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Author Topic: Sick of seeing people leave Orthodox due to language barriers... *Rant*  (Read 6114 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 11, 2010, 12:57:27 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

Seriously, what are these Churches thinking? This has to be one of the greatest travesties in the Orthodox Church today.

The recent Census of the United States cites that most Greek Orthodox laypeople say the greatest problem in Orthodoxy (in America) today is the loss of young people and other faithful. Yet the same Census shows that the vast majority of those Parishes have most of their services in a language other than English.

Now, I'm just using that as an example, every jurisdiction has been guilty of this.

What in the world are we thinking? We cannot weep over the loss of our youth and other faithful and then refuse to change the language of our services. The two go hand-in-hand. If you wish to keep your youth, then for gosh sakes, change your services to English (if you are in a majority-English speaking country).

I'm sorry to be criticizing about this, Lord knows my spiritual life isn't good. But I'm absolutely sick and tired of seeing this.

We are destroying the souls of our faithful by refusing to change the language of our services... This is NOT the tradition of our Church. To claim that "to have the services in 'insert language' is tradition because of our ethnicity/ancestors" is absolute bull. This is something being used by Satan to draw away the faithful, and sadly, it's WORKING!

We need to wake up and open our eyes...

If we have ANY hope of converting the World to Orthodoxy, we need to clean house first and fix those things that are wrong in our own home first.

**Rant Over**

(I am not saying we need 100% of the service in English, but at the very least, 75% needs to be in English, and that 75% is not counting the Homily, which should be in English)
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 01:03:11 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 02:08:15 PM »

The recent Census of the United States cites that most Greek Orthodox laypeople say the greatest problem in Orthodoxy (in America) today is the loss of young people and other faithful. Yet the same Census shows that the vast majority of those Parishes have most of their services in a language other than English.

What numbers were you looking at?  According to Mr. Krindatch's material that he gave me, (I'm going to re-create this as a diagram-less chart):

Quote
Average proportion of Greek and Englished used in GOA parishes as the language of sermon, liturgy, and church choir:

Language of Sermon: 6% Greek, 94% English
Language of Liturgy: 30% Greek, 70% English
Language of Church Choir: 56% Greek, 44% English

Clearly, the majority of services & teaching is in English.  This matches my experience, and the experience of most of my peers that I have spoken to on this subject: the majority of US GOA parishes use English as the major language in the service, with Greek as a 2nd language (not the dominant one).  And, according to my experience, this is even more true in the South*.

*I don't intend to include Florida in that statement, but I know most Southerners don't consider Florida a southern state, so I didn't qualify it.
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 02:16:07 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian. He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 02:22:40 PM by Michał » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 02:37:51 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian. He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.

If he communed as an Orthodox Christian, he was an Orthodox Christian.  The sort of reasoning you use above, that he was not really Orthodox, is the same that many of my Protestant friends use to avoid the implications that falling away from the faith (Hebrews 6:4ff) has on the "once saved, always saved" doctrine of eternal security.
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 02:40:17 PM »

I agree with Michal.  If one Orthodox parish didn't serve the Liturgy in English, the Orthodox one down the road does.  You just have to find the correct fit.

That's a cop out.

My parish serves mostly in Ukrainian, with some English.  If our priest notices many "unknown" faces, he will switch to more English, assuming these are English speaking guests.

However, as the greater majority of the parishioners speak Ukrainian, and love to hear Ukrainian, it would be unfair to dismiss them, for their English speaking brethren.

However, having said that, this past weekend my whole family attended the Divine Liturgy at a sister Ukrainian Parish, because His Grace Bishop Daniel was visiting them.  Everything was in English (although many thanks to His Grace, after the Lord's Prayer was sung in English, he recited it in Ukrainian....that was a special touch).  Many of the youngsters appreciated hearing the Liturgy they are accustomed to hearing in Ukrainian in English.  They got a "different" understanding.

My mother, who was with us, speaks broken English...and definitely prefers Ukrainian.  However, her comments afterwards were all positive.  She said she didn't care what language it was in, because it was still an Orthodox Liturgy...and even if she didn't understand the words being spoken she knew what they were because she "knows" the Liturgy and knew exactly what was occurring.  

On the other hand, the English speakers, who were listening to the Liturgy in English were busy paging through booklets and trying to find "where we are".  I can never get that.  I would think the books are beneficial for those who are new to the Liturgy, or who don't speak the language.

Why would those who can understand the language need to be paging through books the entire time?  They are so busy trying to find their place in the book, that they are simply missing the entire Liturgy.

Just my thoughts.

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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 02:42:35 PM »

If he communed as an Orthodox Christian, he was an Orthodox Christian.  The sort of reasoning you use above, that he was not really Orthodox, is the same that many of my Protestant friends use to avoid the implications that falling away from the faith (Hebrews 6:4ff) has on the "once saved, always saved" doctrine of eternal security.

Huh
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2010, 02:45:54 PM »

The recent Census of the United States cites that most Greek Orthodox laypeople say the greatest problem in Orthodoxy (in America) today is the loss of young people and other faithful. Yet the same Census shows that the vast majority of those Parishes have most of their services in a language other than English.

What numbers were you looking at?  According to Mr. Krindatch's material that he gave me, (I'm going to re-create this as a diagram-less chart):

Quote
Average proportion of Greek and Englished used in GOA parishes as the language of sermon, liturgy, and church choir:

Language of Sermon: 6% Greek, 94% English
Language of Liturgy: 30% Greek, 70% English
Language of Church Choir: 56% Greek, 44% English

Clearly, the majority of services & teaching is in English.  This matches my experience, and the experience of most of my peers that I have spoken to on this subject: the majority of US GOA parishes use English as the major language in the service, with Greek as a 2nd language (not the dominant one).  And, according to my experience, this is even more true in the South*.

*I don't intend to include Florida in that statement, but I know most Southerners don't consider Florida a southern state, so I didn't qualify it.

I've been to several GOA parishes all over Chicago over the years, but I've only been to one that used ANY English, and one which had an English (i.e. the kiddie) DL.  Unless there has been some drastic change in the past decade (I've only been a couple of times in the last couple years).
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2010, 02:48:58 PM »

I agree with Michal.  If one Orthodox parish didn't serve the Liturgy in English, the Orthodox one down the road does.  You just have to find the correct fit.

That's a cop out.

My parish serves mostly in Ukrainian, with some English.  If our priest notices many "unknown" faces, he will switch to more English, assuming these are English speaking guests.

However, as the greater majority of the parishioners speak Ukrainian, and love to hear Ukrainian, it would be unfair to dismiss them, for their English speaking brethren.

However, having said that, this past weekend my whole family attended the Divine Liturgy at a sister Ukrainian Parish, because His Grace Bishop Daniel was visiting them.  Everything was in English (although many thanks to His Grace, after the Lord's Prayer was sung in English, he recited it in Ukrainian....that was a special touch).  Many of the youngsters appreciated hearing the Liturgy they are accustomed to hearing in Ukrainian in English.  They got a "different" understanding.

My mother, who was with us, speaks broken English...and definitely prefers Ukrainian.  However, her comments afterwards were all positive.  She said she didn't care what language it was in, because it was still an Orthodox Liturgy...and even if she didn't understand the words being spoken she knew what they were because she "knows" the Liturgy and knew exactly what was occurring.  

On the other hand, the English speakers, who were listening to the Liturgy in English were busy paging through booklets and trying to find "where we are".  I can never get that.  I would think the books are beneficial for those who are new to the Liturgy, or who don't speak the language.

Why would those who can understand the language need to be paging through books the entire time?  They are so busy trying to find their place in the book, that they are simply missing the entire Liturgy.
Perhaps because they aren't used to it being in English.

I agree with you though. I hate booklets.
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2010, 02:50:11 PM »

Yes, not caring to serve the liturgy in an understandable language is a great sin of our modern situation.

However, I think it can definitely be recognized that an Orthodox Christian who left the Church simply because of that issue didn't have that deep of a faith anyway. If one is aware of the importance of the dogmatic tradition and the exclusive nature of the Church as a vehicle of redemption, then obviously not being able to understand the language is trumped in importance.
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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 03:01:16 PM »

If he communed as an Orthodox Christian, he was an Orthodox Christian.  The sort of reasoning you use above, that he was not really Orthodox, is the same that many of my Protestant friends use to avoid the implications that falling away from the faith (Hebrews 6:4ff) has on the "once saved, always saved" doctrine of eternal security.
Huh

I see that you live in Poland. You would probably have to know something about Protestantism in "Bible Belt" America to appreciate what I am trying to convey. I'll try a different approach...

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian. He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.

If the person was properly received into the Church and received the Eucharist as an Orthodox Christian, then the person was actually an Orthodox Christian who left the Church. To say that he was not truly an Orthodox Christian, based on his decision to leave the Church, is an error. That's all I am trying to say.
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 03:08:08 PM »

If the person was properly received into the Church and received the Eucharist as an Orthodox Christian, then the person was actually an Orthodox Christian who left the Church.  To say that he was not truly an Orthodox Christian, based on his decision to leave the Church, is an error.  That's all I am trying to say.

I may have exaggerated a bit. I have no concerns regarding the person's canonical status as an Orthodox Christian (before he left the Church), only the deepness of his faith.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 03:09:02 PM by Michał » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2010, 03:10:36 PM »


I think what Michal is trying to say is that the person didn't fully appreciate the Faith, didn't embrace it, or understand it.  For if one does, one would never leave Orthodoxy.  Ever.

I have gone to Serbian, Romanian, OCA, Greek, Antiochian, etc.  Certainly I understood NOTHING in the Romanian church, and yet, I understood everything.

I would NEVER leave Orthodoxy.  The soul understands, even if the ears do not.

I would prefer to stand and participate in the Liturgy in a language I don't understand, then go and waste my time, my life, and jeopardize my soul, just because I can hear the "feel good" message that the preacher is spewing.

Orthodoxy or death! 
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2010, 03:20:05 PM »

Quote
I think what Michal is trying to say is that the person didn't fully appreciate the Faith, didn't embrace it, or understand it.  For if one does, one would never leave Orthodoxy.  Ever.

Not true.
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2010, 03:24:40 PM »


Why not?
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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2010, 03:28:07 PM »

I appreciated the faith, I embraced it, I understood it, but I still left the Church.
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« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2010, 03:39:39 PM »


Was it because you couldn't understand the language?
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« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2010, 03:54:04 PM »

I've been to several GOA parishes all over Chicago over the years, but I've only been to one that used ANY English, and one which had an English (i.e. the kiddie) DL.  Unless there has been some drastic change in the past decade (I've only been a couple of times in the last couple years).

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule (Chicagoland, NYC, and a few FL and MA parishes); but the Greek-dominated Liturgies are in the minority in most Metropolises (I can attest to it for my travels in the Metropolises of Pit, Atl, Det, and Bos, and by second-hand accounts for Den and SF).  And no, by last I heard there have been no drastic changes in Chicago... (... in decades, lol.)
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« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2010, 04:18:46 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian. He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.

Agree.  Being dunked in water and painted with chrism does not make one Orthodox any more than falling off a building makes one a bird.  They are means of Grace, and necessary, but it is true belief that makes one Orthodox.  If one truely believes and then denies the Faith, they are an apostate.  If they leave because they never truely believed in the first place, then they were never truely Orthodox.  I have been Baptised and Chrismated, but if I continued to hold and teach Lutheran doctrine, would I be Orthodox?  No.  I would be a Lutheran that has been Baptised and Chrismated in an Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2010, 05:25:37 PM »

I think the reasons people leave are complicated and depend on the individual. There are just as many ignorant and spiritually hungry people still in the Church than have left it. The main problem is to try and reach and teach everyone. A lot of converts leave the Church, too, from English-using churches. I don't really see one singular thing that can solve the problem of the massive post-high school attrition rate. But I think it starts at home, both with the parents and with the parish. If all the spiritual education and prayer you're getting is at church, then I think one is already on the way to leaving. While the liturgical texts and services are full of theology, teaching, and prayer, teaching and instilling faith must, I think, primarily be done outside of church. Church services are for prayer--however one prays. Even with services in an intelligible language, there is still the perennial problem of keeping attention during prayer. I think, in many cases, the underlying problems of apostasy are lack of confession to a good, experienced spiritual father, lack of appropriate catechesis--together with the various temptations described in the Parable of the Sower.
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« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2010, 08:23:53 PM »

It's sad that people use language as an excuse not to go to church. I am fairly confident that 2nd, 3rd, and beyond generation Latino-American speak Spanish and the same goes for 2nd, 3rd generation Indian, Pakistani, ect. In every country I have been to in Europe, (Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain) all the the children were fluent in a language other than their native tongue. However, here in America, many of us through marriage or personal choice lose command of their families native tongue. My grandparents were born in Ukraine, both my parents here in the US yet they taught me Ukrainian first as a youngster and then English. Nowadays my Ukrainian is nowhere near perfect and I do not speak it on a dialy basis, yet I still understand and speak it fairly well.

If someone wants to go to an English speaking orthodox church, I understand that the OCA churches do thier liturgies solely in English. I also believe that the OCA is the 2nd largest Orthodox church in the US by the numbers.

I believe if people want to go to church, they will. We have at our Ukrainian church a family of Romanians that attend every service. Now as we know, the Romanian language is nothing at all like Ukrainian as Romanian is a Romance, not Slavic language. Yet they attend regularly and always comment to me how beautiful our choir sings for singing the respones in Ukrainian.
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« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2010, 09:00:23 PM »

From my experience, I agree with the statement that people's reasons for leaving (or, additionally, for not joining) an Orthodox Church are rarely as simple as, "they do not speak my language," however it must be considered as a major contributing factor.  One can hardly get past the reality that language is an intimate subject for people, and in the culture that at least we US citizens exist in multilingualism is hardly promoted, or at least hardly for the right reasons.  Yes, millions of kids learn Spanish (and Chinese is gaining ground) in schools basically because they're told, "Well, everyone will be speaking this soon enough," but that's hardly a compelling reason for them to decide to personally maintain that second language (or adopt any third ones).  For those subjects most individualized in America (faith, politics), English is the only popularly acceptable option.

Even if this were a truly multilingual culture (as has been extolled in Europe where, for instance, it is less rare to find people who speak 3 and even 4+ languages fluently), when you ask people about their preferred language for worship, they'll likely name their native tongue, since it is the most easily understood cognitively (thus, requiring less processing and allowing for more spiritual connection) and is the one which elicits the strongest emotional connection (something that most people look for in their prayer/worship lives).  I am fairly confident that I could know and understand where I am at if I were in an all-Romanian liturgy (it's happened once, so this is experiential knowledge), and would make the appropriate connection with the Lord because in my heart I would say the same prayers in one of my native prayer tongues; but I would still prefer the service to be done in English or Greek, since I understand the prayers in those languages and they provide the easiest opportunity for me to feel spiritually connected with God. (Notice, I said "feel.")

Proclaiming the Liturgy in the dominant language of the area is no cure-all; God is encountered in spirit, not tongue, and if we don't lift our hearts up to Him, we'll never truly encounter Him regardless of the language spoken.  But it is a common courtesy for those who are there to be able to hear what is said, and respond in kind, so all reasonably controlled obstacles to true worship can be removed.
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« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2010, 09:33:32 PM »

Not everyone has a choice of Orthodox churches to attend.  In my state (Montana), which is a huge state,  there are 6 Orthodox missions/churches in the state, only 5 of which have priests.  You have a long way to go to attend services in one of the other Orthodox parishes (for instance, the next closest one to me would be two hours away--if the roads are good, which doesn't happen all that often in wintertime).  Maybe that isn't this person's reason, but please don't just assume that there is another Orthodox parish in town (or even a close distance away) that people who attend parishes that don't hold services in English (or not much English) can go to if they don't like it.

I can certainly understand a parish conducting services in a language other than English if they have a large number of recent immigrants who don't speak English.  But if this is not the case, why do services in a language that is not their primary language?  Believe it or not, Montana has quite a few Russians and people from other Slavic countries.  I've yet to meet one that has any problem with services being in English (which they are in the OCA and Serbian churches, and mostly in English in the Greek parishes). One gentleman said it made total sense that services are in English--after all, that is the language of the US.  I don't think I could expect services to be in English if I lived in or was visiting Russia (the only chance that I might have of that is if I attended the OCA representation Church--St. Catherine's in Moscow). 
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« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2010, 09:36:44 PM »

We used to have a lot of people who said they stayed away from church on Sunday mornings because they couldn't understand Classical Armenian.  So now we have a power point screen which translates every word of the liturgy into English and Modern Armenian.  The people who said they didn't come because of the language problem still don't come.  They just use a different excuse now.  I'm sorry, but I have no empathy for this.
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« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2010, 09:45:00 PM »

Being someone that attends a Greek Church with its liturgy mostly in Greek I can sympathize, but I also recognize most of the people that go to the church speak Greek and are of Greek ethnicity. If One wants an orthodox church with a mostly English speaking liturgy, one should go to that one instead, there's an antiochian one that is apparently closer to me than the Greek one I have been going to. I hope to go there on the 24th because the priest will not be there to perform liturgy and it apparently has most of it in English, but some in Arabic, also in the church I go tot he priest will give out a hand out explaining what is in the liturgy and what is being said so you will be able to understand it. For the most part. And if one really wants to understand the liturgy, they should read it in their spare time or bring a copy of it with them to the church, ultimately I don't think this is a major deal that hinders one joining or staying with the church (like me). So If one really was committed to orthodoxy they would find a way to solve it.
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« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2010, 09:55:43 PM »

We used to have a lot of people who said they stayed away from church on Sunday mornings because they couldn't understand Classical Armenian.  So now we have a power point screen which translates every word of the liturgy into English and Modern Armenian.  The people who said they didn't come because of the language problem still don't come.  They just use a different excuse now.  I'm sorry, but I have no empathy for this.

Agree.  I actually chose the church that has the services mostly in Slavonic (at least 50/50) and a large Russian / Ukrainian immigrant population over the English speaking church closest to my home.  If one has taken the time to study the Liturgy, even in a superficial manner, the language barrier is no real barrier.  In addition, there are resources on the web that will provide you with the Troparia, Kontakia, and Readings, as well as all the variable parts of the services in English.  These are available at no charge.  There is positively NO excuse not to know what is going on in a Church that uses the complete Liturgy and has not innovated too much.  The problem is with the "once a weekers" that want everything handed to them, or Churches that have innovated to the point that the service books are useless.
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« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2010, 10:38:37 PM »

I have to say, there are a number of assumptions going on here.

As to "they would find a way," I remember in the 90's reading a report on non-Orthodox Greeks (the person who was writing it was Greek, so it wasn't a hit piece), and the shocking thing he uncovered was the numbers of these Greeks who were active in their denominations, going well beyond Sunday services.  One was the local leader of the district (roughly the equivalent of our diocese) of the Jehovah's witnesses.

Like the jurisdictional mess, this isn't the source of all our problems. But it is a sympton and doesn't help.
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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2010, 12:18:08 AM »

For the particular individual I encountered earlier today, he lives in the U.K. and apparently the Greek Orthodox Church he attended had everything in Greek, and so he wasn't able to understand anything. (though being "Greek" himself) So he started going to a Protestant denomination and now believes that we are all one Church anyway, and he probably won't go back because he won't understand anything anyway, and he feels he is getting more spiritual fulfillment from this Protestant Church.
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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2010, 02:37:00 AM »

We used to have a lot of people who said they stayed away from church on Sunday mornings because they couldn't understand Classical Armenian.  So now we have a power point screen which translates every word of the liturgy into English and Modern Armenian.  The people who said they didn't come because of the language problem still don't come.  They just use a different excuse now.  I'm sorry, but I have no empathy for this.

Then there are people who go to church nonetheless and also complain about not understanding the language: they are more often actually serious about it.  Tongue
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« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2010, 02:57:40 AM »

For the particular individual I encountered earlier today, he lives in the U.K. and apparently the Greek Orthodox Church he attended had everything in Greek, and so he wasn't able to understand anything. (though being "Greek" himself) So he started going to a Protestant denomination and now believes that we are all one Church anyway, and he probably won't go back because he won't understand anything anyway, and he feels he is getting more spiritual fulfillment from this Protestant Church.
Seems to me he has more problems than just the language barrier.
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« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2010, 06:39:01 AM »

I use to go to A Genuine Greek Old Calendar Church here in Chicago, Before The Rouge Bishop Joined the New Calendar Greek Church sold the church and it was bulldozed for condominiums ,I looooved it, the Liturgy was all in Greek not one English word said... including the sermon ..I never Complained about it...
And I don't speak any Greek...It didn't Bother Me At All...

What did Bother Me was, When I went To a Slavic Ukrainian Othodox Church and they didn't use Old Church Slavonic in Holy Liturgy but Ukrainian Only....Since i Would of understood Old Church Slavonic since i was raised hearing it in the Serbian Church.......
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« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2010, 10:44:39 AM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian.

That seems to me to be, quite ironically, a very Protestant way of looking at the situation. It reminds me of the OSAS crowd that claims if a person "falls away" or "backslides" they never really were "saved" to begin with.

Quote
He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.

It doesn't  "speak for itself" to me. First many OO have the exact same problem Devin is refering to, often much worse. (though it just depends) Or maybe there was no OO Church anywhere near this person?  Byzantine Catholic Churches can be more ethnic than EO. Again it just depends. Some aren't. Some are. But then they would be Catholic. Perhaps the person didn't join the Catholic Church because he simply cannot buy into some of their dogmas about the Pope, the Virgin Mary or something else, who knows?

 Granted an Anglo-Catholic Church would be a pretty logical alternative, and would probably be my choice if I were not Orthodox, yet technically speaking they too are "Protestant". (though I personally don't think of High Church Anglicanism as "protestant", maybe that's how you are looking at it?)

However I don't think we should be judging whether someone was "truly" Orthodox. I also know people were have for the most part left Orthodoxy because they feel like the Church has basically failed them. We say the Church is a hospital for sinners, but many people, including converts often feel like the doctors and nurses are all permanently out to lunch. What good does it do to go to a hospital to get help if no help is available? (or if the help speaks a different language than you do and you cannot understand their instructions?) When I say language I mean much more than the spoken words, I mean cultural language as well. The way people look at the world etc. Many a times I've asked priests questions and they had no idea how to answer it. Not because they didn't know the answer but because they didn't even understand the question. It was not a part of their religious and cultural world view and it wasn't their fault. They just don't think the same way I do. But that is seriously one of the major, major problems with Orthodoxy in America. It's a complete disconnect from the culture and way of "being Christian". Even in parishes that use mostly English, if a former southern Baptist convert goes to their priest and asks, "how can I better follow James's advice  and control my tongue?" a priest who grew up say in Eastern Europe may not even understand that type of question. It's not that they are stupid, it's just that that is not how they grew up or were taught in Seminary.

A friend of mine at a Serbian Church once tried to get a "prayer group" going where they would study books like St. Theophan etc... and the priest just did not "get it". He didn't even comprehend the concept of why someone would want to have a prayer group when "we have the Liturgy". Not his fault. He's an awesome priest, a fun guy, and tries hard, but just cultural differences and the "languages of Christianity" are radically different.

Sometimes this is just too much for people to deal with and it is one of the big reasons you see a lot of intellectuals, and armchair theologians, or people who are interested in some historical aspect of Christianity convert to the Church, but you rarely see a parish full converts who are soy bean farmers, or mechanics, factory workers, loggers etc. Why is this?  I think, at least in part it is because we don't know how to "talk" to these people, and if the very lines of communicating the Christian message, and more importantly the instruction on how one is to live their Christian life from day to day simply break down what are these people supposed to do? It's not their fault.

Whatever I think of Protestantism, I have come to admit, begrudgingly, that I know many people who I could never try to convince to become Orthodox. Christ has changed their lives, and while I cannot stand some of my friends charismatic left behind obsession, I know that Orthodoxy just does not have the ability (in my part of the country) to equip them with the tools to live as  successful of a  Christian life as they do now. This pains me to say to the point of wanting to cry. But it is the reality. One person I know in particular is a radically different person than he was 15 years ago, but he doesn't care about theology, or history, or mystical theology, he cares about loving Christ and living the best life he can. I'm sorry to say that Orthodoxy has a long way to go to translate this into a "language" that most Americans can really sink their teeth into. Protestants are just better at that generally speaking.

It is sad, but it is a reality I think we as Orthodox Christians really need to deal with and not pretend it is not a problem. It is a problem, at least in some parts of the country, maybe not all. And in the end even if it isn't as a big of a problem as I think it is, isn't it enough that it's a problem for a few people like Devin knows? (or like the ones I know?) It's even a problem I've dealt with so I speak from experience as well. I do not begrudge someone going to a Church that helps them live better Christian lives if their Orthodox parish is simply not helping them. Yes I realize those people then don't have the Liturgy and the Eucharist, but the Eucharist is not magic. It doesn't automatically make someone a better Christian. If it did we'd be a Church full of Saints. Cheesy

For some people it's just better to go to a first year med student who's in the office than a full blown MD with 4 phD's who is out to lunch 6 days a week. That's how I try to think about it when I hear these stories, and I think that's how those who leave are thinking about it. I'm sure if the "language" issue were resolved they'd come back. It's not a decision most people take lightly. I sympathize with them deeply and it pains to know that I don't have an answer for them.

Anyways I've rambled enough . . . .

Not trying to argue just toss in my POV here.


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« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2010, 10:48:01 AM »

I agree with Michal.  If one Orthodox parish didn't serve the Liturgy in English, the Orthodox one down the road does.  You just have to find the correct fit.

That's a cop out.

Perhaps there was no other Orthodox parish "down the road?" There are plenty of places in the U.S. where one can drive 60, 70, even 150 miles before finding another Orthodox Church. Sometimes it's not that easy to find a Church at all.





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« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2010, 10:57:44 AM »

I've been to several GOA parishes all over Chicago over the years, but I've only been to one that used ANY English, and one which had an English (i.e. the kiddie) DL.  Unless there has been some drastic change in the past decade (I've only been a couple of times in the last couple years).

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule (Chicagoland, NYC, and a few FL and MA parishes); but the Greek-dominated Liturgies are in the minority in most Metropolises (I can attest to it for my travels in the Metropolises of Pit, Atl, Det, and Bos, and by second-hand accounts for Den and SF).  And no, by last I heard there have been no drastic changes in Chicago... (... in decades, lol.)

 I'm in the Chicago Metropolis, and while my parish is in the boonies of the Metropolis, it's is well known out here what is going on in Chicago. In fact there has been an attempt to push more Greek on the parishes that are in the boonies so if there is a change, it's actually for more Greek. (believe it or not) I agree with Isa though, this is only a symptom and the root of any problems. But it is a pretty big symptom for many people.
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« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2010, 11:00:46 AM »

First many OO have the exact same problem Devin is refering to, often much worse. (though it just depends) Or maybe there was no OO Church anywhere near this person?

There is the Birtish Orthodox Church in the UK which has all its services in English and offers a ministry (called the British Orthodox Fellowship) for those who don't have a British Orthodox parish near them.

Byzantine Catholic Churches can be more ethnic than EO. Again it just depends. Some aren't. Some are.

Agreed.

But then they would be Catholic. Perhaps the person didn't join the Catholic Church because he simply cannot buy into some of their dogmas about the Pope, the Virgin Mary or something else, who knows?

Is it better to reject almost entire Church Tradition (by becoming a Protestant), or to keep it with a few heterodox additions (by becoming a Catholic)?
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« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2010, 11:06:26 AM »

I actually heard a podcast the other day where a Priest talked about attending a Greek seminary in the U.S. (Holy Cross I guess maybe?) years ago. (take note, he WASN'T dissing the seminary, it was just kind of a funny quip in his speech)
He said that when he went to seminary, the seminarians, even during passing conversation about the Church & theology were not allowed to speak in a language other than Greek. (even though some spoke only English, or very little Greek)
Apparently that was a couple decades ago, but I really honestly hope that attitude doesn't exist in an American seminary anymore, otherwise we are just breeding Priests to be all about "just Greek" when it comes to the language of Church and it's services...

Michal, the British Orthodox Church isn't Chalcedonian.

Also Michal, I would be cautious when you choose to judge other people, especially based on their choices, we do not know their soul, nor their entire situation... This young person still occasionally attends his Greek Church, but since he cannot understand most of what is going on, he isn't getting spiritually fed/nourished.
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« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2010, 11:11:29 AM »

NorthernPines, just wanted to say that long post of yours above was very well-written and thoughtful and I truly enjoyed reading it - some excellent insights! Thank you!
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« Reply #36 on: October 12, 2010, 11:13:13 AM »

Michal, the British Orthodox Church isn't Chalcedonian.

1. Did I write it was? Roll Eyes
2. For an EO, is it better to become an OO, or a Protestant?

Also Michal, I would be cautious when you choose to judge other people, especially based on their choices, we do not know their soul, nor their entire situation...

I have already admitted that I might have exaggerated by writing that the person wasn't really Orthodox. But anyway, what you wrote ("So he started going to a Protestant denomination and now believes that we are all one Church anyway") confirms my (mitigated) judgement ("I have . . . concerns regarding . . . the deepness of his [former Orthodox] faith").
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« Reply #37 on: October 12, 2010, 11:47:57 AM »

NorthernPines, just wanted to say that long post of yours above was very well-written and thoughtful and I truly enjoyed reading it - some excellent insights! Thank you!

I agree, it was a very well-written post. 
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« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2010, 12:12:22 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian.

That seems to me to be, quite ironically, a very Protestant way of looking at the situation. It reminds me of the OSAS crowd that claims if a person "falls away" or "backslides" they never really were "saved" to begin with.

Thank you. This is what I was trying to say in reply #3.

Quote
Quote
He left for a Protestant denomination - not for Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, etc. It speaks for itself.

It doesn't  "speak for itself" to me. First many OO have the exact same problem Devin is refering to, often much worse. (though it just depends) Or maybe there was no OO Church anywhere near this person?  Byzantine Catholic Churches can be more ethnic than EO. Again it just depends. Some aren't. Some are. But then they would be Catholic. Perhaps the person didn't join the Catholic Church because he simply cannot buy into some of their dogmas about the Pope, the Virgin Mary or something else, who knows?

 Granted an Anglo-Catholic Church would be a pretty logical alternative, and would probably be my choice if I were not Orthodox, yet technically speaking they too are "Protestant". (though I personally don't think of High Church Anglicanism as "protestant", maybe that's how you are looking at it?)

However I don't think we should be judging whether someone was "truly" Orthodox. I also know people were have for the most part left Orthodoxy because they feel like the Church has basically failed them. We say the Church is a hospital for sinners, but many people, including converts often feel like the doctors and nurses are all permanently out to lunch. What good does it do to go to a hospital to get help if no help is available? (or if the help speaks a different language than you do and you cannot understand their instructions?) When I say language I mean much more than the spoken words, I mean cultural language as well. The way people look at the world etc. Many a times I've asked priests questions and they had no idea how to answer it. Not because they didn't know the answer but because they didn't even understand the question. It was not a part of their religious and cultural world view and it wasn't their fault. They just don't think the same way I do. But that is seriously one of the major, major problems with Orthodoxy in America. It's a complete disconnect from the culture and way of "being Christian". Even in parishes that use mostly English, if a former southern Baptist convert goes to their priest and asks, "how can I better follow James's advice  and control my tongue?" a priest who grew up say in Eastern Europe may not even understand that type of question. It's not that they are stupid, it's just that that is not how they grew up or were taught in Seminary.

A friend of mine at a Serbian Church once tried to get a "prayer group" going where they would study books like St. Theophan etc... and the priest just did not "get it". He didn't even comprehend the concept of why someone would want to have a prayer group when "we have the Liturgy". Not his fault. He's an awesome priest, a fun guy, and tries hard, but just cultural differences and the "languages of Christianity" are radically different.

Sometimes this is just too much for people to deal with and it is one of the big reasons you see a lot of intellectuals, and armchair theologians, or people who are interested in some historical aspect of Christianity convert to the Church, but you rarely see a parish full converts who are soy bean farmers, or mechanics, factory workers, loggers etc. Why is this?  I think, at least in part it is because we don't know how to "talk" to these people, and if the very lines of communicating the Christian message, and more importantly the instruction on how one is to live their Christian life from day to day simply break down what are these people supposed to do? It's not their fault.

Whatever I think of Protestantism, I have come to admit, begrudgingly, that I know many people who I could never try to convince to become Orthodox. Christ has changed their lives, and while I cannot stand some of my friends charismatic left behind obsession, I know that Orthodoxy just does not have the ability (in my part of the country) to equip them with the tools to live as  successful of a  Christian life as they do now. This pains me to say to the point of wanting to cry. But it is the reality. One person I know in particular is a radically different person than he was 15 years ago, but he doesn't care about theology, or history, or mystical theology, he cares about loving Christ and living the best life he can. I'm sorry to say that Orthodoxy has a long way to go to translate this into a "language" that most Americans can really sink their teeth into. Protestants are just better at that generally speaking.

It is sad, but it is a reality I think we as Orthodox Christians really need to deal with and not pretend it is not a problem. It is a problem, at least in some parts of the country, maybe not all. And in the end even if it isn't as a big of a problem as I think it is, isn't it enough that it's a problem for a few people like Devin knows? (or like the ones I know?) It's even a problem I've dealt with so I speak from experience as well. I do not begrudge someone going to a Church that helps them live better Christian lives if their Orthodox parish is simply not helping them. Yes I realize those people then don't have the Liturgy and the Eucharist, but the Eucharist is not magic. It doesn't automatically make someone a better Christian. If it did we'd be a Church full of Saints. Cheesy

For some people it's just better to go to a first year med student who's in the office than a full blown MD with 4 phD's who is out to lunch 6 days a week. That's how I try to think about it when I hear these stories, and I think that's how those who leave are thinking about it. I'm sure if the "language" issue were resolved they'd come back. It's not a decision most people take lightly. I sympathize with them deeply and it pains to know that I don't have an answer for them.

Anyways I've rambled enough . . . .

Not trying to argue just toss in my POV here.

NP

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« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2010, 12:20:21 PM »

Okay, I've encountered another Orthodox Christian who has left the Church for a Protestant denomination due to the fact that the person cannot understand anything in his respective Church due to that Church having the vast majority of services in another language. (and he is in a majority English speaking country)

All it means is that the person you are referring to wasn't really an Orthodox Christian.

That seems to me to be, quite ironically, a very Protestant way of looking at the situation. It reminds me of the OSAS crowd that claims if a person "falls away" or "backslides" they never really were "saved" to begin with.

Thank you. This is what I was trying to say in reply #3.

Now I get it.
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« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2010, 12:20:50 PM »

For the particular individual I encountered earlier today, he lives in the U.K. and apparently the Greek Orthodox Church he attended had everything in Greek, and so he wasn't able to understand anything. (though being "Greek" himself) So he started going to a Protestant denomination and now believes that we are all one Church anyway, and he probably won't go back because he won't understand anything anyway, and he feels he is getting more spiritual fulfillment from this Protestant Church.
Seems to me he has more problems than just the language barrier.

Yes and no: I've met plenty of Orthodox who see Greek Orthodoxy for the Greeks, Russian Orthodoxy for the Russians, Antiochian Orthodoxy for the Arabs (though most who see this would rather they got Hellenized), Serbian Orthodoxy for the Serbs etc., as if there were "Orthodoxies." Such often see the Anglicans for the English. It doesn't take much to got from there to think that Anglicanism is for those who speak English and not Greek.
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« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2010, 12:48:46 PM »

I actually heard a podcast the other day where a Priest talked about attending a Greek seminary in the U.S. (Holy Cross I guess maybe?) years ago. (take note, he WASN'T dissing the seminary, it was just kind of a funny quip in his speech)
He said that when he went to seminary, the seminarians, even during passing conversation about the Church & theology were not allowed to speak in a language other than Greek. (even though some spoke only English, or very little Greek)
Apparently that was a couple decades ago, but I really honestly hope that attitude doesn't exist in an American seminary anymore, otherwise we are just breeding Priests to be all about "just Greek" when it comes to the language of Church and it's services...

That was, from our POV, a long while ago (3+ decades); classes were half and half when my dad was there in the 70's.  Now, the only classes you need to know much Greek for are... Greek and chant (and not all the chant classes, just half of them).
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« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2010, 01:57:26 PM »

I have to say that in my opinion, to dub someone leaving the Church because of the language a "cop out" isn't quite fair.  I think we can only speak for ourselves in saying that language isn't important enough to warrant leaving the church.  For some, it just may well be that important.  Though I speak Greek and some liturgical Greek and personally feel that it's not a good reason to leave the Church, I can't say that someone else should be able to experience the Liturgy in an equally fulfilling way in any language.  It's not magic.  It's prayer.  How, indeed, can we pray in a language that we don't understand?

It's funny how my own opinions on this topic have changed over the years.  If you talked to me when I was at the seminary, I would have told you that I thought 50% Greek 50% English was the perfect solution.  That way everyone is at least 50% happy.  But that is not at all how I feel today.

Having been in the parish a few years now, and teaching Sunday School, being a Metropolis youth coordinator and thus very involved in youth work, I have to say that I think language is a HUGE issue.  When I spoke with some of our campers last summer at the end of their camp week (mind you this was all four weeks of camp-- they all said the same thing, and not prompted by me), the kids said they loved the camp services because they could not only understand, but they could participate.  That's HUGE!

And I think my own experience a few weeks ago sums it up perfectly for me.  I was in the Divine Liturgy with my five year old nephew (who is my godson) whom I don't get to attend church with very often.  As the Liturgy was happening, he would ask me questions about what was going on, and I would explain everything step by step ("now Uncle [Fr.] Christos is going to come out of the altar and the big book he is carrying is the Bible.  It tells us the stories about Jesus' life").  Fr. Christos did almost 100% of the liturgy in English, which was great, so I could help Nicky understand what he was saying.  But the choir did almost 100% in Greek.  It's really hard for me to explain to Nicky what the words of the hymn mean and expect him to remember them when they're in a foreign language!  I'd say, "do you understand what Uncle (Fr.) Christos just said?"  He'd say "yes."  I'd say, "do you understand this hymn?" "No."  That clinched it for me.

What are we doing?  We're worshiping in a language we don't understand?  I look around our parish-- probably only 30-40% of the people speak any modern Greek.  Liturgical Greek?  I think my husband (the priest) and the chanter are the only two who understand (and I can understand enough to get through most of the Divine Liturgy).  So what are we doing and what are we teaching our kids?  By our refusal to pray in a language we can ALL understand (instead of just some of us), we're teaching them (from where I'm sitting) that the language is more important than what we're saying!  No wonder we're raising an entire generation of kids totally devoted to Greek dance, Greek language, and all things Greek who have NO CLUE about anything having to do with the faith!

When we used to have this argument at the seminary, people would respond with "what about the folks that don't speak English?"  Okay, that might be valid in downtown Chicago or Astoria, but please.  I think in our parish there may be four people who don't speak English.  But the other 99.9% of us speak English (some of us may speak Greek as well, but we almost all speak English).  And, as everyone always points out, the book does have the translation in Greek and English.  So why are we forcing the Greek? 

I also appreciate the point of view that says, "well if you don't understand the Greek, you can follow along in the book in English."  But here's the problem... I don't want to "follow along."  I want to participate!  I want to raise my voice in song and prayer, I want to do my part in the "work of the people."  I think this is why we have congregations full of people who just "follow along" as though they're reading the libretto to a play, rather than participating!

Now, will this all change next week?  No.  Even the people who don't speak liturgical Greek and even the ones who don't speak modern Greek will argue to "keep the Greek."  They've been conditioned that way.  And most of them, when you challenge it with something like "please translate the following...," they can't do it.  And only then does it dawn on them that we shouldn't be praying in a language we don't understand.  It takes time to change these things.  So when I get frustrated, I just have to remind myself to be patient and pray for progress.

Long story short (I know, too late), I guess my feeling is that it's not right, but we have to be patient while the changes happen.  We can't force such a huge change to happen in a matter of days or weeks.  It takes time.
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« Reply #43 on: October 12, 2010, 02:19:21 PM »

^^^I'll just add my cents of experience to the above excellent post: most of the OCA parishes I've been to were Slavic. What they did was have part of the service in Slavonic, but only part, but what parts were in Slavonic any given week changed: except for the Creed (the bishop's order: only in English). I recall arguing with the priest (who wanted to get rid of all Slavonic, gleefully talking about putting the stake through its heart. He was a Slav, btw), pointing out that I didn't have a drop of Slavic blood (that I know of), but the service was never totally in Slavonic, the books were always available, the Slavonic parts always alternated, so what was in Slavonic this week was English next week (Festal hymns like Pasha were either in English or when repeated, alternated), this was part of the heritage of the founders of the parish that they wanted to keep, and given how they did so, I thought they should keep it. Btw, I learned Slavonic, but that was my choice, and never a necessity.
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« Reply #44 on: October 12, 2010, 02:33:48 PM »

How do I nominate this for post of the month?

Click "Report to moderator" on right bottom corner and write something like "POM Nominee".
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« Reply #45 on: October 12, 2010, 06:30:18 PM »

First many OO have the exact same problem Devin is refering to, often much worse. (though it just depends) Or maybe there was no OO Church anywhere near this person?

There is the Birtish Orthodox Church in the UK which has all its services in English and offers a ministry (called the British Orthodox Fellowship) for those who don't have a British Orthodox parish near them.

You're right. I think the BOC does an excellent job. I was speaking only as an American and my experience with parishes in America, and the bit of knowledge I have about some parishes in Canada. (since my priest is Canadian but living in the U.S.) I definitely didn't mean to imply this problem is unsolvable as the BOC is a fine example of what can be done when the Church decides to do it.


Quote

Is it better to reject almost entire Church Tradition (by becoming a Protestant), or to keep it with a few heterodox additions (by becoming a Catholic)?

I guess my answer is I don't know. I have a hard enough time discerning my spiritual life let along the spiritual lives of others. Smiley I don't mean that in jest, I mean that I think it just depends on a person's spiritual life. For you the decision might be one thing but I can envision why someone else might feel differently, that's all.

NP


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« Reply #46 on: October 12, 2010, 06:48:12 PM »


Was it because you couldn't understand the language?

No, not because of language. I assumed from the tone of your post that you were going past simply talking about language, and saying that if anyone really understood/appreciated Orthodoxy, then they wouldn't leavel. After all, that's a common belief that many people have about their religion: why would someone purposely turn away from something that they perceive to be the most important and most beautiful thing ever? If you were talking only about leaving over reasons of language, then I misunderstood.
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« Reply #47 on: October 12, 2010, 10:23:22 PM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I ask the same of Greeks here, regarding liturgical Greek. I've seen people say all sorts of things. Someone told me that liturgical Greek is roughly comparable to Chaucer's English, ie pretty easy to figure out with a little effort. Others have said differently.
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« Reply #48 on: October 12, 2010, 10:34:52 PM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I ask the same of Greeks here, regarding liturgical Greek. I've seen people say all sorts of things. Someone told me that liturgical Greek is roughly comparable to Chaucer's English, ie pretty easy to figure out with a little effort. Others have said differently.

I can read and understand Liturgical Greek; I don't have to speak it.
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« Reply #49 on: October 12, 2010, 10:39:42 PM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I ask the same of Greeks here, regarding liturgical Greek. I've seen people say all sorts of things. Someone told me that liturgical Greek is roughly comparable to Chaucer's English, ie pretty easy to figure out with a little effort. Others have said differently.

When Younger i didn't care for Church Slavonic,Because i never stopped to Lisen..As i grew older i lisened and loved and understood most of it....
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« Reply #50 on: October 12, 2010, 11:13:10 PM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I ask the same of Greeks here, regarding liturgical Greek. I've seen people say all sorts of things. Someone told me that liturgical Greek is roughly comparable to Chaucer's English, ie pretty easy to figure out with a little effort. Others have said differently.

Chaucer is a good analogy; maybe it's a little more difficult than that. Koine Greek has very complicated grammar, and the Liturgy's writing style is very fancy. The familiar parts of the Liturgy are easily understood, but if you're listening to something you don't normally hear, like most troparia for instance, you won't understand it.

Someting I have noticed at my hometown's Greek church...people cros themselves at all the right times when the service is in English, but when it is in Greek, most of the people barely ever cross themselves (only a few elderly people who probably know the whole thing by heart anyway).

I do not speak modern Greek, but I taught myself the liturgical language, and being one of the few people who has a more-than-vague understanding of what's being said, I am a strong advocate of using English, because I know what people are missing.

In my opinion, all that using large amounts of ancient languages does is reinforce the tribal mentality, which in turn leads to parents not seriously bringing up their children in the Faith. As a result, the younger people don't know what it's about anyway, so they are prone to fall into error or apathy when they are older.
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« Reply #51 on: October 12, 2010, 11:33:52 PM »


As a speaker of the Ukrainian language, I have almost no trouble understanding Church Slavonic.  There are words here or there, but, I can easily guess what they mean.
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« Reply #52 on: October 12, 2010, 11:56:17 PM »

Bull.

Are you trying to tell me that acceptance of officially schismatic sacraments is not a de facto excommunication?  If an individual's bishop is not in communion with another bishop and an individual accepts communion from the latter (via the priests under him), that individual is, in effect, telling his bishop that he is wrong and that the other bishop is right.

This is spiritual and ecclessial anarchy.  It is not Orthodoxy.  It is individual Protestantism under the guise of "traditional" Orthodoxy.  I ask the clergy of this forum to correct me if I'm wrong.

If, as we have discussed in another thread, that missing Liturgy three weeks in a row makes one "excommunicated," then accepting sacraments from a schismatic group must do the same, otherwise visiting the local Greek Catholic Church which believes it is "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" and does not teach the IC or papal infallibility and receiving communion there is a-okay.

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« Reply #53 on: October 13, 2010, 04:40:24 AM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I'm a Pole. So, when a Pole hears Church Slavonic without any preparation, s/he understands virtually nothing. But when s/he memorizes a sufficient ammount of CS texts along with their meaning, then the whole language becomes understandable to a certain extant. Generally speaking, CS vocabulary is not a problem. The real problem is CS syntax. It's a bit Yodic. Wink
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« Reply #54 on: October 13, 2010, 05:17:54 AM »

There was a Polish fellow one summer at one of our Church festivals, At the Holy Resurrection Cathedral Chicago .He did What a Good Polish Catholic Does He Nealth Down when the sacraments were Processed
To the Altar,He stayed for the whole liturgy, I talked to him after, He Loved the Liturgy and that he Pretty Much Understood everything what the Father was Chanting in Church Slavonic....He Came For the Pork Roast ,Roasted On Spits...

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I'm a Pole. So, when a Pole hears Church Slavonic without any preparation, s/he understands virtually nothing. But when s/he memorizes a sufficient ammount of CS texts along with their meaning, then the whole language becomes understandable to a certain extant. Generally speaking, CS vocabulary is not a problem. The real problem is CS syntax. It's a bit Yodic. Wink
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« Reply #55 on: October 13, 2010, 09:11:01 AM »

Here's a question I have for all the Slavs here: How many of you can understand Slavonic? How much do you understand out of a typical service?

I ask the same of Greeks here, regarding liturgical Greek. I've seen people say all sorts of things. Someone told me that liturgical Greek is roughly comparable to Chaucer's English, ie pretty easy to figure out with a little effort. Others have said differently.

I'm going to throw the question back to you; what do you mean by "understand"?

I am an American born, English speaking person. Although I was raised in a Ukrainian parish, I do not speak the language.

However, after years of listening to the Liturgy, when I hear certain "cues" I know what is going on. My parish does the Liturgy 70% English, 30% Ukrainian. The Epistle, Gospel, and Our Father are all sung in both languages. The sermon is said in both languages. (The Creed is done solely in English.)

I sing in the choir, and sing in both Ukrainian and English. Although I know how to sing the "Our Father" in Ukrainian, and know what it sounds like when I hear it, I could not translate it for you. I know what the Thrice Holy Hymn sounds like in Ukrainian, but I can't translate it for you.

The same can be said for Greek and Church Slavonic. I know what the Thrice Holy Hymn sounds like in both languages, but I couldn't translate it.

Much of this just comes from attending Liturgy all my life and studying the Liturgy. When services that are less frequent come around (Holy Week as an example) and large parts of the service are done in a foreign language, I get lost. (If it goes back and forth from English to the foreign language, I try to follow along in the service book.) With the Divine Liturgy, I know the Liturgy well enough to know what to expect at certain points.

My point is that if a person were willing to put forth the commitment to study and learn the cues they could. However, IMHO, a person shouldn't have to study a foreign language or sound cues just to attend Church.
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« Reply #56 on: October 13, 2010, 09:19:14 AM »

In asking my question, I especially had in mind special festal hymns and troparia/ kontakia, not the standard hymns like the Trisagion or Our Father... basically, are you able to comprehend unfamiliar material used in this language? I too can tell when the Trisagion or Our Father are said in Greek or Slavonic, but I can't say I understand the language.
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« Reply #57 on: October 13, 2010, 09:37:23 AM »

In asking my question, I especially had in mind special festal hymns and troparia/ kontakia. . .

I can, more or less, grasp the meaning, especially when I know what feast is it.
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« Reply #58 on: October 13, 2010, 10:11:46 AM »

In asking my question, I especially had in mind special festal hymns and troparia/ kontakia, not the standard hymns like the Trisagion or Our Father... basically, are you able to comprehend unfamiliar material used in this language? I too can tell when the Trisagion or Our Father are said in Greek or Slavonic, but I can't say I understand the language.

About 60%. Depends much on the man who chant/sing.
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« Reply #59 on: October 13, 2010, 10:22:30 AM »

In asking my question, I especially had in mind special festal hymns and troparia/ kontakia, not the standard hymns like the Trisagion or Our Father... basically, are you able to comprehend unfamiliar material used in this language? I too can tell when the Trisagion or Our Father are said in Greek or Slavonic, but I can't say I understand the language.

When I get up on Sunday morning, I print out the variable parts of the Liturgy from a site on the Internet.  I also print out the Epistle and Gospel for the day, and the readings from the Synaxarion.   All of these are in English and it takes less than 15 minutes to print these out, and in most cases, they can be read in this time.  When I get to Church, it really makes no difference as to the language used because I am already familiar with the content.  If the troparia are not in English, I read along with the sheet that I brought with me.  The fixed parts of the service are already translated with English on one side and Slavonic (written in western letters) on the other.

So, to answer your question from my perspective – none of the material is unfamiliar by the time I get to Church.  In some cases, I will have already printed this materiel out the night before for my own private worship.  This is not that difficult, but sadly, people have not been shown where this materiel exists and have not been encouraged to use it.
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« Reply #60 on: October 13, 2010, 10:43:34 AM »

Reading the posts from the past day or so, what disturbs me is the following (I know I said it in my last post but I'll say it again because it's gnawing at me):

There is a huge difference between being familiar with what is happening in the service and being able to actively participate!

To further answer Iconodule's question, if I read an unfamiliar troparia, I could probably pour over it for a while and figure out the gist of what is being said (depending on the vocabulary-- I may need a little help from the hubby).

But that's not enough for me!  I want to actively participate in the services!  If I'm in Vespers on a given night and I'm not chanting, chances are the hymns will be sung in Greek.  In which case, I will know what is happening, but will not get most of what is being sung because I simply can't comprehend it that quickly.  If I read the translation, okay, great, I know what is being sung. 

But I want to sing!  I can read Greek well enough (though I may not be able to translate every word) to sing along in Greek if I have the text.  But if I'm reading the Greek text, I'm not reading the translation.  So I am in effect singing a bunch of gibberish.  And the words are not magic.  They don't "work" just because we say them.  We are supposed to mean what we say.  Hard to do when we don't know what we're saying.

So I'm in quite a conundrum most of the time.  And, with my basic knowledge of modern Greek and a little knowledge of liturgical Greek (and the ability to at least read it), I'm doing better than probably 85% of the rest of the congregation! 

What of those who have absolutely no knowledge of Greek (like every single one of the Sunday Schoolers I've taught over the past few years, or every camper--that's 396--from last year alone)?  They are totally reduced to "following along" when they are lucky enough to have a translation, unable to actually participate.

This is, I believe, why we have entire congregations that consider the services a spectator's sport, who have no clue how to participate, and sit through them like bumps on a log.  No wonder 60% of our youth are leaving the faith and never returning.  Who wants to be part of a faith they are barred from participating in?

Just my humble opinion (and not a particularly popular one, I know).

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« Reply #61 on: October 13, 2010, 11:17:38 AM »

I actually heard a podcast the other day where a Priest talked about attending a Greek seminary in the U.S. (Holy Cross I guess maybe?) years ago. (take note, he WASN'T dissing the seminary, it was just kind of a funny quip in his speech)
He said that when he went to seminary, the seminarians, even during passing conversation about the Church & theology were not allowed to speak in a language other than Greek. (even though some spoke only English, or very little Greek)
Apparently that was a couple decades ago, but I really honestly hope that attitude doesn't exist in an American seminary anymore, otherwise we are just breeding Priests to be all about "just Greek" when it comes to the language of Church and it's services...

That was, from our POV, a long while ago (3+ decades); classes were half and half when my dad was there in the 70's.  Now, the only classes you need to know much Greek for are... Greek and chant (and not all the chant classes, just half of them).

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your pov, as the above example shows, the situation will change. It is a normal progression of assimilation of immigrant groups.

I have the perspective of growing up in a (very) German Lutheran congregation. Being a Lutheran of German heritage was as much a part of my culture and life as being Greek or Ukrainian is now. My grandfather, in fact, spoke German at home when he was a boy.

Not so many years ago, in Lutherland (MN, WI), it wasn't unusual to find several Lutheran congregations in small towns: the Finnish, German, Swedish - and English, where the kids and grandkids of the Finnish, German and Swedish-speaking parents and grandparents went. My former church had services, church council meetings and catechism in German until WWII. The fight over language and heritage was just about over when I came along, but there were still casualties and hurt feelings.

When I first heard the Gospel in Greek in a Greek Orthodox Church, I got goosebumps as I realized that the same words would have been heard by Christians in Constantinople in the 4th century.

But I couldn't understand a word of it.

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« Reply #62 on: October 13, 2010, 11:34:13 AM »

Reading the posts from the past day or so, what disturbs me is the following (I know I said it in my last post but I'll say it again because it's gnawing at me):

There is a huge difference between being familiar with what is happening in the service and being able to actively participate!

To further answer Iconodule's question, if I read an unfamiliar troparia, I could probably pour over it for a while and figure out the gist of what is being said (depending on the vocabulary-- I may need a little help from the hubby).

But that's not enough for me!  I want to actively participate in the services!  If I'm in Vespers on a given night and I'm not chanting, chances are the hymns will be sung in Greek.  In which case, I will know what is happening, but will not get most of what is being sung because I simply can't comprehend it that quickly.  If I read the translation, okay, great, I know what is being sung. 

But I want to sing!  I can read Greek well enough (though I may not be able to translate every word) to sing along in Greek if I have the text.  But if I'm reading the Greek text, I'm not reading the translation.  So I am in effect singing a bunch of gibberish.  And the words are not magic.  They don't "work" just because we say them.  We are supposed to mean what we say.  Hard to do when we don't know what we're saying.

So I'm in quite a conundrum most of the time.  And, with my basic knowledge of modern Greek and a little knowledge of liturgical Greek (and the ability to at least read it), I'm doing better than probably 85% of the rest of the congregation! 

What of those who have absolutely no knowledge of Greek (like every single one of the Sunday Schoolers I've taught over the past few years, or every camper--that's 396--from last year alone)?  They are totally reduced to "following along" when they are lucky enough to have a translation, unable to actually participate.

This is, I believe, why we have entire congregations that consider the services a spectator's sport, who have no clue how to participate, and sit through them like bumps on a log.  No wonder 60% of our youth are leaving the faith and never returning.  Who wants to be part of a faith they are barred from participating in?

Just my humble opinion (and not a particularly popular one, I know).




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« Reply #63 on: October 13, 2010, 11:37:25 AM »

In asking my question, I especially had in mind special festal hymns and troparia/ kontakia, not the standard hymns like the Trisagion or Our Father... basically, are you able to comprehend unfamiliar material used in this language? I too can tell when the Trisagion or Our Father are said in Greek or Slavonic, but I can't say I understand the language.

Anything outside of "standard fare" I don't understand. I have CD's with Ukrainian and Slavonic chant on them. I listen to them for the same reason I enjoy listening to Opera; it's beautiful music. However from a worship perspective I get nothing out of it.
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« Reply #64 on: October 13, 2010, 01:32:13 PM »


(1) There is a huge difference between being familiar with what is happening in the service and being able to actively participate!

(2)  Who wants to be part of a faith they are barred from participating in?

 

(1) I could not agree with you more.  How someone can enter into an Orthodox Church, surrounded by the Icons, hearing the prayers, smelling he incense, and not actively worship God is beyond me.  I come to Church to pray and worship God, not to be entertained or kept occupied.  If you are acknowledging your agreement to the litanies, saying your prayers as you light the candles in front of the Icons, and praying to God in your heart, how are you not actively participating in His Worship?  I could worship in an Orthodox Church even if the Liturgy was being chanted in Neptunian Farkonian by a priest from one of the moons in the third ring around Uranus.

(2) Are they really being barred from participating, or just not being allowed to participate the way they want to. 

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« Reply #65 on: October 13, 2010, 02:08:04 PM »

Reading the posts from the past day or so, what disturbs me is the following (I know I said it in my last post but I'll say it again because it's gnawing at me):There is a huge difference between being familiar with what is happening in the service and being able to actively participate!

Presvytera,

Both of your posts are very good.   I really hope that people have read them.   On my more cynical days I tend to think that some people simply don't care about whether the children are able to participate fully in the prayful dialogue with their Lord.   The thought seems to stop with "I can understand it if I try hard enough" or "I like it..."  Personally, I love to serve in Ukrainian, Slavonic and Greek.   What I don't love is to look out at people who are "listening" to my "performance" rather than communicating with God in the Mystagogical prayer of the Church.   
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« Reply #66 on: October 13, 2010, 02:21:50 PM »


Bless Father!

You have hit the nail right on the head!

It doesn't matter the language...it matters whether the people are motivated to participate.

Like I said before, most of the Liturgy at my parish is in Ukrainian, where the majority of people understand Ukrainian.  Maybe half "participate"...the others are spectators and have no idea what is going on, and even worse, don't really care.  However, the few English speakers participate, because they are there to communicate with the Lord, even though they don't speak Ukrainian.

It's not so much whether you understand the language, but, whether you want to understand the message.  The words are not meant so much for the ears, as they are for the soul.

What is more important than language, is teaching the people the meaning behind the Liturgy.  Divine Liturgy is served weekly (at least) and is a service of the people, and yet, most of the people don't understand what they are watching.  IF they knew what was happening, what it all meant, what was truly transpiring before them, they would be so humbled and so engrossed...that they wouldn't even notice the language being spoken.  At that point language is only a barrier for understanding the Gospel and Epistle readings, sermon, etc.  The Divine Liturgy is the same, no matter the language.  It speaks to the soul whether the ears understand it or not.


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« Reply #67 on: October 13, 2010, 02:36:55 PM »


What is more important than language, is teaching the people the meaning behind the Liturgy. 

I don't mean this to sound snippy, but what language will be used to teach the people the meaning behind the Liturgy? Will English-only speakers be taught the meaning of the Liturgy in Greek, Ukrainian, Romanian etc.? How, exactly, can that be done?

Of course, it is possible to be moved by the Liturgy whether one speaks the language or not, but is anyone here seriously saying that it is a good thing for a person not to be able to understand the Epistle or the Gospel or the hymns? Forgive me, but does that really make sense?

(Once upon a time, I was HR manager for a large commercial bakery. Our employees spoke many different languages. I made it a point to honor everyone's cultural and ethnic heritage, but the only language that we had in common was English. In order to get the work done safely, we all had to use English to communicate.)

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« Reply #68 on: October 13, 2010, 03:04:19 PM »

Why is that generally speaking, the ladies on this thread seem to be so much more practical than the gentlemen? Or, said another way: why are so many men are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to justify a practice that is not Apostolic? Did the Holy Apostles preach in any liturgical language of that time or did they preach in the vernacular? I had thought that the whole point of Pentecost was precisely this: that God Himself brought faith and worship to everyone's level, not just a few. We are not Gnostics or members of a secret cult; we do not approach our worship as magic performed by the clergy for the benefit of the laity;  we are not some kind of sect wherein the laity is required to guess at what is happening or being prayed in their name; we do not worship service books or specific languages or cultures--we are disciples of the Lord and we are to worship in mind and heart both.

Some folks have intimated that it is no big deal to put in an extra effort to learn the meaning of the services. True enough: the small sacrifice in time and effort is nothing that is comparable to what many martyrs have undergone. However, when the Lord Himself subjected himself to horrific pain and suffering for our sake, I cannot believe that he had in mind that His Churches (or at least some of them) would enact impediments to full participation in worship. I thought that He had made that clear at Pentecost. But, hey...we must preserve our cultural heritage and mother tongues, no?
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« Reply #69 on: October 13, 2010, 03:06:25 PM »

Nobody is saying it is preferred that the Liturgy be in a foreign language.  What I am saying, is that using language as an excuse to leave Orthodoxy is lame.

...and of course you wouldn't teach folks in a language they don't understand.  Teach them in their native language, so they can go out and be comfortable and participate in the Liturgy no matter what language it is served in.

Furthermore, the situation in the U.S. with so many various nationalities, languages, jurisdictions, etc. is far from being the perfect scenario.  However, if a particular nationality of people got together, built a church, still attend the church, understand the language in that church why are they and their needs less important than Joe's who comes off the street and doesn't speak their language, yet seems to think he has the right to come in and demand that they serve the Liturgy in his tongue, so he can understand it and participate?

The language should fit the majority of the worshipers.  Instead of growing my parish would diminish in numbers if the Liturgy was all in English.  We have many older immigrants, newer immigrants, and kids who grew up and still speak Ukrainian.   I would have no issues with the English (although I prefer Ukrainian), however, the old people and the new immigrants would be lost.  Why are they being so easily dismissed?  What about their needs?
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« Reply #70 on: October 13, 2010, 03:27:23 PM »


What is more important than language, is teaching the people the meaning behind the Liturgy.  Divine Liturgy is served weekly (at least) and is a service of the people, and yet, most of the people don't understand what they are watching.  IF they knew what was happening, what it all meant, what was truly transpiring before them, they would be so humbled and so engrossed...that they wouldn't even notice the language being spoken.  At that point language is only a barrier for understanding the Gospel and Epistle readings, sermon, etc.  The Divine Liturgy is the same, no matter the language.  It speaks to the soul whether the ears understand it or not.


Very, very well put.  It has been my experience that teaching of the Liturgy (or any other form of adult education) is seriously lacking in many Churches.  If this were corrected, the issues with language would take care of themselves.  I would see one of two things happening – either people would learn what is going on in the language the Liturgy is being served, or the interaction between the Priest and the congregation during the classes would point out to the priest that transition to the vernacular was desirable. 
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« Reply #71 on: October 13, 2010, 03:42:57 PM »

Nobody is saying it is preferred that the Liturgy be in a foreign language.  What I am saying, is that using language as an excuse to leave Orthodoxy is lame.
...in your opinion.  Personally, I don't think I have any right to tell someone that their feelings and their struggles are "lame."

Quote
...and of course you wouldn't teach folks in a language they don't understand.  Teach them in their native language, so they can go out and be comfortable and participate in the Liturgy no matter what language it is served in.
With all due respect, I graduated valedictorian from Hellenic College (at the seminary), am married to a priest whose area of expertise is liturgics and teleturgics (liturgics is a very popular subject in our house), I teach about the liturgy all the time, I understand enough liturgical Greek to get by.  And I'm STILL not comfortable, and I STILL feel I cannot fully participate in the services when I don't understand the language.  Where is my deficiency?

Quote
Furthermore, the situation in the U.S. with so many various nationalities, languages, jurisdictions, etc. is far from being the perfect scenario.  However, if a particular nationality of people got together, built a church, still attend the church, understand the language in that church why are they and their needs less important than Joe's who comes off the street and doesn't speak their language, yet seems to think he has the right to come in and demand that they serve the Liturgy in his tongue, so he can understand it and participate?
The situation that you describe is less and less the case these days.  We can produce all kinds of evidence (starting with the report just put out by Krindatch that has been discussed on another thread) that supports this.  And no one is saying that their needs are less important.  However, when there is a common language that both groups understand, why would you not use it?

Quote
The language should fit the majority of the worshipers.  
I disagree with this.  The language chosen should be the language that is most common to the worshipers.  If 60% of the people speak Greek, but 100% speak English, why keep the other 40% from not understanding?  For what purpose?  Just to say we're doing it in Greek?

Quote
Instead of growing my parish would diminish in numbers if the Liturgy was all in English.  We have many older immigrants, newer immigrants, and kids who grew up and still speak Ukrainian.   I would have no issues with the English (although I prefer Ukrainian), however, the old people and the new immigrants would be lost.  Why are they being so easily dismissed?  What about their needs?
I think plenty of people have said, they are not being dismissed.  And I think your parish is pretty unique in its situation.  I'm not saying use English in a parish where virtually no one speaks it.  I don't think anyone is. 
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« Reply #72 on: October 13, 2010, 03:49:42 PM »


Very, very well put.  It has been my experience that teaching of the Liturgy (or any other form of adult education) is seriously lacking in many Churches.  If this were corrected, the issues with language would take care of themselves.  I would see one of two things happening – either people would learn what is going on in the language the Liturgy is being served, or the interaction between the Priest and the congregation during the classes would point out to the priest that transition to the vernacular was desirable. 


This I agree with.  My husband and I both are constantly hammering home the importance of learning about the services constantly.  We teach about it in all our classes, my husband preaches about it, it is frequently the theme for our youth events...  the sad fact of the matter is that the majority of the people don't understand no matter what the language.  My own personal experience has been that when they do learn, they then want it to be in the vernacular because once they understand, they WANT to participate!
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« Reply #73 on: October 13, 2010, 03:54:39 PM »

With all due respect, I am only saying that the people should be free to worship in the language that they are comfortable with....be it English, Ukrainian, Greek, etc.

Just because a parish is located in the U.S. does not by default mean that services need to be in English.  It is not a "common" language for many new immigrants.   Furthermore, even IF they speak English, they are more comfortable with their native tongue.  They should be allowed to worship in the same language they use to pray at home.

Certainly, English should be used in parishes where there would be great benefit from using it.  However, a blanket statement that English should be used is too broad, for it would not benefit every parish.

Every parish is unique...and must function in a way in which it can best minister to its particular flock.  Ethnicity has nothing to do with this.  It's not about being Greek or Ukrainian or American.  It's about being able to communicate with the Lord using the language that you feel at ease with...that rolls off your tongue...that you don't have to pause and think about.

The use of foreign languages (not English), shouldn't be always frowned upon. They have their uses, as well.
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« Reply #74 on: October 13, 2010, 03:56:02 PM »

Liturgy should be sang in the language of the majority in the local community. That's pretty straightforward to me. I can perfectly understand the homesickness of an immigrant who wants to hear something that feels like home. I just really think that our brother immigrants and even the venerable elders could understand that making that amazing sensation they have during liturgy available to natives in their own language would be the greatest way of thanking the new country that received them and where their children and grandchildren were born and risen.

I have a particular love for all the immigrants of Orthodox cultures for bringing us the faith here in Brazil. But I think that there is one small "link" most have not made yet: the communities, the liturgy are clearly, in most cases, directed to the immigrant community, not to locals. It's with great grief that they see their children and grandchildren stray from the Faith to heterodoxies or from Christianity altogether. This is the link: their children and grandchildren, culturally, are locals. They know they have roots in Greece/Ukraine/Syria/Lebanon, but in their frame of mind, in their likes and dislikes, in their tendencies, virtues and temptations, they are culturaly locals.

I think that the problem is one of national self-identity differences between the Europe, Middle-East and the Americas. Here, in the ex-colonies, self-identity is not very much linked to a long lineage to the past. There are ethnicities, and ethnical issues, but you are Brazilian or American or Canadian mainly for being born and raised in these countries, not because your ancestors were. In contrast, you can acquire Italian citizenship (with lots of bureaucracy) if your great-grandparent was the first immigrant. It is what legal jargon calls 'jus solis' (right of the land) and 'jus sanguinis' (right of the blood) concerning nationality.

Immigrants from Orthodox countries show a very strong "jus sanguinis" mentality, whereas the locals of the Americas tend for a more "jus solis" national identity. The children and grandchildren of the immigrants tend to stay in between, but the local context will always make them more "local" then whatever origin they have. A "Greek-American" raised and living in the U.S. will always be more of an American with a Greek "touch" in terms of culture and ideologies than properly Greek. Of course there are exceptions, but then again, you don't need foreign ancestorship to find people who are spiritually more linked to another country then to the one they were born.

Anyway, what I mean, in short, is that there is a direct link between making the Liturgy linguistically accessible to locals and the very continuity of the cultivation of the immigrant culture among their descedents, because their descedents *are* locals.
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« Reply #75 on: October 13, 2010, 04:01:35 PM »

...and of course you wouldn't teach folks in a language they don't understand.  Teach them in their native language, so they can go out and be comfortable and participate in the Liturgy no matter what language it is served in.

Thank you! This is my point in a nutshell. If you wouldn't teach people in a language they don't understand, why, then, would you have services in a language they don't understand.

Quote
However, if a particular nationality of people got together, built a church, still attend the church, understand the language in that church why are they and their needs less important than Joe's who comes off the street and doesn't speak their language, yet seems to think he has the right to come in and demand that they serve the Liturgy in his tongue, so he can understand it and participate?
Because of the Great Commission?
Because the language of the country they have chosen to live in is English?
Are the churches ethnic societies or churches?
Does the parish only want to have people who speak a particular language, or are of a particular ethnic heritage?
Then I can practically guarantee that the parish will die within a generation or so, when the children grow up speaking English as their first language.
Is that truly what their parents and grandparents want?

Quote
The language should fit the majority of the worshipers.  Instead of growing my parish would diminish in numbers if the Liturgy was all in English.  We have many older immigrants, newer immigrants, and kids who grew up and still speak Ukrainian.   I would have no issues with the English (although I prefer Ukrainian), however, the old people and the new immigrants would be lost.  Why are they being so easily dismissed?  What about their needs?
Do they really not speak English at all, the language of the country they have chosen to live in? What do they do at work, or in the grocery store?

(See my story about the bakery, btw.)

Truly, I assure you that I get the profound attachment to language and culture and ethnic heritage. It is a precious and valuable treasure. But it will not last, as the immigrants assimilate. Efforts to preserve it, especially efforts using the Church, will fail. It is a natural and inevitable process.

If you asked all the parents and grandparents if they would rather preserve language and heritage or have their children and grandchildren understand the Divine Liturgy and remain pious and faithful Orthodox Christians, I'm pretty sure what the majority answer would be.
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« Reply #76 on: October 13, 2010, 04:04:46 PM »


It doesn't matter the language...it matters whether the people are motivated to participate.
I have to say that I disagree.  I'm quite motivated to participate (heck, I'm a chanter).  I desire nothing more than to be in the services, worshiping my Lord.  And yet, there's this little problem that it's in a foreign language!

Quote
Like I said before, most of the Liturgy at my parish is in Ukrainian, where the majority of people understand Ukrainian.  Maybe half "participate"...the others are spectators and have no idea what is going on, and even worse, don't really care.  However, the few English speakers participate, because they are there to communicate with the Lord, even though they don't speak Ukrainian.
I think it's not quite fair and maybe a little presumptuous to say people don't care.  Obviously they care enough to come.  My experience is not that they don't care, but that they don't know and don't understand.

Quote
It's not so much whether you understand the language, but, whether you want to understand the message.  The words are not meant so much for the ears, as they are for the soul.
With all due respect, I think this is a little ridiculous.  If it wasn't meant for the ears, then why did the Apostles speak in tongues such that each person understood in their own language?  If you can't understand the words, how can you understand the message?

Here's an example... Ever heard Carmina Burana by Orff?  People hear it all the time and think it's a set of beautiful hymns to be used in the Catholic and Protestant churches!  A lot of it sounds like church music!  Yet when you read the translation, it's a collection of songs about drinking and debauchery!  I'll guarantee you, not speaking the language, I had no clue what it was about the first time I heard it, but it sure was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.  Now I know, and it remains one of my favorite works to perform to this day.  I laugh every time, knowing that the audiences have no clue what we're singing about...

To say that language doesn't matter and we should just know, or just feel it, or just understand, etc, reduces the services to being aesthetically pleasing.  The purpose of the services is not to feel or be entertained, it is to pray, to worship.  Hard to do in a foreign language.

Quote
What is more important than language, is teaching the people the meaning behind the Liturgy.
I'll agree with that 100%.

Quote
  Divine Liturgy is served weekly (at least) and is a service of the people, and yet, most of the people don't understand what they are watching.  IF they knew what was happening, what it all meant, what was truly transpiring before them, they would be so humbled and so engrossed...that they wouldn't even notice the language being spoken.  At that point language is only a barrier for understanding the Gospel and Epistle readings, sermon, etc.  The Divine Liturgy is the same, no matter the language.  It speaks to the soul whether the ears understand it or not.
Even if I agreed with this (which I don't, really), what of the other services, like Vespers and Orthros, which rely so heavily on changing hymns?   

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« Reply #77 on: October 13, 2010, 04:10:01 PM »

I met a woman the other day who grew up Orthodox, but stopped going to church when the priest switched services from Arabic to English. It's quite sad, but it's hard when everybody wants it their own way. (That goes for everybody.)

Also, now that I'm thinking of it, a Russian woman from Chicago left the Church because she was tired of the country club mentality and everybody keeping up with the Joneses, showing off their expensive cars, etc. Nothing to do with language really, but cradle Orthodox also leave the Church for a lot of unfortunate reasons.  Undecided
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« Reply #78 on: October 13, 2010, 04:28:50 PM »


Why not have Liturgy in English twice a month and in the other language twice a month?
Isn't that a possibility?

Why are we arguing, when in fact we want the same thing...that people should worship in the language which is understandable to them?

Forgive me if I sounded callous, I was only speaking about the situation that I am familiar with, and might be completely unknown or unexperienced by others.

I am completely comfortable whether the Liturgy is in English or Ukrainian, so personally it wouldn't matter.  I was also completely comfortable at the Serbian church, even though I speak no Serbian, and the Romainian.

My only point is that the use of foreign languages has become stigmatized under the title of ethnicity, as if every ethnic church feels itself to be an ethnic club.  This is not always the case.

Each situation is different and each one should be handled differently.

I can only speak for my own parish.  If we switched to English, we would lose 75% of the people in attendance.  Would we gain others?  That's questionable.  The neighborhood where our church is located, even though we do outreach, and we serve in English on occasion, has never had anyone from the local neighborhood come and inquire.  The only completely non-Ukrainian speakers are two gentleman of Ukrainian heritage who don't speak the language, but, have found our church and having experienced it liked it and stayed.  They speak no Ukrainian, not a word...yet, they come every Sunday.  They are first ones in and often the last ones out.  They speak no Ukrainian, yet, they chose to come to the Ukrainian speaking parish, when there are easily 10 other Orthodox parishes within 20 miles.

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« Reply #79 on: October 13, 2010, 04:40:23 PM »


The neighborhood where our church is located, even though we do outreach, and we serve in English on occasion, has never had anyone from the local neighborhood come and inquire. 

I'm just speculating here, and I'm not criticizing your parish or its efforts, but why would someone who was not Ukrainian, who didn't speak the language, even think of coming to your church?
I would not, for example. Now you can criticize me all you want, but if the first Divine Liturgy that I attended was entirely in a foreign language, instead of English with a little Greek, I'm not sure that I would have persevered. I would have gotten the message, whether intentional or not, that since the Liturgy was in a language that is not the language of the country I live in would have been "This church is only for a particular ethnic group. No others need apply."
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« Reply #80 on: October 13, 2010, 04:42:17 PM »


If we switched to English, we would lose 75% of the people in attendance.  Would we gain others? 

It won't matter in a generation or so. Your children and grandchildren will go somewhere else. There's ample evidence to support this. This is a losing battle.
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« Reply #81 on: October 13, 2010, 04:57:49 PM »


Our services are not ALL in Ukrainian.  It is a mix of both languages.  However, nobody has even come in to find out the language that is used.  It's not the language that is the barrier.

Again, why not utilize both languages?  Why must parishes completely stop using their native languages?

I understand that the kids/grandkids will leave.  Well, that will happen whether the service is in English or Ukrainian.  They will go to school, get jobs, get married, move away.  That's life.

However, lets not lose the people we have now, because we are so worried about losing others in the future.

Additionally, there are many, many parishes in my area that have services strictly in English.  It's not like the community around us is missing an opportunity to know Orthodoxy because our services are mostly in Ukrainian.  There are a number of OCA churches within a minutes drive.  Therefore, souls are not in jeopardy simply because they don't speak Ukrainian.  In this situation they have other options, other churches to attend.  Therefore, why alienate those who do attend the Ukrainian church by telling them they now need to stop using Ukrainian and switch to strictly English?

This is my personal situation.  I know it's different elsewhere, and that's why I stated that each parish needs to be flexible in order to serve their flock's needs.  There is no blanket statement that one way is right and another is wrong.

Each parish needs to accommodate their flock and their communities. 

My community, which is comprised of every flavor of Orthodoxy actually work together.  We hold lectures, classes, sessions, we visit each other's parishes, etc.  We all have our native languages, but, when we get together we speak English.  There is always a way out, if people work together for the good of the Church.  However, telling someone they cannot speak in their native language, in the church they have grown up with, is also not right.

Please forgive me if I stepped on toes, or ruffled feathers, or spoke out of turn.  It was not my intention.

Peace.
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« Reply #82 on: October 13, 2010, 04:58:13 PM »


Why not have Liturgy in English twice a month and in the other language twice a month?
Isn't that a possibility?

Why are we arguing, when in fact we want the same thing...that people should worship in the language which is understandable to them?

Forgive me if I sounded callous, I was only speaking about the situation that I am familiar with, and might be completely unknown or unexperienced by others.

I am completely comfortable whether the Liturgy is in English or Ukrainian, so personally it wouldn't matter.  I was also completely comfortable at the Serbian church, even though I speak no Serbian, and the Romainian.

My only point is that the use of foreign languages has become stigmatized under the title of ethnicity, as if every ethnic church feels itself to be an ethnic club.  This is not always the case.

Each situation is different and each one should be handled differently.

I can only speak for my own parish.  If we switched to English, we would lose 75% of the people in attendance.  Would we gain others?  That's questionable.  The neighborhood where our church is located, even though we do outreach, and we serve in English on occasion, has never had anyone from the local neighborhood come and inquire.  The only completely non-Ukrainian speakers are two gentleman of Ukrainian heritage who don't speak the language, but, have found our church and having experienced it liked it and stayed.  They speak no Ukrainian, not a word...yet, they come every Sunday.  They are first ones in and often the last ones out.  They speak no Ukrainian, yet, they chose to come to the Ukrainian speaking parish, when there are easily 10 other Orthodox parishes within 20 miles.

And yet, you said just the other day:
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I think what Michal is trying to say is that the person didn't fully appreciate the Faith, didn't embrace it, or understand it.  For if one does, one would never leave Orthodoxy.  Ever.

Now, granted, you could argue that one can still be Orthodox if one doesn't go to church, but the point still stands.  Do those fellow parishoners of yours not fully appreciate the Faith?

also, please note and understand I'm not picking on you, but your recent statement simply called to mind your past one in rather sharp manner. 
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« Reply #83 on: October 13, 2010, 05:07:30 PM »


However, nobody has even come in to find out the language that is used.  It's not the language that is the barrier.
Of course it is. Does the sign out front identify you as "Ukrainian"? That sends the message I was referring to before: "This church is only for people who identify themselves as Ukrainians." So why would they even bother to come, if they're not Ukrainian?

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Again, why not utilize both languages?  Why must parishes completely stop using their native languages?
Because you have chosen to live in an English-speaking country?
Because of the Great Commission?
Because your children and grandchildren will probably not bother to speak Ukrainian with any fluency?

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Additionally, there are many, many parishes in my area that have services strictly in English.  It's not like the community around us is missing an opportunity to know Orthodoxy because our services are mostly in Ukrainian.  There are a number of OCA churches within a minutes drive.  Therefore, souls are not in jeopardy simply because they don't speak Ukrainian.  In this situation they have other options, other churches to attend.  Therefore, why alienate those who do attend the Ukrainian church by telling them they now need to stop using Ukrainian and switch to strictly English?
Oh, dear, if you really think this, then it seems to me that your parish really is an ethnic social organization, and the people around you have gotten that message, loud and clear.

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We all have our native languages, but, when we get together we speak English. 
Then there is really no reason not to worship together in English?


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« Reply #84 on: October 13, 2010, 05:09:09 PM »

No, they would not leave Orthodoxy, they would simply leave this parish and find another parish.  They would prefer the Church Slavonic of the Serbs, or the Russian over the English....because that is what they understand and are comfortable with.

The difference here is leaving a parish and leaving Orthodoxy.

If for some reason my parish decided to leave canonical Orthodoxy, I would leave that parish.  However, I would NEVER leave Orthodoxy.
There is a difference.  No?
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« Reply #85 on: October 13, 2010, 05:09:35 PM »


However, nobody has even come in to find out the language that is used.  It's not the language that is the barrier.
Of course it is. Does the sign out front identify you as "Ukrainian"? That sends the message I was referring to before: "This church is only for people who identify themselves as Ukrainians." So why would they even bother to come, if they're not Ukrainian?

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Again, why not utilize both languages?  Why must parishes completely stop using their native languages?
Because you have chosen to live in an English-speaking country?
Because of the Great Commission?
Because your children and grandchildren will probably not bother to speak Ukrainian with any fluency?

Quote
Additionally, there are many, many parishes in my area that have services strictly in English.  It's not like the community around us is missing an opportunity to know Orthodoxy because our services are mostly in Ukrainian.  There are a number of OCA churches within a minutes drive.  Therefore, souls are not in jeopardy simply because they don't speak Ukrainian.  In this situation they have other options, other churches to attend.  Therefore, why alienate those who do attend the Ukrainian church by telling them they now need to stop using Ukrainian and switch to strictly English?
Oh, dear, if you really think this, then it seems to me that your parish really is an ethnic social organization, and the people around you have gotten that message, loud and clear.

Quote
We all have our native languages, but, when we get together we speak English. 
Then there is really no reason not to worship together in English?




Forget it.
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« Reply #86 on: October 13, 2010, 08:07:59 PM »


The neighborhood where our church is located, even though we do outreach, and we serve in English on occasion, has never had anyone from the local neighborhood come and inquire. 

I'm just speculating here, and I'm not criticizing your parish or its efforts, but why would someone who was not Ukrainian, who didn't speak the language, even think of coming to your church?
I would not, for example. Now you can criticize me all you want, but if the first Divine Liturgy that I attended was entirely in a foreign language, instead of English with a little Greek, I'm not sure that I would have persevered. I would have gotten the message, whether intentional or not, that since the Liturgy was in a language that is not the language of the country I live in would have been "This church is only for a particular ethnic group. No others need apply."

My fellow Katherine, I totally agree with you here.  For us converts (especially those of us who come from Evangelical/Charismatic faiths), learning about the faith in English is hard enough (since Orthodoxy is so different), without having to learn another language in order to learn about Orthodoxy.  I belong to another forum that has an Orthodox subforum.  There is a young lady named Monica who posts on there.  She was raised in the RO tradition with everything in Slavonic.  She complained that she didn't really know the Orthodox faith.  We tried to persuade her to start attending a parish where the services were in English and where there were classes to teach the faith.  She didn't do this and ended up converting to Catholicism.  Now she is torn by doubts about her doing so and is going through a really tough time (by the way, please keep her in your prayers).  Maybe if services (and maybe classes) had been in English in her parish, she would have not converted to Catholicism. 
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« Reply #87 on: October 14, 2010, 06:19:36 AM »


You know folks, this is a discussion forum and I was simply trying to express my views concerning my own parish experience.

I seem to have ruffled feathers and most likely said things that have been misconstrued making me look "presumptuous" and "unfair".

That was certainly never my intent, and I am still trying to figure out why we were so greatly mis-communicating.

I am sorry for those of you who have encountered an ethnicity or a nationality to be a wall or a blockage of some sort to your personal journey in growing in your faith.  I completely understand your points of view.  I have little nieces and nephews who don't speak much Ukrainian.  They are "lost" during the Gospel reading, etc.  However, they would be lost at that age, anyway.  They squirm, they fidget, they sit, they stand....no matter the language they are listening to in church.  I don't know one child that doesn't get "bored" during the 2 hour Liturgy, no matter what language is used.  They are simply too young and too unconcerned with their spirituality at that age to focus for that long, or to fully grasp and appreciate what unfolds before them.  It's not the language, it's the age of maturity.

However, to ensure that they aren't completely lost, I a point of having a copy of the our church consistory book "calendar" which contains the menologian in both English and Ukrainian.  On the ride to church (I always have the boys so they get there early to serve), they have been taught to look up what's being read, and then they grab the little Bible in the back pocket and read the Gospel.  We then discuss what was read and it's significance. Therefore, before we get to church, they already know what the "theme" is.  We even go over key words to listen for in the readings, and I know they were listening because when that word gets uttered and they recognize it they inadvertently glance my way from the solea.

I am aware of the language issue.

However, in my parish English is the issue.  The vast majority do not feel comfortable with it.  The older folks came to the US as older adults, and had difficulty picking up the nuances of English.  The new immigrants haven't been here long enough to pick up the language all that well.  For these people English would be the barrier.

However, we seem to dismiss them as simply being ethnically nationalistic, and that kills me.

Why are their spiritual needs less important than the English speaker?  Why would we chance losing the sheep we already have in our flock, in order to try and entice other sheep?  We are completely open to everyone.  We serve in English as well as Ukrainian.  We do charity work.  We are "out" in the community.  We do what we can to spread the Word and teach the Faith.

However, I am not so naive that I think I can change the world, nor am I so assured of myself to even contemplate that I know what is best for other parishes and how to "fix" the language barrier, or to tell someone I know better than they do.

All I can say is that the disciples of Christ did not alienate their flock as they went out to evangelize and baptize all other nations.  They left leaders and bishops behind to tend to the flock they had already gathered.  They did not forget about them and only keep their eyes on the horizon and to see how many more they can "save".  They were still concerned about those they already "saved" - because each soul is important, and each soul is unique with unique requirements and needs. 

Gaining a newcomer is not a "win", if you lose an existing parishioner who feels the need to leave your parish for another.

Yes, by all means use English.  No question.  Yes, the majority of folks in the U.S. would understand English more than any other.  Yes, use English to teach Orthodoxy to the non-Orthodox.  Use English to spread the Word in an English speaking nation.  Don't alienate the English user, however, don't forget about the non-English user.  Tend to the entire flock, because as I mentioned each soul is important, and the non-English speaker is no less important.  Don't throw them to the curb like yesterday's news.  Don't diminish their worth in the Church.  Don't belittle them for not speaking English well.  Don't belittle them for coming to America to escape certain death and torture in their own homelands.  It's easy to sit and judge others when you were born in the States and speak fluent English, and then can look down your nose at the lesser, foreign element gathered around you, like the unwashed masses.

Well, your ancestors came here from somewhere as well.  I'll bet they didn't speak English all that well.  Would you have forbade them from praying in some other language than English, when they were new here?

Things will change, and English WILL take over...and people will not have an issue, because they WILL have forgotten their native tongues.  However, until that happens don't dismiss the generation that still is living and among us and does not speak the language.

That's all I am saying on this subject. I hope I didn't sound pretentious, obnoxious or any other word that has been flung at me for trying to explain why my particular parish serves in both Ukrainian and English....oh, and yes, the sign outside does say Ukrainian Orthodox.  If anyone is too scared to come to the church because there's a nationality attached to it, than they aren't serious about finding Orthodoxy.  The Faith came to these lands through these "foreign" sources, it did not simply materialize on American soil. Any true inquirer would realize that, and knowing it still go and "see".  They might be a bit uncomfortable, but, it shouldn't stop them.  IF that parish does not greet them warmly and try to take them into their flock, than it's a parish issue, a personnel issue, an attitude issue within that church.  As I mentioned we have our non-Ukrainian speakers, and when Father sees they are in church or even when he notices "unknown" faces, the services immediately go from 25% to at least 50% English.  It works for us.

That's all I have to say on this matter.  I apologize to the people who seem to have been offended by my point of view.  I am saying no more on this matter because to be honest, it's a no win situation, and I find myself getting frustrating just trying to express my point of view, which seems to inadvertently clash with everyone's wiser and more correct views.

I have been going on 4 hours sleep for the last few days.  None the less, I have a joyous weekend ahead of me, and I had this smile plastered on my face.  The joy was with me, until I got on this forum yesterday.  My crazy work didn't get me down, my lack of sleep didn't get me down, but this forum managed to rip that smile right off my face and the joy right out of my heart, just because I tried to explain the situation I am familiar with.  When I finally made it to my bed this forum was spinning in my brain, and how was it that I was so misunderstood.

People here are way wiser than I, way more experienced, more titled, way more "learned", way higher in society and knowledge concerning the Church and some days I don't even know why I bother trying to express my simple point of view....and then it bothers me for the rest of the day (and night).  I feel like a nail getting hammered over and over.  Well, this nail just got bent a bit too far out of shape.

Please forgive me for having spoken out of turn and my own expressing my own "rant".

I love you all, I wish you all the best whether English speakers or otherwise!  Please forgive me.

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« Reply #88 on: October 14, 2010, 09:25:32 AM »

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Yes, by all means use English.  No question.  Yes, the majority of folks in the U.S. would understand English more than any other.  Yes, use English to teach Orthodoxy to the non-Orthodox.  Use English to spread the Word in an English speaking nation.  Don't alienate the English user, however, don't forget about the non-English user.  Tend to the entire flock, because as I mentioned each soul is important, and the non-English speaker is no less important.  Don't throw them to the curb like yesterday's news.  Don't diminish their worth in the Church.  Don't belittle them for not speaking English well.  Don't belittle them for coming to America to escape certain death and torture in their own homelands.  It's easy to sit and judge others when you were born in the States and speak fluent English, and then can look down your nose at the lesser, foreign element gathered around you, like the unwashed masses.

Well, your ancestors came here from somewhere as well.  I'll bet they didn't speak English all that well.  Would you have forbade them from praying in some other language than English, when they were new here?

Things will change, and English WILL take over...and people will not have an issue, because they WILL have forgotten their native tongues.  However, until that happens don't dismiss the generation that still is living and among us and does not speak the language.

I don't think (at least I hope) that anyone here has expressed any opinions that would indicated they look down on people whose first language is not English. Or that there is any desire to "kick anyone to the curb." Indeed I for one have often criticized the monolingualism of most Americans.

As I said before, perhaps because of my experiences growing up in a (very) German Lutheran Church, I get it. I get the intertwining of faith, language and culture, the special place of church and worship in the immigrant experience. For my German ancestors, their church was where they could be truly themselves amongst people who were their extended family - it was home, in a very real sense, the home that they had left to come to America. (Btw, my great-grandmother often expressed a deep skepticism of "the English," that is, everyone who didn't speak German and was not German!)

If it's any consolation, your views expressed above are the very same ones that I heard growing up during my former church's struggles over language and faith.

But, as a Greek Orthodox priest I know said (to a very ethnically Greek parish, btw), if we are expecting the Church to make our children Greek (or Ukrainian, or Russian or Serbian or Romanian or whatever), then we are doomed to disapointment. That is not what the Church is about.
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« Reply #89 on: October 14, 2010, 10:53:08 AM »

I seem to have ruffled feathers and most likely said things that have been misconstrued making me look "presumptuous" and "unfair".
Please don't think you ruffled my feathers.  You certainly didn't.  No worries.  But as you said, you expressed your opinion.  I expressed mine as well.  I was simply trying to point out that you were presuming (maybe I should have said "assuming," the connotation is somewhat different) that the people didn't care.  I was just pointing out that maybe the problem was that they didn't know.

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That was certainly never my intent, and I am still trying to figure out why we were so greatly mis-communicating.
I think it's for the same reasons it always happens on an internet forum.  We can't hear tone of voice, can't see facial expressions, all we have are words on a page.  We interpret them as we read them, and sometimes we read more into them than what's actually there.

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I am sorry for those of you who have encountered an ethnicity or a nationality to be a wall or a blockage of some sort to your personal journey in growing in your faith. 
I don't really think that's where we're coming from.  Or, at least, it's not for me.  I am ethnically Greek, my father is an immigrant, I grew up in the Greek community and am entrenched neck-deep in it now as the presbytera of a Greek parish and youth coordinator of a GOA metropolis.  I'm certainly not intimidated or blocked by an ethnicity.  Only by a language.  And really, it's much less of an issue for me than it is for people who speak no Greek and haven't had the experiences I've been blessed to have.  Most of the points I'm trying to make are more on their behalf than on my own.  I'll live with the liturgical Greek.  I have so far.  And I'm learning more of it every day.  I don't allow it to be an impediment to my spiritual life.  But I'm trying to have compassion for those who are not Greek, don't speak either modern or liturgical Greek, and are struggling as a result.  I'm thinking of my Sunday Schoolers, my campers, and my catechumens.

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I completely understand your points of view.  I have little nieces and nephews ... It's not the language, it's the age of maturity.

However, to ensure that they aren't completely lost...
I am aware of the language issue.
I actually find that they are sponges at a young age, willing to soak things up (like you say below about how you help your nieces and nephews).  The last two times that I have gone to church with my five year old nephew, he's been totally enthralled by the liturgy.  But the reason is because, like you engaging your nieces and nephews, I engaged him.  I talked him through it both times, helped him to understand what was happening, and what he was supposed to be doing.  He loved it.  The only time he lost interest and got bored was during the Greek parts.

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However, in my parish English is the issue...  For these people English would be the barrier.
And this, I think, is where the miss-communication is happening.  Your parish is made up of a majority ethnic Ukranians.  So not only does it make sense to do the language in Ukranian, but the language itself IS the vernacular.
In a Greek parish, even the ones that are vast majority ethnic Greeks, the language of the liturgy is STILL not the vernacular.  It's liturgical Greek.  And most of the people don't understand it.  They may catch some of it, and they may be able to figure it out if they sit down and read it at length, but hearing a hymn sung once without a text in front of them is much more difficult.
However, we seem to dismiss them as simply being ethnically nationalistic, and that kills me.

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Why are their spiritual needs less important than the English speaker?  Why would we chance losing the sheep we already have in our flock, in order to try and entice other sheep...
I don't think anyone has been saying that they're needs are less important.  I know I certainly haven't, and looking back over the thread, I haven't been able to find any posts where anyone said these things.

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However, I am not so naive that I think I can change the world, nor am I so assured of myself to even contemplate that I know what is best for other parishes and how to "fix" the language barrier, or to tell someone I know better than they do.
I do hope you're not implying that I have done these things.  If so then you have, indeed, greatly misunderstood me.  I tried to make it very clear that I was NOT going to assume I know what every parish or every person needs, or judge their spiritual experience.

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All I can say is that the disciples of Christ did not alienate their flock...  They were still concerned about those they already "saved"...
And again, nobody is suggesting alienating or abandoning the flock.  I go with my husband to the cemetery to do trisagia for people's family members who have passed away all the time.  And we are always sure to do the trisagion in whatever language the family is comfortable with.  This is just one example.  But there's a difference between that and services with the entire congregation where only 40% speak Greek (with virtually none speaking liturgical Greek), and 99% able to speak English.  For OUR parish, it's more practical to do English.  The problem is that it doesn't happen.  We still do a lot of Greek.  There's a disconnect.  You have demonstrated that this is not the case in your parish.  There is no disconnect and the liturgy is done in the vernacular.  That is not the case in our parish, and in many of the Greek parishes I visit. 

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Gaining a newcomer is not a "win", if you lose an existing parishioner who feels the need to leave your parish for another.
I think I would say that a person coming home to Orthodoxy is always a win.  But you are correct, losing a person is a HUGE (and unacceptable) loss.

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Yes, by all means use English... Don't alienate the English user... don't forget about the non-English user... Don't throw them to the curb like yesterday's news.  Don't diminish their worth in the Church.  Don't belittle them for not speaking English well.  Don't belittle them for coming to America to escape certain death and torture in their own homelands.  It's easy to sit and judge others when you were born in the States and speak fluent English, and then can look down your nose at the lesser, foreign element gathered around you, like the unwashed masses.
Again, I think maybe you were reading more into the previous posts than was there.  I don't think anyone was suggesting throwing out non-English speakers.  And I certainly don't think anyone was judging or belittling them.  My father is an immigrant who came here to escape horrific poverty and try to make a life for himself, as did my father-in-law the same.  Neither of them spoke English when they arrived (my mother actually taught my father).  I would never disrespect them or their experience.  But both of them acknowledge that in our three respective parishes, we should be using English because of the make-up of the parishes.  And yet, our three respective parishes still use a LOT of Greek.

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Well, your ancestors came here from somewhere as well...
As I said, my father is an immigrant.

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Things will change, and English WILL take over...and people will not have an issue, because they WILL have forgotten their native tongues.  However, until that happens don't dismiss the generation that still is living and among us and does not speak the language.
Again, no dismissal here.

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That's all I am saying on this subject. I hope I didn't sound pretentious, obnoxious or any other word that has been flung at me for trying to explain why my particular parish serves in both Ukrainian and English....
I don't recall "flinging" any words at you, or anyone else doing so.  I am sorry that you seem to be so upset, though, by alternate opinions being expressed.  It certainly was never my intent to offend you.

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oh, and yes, the sign outside does say Ukrainian Orthodox.  If anyone is too scared to come to the church because there's a nationality attached to it, than they aren't serious about finding Orthodoxy. 
Okay this time I'm going to try to say it a different way to avoid miss-communicating.  Here goes...
I don't feel that I would be able to make that assumption about anyone, not knowing their heart.  I feel that it's perfectly possible that a person is quite serious about finding Orthodoxy and is having trouble doing so because of the ethnic barriers and language barriers.  I think of one of my catechumens who I am teaching privately right now.  I'm teaching her privately because she is shy and is terribly uncomfortable with the fact that she is a non-Greek in a Greek parish.  She feels like an outsider.  She freely admits that people have welcomed her with open arms, but she is still uncomfortable.  Further, she has a very, very hard time in the liturgy because of the language.  But when I asked her why she didn't attend an OCA parish up the road which would do services in all English, she said she is more comfortable in the Byzantine tradition because that's where she came to know Orthodoxy.  Now, she's serious about finding Orthodoxy and has stuck around and is making it work, despite her feelings of discomfort and her misgivings.  But if she left for all these reasons, I couldn't blame her.  I feel personally that she would be blameless, and that it is us who would carry the responsibility.  Because in that case, we would not have done our jobs. 

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They might be a bit uncomfortable, but, it shouldn't stop them. 
No, it shouldn't.  But it does.  And I think we just differ in our opinions on whose responsibility that is.  You see it as their responsibility for leaving.  I don't agree (respectfully).  I feel that we can't hold them up to the standards and faith of Orthodoxy and say they are abandoning it when they haven't even come to know it yet.  And even if they are Orthodox and leave because of the language, I still feel that the responsibility lies with the parish, with the Church, with the priest and the people.  Doesn't Christ tell us to go and get the one who leaves the flock?  We're supposed to keep the sheep, as you said.  If they leave because of a language barrier, then I feel that's on us.
IF that parish does not greet them warmly and try to take them into their flock, than it's a parish issue, a personnel issue, an attitude issue within that church.  As I mentioned we have our non-Ukrainian speakers, and when Father sees they are in church or even when he notices "unknown" faces, the services immediately go from 25% to at least 50% English.  It works for us.
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I apologize to the people who seem to have been offended by my point of view... I find myself getting frustrating just trying to express my point of view, which seems to inadvertently clash with everyone's wiser and more correct views.
No offense was taken here.  As I said, I just have an alternate point of view (I wouldn't say wiser or more correct, though.  These are just opinions we're expressing).  I am sorry that you are so frustrated.

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The joy was with me, until I got on this forum yesterday...but this forum managed to rip that smile right off my face and the joy right out of my heart...
I have had exchanges on this forum where I have felt that way too.  That's usually when I try to take a break or at least re-examine what happened (I'm not suggesting you take a break).  If I feel I was fair and expressed my opinion in a loving, Christian manner, I usually am able to let it go.  But sometimes it does stick with me.  I am sorry if I caused you such distress.

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People here are way wiser than I, way more experienced, more titled, way more "learned", way higher in society and knowledge concerning the Church and some days I don't even know why I bother trying to express my simple point of view....
This seems to be a shot at me, since I am the only one who expressed an alternate opinion to yours who has a "title" (so to speak- I don't believe it's a title, but that's a "whole 'nother" discussion), and I made specific mention of my education.  I feel this is a misunderstanding.  I was trying to make a point, not lord my "position" or education over your head.  I was trying to make the point that even someone who has the blessing of a theological education, of speaking Greek, and of being knowledgeable enough about the liturgy to be able to teach about it can still be uncomfortable and feel that they cannot fully participate in the liturgy because of a language barrier. 

I do not feel that I have a "title" or "position" or a "high rank in society" or any such thing.  I sign my posts with "Presbytera" and in church circles I go by "Presbytera" because that is what my husband and what other Orthodox Christians expect of me.  It's not something I particularly like on the forum because people expect more of me most of the time and I have to be conscious of scandalizing people.  I have been shamed more than a few times for expressing an opinion that someone felt was scandalous for a presbytera.  It is because it's what is expected of me.  It is not because of some ego trip.  I pray that those on the forum who know me well (and there are a bunch of them) would attest to that.  If I have given you the opposite impression, then may God forgive me.

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Please forgive me for having spoken out of turn and my own expressing my own "rant".
I love you all, I wish you all the best whether English speakers or otherwise!  Please forgive me.
God forgives and I forgive.  I hope you will forgive me for whatever offense I caused you, and that you will not hesitate in expressing your opinions on the forum.  Yours are just as valid as anyone else's, whether they be priest, bishop, layperson, or whoever.  You are entitled to your opinion and entitled to express it with confidence.  The hard thing that I had to learn is that people will disagree with it.
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« Reply #90 on: October 14, 2010, 10:53:45 AM »

^^^Boy that was a long post.  Sorry 'bout that!
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« Reply #91 on: October 14, 2010, 11:18:02 AM »

oh, and yes, the sign outside does say Ukrainian Orthodox.  If anyone is too scared to come to the church because there's a nationality attached to it, than they aren't serious about finding Orthodoxy. 
Okay this time I'm going to try to say it a different way to avoid miss-communicating.  Here goes...
I don't feel that I would be able to make that assumption about anyone, not knowing their heart.  I feel that it's perfectly possible that a person is quite serious about finding Orthodoxy and is having trouble doing so because of the ethnic barriers and language barriers...She feels like an outsider.  She freely admits that people have welcomed her with open arms, but she is still uncomfortable.  Further, she has a very, very hard time in the liturgy because of the language...Now, she's serious about finding Orthodoxy and has stuck around and is making it work, despite her feelings of discomfort and her misgivings.  But if she left for all these reasons, I couldn't blame her.  I feel personally that she would be blameless, and that it is us who would carry the responsibility.  Because in that case, we would not have done our jobs. 
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They might be a bit uncomfortable, but, it shouldn't stop them. 
No, it shouldn't.  But it does.  And I think we just differ in our opinions on whose responsibility that is.  You see it as their responsibility for leaving.  I don't agree (respectfully).  I feel that we can't hold them up to the standards and faith of Orthodoxy and say they are abandoning it when they haven't even come to know it yet.  And even if they are Orthodox and leave because of the language, I still feel that the responsibility lies with the parish, with the Church, with the priest and the people.  Doesn't Christ tell us to go and get the one who leaves the flock?  We're supposed to keep the sheep, as you said.  If they leave because of a language barrier, then I feel that's on us.

These are very important points, IMHO. After all, doesn't Scripture talk about not placing stumbling blocks in another's way?

The first Divine Liturgy that I attended was at a Greek Orthodox mission parish. It was mostly in English and I was actually able to participate! I'm not sure, and I'm not proud of it, believe me, that had the service been entirely in Greek and thus incomprehensible to me, if I would have continued in my journey. If the Liturgy had been in a foreign language, it would only have confirmed my sad suspicions that Orthodoxy was primarily a closed ethnic club and no outsiders were welcome.
(I should say at this point, that the parishioners were terrific! They welcomed us with open arms, invited us to coffee hour, to Sunday School, to Bible study, stayed for an hour afterward to answer our questions etc.)
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« Reply #92 on: October 14, 2010, 11:26:17 AM »

I actually heard a podcast the other day where a Priest talked about attending a Greek seminary in the U.S. (Holy Cross I guess maybe?) years ago. (take note, he WASN'T dissing the seminary, it was just kind of a funny quip in his speech)
He said that when he went to seminary, the seminarians, even during passing conversation about the Church & theology were not allowed to speak in a language other than Greek. (even though some spoke only English, or very little Greek)
Apparently that was a couple decades ago, but I really honestly hope that attitude doesn't exist in an American seminary anymore, otherwise we are just breeding Priests to be all about "just Greek" when it comes to the language of Church and it's services...

That was, from our POV, a long while ago (3+ decades); classes were half and half when my dad was there in the 70's.  Now, the only classes you need to know much Greek for are... Greek and chant (and not all the chant classes, just half of them).

All of the Orthodox seminaries used to teach many, sometimes most, of their courses in the language of their patrimony. That started changing in the 50s. As mentioned in his recent interview, when Met. Philip attended Holy Cross in 56, students were supposed to immerse themselves in Greek, speaking it all the time. That might sound extreme, but it turned out to be a smart pedagogical move: As graduates from that era have told me, the priests in that generation really did need to speak fluent, preferably educated, Greek, and that's simply not possible without immersion, especially for Americans. Back then, there was basically no Orthodox literature in English and far more church goers who spoke little or no English. Greek was a pastoral and pedagogical necessity. Keep in mind, this was before the time of SVS Press, Holy Cross Press, most certainly before Conciliar Press, even before the existence of an introductory text like Ware's The Orthodox Church. You couldn't study Orthodoxy in English. Some still wonder if you can, considering the differences between Orthodox publications in English and those in Russian, Greek, et al.!

St. Vlad's started using lots of English under Fr. Florovsky, who was able to read everything in the original Greek, Latin, Russian, Serbian, Church Slavonic, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Hebrew, German, and French, and give lectures based on the sources in English (not that all of his students could follow, since most of the references only existed in foreign, often ancient, languages). St. Tikhon's had professors who only taught in Russian into the mid 60s. And, nowadays, there are still several required courses taught exclusively in Russian, Ukrainian, and Serbian at the ROCOR, Ukrainian (South Bound Brook), and Serbian seminaries respectively.
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« Reply #93 on: October 14, 2010, 10:46:28 PM »


What is more important than language, is teaching the people the meaning behind the Liturgy. 

I don't mean this to sound snippy, but what language will be used to teach the people the meaning behind the Liturgy? Will English-only speakers be taught the meaning of the Liturgy in Greek, Ukrainian, Romanian etc.? How, exactly, can that be done?

Of course, it is possible to be moved by the Liturgy whether one speaks the language or not, but is anyone here seriously saying that it is a good thing for a person not to be able to understand the Epistle or the Gospel or the hymns? Forgive me, but does that really make sense?

(Once upon a time, I was HR manager for a large commercial bakery. Our employees spoke many different languages. I made it a point to honor everyone's cultural and ethnic heritage, but the only language that we had in common was English. In order to get the work done safely, we all had to use English to communicate.)



Again, I agree with you.  I learn so much from really listening to the words of the hymns and the readings and the prayers being chanted.  What would I learn from them if they are in a language that I don't understand?  Is the Liturgy just supposed to sound beautiful, or are we actually supposed to get spiritually nourished from it (which taking all those hymns, readings and prayers into myself does for me)?  Even if you speak or know another language fluently, it is going to be hard to take  all of it in, because you have to think about what is being said--in other words, translate it in your own head, which would cause you to miss a lot. 
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« Reply #94 on: October 14, 2010, 11:04:12 PM »


Very, very well put.  It has been my experience that teaching of the Liturgy (or any other form of adult education) is seriously lacking in many Churches.  If this were corrected, the issues with language would take care of themselves.  I would see one of two things happening – either people would learn what is going on in the language the Liturgy is being served, or the interaction between the Priest and the congregation during the classes would point out to the priest that transition to the vernacular was desirable. 


This I agree with.  My husband and I both are constantly hammering home the importance of learning about the services constantly.  We teach about it in all our classes, my husband preaches about it, it is frequently the theme for our youth events...  the sad fact of the matter is that the majority of the people don't understand no matter what the language.  My own personal experience has been that when they do learn, they then want it to be in the vernacular because once they understand, they WANT to participate!

On another forum that I participate, there is an older priest (he's in his 60's), who vividly remembers the first time he heard the liturgy in English.  He describes it vividly even all these years later.  For the first time, he could really understand what was going on in the liturgy because it was in his native language (he is of slavic descent, but English is his native language). 

I am not sure that I can agree that we can truly take what was in a liturgy in a language we don't understand a word of into our souls.  Our souls and bodies are interconnected.  I personally question how much we can take into our soul if we don't understand it.  If  they are in English, I can take it in and then meditate on it later and/or talk to my priest about it.  If I don't have any idea what the priest said or what the chanter chanted, or the choir sang, how can I meditate on it later? 
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« Reply #95 on: October 15, 2010, 02:49:00 AM »

Precisely why the serves need to be in the language that the congregation understands.  We are in agreement.
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« Reply #96 on: October 17, 2010, 03:53:02 PM »


Very, very well put.  It has been my experience that teaching of the Liturgy (or any other form of adult education) is seriously lacking in many Churches.  If this were corrected, the issues with language would take care of themselves.  I would see one of two things happening – either people would learn what is going on in the language the Liturgy is being served, or the interaction between the Priest and the congregation during the classes would point out to the priest that transition to the vernacular was desirable. 


This I agree with.  My husband and I both are constantly hammering home the importance of learning about the services constantly.  We teach about it in all our classes, my husband preaches about it, it is frequently the theme for our youth events...  the sad fact of the matter is that the majority of the people don't understand no matter what the language.  My own personal experience has been that when they do learn, they then want it to be in the vernacular because once they understand, they WANT to participate!

On another forum that I participate, there is an older priest (he's in his 60's), who vividly remembers the first time he heard the liturgy in English.  He describes it vividly even all these years later.  For the first time, he could really understand what was going on in the liturgy because it was in his native language (he is of slavic descent, but English is his native language). 

I am not sure that I can agree that we can truly take what was in a liturgy in a language we don't understand a word of into our souls.  Our souls and bodies are interconnected.  I personally question how much we can take into our soul if we don't understand it.  If  they are in English, I can take it in and then meditate on it later and/or talk to my priest about it.  If I don't have any idea what the priest said or what the chanter chanted, or the choir sang, how can I meditate on it later? 

This is an interesting thread.  This exactly mirrors a story my former priest told about the first time he heard the liturgy in English.  He grew up in a US parish where the liturgy was only in Arabic and he never understood it.  He said that when he was in college he almost left the church to become a Catholic.  I also know a lady in my parish who grew up in a Russian community in Germany.  She hated going to church because she never understood what was going on.  She said it was only immigrating to the US and hearing the liturgy in English (which was a language she actually speaks regularly) that was directly responsible for renewing her faith.  It was the first time she could understand what was going on!  Then there's this one girl on one forum I go to who is from a Russian family who left to become Catholic due to many issues, but language was a big one.

Think about all the potential converts who never give Orthodoxy a second look because they automatically assume it is all about culture and language.  The number one question?  Will it be in English?  If the answer is no, I think people will have to answer for that one day.

I think it is an absolute sin if there are people coming to any parish who can't understand at least 60-70% of what is being said.  Even scripture agrees.  Read the book of Acts if you doubt it.  How many people have I spoken to in my parish who have told me that even though they love their Greek, Arabic, Russian, whatever heritage- they love going to a parish where they can understand the liturgy in a language they actually speak?  Loads.  They might know a few phrases and songs in the language of the old country, but many second and especially third generation folks don't speak anything other than English.  Shocking thing in a country that is English speaking and all, I know, but whatcha gonna do? 
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« Reply #97 on: October 17, 2010, 06:11:02 PM »

Their ancestors usually couldn't understand it in the old country either, as it was an archaic form of the language pretty unfamiliar to them.

The difference is that in America, there is an open market on religion, and folks know if they want to be Christians at all (which aren't many these days), then they can take their business and shop elsewhere if they aren't getting what they want out of the deal.

This set of "options" wasn't available to their ancestors. It was the local Orthodox temple or nothing. In fact, their ancestors likely couldn't even conceive of having options on the religious front. This might explain the low attendance rate back in the old lands (which through polls is usually like 10% of those that claim to be Orthodox). Out of that 10%, how many actually know what is going on?
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