Churches or other juridictions?  Normally, the priest will announce before Communion that only Orthodox Christians who have fasted and been to recent confession and have forgiven anyone they have a problem with can commune, but it is the common protocol to call the visiting parish and introduce yourself and let them know what parish you are from so you are not questioned at the Ambo.

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« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2007, 09:35:42 AM »

...if I'm visiting should I attempt to take communion if my local priest would have allowed me? (i.e. if I've been to confession according to the frequency we agreed on). If so, what is the procedure? Would I have to make contact before I even turn up, or would I talk to the altar boy during the service, or do I just front up and see what happens? If I have to make contact, how early in the service would I have to do it?

Same question again if I turned up at another sacramental event, such as blessing with oil.


You should contact the priest at the Church you will be attending prior to the service to let him know you are in the area, ask if he will give you a blessing to commune and if there are any prerequisites he requires to commune (like say, confessing to him prior to the service). If possible get a letter introducing you to the priest from your priest, and bring your baptismal/chrismation papers with you.  When I have done the following I have had no problem communing while I traveled.


Buying prosphora. What exactly do you ask for. What exactly do you do? Up to what point in the service can you do it? How do you get the bread back at the end? Again, the way we do it in our little group isn't like they do in cathedrals with the little stall at the front.

Do many Orthodox visit other branches of Orthodoxy when they are away from home, or do they tend to stick in their own branch? I remember one girl in the Russian church who visited us and it sounded like she had also visited Serbian and maybe even Greek, but I've talked to others who seem to stick to visiting their own brand.


You obviously are coming from a Slavic tradition as the Greeks and Antiochians do not sell little loaves.  The bread in those churches are large loaves usually baked and offered by one or two families with blessing or assignment to do so by the priest.  In those parishes, everyone in the parish is prayed for every Sunday by name. Special commemoration during the great entrance is made for the donors of the bread.

Many people in traveling will of course stick to their own jurisdiction for comfort, however, as you travel you will often find only one Orthodox Church in a location and of course you would go there rather than not attend Church on Sunday or major feastdays.

Thomas
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2007, 01:18:47 AM »

"None of the parishes I've been to (3) did we ever buy prosphera, but I know (vaguely, and at a distance) that it is done.  Why would you want the bread back?  It is a GIFT, after all.  Somehow I think that there is a legitamate use you are putting it to that I am not aware of."

As I understand it, in the Russian church, you pay a dollar or two for the prophera, you put it with your prayer list, and it is blessed during the service. Then at the end you get it back. Correct me if I'm wrong, I often get things explained to me several times and still don't quite get it.

"You obviously are coming from a Slavic tradition as the Greeks and Antiochians do not sell little loaves.  The bread in those churches are large loaves usually baked and offered by one or two families with blessing or assignment to do so by the priest.  In those parishes, everyone in the parish is prayed for every Sunday by name. Special commemoration during the great entrance is made for the donors of the bread."

I see. And in those churches you don't have a chance to get some prosphera? Or how does it work?

Thanks for the other replies, BTW.


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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2007, 05:06:19 AM »

I see. And in those churches you don't have a chance to get some prosphera? Or how does it work?
In Greek practice, Parish Churches and Monasteries have people assigned as "Prosforo makers". The Prosforo makers ensure that there is at least some prosforo for every Liturgy. Along with the prosforo makers, those who have asked for names to be commemorated in the in the Liturgy also traditionally bring a prosforo, some wine, some oil for the sanctuary lamp, and a candle for the Liturgy. Those who have arranged memorial services (Mnimosino/Panikhida) for their departed will also bring a Prosforo with their Kollyva (boiled wheat). The Liturgy requires only one prosforo. The others are cut up into cubes and blessed in the Sanctuary with the Divine Gifts during the Liturgy, and are distributed at the end to the Faithful as Antidoron.
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2007, 10:01:12 AM »

In my Greek parish, it's done entirely on a volunteer basis. We usually need 7 loaves or so every Sunday; yesterday we managed to have 10 brought in, which is pretty 'typical' and just about the right amount since we'll have two weekday Liturgies this week. The Lord always provides!

If anything, wine is the harder item to obtain here in Alabama. Due to some bizarre local laws on alcohol, it's actually easier for a parishioner here to order wine by the case from Greece (but not Cyprus, for some reason...) and get it shipped to him through Florida for his restaurants than it is for me to buy a suitable wine at a store.

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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2007, 10:20:51 AM »

A I understand it, in the Russian church, you pay a dollar or two for the prosphora, you put it with your prayer list, and it is blessed during the service. Then at the end you get it back. Correct me if I'm wrong, I often get things explained to me several times and still don't quite get it.


Many pious Orthodox Christians take Prosphora home after the service.  They take some of this Blessed bread with Holy water in the morning as they say their Morning prayer as continuing the blessing of God from Sunday.  Many also keep dried prosphora to be taken with Holy Water when they are sick.  The Slavic practice gives a large portion of prosphora to those who have donated the bread when one gets their bread and commemoration book back the donor can see that commemorations have been taken from the bread.  In our Antiochian parish, a large piece of prosphora is given to the bakers, everyone else takes one or two pieces to take home from the basket of Blessed bread shared at the end of the liturgy. In Earlier times, everyone brought bread and  most of the bread went to feed the poor and the clergy families, although  everyone had access to portions of the bread to use during the week in their pious traditions.

Thomas

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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2007, 10:42:05 AM »

Our chrch does not have general confession as in the Greek Orthodox Church.

There is no rite of "general confession" in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Normally, the priest will announce before Communion that only Orthodox Christians who have fasted and been to recent confession and have forgiven anyone they have a problem with can commune...

What does "normally" mean? I haven't kept a log or anything, but I've been to at LEAST 100 different parishes and monasteries in various jurisdictions (Bulgarian, Antiochian, Serbian, Romanian, OCA, Greek, Carpatho-Russian, Ukrainian, ROCOR and Russian Patriarchal) and in Greece, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. I would estimate that only 10 percent of these actually interrupted the Divine Liturgy to make an announcement before the distribution of Holy Communion.

That said, I think it makes sense to do so, especially in our pluralistic age.
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2007, 02:01:05 PM »

Ou parish handles it with a written announcement in the bulletin that changes back and forth  between the two  throughout the month:

Visitors, please note: ONLY Orthodox faithful who arrive prior to the Gospel reading and have properly prepared themselves by fasting and confession may receive Holy Communion. If you are a visiting Orthodox Christian, please identify yourself before approaching the Holy Cup by speaking to one of the ushers.

or

Taking Communion
Because of the tragic divisions in the Christian world, only Orthodox Christians may receive Holy Communion. We look forward to the day when we will all be united in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If you would like to know more about the Church, please speak with Father Aidan or Father Deacon Basil.


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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2007, 05:37:48 PM »

If you visit an OCA church you will have to give the priest your social security number to receive Communion. Wink
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2007, 05:51:55 PM »

If you visit an OCA church you will have to give the priest your social security number to receive Communion. Wink

Ha, ha!  Is this supposed to be a comment on the fiscal crisis in the OCA or is this just a poor attempt at humor?
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