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Author Topic: An Outsider's Impressions of Orthodoxy  (Read 31843 times) Average Rating: 0
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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 »

 
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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!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 07:51:08 PM by HandmaidenofGod » Logged

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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.)

« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 04:23:02 PM by David Young » Logged

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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.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 04:23:33 PM by David Young » Logged

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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.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 04:13:11 PM by pasadi97 » Logged
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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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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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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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