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Author Topic: Place of Sermon in the liturgy?  (Read 1538 times) Average Rating: 0
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John Larocque
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« on: September 27, 2009, 05:31:18 PM »

I've been at Greek Catholic (Ukrainian) and they usually take place either right after the Gospel (which is also the RCC norm and Anglican) or somewhere at the tail end, after Holy Communion, close to the final blessing. I caught the tail end of a ROCOR liturgy one weekday where it appeared the sermon took place at the tail end, not long before veneration of cross and distribution of antidoron.

But an experience I found particularly jarring - it felt like an interruption - was seeing it take place after the epiklesis in a Greek church, and right before the pre-communion prayer. Actually, prior to all this, they bent their knees (although not using kneelers) after the institution right up to the epiklesis. There were two small (English) sermons - one for the children (followed by communion only for children), and another small sermon for adults followed by adult communion. The entire service was... odd. The choir at times seemed to require some electronic assistance (= organ) to keep them in tune. I found the whole thing a little disorienting, even with the 1/3 English service, and I don't know really know if that's the Greek norm.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 05:32:28 PM by John Larocque » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2009, 07:16:45 PM »

Unfortunatly organs and kneeling has become the norm in many Greek and Antiochian parishes in the US. The placing of the sermons though I find very strange and I agree it would really break the flow of the service. In my parish, the sermon is after the Gospel. In the local Russian and Greek church here the sermon is right after the Liturgy before the veneration of the Cross which I think is better and I wish that was the norm in most churches so the service doesn't go off track.
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2009, 07:25:54 PM »

The appropriate place for the sermon is right after the Gospel; the sermon serves to take the preaching of the Gospel, apply it to the congregation, and provoke repentance in them so they are prepared to commune.

For practical reasons it is sometimes necessary to put it at the end, but I agree that right after the epiclesis is awkward.
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2009, 07:52:01 PM »

I suspect the separate sermons had to do with the message of the day which was tailored to children at the start of the school year. Children were admonished to follow their elders, which was followed by their communion. And then adults were given a short reading and admonished to not be afraid to discipline their children or teach them bitter truths. About 20% of the adult congregation went to communion. In any other given week they might go back to what is considered the norm?

I notice that the congregants crossed themselves less than at another church which seems to be 100% Greek language (a beautiful Byzantine-style church). At the 1/3 English text church, I'm following along (mostly) the liturgical text, and either the Greek text indicates the Trinity or the priest is signing the cross - part of the time the congregants didn't respond to it. At the Vespers service at the other Greek parish, St. Nicholas in Scarborough, there was almost an excess (in triplicate!), almost always synchronized to either the priest's sign of the cross or the censor in the direction of the congregants. And then some. I had no way of following along the Vespers text there at St. Nicholas, but that was the pattern. Actually the Russian Vespers liturgy reminded me (minus kneelers) of the other parish's Vespers, which I think speaks well of both of parishes.

[ The Slavonic practice seems to be usually - one singular sign of the cross, then right hand at side and a short bow. And the prostrations during the cross veneration by +Seraphim, that was really affecting, especially with choir accompaniment. Icon veneration differed wildly depending on who was in the lineup. ]

Greek chant is foreign to my ears, not having grown up with it, although St. Nicholas in Scarborough does a really good job with it.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 08:11:17 PM by John Larocque » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2009, 12:10:32 PM »

The sermon just after the epiclesis has happened in some Greek Churches, but it is far from common.  Some parishes have moved the sermon to that point, or to near the end, because they have a significant percentage of the population who shows up just after the gospel, who would otherwise miss it (and any serious teaching) altogether.
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2009, 12:14:39 PM »

Usually we have a sermon after the Gospel and announcements before the Eucharist or before the dismissal. When there is a procession there are also speeches/sermons after it.
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2009, 12:35:07 PM »


I can't imagine sticking announcements in before the Eucharist.  Talk about spoiling the moment!

In my Ukrainian parish, we have the sermon immediately after the reading of the Gospel.

At the very end, after the dismissal prayer, the priest then will make any announcements plus, singing of Mnohaya Lita for any people with birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

This is followed by the veneration of the Cross.

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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 12:36:15 PM »

I can't imagine sticking announcements in before the Eucharist.  Talk about spoiling the moment!

It's done when curtain is still shut.
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2009, 12:48:35 PM »


I can't imagine sticking announcements in before the Eucharist.  Talk about spoiling the moment!

In my Ukrainian parish, we have the sermon immediately after the reading of the Gospel.

At the very end, after the dismissal prayer, the priest then will make any announcements plus, singing of Mnohaya Lita for any people with birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

This is followed by the veneration of the Cross.



We do the same exact thing in my parish.

In the GOA parish I belonged to in Atlanta, they gave the announcements and the sermon right after the priests received communion, and I always found it to be jarring and awkward. It's like we have this intensely solemn moment with the epiclesis and the choir singing the communion hymns, and then we all stop to listen to a sermon.  Huh

In the GOA parish I visited in NJ a few weeks ago they did the same thing.

I understand "why" they do it; I just personally don't agree with it.
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2009, 01:20:58 PM »

[I understand "why" they do it; I just personally don't agree with it.

The church was about 40% full when the liturgy started (right after Orthros), but by the time of communion it was about 3/4 full, people were showing up all the way through the service. Direct parellels with RCC are not exact - Orthodox liturgies are longer and there's no Matins in the RCC - however, I might suggest that 1hr Masses are just short enough that most of the people tend to show up for the whole thing, although I have seen the bad habit of people receiving communion and walking right out instead of praying thanksgiving and staying until the final blessing. The Ukrainian Catholic liturgies I've been to - which are close to Orthodox texts/rubrics tend to be about 1h15. Several UGCC no longer use pre-cut lamb and have restored the antidoron but it hasn't lengthened the service much.

I'm curious how many other GOA Toronto parishes do this, although it's not an experience I'd like to see again. It seems to me they are trying to address a problem, but instead they created other problems.

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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2009, 02:59:40 PM »


I can't imagine sticking announcements in before the Eucharist.  Talk about spoiling the moment!

In my Ukrainian parish, we have the sermon immediately after the reading of the Gospel.





This is one of the differences between the Russian Orthodox practice and the Ukrainian Orthodox practice.  The Russians have their sermons at the end of the liturgy and the Ukrainians right after the Gospel reading.

I do not know much about liturgical history.  Does anyone know the place of the sermon in the early church? 
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2009, 03:21:30 PM »

I do not know much about liturgical history.  Does anyone know the place of the sermon in the early church? 

With recourse only to memory (sorry!), I believe the books that I have read point at right after the Gospel reading and is the last "scene" of the first "act" of the Liturgy; this is the learning/teaching half of the service, in effect the old Synagogue service and what you are apt to see nowadays in Protestant churches. The second act, the Liturgy of the Faithful (in the Earliest Church, the Agape meal?) starts next with the exclamation "the doors, the doors," when the early church kicked out all the visitors and catechumens. For a long time time, the Church has not kicked out anyone at the break between the first and second acts. This means that it would be awkward to put announcements or anything else for that matter just after the sermon. It is even more awkward to place anything anywhere in the second act except after the communion of the faithful, which in some churches unfortunately does not take place on a regular basis.
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2009, 08:56:36 AM »

[I understand "why" they do it; I just personally don't agree with it.

The church was about 40% full when the liturgy started (right after Orthros), but by the time of communion it was about 3/4 full, people were showing up all the way through the service. Direct parellels with RCC are not exact - Orthodox liturgies are longer and there's no Matins in the RCC - however, I might suggest that 1hr Masses are just short enough that most of the people tend to show up for the whole thing, although I have seen the bad habit of people receiving communion and walking right out instead of praying thanksgiving and staying until the final blessing. The Ukrainian Catholic liturgies I've been to - which are close to Orthodox texts/rubrics tend to be about 1h15. Several UGCC no longer use pre-cut lamb and have restored the antidoron but it hasn't lengthened the service much.

I'm curious how many other GOA Toronto parishes do this, although it's not an experience I'd like to see again. It seems to me they are trying to address a problem, but instead they created other problems.

IMHO, having the sermon right before communion enables the behavior of just coming to church for communion. I have seen (more in the Greek parishes than the Slavic parishes I've visited) many people literally come just before communion, and walk straight out the doors after they receive the antidoran.

This was most noticable on Holy Thursday, where after communion was served, there were maybe 5 or 10 parishoners left standing in the pews after communion was served.

It was so sad to me. Sad
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2009, 01:15:47 AM »

Did a bit of google research. Turns out the Greek parishes are doing a modified version of the 3rd ecumenical council - i.e. kneel during part of Lord's Day liturgy, but stand at Pentacost. During Easter / Pentacost season, they stand during epiklesis, but otherwise kneel during the rest of the season. Which is, interestingly enough, what they do at one of the Ukrainian Catholic parishes here in Toronto (borrowing from the Greek practice). On one page, I was amused to read that "Russians and some converts" tend to be the ones who stand while the rest follow the GOA norm at one of the Greek parishes. I'm sure everybody else knew this, but it's part of my education on differing norms.
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2009, 03:56:35 PM »

I know that at St. Tikhon's monastery, when there was a high feast and many clergy communing, they would have the homily during the clergy communion, for practical reasons (but not announcements), because singing hymns for 20-25 minutes was also very impractical.   Usually the homily was applicable to Communion or preparation for it.   According to the canons, the ordinary place of the homily is directly after the Gospel, but always keep in mind that the canons were made for man, not man for the canons, and so any departure for practical reasons should not be seen legalistically.   The canons do not use themselves, but, as with the ancient tool known as a canon to cut straight, is used by the carpenter (the Bishop), so it is the Bishop's call. 
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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2009, 04:24:32 PM »

Our priest either does it right after the Gospel or right after the Great Entrance, usually the latter, although the few times that I've show up a bit late for DL on Sunday he decided to do it right after the Gospel, which left me standing in the narthex until he was finished. 
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2009, 04:44:20 PM »

Generally the norm is after the Gospel because the sermons usually related to what was read in the Gospel and honestly, if you talk about the Gospel 45 minutes later, people are probably going to forget what the reading was about. I've seen it, however, before announcements after singing the dismissal hymn (Blessed be the name of the Lord) and before the Mnohija Litas.

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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2009, 11:10:14 PM »

The parishes I've attended mostly put the sermon in before the communion service.

The idea is that the sermon helps you mentally prepare for partaking of communion (in addition to saying your communion prayers).
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