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Author Topic: Question on Vespers and Confession in the GOA  (Read 5536 times) Average Rating: 0
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sinjinsmythe
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« on: June 16, 2003, 05:48:48 PM »

I have seen many GOA churches that do not celebrate vespers. Why is this so?  This is something that has never been explained to me.
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2003, 07:25:44 PM »


My understanding (based upon what I have been told by church members) is simply because no one attends.

My member church (St. Sophia) in Washington DC is the GOA Cathedral in the area -- and they don't have them cause no one shows up.  Embarrassed

St. Katherines in Falls Church, VA tries having a Vespers service every Sauturday during the winter. The four times that I attended, the most I ever saw were 2 people besides me. They cut it back then to every other Saturday, and now that it's summer, have given up completely.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2003, 07:26:45 PM by TomS » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2003, 07:38:11 PM »

Sadly; very,very sadly, TomS is probably right.  When I asked my mother if my home parish in Norfolk, VA ever had vespers she replied that one priest tried about 50 years ago - no one attended. I wonder that now with 3 Greek parishes, an OCA parish, and an ACROD mission in a 15 mile radius at least one of them could try again, especially those parishes with two or more priests.

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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2003, 08:04:36 PM »

It saddens me to say this, but I really believe the GOA is dying.

They are just so tied up into the whole Hellenic stuff, that anyone who is not Greek really feels excluded. because of this, they are losing their children to Protestantism due to marriage to non-Greeks. Any non-Greek can't help but feel excluded when attending most services at a GOA church (at least in my area).

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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2003, 08:12:35 PM »

It saddens me to say this, but I really believe the GOA is dying.

They are just so tied up into the whole Hellenic stuff, that anyone who is not Greek really feels excluded. because of this, they are losing their children to Protestantism due to marriage to non-Greeks. Any non-Greek can't help but feel excluded when attending most services at a GOA church (at least in my area).



Interesting observation.  During the Ottoman occupation of Greece, it was the church that kept Greek culture alive, that is why Hellenism and Orthodoxy are so intertwined.   From what I have heard, Holy Cross, the GOA seminary is also struggling trying to find seminarians.  I don't know if this trend is a national or a local/regional one. I wonder how the GOA churches are doing that have many converts.
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2003, 08:20:35 PM »


I think that the GOA churches that are growing are really conducting themselves more like the OCA churches.

My wife is first generation Greek-American, her godmother, who came over from Athens in the 50's, had 5 girls -- none of them are still Orthodox. They all are now Protestant for the simple fact that their husband's felt excluded and refused to go to the GOA church.

All of this woman's grandchildren have been baptized Protestant. It breaks her heart. But she understands why. She herself told me that even she does not understand the Greek used in the Liturgy.

I feel so excluded myself when I can't say the Creed or the Lords Prayer because it is being recited in Greek!
« Last Edit: June 16, 2003, 08:43:10 PM by TomS » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2003, 08:22:38 PM »

It saddens me to say this, but I really believe the GOA is dying.

They are just so tied up into the whole Hellenic stuff, that anyone who is not Greek really feels excluded. because of this, they are losing their children to Protestantism due to marriage to non-Greeks. Any non-Greek can't help but feel excluded when attending most services at a GOA church (at least in my area).

Maybe.  But they may be slowly, and painfully, losing the "Greek" part - at least in some parishes. The parish in Norfolk is still very large and well off financially speaking (if that matters), but the newer parish in Virginia Beach is mostly converts, thriving, and growing quickly. I've a sister in each parish and so keep up with what's up at home. Yes, the VA Beach one is English speaking; Norfolk mostly Greek with a bit of token English. Let's face it, the Greeks don't know how to celebrate in English, yet. They'll learn.
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2003, 08:41:32 PM »

I think that the GOA churches that are growing are really conducting themselves more like OCA churches.

My wife is first generation Greek-American, her godmother, who came over from Athens in the 50's, had 5 girls -- none of them are still Orthodox. They all are now Protestant for the simple fact that their husband's felt excluded and refused to go to the GOA church.

 

I know what you mean. I do think that the older parishes in the medium-sized metro areas will suffer more. Suburban spread makes support of new parishes difficult. Your "OCA" comment is dead on the money. While my family has been fortunate in that both South Baptist brothers-in-law of mine are now devout Orthodox, it took my switching to an English speaking ACROD parish to get my Presbyterian spouse on the Orthodox path.
Orthodoxy is what is of paramount importance, though.
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2003, 10:58:46 PM »

It's too bad that many Greek churches don't have Vespers, because I love Vespers.  However, if nobody shows up, that might be one reason for not having them.  I attend an OCA mission, so they do tend to have them.  For one thing, many OCA priests have confession after Vespers and many of them expect you to attend Vespers if you want to take Communion the next morning.

A little bit off the topic but reflecting on what Tom said about many of the younger people leaving the Church, there is a young man who posts on a board called Christians Unite (I don't post there anymore), who was raised Greek Orthodox but is now an Evangelical.  He really mocks Orthodox beliefs on that board.  There were several of us who were trying to lovingly defend Orthodoxy (though I think most of them are about to pack it in).  He is going by the name Juan (though he has said his name is Peter), and you may want to keep him in your prayers.  It is pretty clear that though he may have attended church that he knows very little about the Orthodox faith and the reasons behind our practices.  Reading his posts on that board really showed me how important it is for those of us who are parents and godparents to take our responsibility very seriously to live our faith and to teach our young people about the faith.  Also, if it's not being done, the church needs to make sure that the young people are given a class or something on their faith.  Yes, they've probably been baptized  when they were babies, but what's wrong with holding a "cathechism" class for them to teach them the things that a catechumen is taught.  I am just praying that one day when Juan is older that he'll get curious about Orthodoxy and study to find out what it is really about.  



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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2003, 11:14:48 PM »


Concerning confession: It happens very seldom and formally scheduled just once a year - at the beginning of Great Lent.

The Priest has told me that he can't get Greeks to come to confession.

He says that it is not a problem for the converts, but getting a Greek to admit that they did something wrong, and then humble themselves, is just too much!  Grin
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2003, 01:36:43 AM »

The Priest has told me that he can't get Greeks to come to confession.

He says that it is not a problem for the converts, but getting a Greek to admit that they did something wrong, and then humble themselves, is just too much!  Grin


I know the description above fits a few people I know personally, and I worry about them.
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2003, 12:46:21 PM »

I find the situation in the GOA distressing, especially since they are actually my favorite Orthodox Church.

I can deal with the Greek if it is 50/50 with parrallel English/Greek columns, but when I would go to presanctified and 90% was in Greek that was annoying (and me being an up and coming Greacophile says something!)

Confession and no Vespers is bad, too.  Fr. Ephraim's monasteries are affecting #1 positively as people are starting to get excited about confession.  Vespers is something that we need to just take back.  Ask the priest to do it.  If he refuses, ask to use the Church for lay Vespers. If that fails, invite friends over to your house for Vespers.

Ultimately, though, the priests need to stand up.  I know a GOA priest who is great but is very wary of his congregation from what I can tell.  I pushed him on starting Vespers and he said, "I really should do it; I have no excuse."  Maybe if I end up living in that area I can help him out.

The next generation looks promising.  And many of the new priests are 1) pro life and 2) pushing people back into the Church so that's wonderful.

anastasios
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2003, 01:14:17 PM »

Vespers is hard these days; people just have time fitting it in their lives. And the blue law mentality is dead. I remember the days when I ran the acolytes at our parish and how anyone who did any kind of sports was a problem, because games would be scheduled against church. The only way we manage it is to do evensong once a month with special music, and even then the congregation is limited-- I myself can rarely go. We've started a Thursday evening eucharist but when I've been it's pretty much the same set of people: all older and without children to deal with.

It's interesting what you say about St. Sophia, Jon, because at St. Nick's across the way they have services in different languages, and they publish the schedule ahead of time. Of course, the current dean is an ex-Lutheran, but they did this long before.
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2003, 01:47:23 PM »

I find the situation in the GOA distressing, especially since they are actually my favorite Orthodox Church.

Confession and no Vespers is bad, too.  
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I've been so busy being "pan-Orthodox" and complaining about my "home" jurisdiction that I'd forgotten what I did appreciate there.
And maybe no vespers, but I never had a hard time finding the priest to make confession.... Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2003, 02:05:04 PM »

Vespers is hard these days; people just have time fitting it in their lives. And the blue law mentality is dead. I remember the days when I ran the acolytes at our parish and how anyone who did any kind of sports was a problem, because games would be scheduled against church.


Not everyone has kids who play sports. What about the young folks and the old folks whose kids are grown up?
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« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2003, 03:13:11 PM »

Vespers is hard these days; people just have time fitting it in their lives. And the blue law mentality is dead. I remember the days when I ran the acolytes at our parish and how anyone who did any kind of sports was a problem, because games would be scheduled against church.


Not everyone has kids who play sports. What about the young folks and the old folks whose kids are grown up?

Well, funny thing-- the people who regularly show up for the Thursday eucharist are all people who are older and whose children are all gone. But even then it is a small fraction of all the people that age.
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« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2003, 03:16:55 PM »

My priest fits non-fast day Liturgies in before work, 7:00-8:20, and fast day Liturgyies in at lunch 11:30-12:50, and a good number of people attend, including 2 or 3 families with little kids.  I haven't been able to go to Vespers in a while now, but sometimes there are a lot of people, and sometimes just a few... but the highschool age youthgroup is run after Vespers before Midnight Praise, and there are usually 5-20 people there for that, while the Arabic sermon is going on upstairs, so it's definatly possibly for people with work & families to make it if they want to... not everyone, and it understandable to have to miss it sometimes, but certainly enough to run it.  Once people are out of the habit of 'giving up' that time though... it's really hard to get back into it.
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2003, 01:09:58 PM »

At the Antiochian parish I attend we have Vespers twice a week -- Wednesday evening and Saturday evening.  Sometimes an Akathist is substituted for Vespers on Wednesday.  We are a small parish and these are not hugely attended -- mostly it's the same group of people week after week.  Usually it's those who are very committed to the parish and who do some sort(s) of work there at the church, i.e., serving on the parish council, building maintenance, altar servers, etc.

I can only comment that I visited the GOA church in my area prior to converting.  I believe I visited on 3 different occasions.  The church was very full -- after about half-way through the service anyway -- but I felt like I really stuck out like a sore thumb.  Not once on any of my visits did anyone speak to me.  The service was about half & half Greek & English.  I was very uncomfortable there, but that may've been enitrely due to the language thing.  

Perhaps it's only my impression, but I felt like the GOA church here (it's the only one I've been to, so I certainly cannot speak in generalities!) likes to have visitors when they are doing a "Greek thing" (they have a yearly Greek Festival and have big meals which are open to the public a few times a year) but not necessarily for Liturgy.

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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2003, 01:44:53 PM »

Perhaps it's only my impression, but I felt like the GOA church here (it's the only one I've been to, so I certainly cannot speak in generalities!) likes to have visitors when they are doing a "Greek thing" (they have a yearly Greek Festival and have big meals which are open to the public a few times a year) but not necessarily for Liturgy.

Believe me, that vibe is unfortunately fairly common.  I think that the less 'Greek' a GOA parish is (as in ethnic make-up), the more friendly they'll be to potential converts/visitors/etc.  There are some out there that are rather open (to others).
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2003, 03:40:08 AM »

The GOA church in Indianapolis does not serve Vespers - only Orthros at 8:15 followed by Divine Liturgy at 9:30.  I was also told by one of their parishioners that they only have confession 4 times a year, and consequently the laity only receive Holy Communion 4 times a year.  

My parish is blessed.  We have Ninth Hour and Vespers on Wednesday nights, followed by a meal, then followed by catechesis for those of us still undergoing deheretification Wink.  We also have the All-Night Vigil every Saturday (occasionally I'll hop out to visit the OCA Romanians, especially if I'm not up to a full vigil, like this last weekend - but the Serbs are next on the visit list), and Midnight Office before Divine Liturgy on Sunday (while the priest and deacon are busy with Proskomedia).

BTW, we have three priests and two deacons! (However, they all hold full-time secular jobs).
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2003, 07:48:03 AM »


Believe me, that vibe is unfortunately fairly common.  I think that the less 'Greek' a GOA parish is (as in ethnic make-up), the more friendly they'll be to potential converts/visitors/etc.  There are some out there that are rather open (to others).

I believe that you all have had that experience but I would like to share my experience with two GOA Churches I have visited.  Both we very welcoming to me, and before I made up my mind that I would be joining the Orthodox Church as soon as possible, when I was still a committed Byzantine Catholic, I found the ethnic Greeks to be very welcoming.  "Oh you are Catholic--very close to us! Have some food!" or, "Oh you have a prayer rope.  God bless you!"

A very nice experience I'd say. I wish others had all had the same warm treatment I received.

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« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2003, 12:49:58 AM »

Hi all,

The same is the problem with the GOA in Australia. Unfortunately Greeks have this understanding here that vespers are only held before major feastdays and they involve the consumption of loukomades (huney puffs) after.

After returning from Greece last year I have made and make the effort to attend. Not may parishes here in Adelaide of the GOA have services every Saturday night and I personally think priests who make the excuse of not having the service because of lack of attendance is weak. If few people go to Orthros and Divine liturgy services are we going to stop those services too? Christ says "Fear not the small flock". The parish I go to on Saturday nights has sometimes only 4 people, including the priest, and sometimes I am the senior reader/chanter (and I've only been chanting for two years)!!

For those of you who would like to attend the vespers services, look for a priest who does the service every saturday night. Seek and ye shall find.

And by the way

On one of the posts in this chain I read something about ACROD mission. What is that??

Mattheos
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« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2003, 01:05:32 AM »

ACROD =  American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese
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« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2003, 08:15:57 AM »

ACROD =  American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

Thanks... now what's Orthros?  Is that Matins?
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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2003, 08:49:52 AM »

ACROD =  American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

Thanks... now what's Orthros?  Is that Matins?

You have it right, Jonathan.  Smiley "Orthros" is Greek for "Matins."

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« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2003, 03:48:54 PM »

I am not sure if this question was already answered in the previous posts, but I'll ask it again, and if it was, someone can show me where the answer can be found.  Why does it seem to be the case that Orthodox of the Russian tradition, if not doing the full Vigil, prefer Vespers on Saturday evening to Matins on Sunday morning before Liturgy, while Orthodox of the Greek tradition prefer Matins on Sunday morning before Liturgy to Vespers on Saturday evening?  How did this come about?
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« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2003, 06:23:36 PM »

I am not sure if this question was already answered in the previous posts, but I'll ask it again, and if it was, someone can show me where the answer can be found.  Why does it seem to be the case that Orthodox of the Russian tradition, if not doing the full Vigil, prefer Vespers on Saturday evening to Matins on Sunday morning before Liturgy, while Orthodox of the Greek tradition prefer Matins on Sunday morning before Liturgy to Vespers on Saturday evening?  How did this come about?  

I'm not sure, Mor, but in the Old Country this is not the case. It seems to be the American penchant for streamlining everything, even Divine Worship. Sad  Russians prefer Vespers the evening before, and Greeks retain "Orthros" before Liturgy in the morning but nothing on Saturday night.  There are, however, a few stalwart GOA parishes that actually do have Vespers Saturday evening in addition to Orthros on Sunday morning, but they are rare birds indeed in this country.  

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« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2003, 10:56:13 PM »

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.  There are, however, a few stalwart GOA parishes that actually do have Vespers Saturday evening in addition to Orthros on Sunday morning, but they are rare birds indeed in this country.  

My parish is stalwart!  And my other church I like to go to, Saint Anthony's, does Vespers and Orthos too - everyday!

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« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2003, 09:38:00 AM »

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.  There are, however, a few stalwart GOA parishes that actually do have Vespers Saturday evening in addition to Orthros on Sunday morning, but they are rare birds indeed in this country.  

My parish is stalwart!  And my other church I like to go to, Saint Anthony's, does Vespers and Orthos too - everyday!

But isn't St. Anthony's in AZ a monastery, Nektarios?  If so, of course they'd be doing both Vespers and Orthros (Matins) everyday!  Most monasteries do!  Really, nothing exceptional about that.

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« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2003, 04:06:09 PM »

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But isn't St. Anthony's in AZ a monastery, Nektarios?  If so, of course they'd be doing both Vespers and Orthros (Matins) everyday!  Most monasteries do!  Really, nothing exceptional about that.

Yeah I know...the problem with the internet is that my slightly sarcastic half laughing mood doesn't come across when I say something.
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« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2003, 04:12:21 PM »

Nektarios, you are a true Orthodox--you have your parish and you have your "other parish"!

:-)

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« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2003, 04:48:27 PM »

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Nektarios, you are a true Orthodox--you have your parish and you have your "other parish"!

:-)

You only can say that because you havn't seen me in real life....my pronouning of Greek words (even my own name!) is so bad.  Next time I go to my "other parish" they are supposed to have in the set of tapes and books they give to the novices for me to use and hopefully learn some Greek!  Soon I'll fit in and sound Orthodox :-D.  Now just to work on the blue eyes and blonde hair...or  should I fake a Russian sounding accent?
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« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2003, 04:58:51 PM »

Dude there are blonde Greeks, just say you are one of them.  Tongue
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« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2003, 05:23:21 PM »

But can I still be a Republcian and arrogant American if I prentend to be Greek!?
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« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2003, 05:27:44 PM »

No. You can't be a Republican. But you can most CERTAINLY be arrogant. The Greeks invented it.
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« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2003, 12:47:40 PM »

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But you can most CERTAINLY be arrogant. The Greeks invented it.

Boy oh boy is that ever true....
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