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Author Topic: An Outsider's Impressions of Orthodoxy  (Read 32359 times) Average Rating: 0
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David 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?

« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 09:48:17 AM by David Young » Logged

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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,
Presbytera Mari
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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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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. 

Quote
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…

Quote
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. 

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 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.



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 "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.


Quote
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.


Quote

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.

Quote
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.


Quote
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 »

Krishhti Unjall!
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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