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Author Topic: Prayers to Inanimate Objects  (Read 2384 times) Average Rating: 0
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LBK
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« on: April 30, 2009, 01:54:56 AM »

A look at the vigil text for the feasts of the Veneration of the Cross (3rd Sunday of Great Lent), and the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) make the Orthodox Church's position quite clear. Both feasts are "universal" feasts of the Church, i.e. are celebrated by all local Orthodox churches, not just the Russian. The church also has feasts for various icons of the Mother of God, for the Mandylion of Christ, the veneration of the chains of Apostle Peter, the Deposition of the belt of the Mother of God, etc. These items became holy through the actions of those who were themselves holy, and are treated with the same honour and reverence as relics and icons.

Yes, but in the liturgical books does the congregation pray to the chains, to the cross, to the deposition belt as if they are persons?  As in: "Holy Chains of St. Peter, free me from my sins!!"  Because my prayer book contains prayer to the cross, and I am wondering if it is theologically Orthodox.

Alveus, the Cross, the chains of Apostle Peter, etc are venerated by the Church, in the same way as an icon is venerated. Here are links to the liturgical texts for the Veneration of the Cross for the 3rd Sunday of Lent:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/cross_vespers.htm
http://www.anastasis.org.uk/matins.htm

(A word of caution: Here and there, the compiler of these texts, being of the Greek tradition, has used the word "worship", based on the Greek word proskyno, which means "to fall down before". This word in contemporary English can be easily misunderstood, therefore I have long made the distinction between worship as the adoration of God and the Trinity exclusively, and veneration as the honour given to the Mother of God, the saints, and holy objects, such as the Cross, relics, etc)
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2009, 02:24:35 AM »

This came up in another thread, so I need your collective Ortho-minds to help me understand the practice of praying to objects that are not people.  I understand a holy object being venerated and honored.  I understand and take no issue with certain objects being endowed with a special holy power, such as the Holy Cross on which Christ was crucified, the Chains of St. Peter, et cetera.

What I do not understand is why the objects are addressed as though they can hear and understand people.  No matter how holy the Cross is, it cannot hear my requests for protection.  Christ can, and he can use the Cross as a means to transfer that grace, but I just can not wrap my mind around this.  It seems totally absurd to me.

The Orthodox criticize the Catholics for venerating certain parts of Christ's and the Theotokos' bodies, but somehow they think it appropriate to lavish praise upon objects?  Sure, go ahead and write songs about the miracles that these mighty objects have been used to transmit.  Kiss the Chains, bow to them out of reverence for what God has done through them.  But to speak to the chains???  I just don't get it.  Help me, the sinner!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 02:25:20 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009, 02:34:01 AM »

A look at the vigil text for the feasts of the Veneration of the Cross (3rd Sunday of Great Lent), and the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) make the Orthodox Church's position quite clear. Both feasts are "universal" feasts of the Church, i.e. are celebrated by all local Orthodox churches, not just the Russian. The church also has feasts for various icons of the Mother of God, for the Mandylion of Christ, the veneration of the chains of Apostle Peter, the Deposition of the belt of the Mother of God, etc. These items became holy through the actions of those who were themselves holy, and are treated with the same honour and reverence as relics and icons.

Yes, but in the liturgical books does the congregation pray to the chains, to the cross, to the deposition belt as if they are persons?  As in: "Holy Chains of St. Peter, free me from my sins!!"  Because my prayer book contains prayer to the cross, and I am wondering if it is theologically Orthodox.

Alveus, the Cross, the chains of Apostle Peter, etc are venerated by the Church, in the same way as an icon is venerated. Here are links to the liturgical texts for the Veneration of the Cross for the 3rd Sunday of Lent:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/cross_vespers.htm
http://www.anastasis.org.uk/matins.htm

(A word of caution: Here and there, the compiler of these texts, being of the Greek tradition, has used the word "worship", based on the Greek word proskyno, which means "to fall down before". This word in contemporary English can be easily misunderstood, therefore I have long made the distinction between worship as the adoration of God and the Trinity exclusively, and veneration as the honour given to the Mother of God, the saints, and holy objects, such as the Cross, relics, etc)
Alveus has actually started another thread about this here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21017.msg315499/topicseen.html#msg315499
so as not to derail this one.
Would you like me to move your post to the new thread Alveus started to prevent this thread being derailed yet again?
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009, 02:37:10 AM »

If you like.
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2009, 02:51:21 AM »

Galatians 6:

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

------

I've never heard prayers addressed directly to the Cross in the sense that we are talking to it like a person.  We do venerate it, though.  Can you give an example of such a prayer?  Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2009, 03:12:28 AM »

Well, I looked at the liturgical texts dealing with the chains of St. Peter, and there is no prayer addressed toward the chains.  My mistake for not looking first.  Someone in another thread mentioned the chains, and I just assumed it was the same situation.  The question really originated with a prayer to the Cross in my Jordanville Prayer Book.  I did not know if it is only Russian in origin, or is the Greeks have some prayer like this:

Quote
Hail, most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, for Thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified on thee, Who went down to hell and trampled on the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His venerable Cross, for driving away all enemies. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, help me with our holy Lady, the Virgin Mother of God, and with all the Saints throughout the ages. Amen.

It just seems strange to me, and I don't understand it.  I feel odd praying to an object.

Someone elsewhere did compare it to the "Pledge of Allegiance", because we obviously do not pledge allegiance to the flag itself: the cloth, fibers and dye that it is made of.  But that doesn't really work as a parallel, because the Orthodox do have an allegiance to the actual Cross that Christ was crucified on.

Whatever.  I'm probably just being silly.  I can just skip the prayer if I don't like it, after all...
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2009, 03:18:19 AM »

Perhaps this might help: Do not all Orthodox Christians wear a baptismal cross? Or, at least, receive one as an essential part of their baptism? Sure, these crosses are not the "true Cross" that Christ was crucified on, but in the same way that an icon is venerated because of the saint or holy one portrayed on it, so we regard our crosses. We wear them, we kiss them before or after doing certain things; it is a common Slavic custom to have engraved or stamped on the back of one's cross the words spasi i sokhrani (save and protect), a lovely shorthand prayer.

Food for thought, friend.
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2009, 03:41:09 AM »

Perhaps this might help: Do not all Orthodox Christians wear a baptismal cross? Or, at least, receive one as an essential part of their baptism? Sure, these crosses are not the "true Cross" that Christ was crucified on, but in the same way that an icon is venerated because of the saint or holy one portrayed on it, so we regard our crosses. We wear them, we kiss them before or after doing certain things; it is a common Slavic custom to have engraved or stamped on the back of one's cross the words spasi i sokhrani (save and protect), a lovely shorthand prayer.

This is not helpful.  Do you take off your baptismal cross and talk to it?
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2009, 03:47:54 AM »

The prayer to the Cross which you quote from looks like much of the hymnody which is in the liturgical material I linked to. Have you had the chance to look through this?
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2009, 06:22:33 AM »

Well, I looked at the liturgical texts dealing with the chains of St. Peter, and there is no prayer addressed toward the chains.  My mistake for not looking first.  Someone in another thread mentioned the chains, and I just assumed it was the same situation.  The question really originated with a prayer to the Cross in my Jordanville Prayer Book.  I did not know if it is only Russian in origin, or is the Greeks have some prayer like this:

Quote
Hail, most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, for Thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified on thee, Who went down to hell and trampled on the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His venerable Cross, for driving away all enemies. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, help me with our holy Lady, the Virgin Mother of God, and with all the Saints throughout the ages. Amen.

It just seems strange to me, and I don't understand it.  I feel odd praying to an object.

Someone elsewhere did compare it to the "Pledge of Allegiance", because we obviously do not pledge allegiance to the flag itself: the cloth, fibers and dye that it is made of.  But that doesn't really work as a parallel, because the Orthodox do have an allegiance to the actual Cross that Christ was crucified on.

Whatever.  I'm probably just being silly.  I can just skip the prayer if I don't like it, after all...

Stop reading the Jordanville Prayerbook. I dislike it because of its former contents (prior to subsequent editions) which are based on Roman Catholic popular devotions that came out of "private revelations" such as "The Tale of the Five Prayers" etc.
Alternatively, think of it as a poetic way of praying to God. When the Psalm says "His rod and His staff comfort me", is it the rod and the staff which give the comfort, or Him Who holds them? Without Christ, the Cross would be a meaningless symbol of torture and execution. It is Christ who gives the Cross its meaning, so addressing the Cross is actually addressing Him Who gives it meaning and turned it from a sign of ignoble death and torture to a sign of Triumph.
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2009, 06:26:28 AM »

The Greek national anthem addresses Liberty as if it were a person. (Hail, Liberty, Hail!)

Paul the apostle talks to death: "Where, o death, is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55)

It was not unusual for the writers of the Hebrew scriptures to "talk" to Jerusalem (the city itself, not necessarily its population) (Psalm 122).

Besides, Moses asked the Levites to place the scroll of the Law behind the ark of the covenant so that it would be a "witness" against them. An inanimate object functioned as a witness!

Joshua spoke to the sun and moon (Joshua 10:12)
 

What do u think of these examples?



« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 06:27:06 AM by Theophilos78 » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2009, 06:51:50 AM »

Quote
Stop reading the Jordanville Prayerbook.


Neither the 1979 nor the 1996 (current) editions of the Jordanville Prayerbook contain any devotions or prayers which might have RC connotations. The entire contents of both editions are entirely Orthodox. Alveus, if your copy is one of these I've mentioned, there's nothing wrong with using it.
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