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Author Topic: Confused about what to do..  (Read 3850 times) Average Rating: 0
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JohnC
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« on: April 30, 2008, 09:45:22 AM »

Hi,

I'm a convert of about a year. I'm in a tiny church, not many members and no building of our own (so no iconastasis). So everything is very visible to the priest.

The priest likes everything to be just-so. So quite often in the middle of the service he tells people off. Like the kids for not standing exactly right, or the choir director for mucking something up, and stuff like that. On occasion both have been reduced to tears.

And then I keep feeling as if the instructions I'm given are conflicting. One day the priest and Matushka instructed that if a child is sick, they decided that they should sit the whole service and not even stand up at certain times (contrary to previous instructions). But the next week one of my kids was sick, and I was telling them to sit down, and Matushka was telling them to stand up during the special times. And it just seems like there are a lot cases like this where I feel as if i'm "damned if I do, damned if I don't".

The end result, is that during a service, I feel on tenterhooks about when next something is going to go wrong. I mean I do appreciate that the discipline is good, but when these things happen, I feel like my head is going to explode - it definitely ruins the whole service from my viewpoint, and often ruins my entire week or more too. That might be a problem with me being overly sensitive, but it's really hard to deal with.

I'm afraid the last time it happened I started to get angry with the priest. They were saying that my daughter (12 y.o.) should know better to stand the right way because she has been lectured before. Supposedly she was being wilful, and I should know better to know when she is being wilful. From my point of view, she is a girl full of beans and doesn't always know how to apply that level of concentration. I didn't seem to be making my point of view very well, and my general feeling is that the priest has a personality that he "has to be right".

Since I have little experience of Orthodoxy outside of this little church, I don't have any concept of what is supposed to happen, etc.

Any advice?
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2008, 10:05:40 AM »

Try and find a larger Church. Where the Priest has other things to worry about. Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2008, 10:47:48 AM »

What you have described definatly does not sound like what I've seen to be the norm. Most of the churches I've been to in  my life, especially the tiny ones, have been very accepting and understandiang of childrens' naturally short attention spans and wigglynesses (Is that a word? well, it is now. Smiley )

I grew up attending a mission that usually only had 2 to 3 families. And the one we are attending now has only about 14 families. And I've visited other small churches from time to time in my life.

I've even heard many experienced moms and Matushkas recomend parents bring quite, religious oriented activities for the children to engage in during service to help with the fact that most children simply cannot be still and concentrate through an entire service.

But, I haven't any good advice beyond the previous post. Consider a different parish if one is availible. You cannot change the Priest's personality. You can either accept the way things are, or find a different situation. I rather think you are to be commended for staying and not wavering on your commitment to Orthodoxy with this sort of environment. Personally, as a fiery tempered mom of 4 ADHD children, I would have probably gotten into a LOT of trouble for telling the Priest exactly what I thought a long time ago. I don't recomend this solution- bound to cause many problems.  Smiley

P.S. WElCOME TO THE FORUM! Grin
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2008, 11:26:33 AM »

Part of the reason the priest says he is so hard, is so we are prepared for what the "babooshkas" will do in a "real" church telling people off for not doing things right, and we don't get told off when we are at some other church.

Since I don't have much experience elsewhere, it's hard to argue with this.



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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2008, 11:39:19 AM »

Go to a Greek Church and you definitely will not have this problem.

if a babuskha tells you off, smile, say thank you, and walk away.

I think the priest though is making excuses though for his behavior.
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2008, 11:42:41 AM »

^^ Exactly! OCA churches are also very accepting.
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 11:53:19 AM »

Welcome to the forum JohnC!
My guess is that your priest and his matushka are new to Orthodoxy themselves- is this the case?
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 12:23:58 PM »

Part of the reason the priest says he is so hard, is so we are prepared for what the "babooshkas" will do in a "real" church telling people off for not doing things right, and we don't get told off when we are at some other church.

Since I don't have much experience elsewhere, it's hard to argue with this.

Odd, I go to a rather large ROCA parish and no one has "told me off".  Most of the older generation are just glad they are able to practice their faith without State oppression.
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 01:52:42 PM »

I have been to parishes in four of the jurisdictions found in the US (ROCOR, GOA, OCA, and AOC).  I have not found this problem in most.  My current parish is nice and we have a supportive priest who does not directly confront individuals but utilizes what he calls teaching moments after the service during announcements to offer suggestions on how to correct issues that he notes as a pattern  (i.e. not just a one time event).  Not pointing the finger, he discusses the  issues as if he is a participant in the issue.  This Holy Saturdayat the Baptismal Liturgy, he had just such a teaching  moment, when he spoke of the need for us to dress special for the Pascha Service. He noted because it is late at night one may be tempted to dress more comfortably using  flip flops or fleece ware instead of Church Sunday attire, but he reminded us that this is the Feast of Feast and are we dressing as if in our wedding garment or dressing to go to sleep. He closed by assuring us that we were welcome no matter how we dressed but encouraged us to dress for the Feast of Feast in our best not sloppiest clothes. No one was offended and we knew what was expected because it was done in love  not judgement.

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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 02:10:26 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

I had in mind the same question as OzGeorge has already asked. Is your priest a new convert? His manners make me believe that he might have a case of acute convertitis. Smiley

George
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 03:12:34 PM »

I agree, it sounds like the priest is just trying to cover his own behavior.  From my experiences, Babushkas are going to tell you all about it no matter how your kids act.  (We have one dear, sweet Ukrainian lady in our parish who routinely tells me that my daughter isn't dressed warmly enough or too warmly or needs to eat, etc.  Bless her heart, she's just trying to help.)  You may want to speak with your priest and let him know that you feel confused about instructions you've received in the past.  Granted, my priest will occasionally tell the choir to start a song over but it's when we've started off on the key of Z or lost everyone but two sopranos after the first three notes.
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2008, 04:19:26 PM »

Granted, my priest will occasionally tell the choir to start a song over but it's when we've started off on the key of Z or lost everyone but two sopranos after the first three notes.

I've seen priests stop liturgy and do this myself.  Sometimes to myself.   Wink Cheesy 

The priest/matushka in the OP seem a bit on the abusive side.  I've been in bigger and tougher parishes than that and nobody has ever told me off for anything, even pretty big etiquette errors like forgetting to put up my scarf in a church that requires them!  (It was just coiled around my neck and I plumb forgot about it.)  I would have been mortified if the priest (behind a see-through iconostasis) had yelled at me.

That priest is just going to have to learn to ignore small things and be discreet about major things.  Otherwise he and his matushka are going to make one tiny, lonely mission with just themselves left.  Or maybe they will be happy since there is no one left to stand the wrong way.
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2008, 06:21:46 PM »


Yes he is a convert, although he has been a priest 7 years, and some number of years more than that he was Orthodox. Even before he was Orthodox he spent a lot of time in Russia, so I don't know if what goes on in Russia has something to do with it. (?).
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2008, 06:49:33 PM »

Christ is Risen!

1st off, welcome to the forum John! Smiley

Regarding your priest, it sounds as if he's a micromanager.  If his parish continues to grow, he'll eventually need to adopt a different style because he simply won't have the extra time.  In the meantime, John, I would do two things; first, pray about it.  You know, nothing happens accidently.  You were put in this parish for a reason.  Only God knows this reason now, but I assure you it's not an accident.  Secondly (and in addition to prayer), as someone else has already said, I would speak to him about how his words make you feel.  Maybe you and another parishoner could visit with him about it.  There are other options open to you such as finding a different parish or as a last resort- call your bishop and speak with him about it.

Unless things become abusive, before you leave or call anyone, I would focus on prayer and trying to discern the reason you two were brought together.  Just my $0.02. Wink

In Christ,

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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 07:38:42 PM »

Yes he is a convert, although he has been a priest 7 years, and some number of years more than that he was Orthodox. Even before he was Orthodox he spent a lot of time in Russia, so I don't know if what goes on in Russia has something to do with it. (?).

That might explain it. I am originally from Ukraine and I know how it is in these former Soviet Slavic republics. All kinds of weird stuff. It's a very busy time for me right now - the end of a semester at my university, - but some day I might translate for you some posts from a Russian Orthodox Web forum "Sirota" about all kinds of misconceptions of what Orthodoxy is and is not, about priests who are obsessed with minute rituals, etc.

Really, like they suggested above, go to a church where the priest is "ethnic" - Greek, for example, and not a recent convert. You will see a world of difference.
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2008, 08:49:31 PM »

Heorhij, so are you saying that the church coming out of Sovietism, has "got it wrong" so to speak?

I recall reading some recount from some centuries ago about some people visiting Moscow and being amazed that even the children stand unflinchingly through 3 hour services etc, so I thought maybe this is something about the Russian church.


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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2008, 08:55:25 PM »

"Regarding your priest, it sounds as if he's a micromanager."

Yes, I feel that he is a micromanager. But then he also complains that all the burden is on him and he wishes other people would just take over doing stuff. But when you make a suggestion about "How about we do X", it always seems like X is no good, and we must do Y.

I don't want to make it sound as if he's a bad person or anything, because he's not.

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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2008, 03:12:09 AM »

Brother Don't let any of it dscourage you.....example one Good friday i went to a Greek Church here in chicago that quite large on hollywood and sheridan road....the main church doors were closed everyone had to enter thru the side building were the school and hall are... the priest  was sitting in the hallway he noticed me and boy did he snap at me ,,,he said take that hat off , i said father this is the hall and school section regardless remove that hat,,i said ok....so i removed it ....i never would let something like this or anything else upset me...im in church to work out my salvation...i call these things that pop up as little tests we have to pass.....thats how i look at it.....Christ Has Risen.....SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2008, 09:52:35 AM »

I think in this case it depends on priest's personality not on what church to go (Russian, Greek or some other Orthodox Church). I can tell you that our parish is very lucky to have very smart and understandible priest and matushka. May be just try to watch another people what they are doing.

BAbushki (English version is BabUshki  Smiley ) ... just smile them. I am from Russia originally but  never had this problem, may be because I was attending to the big churches and cathedrals with a lot of people (I mean really many people, hundreds in holidays). Speaking about bAbushki - they may be more curious and like to give you advices in the real life than in the church. I remember when I was in Russian churches and had any question  I could come to bAbushki who work in the church and ask them something and could get answer without problems.
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« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2008, 10:19:32 AM »

Yes, I look at them as little tests to pass, when I am able to.  But it has made me very aware of a major disconnect between my intellect and my emotions. My intellect says "this is nothing, move on", but my emotions are not co-operating.


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« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2008, 10:46:11 AM »

John, I really don't know what to say. You were converted a year ago, wright?  How about your daughter?   If she was in the church only a year, it is probably a hard thing for her to understand everything and to know what to do. May be just ask Father what exactly you need to do during service and what your kid needs to do, may be it will help your  situation. You don't need to be frustrated just come to them and ask questions. Good luck!
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« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2008, 11:20:46 AM »

Brother when im driving in the city...i learned a long time ago never to allow traffic to become a battle ground..one can never win ,,traffic is unending,,i learned to accept it.now it doesn't bother me...my nerves are fine..,if i allowed the traffic to bother me we wouldn't be having this coversation over the internet i'd be dead and buried....l
  look at at everything as test a in life be it emotions..or food.interaction between people..we grow ,, thru experiences in life for good or bad...hopfully we choose the good but learn from the bad what not to do..and keep striving forward to theosis holiness...thats why the holy apostle said fight the good fight and run the good race to the end..... Christ Has Risen.......SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2008, 05:31:50 AM »

I think the kids know what to do, but kids have a disconnect between knowing what to do and having the discipline to do it to the standard an adult would. The priest has his own children under a super high level of discipline, which is commendable, but not easily reproducible.

The other issue is the priest is trying to run like a mission to cater for non-ethnic. Even if I suck it up, I'm depressed at the prospect that other people are going to be so high minded.

On the one hand, there is a freedom in Orthodoxy in just letting the priest do whatever he wants to do. On the other hand, I wonder if he is sabotaging his own mission by doing this. But again, I don't feel qualified to be lecturing him about what Orthodoxy should be like.


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« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2008, 11:41:39 AM »

A bit of philosopy on relationships....
Many people see reality as dependent on perception, be it a summation of all perceptions, or each perception is reality for that person. In any event, your perception of a situation greatly influences how you feel and react to a situation. And of course, often people do not receive the opportunity to understand the other side's perceptions.

Now, when a person is dissatisfied with a situation, he has choices.

1. He could try to evoke change. One cannot force another to change, obviously, so this is accomplished through discussion and understanding of each person for the opposing person's perception. Then, a solution equitable to both arrises.  This is best effective when both parties are neither threating, nor feeling threatend. Also, it is most effective when both parties have normal, healthy behavior patterns and are not disfunctional or co-dependant. However, this always has the inherent danger of the other party becoming offended or upset and does have the risk of disasterous results, not to mention simple lack of success. But, if susccessful, allows the initiator to remain, without misery. If the person chooses to use this option, prayer is a good place to start.

2. The person could choose to do nothing and remain in the situation. This is always an option. But this choice has in itself two choices. To remain exactly as is, and continue to be upset, or to ceace having an emotional responce- to "shrug it off" if you will. This, as a whole, is the responce that involves the concept that the known situation is less threatening than the unknown. It is also the easiest, and safer than the first if you are not certain of the other party's reactions. But, to avoid contenued misery, you would need to cease being upset- not easy in the least. It seems to require a strong sense of self worth -not to mean conciet, but certainlly very little vulnerability- to be successsful. If the person chooses to use this option, prayer is a good place to start.

3. The person could simply leave the situation without confrontation.  This is what some would derisively call this quitting, which is an undesirble choice that is a symtom of dispair. Others would simply think of it as reassessing priorities, which is a great path to contentment. It is truely neither, or rather is both. What it is depends on the person.  For this to be positive, it is imperitive that the person is clear on their priorities, and has a fairly good idea of how to fill them.  What is important to the person? What priority led the person to be in this particular situation? Is it still the highest priority? Is it still being fullfilled by this situation. Sometimes, it is the priorities that have changed. Sometimes it is what the situation provides that has changed. A person that hasn't worked it out so to speak, will have difficulities achieving a positive solution, and is in danger of acting out of dispair. If the person chooses to use this option, prayer is a good place to start.

I hope that if you can sit back and look at your situation objectively, and consider your priorities, and the personalities of those involved, you can find the solution that is perfect for you.

If only I could get that one forum member-RLMN- to pay attention.... Now where did she get too? laugh Grin
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« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2008, 12:58:42 PM »

As a new convert myself, if I found myself in a similar situation, I would probably give serious consideration to finding a different Orthodox Church for myself.

As "babes in the faith" we need positive reinforcements, not negative ones.
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« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2008, 05:36:54 PM »

As "babes in the faith" we need positive reinforcements, not negative ones.
Not to nitpick here, but I have found many people misuse the terms "positive reinforcements" and "negative reinforcements." The psychologist B.F. Skinner coined these terms as part of hie theory of operant conditioning. Skinner's definition of "reinforcement" is any action which causes an increase in the desired behavior. All reinforcements increase a desired behavior, whether they are positive or negative. The opposite of a reinforcement is a punishment. Punishments decrease an undesired behavior.

So what's the difference? A positive reinforcement is a desireable condition that is placed upon the subject as a result of performing the desired behavior. For example, if the cat pushes a particular button, he is rewarded with a fishy treat. The fishy treat is the positive reinforcement for the desired behavior of pushing the button. So the cat was positively reinforced by the fishy treat.

A negative reinforcement, on the other hand, is an undesireable condition that is removed from the subject as a result of performing the desired behavior. In this case, a cat is placed in a cage (the undesirable condition) until he pushes the button. When he does so, the cage door opens and the cat escapes. Here we can say that the cat was negatively reinforced by the removal of imprisonment in the cage.

This is different from punishment. Punishment is an undesireable condition that is placed upon the subject as a result of performing undesired behavior. In the OP, the matushka placed the undesireable condition of guilt on John C. as a result of his kids' performing an undesired behavior, sitting during certain parts of the Liturgy. So John C. was punished, not negatively reinforced.

I hope that clears this up. Now back to your regularly scheduled thread already in progress.
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« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2008, 09:44:11 PM »

Hi John,

I have never been to a parish which treated its people the way you all have been treated. Are there any other Orthodox churches you can visit in the area? I would suggest it only because you don't want your children to grow up in a parish with such restrictive, punitive actions taken against them and you. My guess is once your children are on their own, they will stop attending church due to how they have been treated at your parish.

sincerely, Tamara
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« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2008, 11:25:04 PM »

Christ is Risen!
I have experienced a similar situation but from a strategically placed sub deacon only once. It happened to be a small ROCOR parish near where my parents live where most of the attendees were Russian or Russian decent. There were some Greek churches nearby and we have had no problems since. This I hope is an unusual situation and has to do with the personality of the priest and matuska. It is bound to happen sooner or later but unfortunate when it does.
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« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2008, 02:21:13 AM »

Granted, my priest will occasionally tell the choir to start a song over but it's when we've started off on the key of Z or lost everyone but two sopranos after the first three notes.

Do you remember the time Nat started some song, and he told us to start over, and she yelled an apology.. . ("Sorry, Dad!")? I wanted to crawl down the stairs and out the door!  Grin

Fr. Andrew has taken some the opportunity from time to time to instruct us in the way we should behave, and even in how we should dress when we come to Liturgy. However, he manages to do it in a loving manner. The only time I've seen him get upset is when people start talking during communion, and then he "shushes" them when it gets loud. I think he is justified in being upset since we shouldn't take the body and blood of our Lord so lightly as to engage in "idle talk" when we should be praying for ourselves and those about to commune.

At any rate, John, I pray that the Lord will guide you in what to do.
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órë: noun \"heart"\ (inner mind),   laurëa: adjective \"golden, like gold"\ http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/quenya.htm
ytterbiumanalyst
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« Reply #29 on: May 07, 2008, 02:46:30 PM »

Do you remember the time Nat started some song, and he told us to start over, and she yelled an apology.. . ("Sorry, Dad!")? I wanted to crawl down the stairs and out the door!  Grin
Yeah. Cheesy Aren't kids great? Grin

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Fr. Andrew has taken some the opportunity from time to time to instruct us in the way we should behave, and even in how we should dress when we come to Liturgy. However, he manages to do it in a loving manner. The only time I've seen him get upset is when people start talking during communion, and then he "shushes" them when it gets loud. I think he is justified in being upset since we shouldn't take the body and blood of our Lord so lightly as to engage in "idle talk" when we should be praying for ourselves and those about to commune.
It really is best, I think, to speak to groups rather than individuals. Reminding an individual about a policy or procedure is likely to produce embarrassment or resentment, especially in a public setting. When speaking to a group, however, the wrongdoers are safely protected by anonymity and those who are doing things correctly are encouraged to continue doing so.
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"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens
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« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2008, 03:27:38 PM »

Do you remember the time Nat started some song, and he told us to start over, and she yelled an apology.. . ("Sorry, Dad!")? I wanted to crawl down the stairs and out the door!  Grin

I remember that, but I don't think I was in the choir yet.  I still wanted to crawl out the door, though.  LOL! 
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Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams
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« Reply #31 on: May 07, 2008, 06:42:12 PM »

Christ is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!

I've seen one GOA Hierarch correct the pronunciations of words during the reading of the Holy Gospel.  The Deacon would bristle for a second and continue.

My parish priest would admonish people to remain quiet while receiving the Holy Bread.  Some people would quiet down and others would pick up where they left off.

If I were in such a situation, my reaction would tend to vary with my mood.  If I could conclude that there was no big deal with obedience, I would obey.  On Holy Friday, I have avoided going to my native church because I'm offended by the perceived pompous displays by the Parish Council Members selling candles and the ignorant parishioners who have the gall to reserve pews for late coming family members.  As some posters have recommended, I attend a different church for Holy Friday where I don't have these issues which affect the humble worship required of that day.
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Dart
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« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2010, 09:11:55 PM »

Christ is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!

I've seen one GOA Hierarch correct the pronunciations of words during the reading of the Holy Gospel.  The Deacon would bristle for a second and continue.

My parish priest would admonish people to remain quiet while receiving the Holy Bread.  Some people would quiet down and others would pick up where they left off.

If I were in such a situation, my reaction would tend to vary with my mood.  If I could conclude that there was no big deal with obedience, I would obey.  On Holy Friday, I have avoided going to my native church because I'm offended by the perceived pompous displays by the Parish Council Members selling candles and the ignorant parishioners who have the gall to reserve pews for late coming family members.  As some posters have recommended, I attend a different church for Holy Friday where I don't have these issues which affect the humble worship required of that day.
Would this be your response now that you are in a bad mood?
If you have issues with the Church, leave.   Angry  The Church will welcome you back when you repent.   Wink
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SolEX01
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2010, 09:27:31 PM »

Christ is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!

I've seen one GOA Hierarch correct the pronunciations of words during the reading of the Holy Gospel.  The Deacon would bristle for a second and continue.

My parish priest would admonish people to remain quiet while receiving the Holy Bread.  Some people would quiet down and others would pick up where they left off.

If I were in such a situation, my reaction would tend to vary with my mood.  If I could conclude that there was no big deal with obedience, I would obey.  On Holy Friday, I have avoided going to my native church because I'm offended by the perceived pompous displays by the Parish Council Members selling candles and the ignorant parishioners who have the gall to reserve pews for late coming family members.  As some posters have recommended, I attend a different church for Holy Friday where I don't have these issues which affect the humble worship required of that day.
Would this be your response now that you are in a bad mood?
If you have issues with the Church, leave.   Angry  The Church will welcome you back when you repent.   Wink

What's your point, Dart, and make it relevant to what the OP brought up 2+ years ago?
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Dart
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« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2010, 09:30:17 PM »

Christ is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!

I've seen one GOA Hierarch correct the pronunciations of words during the reading of the Holy Gospel.  The Deacon would bristle for a second and continue.

My parish priest would admonish people to remain quiet while receiving the Holy Bread.  Some people would quiet down and others would pick up where they left off.

If I were in such a situation, my reaction would tend to vary with my mood.  If I could conclude that there was no big deal with obedience, I would obey.  On Holy Friday, I have avoided going to my native church because I'm offended by the perceived pompous displays by the Parish Council Members selling candles and the ignorant parishioners who have the gall to reserve pews for late coming family members.  As some posters have recommended, I attend a different church for Holy Friday where I don't have these issues which affect the humble worship required of that day.
Would this be your response now that you are in a bad mood?
If you have issues with the Church, leave.   Angry  The Church will welcome you back when you repent.   Wink

What's your point, Dart, and make it relevant to what the OP brought up 2+ years ago?

neeneer neener neee
lighten up and smile  Grin

God loves you, SolEx
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