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Author Topic: An Outsider's Impressions of Orthodoxy  (Read 29955 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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« on: November 21, 2008, 11:24:14 AM »

An Outsider’s Impressions of Orthodoxy

I have found it hugely interesting and helpful, as a Baptist working on the home base of a missionary society which operates in Orthodox areas, to read your impressions of us in several threads on this forum. It is seldom we get the chance to see ourselves as we appear to others. So I offer the following in two hopes:

1) It may be of interest or even help to Orthodox to see how you appear to outsiders.
2) I may have formed wrong impressions by not understanding what I have seen in the right way. If so, I should very much like to be corrected, and shall look for your replies.

In November I went to the village of Zervat, southern Albania, as I wished to view the 10th century Byzantine church there. Sadly it was locked, but I very much enjoyed its old beauty from outside. Whilst two friends went off on a fruitless search for the key, I fell into conversation with an elderly man in the road, who is an adherent of that congregation. He spoke warmly and brightly of the need to have Christ as a daily reality in one’s life and heart, and is grieved over the poor relations between the denominations. Having spent much of his life in an atheist society, and now in a church which (in SW Albania at least) has a shortage of clergy, I felt that here was, perhaps, a brother in Christ, touched and made alive by the Holy Ghost but with little knowledge beyond an enthusiasm for Christ himself. I wondered how many Orthodox worshippers there are in this area, whose hearts are like kindling, ready to be ignited by the operation of the Word and the Spirit.

Then we headed for another village with a 10th century church. It is reached by a long, stony track without a signpost, and we stopped to ask the way when we espied a man and woman. We gave them a lift, as they were going that way. The woman is the wife of the priest, who lives in a nearby village, and we let her out whilst we turned right to visit the church, which was unlocked and again of great beauty. We decided to visit the priest’s home, and again came upon his wife in the road, who took us there and introduced us to him. We were at once made welcome in the sunshine on his balcony, where Turkish coffee and home-made raki were promptly brought (and enjoyed).

This priest serves five churches, and said he has been priest here since 1992. (I assume in reality he was among the first intake at the seminary in Durrës in 1992, and returned to his home village as priest after ordination.) He was born in the house he now lives in.

Sadly I could get no spiritual conversation out of him. He told us that a pagan temple had been on the site of the church before Christianity came. I observed that men have always sought to find God and worship him. He replied that God is an invisible power. I answered that he is indeed, but that his character has been made visible in the life and character of his Son, Jesus Christ. His reply was no more than, “I hope so.” Should I see him as the blind leading the blind? Or feel sad that maybe here is a man seeking to do what needs to be done, but with no input from elsewhere to learn what it is and how to do it? I leave that to the Lord.

Back in the city of Gjirokastër, my hotelier, himself an Orthodox, phoned one of the priests in the city, and said I should like to see him. I found his manner of address on the phone to the priest charming, for it began, “O Papa!”

The priest is a delightful man. His attitude to us Evangelicals was expressed by reference to the words of our Lord, who said, “He that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9.40). This seemed to me a token of better relations than in other times or places. He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to. There is, he said (as has one of our own missionaries on many occasions), a reduced interest in Albania in reading - not only religious, but all literature. This has implications for the growth in faith of the flock of Christ. He also said that some villages receive only one visit a year from a priest.

In another place I visited I was told that some members of the Orthodox Church see the priests as corrupt, enriching themselves by acquiring people’s money. I had previously heard a similar idea elsewhere. Whether it is justified, I cannot say. Privately some members are reading the scriptures in their homes, and are disgruntled about the priests.

In another city the Orthodox bishop is a convert from Islam. Under him, the Orthodox Church no longer lays a public curse on the Evangelical Church and its workers and helpers as it did under a previous bishop: another heartening sign of improved relations between us.

Such are some first-hand observations and impressions from contact with Orthodox a few days ago. I would be genuinely interested in your comments, corrections or confirmation of them.

But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 11:54:19 AM »

At the conference I went to this year, I saw a power-point presentation of what's going on in Albania. The lady who gave it goes to "All Saints Orthodox Church" in Chicago . They do alot of work in Albania.

http://www.allsaintsorthodox.org/ministries/missions_albania.php


The problem that many Orthodox have about Evangelicals that send missionaries East, is that as soon as the Red wall collapsed, there was no time for the Orthodox to reach their own people. It is rude for hundreds of different western christian groups to go east just when the Orthodox were free from communist oppression.

You don't see Evangelicals in Saudi Arabia preaching, but you are all over Eastern Europe. Baptists are not the only ones going over there. Everyone is going over ther......from Mormons, Seventhday Adventists, Jehovia Witnesses, to Mennonites, Methodists, Assembly of God, Roman Catholics, and Prespyterians.....not to mention a hundred other groups.

I guess alliances can be made for the common good, but it is rude to be flooded by hundreds of different groups....all trying to grab people for themselves.





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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 12:08:55 PM »

I think its key to remember how battered the Church has been in countries like Albania, and while the "gates of hell" haven't conquered; the people in these countries have been pushed to the limit, there lives often on the line for their beliefs- we in America largely have no frame of reference for it. I do think that sadly many Orthodox complaints have been justified by naive evangelicals (I do not count you as such- and there are naive people everywhere, just ask my good wife), who basically cannot understand the Orthodox way, and basically mis-interpret the Orthodox every chance they get; it seems to me that instead of preaching Christ many evangelicals are too busy getting offended at Icons and Tradition and thinking that these things (and the Orthodox Church by implication) are in the way of people getting saved. But then- we don't even bother to find out what "saved" means to an Orthodox believer. I think for us, too often, "saved" means simply getting to Heaven, and so, while we may have sermons longer than a 7 minute homily do we ever learn what it means to "participate in the Divine Essence"; do we even take any more than a fleeting glimpse of the mystery of the Incarnation? No, we're too busy beating John 3:16 to death.

In any case I love that you said you wouldn't need to plant the 1rst Baptist Church of a given Albanian Village if you saw Christ being preached by an Orthodox Priest- I agree.

Sorry- it was more of a tangent.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 12:21:08 PM »

I hope, too, that we have not given you a skewed view of how Orthodox see Evangelicals.  Many of us (myself included) on this forum are former American evangelicals and I think there is some difference between American and European evangelical groups.  I agree with ironsideroger that Americans don't always understand situations like Albania, Serbia, etc. so some have launched missions there without realizing there is already a native church presence.  A friend of mine went to Sarajevo in 2000 on a mission and was surprised to learn there were so many Christians already there. 

To speak for myself, I still struggle with animosity towards evangelical groups because my former church spent much more time on outward appearance and social ladder climbing than on spiritual growth.  Forgive me if I've said anything in the past to defame the evangelical movement as a whole. 

Unfortunately, I do feel there is a certain amount of standoffishness within Orthodoxy, intentional or otherwise.  Most Orthodox I know are very friendly and willing to share and discuss the faith but they're also very cautious about approaching others without invitation because they don't want to be seen as proselytizing or judgmental.  Perhaps we rely too heavily on the idea that Orthodoxy will naturally draw people to the truth.  I would like to see more Orthodox evangelism but it needs to start at home in our own parishes and then reach outward. 
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 12:43:47 PM »

Alot of Evangelical people don't know (and I even didn't know until I saw that presentation) that even before Communism, they were under ISLAM for 500 years. Well, it's been some months when I saw that presentation so it may not be exactly 500 years, but they were under Islam for some centuries.

So when you take all this into account then you can understand some of the hostility. Most American evangelicals don't know anything about real persecution and suffering. The Albanian people understand suffering, and just as the Orthodox were trying to let the people of Albania know about Orthodoxy........they get flooded by hundreds of different western groups.

It's not right! But it is what it is, and you have to make the best of it.




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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2008, 01:26:34 PM »

Just one quick thought:

It's often best to judge a way by those truly following it.

There are many corrupt priests.  There are many ignorant priest.  There are also many corrupt, ignorant, or worldly protestant ministers.  That doesn't mean we come and try to convert the members of that poor protestant congregation.  If their people are dissatisfied, they may come to us, or they may go to another protestant group, but we don't go and try to poach them.

At my church sermons are 20 - 30 min on Sundays.  There are also 45 min - 1 hr sermons on Saturday nights, 1 hr per week sunday school lessons,  1 hr per week collage & graduates meetings, and a 1 hr / week adults meeting.  After these long talks there will usually be groups of people sitting with the priest continuing to ask questions for another hour.  In Orthodox churches you can find this things that the Protestants judge to be to important things in Christianity, and in other Orthodox churches you find them lacking... just like in various protestant groups.

On the other hand, at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.  I don't expect you to buy this advantages, but...

Don't compare the best cast Protestant groups to the worst case Orthodox situations.  Compare the best to the best and draw conclusions based on that.  Try spending a month in a monastery in Egypt and then saying that the Holy Spirit is not active among the Orthodox, or that the Orthodox are not fed.  In the mean time, why not focus on the multitude of Protestant churches that are not fed anything spiritual rather than going after the Orthodox who have problems which you are less equipped to address?
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2008, 01:46:04 PM »

Thanks for your honest appraisal.

As a former Southern Baptist (USA) turned Eastern Orthodox, I definitely can relate to (and probably surpass you in terms of) the frustration felt when encountering Orthodox Christians, both lay and clergy, who possess such minimal education regarding their faith.  The same frustration arises concerning pastoral indifference and financial mismanagement.

I am aware -- having grown up in evangelical youth groups of many different doctrinal stripes -- that nominalism is alive and well in evangelicalism, as well.  A lot of evangelical youth think that if you wear the t-shirts, listen to the CDs, read the popular fiction and know the lingo put forth from the neighborhood Christian bookstore, you're in good shape.  Actual knowledge of Scripture, taking up of one's cross, and development of virtue is secondary.  Were we to have some sort of catastrophe in the West (God forbid) that sent us back 100 years or more technologically and educationally, I would predict massive attrition from many evangelical camps, since the seeker- and user-friendly baubles that hold a lot of the adherents in place would no longer be in place, and they wouldn't have any idea what it was that they were supposed to do as Christians.

I say this, not to excuse the Orthodox, but because this is, I think an explanation of what happens when Orthodoxy is no longer the state religion.  We get comfy, we come to church (when we want to, since we're free to do so or not), and when that liberty or privilege is no longer there, there's a vacuum.  Although it's not right, many people get attached to the externals of our rites and link them to some sort of cultural nostalgia, missing (or even ignoring) much of the theological meaning behind said externals.  It's for this reason that much-beloved saints like St. Kosmas of Aetolia sacrficially wandered to and fro throughout the Turkish-occupied lands educating as best he could and encouraging the faithful to hang onto their faith.  This was not easy work.

It sounds like the "I hope so" priest is similarly stressed, and is approaching burnout.  I know I'd be tempted to give in if I had to serve five churches.  We should pray that the Holy Spirit refreshes him and, more importantly, raises up other men to help!

Again, thank you for your charitable take on our faith in Albania; have you any experience with the beloved Archbishop Anastasios?
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2008, 10:08:08 AM »

Jonathan: at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.
I think you are very nearly right in all this – sadly. We are indeed impoverished. As regards the Church Fathers, only Augustine seems to get a look-in, and then only because of his views on sin and grace. The Desert Fathers are unknown (I have not dipped into them myself). We have no liturgy in the usual sense of that word. I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

David Bryan: It sounds like the "I hope so" priest is similarly stressed, and is approaching burnout… We should pray that the Holy Spirit refreshes him…

I think so. His face looked stressed. He had a heart attack some time ago. He was a heavy drinker, now turned teetotal for medical reasons (though he served raki to us as his guests). We should indeed pray for such men.

David Bryan: have you any experience with the beloved Archbishop Anastasios?
Not personally. I have warmed to what little I have read of his writings, for he seemed a man truly centred on Christ.
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2008, 09:09:48 PM »

I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

This sounds beautiful, but I would have to disagree a little...

One of my professors once said to me that when an Orthodox Christian comes to the Eucharist, we leave changed in one of two ways... we are either burned, or sanctified.  In this way, I would agree that what we "get out" of communion depends on what we "put in."  In other words, yes, it is imperative that we come with a broken and contrite heart, so that we are sanctified, and not burned by our Lord's body and blood.

But there is where I would stop agreeing.  While it is important that our heart be in the right place, to say that the effectiveness of the Eucharist is dependant on what WE do (we repent, we have faith, etc.), is to limit the power of the Eucharist, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  For us Orthodox, the sacraments are not just something that WE do to show commitment and faith in God or our repentance.  They are something that God does for us.  Holy Communion, for us, is medicine that we receive "for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body, and the pledge of the future life and kingdom."  Through it, God Himself works spiritually and physically within us, and we are literally united with Him.  It is an armor against evil...

You get the picture, I'm sure.  My point is that we would not limit the power and effectiveness of the Eucharist to what we the faithful are doing.  Rather, it is much more about what God does for us (after all, it is the Holy Spirit that does the consecrating, we don't...).

I want to comment on the OP, but I'll have to come back to it later.  Fr. Christos is waiting on me for dinner!!!

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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 07:22:05 AM »

when an Orthodox Christian comes to the Eucharist, we leave changed in one of two ways... we are either burned, or sanctified. 

...to say that the effectiveness of the Eucharist is dependant on what WE do (we repent, we have faith, etc.), is to limit the power of the Eucharist, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  For us Orthodox, the sacraments are not just something that WE do to show commitment and faith in God or our repentance.  They are something that God does for us. 

Holy Communion is medicine that we receive "for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body, and the pledge of the future life and kingdom."  Through it, God Himself works spiritually and physically within us

Fr. Christos is waiting on me for dinner!!!

Concerning the first section of my quotation from your posting, I think this is illustrated very well indeed by that devout Tridentine Catholic J R R Tolkien in his "The Lord of the Rings". The effect of the holy or numinous in Lothlórien is such that no-one goes in and comes out unchanged.

Regarding the second, you are saying, better than I did, what I was trying to say when I wrote "we all receive the same blessing from God." It is God who blesses us. But here is an irony: I obviously came across unintentionally as seeming to hold some kind of idea that the blessing we receive at the Lord's Supper is dependent on our worthiness (or works, or merit), which you rightly refute. Isn't it ironic that many Evangelicals see Orthodoxy in precisely the same way - a system of gaining God's blessings by works and merit?

Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory. I have in fact already prepared a meditation on this very theme for the next time I lead and preside at a Communion service at our church.

Regarding the fourth section, seeing your pseudonym as Greek Chef, I wish I were at table beside him! Do you have the retsina to wash it down with? Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 05:42:58 PM »

Jonathan: at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.
I think you are very nearly right in all this – sadly. We are indeed impoverished.

I have to comment on how refreshing it is to have someone on here who is so willing to own up to the shortcomings of his own confession. 

I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

As GreekChef mentioned, this is a "yes and no" issue for us.  My thoughts on your thoughts are the following: while we Orthodox would concur (as GreekChef showed) that we must prepare ourselves to commune "in a worthy manner" as St. Paul instructed, we recognize that the "blessing from God" comes at a specific place, through a specific means.  The bread and wine are themselves the κοινονια, or "particpation in," or "fellowshipping with" the Body and Blood of Christ Himself; Evangelical churches believe that the bread and the wine are devoid of any such participation in divine reality, do they not?  This would seem to separate their view from the view of St. Paul which saw the Eucharist as elements which themselves participate directly in Christ and, in so doing, were made capable and worthy instruments of communing the divine nature to the communicants.

Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory.

I emphasized certain words because I think it may help you if I clarify the Orthodox understanding of some of those boldfaced terms.  In many modern and post-modern mindsets, "spiritual" is synonymous with "immaterial" or even "mental," while "literal" is synonymous with "material" or "physical."  To us, however, the fact that Christ is mystically present in the Eucharist does not mean that 1) He is there in the exact same way as He was there on the Cross of Calvary, nor does it mean that 2) in light of 1), He is somehow "less there" than if He were there in the same way as He was on Calvary.

To put it another way, we see the Church as the Body of Christ, physically.  We see the Eucharist as the Body of Christ, mystically.  Meaning, we're not sure of the "mechanics," either.  We insist that He is there, otherwise we could not partake of Him through our action of communion; we would simply be eating bread and wine while thinking about Him instead of eating His flesh and drinking His blood...somehow.  This is a spiritual -- meaning sanctified and holy and by and according to the Spirit -- act, even though it is done with corporeal bread and wine and our corporeal bodies.  Spiritual does not mean intangible.

Likewise, to say that "literal" is the opposite of "spiritual" would be to suggest that the only "real" reality would be the tangible one -- which I know you don't ascribe to, being a believer -- and it would suggest that the only other option for believing in a "memorial meal" would be saying that it became His Body and Blood in exactly the same way as it was when He walked this earth.  Neither is what we believe.  He is present, through the means of and inseparable and indistinguishable from the elements which themselves become for us His Body and Blood (somehow), though microscopic investigation of this would not lead to seeing tissues and blood cells, anymore than investigating Christ's DNA would lead to God the Father's genetic code.  This is why we do not often call it a sacrament, but rather a mystery.
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 09:21:44 PM »


Concerning the first section of my quotation from your posting, I think this is illustrated very well indeed by that devout Tridentine Catholic J R R Tolkien in his "The Lord of the Rings". The effect of the holy or numinous in Lothlórien is such that no-one goes in and comes out unchanged.

Can I just say how much I LOVE "The Lord of the Rings?!"  Smiley

Quote
Regarding the second, you are saying, better than I did, what I was trying to say when I wrote "we all receive the same blessing from God." It is God who blesses us. But here is an irony: I obviously came across unintentionally as seeming to hold some kind of idea that the blessing we receive at the Lord's Supper is dependent on our worthiness (or works, or merit), which you rightly refute. Isn't it ironic that many Evangelicals see Orthodoxy in precisely the same way - a system of gaining God's blessings by works and merit?

That is ironic indeed, as a proper study of Orthodox theology will clearly show that the opposite is in fact the case.  The very nature of our sacraments is dependant fully on the Holy Spirit and His work.  Without the Holy Spirit, we're just praying together in a big building.  And while personal prayer is wonderful and necessary, prayer as a group is wonderful and necessary, fellowship is wonderful and necessary, it's the work of the Holy Spirit and God's grace that make the Body and Blood of Christ present and that allow us to unite ourselves to Him.  Without that, as DavidBryan just said, we're just eating and remembering.  I'd like to go into more thought on this, but I think it will derail the thread to go into Eucharistic theology too much...

I would be interested in learning why such thought concerning Orthodoxy has come up among Evangelicals.  I read both the Fairbairn and Clendenin books on Orthodoxy, but to be honest, I don't remember their explanations very well, as it's been a few years ago.  There are misunderstandings and misrepresentations of every faith.  To judge a faith based on those is wrong indeed.   

Quote
Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory. I have in fact already prepared a meditation on this very theme for the next time I lead and preside at a Communion service at our church.

I would enjoy hearing more of what you think on this.  I think it is clear that we disagree on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as I am an adherent of Orthodoxy, which has proclaimed Christ's presence in the Eucharist since the time of the apostles, and you have stated that you do not believe in the real presence.  That aside, I would really like to hear more about this thought.  I would like to hear your reasoning on the real presence as well at some point.  I am always interested to hear the opposite point of view, as mine always seems so obvious to me, and I struggle to understand why people don't believe. (I'm being sincere in that thought, by the way, not trying to provoke a controversial discussion or anything...)
 
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Regarding the fourth section, seeing your pseudonym as Greek Chef, I wish I were at table beside him! Do you have the retsina to wash it down with? Smiley
As a matter of fact, I do have a bottle in my cabinet just waiting to be opened (after the advent fast...)!  We would love to have you over for dinner!  Do you ever travel to the Atlanta area, by any chance?

Forgive me a sinner,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2008, 10:07:37 PM »

An Outsider’s Impressions of Orthodoxy

I have found it hugely interesting and helpful, as a Baptist working on the home base of a missionary society which operates in Orthodox areas, to read your impressions of us in several threads on this forum. It is seldom we get the chance to see ourselves as we appear to others. So I offer the following in two hopes:

1) It may be of interest or even help to Orthodox to see how you appear to outsiders.
2) I may have formed wrong impressions by not understanding what I have seen in the right way. If so, I should very much like to be corrected, and shall look for your replies.

In November I went to the village of Zervat, southern Albania, as I wished to view the 10th century Byzantine church there. Sadly it was locked, but I very much enjoyed its old beauty from outside. Whilst two friends went off on a fruitless search for the key, I fell into conversation with an elderly man in the road, who is an adherent of that congregation. He spoke warmly and brightly of the need to have Christ as a daily reality in one’s life and heart, and is grieved over the poor relations between the denominations. Having spent much of his life in an atheist society, and now in a church which (in SW Albania at least) has a shortage of clergy, I felt that here was, perhaps, a brother in Christ, touched and made alive by the Holy Ghost but with little knowledge beyond an enthusiasm for Christ himself. I wondered how many Orthodox worshippers there are in this area, whose hearts are like kindling, ready to be ignited by the operation of the Word and the Spirit.

May I ask what gave you the impression that he had little knowledge of his faith?  Even if he lacks knowledge, I would say the fact that he has faith despite the situation is a wonderful miracle!  My opinion would be that, rather than changing the theology and system of worship that the man has grown up in by converting him, we should pray for his priest and for the Albanian church to be blessed with more priests!  Had I met this gentleman myself (of course, I'm Orthodox...), I would have encouraged him to educate himself and speak with the priest frequently.  

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Then we headed for another village with a 10th century church. It is reached by a long, stony track without a signpost, and we stopped to ask the way when we espied a man and woman. We gave them a lift, as they were going that way. The woman is the wife of the priest, who lives in a nearby village, and we let her out whilst we turned right to visit the church, which was unlocked and again of great beauty. We decided to visit the priest’s home, and again came upon his wife in the road, who took us there and introduced us to him. We were at once made welcome in the sunshine on his balcony, where Turkish coffee and home-made raki were promptly brought (and enjoyed).

This priest serves five churches, and said he has been priest here since 1992. (I assume in reality he was among the first intake at the seminary in Durrës in 1992, and returned to his home village as priest after ordination.) He was born in the house he now lives in.

Sadly I could get no spiritual conversation out of him. He told us that a pagan temple had been on the site of the church before Christianity came. I observed that men have always sought to find God and worship him. He replied that God is an invisible power. I answered that he is indeed, but that his character has been made visible in the life and character of his Son, Jesus Christ. His reply was no more than, “I hope so.” Should I see him as the blind leading the blind? Or feel sad that maybe here is a man seeking to do what needs to be done, but with no input from elsewhere to learn what it is and how to do it? I leave that to the Lord.

Honestly, from what you describe, my reaction is that this priest is probably burned out.  My husband serves only one parish (granted it's a huge one) and works extremely long hours.  I can only imagine what it must be like to serve five.  And to be frank (please don't take offense), he may have not been interested in talking theology to someone that he viewed as an outsider, whose motives he probably questioned.  Obviously I don't know, I'm only going by what you describe and by what my experiences have been-- I love to sit down and talk to people of other faiths (to learn more from them as well as to educate them).  But many, many priests and Orthodox do not feel the same way.

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Back in the city of Gjirokastër, my hotelier, himself an Orthodox, phoned one of the priests in the city, and said I should like to see him. I found his manner of address on the phone to the priest charming, for it began, “O Papa!”

The priest is a delightful man. His attitude to us Evangelicals was expressed by reference to the words of our Lord, who said, “He that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9.40). This seemed to me a token of better relations than in other times or places. He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to. There is, he said (as has one of our own missionaries on many occasions), a reduced interest in Albania in reading - not only religious, but all literature. This has implications for the growth in faith of the flock of Christ. He also said that some villages receive only one visit a year from a priest.
May I ask why he can only preach for seven minutes?  Is it simply because of the people's lack of attention span?  And I would say that it's not suprising that the interest in reading has waned, considering the influence of communism in the region.

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In another place I visited I was told that some members of the Orthodox Church see the priests as corrupt, enriching themselves by acquiring people’s money. I had previously heard a similar idea elsewhere. Whether it is justified, I cannot say. Privately some members are reading the scriptures in their homes, and are disgruntled about the priests.
Sadly, I've heard this a lot.  There are, of course, some corrupt priests, just as there are corrupt preachers, ministers, etc.  If you've ever read the book "People of the Lie," by Dr. M. Scott Peck, he talks specifically about how evil people (he uses the term "evil," not me-- it's a wonderful book on the lack of a "psychology of evil" and an understanding of evil) often gravitate toward positions of religious power.  This is nothing new.  The sad part is that all too often, ALL priests are judged by the bad conduct of a few.  This is a battle my husband fights every day-- whether it's a congregant who is angry over a decision he has made and judges (and badmouthed) him, or a random person on the street who sees his cassock and judges him because of a few Catholic priest's indiscretions.  I have some stories I could tell about the looks and comments my husband gets because he is seen in public with a woman.  It frightens me sometimes to think what might happen when we have children and he goes out in public with them without me.

I guess my point here (which I'm sure I'm not making very well) is that this is an excuse.  People have many reasons for rejecting the Church.  Saying that the priests are the reason is, in my opinion, an excuse.  One's faith should not be dependant on perfect priests.  Instead of concentrating on the (albeit many) sins of any priest, they should be concentrating on their relationship with Christ.  Their opinion of any cleric should NEVER be a reason not to go to church.  I have encountered many priests I didn't like, and one whom I truly believe to be corrupt in the worst way.  Even faced with that one priest, I never ceased receiving the communion that he consecrated, as the sanctity of the Eucharist has NOTHING to do with the sinfullness (or sinlessness) of the priest.  Christ overcomes all.  This is what I always say when the people complain to me about the priests or bishops (which happens often, unfortunately).  This is what I would say to the people in Albania.  And the way I would END that conversation is by asking them, "have you prayed for the priests?"

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In another city the Orthodox bishop is a convert from Islam. Under him, the Orthodox Church no longer lays a public curse on the Evangelical Church and its workers and helpers as it did under a previous bishop: another heartening sign of improved relations between us.

Such are some first-hand observations and impressions from contact with Orthodox a few days ago. I would be genuinely interested in your comments, corrections or confirmation of them.

But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.


I would have to echo the sentiments that have been expressed here.  The influence of communism in the region had terrible effects on the people and their faith.  It is truly unjust for people to take advantage of that weakness and come in and convert people.  

When you say we should not "leave it to you," to preach Christ, I would say that we are doing the best we can.  It sounds as though you think we are doing nothing, when in fact we have many active missionaries.  But as you said, there are 700,000 in Albania alone.  Nevermind Russia and all the other countries that were victimized by communism.  We have to reach those people as well.  And the situation is much more complicated than you or I understand.  Each one of those 700,000 is an individual who needs to be ministered to, educated, and loved.  And again, that's just Albania.  Each has his own reasons for leaving the church, rejecting the church, never returning to the church, returning without full understanding, etc.  Ministering to all those people is a monumental task and we are doing our best, as are the churches in those countries (we are not in the same jurisdictions as they are-- we are under different bishops and have different programs, etc. for addressing those issues).  I hope I'm being clear in what I'm trying to say.  I'm not saying this as an excuse.  I'll be the first to admit that we don't have enough priests in any country, and that we have much work to do, so much so that it often seems overwhelming and like we'll never accomplish it.  But that is where the Holy Spirit comes in.  He has never let us down yet, and He is in everything.  He won't let us fail.

The other thing I would have to say is that there is an element of judgement implied by the presence of missionaries, by the things they have said, and even in what you said (please don't take offense to that).  Just because you didn't see a priest under a tree with a group of people listening doesn't mean that they aren't there.  Just because you don't see it (and I mean this in the general sense, not just toward you in particular) doesn't mean that Christ is not active in the lives of the people.  It is one thing to evangelize to people who have never heard of Christ and never heard the good news of His death and resurrection.  It is quite another to judge that someone's (or some group's) understanding of the Gospel is not good enough by your standards and it is your God given duty to "fix" them and their faith.  Again, I'm speaking in the general sense when I say "you."

I hope I'm not offending with my words!
God bless,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2008, 11:57:50 PM »


The Baptists who are coming into Russia from the USA have a US Manual on how to convert the Orthodox. But.... it is so good as a mini instruction course on Orthodoxy that it has had the reverse effect and has brought Russian Baptist people into Orthodoxy.  Well, that is only anecdotal evidence; I don't know how many Baptists it has brought into Orthodoxy.

They list this manual on their Webpage for "Cults and Sects."  Us - a cult?  That hurts!!     Shocked
 
http://www.namb.net/atf/cf/%7BCDA250E8-8866-4236-9A0C-C646DE153446%7D/BB_E_Orthodox_Manual.pdf


"Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background:
Turning Barriers of Belief into Bridges to Personal Faith
"


It is a .pdf file of 1.10 MB so it will need a minute to download if you are on a slow connection.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2008, 01:31:22 AM »


But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.


Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?

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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2008, 10:03:55 AM »

GreekChef: Can I just say how much I LOVE "The Lord of the Rings?!"  Smiley

A pastor in Bradford asked me to come and give an evangelistic talk, not using the Bible but "The Lord of the Rings", thinking that people who have no interest in the Bible might come to hear about Tolkien, in the wake of the film being released. It was no hard task.

On another occasion I was invited to give a talk ("Please speak for an hour") about Tolkien, especially "The Lord of the Rings", to an austere gathering of Calvinistic ministers in the county of Kent in southern England. Now remember that Tolkien is not likely to be much in favour in such circles, seeing (a) he was a Catholic and (b) he has elves, and worse, wizards (witchcraft, sorcery - forbidden!). But a number went away afterwards saying, "I must read it."

Thing is, Tolkien points his readers towards Christ, not by having a Christ-figure in his tales (how could he, seeing they are set in an age before his Coming?), but by making one aware of a hunger, a lack, in one's life, a dimension not filled and satisfied. When we discover there is no real "Middle Earth" to slake our thirst, we should start to look for where the reality is which alone can satisfy the heart. And, by God's grace, we find it in Christ. "Ye are complete in him."

As another Catholic wrote:

Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts,
Thou fount of life, thou light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts
We turn unfilled to thee again...

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Where'er our changeful lot is cast,
Glad when thy gracious smile we see,
Blest when our faith can hold thee fast.


On other matters in your and other posts I must write later, for I have a series of meetings to speak at in South Wales and Wiltshire, and shall not be around for a while. There is much of interest in those posts.



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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2008, 04:46:26 PM »

Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?
______________________

Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?

Might I suggest that you discern the difference between those that choose not to hear the Truth, and those that will hear it no other way than having missions reach them. 

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?

Have you heard of William Carey?  Give him a read .........

Shalom


Fixed quote tags  -PtA
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2008, 04:50:07 PM »


Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?


I'm new here and fouled that last one up.....allow me to try again


______________________

Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?

Might I suggest that you discern the difference between those that choose not to hear the Truth, and those that will hear it no other way than having missions reach them. 

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?

Have you heard of William Carey?  Give him a read .........

Shalom

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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2008, 08:27:07 PM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2008, 04:25:27 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2008, 05:07:31 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
Neither.
The prelest which leads one to believe they do God's work when they do Satan's.
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« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2008, 10:33:33 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
Neither.
The prelest which leads one to believe they do God's work when they do Satan's.

St. Paul would have gotten a good laugh from that comment.  It might remind him of the Jews that sat in their temple and refused to hear about the Holy Spirit, accept the Great Commission, and how the Messiah had come in order bring men to the likeness of God.  Sadly the Jews would think that they were already fulfilling God's will by sitting in their buildings, feeling superior and merely being hypocrites.

Might I suggest browsing over:
Mark 16:15-16 and Matthew 28:19-20 for starters (from a book called "The Bible"), and discerning what Jesus Christ is saying to all of His disciples.

Please refer to Matthew 16:23, as well.
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2008, 11:59:16 AM »



Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2008, 12:12:53 PM »



Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.

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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2008, 01:00:48 PM »


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.

David is imitating Christ in his missions.  You my brother, are instead parroting His words and living Matthew 7:3-5.
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« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2008, 01:15:21 PM »

St. Paul would have gotten a good laugh from that comment.  It might remind him of the Jews that sat in their temple and refused to hear about the Holy Spirit, accept the Great Commission, and how the Messiah had come in order bring men to the likeness of God.  Sadly the Jews would think that they were already fulfilling God's will by sitting in their buildings, feeling superior and merely being hypocrites.
I see. So you think Orthodox Christians are Jews.......
Yawn....

Might I suggest browsing over:
Suggest all you want.

(from a book called "The Bible")
Oooooooooohhhh, aren't we the facetious one?

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« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2008, 01:23:26 PM »

You my brother, are instead parroting His words and living Matthew 7:3-5.
And you have just called your sister your brother. I guess you're not the prophet you think you are.
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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2008, 01:42:07 PM »

David is imitating Christ in his missions.

Abandoning your own sheep and going after the sheep of another is not imitating Christ. 

All Churches that went under Communism had a hard time.  This is true of everyone, from the Armenians and Ethiopians, to the Russians and Ukranians.  The Albanians, however, had it particularly hard.  From what I understand, the Church was not only restricted, it was completely banned.  The Communists there hunted down and killed or imprisoned just about every priest they could get their hands on. 

Today, the Orthodox Church in Albania is trying to get back on its feet after some of the most devastating persecution leveled against Christians in the twentieth century.  You wouldn't know that, however, from reading David's post above.  Reading David's post, one would think that the priests there are lazy, apathetic and don't really care about Christ.  The reality is, they have the horrendous task of rebuilding a Church that just barely survived an aggressive athiest state.  The churches there are not closed because of lack of interest.  They are closed because the priests who used to serve in them are now among the martyrs in heaven, robed in white and praying for all of us. 

After so many priests are killed, it is hard to rebuild the priesthood.  That is the situation the Armenians were in after the Genocide.  Having Protestants proselytize and convert people away doesn't help.  It spread division and has a damaging effect.  This is not the work of Christ.
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2008, 01:47:46 PM »


I see. So you think Orthodox Christians are Jews.......
Yawn....


No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2008, 01:49:11 PM »

No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.

Not sleepy, just bored with listening to the same heretical tripe.
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« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2008, 01:50:51 PM »

This is not the work of Christ.

BINGO!
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« Reply #31 on: December 06, 2008, 02:09:22 PM »


Abandoning your own sheep and going after the sheep of another is not imitating Christ. 


Missions work is a calling.  It is also a separate, sodalistic outreach to witness Jesus Christ to unreached people.  Reached people, such as in UK have the resources, structures and congregations already in place to provide services and worship opportunities to the entire population.  

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  This would result in an end to the education, training, feeding and other social assistance that missions provides all the people of that country with no matter of their religious affiliation.  This is not designed to replace the existing, indigenous Christian presence and in most cases works along with those churches when they are willing to cooperate.

Albania, being used as an example, has a seventy percent Islamic population that is being reached more successfully by disciples such as David than indigenous Christian resources, don't blame David (maybe The Holy Spirit?) for that.  There is no reason that the Orthodox church worldwide can't focus on missions projects that put experienced people in contact with unreached people, and even work along with already existing missions groups.  You don't need ordained priests to serve as servants of Christ to the people.  Subdeacons and trained laity can provide training and services in the name of the church and direct people to local churches for Chrismation and worship.

I recently attended services at an Albanian Orthodox church in the USA. When I asked is they were involved in missions, I was told by a group of the congregation that they don't like 'modern' Albanians because they are mostly thieves.  Sounds to me like there could be some in-house education going on for the Chrismated at the church and on this forum.
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« Reply #32 on: December 06, 2008, 02:14:12 PM »

No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.

Not sleepy, just bored with listening to the same heretical tripe.

Yet you can't seem to stay away!

Perhaps the Spirit is calling you to missions support or work, my brother.  Christ is the true power behind the shifting of shaky paradigms.
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« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2008, 02:15:58 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  
Um, the Catholic and Orthodox are Christian.
I want you to write that out a hundred times, then it might sink in.
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« Reply #34 on: December 06, 2008, 02:28:40 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  
Um, the Catholic and Orthodox are Christian.
I want you to write that out a hundred times, then it might sink in.

Exactly my point........ thank you.

I knew we would agree that love and cooperation is the answer if we continued to discuss this problem that faces Christians of Orthodox, Catholic and all Christian missions workers.  All working together, and offering the gifts of the Spirit for the glory of the Lord and to bring the Word to the very ends of the earth.
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« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2008, 02:33:04 PM »

Yet you can't seem to stay away!
You amuse me.

Perhaps the Spirit is calling you to missions support or work, my brother. 
Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother. My brothers are those who belong to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. You do not (yet). That's not your fault, you've just been fed a lot of lies which come from the father of lies. You know no better.

Christ is the true power behind the shifting of shaky paradigms.
Umm....OK....

Exactly my point........ thank you.
I knew we would agree that love and cooperation is the answer if we continued to discuss this problem that faces Christians of Orthodox, Catholic and all Christian missions workers.  All working together, and offering the gifts of the Spirit for the glory of the Lord and to bring the Word to the very ends of the earth.
Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.
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« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2008, 02:36:43 PM »

Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.


Fixed quote tags  -PtA
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« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2008, 02:38:13 PM »

Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.
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« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2008, 02:39:14 PM »

^
There! Now try quoting again.
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« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2008, 02:55:10 PM »

Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother.

Sorry about that last post....my mouse is overly sensitive.

This is sad to hear, and is not true to Orthodox church teachings.  We are all brothers to the Creator.

Another minor point is that you have no idea what my church, ministry or denominational affiliation is.  This is a spiritual trap for people of pride that think their denomination or jurisdiction is somehow the only one bonafide.  It is also not a true representation of the Orthodox theology, or the great minds that minister in the Church.

The cry of heresy cuts both ways.  You might wish to see what Irenaeus has to say in Contra Haereses" about the doxa of our faith.

You are my brother.
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« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2008, 03:02:44 PM »

Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother.

This is sad to hear,
Yes, indeed.

and is not true to Orthodox church teachings.  
Yes it is. Only those who belong to the Body of Christ, who share the One Cup and the One Bread are our spiritual brothers. I think you need to study a bit about Orthodoxy before you make claims about it.

We are all brothers to the Creator.
Says who?

Another minor point is that you have no idea what my church, ministry or denominational affiliation is.  This is a spiritual trap for people of pride that think their denomination or jurisdiction is somehow the only one bonafide.  It is also not a true representation of the Orthodox theology, or the great minds that minister in the Church.
You obviously are unfamiliar with the Symbol of Faith, AKA, the Nicean-Constantinoplian Creed which is the basis of the Orthodox Christian Faith. There can only be One Church according to the Christian Faith.

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« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2008, 03:06:07 PM »

BTW, Orthodox Christianity is not a denomination. Nor is it a religion.
It is the only cure for the neurosis of "religion".
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« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2008, 03:32:35 PM »

BTW, Orthodox Christianity is not a denomination. Nor is it a religion.
It is the only cure for the neurosis of "religion".

You are actually diminishing the reach of the Church that your profess to promote.  I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's regarding Sacramental Economy before proclaiming who is a Christian when you set personal parameters (as a beginning).

Do you think Origen is Orthodox, or does he fall into the category of heretic and fall off the Old Church Calender?

St. Patrick, Columcille, Todri?

The words of Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Metropolitan Jonah welcome the Christian walk of all brothers to be Chrismated with them as part of their overall Orthodox experience.

Brother, you seem to turn "Welcome Home" to others into "Members Only".  Hardly missionary worthy.  If this same attitude is prevalent in the Balkans, no wonder disciples like David are collecting crowns.
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« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2008, 03:54:02 PM »

I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's
Why? I'm EP.

Do you think Origen is Orthodox, or does he fall into the category of heretic and fall off the Old Church Calender?
I'm New Calendar, but anyway, Origen held some heretical doctrines (kind of like you), but some of his writings are accepted.

St. Patrick, Columcille, Todri?
All Orthodox Saints.

The words of Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Metropolitan Jonah welcome the Christian walk of all brothers to be Chrismated with them as part of their overall Orthodox experience.
If you're going to try to argue that Chrisimation is somehow a recognition of the "validity" heterodox baptism, you can forget it. Any Orthodox Christian will tell you that Chrisimation makes an invalid baptism valid. It is an economia. Non-Orthodox Christian "baptism" is invalid for the Orthodox Church, which is why you have to be at least Chrisimated (by economia) or Baptized (by akrevia).


no wonder disciples like David are collecting crowns.
Yes, Satan is pretty active in sowing the weeds among the wheat isn't he? He's lucky to have such willing helpers.
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« Reply #44 on: December 06, 2008, 04:04:39 PM »

Hening,

Welcome to the forum!  Cheesy
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« Reply #45 on: December 06, 2008, 04:17:23 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  This would result in an end to the education, training, feeding and other social assistance that missions provides all the people of that country with no matter of their religious affiliation.  This is not designed to replace the existing, indigenous Christian presence and in most cases works along with those churches when they are willing to cooperate.

With regard to the social assistance that is provided without regard to religious affiliation, if it is truly given out to people without first requiring a conversion to Protestantism, then it is the first of its kind that I have heard of.  Protestants who do "missions" work among the Armenians, for example, are notorious for holding back on aid without first getting the recipients to leave the Orthodox Church.  This goes way back.  Before the Genocide, Protestants built a school in my grandfather's village and then required those who wanted to enroll their children to first convert to their church.  A friend of mine a couple of years ago went along on a missions trip with a Protestant friend and the friend's church.  She was disgusted at how they used money and other aid to get converts.  She and her friend were specifically instructed to not give out anything to people who were not Protestant.  These sorts of stories are common, and have given the Protestants a bad name over there.

One thing I hear repeatedly from these people is how they are "just plain Christian," how they are not interested in sheep stealing, rather they just want to tell people about Christ, etc.  They say that the Orthodox are not preaching Christ at all, and the only way people will hear about Christ is through them.

Their actions, however, show how disingenuous they are.  They very aggressively proselytize, and even tell lies about the Orthodox Church in order to make conversions.  They are not telling the truth when they say the Orthodox are not preaching Christ.  The reality is that the Orthodox in the twentieth century have given the world the greatest witness to Christ and His truth, through martyrdom on a scale the Protestants cannot even conceive.

Forgive me if I sound irritated, but I've dealt with this "missions" issue among my own people and have become thoroughly disgusted by what I have seen.  Perhaps the thing that turns me off the most is the way the "missionaries" constantly put down the Orthodox.  They tell anecdotes that make the Orthodox seem incompetent, or disinterested in Christ, or nasty.  Both you and David have done this in this thread, and I've seen it and heard it done countless times elsewhere.  This is used as an excuse for the missions work.  Well, for every anecdote you can tell about the Orthodox, I could tell three about Protestants who are as bad or worse.  But what is the point?  We all have people in our churches who are spiritually weak.  As Christ said in Matthew 7, you have no right pointing out the problems of another when you have so many of your own.  And the Protestants have many.

Another thing that irritates me about those doing "missions" work among my people, is the way they start off by saying "We're all the same.  We are all Christians."  That is how they get their foot in the door with Orthodox Christians who don't know better.  But then once they have their attention, they twist what the Orthodox Church teaches, or tell outright lies about what we believe, in order to make the conversions.  If I had a dollar for every time I had to answer a Protestant who was relating some ridiculous lie about my Church, I'd be rich enough to buy an island.  Now granted the Protestants are not the only ones who lie about my Church, or who twist what we believe.  There is a guy on this board who is not a Protestant and who does that, but that's in a different context, and I tend to not experience it as much from nonProtestants.  

Now this is my experience with people who proselytize among the Armenians.  I admit that I have not dealt with those who go to Albania.  However, I would be surprised if things were different there.  I see too much in your posts and David's posts that remind me of the kind of rubbish that I hear from the ones I have known.  As I said, you need to take care of your own church's many problems before starting in on our sheep.  



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« Reply #46 on: December 06, 2008, 04:43:34 PM »



It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.

It is heterodoxy to claim that God does not work through all creation and that acts performed through faith in Christ are not valid. 

The correct statement would be there is no need to claim Chrisimation is somehow a recognition of the "validity" of the so-called heterodox baptism (by the heretic oxgeorge) since despite some variations in practice, it does not affect the substance of the mystery and any Orthodox Christian can say that baptism makes a Catholic a Christian according to the standing conference of the the canonical Orthodox bishops in the Americas.

Yes, Satan is pretty active in sowing the weeds among the wheat isn't he? He's lucky to have such willing helpers.

Yes, but despite your insulting Christian missionaries, Orthodoxy will still appear as Christ-like to followers of His Great Commission.
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« Reply #47 on: December 06, 2008, 04:54:13 PM »



It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.

Branch theory heresy.  Yawn.
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« Reply #48 on: December 06, 2008, 05:11:43 PM »


They tell anecdotes that make the Orthodox seem incompetent, or disinterested in Christ, or nasty.  Both you and David have done this in this thread, and I've seen it and heard it done countless times elsewhere.  


Salpy,

I don't understand how Orthodox bishops can be so open and loving, and welcoming to all people that love Christ, while people on this forum can make Orthodoxy seem so negative.  I am working on a seminary project for missions development and the Lord connected me to David.  I find his posts very open and positive.  His agency has done amazing things for the people in Albania.

As an Orthodox working towards ordination, I have offered my services to David in the future.  Having people that love both the Church and those that are trying to do Christ's work and working together for His glory are what is called for in the Gospel.  It is the salt and light that might attract people to Orthodoxy instead of calling others heretics and trying to appear as holier than thou, which just divides. 

I was baptized Catholic and lived for a time with a Greek Orthodox family that took me in when my family was homeless.  The father of the family was an Orthodox priest that gave me his seminary crucifix, which is one of the greatest gifts I ever received.  I went on to be mentored in school by another Greek priest, and my path took me through a few denominations while gaining experience in ministry and learning how to serve the Lord.  I became Orthodox out of the love, holiness and beauty the Church offers, nit because somebody told me all other Christians are heretics.  Metropolitan Jonah's word struck me when he said that we should take all the experiences and all the knowledge we have gathered in other Christian churches and have them Chrismated with us and bring that experience to Orthodoxy.  That Christ-like attitude is sometimes lacking in this forum, and I hope non-Orthodox members will see the beauty in Orthodox and not let the self dogmatic exclusionary attitudes turn you away.



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« Reply #49 on: December 06, 2008, 05:12:58 PM »



It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.

Branch theory heresy.  Yawn.

So now the Orthodox Church is not one church?
Get thee to a library.
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« Reply #50 on: December 06, 2008, 05:17:59 PM »

Their actions, however, show how disingenuous they are.  They very aggressively proselytize, and even tell lies about the Orthodox Church in order to make conversions.  They are not telling the truth when they say the Orthodox are not preaching Christ.  

And that's because they have the father of lies as their father.



It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.

Branch theory heresy.  Yawn.

So now the Orthodox Church is not one church?
Get thee to a library.
You don't even realize the grave heresy of Branch Theory you espouse. You are an ecclesiological mess and you still claim to be "Christian"!
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« Reply #51 on: December 06, 2008, 05:24:37 PM »

You either are jumping on my posts too fast to read them, or have no clue what branch theory represents.

My comment was regarding the Orthodox Church and jurisdictions being all one church.  It was satire.

The heresy peanut galley people need to add some dairy to your Advent fast.  It's like a scene from Monty Python.
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« Reply #52 on: December 06, 2008, 05:38:59 PM »

And that's because they have the father of lies as their father.


I invite you to show me where I have said anything negative regarding my own church not preaching the true teaching of Christ, or priests not being faithful servants.

Consider that it is a true heresy to use affiliation with the church as an excuse for hatred.  You two have filled in between the lines that I am a devil worshiper (AKA non-Orthodox) because I agree in the work to support the unreached and bring them the Gospel.  You speak from the borrowed wisdom of dusty antidotes as wisdom.  Try praying for those that you perceive to be your enemy and those that are in need of missions, or actually doing something about it like David has done.
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« Reply #53 on: December 06, 2008, 05:45:37 PM »

My comment was regarding the Orthodox Church and jurisdictions being all one church.  It was satire.
And a very stupid attempt at satire since we actually are one Church- One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.
You are an outsider.
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« Reply #54 on: December 06, 2008, 05:59:46 PM »

I invite you to show me where I have said anything negative regarding my own church not preaching the true teaching of Christ, or priests not being faithful servants.
How's this for starters:



Heresy No. 1. You are a Branch Theorist:

It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.


Heresy No. 2: You believe Creation is equal to the Uncreated:

We are all brothers to the Creator.


Heresy No. 3: You believe the Mysteries can exist outside of the Church:

You are actually diminishing the reach of the Church that your profess to promote.  I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's regarding Sacramental Economy before proclaiming who is a Christian when you set personal parameters (as a beginning).
It is heterodoxy to claim that God does not work through all creation and that acts performed through faith in Christ are not valid. 




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« Reply #55 on: December 06, 2008, 06:13:14 PM »

My comment was regarding the Orthodox Church and jurisdictions being all one church.  It was satire.
And a very stupid attempt at satire since we actually are one Church- One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.
You are an outsider.

Coming from you, I accept that compliment.
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« Reply #56 on: December 06, 2008, 06:25:48 PM »

Coming from you, I accept that compliment.
Which is why you remain in darkness and error.
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« Reply #57 on: December 06, 2008, 06:27:13 PM »

I invite you to show me where I have said anything negative regarding my own church not preaching the true teaching of Christ, or priests not being faithful servants.
How's this for starters:



Heresy No. 1. You are a Branch Theorist:

It's all one Church and a chance to broaden your horizon.


Heresy No. 2: You believe Creation is equal to the Uncreated:

We are all brothers to the Creator.


Heresy No. 3: You believe the Mysteries can exist outside of the Church:

You are actually diminishing the reach of the Church that your profess to promote.  I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's regarding Sacramental Economy before proclaiming who is a Christian when you set personal parameters (as a beginning).
It is heterodoxy to claim that God does not work through all creation and that acts performed through faith in Christ are not valid. 






You can't have it both ways with the branch theory.  It's either satire or heresy, and I already stated that it was satire.

If you mean to tell me that God does not love all of His creatures, and does not wish for us all to be part of His kingdom then you are starting to sound like a heretic, or worse "a Calvinist" in which case Salpy is bundling the kindling for your stake.

St. Vladmir is an Orthodox seminary that published the work on Sacramental Economy based on Catholic Baptism deemed recognized by the Orthodox Bishops of North America.  I only stated their findings so save the claim of heresy for the bishops.

It is a cornerstone of Orthodox Pastoral Theology that God works through all of creation.  Try reading some Old Testament tonight and not finding example of this.

My brothers, I am off to serve at Solemn Vespers and am anxious to tell the congregation of my new found friends and how I am now "Hening the Outsider".

Praying for your hearts to open towards people living without the Gospel.......

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« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2008, 06:28:34 PM »

As an Orthodox working towards ordination, I have offered my services to David in the future. 
Pray tell, who is your Bishop?
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« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2008, 06:28:58 PM »

I'm sorry.....forgot

You have failed to show me where I commented against the Orthodox Church, or the priests that serve throughout the world.

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« Reply #60 on: December 06, 2008, 06:33:03 PM »

As an Orthodox working towards ordination, I have offered my services to David in the future. 
Pray tell, who is your Bishop?

My brother,

There currently is no bishop assigned to New England, but Metropolitan Philip Saliba is currently presiding until a bishop is found. (The Church is praying to find a bishop for the area).

Back tomorrow....
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« Reply #61 on: December 06, 2008, 06:34:28 PM »

As an Orthodox working towards ordination, I have offered my services to David in the future. 
Pray tell, who is your Bishop?

My brother,

There currently is no bishop assigned to New England, but Metropolitan Philip Saliba is currently presiding until a bishop is found. (The Church is praying to find a bishop for the area).

Back tomorrow....

That explains much. Thank you!
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« Reply #62 on: December 06, 2008, 06:36:12 PM »

I'm sorry.....forgot

You have failed to show me where I commented against the Orthodox Church, or the priests that serve throughout the world.

See above heresies.
Heresy is incompatible with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #63 on: December 06, 2008, 06:55:51 PM »

Metropolitan Jonah's word struck me when he said that we should take all the experiences and all the knowledge we have gathered in other Christian churches and have them Chrismated with us and bring that experience to Orthodoxy

Emphasis mine.
Now since you are so interested in missionary work, perhaps you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and help out here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15199.msg275089.html#msg275089

 Smiley
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« Reply #64 on: December 06, 2008, 07:05:03 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  This would result in an end to the education, training, feeding and other social assistance that missions provides all the people of that country with no matter of their religious affiliation.  This is not designed to replace the existing, indigenous Christian presence and in most cases works along with those churches when they are willing to cooperate.

With regard to the social assistance that is provided without regard to religious affiliation, if it is truly given out to people without first requiring a conversion to Protestantism, then it is the first of its kind that I have heard of.  Protestants who do "missions" work among the Armenians, for example, are notorious for holding back on aid without first getting the recipients to leave the Orthodox Church.  This goes way back.  Before the Genocide, Protestants built a school in my grandfather's village and then required those who wanted to enroll their children to first convert to their church.  A friend of mine a couple of years ago went along on a missions trip with a Protestant friend and the friend's church.  She was disgusted at how they used money and other aid to get converts.  She and her friend were specifically instructed to not give out anything to people who were not Protestant.  These sorts of stories are common, and have given the Protestants a bad name over there.

One thing I hear repeatedly from these people is how they are "just plain Christian," how they are not interested in sheep stealing, rather they just want to tell people about Christ, etc.  They say that the Orthodox are not preaching Christ at all, and the only way people will hear about Christ is through them.

Their actions, however, show how disingenuous they are.  They very aggressively proselytize, and even tell lies about the Orthodox Church in order to make conversions.  They are not telling the truth when they say the Orthodox are not preaching Christ.  The reality is that the Orthodox in the twentieth century have given the world the greatest witness to Christ and His truth, through martyrdom on a scale the Protestants cannot even conceive.

Forgive me if I sound irritated, but I've dealt with this "missions" issue among my own people and have become thoroughly disgusted by what I have seen.  Perhaps the thing that turns me off the most is the way the "missionaries" constantly put down the Orthodox.  They tell anecdotes that make the Orthodox seem incompetent, or disinterested in Christ, or nasty.  Both you and David have done this in this thread, and I've seen it and heard it done countless times elsewhere.  This is used as an excuse for the missions work.  Well, for every anecdote you can tell about the Orthodox, I could tell three about Protestants who are as bad or worse.  But what is the point?  We all have people in our churches who are spiritually weak.  As Christ said in Matthew 7, you have no right pointing out the problems of another when you have so many of your own.  And the Protestants have many.

Another thing that irritates me about those doing "missions" work among my people, is the way they start off by saying "We're all the same.  We are all Christians."  That is how they get their foot in the door with Orthodox Christians who don't know better.  But then once they have their attention, they twist what the Orthodox Church teaches, or tell outright lies about what we believe, in order to make the conversions.  If I had a dollar for every time I had to answer a Protestant who was relating some ridiculous lie about my Church, I'd be rich enough to buy an island.  Now granted the Protestants are not the only ones who lie about my Church, or who twist what we believe.  There is a guy on this board who is not a Protestant and who does that, but that's in a different context, and I tend to not experience it as much from nonProtestants.  

Now this is my experience with people who proselytize among the Armenians.  I admit that I have not dealt with those who go to Albania.  However, I would be surprised if things were different there.  I see too much in your posts and David's posts that remind me of the kind of rubbish that I hear from the ones I have known.  As I said, you need to take care of your own church's many problems before starting in on our sheep.  





I pass by an Armenian PROTESTANT (I think the sign says "Reformed," "Evangelical" or some such thing) which looks EXACTLY like a traditional Armenian church.  One day I might take a peek inside.  Interesting how they got the form down, but not the content.

I've only known one Armenian Protestant, from Syria (I met him in Chicago, though).  He claimed that the Armenian Protestants saw themselves as only "reforming" the Armenian church, which they planned one being reunified with.  On whose terms?

One of the pillars of our Church is an Armenian convert.  His family had converted to Protestantanism.  His wife was a Polish Protestant.  He and the wife stumpled on Orthodoxy (EO) and converted.  He then got his parents to convert, though they went OO (fine by me).
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« Reply #65 on: December 06, 2008, 07:07:40 PM »


With regard to the social assistance that is provided without regard to religious affiliation, if it is truly given out to people without first requiring a conversion to Protestantism, then it is the first of its kind that I have heard of.  Protestants who do "missions" work among the Armenians, for example, are notorious for holding back on aid without first getting the recipients to leave the Orthodox Church.  

They tell anecdotes that make the Orthodox seem incompetent, or disinterested in Christ, or nasty.  Both you and David have done this in this thread, ...I see too much in ... David's posts that remind me of the kind of rubbish that I hear from the ones I have known.  

Then let this be the first of its kind that you have heard. We have looked after Moslem refugees from Kosova in Albania, and after their return followed them and raised financial and practical help in re-building their burnt homes. We also set up a camp with a psychiatrist to seek to comfort and strengthen people who were traumatised by the war. Friendships remain; I do not know of any Moslems whom we helped becoming Christian. No requirement was made that they should.

In Albania our missionaries have opened and run two orphanages for abandoned children of Albanian or gypsy background. No requirement was made for any prior conversion from Islam, Orthodoxy or Catholicism, from the children (those who were old enough to understand - some were babes) or their families.

I doubt that these really are the first examples: they may be the first you have heard of.

There are (surely you will know) Orthodox who are indeed incompetent, uninterested in Christ, or nasty. There are many people of any faith who fall into those categories, including Protestants. I hope I have never relayed anecdotes other than about events I have experienced myself, or had related to me by people directly involved. You have read what I have written about the less attractive examples of Orthodoxy because the thread is about impressions of Orthodoxy. Elsewhere (not on this forum, for it would be irrelevant) I have written with equal disappointment about some less attractive examples among Evangelicals. I am not saying that either branch of Christianity (if you accept that they both are) always produce bad examples and no good ones of warm, saintly disciples. My 'anecdotes', whether about Orthodox (as, naturally, on this forum) or about people closer to my own persuasion, are descriptive of some cases, not an assessment of the inward and permanent character of any particular system of belief.

By all means disagree with me - after all, the forum is called a "discussion". But as the scripture requires us to believe all things and to hope all things, please try to adopt the best possible interpretation of my intentions and to set aside the worst possible which suggest themselves.
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« Reply #66 on: December 06, 2008, 07:19:16 PM »

As an aside, I'm not familiar with the Albanian region of Kosova.  Is that across the border from the similarly named Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija?
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« Reply #67 on: December 06, 2008, 07:24:26 PM »

As an aside, I'm not familiar with the Albanian region of Kosova.  Is that across the border from the similarly named Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija?

 Cheesy

And as for the rest, it's called "grooming".
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« Reply #68 on: December 08, 2008, 09:15:01 AM »

Metropolitan Jonah's word struck me when he said that we should take all the experiences and all the knowledge we have gathered in other Christian churches and have them Chrismated with us and bring that experience to Orthodoxy

Emphasis mine.
Now since you are so interested in missionary work, perhaps you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and help out here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15199.msg275089.html#msg275089

 Smiley

My wife and I have helped to support two young men in this country (Philippines) from when they were nine years old, and they are now nineteen.  These boys and their families had very little at the time, and have since received medical care, an education, food, and gifts that we send along on holidays.  We would have done more, but we are raising four of our own. 





 
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« Reply #69 on: December 08, 2008, 09:20:43 AM »

I was just thinking that since you are so keen to support Baptist Missionaries to countries with established Orthodox Churches, you might want to help an Orthodox Missionary effort in a country where the people are struggling to establish the Orthodox Church...but I guess you don't. Smiley
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« Reply #70 on: December 08, 2008, 02:05:45 PM »

I was just thinking that since you are so keen to support Baptist Missionaries to countries with established Orthodox Churches, you might want to help an Orthodox Missionary effort in a country where the people are struggling to establish the Orthodox Church...but I guess you don't. Smiley

My humble church is presently building a new sacristy and trying to purchase a building next door to provide space for counseling and other services. I confess that has taken up much of my time and treasure.  The church was originally a congregational assembly, and the men of the parish have had the task of transforming it for Orthodox worship (a loving work in progress).

I have in fact contacted www.ocmc.org regarding their work in Albania in order to see if I might be able to learn more about their missions presence.

I will keep the Philippines Orthodox presence in my prayers, and hopefully will be able to find a way to support them thanks to your suggested list. 

There might have been a nuance to my interest in missions that has not been expressed, and that is bringing Christ to Islam.  If you get a chance, take a look at this site and available free materials  www.fatherzakaria.net  I am very impressed by the work of Father Zakaria Botras.

Shalom....
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« Reply #71 on: December 09, 2008, 12:13:20 AM »

I have been thinking about some of the posts about evangelicals not giving Orthodox lands time for the Church to get on its feet after communism and going in as missionaries.

I think they honestly did not even consider Orthodoxy. For them they were going to former communist lands and evangelizing secularized or atheistic people. Evangelicals had about as much awareness of Orthodoxy in the eastern bloc countries as they do here in the USA.

We're not just the best kept secret in America; we are the best kept secret everywhere!

Perhaps we need a little less "come and see" evangelistic method and a good bit more "show and tell"!
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« Reply #72 on: December 09, 2008, 01:37:55 AM »

The correct statement would be there is no need to claim Chrisimation is somehow a recognition of the "validity" of the so-called heterodox baptism (by the heretic oxgeorge) since despite some variations in practice, it does not affect the substance of the mystery and any Orthodox Christian can say that baptism makes a Catholic a Christian according to the standing conference of the the canonical Orthodox bishops in the Americas.
Since when did SCOBA become our infallible dogmatic authority?  If they really said this, then they are wrong.
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« Reply #73 on: December 11, 2008, 01:31:55 PM »

And as for the rest, it's called "grooming".
That is a bit cynical, surely! Whilst only God knows what our true motivation is, I sustain at least the hope that my colleagues who have been active in ministry to the sick, abandoned, homeless and traumatised in the Balkans have done so because they sought to be channels of God's unconditional love, a sincere attempt to imitate Him whose compassion is over all that he has made.
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« Reply #74 on: December 11, 2008, 01:33:50 PM »

Kosova.  Is that across the border from the similarly named Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija?
The thread is about theology, not politics.
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« Reply #75 on: December 11, 2008, 01:45:35 PM »

Kosova.  Is that across the border from the similarly named Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija?
The thread is about theology, not politics.

Then I suggest that:
A) You do not take a political stance by calling it "Kosova in Albania", and
B) You get to know your audience, and not say things which insult them. Our Orthodox Churches, Shrines, Monasteries and cemetaries have been systematically descrecrated in Kosovo, and Orthodox Christians have been persecuted, killed and driven out of there in their tens of thousands.
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« Reply #76 on: December 11, 2008, 05:00:04 PM »

I suggest that:
A) You do not take a political stance by calling it "Kosova in Albania", and
I think I have only ever written Kosova and Albania not "in Albania", for we all know that Kosova has never been in the modern state of Albania. If I have ever written "Kosova in Albania", then it was a gross and culpable misprint which I would wish to delete, and for which I apologise unreservedly.

The offending phrase was presumably Moslem refugees from Kosova in Albania. I meant, Moslem refugees, who came from Kosova to Albania [during the 1998-9 war].

One problem is, how can anyone even refer to the place without being, intentionally or otherwise, political? If I call it Kosovo, I come down on the Serbian side; if I write Kosova, I use the Albanian form. Similarly, the older terms the Kosmet and Old Serbia.

As I may have said before on these forums, before the 1998-9 war I preached or worshippped at a church in the capital where Serbs and Albanians worshipped together. Today, I know of nowhere where that still happens, Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant.

However, let me put in the plea that we keep to theological discussion, and keep off the theme of politics, on this thread. There must be a range of other websites where political discussion is the theme.

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« Reply #77 on: December 11, 2008, 05:29:07 PM »

The bread and wine are themselves the κοινονια, or "particpation in," or "fellowshipping with" the Body and Blood of Christ Himself; Evangelical churches believe that the bread and the wine are devoid of any such participation in divine reality, do they not? 

Very interesting thoughts. I hope (and believe) there will be, or somewhere already is, a thread on sacramental theology. When I find it, let's continue the discussion there.
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« Reply #78 on: December 11, 2008, 07:18:33 PM »

Readers may find it useful to know that the Slavic name Kosovo is derived from the earlier Greek term Kossyphopedion, meaning field of starlings.
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« Reply #79 on: December 11, 2008, 11:50:20 PM »


Heresy No. 2: You believe Creation is equal to the Uncreated:

We are all brothers to the Creator.

I think he meant that in the eyes of the Uncreated we are all brothers - to the Uncreated, we are all brothers.

I don't think he meant that we are brothers of the Uncreated (to the Uncreated) in the sense that you took him to mean.

Some of his posts are a little hard to figure out (and I personally hate all this nested quoting - to me it makes it much harder to follow a discussion - but that is (literally) the topic of another thread) but I can catch the spirit of what he is saying.

In an ex-communist and currently islam-influenced country Christians of all communions should be working together in many of the ministries that the original poster is involved in - many social and counseling ministries that all Christians can agree upon.

Also, better to come to know Christ as a baptist, sacramentally and ecclesially deficient in our eyes, that to remain and atheist or muslim.

[If some of our people are also attracted to that, so be it - freedom of religion. Over time, some of theirs will convert to Orthodoxy, so it's a wash -this last thought my own, not my interpretation of what he was trying to say]

I also do not think he was trying to promote branch theory so much as (looking at all his posts and replies) there is one true Church - the Orthodox Church in all its jurisdictions. But we are all Christians, although some are deficient sacramentally and ecclesially.

Just as an aside, I think it is important to try harder on this forum to understand what the person is trying to say although they may not be saying it well.

Some people type to fast, their thoughts spilling out faster than they can adequately type or communicate in a nuanced form; others are just poor self-editors - they know what they are trying to say and assume they have adequately said it  and assume others will understand; and maybe some people just don't take the time to modify their posts (maybe they never read them after they hit the save button.
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« Reply #80 on: December 12, 2008, 01:58:20 AM »

Brother Aidan,

I feel bad that it appears the ability to express myself is lacking.  During the long run of posting gun battles this past Saturday,  I was in the process of memorizing Scripture for an assignment so it might have been more of split brain syndrome?  I do appreciate your attempt to explain some of my statements, and giving me the benefit of the doubt. 

Someone that I respect and admire suggested that I join the forum.  I took that as an opportunity to share some of the insights that are drawing me towards missions work, and to share the joy in discussing the common experiences that loving Christ brings.  It was a bit of a surprise to find some of the bigotry that exists.

My comment that we are all brothers to the Creator has more to do with God's desire for all creation to be reconciled to Him.  We would all be unreached if it wasn't for missionaries like David. 

I have come to Orthodoxy through what I believe is a path cleared by God.  That does not make the people outside of Orthodoxy, who have served as guides along that long and winding road any less loved by Christ.  Your thoughts about coming to know Christ as a member of another Church were not meant to reflect mine, but they do.

I especially like your point, "But we are all Christians, although some are deficient sacramentally and ecclesially [ecclesiastically?]."  As someone that is a sinner and deficient (sans heretic and sower of Satan among the wheat) , I rely on my brothers, and all those that live to imitate Christ to keep my focus on His kingdom come.

Shalom...



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« Reply #81 on: December 17, 2008, 11:48:01 AM »

There was a house in Tirana where a woman had icons. They found out and came for them. When they left, she went after them to say there was still one more icon. Then she made the sign of the cross on herself. ‘I am the icon of the cross. Take me.’ But they decided she was crazy, and so she wasn’t arrested.

Elizabeta Xhokaxhi in The Resurrection of the Church in Albania

How many of us live in such a way that we can be called an icon of the Cross?

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« Reply #82 on: February 09, 2009, 06:43:44 AM »

Wow! My simple Baptist soul is reeling under an overload of new impressions.

As you know if you've been reading my posts, I spoke 2 or 3 weeks ago at the evening service of a Pentecostal church in South Wales, and yesterday morning I attended our nearest Orthodox church, just across the border in England. I said the Pentecostal was 'alien' (I think) to what I'm used to, but the Orthodox was entirely new. Let me explain...

Forty years ago I was attending a Baptist church on its last legs (it eventually closed when thieves stole the lead roof) which had no evening service, and I used to drive regularly to a nearby town and attend the Pentecostal, or sometimes the Pentecostal in my own (then) town. There was very little difference between Baptist and Pentecostal services in those far-off days, except the Pente's put rather more vigour in it. But now in what was a large redundant Baptist church, I find they have removed the pulpit and replaced it with musical instruments; the pastor took little or no part other than to give some notices and speak once in prayer; the service was led by one or two young musicians, and consisted of 30-40 minutes of repetitious singing of brief choruses, followed by me, speaking about God's work among Albanians (presumably in lieu of a usual sermon). No reading from scripture at all. There was no period of communal speaking in tongues which I have experienced occasionally in Pentecostal services. Very unlike our service yesterday evening, at my usual Baptist, of four good, full-of-thought-and-truth hymns, prayer, scripture reading, and 30 minutes of pastor explaining and applying in a stirring manner the teaching on the Last Judgement in last section of the Book of Malachi.

Yesterday morning, as our church had an event I was unable to attend without leaving part-way through, I took the opportunity to drive over to Handbridge for Hours (10.30) and Divine Liturgy (11.00). My three main impressions were:

- the friendliness and welcome of the people, including the priest
- the fact that almost everything was intoned rather than sung or spoken in a normal voice
- the impression that we were all watching something which other people were doing.

Let me say more...

I couldn't make out the purpose of Hours. It consisted of the priest's wife intoning from a book, whilst a small number of people (4 or 5?) sat on the wall-bench and listened. The priest was behind the iconostasis. It wasn't plain to me, as an outsider, what was supposed to be happening.

The Liturgy consisted of 3, later augmented to 4, people standing by a desk intoning all kinds of prayers and readings; various processions round the church; the priest and another man dressed in colourful robes. Now understand me: none of what I say is critical. I realised that all this was symbolic, and that the regular worshippers (who now numbered about 24 including little children and the singing group) knew what it all meant, but I didn't. Especially, at one point two golden discs on poles were carried around the church; they looked a little like the Macedonian sun. But I had no idea what it meant. Had I not been a member of this forum, I would not have realised that there is meaningful symbolism in it all, and would have been completely bewildered - but you have all kindly explained some of this to me, so I knew the lack lay in me, not elsewhere.

I couldn't work out why the priest sometimes took his hat off, and sometimes wore it - for example. Lots of little things.

Nor could I work out why everything, even the reading of scripture, was intoned, rather than read in a normal voice. A reading about one of the saints being commemorated that day was read by the priest's wife, again in an intoning voice, but she stood towards the front facing the iconostasis, so she had her back to us and it was hard to hear all she was telling us.

I liked the incense - dare I say? - and I have read that you use it because you see it in scripture. No problem there. But why the little bells on the censor? They would seem jocular to a real first-time visitor who did not know there must be symbolism in them.

But, as I say, my main impression was that we were an audience watching other people doing something symbolic and colourful, namely the 3 or 4 in the intoning group, the priest, and the others in the processions round the church. There was no audience participation at all, except for making the sign of the Cross, except when the Lord's Prayer was said (which I joined in) and the Nicene Creed (which I do not know off by heart: I could have mumbled at the place where the word 'eis' is translated Wink ). The Creed was said in three languages serially, English first, presumably because the others who said it were foreign. I think one might've been Greek, but I don't think it was Demotic.

There was no sermon, but a short homily was handed out on paper, on the reading from the epistles set for the day; and a slightly bigger news-sheet, which contained a longer homily on the Last Things, which to my surprise might almost have been 'lifted' from a Brethren publication: even a nod in the direction of chiliasm.

Some of the service was in Greek, and the sheet which contained the homily on Timothy contained parts of the service. Again, the Greek was not Demotic, but I do not know enough to know whether it was in the Katharevousa or in NT or even Classical Greek.

The effect of the almost uninterrupted intoning for over an hour, the incense, the colour, wrought a kind of lulling effect, and I felt that something had in fact 'gone in'. Strangely, perhaps, just as much as at the Pentecostal 2 or 3 weeks earlier - where, be it said, I was also well impressed with the friendliness and welcome of the people.

I left at the point where the priest emerged from the iconostasis and said something like, "Let us go forth into the world in peace," and led us in "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God..." They had a memorial service for a recently died priest immediately after, and at that point he began (now in a normal voice) to speak of that priest. I hope that was the right moment to slip out; that the Liturgy had reached its conclusion (ca 1 hour 20 minutes) and that I didn't in fact miss the sermon. I had warned them beforehand that I would quietly slip out at that point.

The priest very apologetically explained that they couldn't give me communion, though of course I already knew that, and not to cross my legs if I sat at all because Greek people might take it offensively as a sign of the Cross. (I don't anyway, as I'm told it encourages blood clots.) I liked the way the little children - who were old enough to walk - were invited to take communion. It seemed to make them members of the community more than is the case at our churches, though I fully understand why we don't, for theological reasons. I had been invited to join them all in a parish lunch after the services, but couldn't because my wife expected me home and we had a guest plus my daughter and grandson coming.

When I got home, our Hindu dinner guest overheard my wife asking how I got on, and me describing the service. He said that my reaction as a visitor to Orthodoxy is probably the same as anyone's would be to any church, if he had never been before - which I thought was an interesting comment. I coupled it in my mind with the comment of a 'lovely brother' I stayed with recently when speaking in the New Forest - a life-time teetotaler who said one reason he never goes into a pub is that he would not know how to behave in one. These comments made me want to ensure that I make any visitors at ease and able to understand what is happening when they visit any church where I am leading a service.

Would I go again? Probably yes, again when something hinders attendance where I am in membership, or perhaps when they have a special event, such as perhaps at Christmas time, if we have nothing. I have asked to be on the church's newsletter e-mail list for such information.

I am shortly off to South Wales again (Baptist and Presbyterian this time!) and shall not be posting here for several days.


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« Reply #83 on: February 09, 2009, 09:45:12 AM »

David,

So glad you got the opportunity to go.  Quick question... did you read the websites that I sent you?  Smiley

Interesting that the service before Liturgy was hours.  It's usually Orthros.  Also interesting that the priest handed out sheets.  My guess is that the homily was after you left and that this was either additional for some reason...
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« Reply #84 on: February 09, 2009, 09:50:22 AM »

Interesting that the service before Liturgy was hours.  It's usually Orthros.  

Slavic and some monastic traditions do Hours instead of Orthros.
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« Reply #85 on: February 09, 2009, 09:52:40 AM »

Interesting that the service before Liturgy was hours.  It's usually Orthros.  

Slavic and some monastic traditions do Hours instead of Orthros.

Ahhh... How did I not know that??!!  laugh
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« Reply #86 on: February 10, 2009, 04:29:19 PM »

Interesting that the service before Liturgy was hours.  It's usually Orthros.  

Slavic and some monastic traditions do Hours instead of Orthros.

Ahhh... How did I not know that??!!  laugh

For most in the Greek traditions, it's Trivia.
I shouldn't have said "instead of Orthros," because many of these parishes/monasteries will do Orthros, but as part of a "mini vigil" - i.e. with Vespers, the night before.
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« Reply #87 on: February 10, 2009, 05:46:39 PM »

Interesting that the service before Liturgy was hours.  It's usually Orthros.  

Slavic and some monastic traditions do Hours instead of Orthros.

Ahhh... How did I not know that??!!  laugh

For most in the Greek traditions, it's Trivia.
I shouldn't have said "instead of Orthros," because many of these parishes/monasteries will do Orthros, but as part of a "mini vigil" - i.e. with Vespers, the night before.

Oh, yeah, ok, now that I knew...
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« Reply #88 on: February 13, 2009, 10:36:30 AM »

Wow! My simple Baptist soul is reeling under an overload of new impressions.

As you know if you've been reading my posts, I spoke 2 or 3 weeks ago at the evening service of a Pentecostal church in South Wales, and yesterday morning I attended our nearest Orthodox church, just across the border in England. I said the Pentecostal was 'alien' (I think) to what I'm used to, but the Orthodox was entirely new. Let me explain...


David,

Have you investigated any Western Rite churches near you in UK?  I think the transition to the rich liturgy of the Orthodox Church for Westerners can be more accessible within the framework of one's native language.  Western Rite also include congregational singing and often the sermons are a bit more involved and fit into a more expository format.  Another words, some of the traditions that were taken into the Reformed church, had their roots in the Western Orthodoxy, and make more sense in their initial setting. 

I liked reading about some of your observations, but you need to feel more comfortable and relaxed among Orthodox.  Infants receiving the Eucharist is an interesting topic.  It really seems to me that you are being called to discover Orthodoxy on a personal level.  The Antiochian Church has a wonderful expression and attitude for lovers of Christ coming to Orthodoxy, "Welcome Home!"
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« Reply #89 on: February 13, 2009, 12:40:53 PM »

I couldn't make out the purpose of Hours. It consisted of the priest's wife intoning from a book, whilst a small number of people (4 or 5?) sat on the wall-bench and listened. The priest was behind the iconostasis. It wasn't plain to me, as an outsider, what was supposed to be happening.
Hours is to us what Sunday School is to you. What the priest's wife was chanting was the story of the life of a saint (or of saints), as well as several Psalms (which are often sung in parishes that have a choir; it sounds like the one you attended was very small) and prayers of thanksgiving and repentance. Also in larger parishes is Matins, which contains a gospel lesson and many hymns, sung rather than read, including the Lesser and Greater Doxologies: "Glory be to You Who have shown us the light; glory be to God on high, and on earth peace and goodwill among men."

In larger parishes which can afford a four-part choir, the music is often very familiar to those who have been trained in classical Western and Russian music. If you know Bach, Handel, and Tchaikovsky, you can sing any liturgical song. The hymns are beautiful, some ancient and some new, and are sung by the whole parish, led by a choir but not replaced by them.

I found it interesting that the priest would write the sermon rather than present it orally. Perhaps he has trouble with English? In all the parishes I have visited, the sermon has been spoken in a very similar way to traditional Protestants.

I'm glad to see you enjoyed your time, even if you did not understand it. I'm also glad to see that it challenged you to learn more. Never lose the desire to learn; it's what keeps us all young.
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« Reply #90 on: February 15, 2009, 09:47:37 AM »

Quick question... did you read the websites that I sent you?  Smiley

Yes, many thanks. All three. They were a help at cottoning on to what was happening. But some of my questions from last week have not been answered by the various posts:

- Why was it intoned rather than spoken in a normal voice?
- What do the bells signify on the censor?
- What kind of Greek is used (not Demotic for sure)?
- What do the golden discs on poles represent?

Someone on the thread wondered whether the priest was uneasy in English. Not at all! He and his wife are as English as you can get. It is a convert parish, though some foreigners were there who are presumably cradle Orthodox visiting or living nearby. His forename is, I guess, a priestly one taken at some point in his journey to Orthodoxy and the priesthood.

The Presbyterian minister in Cardiff told me that the Orthodox church is making headway in Blaenau Ffestiniog. That is a good deal further from me than Chester, so I am unlikely to visit, but perhaps it is stronger. He also told me they recently sent representatives to a conference in the USA about the Celtic Church. It was clear from the liturgy last Sunday that the Orthodox here are trying to establish and state a link with the Celtic Church of before 664 AD (Synod of Whitby) and even with continuing independent aspects of the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon church. If they are succeeding, it would help explain why (if it be true) Blaenau Ffestiniog is doing better than Chester, which is in England. The Orthodox have also established themselves in Cornwall, which it took some centuries for the English to conquer and colonise, and looks to its Celtic past and heritage.

It seems plain to me that this forum needs more Protestants if the discussions are not to grow sterile, for however fertile Cleopas's and my minds may be  Wink there must come a time when we have said all we can on the themes that get discussed. I am disappointed that the Orthodox-Catholic has ca 20,000 more posts than the Orthodox-Protestant one! It also seems plain to me, from the posted discussions on the threads, and from my own limited first-hand experience of American Evangelicals, and from some serious scholarly analysis of current Evangelicalism, that there are significant differences of ethos, and to a much smaller degree of dogma and/or emphasis, between American and British Evangelicals. It would enliven the discussions if we could attract people from both sides of the "Pond" therefore. I have tried to interest a few friends, but it seems none has bitten the bait. Maybe you Orthodox should go on the Net and make contact via it with the Orthodox in Wales and Cornwall, and get them to make the forum more widely known. A simple advert or announcement in some Evangelical newspapers or magazines might possibly do the trick - though you might net all kinds of Protestants - pædobaptists, Calvinists, Fundamentalists, whatever. Some, if they joined, would doubtless only do so in order to convert you all, either to Christianity or to Protestantism, depending how they viewed it: no doubt you would lock horns with such and return the favour! Anyway, that, surely, is partly what 'discussion' (the title of the forum) is about?

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« Reply #91 on: February 15, 2009, 09:54:18 AM »

Have you investigated any Western Rite churches near you in UK?  I think the transition to the rich liturgy of the Orthodox Church for Westerners can be more accessible within the framework of one's native language. 

I don't know whether there are any. The church is Chester is part of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. It was nearly all in English; the little bits of Greek were, I think, repeats of what had just been said in English, but as the priest was behind the iconostasis with his back to us, and I was at the back of the church, and as my Greek is rather rudimentary  Sad I was not able to discern.
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« Reply #92 on: February 15, 2009, 10:12:37 AM »

Never lose the desire to learn; it's what keeps us all young.

Whilst I was away for the meetings in South Wales, I visited a second-hand bookshop and was able to buy Thomas Hopko's "Winter Pascha" plus all the homilies of Chrysostom on John, Romans and Hebrews.

Whilst I understand exactly why y'all say I cannot practise a cafeteria approach to Orthodoxy, I suspect you are unaware of the forbidding effect such a prohibition has. In fact I feel to have benefited enormously from this forum, for example:

- re baptism, though you have in no way persuaded me that it is not best practice to baptise people after they become believers, your arguments, which I have confirmed by wider reading, have softened my attitude to infant baptism and made it easier for me to believe that maybe it is a permitted (not commanded, but permitted) variant within the overall Christian rite of baptism.

- again re baptism you have pressed me to some serious thinking on the subject, as well again as wider reading, and have moved me towards believing that, when I was baptised, God did more within me through it than I previously realised or understood.

- Regarding the church my encounters with Orthodoxy have pressed me to consider deeply and at length whether our Baptist churches are indeed true and valid Christian churches, and likewise whether the Orthodox Church is a valid Christian church. I would have started off thinking "Yes" to the first and probably "No" to the second. But I would be a good deal more ready now to say "Yes" to both.

- Regarding scripture and Tradition I have had to do some serious reading and pondering, and to examine what 'sola scriptura' really means and what it is not, and to consider your objections to it and your observations on the fruit which teaching under that name has borne; plus about the place and validity of the creeds, especially the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.

- Also I have been pointed (not only via this forum) to some rich and edifying devotional reading which offers a perspective different from ours, and insights which we do not seem to hear.

- It has also helped me understand you, and why you believe the things you do (such as asking the intercession of the saints; the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother; why you don't say you are saved (and hence why we conclude you are not!)). Mutual understanding is worth striving for, even when neither side is persuaded to agree fully with the other.

And yes, I hope to continue learning. But shall I merely be told I am abusing your banquet by treating it like a cafeteria (or, as we say over here, a buffet)?
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« Reply #93 on: February 15, 2009, 05:00:42 PM »

And yes, I hope to continue learning. But shall I merely be told I am abusing your banquet by treating it like a cafeteria (or, as we say over here, a buffet)?

No, as the old song says: "O, taste and see that the Lord is good."

You should taste from the banquet of the Orthodox Church so that you can truly believe.

Just don't steal the recipes, and then try to bake the same food in the Baptist kitchen across the street.  Everything will just end up loosing its flavour.
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« Reply #94 on: February 16, 2009, 12:42:52 PM »

Never lose the desire to learn; it's what keeps us all young.

Whilst I was away for the meetings in South Wales, I visited a second-hand bookshop and was able to buy Thomas Hopko's "Winter Pascha" plus all the homilies of Chrysostom on John, Romans and Hebrews.

Whilst I understand exactly why y'all say I cannot practise a cafeteria approach to Orthodoxy, I suspect you are unaware of the forbidding effect such a prohibition has. In fact I feel to have benefited enormously from this forum, for example:

- re baptism, though you have in no way persuaded me that it is not best practice to baptise people after they become believers, your arguments, which I have confirmed by wider reading, have softened my attitude to infant baptism and made it easier for me to believe that maybe it is a permitted (not commanded, but permitted) variant within the overall Christian rite of baptism.

- again re baptism you have pressed me to some serious thinking on the subject, as well again as wider reading, and have moved me towards believing that, when I was baptised, God did more within me through it than I previously realised or understood.

- Regarding the church my encounters with Orthodoxy have pressed me to consider deeply and at length whether our Baptist churches are indeed true and valid Christian churches, and likewise whether the Orthodox Church is a valid Christian church. I would have started off thinking "Yes" to the first and probably "No" to the second. But I would be a good deal more ready now to say "Yes" to both.

- Regarding scripture and Tradition I have had to do some serious reading and pondering, and to examine what 'sola scriptura' really means and what it is not, and to consider your objections to it and your observations on the fruit which teaching under that name has borne; plus about the place and validity of the creeds, especially the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.

- Also I have been pointed (not only via this forum) to some rich and edifying devotional reading which offers a perspective different from ours, and insights which we do not seem to hear.

- It has also helped me understand you, and why you believe the things you do (such as asking the intercession of the saints; the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother; why you don't say you are saved (and hence why we conclude you are not!)). Mutual understanding is worth striving for, even when neither side is persuaded to agree fully with the other.

And yes, I hope to continue learning. But shall I merely be told I am abusing your banquet by treating it like a cafeteria (or, as we say over here, a buffet)?

PoM nominee!!!!!!!

David, this is a beautiful, well articulated post!  It's absolutely wonderful that you are understanding us more... not because we are trying to convert you (which I don't believe anyone here is), but because, if nothing else (besides your own personal beliefs), we know that it will benefit the conditions in Albania.  Glory to God for it!

I think we need to be a little more clear about the cafeteria reference.  There is a vast difference between learning about Orthodoxy (which is what it seems you are doing, thank God), and picking and choosing aspects of Orthodoxy to accept and adopt (the cafeteria reference).  It has to be kept in balance, if that makes sense.  Learning about it is wonderful, even shifting one's beliefs to some extent in a way that reflect more Orthodox ideas is wonderful (we would say the closer you come, the better), it's the separation and misuse of Orthodox beliefs and practices that is a problem.  I hope that this makes sense and that you don't find it offensive.  It's certainly not meant that way.

I look forward to our continuing discussions!  (I'll try to get to your questions soon, but for now I have to run to the chiropractor)

In Christ's Love,
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« Reply #95 on: February 16, 2009, 12:51:25 PM »

- Why was it intoned rather than spoken in a normal voice?
To emphasize the words spoken rather than the speaker. We avoid singing solo, since it can lead to pride in the singer, and we avoid spoken words, since good oratorical skill can also lead to pride in the speaker. Instead, spoken words are chanted, and songs are sung in unison by all.

Quote
- What do the bells signify on the censor?
- What kind of Greek is used (not Demotic for sure)?
I can't answer these for you. Mine is not a Greek parish, and we speak no language other than English except during Pascha, when members of the parish will read the Gospel in all languages represented (the priest reads first in English). As for the bells, I've never asked; but they do make a lovely sound.

Quote
- What do the golden discs on poles represent?
The Cherubim. Note the six-winged, poly-eyed icons in the centre of each disc. According to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Cherubim are described thus: "With two wings they cover their faces, with two they cover their feet, and with two they fly, borne on their pinions, singing the Triumphant Hymn: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory."

In the Liturgy, the Church represents the Cherubim, thus we bring out these icons while we sing this hymn: "Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the Thrice-Holy Hymn, lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of All, who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic host."

Quote
Someone on the thread wondered whether the priest was uneasy in English. Not at all! He and his wife are as English as you can get. It is a convert parish, though some foreigners were there who are presumably cradle Orthodox visiting or living nearby. His forename is, I guess, a priestly one taken at some point in his journey to Orthodoxy and the priesthood.
I asked because you said he had written his sermon rather than spoken it, and I thought maybe someone less proficient in English might prefer that method, when they can consult a dictionary for the word they want. Just a supposition.

Quote
Some, if they joined, would doubtless only do so in order to convert you all, either to Christianity or to Protestantism, depending how they viewed it: no doubt you would lock horns with such and return the favour! Anyway, that, surely, is partly what 'discussion' (the title of the forum) is about?
Unfortunately, we get that type quite often, and that sort of behaviour is not conducive to discussion. What I want from this board, and what we the moderators and members want from this forum is a place where we can have reasoned discussion of issues that affect us as Orthodox and Orthodox issues that affect the non-Orthodox. Proselytism for this reason is strictly banned, whether from an Orthodox, Catholic, Baptist, Buddhist, whatever. Proselytism is not discussion.

I really wish there were more Protestants like you and Cleopas. I appreciate having y'all here, and please introduce like-minded friends and colleagues to this board. Reasoned discussion will only increase our knowledge of ourselves, our religions, and our God.
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« Reply #96 on: February 16, 2009, 01:23:41 PM »

- What do the bells signify on the censor?
The censor has twelve bells which represent the Voices and Teachings of the Apostles.
A Censor with four bells represents the Voices and Teachings of the Evangelists.
The Censor is swung gently during the reading of the Apostle to represent the teaching of the Apostles eminating throughout the Cosmos.
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« Reply #97 on: February 16, 2009, 01:50:53 PM »

- What do the bells signify on the censor?
The censor has twelve bells which represent the Voices and Teachings of the Apostles.
A Censor with four bells represents the Voices and Teachings of the Evangelists.
The Censor is swung gently during the reading of the Apostle to represent the teaching of the Apostles eminating throughout the Cosmos.
This is awesome! I had no idea. I atteneded a Byzantine Church for a whole year and did not really put much thought into the censor.
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« Reply #98 on: February 16, 2009, 01:57:36 PM »

Why was it intoned rather than spoken in a normal voice?


This is to remove any dramatic inflection an individual may want to add to the reading. The Reader reading the Epistle and the Priest reading the Gospel are not speaking their own words, but rather the inspired Word of God. It is not a performance but an education. If one were to just read the Epistle or Gospel as one would read a novel aloud, one could emphasise certain words which could imply different meanings to the scriptures.

What do the golden discs on poles represent?

The discs are images of cherubim.

If we look to the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant had two cherubim on it, one on each side. The ark contained the tablets with the ten commandments in them -- The Logos, the Word of God. This was the old covenant God made with the people of Israel.

When the priest reads the Gospel, an acolyte stands on each side of him with the discs, the cherubim on each side. The priest reads the Gospel which is about the Life of Christ, and the words of Christ. Christ is the Logos (the Word of God.)

The Cherubim on each side of the priest reading the Gospel represent the new covenant God has made with us by sending down His Son, the Logos, down to us.
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« Reply #99 on: February 16, 2009, 02:03:58 PM »

I don't know if you already have, but I would suggest picking up a copy of Fr. Alexander Schmemman's For the Life of the World. It's a small book (155 pages) but it does an excellent job of explaining how the liturgical services pertain to our every day life.

http://books.google.com/books?id=47ncMCfOj58C&dq=for+the+life+of+the+world&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=WaqZSYqbDNWDtwfT0_W5Cw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPP1,M1
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« Reply #100 on: February 16, 2009, 05:44:30 PM »

I have written about my impressions of the Orthodox service in general, and may take the liberty to do so next time I attend one, but I'd also like to make one comparison specifically about one part of the service in Orthodox and Baptist churches, namely the actual Communion, and more narrowly, the bread. Here, I have to say, I prefer our way, and not (I think) only because I am used to it.

Many of you will have attended our services, and nothing will be new to you, but others may not have. We have a table at the front of the church, beneath the pulpit, usually inscribed with the words "This do in remembrance of Me." Behind it sits the pastor or other person presiding (often myself - a great privilege), perhaps accompanied by one or more other persons, depending on the size of the congregation; these will distribute the bread and the wine.

On the table is a white cloth, on which is a plate, usually metal (I suppose silver or pewter), and on it an unbroken bread roll; or two bread rolls or a larger loaf, depending on the size of the congregation. When the words of institution are spoken from Corinthians, the pastor simultaneously breaks the bread roll / loaf in the sight of the congregation, and then it is distributed to the people, who take a piece from the plate and eat it.

This I find easier to relate to the symbolism (for whatever else the sacrament contains, there is certainly symbolism) of the rite than the Orthodox manner, in which the priest stands behind the iconostasis with his back to the congregation, so that it is hard for them to watch what is happening.

This of course is why I saw such similarity between the services described under Communism when you could not follow your usual ritual, and our regular practice.

I am aware, of course, that you know what the priest does, and are aware of the symbolism of it all; but I did find our manner easier to relate to the breaking of our Lord's body for our redemption.
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« Reply #101 on: February 16, 2009, 07:15:45 PM »

I have written about my impressions of the Orthodox service in general, and may take the liberty to do so next time I attend one, but I'd also like to make one comparison specifically about one part of the service in Orthodox and Baptist churches, namely the actual Communion, and more narrowly, the bread. Here, I have to say, I prefer our way, and not (I think) only because I am used to it.

Many of you will have attended our services, and nothing will be new to you, but others may not have. We have a table at the front of the church, beneath the pulpit, usually inscribed with the words "This do in remembrance of Me." Behind it sits the pastor or other person presiding (often myself - a great privilege), perhaps accompanied by one or more other persons, depending on the size of the congregation; these will distribute the bread and the wine.

On the table is a white cloth, on which is a plate, usually metal (I suppose silver or pewter), and on it an unbroken bread roll; or two bread rolls or a larger loaf, depending on the size of the congregation. When the words of institution are spoken from Corinthians, the pastor simultaneously breaks the bread roll / loaf in the sight of the congregation, and then it is distributed to the people, who take a piece from the plate and eat it.

This I find easier to relate to the symbolism (for whatever else the sacrament contains, there is certainly symbolism) of the rite than the Orthodox manner, in which the priest stands behind the iconostasis with his back to the congregation, so that it is hard for them to watch what is happening.

This of course is why I saw such similarity between the services described under Communism when you could not follow your usual ritual, and our regular practice.

I am aware, of course, that you know what the priest does, and are aware of the symbolism of it all; but I did find our manner easier to relate to the breaking of our Lord's body for our redemption.


Dear David,

As you are aware, I've spent a considerable amount of time in the Baptist Church, and can relate to what you are saying. When you walk into a Baptist Church, it takes about 2 seconds to figure out what is going on. There's really little to no symbolism in anything, and everything is pretty cleanly spelled out for you throughout the worship service.

If the goal of Christianity was to put together a clear cut presentation with no questions asked, I would have to say that was a great formula.

Unfortunately Christ wants us to aspire to something higher. We have a call for holiness. St. Athanasius is often quoted as saying "God became man, so that man could become God." No one is expected to walk into an Orthodox Church and instantly understand everything that is going on. That's why it usually takes a few years to go from inquirorer to catechumen to christmated member of the Orthodox Church. As a matter of fact, for the first few centuries, catechumens would only stay for the first part of the service, and would be told to leave after the litany for the Catechumens. If you read the Liturgy, it still says, "Depart! All Catechumens Depart! Let no Catechumen remain! Let the Faithful again and again in peace pray unto the Lord!" Many parishes today, however, omit this.

The Liturgy may not be completely obvious in its symbolism to a first time visitor. However, to those truly seeking holiness, it's enough that they want to keep coming back for more.  Smiley

The journey to become Orthodox is not an easy road, but the Christian life has never been promised to be easy.

In XC,

Maureen
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« Reply #102 on: February 17, 2009, 04:36:21 AM »

it usually takes a few years to go from inquirorer to catechumen to christmated member of the Orthodox Church.
In XC,
Maureen

I didn't know that: that's helpful. Two ensuing questions, the second just out of curiosity:

1) If the Holy Spirit is received in chrismation, according to your theology, and if Christ is received in the bread and the wine (that is, in the way you teach it, for we too teach it but mean it differently), why is there such a delay in bringing people into the reception of Them? And you mention inquirer - catechumen - chrismation: at what point, and after what usual lapse of time, does baptism fit into this pattern?

2) Why do you write XC and not XP? I assume it is the first and final letters of Christos, rather than the first two, but am I correct?

Best wishes,
DMY
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« Reply #103 on: February 17, 2009, 09:13:43 AM »

I didn't know that: that's helpful. Two ensuing questions, the second just out of curiosity:

1) If the Holy Spirit is received in chrismation, according to your theology, and if Christ is received in the bread and the wine (that is, in the way you teach it, for we too teach it but mean it differently), why is there such a delay in bringing people into the reception of Them? And you mention inquirer - catechumen - chrismation: at what point, and after what usual lapse of time, does baptism fit into this pattern?

Inquirer-Catecumen-Chrismation should probably read Inquirer-Catecumen/Student-Baptism/Chrismation/Communion (since all 3, if deemed necessary, would occur in the same service).

The time period between first expressing interest in Orthodoxy and becoming a formal catecumen (i.e. declaring the intention to be baptized and chrismated as an Orthodox Christian) is quite irregular - sometimes people become catecumens right away; sometimes it takes awhile.  It's up to them - the only thing that distinguishes an inquirer from a catecumen is the intent and agreement to become Orthodox (which is non-binding; if one becomes a catecumen and decides not to become Orthodox, we wouldn't look on them in the same way as one who was Orthodox and leaves the Church).

The time period between becoming a catecumen and being baptized/chrismated/receiving Communion also varies, based on the (a) educational program/style of the priest who is bringing the person in; (b) the knowledge and experience of the catecumen; and (c) various other personal circumstances.  For some people, this period of time is short (3 - 6 months), while for others is it a bit lengthy (2 - 3 years).  The standard is simple: the catecumen must have a very good understanding of what they're getting in to, because once one is baptized and chrismated, they are held accountable for living the Christian life.

2) Why do you write XC and not XP? I assume it is the first and final letters of Christos, rather than the first two, but am I correct?

In Orthodox practice, you'll find both manifestations of "Christ" - XP and XC.  While the XP can be found when referring only to "Christ," the XC comes from the ancient declaration "IC XC NI KA" - when put together and expanded, it is "IHCOYC XPICTOC NIKA" which is "Jesus Christ Conquers."
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« Reply #104 on: February 17, 2009, 12:49:01 PM »

The time period between first expressing interest in Orthodoxy and becoming a formal catecumen (i.e. declaring the intention to be baptized and chrismated as an Orthodox Christian) is quite irregular - sometimes people become catecumens right away; sometimes it takes awhile.  It's up to them - the only thing that distinguishes an inquirer from a catecumen is the intent and agreement to become Orthodox (which is non-binding; if one becomes a catecumen and decides not to become Orthodox, we wouldn't look on them in the same way as one who was Orthodox and leaves the Church).

The time period between becoming a catecumen and being baptized/chrismated/receiving Communion also varies, based on the (a) educational program/style of the priest who is bringing the person in; (b) the knowledge and experience of the catecumen; and (c) various other personal circumstances.  For some people, this period of time is short (3 - 6 months), while for others is it a bit lengthy (2 - 3 years).  The standard is simple: the catecumen must have a very good understanding of what they're getting in to, because once one is baptized and chrismated, they are held accountable for living the Christian life.
This is quite correct. In my parish, we have had some who came to us from Islam or other religions, and for them, the goal of their time as a catechumen was to teach them the basics of Christianity. For my wife and I, who had been Christians for over twenty years before becoming Orthodox, the whole time, from first entering an Orthodox parish to baptism/chrismation/Communion was about eight months. We were well versed in Scripture thanks to the Protestant churches, so it was just a matter of connecting what we were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures we already knew.
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« Reply #105 on: February 17, 2009, 03:40:18 PM »

...

For my wife and I, who had been Christians for over twenty years before becoming Orthodox, the whole time, from first entering an Orthodox parish to baptism/chrismation/Communion was about eight months. We were well versed in Scripture thanks to the Protestant churches, so it was just a matter of connecting what we were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures we already knew.

I would just like to caution, that your above gives the impression that any/most "20-yr-well-versed-in-scripture" Protestants would be Chrismated/Baptized within eight months, which is simply not true.  It really is more like the a, b and c Cleveland mentions.  Now, if you would have said that your priest felt your eight month period was enough due to your ability to connect what you were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures you already knew, than I would have no qualms.  We've had a Roman Catholic cathecumen for like...three years or so now?  Of course, his attitude or zeal for completing the journey seems to be on simmer, if even that.
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« Reply #106 on: February 17, 2009, 05:41:21 PM »

...

For my wife and I, who had been Christians for over twenty years before becoming Orthodox, the whole time, from first entering an Orthodox parish to baptism/chrismation/Communion was about eight months. We were well versed in Scripture thanks to the Protestant churches, so it was just a matter of connecting what we were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures we already knew.

I would just like to caution, that your above gives the impression that any/most "20-yr-well-versed-in-scripture" Protestants would be Chrismated/Baptized within eight months, which is simply not true.  It really is more like the a, b and c Cleveland mentions.  Now, if you would have said that your priest felt your eight month period was enough due to your ability to connect what you were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures you already knew, than I would have no qualms.  We've had a Roman Catholic cathecumen for like...three years or so now?  Of course, his attitude or zeal for completing the journey seems to be on simmer, if even that.

^Correct, there were a number of factors involved in the speed of my acceptance into the Orthodox church.  Partly the reason it was so quick was because I was present for every service I could be including vespers, liturgy, and most of the Lenten services (even the Canon of St. Andrew, much to the surprise of my priest).  I also have a minor in biblical studies from a Baptist university so I'm familiar with scriptures but by the same token I can relate to Paul when he said he felt all his previous knowledge was as a dung heap.  Even so, I went through catechumen class and read lots of the oft-recommended books on the Orthodox church.  For the most part, it's up to the priest to decide when a catechumen is ready for baptism.  Some, like myself, never feel ready to be baptized and I'd probably still be in catechumen class if my priest hadn't put his foot down.  Smiley
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« Reply #107 on: February 17, 2009, 05:42:53 PM »

Now, if you would have said that your priest felt your eight month period was enough due to your ability to connect what you were seeing in Orthodoxy to the Scriptures you already knew, than I would have no qualms.
That's what I thought I was saying, but thanks for clarifying.
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« Reply #108 on: February 17, 2009, 05:54:17 PM »

The time period between first expressing interest in Orthodoxy and becoming a formal catecumen (i.e. declaring the intention to be baptized and chrismated as an Orthodox Christian) is quite irregular - sometimes people become catecumens right away; sometimes it takes awhile.  It's up to them - the only thing that distinguishes an inquirer from a catecumen is the intent and agreement to become Orthodox (which is non-binding; if one becomes a catecumen and decides not to become Orthodox, we wouldn't look on them in the same way as one who was Orthodox and leaves the Church).


As a recent example, it "officially" took me about 10 months before I made the change from "inquirer" to "catechumen".  I say "officially" because the last time I took communion in a Catholic church was Pentecost 2008 and, aside from a couple funerals of family, I exclusively went to an Orthodox church. 

Quote
The time period between becoming a catecumen and being baptized/chrismated/receiving Communion also varies, based on the (a) educational program/style of the priest who is bringing the person in; (b) the knowledge and experience of the catecumen; and (c) various other personal circumstances.  For some people, this period of time is short (3 - 6 months), while for others is it a bit lengthy (2 - 3 years).  The standard is simple: the catecumen must have a very good understanding of what they're getting in to, because once one is baptized and chrismated, they are held accountable for living the Christian life.

My priest and I haven't even broached this subject, yet.  For the time being, he's having me read a couple books and then take some classes the parish is offering during Great Lent.  While I long to receive communion, I'm in no rush and will defer to his judgment on the matter.
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« Reply #109 on: February 17, 2009, 08:58:25 PM »

Just so you don't think I'm ignoring you David, Cleveland basically said everything I would have said.  laugh
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« Reply #110 on: June 17, 2009, 06:08:42 AM »

You may wish to comment on my impressions, correct them, or enlighten me on features which seem to mystify me as a visiting Baptist:

Before attending the 10.45 Evangelical service in Gjirokastër a couple of Sundays ago, I attended the 8.45 service at the Orthodox Church, and here is a description of the service, from the point of view of an outsider.

One remarkable feature of the service, which lasted 1½ hours, is that most of it is conducted by the priest from behind the iconostasis, with his back to the congregation; he is visible through the door in the iconostasis. At the front were three men chanting. Another striking feature of the service was the fact that there is almost no audience participation: Anglicans say prayers together, Baptists sing hymns together, but Orthodox stand (or sit) and watch the priests. I believe the only part they take actively in the whole service is to recite the Nicene Creed. The scripture readings were (for me) hard - nay, impossible - to follow, as they were not read out in a normal voice, but were chanted. I doubt I would have recognised them, if I had not read them in my ‘quiet time’ earlier from the Orthodox lectionary for the day - and the Lord was able thus to bless me through his inspired Word.

There are a number of processions around the church, undertaken by the priest and one or two others, once with a book held high, twice with a censer. Some of the women grasped and kissed the priest’s robes as he passed.

It being Pentecost Sunday, one of the two priests, Father Theodhori, preached a 12-minute sermon about the Holy Spirit. This was followed by the Lord’s Supper. Orthodox go forward for communion, rather than its being brought to them in the body of the church as among Baptists, and I was surprised at how few went forward and partook.

All this took up the first hour. Then the other priest (Father Dhionis) read at length from a book, with his back to the congregation; the three men at the front chanted. Then Father Theodhori walked round the church and shook the censer to and fro, which also made its bells ring. As he passed me and shook the censer at me, he grinned in a friendly manner, seemingly as if to say to his Protestant visitor, “Bet you’ve never had that done to you before!” (which was quite true). Each priest knelt at the front, facing the congregation, and prayed. At the end of the service, more or less everyone made a bee-line for the front of the church, and took a piece of the bread from a large bowl. (I myself went forward neither for communion, nor for the final piece of bread, believing I would not be admitted to the former, and not knowing the rules or purpose of the latter.)

The congregation numbered about two dozen, mainly elderly, and gradually grew to 30 or more as the service progressed, for people trickle in during the first half hour or more. People also drifted out before the end, and some held sotto voce conversations with each other during parts of the service. The women sat on the left, the men on the right - except two women who came in late and perhaps made a faux pas by sitting on the wrong side. (An embarrassing mistake if it was, and one I made on the one occasion I worshipped with the Moravian Brethren.)

I write none of this to find fault or belittle your way of worship; only, I thought you might be interested to read of the impressions made on someone for whom it was only the second time at an Orthodox service.
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« Reply #111 on: June 17, 2009, 06:28:27 AM »

You may wish to comment on my impressions, correct them, or enlighten me on features which seem to mystify me as a visiting Baptist:

Before attending the 10.45 Evangelical service in Gjirokastër a couple of Sundays ago, I attended the 8.45 service at the Orthodox Church, and here is a description of the service, from the point of view of an outsider.

Do you know the "Ship of Fools" site?  They send out a "Mystery Worshipper" to assess the worship in churches around the UK.


http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/index.html

"Since ancient times (ok, 1998), Ship of Fools has been sending Mystery Worshippers to churches worldwide. Travelling incognito, they ask those questions which go to the heart of church life: How long was the sermon? How hard the pew? How cold was the coffee? How warm the welcome?

"The only clue they have been there at all is the Mystery Worshipper calling card, dropped in the plate."

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« Reply #112 on: June 17, 2009, 08:26:11 AM »

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How hard the pew?
I would love to see the one who goes to an Orthodox Church that lacks pews and whose only chairs are ringing the outside walls of the church!  Grin
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« Reply #113 on: June 17, 2009, 08:44:30 AM »

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How hard the pew?
I would love to see the one who goes to an Orthodox Church that lacks pews and whose only chairs are ringing the outside walls of the church!  Grin

Here are some I found...

the pew-less Russian Cathedral London

http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/specials/london_05/reports/1077.html

another report from another Mystery Visitor
http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/1998/002Mystery.html

Small Russian parish in Belfast
http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/2004/865.html

OCA Cathedral Winnipeg
http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/2006/1283.html
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« Reply #114 on: June 19, 2009, 02:41:28 AM »

This is a great thread. I haven't time to read all the post but it seems every post has some gold in it. It's deepening my interest and belief that Orthodoxy is the true Church of Christ. Thank you all.
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« Reply #115 on: June 19, 2009, 03:02:30 AM »

[Whilst I was away for the meetings in South Wales, I visited a second-hand bookshop and was able to buy Thomas Hopko's "Winter Pascha" plus all the homilies of Chrysostom on John, Romans and Hebrews.

Whilst I understand exactly why y'all say I cannot practise a cafeteria approach to Orthodoxy, I suspect you are unaware of the forbidding effect such a prohibition has.

......................

And yes, I hope to continue learning. But shall I merely be told I am abusing your banquet by treating it like a cafeteria (or, as we say over here, a buffet)?

Keep on with what you are doing.

I remember when a London lady wailed to Metropolitan Anthony at the London cathedral, "But it's all too much to learn.  I can't do it!"

And Archbishop Anthony looked back at her and said, "Be like a cow.  Eat all that you can and process it and give good milk."

I did not hear the reaction of the lady to this unexpected advice!!!!     Grin

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« Reply #116 on: June 23, 2009, 11:36:51 AM »

You may wish to comment on my impressions, correct them, or enlighten me on features which seem to mystify me as a visiting Baptist:

Before attending the 10.45 Evangelical service in Gjirokastër a couple of Sundays ago, I attended the 8.45 service at the Orthodox Church, and here is a description of the service, from the point of view of an outsider.
Glad to hear that you went back to another Divine Liturgy, David!
It seems, though, that you didn't utilize any of the resources some of us have given you to educate yourself about what is happening during the service.  I say that not as a criticism, just as an observation.  There are some basics here that, had you read the material we gave you, you would have understood immediately on sight.  Again, not a criticism at all, just an observation.  I will say, though, that it will be very difficult for you to understand the services going forward if you don’t either read about them or speak with someone (a priest or someone else who knows about the services) about them.  At the very least, a Divine Liturgy book (which contains the prayers that the priest AND people are to be saying) is necessary.

Quote
One remarkable feature of the service, which lasted 1½ hours, is that most of it is conducted by the priest from behind the iconostasis, with his back to the congregation; he is visible through the door in the iconostasis. At the front were three men chanting. Another striking feature of the service was the fact that there is almost no audience participation: Anglicans say prayers together, Baptists sing hymns together, but Orthodox stand (or sit) and watch the priests. I believe the only part they take actively in the whole service is to recite the Nicene Creed.
This is a misunderstanding.  Of course the people participate!  Otherwise nothing is happening.  The Liturgy is the “work of the people” (as I’m sure you’ve heard).  The people’s participation is crucial in a much more vital way than in ANY other form of worship, be it Anglican, Baptist, etc.  Just because you don’t SEE it, doesn’t mean it’s happening.  You MUST listen to the prayers, to understand what I mean.  For instance, when the priest says, “Let us pray to the Lord,” the people are to AT LEAST respond with “Lord have mercy.”  The series of litanies (which begin with that very petition) are NOT the PRIEST praying.  They are the priest calling the PEOPLE to pray.  Now, yes, the chanter (or choir, in some cases) audibly responds with “Lord have mercy,” etc.  But the congregation should be responding EITHER audibly or INAUDIBLY as well.  If they so choose, they may respond simply by making the sign of the cross, thereby signaling their prayer.  Or they may say a private petition of their own.  There are MANY ways for the people to participate.  Please remember that you are just walking into this situation.  There is a lot for you to take in.  Don’t assume that because you don’t see it, it isn’t happening.

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The scripture readings were (for me) hard - nay, impossible - to follow, as they were not read out in a normal voice, but were chanted. I doubt I would have recognised them, if I had not read them in my ‘quiet time’ earlier from the Orthodox lectionary for the day - and the Lord was able thus to bless me through his inspired Word.
Yeah, that often takes getting used to for those who have never experienced it.  For people who have been coming to the Church for many years, this is the only way to read the Scriptures in the Church.  The purpose of it is so that we do NOT focus on the voice or inflection of the person reading, but rather to listen to the words.  I, personally, find it thoroughly distracting when people read the Scriptures WITHOUT chanting it, because they emphasize different words and whatnot.  It is much easier to concentrate on the words (for me) when they are being chanted.  I often chant the Scriptures out loud when I read them at home.  But again, this takes getting used to if you’ve never experienced it.

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There are a number of processions around the church, undertaken by the priest and one or two others, once with a book held high, twice with a censer. Some of the women grasped and kissed the priest’s robes as he passed.
LOL.  Again, you would have known what this was all about if you had read the material we gave you, or at the very least, picked up the Liturgy book.  That “book” that the priest is carrying, is, by the way, the Gospel.

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It being Pentecost Sunday, one of the two priests, Father Theodhori, preached a 12-minute sermon about the Holy Spirit. This was followed by the Lord’s Supper. Orthodox go forward for communion, rather than its being brought to them in the body of the church as among Baptists, and I was surprised at how few went forward and partook.
Yes, communion is not taken lightly in the Orthodox Church.  To receive requires preparation (fasting, confession, prayer, etc).  If one has not properly prepared, they do not partake. 

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All this took up the first hour. Then the other priest (Father Dhionis) read at length from a book, with his back to the congregation; the three men at the front chanted. Then Father Theodhori walked round the church and shook the censer to and fro, which also made its bells ring. As he passed me and shook the censer at me, he grinned in a friendly manner, seemingly as if to say to his Protestant visitor, “Bet you’ve never had that done to you before!” (which was quite true). Each priest knelt at the front, facing the congregation, and prayed. At the end of the service, more or less everyone made a bee-line for the front of the church, and took a piece of the bread from a large bowl. (I myself went forward neither for communion, nor for the final piece of bread, believing I would not be admitted to the former, and not knowing the rules or purpose of the latter.)
He didn’t just shake the censor.  He’s praying, and you should be too, when that happens, as a member of the congregation.  Again, read the material…

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The congregation numbered about two dozen, mainly elderly, and gradually grew to 30 or more as the service progressed, for people trickle in during the first half hour or more. People also drifted out before the end, and some held sotto voce conversations with each other during parts of the service. The women sat on the left, the men on the right - except two women who came in late and perhaps made a faux pas by sitting on the wrong side. (An embarrassing mistake if it was, and one I made on the one occasion I worshipped with the Moravian Brethren.)
There’s no law that says that women have to sit on one side and men on the other, but it is traditional.  Many churches don’t do that anymore, some do. 

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I write none of this to find fault or belittle your way of worship; only, I thought you might be interested to read of the impressions made on someone for whom it was only the second time at an Orthodox service.

I certainly didn’t think you were belittling, and I pray I’m not offending with my words.  Forgive me, but I’m left wondering why you are not educating yourself about the Liturgy.  You have expressed so much interest in learning about Orthodoxy.  But the most important part of Orthodoxy (the Eucharist), you are leaving up to your senses (what you see and hear) only, rather than engaging your mind.  This is not going to get you very far, I fear.  You have to listen carefully to the prayers, read along with them, to understand what is happening.  I’m happy to send you more links on the internet, or even mail you books, if you’d like.


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« Reply #117 on: June 23, 2009, 12:14:43 PM »

I'd have to concur with Presbytera's comments David. We've explained a lot of this to you, have provided resources with information, and have gone over a lot of this with you when you attended Liturgy the first time. The impression I get from your writing is "Orthodox worship is not self-evident and not self-explanatory."

It's not, and it's not intended to be.

In the words of another Baptist Preacher who recently attended the Divine services, it's "not for lightweights."

Yes, you have to read and learn about the worship in order to fully understand it. But frankly, for all that God gives us, shouldn't our worship demand something of us?

Being a Christian is not easy; but Christ never said it would be. While you don't have to have a Master's in Theology to be an Orthodox Christian, you do have to play an active role in learning and participating in worship in order to understand it. As Presbytera said, while the worshippers may have not appeared to be participating in a way that you would qualify as active, I can assure you all of their senses were engaged and active during worship.
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« Reply #118 on: June 24, 2009, 05:10:10 PM »

You may wish to comment on my impressions, correct them, or enlighten me on features which seem to mystify me as a visiting Baptist:

I think most first time visitors get that impression unless they've studied pretty intensely the Liturgy before hand AND what all the weird things we do actually means. So I wouldn't feel to out of place. I know there are PLENTY of Orthodox who've been Orthodox they're whole life don't know much more than you, so you're not alone.



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One remarkable feature of the service, which lasted 1½ hours, is that most of it is conducted by the priest from behind the iconostasis, with his back to the congregation; he is visible through the door in the iconostasis. At the front were three men chanting. Another striking feature of the service was the fact that there is almost no audience participation: Anglicans say prayers together, Baptists sing hymns together, but Orthodox stand (or sit) and watch the priests. I believe the only part they take actively in the whole service is to recite the Nicene Creed.

This is "typical" in practice, but not really in line with the ancient Church (as I'm sure you know) nor is it "dogma" or doctrine of any kind. Fr. Schmemman wrote about this fairly often and, as well as some 19th century Russian saints, all were against the congregation being an "audience"....we are ALL supposed to participate, all pray, sing, kneel, prostrate, pray some more....this is supposed to be communcal worship....in parishes it is, but an equal number of parishes it is not. Some places in the world it's nearly 100% congregational participation, (this has been my experience in Coptic Churches, and quite a number of OCA Churches)...while other parishes everyone just sits there like bumps on a log. Just like any Church, it varies.....

Just to clarify, the service is not conducted by the priest, but is LEAD by the priest. It is conducted by the Royal priesthood of all believers, the priest leads and is steward of the Mysteries of God (as St. Paul wrote) but he isn't "conducting" the service. A priest in the Orthodox Church cannot even celebrate a Liturgy without at least 2 or 3 other people present. (where two or three are gathered, there I am)

 He doesn't have his back to us anymore than the guy in the pew in front of you has his back to you...or you have your back to the people behind you....rather you're all facing the same direction, all facing God, including the priest.


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The scripture readings were (for me) hard - nay, impossible - to follow, as they were not read out in a normal voice, but were chanted.

And I wouldn't recognize them or be able to follow them without them being chanted. In fact, sometimes priests won't chant them, and it always causes me to lose where we are at. However, it's possible that if you had a priest that isn't that strong in chanting the Gospel it might be harder to follow...again, this is just familiarity, and is quite in line with ancient Jewish tradition and custom, since the Psalms were chanted in the Temple of Solomon.


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It being Pentecost Sunday, one of the two priests, Father Theodhori, preached a 12-minute sermon about the Holy Spirit. This was followed by the Lord’s Supper. Orthodox go forward for communion, rather than its being brought to them in the body of the church as among Baptists, and I was surprised at how few went forward and partook.

We go forward, because after the Resurrection we can now approach God...through Christ. In the Old Covenant there was a seperation of God and man, but today we can freely approach with a repentant heart and trust in God's forgiveness, through Christ Jesus.

Again, it's all how one looks at these things.....I definitely understand where you're coming from, I know a lot of people on here do. But it really is all perspective and POV.

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All this took up the first hour. Then the other priest (Father Dhionis) read at length from a book, with his back to the congregation; the three men at the front chanted. Then Father Theodhori walked round the church and shook the censer to and fro, which also made its bells ring. As he passed me and shook the censer at me, he grinned in a friendly manner, seemingly as if to say to his Protestant visitor, “Bet you’ve never had that done to you before!” (which was quite true). Each priest knelt at the front, facing the congregation, and prayed.


Sounds like the Kneeling Prayers of Pentecost, and maybe the Vespers service...I assume this was all done in a foreign language (Greek?)...it'sa pity you didn't get to hear the pentecostal prayers in English, done properly, with a dynamic reading.....one dear friend of mine, who was a baptist for 30 years, when she went to the Pentecostal service, she was moved deeply....of course it was in English, and in fact that service is what prompted her conversion to Orthodoxy. It became her favorite service of the entire year. As she says, Christianity is a Pentecostal faith, full of life and the Holy Spirit. I pray you get to hear them done in English some day.


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At the end of the service, more or less everyone made a bee-line for the front of the church,

Again, a pity...but not really "typical" in all parishes. My parish we have a coffee hour after Liturgy each week....so it just varies, as it does in all Churches.



Quote


I write none of this to find fault or belittle your way of worship; only, I thought you might be interested to read of the impressions made on someone for whom it was only the second time at an Orthodox service.



i think most will understand. I'm truly sorry your experience wasn't a better one. sadly, your experience is more common than you might think...but, there is hope in knowing you're experience is not how it is supposed to be. I wish you could have had the same experience I had when I first visited an Orthodox Church....it was simply amazing. I hope you'll give Orthodox worship another try in the future.

np

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« Reply #119 on: June 24, 2009, 05:27:44 PM »


This is a misunderstanding.  Of course the people participate!  Otherwise nothing is happening.  The Liturgy is the “work of the people” (as I’m sure you’ve heard).  The people’s participation is crucial in a much more vital way than in ANY other form of worship, be it Anglican, Baptist, etc.  Just because you don’t SEE it, doesn’t mean it’s happening.  You MUST listen to the prayers, to understand what I mean.  For instance, when the priest says, “Let us pray to the Lord,” the people are to AT LEAST respond with “Lord have mercy.”  The series of litanies (which begin with that very petition) are NOT the PRIEST praying.  They are the priest calling the PEOPLE to pray.  Now, yes, the chanter (or choir, in some cases) audibly responds with “Lord have mercy,” etc.  But the congregation should be responding EITHER audibly or INAUDIBLY as well.  If they so choose, they may respond simply by making the sign of the cross, thereby signaling their prayer.  Or they may say a private petition of their own.  There are MANY ways for the people to participate.  Please remember that you are just walking into this situation.  There is a lot for you to take in.  Don’t assume that because you don’t see it, it isn’t happening.

I agree with most of your post Presbytera, however I think you probably know that in some Churches, people DON'T participate. I've even heard/read where people claim that they don't have to because "the choir/chanters are praying in our place." This is a common misconception among some, but not all, communities, especially really ethnic ones.

I'm sure you've come across these people at times, and I've been to MANY parishes in different jurisdictions where this is simply the reality. You're right, that's not how it's supposed to be, but it is, in some parishes. However, I do agree, people might be praying silently, as you pointed out, but the entire congregation? No one at least softly sang/chanted along? I find that hard to believe, unless of course it was all in Greek and no one knew what was going on.

With that said, I think you're right, people need to LISTEN to what is being said. the Liturgy is a dialogue between priest and congregation, all praying together to God....however, if the Liturgy was in a language he didn't understand, it's impossible to listen. But indeed, if it was in English, then LISTENING is the best thing people can do. I have a friend, a catechumen who never LISTENS and thus never participates, either out loud, or silently, and always complains "I never get anything out of the Liturgy"...well, we only "get" what we put into it. But in all fairness, I sometimes circumstances make it impossible to listen or participate. I don't know what the case may be here.





Quote

Yeah, that often takes getting used to for those who have never experienced it.  For people who have been coming to the Church for many years, this is the only way to read the Scriptures in the Church.  The purpose of it is so that we do NOT focus on the voice or inflection of the person reading, but rather to listen to the words.  I, personally, find it thoroughly distracting when people read the Scriptures WITHOUT chanting it, because they emphasize different words and whatnot.  It is much easier to concentrate on the words (for me) when they are being chanted.  I often chant the Scriptures out loud when I read them at home.  But again, this takes getting used to if you’ve never experienced it.

I do the same thing...LOL! And like you said, chanting the Gospel helps the meaning to be conveyed better, once you get used to the idea of it being chanted. Also, chanting Scriptures actually makes it easier for passages to be memorized. I can SING the entire Liturgy by memory, but cannot "recite" it in a plain spoken voice.....I think studies have shown music and intonation is an aid to memory, and the chanting of the Scriptures is probably how Church fathers could so easily memorize LONG passages...the human brain is just designed that way...oral cultures often put their folk stories and legends and even religious history to music, particular meter and verse, and intonation style.....I chant Psalm 50 every week, and can chant it from memory, but still have trouble remembering things I read every week, even after 5 years of reading it....so there actually is a practical reason behind the chanting as you mentioned. And like you said, once you get used to, (it doesn't take that long) when a priest doesn't chant it, it will kind of freak you out. At least it does me. Smiley



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« Reply #120 on: June 25, 2009, 01:34:40 PM »

you didn't utilize any of the resources some of us have given you

I think I did: I think I had a clearer idea of what was going on than the first time I went, in Chester.

Quote
a Divine Liturgy book ...is necessary.

I have made a note to take the liturgy of John Chrysostom with me (in ALbanian) next time I go to Gjirokastra. I have a copy here in Wrexham.

What made me not do so was previous experience in Anglican churches. They too have a Prayer Book, with some wonderful liturgy (from which I borrow prayers myself sometimes when taking a service), but they jump around the book for different things: the general order of service; prayers and readings for each Sunday; various Psalms - all printed in different parts of the book, and impossible for an outsider to keep up with or find. I assumed yours would be similar.

If I take the liturgy I have next time, is it likely that Fr Theodhori will start at the beginning and work through in a way that I shan't get lost? It might be possible to take coffee with him beforehand and find out, but one can't guarantee that another alcoholic parishioner of his won't wander up, join us, and again dominate the conversation.

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« Reply #121 on: June 25, 2009, 01:42:35 PM »

I agree with most of your post Presbytera, however I think you probably know that in some Churches, people DON'T participate. ...especially really ethnic ones.

Here's an idea for Presvytera! Next time you are in Greece, take yourself over the border one Sunday to the Greek-speaking villages between Kakavia and Gjirokastra, attend an Orthodox service or two - maybe at one of those beautiful 900-year-old Byzantine churches - and write a post on "Impressions of Orthodoxy". I mean it: it would be of strong interest.
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« Reply #122 on: June 26, 2009, 04:51:12 AM »

Dear GreekChef,

I have here a number of booklets including:

Liturgjia hynore e Atit tonë ndër Shenjtorët Joan Gojartit
Shërbesa e Mëngjesit
Shërbesa e Kungatës hynore


The first is the Liturgy of Chrysostom among the Saints and runs to 100 pages. The second is "The Morning Service" (24 pages), the third is "The Service of the Holy Eucharist" (47 pages).

Which will be the one in use by the priest at the 8.45-10.15 morning service? Which should I have with me if I wish to follow the words more closely next time?

And as for not using the materials you recommend - dash it all! a chap can't do everything. Currently I'm re-reading the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. Sigá sigá!
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« Reply #123 on: June 26, 2009, 05:07:12 AM »

Dear GreekChef,

I have here a number of booklets including:

Liturgjia hynore e Atit tonë ndër Shenjtorët Joan Gojartit
Shërbesa e Mëngjesit
Shërbesa e Kungatës hynore


The first is the Liturgy of Chrysostom among the Saints and runs to 100 pages. The second is "The Morning Service" (24 pages), the third is "The Service of the Holy Eucharist" (47 pages).

Which will be the one in use by the priest at the 8.45-10.15 morning service? Which should I have with me if I wish to follow the words more closely next time?

And as for not using the materials you recommend - dash it all! a chap can't do everything. Currently I'm re-reading the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. Sigá sigá!

David,

Without seeing the texts, it's hard to make a judgment call. You may want to send an email to the priest of the parish you attend in Albania, and ask him what he would reccomend.

Also, have you tried attending services in the UK?

Perhaps going to a service in English would work well for you.

In XC,

Maureen
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« Reply #124 on: January 31, 2010, 07:50:09 PM »

I just saw a new book advertised, called, Go Forth: Stories of Mission and Resurrection in Albania:



I found it here:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/go-forth.html

Has anyone read this book?  It seems fascinating.
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« Reply #125 on: January 31, 2010, 09:35:04 PM »

Dear GreekChef,

I have here a number of booklets including:

Liturgjia hynore e Atit tonë ndër Shenjtorët Joan Gojartit
Shërbesa e Mëngjesit
Shërbesa e Kungatës hynore


The first is the Liturgy of Chrysostom among the Saints and runs to 100 pages. The second is "The Morning Service" (24 pages), the third is "The Service of the Holy Eucharist" (47 pages).

Which will be the one in use by the priest at the 8.45-10.15 morning service? Which should I have with me if I wish to follow the words more closely next time?

The Morning Service, although I don't know what distinction is being made between the "Eucharist" and the "Liturgy of Chrysostom" since that is the usual service of the Holy Eucharist.

And as for not using the materials you recommend - dash it all! a chap can't do everything. Currently I'm re-reading the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch. Sigá sigá!
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« Reply #126 on: February 01, 2010, 08:51:32 AM »

I just saw a new book advertised, called, Go Forth: Stories of Mission and Resurrection in Albania:



I found it here:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/go-forth.html

Has anyone read this book?  It seems fascinating.

It's funny, actually, that you found this.  I haven't read the book, but I know Fr. Luke and his Presbytera, and they are quite remarkable, faithful people.  It's interesting to me to juxtapose his work in Albania, which he's been doing now for decades, with David's work.  I know lots of us on the board here know him. We should email him and ask him to come on the forum to discuss his missionary work in Albania and start the discussion anew about David's work.

David, have you met Fr. Luke?
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« Reply #127 on: February 01, 2010, 12:25:53 PM »

David, have you met Fr. Luke?

No, but I'd like to. I am currently reading "Lynette's Hope", about Lynette Hoppe, and I believe he wrote or co-wrote it. I would very much like to get hold of a copy of this new book, but I don't expect to be in Tirana this year, only Gjirokastër and other places in the South. Do please try to find out from him how I can best get a copy, for I doubt it is on sale either in Britain or in Gjirokastër (where I know of no Orthodox bookshop).

Many thanks.

(By the way, I got "Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter" (Hugh Wybrew) among second-hand books in Oxford last week. Know it?)

(Also "by the way": my wife and I had a weekend away, and worshipped at the Church of England, where the 1662 Prayer Book was used. I silently omitted the "filioque" when we said the Nicene Creed!  Smiley )
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« Reply #128 on: April 25, 2010, 09:25:41 AM »

JOTTINGS FROM THE GREEK SILA (and Sicily)

The “Greek Sila” in Calabria is so-called because of the Greeks who lived there in ancient times, and the Albanian settlers who came in the 16th century and were regarded as Greeks. The Albanians are still there, and in their towns and villages maintain their own language and culture, including the Byzantine rite, though attached to Rome. I took the chance to wander round some of their churches, where the writing is in Greek, there is the familiar smell of incense, and there are no statues but only icons. Indeed, to me, they seemed Orthodox in all but name.

In the main town, Lungro (Ungër), I asked for the way to the priest’s house, and was directed to a very large building with many rooms, so presumably much more than the priest’s own home. He received me friendlily, and then introduced me to the bishop, who couldn’t have been more helpful himself. I told him I was seeking contact with Protestant groups among the Albanian (“Arbëresh”) communities, and perhaps surprisingly that didn’t put him off, for traditionally relations have not been warm or friendly. Perhaps because he knew I am English, he thought one can expect little better of us than to be heretics!

They gave me a book, as did another priest of whom more later, and I took from a pew in the cathedral the used liturgy pamphlet from the previous Sunday. What was interesting to me also, was that the service liturgy is set out in Greek (but transliterated into the Latin alphabet), in Albanian, and in Italian. It seems that some churches hold their services, or some of their services, in Italian: but why Greek? I should have asked. Does anyone on the forum know? Maybe some services are held in Greek as a matter of religious tradition, even though the communities use Albanian or Italian. It is, of course, John Chrysostom.

In one town I asked about the presence of Evangelicals, and was directed to a certain church called over its door (in Italian) “The Church of Jesus Christ”. It turned out to be some offshoot of Mormonism, based in Pennsylvania, USA. In another I asked whether there is an Evangelical church (using the Italian word evangelica, as the usual Albanian ungjillor is unknown), and was directed to the Byzantine Church of John the Baptist (Shën Janjit Pagëzor). There is clearly a good deal of confusion.

In Sicily, where there are other Albanian (Arbëresh) communities, I spend several days in Piana degli Albanesi (Hora e Arbëreshëvet) with the Evangelical pastor, and learnt that relations between the Evangelicals and the “Orthodox” (Byzantine Catholics) have been poor from the start, from some sixty years ago – even to the extent of the “Orthodox” priest banging a drum outside the Evangelical services to disturb the worshippers! So seeing a priest in the street, and knowing the correct form of address (“O Papa!”), I hailed him, and I found him friendly and helpful, though I deemed it wise to say nothing about my heretical affiliations. He was kind enough to give me a book of the whole liturgy of Chrysostom in Arbëresh prepared by a bishop of the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

Here also is one of those Unitarian Pentecostal churches you people mention on some posts, deceptively called on its noticeboard “Evangelical”. No wonder there is so much confusion.

I was impressed that the Byzantines hold their services in Albanian, whereas the Evangelicals meet in Italian. On the Orthodox side, this seems to me to root them more deeply in the local culture; on the Evangelical side, I commend their desire to make their services accessible to the Italian minority. And there is no Bible or hymnbook in the Arbëresh dialect, which would make Evangelical services difficult, though an Arbëresh version of the four Gospels was published in 2006, but no-one of either community knew where to get hold of it. Again: does anyone on the Forum know?

Conversely, in one settlement (Mezzoiuso), which I didn’t visit, I am told that the Byzantines still hold their services in Albanian, even though there the language has died and no-one understands the services. This seemed similar to me to what happens in parts of Wales, where the congregations no longer speak or understand Welsh.

I gained a lot of information, whilst in Piana, about Evangelical churches in other Arbëresh villages of Calabria and Sicily, but they all seem to be of fairly recent birth – some 30-40 years ago – other than Piana itself, the oldest.

There are a few jotted thoughts and imprsssions. I would welcome comment, explanations, further light from you good people.
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« Reply #129 on: April 25, 2010, 09:39:00 AM »

Quote
Does anyone on the forum know? Maybe some services are held in Greek as a matter of religious tradition, even though the communities use Albanian or Italian. It is, of course, John Chrysostom
.

The Albanians had all of their services in Greek up to the twentieth century. So, it is a matter of tradition.
On the other hand, what good, in practical terms, would do the introduction of the evangelical religion in a solidly Albanian Greek-Catholic village of Sicily?
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« Reply #130 on: April 25, 2010, 09:46:45 AM »

JOTTINGS FROM THE GREEK SILA (and Sicily)

David, I've sent your writings on to an Albanian chap I know in the States and invited him to come onto the Forum and talk with you.  He is an enthusiast for everything Albanian and knows a fair deal.
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« Reply #131 on: April 25, 2010, 09:49:48 AM »

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JOTTINGS FROM THE GREEK SILA (and Sicily)
They gave me a book, as did another priest of whom more later, and I took from a pew in the cathedral the used liturgy pamphlet from the previous Sunday. What was interesting to me also, was that the service liturgy is set out in Greek (but transliterated into the Latin alphabet), in Albanian, and in Italian. It seems that some churches hold their services, or some of their services, in Italian: but why Greek? I should have asked. Does anyone on the forum know? Maybe some services are held in Greek as a matter of religious tradition, even though the communities use Albanian or Italian. It is, of course, John Chrysostom.

The Albanian Orthodox arrived while the Greek Orthodox were being exterminated in the region.  The Albanians grandfathered themselves into the Itala-Greek submission agreements to the Vatican.  It wasn't a great change: they were forced to use Greek in Albania by the Greek hiearchy there too.

Quote
In Sicily, where there are other Albanian (Arbëresh) communities, I spend several days in Piana degli Albanesi (Hora e Arbëreshëvet) with the Evangelical pastor, and learnt that relations between the Evangelicals and the “Orthodox” (Byzantine Catholics) have been poor from the start, from some sixty years ago – even to the extent of the “Orthodox” priest banging a drum outside the Evangelical services to disturb the worshippers! So seeing a priest in the street, and knowing the correct form of address (“O Papa!”), I hailed him, and I found him friendly and helpful, though I deemed it wise to say nothing about my heretical affiliations. He was kind enough to give me a book of the whole liturgy of Chrysostom in Arbëresh prepared by a bishop of the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

They wouldn't have been Orthodox. There is no such thing at present as "Orthodox in communion with the Vatican."

David, have you met Fr. Luke?

No, but I'd like to. I am currently reading "Lynette's Hope", about Lynette Hoppe, and I believe he wrote or co-wrote it. I would very much like to get hold of a copy of this new book, but I don't expect to be in Tirana this year, only Gjirokastër and other places in the South. Do please try to find out from him how I can best get a copy, for I doubt it is on sale either in Britain or in Gjirokastër (where I know of no Orthodox bookshop).

Many thanks.

(By the way, I got "Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter" (Hugh Wybrew) among second-hand books in Oxford last week. Know it?)

(Also "by the way": my wife and I had a weekend away, and worshipped at the Church of England, where the 1662 Prayer Book was used. I silently omitted the "filioque" when we said the Nicene Creed!  Smiley )
That's a start! Wink

Btw, Lynette's family, her children, her husband and his new (Albanian) wife with their new son were with us for Pascha.
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« Reply #132 on: April 25, 2010, 12:21:20 PM »

I've sent your writings on to an Albanian chap

Many thanks! I eagerly await his response.
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« Reply #133 on: April 25, 2010, 12:29:07 PM »

They wouldn't have been Orthodox. There is no such thing at present as "Orthodox in communion with the Vatican."

I realise that: it's just that the whole appearance, ambience and ethos seemed to me, as an outsider, more Orthodox than Roman Catholic.

My luggage is still in Kent, as I ditched it there with a friend after I got stuck in Sicily because of the volcano. (I dragged it by bus, ferry, car hire and train as far as Kent, but didn't wish to lug it across London as well, except the essential things I need now): it'll be interesting to see, when the books and service pamphlets are back in my hands, whether they in- or exclude the filioque.

Quote
Lynette's family, her children, her husband and his new (Albanian) wife with their new son were with us for Pascha.

I hope to see him again (I haven't met the others) in Tirana, but I forget whether it is this year or next that he is returning. If I'm there on a Sunday, I believe he said he'll 'talk me through' the liturgy.
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« Reply #134 on: April 27, 2010, 09:07:56 AM »


And there is no Bible or hymnbook in the Arbëresh dialect, which would make Evangelical services difficult, though an Arbëresh version of the four Gospels was published in 2006, but no-one of either community knew where to get hold of it. Again: does anyone on the Forum know?

David, this has come in from the Albanian friend I mentioned...

"... he was was looking for a link for the translation of the Gospels.  AFAIK, it's only Matthew, but it can downloaded from http://jemi.it/biblioteca/cat_view/1347-eparchia-di-lungro/1352-sussidi-liturgici  It's a dual language, Italian-Arberesh."


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« Reply #135 on: May 12, 2010, 04:58:26 PM »

Two questions (not impressions) from Greece.

I suppose these don't quite fit into a thread entitled "Impressions", but I couldn't think where else to put them. Can anyone explain the following:

1) There I am, with my wife, enjoying dinner in a taverna in Plaka, and in the next taverna along is a wedding celebration, largely taking place on the pavement. Much music and dancing. At one point, someone breaks a load of crockery and scatters it over the pavement, and the priest - clad in his black gown - rather impressively and energetically dances over the shards.

2) There are little chapels everyone, usually 'in the middle of nowhere', too small to hold a gathered congregation, nearly always beautifully maintained, sometimes locked (alas), sometimes not. What are they for?
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« Reply #136 on: October 10, 2010, 05:33:16 PM »

I found an article about schools being opened and supported by the Albanian Orthodox Church:

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2010/10/novelty-and-growth-in-the-schools-of-the-albanian-church/
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« Reply #137 on: October 10, 2010, 10:09:09 PM »

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2) There are little chapels everyone, usually 'in the middle of nowhere', too small to hold a gathered congregation, nearly always beautifully maintained, sometimes locked (alas), sometimes not. What are they for?

These are called exoklissia. The vast majority of them are there as a fulfilment of a vow (tama) to a saint, Christ or the Mother of God for prayers answered, or as a memorial to a deceased loved one/loved ones. Some are built on the site of a miraculous event, or for some other noteworthy reason (e.g. Saint X rested/preached here during his journey through the region), and are often destinations for pilgrims. Hence the prime reason for them being well-maintained - often the promise does not end with the building of the church; it extends to looking after it, as an act of reverence to whom the church is dedicated.

A very common practice is the building of an exoklissi dedicated to the Prophet Elijah on the outskirts of villages, and, if possible, on top of a hill or other rise. The prophet is regarded as a protector against fire, and is also invoked during times of drought - a fitting patron for agricultural communities.

Most of these little churches are used liturgically only once a year, for the patronal feast of the church. The fact that the building can't possibly accommodate the number of people who attend the services is of no matter to them, neither is the church's infrequent use.

The above does not only apply to Greece - much the same applies elsewhere in the Orthodox world.
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« Reply #138 on: October 10, 2010, 10:22:31 PM »

Are there any pictures online of these little chapels? Are they consecrated for liturgy?
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« Reply #139 on: October 10, 2010, 10:31:12 PM »

 
Quote
Are they consecrated for liturgy?


Indeed they are. Just because they might only be used liturgically once a year doesn't mean they are "less holy" than "working" churches, or that they are unconsecrated. The reasons for the building of these chapels in my earlier post would make leaving them unconsecrated strange and incomprehensible.
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« Reply #140 on: October 10, 2010, 11:09:35 PM »

Quote
2) There are little chapels everyone, usually 'in the middle of nowhere', too small to hold a gathered congregation, nearly always beautifully maintained, sometimes locked (alas), sometimes not. What are they for?

These are called exoklissia. The vast majority of them are there as a fulfilment of a vow (tama) to a saint, Christ or the Mother of God for prayers answered, or as a memorial to a deceased loved one/loved ones. Some are built on the site of a miraculous event, or for some other noteworthy reason (e.g. Saint X rested/preached here during his journey through the region), and are often destinations for pilgrims. Hence the prime reason for them being well-maintained - often the promise does not end with the building of the church; it extends to looking after it, as an act of reverence to whom the church is dedicated.

A very common practice is the building of an exoklissi dedicated to the Prophet Elijah on the outskirts of villages, and, if possible, on top of a hill or other rise. The prophet is regarded as a protector against fire, and is also invoked during times of drought - a fitting patron for agricultural communities.

Most of these little churches are used liturgically only once a year, for the patronal feast of the church. The fact that the building can't possibly accommodate the number of people who attend the services is of no matter to them, neither is the church's infrequent use.

The above does not only apply to Greece - much the same applies elsewhere in the Orthodox world.
Indeed. I frequent the ROCOR one near the Cathedral in Chicago whenever I can.
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« Reply #141 on: October 10, 2010, 11:19:16 PM »

Are there any pictures online of these little chapels? Are they consecrated for liturgy?

Of course, the real irony is that these Sami came from the neighborhood of Valaam, the Monastery from which came St. Herman to enlighten America, and the Sami as far as Njávdán/Neiden Norway had embraced Orthodoxy:

Quote
St.Georgs chapel was built in 1565. It is by the Neiden river, not far from the road. A legend says that the holy Trifon baptized the Sámi people in the river, and after that the water in the Neiden river was considered holy. Every year in the last weekend of august there is a orthodoxy ceremony at the chapel and the holy water is a part of the ceremony.


http://home.online.no/~thorosl/Kirkeside/EN/sider/TEMA5/Tema5.html
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« Reply #142 on: October 11, 2010, 09:24:42 AM »

Yes, these (not the Norwegian style) are exactly the kind of place I was asking about. My wife and I love visiting them, but have never understood what they are for.

Oddly, they are sometimes left in disuse and decay, even if they look ancient, valuable and with beautiful murals (I forget the correct word offhand). I think especially of the one at Lissos in Crete; the community has moved away, but many people pass through Lissos on the coastal footpath. The lovely little chapel is open, but decaying. This too baffles us. On the other hand, one comes across other abandoned villages where the little church, though locked, looks from the outside to be lovingly cared for.

Any further enlightenment for me on all this?
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« Reply #143 on: October 11, 2010, 02:56:13 PM »

Yes, these (not the Norwegian style) are exactly the kind of place I was asking about. My wife and I love visiting them, but have never understood what they are for.

Oddly, they are sometimes left in disuse and decay, even if they look ancient, valuable and with beautiful murals (I forget the correct word offhand). I think especially of the one at Lissos in Crete; the community has moved away, but many people pass through Lissos on the coastal footpath. The lovely little chapel is open, but decaying. This too baffles us.

If the community had moved away, why is it baffling?

On the other hand, one comes across other abandoned villages where the little church, though locked, looks from the outside to be lovingly cared for.

Any further enlightenment for me on all this?

That it is uninhabited but cared for might explain the lock.
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« Reply #144 on: October 11, 2010, 04:51:59 PM »

If the community had moved away, why is it baffling?

I might have some digital photos from Lissos which might explain more clearly what I mean, but even if I have, I don't know how to get them into a post. Lissos was originally a Dorian city. The little chapel of Agios Kiriakos is 13th century. It baffled us that such an ancient holy place, with its old murals, should be left to decay, for cultural and historical reasons let alone from religious motives.
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« Reply #145 on: October 11, 2010, 05:50:51 PM »

Quote from: ialmisry link=topic=18483.msg480637#msg480637

Okay, how does the priest move around behind the iconostasis, or walk through the royal doors, without knocking stuff down? I bet he grimaces a little every time someone asks him to do a service there.
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« Reply #146 on: October 12, 2010, 03:53:53 PM »

Thought I'd have a go at uploading a photo. My wife at Agios Stavros, near Phoenix (Acts 27.12) - the sort of place I have been asking about. (It gets bigger if you click on it, but I have no idea how to get it on the right size to start with.)
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« Reply #147 on: October 13, 2010, 08:59:32 PM »

How lovely!

Oh how I wish we had little chapels like that here!

When I was in Ireland, I really thought it was lovely how all of the Catholic parishes we passed by were open from dawn till dusk for prayer. Anyone could go in at any time to light a candle and say a prayer. I just thought that was so wonderful. At lunch time you would see people pop in and just sort of take a moment to pray and mentally regroup.

Unfortunately, here in the States, parishes and churches are usually locked unless in use for service.
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« Reply #148 on: October 14, 2010, 06:16:27 AM »

Anyone could go in at any time to light a candle and say a prayer. ... here in the States, parishes and churches are usually locked unless in use for service.

I have been pleased to find an Orthodox church open for prayer in Crete, when my wife wished to sleep and I didn't wish to hinder that. I have often been into them, with Margaret, just to admire them, especially the small ones like on my photo at Loutro (near Phoenix) or the really old Byzantine ones. But churches in Greece are often locked as well, so neither prayer nor admiration is possible. I suppose it depends on the local janitor. Here in Britain, you often find churches open, and again I have used them either for prayer or to admire the oldness (especially pre-Conquest ones, i.e. pre-1066). My wife likes visiting the big Catholic ones in France, but they seem to me more like art galleries or echoing museums, and most of them 'do nothing for me', exciting neither my religious nor my æsthetic emotions - though I recall a lovely, simple one with a plain stone altar somewhere in Brittany or Normandy which appealed strongly to me. (Apart from the altar, it could almost have been an early Methodist chapel!)

I was taken by a local man to visit a 900-year-old Orthodox church in Albania, together with a Pentecostal friend of mine, and we both responded warmly and enthusiastically to it, and would have wished to attend the following Sunday if it had not been miles away up in the mountains, and ourselves with no transport. There were even bats flying around - like the sparrow in the Temple in Psalms!
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« Reply #149 on: October 14, 2010, 11:37:12 AM »



One remarkable feature of the service, which lasted 1½ hours, is that most of it is conducted by the priest from behind the iconostasis, with his back to the congregation; he is visible through the door in the iconostasis.

He doesn't "have his back to the congregation" He is at the forefront of the congregation, leading it as we all face God and worship Him.

At the front were three men chanting. Another striking feature of the service was the fact that there is almost no audience participation: Anglicans say prayers together, Baptists sing hymns together, but Orthodox stand (or sit) and watch the priests.

They are praying silently. And in many parishes, they do join in singing--especially slavic parishes that don;t have a tradition of a single cantor.

I believe the only part they take actively in the whole service is to recite the Nicene Creed. The scripture readings were (for me) hard - nay, impossible - to follow, as they were not read out in a normal voice, but were chanted. I doubt I would have recognised them, if I had not read them in my ‘quiet time’ earlier from the Orthodox lectionary for the day - and the Lord was able thus to bless me through his inspired Word.

AS others have said, intoned word does not allow for theatrical interpretations, and the meaning is allowed to shine through--it also carries farther, and is better heard in large parishes.

There are a number of processions around the church, undertaken by the priest and one or two others, once with a book held high, twice with a censer. Some of the women grasped and kissed the priest’s robes as he passed.

The book is the Gospels, and it is carried into the altar as in days when the Books were stored in a safe place and then brought into the Church to be read. There would have been a Great Entrance when the Gifts (the Bread and teh Wine) were brought into the Altar as well. This is when the women would have touched the priest's robes, receiving a blessing from the gifts as did the woman with the flow of blood.

It being Pentecost Sunday, one of the two priests, Father Theodhori, preached a 12-minute sermon about the Holy Spirit. This was followed by the Lord’s Supper. Orthodox go forward for communion, rather than its being brought to them in the body of the church as among Baptists, and I was surprised at how few went forward and partook.

In some cases, people refrain from communing if they have not made a recent confession. Frequent communion is encouraged, though sometimes not seen because of "traditions" that they grew up with.

All this took up the first hour. Then the other priest (Father Dhionis) read at length from a book, with his back to the congregation; the three men at the front chanted. Then Father Theodhori walked round the church and shook the censer to and fro, which also made its bells ring. As he passed me and shook the censer at me, he grinned in a friendly manner, seemingly as if to say to his Protestant visitor, “Bet you’ve never had that done to you before!” (which was quite true). Each priest knelt at the front, facing the congregation, and prayed.

They read the Kneeling Prayers of Pentecost. As other have said, they are marvelous prayers. It is the first time we have kneeled since Pascha. When a priest or deacon is censing, they are praying for and blessing. Usually the icons of people around the church and on the iconostas are blessed, then we, the people, as icons of Christ are blessed.

At the end of the service, more or less everyone made a bee-line for the front of the church, and took a piece of the bread from a large bowl. (I myself went forward neither for communion, nor for the final piece of bread, believing I would not be admitted to the former, and not knowing the rules or purpose of the latter.)

They go to the front of the Church to venerate the Cross, The bread they received is Antidoron (instead of the Gifts) which is the remainder of the loaf from which the consecrated  Eucharist is taken. In most parishes it is shared with visitors. It is part of the Agape meal.



I understand that you have the text of the Liturgy now, but has no one shared with you some basic resources to understand the action of the Liturgy??

http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2

Choose 'Worship" to go through the Divine Liturgy section by section, as well as learning about other daily services which you will see served sometimes in a parish church. The other books are useful as well.
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« Reply #150 on: October 14, 2010, 04:48:15 PM »

has no one shared with you some basic resources to understand the action of the Liturgy?

Much of what you write in your post has become known to me, and even when I don't understand the symbolism, I know it is symbolism representing some aspect of your faith, not hollow thespianism. However, bear in mind the title of the thread: it is written from the point of view of an outsider, and I suspect that most outsiders know and understand less than I do now, thanks to your patient explanations.

I was hoping to attend a Sunday service this month with one of your missionaries, who could have explained it as we went through, but as it turns out I shall not be where he is, as I must instead go to Old Serbia next month. But nonetheless I think I have made progress in understanding "where you're coming from". Sadly, some posts - I do not mean yours - make me feel that I have not progressed in making some of you understand "where we are coming from": not to persuade them to become Evangelical, but rather to lift the curtain on what goes on in our hearts and minds.
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« Reply #151 on: November 17, 2010, 07:21:34 AM »

Not back home till tomorrow, and not really anything new except that it's about a different place. I was recently in Gracanica (sorry I can't do the little v on top of the first c), and visited the famous monastery. I didn't go inside the Byzantine church within the compound, as I have done that previously, but I had a good look round the shop. I was impressed by the beauty of some of the artifacts, though I have to confess a personal and irrational preference for Greek Orthodox art over Serbian. There was also quite a range of books, including (as a good Prot, I was pleased to see) the Bible and a row of New Testaments. I don't read Serbian, but I gained an impression that the NTs at least were not in Old Church Slavonic, but were fairly modern translations. (I hope so.) But what disappointed me was that, in this place which attracts a good number of international visitors, there was nothing in any other language except (I was told - I didn't espy any) a history of the monastery itself. It's as if the Orthodox want to run a closed, rather mysterious and secretive society which is difficult to penetrate, not one which is open and inviting. For example, if I were Orthodox and running their shop, I would ensure there were good introductions in English, German etc, to the early Fathers; attractive translations of the easier writings of the Fathers, such as Athanasius On the Incarnation; writings by such luminaries as Thomas Hopko, Timothy Ware; devotional books by types like the Russian Bulgakov - material to attract the outsider to Orthodoxy.

I said this post contains nothing new other than being about a different place from before, for I have written something similar following a visit to Preveli monastery in Crete.

Yesterday I read in the national press that five Church of England bishops are preparing to defect to Rome over (I think it said) the idea of creating women 'bishops' - probably to be followed by fifty or more clergy. I asked myself why they are defecting to Rome rather than to Orthodoxy. I do not of course know the answer - and a few do go your way, and some come ours; but most, it seems, go direct to Rome.

These two experiences both create (in me) the picture of Orthodoxy as an organisation which has turned its back to the rest of the world (and church), and cares little whether outsiders are attracted and drawn in or not. I know you are not all like that, but it is an impression many of your co-religionists convey.
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« Reply #152 on: November 17, 2010, 07:33:21 AM »



Yesterday I read in the national press that five Church of England bishops are preparing to defect to Rome over (I think it said) the idea of creating women 'bishops' - probably to be followed by fifty or more clergy. I asked myself why they are defecting to Rome rather than to Orthodoxy. I do not of course know the answer - and a few do go your way, and some come ours; but most, it seems, go direct to Rome.


The last group "defection" of Anglican clergy to Rome was in the time of Cardinal Basil Hume.  I cannot remember the numbers involved but I do remember that quite a few of them returned to the Church of England, saying that they could not feel at home in the culture of English Roman Catholicism.    Do you remember anything about that?  Maybe you can think of a web article?  It will be interesting if these new priests who are crossing the Tiber stick with Rome.

The Russian Church is making an effort to let these Anglican clergy know that Orthodoxy is an option but the effort really depends on the work of one elderly Australian priestmonk so you couldn't say the Russian Church is allocating much of its resources to the task.

See " Forward in Orthodox Faith"
http://forwardinorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/

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« Reply #153 on: November 17, 2010, 08:33:11 AM »

I was recently in Gracanica (sorry I can't do the little v on top of the first c), and visited the famous monastery.
Somewhere on your computer you almost certainly have a "character map" (might be a Windows thing - I don't have other experience). Bring that up, put a link/icon to it in a handy place. You'll find all sorts of interesting things that you can create! Gračanica is easy to do that way. A bit awkward, but OK for characters you rarely use.
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« Reply #154 on: November 17, 2010, 01:17:01 PM »

It's as if the Orthodox want to run a closed, rather mysterious and secretive society which is difficult to penetrate, not one which is open and inviting.

I wanted to second your observation.  My father was interested in becoming Serbian Orthodox here in Texas, but it wasn't easy.  The church was closed and there was no sign to say when the services were held.  The church was not listed in the newspaper with the other churches even though the listing was free.

On the other hand, I visited an Antiochian church where a man was walking back and forth in front of the church with a sign that said something like "discover Orthodoxy".
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« Reply #155 on: November 17, 2010, 01:43:37 PM »

It's as if the Orthodox want to run a closed, rather mysterious and secretive society which is difficult to penetrate, not one which is open and inviting.

I wanted to second your observation.  My father was interested in becoming Serbian Orthodox here in Texas, but it wasn't easy.  The church was closed and there was no sign to say when the services were held.  The church was not listed in the newspaper with the other churches even though the listing was free.

On the other hand, I visited an Antiochian church where a man was walking back and forth in front of the church with a sign that said something like "discover Orthodoxy".

I do agree with David and Bob. The Orthodox Church is weak in marketing itself. I think a lot of that comes from an old world mentality where marketing wasn't necessary in the same way that it is in contemporary Western culture. I can't agree with the attitude that I've come across that says, "We don't need marketing. We are the Church. People will be drawn to the truth through the beauty of our services." Without a marketplace presence, how will people know that we hold the truth of the Gospel, and how will they get to see our services without an invitation?

That being said, we are all aware of some embarrassing marketing ploys that have been used by heterodox churches. The truth and the beauty that we love and proclaim must be evident in our advertising, whether of the commercial sort, or of the personal-one-on-one sort.
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« Reply #156 on: November 18, 2010, 05:01:29 PM »

Do you remember anything about that?  Maybe you can think of a web article? 

No, I'm afraid I don't. Church of England clergy who 'defect' to us Evangelicals or to you Orthodox do not get a lot of coverage in the secular press, but defections to Rome tend to attract more attention. Sorry.
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« Reply #157 on: March 19, 2011, 05:05:15 AM »

I was interested to discover a day or two ago that the first translation of the New Testament into Albanian, begun by Evangelos Mexicos (Vangjel Meksi), was revised and brought to readiness for publication by an Orthodox Archbishop, native of Albania, namely Gregory, archbp of the Negropont (Euboea), in co-operation with Isaac Lowndes, a Congregational missuionary working with the British and Foreign Bible Society.

What a pity there is so much less cooperation these days between  Orthodox and Protestant on matters where we could cooperate without despite to anyone's conscience!

And I'd like to learn a little more about this Archbp Gregory. Is there a website that would enable me to?
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« Reply #158 on: March 27, 2011, 11:03:01 AM »

He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to.

I confess I had to chuckle when I read this sentence.  Especially within liturgical churches, the length of sermon can be quite controversial, a never-ending battle between pastor and congregation.  When I was a boy priest, I was convinced that 20-25 minute homilies were absolutely necessary--anything less was a betrayal of my solemn duties.  When my congregants complained, I would quote them John Stott's famous words:  "Sermonettes make Christianettes."  After I left active parish ministry and had the opportunity to sit in the pew and listen to others preach, I began to realize that my former parishioners had a point:  it's hard to maintain one's attention to a well-crafted homily that's longer than ten to twelve minutes, and if the homily ain't well-constructed or if the priest is simply a bad speaker, attention will dissipate after only three or four minutes.  Good preachers can preach longer than bad preachers.  I see no value preaching longer than the attention span of one's congregation.  The entire liturgy--and here in the U.S. the Orthodox Divine Liturgy averages 90-120 minutes--is one indivisible word-event.  The preacher does not need to say everything he wants to say.  He needs to trust God to speak his Word to his people throughout the liturgy.   

It is more difficult to preach a good seven minute sermon than it is to preach a good twenty minute sermon. 

I have only heard a few Orthodox preachers and dare not generalize; but over the past six years I have heard many Catholic preachers.  With a few exceptions, Catholic priests simply do not know how to preach a good homily, whether short or long.  Instead of making one point well, they feel they need to cover many points badly.  But more seriously, they seem to feel that their principal job is to exhort, rather than to proclaim. Catholic homilies are characteristically moralistic:  "In the name of Christ and for the sake of your salvation, strive to be a good person and do good works."  I suspect this is also the case for Orthodox preachers, though the Orthodox preachers that I have heard tend to exhort to ascetical works rather than ethical works.  But exhortation is powerless to change lives if it is not comprehended within and grounded upon the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Catholic and Orthodox priests can learn a great deal about preaching from good Protestant preachers. 

Fr Alvin Kimel   

 

     
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« Reply #159 on: May 19, 2011, 06:10:26 AM »

TWO MORE QUESTIONS

1) Last week my wife and I visited Cape Tenaro, at the southern tip of the Mani in Greece. There, there is a cave said in Classical times to be the entrance to Hades, the Underworld. Above it is a ruined chapel dedicated to Saint (o Agios) Asomaton, the Gatherer of Souls, the Archangel Michael. This chapel was built on the site of a temple of Poseidon, and was built with stones from that temple. Inside at the back is a small stone altar, and on the altar many gifts, mainly of money and flowers. My question is: to whom are these gifts offered? God? St Asomaton? or (as a Greek lady told me) Poseidon?

2) Not unrelated - I cannot fathom out how to add a picture to my posts. Can anyone tell me how to do it? They are in "My Pictures" on the same computer as I use to scribble my thoughts for y'all.

Many thanks.
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« Reply #160 on: May 19, 2011, 06:45:50 AM »

TWO MORE QUESTIONS

1) Last week my wife and I visited Cape Tenaro, at the southern tip of the Mani in Greece. There, there is a cave said in Classical times to be the entrance to Hades, the Underworld. Above it is a ruined chapel dedicated to Saint (o Agios) Asomaton, the Gatherer of Souls, the Archangel Michael. This chapel was built on the site of a temple of Poseidon, and was built with stones from that temple. Inside at the back is a small stone altar, and on the altar many gifts, mainly of money and flowers. My question is: to whom are these gifts offered? God? St Asomaton? or (as a Greek lady told me) Poseidon?

2) Not unrelated - I cannot fathom out how to add a picture to my posts. Can anyone tell me how to do it? They are in "My Pictures" on the same computer as I use to scribble my thoughts for y'all.

Many thanks.

I can't answer your questions with any certainty, as I myself have witnessed some folk religion amongst the Greeks that certainly doesn't qualify as Orthodox Christianity, but aghios asomaton simply means "holy bodiless one" and refers to the angels aka spiritual powers, generally.
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« Reply #161 on: May 19, 2011, 07:27:12 PM »

He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to.

I confess I had to chuckle when I read this sentence.  Especially within liturgical churches, the length of sermon can be quite controversial, a never-ending battle between pastor and congregation.  When I was a boy priest, I was convinced that 20-25 minute homilies were absolutely necessary--anything less was a betrayal of my solemn duties.  When my congregants complained, I would quote them John Stott's famous words:  "Sermonettes make Christianettes."  After I left active parish ministry and had the opportunity to sit in the pew and listen to others preach, I began to realize that my former parishioners had a point:  it's hard to maintain one's attention to a well-crafted homily that's longer than ten to twelve minutes, and if the homily ain't well-constructed or if the priest is simply a bad speaker, attention will dissipate after only three or four minutes.  Good preachers can preach longer than bad preachers.  I see no value preaching longer than the attention span of one's congregation.  The entire liturgy--and here in the U.S. the Orthodox Divine Liturgy averages 90-120 minutes--is one indivisible word-event.  The preacher does not need to say everything he wants to say.  He needs to trust God to speak his Word to his people throughout the liturgy.   

It is more difficult to preach a good seven minute sermon than it is to preach a good twenty minute sermon. 

I have only heard a few Orthodox preachers and dare not generalize; but over the past six years I have heard many Catholic preachers.  With a few exceptions, Catholic priests simply do not know how to preach a good homily, whether short or long.  Instead of making one point well, they feel they need to cover many points badly.  But more seriously, they seem to feel that their principal job is to exhort, rather than to proclaim. Catholic homilies are characteristically moralistic:  "In the name of Christ and for the sake of your salvation, strive to be a good person and do good works."  I suspect this is also the case for Orthodox preachers, though the Orthodox preachers that I have heard tend to exhort to ascetical works rather than ethical works.  But exhortation is powerless to change lives if it is not comprehended within and grounded upon the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Catholic and Orthodox priests can learn a great deal about preaching from good Protestant preachers. 

Fr Alvin Kimel

Father Kimel,

I don't know about all Orthodox Priests in Pittsburgh but I think we have some pretty good preachers in the area.
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« Reply #162 on: May 19, 2011, 07:34:50 PM »

He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to.

I confess I had to chuckle when I read this sentence.  Especially within liturgical churches, the length of sermon can be quite controversial, a never-ending battle between pastor and congregation.  When I was a boy priest, I was convinced that 20-25 minute homilies were absolutely necessary--anything less was a betrayal of my solemn duties.  When my congregants complained, I would quote them John Stott's famous words:  "Sermonettes make Christianettes."  After I left active parish ministry and had the opportunity to sit in the pew and listen to others preach, I began to realize that my former parishioners had a point:  it's hard to maintain one's attention to a well-crafted homily that's longer than ten to twelve minutes, and if the homily ain't well-constructed or if the priest is simply a bad speaker, attention will dissipate after only three or four minutes.  Good preachers can preach longer than bad preachers.  I see no value preaching longer than the attention span of one's congregation.  The entire liturgy--and here in the U.S. the Orthodox Divine Liturgy averages 90-120 minutes--is one indivisible word-event.  The preacher does not need to say everything he wants to say.  He needs to trust God to speak his Word to his people throughout the liturgy.   

It is more difficult to preach a good seven minute sermon than it is to preach a good twenty minute sermon. 

I have only heard a few Orthodox preachers and dare not generalize; but over the past six years I have heard many Catholic preachers.  With a few exceptions, Catholic priests simply do not know how to preach a good homily, whether short or long.  Instead of making one point well, they feel they need to cover many points badly.  But more seriously, they seem to feel that their principal job is to exhort, rather than to proclaim. Catholic homilies are characteristically moralistic:  "In the name of Christ and for the sake of your salvation, strive to be a good person and do good works."  I suspect this is also the case for Orthodox preachers, though the Orthodox preachers that I have heard tend to exhort to ascetical works rather than ethical works.  But exhortation is powerless to change lives if it is not comprehended within and grounded upon the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Catholic and Orthodox priests can learn a great deal about preaching from good Protestant preachers. 

Fr Alvin Kimel   

 

     

Fr. Kimel you make many great points; I think if more preachers had to listen to their own sermons, they would spend more time editing them before Sunday morning!  laugh

While many seminaries spend a great deal of time teaching the theology and beliefs of their particular churches, I don't believe enough time is actually spent on the construction and delivery of a homily. Not just a few seminarians (and their future parishioners/congregants!) would benefit from a Public Speaking class during their seminary education.

To be clear, I mean preachers of ALL stripes (not just Orthodox) could benefit from a Public Speaking course and the attributes of a short sermon. As my High School English Teacher used to say, "brevity is best."
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« Reply #163 on: May 19, 2011, 07:41:33 PM »

He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to.

I confess I had to chuckle when I read this sentence.  Especially within liturgical churches, the length of sermon can be quite controversial, a never-ending battle between pastor and congregation.  When I was a boy priest, I was convinced that 20-25 minute homilies were absolutely necessary--anything less was a betrayal of my solemn duties.  When my congregants complained, I would quote them John Stott's famous words:  "Sermonettes make Christianettes."  After I left active parish ministry and had the opportunity to sit in the pew and listen to others preach, I began to realize that my former parishioners had a point:  it's hard to maintain one's attention to a well-crafted homily that's longer than ten to twelve minutes, and if the homily ain't well-constructed or if the priest is simply a bad speaker, attention will dissipate after only three or four minutes.  Good preachers can preach longer than bad preachers.  I see no value preaching longer than the attention span of one's congregation.  The entire liturgy--and here in the U.S. the Orthodox Divine Liturgy averages 90-120 minutes--is one indivisible word-event.  The preacher does not need to say everything he wants to say.  He needs to trust God to speak his Word to his people throughout the liturgy.   

It is more difficult to preach a good seven minute sermon than it is to preach a good twenty minute sermon. 

I have only heard a few Orthodox preachers and dare not generalize; but over the past six years I have heard many Catholic preachers.  With a few exceptions, Catholic priests simply do not know how to preach a good homily, whether short or long.  Instead of making one point well, they feel they need to cover many points badly.  But more seriously, they seem to feel that their principal job is to exhort, rather than to proclaim. Catholic homilies are characteristically moralistic:  "In the name of Christ and for the sake of your salvation, strive to be a good person and do good works."  I suspect this is also the case for Orthodox preachers, though the Orthodox preachers that I have heard tend to exhort to ascetical works rather than ethical works.  But exhortation is powerless to change lives if it is not comprehended within and grounded upon the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Catholic and Orthodox priests can learn a great deal about preaching from good Protestant preachers. 

Fr Alvin Kimel   

 

     

Fr. Kimel you make many great points; I think if more preachers had to listen to their own sermons, they would spend more time editing them before Sunday morning!  laugh

While many seminaries spend a great deal of time teaching the theology and beliefs of their particular churches, I don't believe enough time is actually spent on the construction and delivery of a homily. Not just a few seminarians (and their future parishioners/congregants!) would benefit from a Public Speaking class during their seminary education.

To be clear, I mean preachers of ALL stripes (not just Orthodox) could benefit from a Public Speaking course and the attributes of a short sermon. As my High School English Teacher used to say, "brevity is best."

Orthodox seminarians are taught homiletics, which is the delivery of sermons.
At St. Vlads,  seminarians take turns delivering the sermons, and of course, their fellow students and instructors do offer constructive advice.   
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« Reply #164 on: May 19, 2011, 07:47:17 PM »

I would think that part of it just has to do with opportunity and how much experience you have in a "live" setting. When I was a Protestant my pastor knew of my interest in theology and Scripture, and offered me chances to give sermons to the church. I can't imagine that happening in Orthodoxy.


Mr. Young,

To load a picture on here you can upload it to a site online like Image Shack, and then paste the url for the picture in between (img) and (/img) (only use brackets rather than parenthesis)... or just click on the picture button above the posting window when posting.
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« Reply #165 on: May 19, 2011, 07:47:58 PM »

TWO MORE QUESTIONS

1) Last week my wife and I visited Cape Tenaro, at the southern tip of the Mani in Greece. There, there is a cave said in Classical times to be the entrance to Hades, the Underworld. Above it is a ruined chapel dedicated to Saint (o Agios) Asomaton, the Gatherer of Souls, the Archangel Michael. This chapel was built on the site of a temple of Poseidon, and was built with stones from that temple. Inside at the back is a small stone altar, and on the altar many gifts, mainly of money and flowers. My question is: to whom are these gifts offered? God? St Asomaton? or (as a Greek lady told me) Poseidon?

While I am not familiar with the chapel you speak of in particular, it is not uncommon for the faithful to leave gifts in front of an icon of a saint, if they have received a miracle or a gift as a result of the intercessions of that saint.

For example, while visiting Boston, MA last spring, I had the opportunity to visit St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church in Roslindale. In front of the icon of St. Nectarios on the iconostas was a little chain with gold rings and trinkets that people had left as gifts. St. Nectarios is known to be a great intercessor for those who are sick, so I can only assume that someone was ill, asked St. Nectarios to pray for them, was healed, and thus left this offering or gift in front of the icon. (see attached picture)

The gifts left behind in the chapel you describe were left as a way of saying "thank you" to both God and the saint. To God, for whatever miracle was given, and to St Asomaton, for their intercessions.

To be sure, Orthodox Christians give God the glory for all miracles and all the gifts that He has bestowed upon us, but we also say "thank you" to the saints for praying for us. Make sense?

2) Not unrelated - I cannot fathom out how to add a picture to my posts. Can anyone tell me how to do it? They are in "My Pictures" on the same computer as I use to scribble my thoughts for y'all.

Many thanks.

Very easy!

When you are writing a reply, under the reply box you should see a link in the lower left corner under the text box that says "Additional Options." Click on that link. You will then see the word "Attach" with a blank field. Click on "browse" and select whichever picture you would like to attach from your computer. As long as the picture fits within the allotted requirements (Maximum attachment size allowed: 1024 KB), you should have no problem attaching it after you click "post."

Hope this helps!
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« Reply #166 on: May 19, 2011, 07:50:43 PM »

Orthodox seminarians are taught homiletics, which is the delivery of sermons.
At St. Vlads,  seminarians take turns delivering the sermons, and of course, their fellow students and instructors do offer constructive advice.   

I am familiar with the fact that seminarians are taught homiletics. I have visited seminaries and know many past and present seminarians.

That is not the same as Public Speaking. Homiletics tells you what to talk about. It does not tell you the finer points of how to address your audience, how to to speak in public, what your body language should be, or how to construct a short and effective sermon.
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« Reply #167 on: May 19, 2011, 07:57:20 PM »

I would think that part of it just has to do with opportunity and how much experience you have in a "live" setting. When I was a Protestant my pastor knew of my interest in theology and Scripture, and offered me chances to give sermons to the church. I can't imagine that happening in Orthodoxy.

Part of this is due to the relatively recent (within the last 100-150 year) emphasis within Orthodoxy that there be some sort of formal teaching or instruction prior to someone getting up in front of the parish and educating the people. Years ago, it was not required of priests to have a formal education; today, especially in the US, most priests must have a Masters of Divinity/Masters of Theology or be working towards one to be ordained.

To be fair though, this also "protects" the people from being exposed to just any ol' theology any Tom, Dick, or Harry might come up with, tries to assure that whatever is being taught at the pulpit is in line with Church teaching.

I have, in my experience, seen ordained Readers, Sub-Deacons, and Deacons deliver sermons with the priests permission. These were usually men that the priest knew well, and had been well educated in the teachings of the Church.
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« Reply #168 on: May 19, 2011, 08:07:35 PM »

Orthodox seminarians are taught homiletics, which is the delivery of sermons.
At St. Vlads,  seminarians take turns delivering the sermons, and of course, their fellow students and instructors do offer constructive advice.   

I am familiar with the fact that seminarians are taught homiletics. I have visited seminaries and know many past and present seminarians.

That is not the same as Public Speaking. Homiletics tells you what to talk about. It does not tell you the finer points of how to address your audience, how to to speak in public, what your body language should be, or how to construct a short and effective sermon.

Public Speaking 101 is part of the mandatory undergraduate curriculum in almost all 4 year colleges.
An undergraduate degree is required in order to enter the seminary Master's programs.
Perhaps there should be an advanced public speaking class that is part of homiletics if it is not already part of the graduate curriculum.
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« Reply #169 on: May 19, 2011, 10:33:24 PM »

Orthodox seminarians are taught homiletics, which is the delivery of sermons.
At St. Vlads,  seminarians take turns delivering the sermons, and of course, their fellow students and instructors do offer constructive advice.   

I am familiar with the fact that seminarians are taught homiletics. I have visited seminaries and know many past and present seminarians.

That is not the same as Public Speaking. Homiletics tells you what to talk about. It does not tell you the finer points of how to address your audience, how to to speak in public, what your body language should be, or how to construct a short and effective sermon.

Public Speaking 101 is part of the mandatory undergraduate curriculum in almost all 4 year colleges.
An undergraduate degree is required in order to enter the seminary Master's programs.
Perhaps there should be an advanced public speaking class that is part of homiletics if it is not already part of the graduate curriculum.
Though it's generally not offered as a college course, I have first-hand experience of what participation in Toastmasters can do to teach good public speaking and communication skills.
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« Reply #170 on: May 20, 2011, 05:44:09 AM »

Public Speaking 101 is part of the mandatory undergraduate curriculum in almost all 4 year colleges.

Not round these parts. We focus on useless stuff like reedin n rithmatic. For all that it helps. You must be from Los Angeles or something...

To be fair though, this also "protects" the people from being exposed to just any ol' theology any Tom, Dick, or Harry might come up with, tries to assure that whatever is being taught at the pulpit is in line with Church teaching.

I don't think you understand, at least about the situation I was referring to. I was 19-21 years old. I knew everything there was to know. How could I possibly have led people astray?  Huh Impossible! It's only as you get older that you become misinformed, thanks to the ecumenico-modernist seminary indoctrination!  police
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« Reply #171 on: May 20, 2011, 01:04:35 PM »

Public Speaking 101 is part of the mandatory undergraduate curriculum in almost all 4 year colleges.

Not round these parts. We focus on useless stuff like reedin n rithmatic. For all that it helps. You must be from Los Angeles or something...

To be fair though, this also "protects" the people from being exposed to just any ol' theology any Tom, Dick, or Harry might come up with, tries to assure that whatever is being taught at the pulpit is in line with Church teaching.

I don't think you understand, at least about the situation I was referring to. I was 19-21 years old. I knew everything there was to know. How could I possibly have led people astray?  Huh Impossible! It's only as you get older that you become misinformed, thanks to the ecumenico-modernist seminary indoctrination!  police

Do not forget those arrogant accrediting boards which demand the use of inclusive language in our seminaries.
When undergraduate and graduate students, including seminarians, write their essays, Master's thesis, or Doctoral dissertation, they must avoid the use of "men" and "he," use he/she, or rotate the 'he" and "she" so that the reader often becomes confused. The other alternative is to use plural pronouns or adjectives that violate agreement and result in English that would make my English professors wince.

I read several articles and essays where every other paragraph used "she" while the previous paragraph was written in the third person masculine. That paper was funny as "she" often referred to hysterical feminine types, while "he" often referred to calloused masculine types, so the stereotype was still present. Me thinks that was deliberate.

Thank goodness we do not have Orthodox bibles that employ inclusive language.
However, I have opened some Greek Orthodox Christian service books that avoid the use of "men" wherever possible, particularly in the Nicene Creed.
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« Reply #172 on: May 21, 2011, 04:11:54 PM »

Here's and attempt to attach a picture. Thought it might amuse y'all. It's from a school book teaching Arbëresh children the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, and ortodoks illustrates the sound of the letter o. I was tickled by their choice of word and accompanying picture.  (Double left click it and it gets bigger.)

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« Reply #173 on: May 21, 2011, 04:18:36 PM »

...and here's the ruined chapel to Agios Asomaton (on the site of the previous temple of Poseidon) I was writing about. Double left click it and it gets bigger.

Thanks, Handmaiden, for telling me how to attach photos.
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« Reply #174 on: May 26, 2011, 02:32:27 PM »

The accusation is not that you change the name of congregation for people. The accusation is that some people are taken to protestantism that has renounced food for eternal life from Eastern Orthodox Church where they have food for eternal life and immortality. I don't know the consequences.

So if you would be from American Orthodox Church, then no problem.

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« Reply #175 on: May 26, 2011, 04:08:05 PM »

See David,

hundreds of years ago, somebody had taken your ancestors from Eastern Orthodox Church where they had food for eternal life.Hundreds of years later, how many have succeded to return back and regain immortality? Out of these albanians next generations, how many will get eventually to immortality?

So, if you are called deny going to eastern orthodox country and go to pagans.If you want,  tell them about eternal life. Anyway, even if you don't do it, moving people from paganism to even Protestantism I believe is ok. From EOC to protestantism I believe is not OK.
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« Reply #176 on: December 18, 2011, 03:32:48 AM »

Here is one aspect of my questioning. When I read Orthodoxy (which, as I wrote on another thread, is mainly Russian (in translation)), I find it full of Christ; it draws me to him and it nourishes my soul. But when I see Orthodoxy (mainly in Albania or Greece), it looks centred on priests and saints, and at best (in the old Pentecostal chorus) "standing somewhere in the shadows, you'll find Jesus."

Now I am not saying, "You do this - we don't." I am sorrowfully aware that we Baptists are as able to honour God with our lips while our hearts are far from him, having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof, as anyone else. I am not drawing comparisons here.

I do not think I am alone in all of this. Let me quote Saint Dimitri of Rostov: "There are many among you who have no knowledge of the inner work required of the man who would hold God in remembrance. Nor do such people even understand what remembrance of God means... for they imagine that the only right way of praying is to use such prayers as are to be found in Church books. As for secret communion with God in the heart, they know nothing of this."

My problem with much that I read on the Forum is that some (many?) of you who are Orthodox seem to deny that such religious tradition and ritual, without the heart's engagement with Christ himself, are to be found in Orthodoxy today. I should be interested in your comments.
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« Reply #177 on: December 18, 2011, 07:44:06 AM »

My problem with much that I read on the Forum is that some (many?) of you who are Orthodox seem to deny that such religious tradition and ritual, without the heart's engagement with Christ himself, are to be found in Orthodoxy today. I should be interested in your comments.

That's how converts of all kinds usually are. We tend to see our new found truth with fairly rose-coloured classes. Smiley I know many Pentecostals who are absolutely unable to see anything negative in other so-called born-again believers
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« Reply #178 on: December 18, 2011, 10:10:57 AM »

Quote
Here is one aspect of my questioning. When I read Orthodoxy (which, as I wrote on another thread, is mainly Russian (in translation)), I find it full of Christ; it draws me to him and it nourishes my soul. But when I see Orthodoxy (mainly in Albania or Greece), it looks centred on priests and saints, and at best (in the old Pentecostal chorus) "standing somewhere in the shadows, you'll find Jesus."

I know I've said this more than once before, but it bears repeating: If you were to spend a year attending as many Orthodox services as is feasible, including vespers, matins, Divine Liturgy, and services such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, and keeping one's eyes and ears open, this is the best way of getting to know what Orthodoxy is really about. Christ is never "in the shadows" - he is constantly there, front and center.

Saints are icons and imitators of Christ, as St Paul exhorts us all to be, and never rivals to Christ. We love and venerate the saints above all for their fidelity to this exhortation. They inspire us to try to do likewise.
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« Reply #179 on: December 30, 2011, 01:49:10 AM »

The Anglican Church actually does have a canonized saint , the last King of England who was beheaded, King Charles I. I dont know how that is workable considering that most Protestants dont believe in the theology concerning the communion of saints
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« Reply #180 on: December 30, 2011, 02:06:17 AM »

The Anglican Church actually does have a canonized saint , the last King of England who was beheaded, King Charles I. I dont know how that is workable considering that most Protestants dont believe in the theology concerning the communion of saints

*sigh*

The Anglican Church has a canonized saint because the Anglican Church believes in the communion of the saints. (facepalm)

I really wish people would check Wikipedia or do a Google search before lumping groups of Protestants together.

The Anglican Church not only venerates saints, but it also venerates and honors the Blessed Mother, has icons, statues, and many other elements common in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This is because it has a shared History with these churches.

Worship in the Anglican Church is Liturgical and sacramental. If one were to attend the Eucharistic Liturgy of an Anglo-Catholic parish, one might actually think they were in a Tridentine Roman Catholic Mass; that is how Liturgical Anglican worship is.

For the record, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Methodists all believe in the communion of saints, and have saints within their Churches.

It is more of the Baptists, Pentecostals, and Charismatics that stray from this belief.
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« Reply #181 on: December 30, 2011, 02:19:27 AM »

Thank you for the correction, however I did read that on wikipedia, about King Charles in the Anglican Church . I would also point out that you have 'three churchs" in the Anglican Church ..that is I mean it is not "one fits all"

Lutheranism.. it depends.. it depends on the level of pietism that is prevelant in a particular Lutheran "Synod" Some Lutheran are closer to this then others...to many shades of gray, to much ambiguity
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« Reply #182 on: December 30, 2011, 02:22:26 AM »

For the record, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Methodists all believe in the communion of saints, and have saints within their Churches.

I disagree. They might have some vestiges of their Catholic roots, but none of them are currently living in this reality nor have been for centuries. They might keep up some names in the calendar and have a theoretical commemoration of holy people, but good luck with relics or actually canonizing anyone as a saint who should be prayed to since the Reformation. Just because there is a liturgical structure and perhaps some vestments does not put these folks in the same camp. Not by a long-shot.
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« Reply #183 on: December 30, 2011, 02:40:34 AM »

For the record, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Methodists all believe in the communion of saints, and have saints within their Churches.

I disagree. They might have some vestiges of their Catholic roots, but none of them are currently living in this reality nor have been for centuries. They might keep up some names in the calendar and have a theoretical commemoration of holy people, but good luck with relics or actually canonizing anyone as a saint who should be prayed to since the Reformation. Just because there is a liturgical structure and perhaps some vestments does not put these folks in the same camp. Not by a long-shot.

Just because they do not venerate the saints the same way we do does not mean we should dismiss their acknowledgement of the saints all together.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

If their liturgical documents include the worship of the saints, and it is in their daily lectionary, that is saint veneration. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is an excellent example of Anglican saint veneration.

Furthermore, to categorize all Protestants in one monolithic block is inaccurate and false. While a Baptist and an Anglican may agree on the virgin birth and Resurrection of Christ, there are a number of beliefs which they will differ severely on.

There is a reason why there are so many Protestant groups; it is because they differ on theology and doctrine. To be dismissive of those differences is insulting and wrong.
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« Reply #184 on: December 30, 2011, 03:01:02 AM »

It sounds like a catch 22 . the problem lies in what you just said . some believe and some dont thats all I have to say about it . Seriously though , no one in my experience as a former Lutheran or even in attending Baptist Church or some of the other protestant churches I have gone to would acknowledge the communion of saints the same way the Orthodox do or even some old school old time Roman Catholics.
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