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StGeorge
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« on: December 10, 2010, 02:08:03 AM »

This evening, I had a rather unexpected and eye-opening experience.  I attended a Russian class at my parish and afterward talked with a few fellow parishoners.  In conversation, I jested to the effect that with as many people taking these Russian courses we'd end up a  Russian-speaking parish.  I said this in a facetious manner, since 80% of our parishioners are converts from a largely Protestant background and we're about the opposite as an "ethnic" parish as they come.  However, one lady became deeply upset and said no no no repeatedly.  She deprecated anything other than the use of English in the Liturgy, and said that our mission would quickly die and vanish if we started to use Russian/Old Slavonic in the Liturgy. 

First off, has anyone else here experienced or have this kind of disapproval of using any Old Slavonic (Greek, Romanian, etc.) in the Liturgy?  I notice amongst many converts (and some cradle, too, though I have not had as much exposure to their views) a marked desire that the Divine Liturgy be in English--the attitude being that the Liturgy is meaningless in a language someone cannot understand. 

I come from a Latin Catholic background, and I'm beginning to see that my experience and attitude towards non-English languages in the Liturgy is different from other converts to Orthodoxy.  Growing up, I never heard Latin in the Mass, since it was completely expunged in favor of all-English Masses.  As I grew older, I felt that while it probably was necessary to include more English (as for propers), the complete elimination of Latin seemed to sever a connection with tradition and the Christians gone before us who prayed in that language.   

When I began attending a Ruthenian Catholic parish, I appreciated the use of English, but also the dual use of Church Slavonic.  For three weeks we would have regular Divine Liturgy in English.  On the fourth week, the Trisagion, the Lord have mercies and several other prayers were in Old Slavonic.  I thought this was a great way of maintaining a balance. 

I notice that some convert Orthodox are very much attracted to the traditional "old ways" which includes Old Slavonic, while other convert Orthodox see those "old ways" as off-putting to potential converts who would see them as too foreign and therefore not adoptable. 

Does anyone else have these thoughts or experiences?   

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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2010, 02:34:49 AM »

I'll admit that when the church is darkened and the only light is coming from the many candles, there's sort of a mystical, other-worldly feel if I hear the chanting in another language.  And to go a bit further, I completely understand those who want to hear the Divine Liturgy and other services in the language of their childhood.  It's often a beautiful feeling (and again, mystical) to hear our services in another language.  Yet the problem, as I see it, is one of practicality.  As you mentioned, if you don't understand what you're hearing (though you may be able to follow along as is often the case) I feel you lose the ability to participate completely.  And this doesn't even begin to address those curious who are just visiting.  As your fellow female parishoner mentioned, you definitely risk being written off as an 'ethnic', not-quite-American oddity.  Orthodoxy is so rich, so deep, that it truly takes a lifetime and more to begin to feel comfortable with it's mysteries and that to throw in a hurdle such as a foreign language truly truly robs the Christian of the fullness. 

Another aspect to consider is one of respect.  I love listening to all languages but I'll arbitrarily pick one for my example.  Suppose I and some other Americans are living in Romania (never been, but am dying to visit!!).  Now imagine myself and the other Americans insist on hearing the Divine Liturgy in English.  Can you imagine how awkward (and hurt and offended) my Romanian brothers and sisters would feel?  Isn't it a bit arrogant to insist that English be the lingua franca of the Divine services simply because it's what I'm used to? 

Something to consider for sure. 
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2010, 03:15:49 AM »

Yeah, I understand where you're coming from with the Romanian analogy.  I don't think Old Slavonic or Greek should be forced on anyone out of personal preference. 
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2010, 03:38:31 AM »

To me, it isn't an issue of Old Ways vs. New Ways. The Liturgy has traditionally always been in the language of the people, whether that be Slavonic, Greek, Arabic, French, Spanish, English etc...
For example, I'm travelling to Greece this Spring, and I'm expecting (of course) to hear the Liturgy in Greek, and I've prepared with an English/Greek Liturgical text. I'd be sure that all over Greece (there might be a couple exceptions) the Liturgy is in Greek (Κοινε of course).

At my current Parish, we do everything in English. Yet we have many people who speak other languages there (even ones who don't speak English well) and they come on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
I think for us, it isn't a matter of old vs. new, or convert vs. cradle. We do the Liturgy in English, because we are in the United States, where 96% of people speak English well, and 82% speak it as their native language.

If we look at it from a statistical point of view, we see that in the United States:
82% have English as their main language.
.1% of people have Greek as their main language.
.2% of people have Russian as their main language.

I think many parishes still have the Liturgy in other languages because that is what they've done for the past century. But the other problem is that many subsequent generations that come from immigrants are learning English as a first language, and often they don't even really know their ancestor's native language that well. I would think that eventually, most people will be speaking English regardless of what the Liturgy is in, and so it just makes sense practically.

Now I think it would be nice if we did some occasional hymns in other languages. However, these should be restrained to the times when the curtains are closed & the Priest is communing, and just after the Liturgy. Except in the case of Pascha, where I would like to see more Parishes sing the Troparia in multiple languages.
It would even be nice to see this on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2010, 03:49:46 AM »

We do the Liturgy in English, because we are in the United States, where 96% of people speak English well,...
LOL, I was born here but I wouldn't say I speak English well.  Purty good, I reckon, but not real good.  Now if we was to start a-talkin' Hillbilly, why shucks, that'd be a whole nuther can o'worms. Smiley  (I've learned some time back to make fun of myself so try not to take me too serious...)

Now I think it would be nice if we did some occasional hymns in other languages.
Yes, I'd go along with this suggestion.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 03:53:12 AM by GabrieltheCelt » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2010, 03:54:34 AM »

The Liturgy has traditionally always been in the language of the people, whether that be Slavonic, Greek, Arabic, French, Spanish, English etc...I'd be sure that all over Greece (there might be a couple exceptions) the Liturgy is in Greek (Κοινε of course).

Κοινε is not the language of the people.
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2010, 04:53:59 AM »

I think it’s good not to forget where it came from and to keep the language of your tradition even if only in small things. Apart from that I suppose it depends on the make-up of the parish. My own is virtually all native English speakers now and we have very little Slavonic although the priest will add in more if the Russians turn up. In the other church I attend there were (last year according to one of the priests) 27 different nationalities so they are more fluid with language, it’s still predominantly English but some Sundays have more Greek, some have more Slavonic and the Creed and Lord’s Prayer are always said in four languages every week - English, Slavonic, Greek and Romanian. If people have come from abroad it’s good and comforting for them to hear some of their own language in church. I’ve been a stranger in a strange land many times and I could never grudge someone some comfort and familiarity. We just have to work out how to be fair and make sure no-one feels isolated by too much of a foreign language.

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« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 04:58:14 AM by Margaret S. » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2010, 08:04:32 AM »

We might discuss tradition versus participation.

I believe the tradition is really in the words of the Divine Liturgy, no matter what language the translation.

For me, personally, I am the first native English speaking catechumen in a Russian mission parish. I need English to be able to participate in the liturgy, as I can't follow it without. If it were not for English, I would have left after the first time, never to return.

btw: next year when I visit Lisbon, I hope to be able to hear the Divine Liturgy in peninsular Portuguese  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2010, 08:39:36 AM »

We might discuss tradition versus participation.



I think that hits the nail on the head. The answer, no doubt, will vary from parish to parish, based upon the needs of the community. At home we have transitioned to English with a hymn or two in slavonic as a nod to the past for the past twenty years or so.

I recall a priest who literally 'banned' slavonic in his parish when several Greek parishioners joined (supposedly not as a protest, but due to the location of the Greek church and the proximity to their homes of the church in question. Oddly enough (sarcasm intended) the distance between the churches must have shortened when the Greek church obtained a new pastor...). His unilateral decision, including Christos Voskrese, traditional Christmas carols and even the occasional Hospodi Pomiluj, was a disaster and his impetuous decision was a factor that led to his removal some years later.

Today, by evolution and consent, the same parish is, for all intents and purposes, all English with that 'nod' to the past and all is as well as can be expected.
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2010, 08:40:31 AM »

Sola Anglica! (sorry, I couldn't resist...someone had to say it Wink )
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2010, 09:09:24 AM »

Sola Anglica! (sorry, I couldn't resist...someone had to say it Wink )
laugh
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2010, 12:20:17 PM »

Just to briefly share my personal experience on the issue:

When I first began attending Liturgy, I think there were only two cradle Orthodox in my Slavic-tradition OCA parish, and they were natively American. There was only English in the services.

Several months ago, we began to receive immigrants into our parish. After a little time, we ended up with several immigrants, including a whole family. Our priest, although a Protestant convert, also is well-studied in Russian language and history (he has an M.A. in Russian Studies!) and can celebrate the Liturgy in Church Slavonic, as well as Greek. Now, his standard policy concerning languages is to incorporate more Slavonic into the Liturgy. Most of the service is still in English, but occasionally a blessing or a litany will be in Slavonic.

My response to this...I LOVE it! I've been in the Church long enough to know the fixed parts of the Divine Liturgy, and so even if I don't know each word, I know what's happening. I can still follow perfectly, and have even learned a few phrases to know when to cross, bow, etc. To me, it's wonderful because my church counts Russia has its mother church, and so to hear the Liturgy in that language reminds me of the historicity, of the catholicity, of the Church. I hope to attend an entire Liturgy that is done in Slavonic at some point. I would have to feel the exact same way about hearing it in Greek, since they are the mother church of our mother chuch!

And while hearing the liturgy in Romanian or Serbian or Arabic wouldn't have that historical tie to the church which I came into Orthodoxy through, it is still a reminder of the catholicity of the Church.

However, I do understand the concern of a missionary church (such as the American Church is) of trying to draw converts who freak when they hear a foreign language in an already unfamiliar liturgy. It is most likely, at this point in America, not a good idea to hold regular Sunday services in a foreign language. I mean, if the parish is mostly immigrant and wants to stay that way...go ahead, doing that will probably work. But, as a Church that wants to grow, to be mission minded is to do the services in the language of the people.

If there are parishes that desire to have services in other languages, perhaps a good idea would be to hold services on Friday evening and Saturday morning in that language, then have English services on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Of course, this is not something that many could do. Our poor parish priest would be exhausted, to be sure, and we could not expect him to do so many services so close together! I know I would never ask my priest to do so much work. Another option is maybe to do one weekend cycle of services in a given language. One Saturday/Sunday a month is done in Greek, Slavonic, Romanian, etc. and the others (mostly) in Englush. Of course, there is the issue concerning inquirers who happen to come on those days.

I think most people who come to our church now, although they may be surprised by a Slavonic litany, quickly learn that we aren't some weird group of immigrants. Most of us are simple Southern folks, born-and-bred. This is quite obvious when you meet some of us! I hope that our friendly, American demeanor is enough to undo in possible alarm caused by foreign languages in our services.

Quote
Κοινε is not the language of the people.

Κοινη was the language of the people of the Roman Empire at the time of its Christianization. The secular language evolved, the church language did not. Greeks who have attended church for a long time can understand Koine just fine. The same is true with Slavonic in Russia. Those who do not often, or are not Orthodox, will have trouble, though. This is a drawback. Another beauty about this, however, is that when one goes to church, they hear a language that is spoken no where else but in the services. It is another way to set apart the divine from the profane and remind us that we are joining something other-worldly...something timeless.
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2010, 12:23:57 PM »

The Liturgy has traditionally always been in the language of the people, whether that be Slavonic, Greek, Arabic, French, Spanish, English etc...I'd be sure that all over Greece (there might be a couple exceptions) the Liturgy is in Greek (Κοινε of course).

Κοινε is not the language of the people.

True, but it once was, and while I don't know Greek really well, from what I've learned so far from Greek 101, whenever I look at my Greek New Testament (and the Greek/English text of the Liturgy), I don't see anything that is too terribly different from modern Greek.
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2010, 01:17:56 PM »

Slavonic was the vernacular in the 800's but by the 1200's it was not mutually intelligible amongst most Slavs.. Even amongst the Serbs Macedonians, Greek Slavs, and Bulgarians, the descendants of the people whose language was the basis of Slavonic, Slavonic is not intelligible.
Yes, some linguists hold that all the modern Slavic languages could be considered dialects of one language. The words are pretty similar, but the accenting differs immensely between languages, the various alphabets have sounds which other Slavs can not pronounce properly( Poles cannot pronounce the Serbian -lj- or Czech l'; I have also heard that Russians have a hard time pronouncing the Polish szcz), the external influences are different, also the dialectisation of our languages creates huge variants of the variants of one Slavic language which are less intelligible than other literary Slavic languages etc.
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2010, 01:19:26 PM »

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This is quite obvious when you meet some of us! I hope that our friendly, American demeanor is enough to undo in possible alarm caused by foreign languages in our services.
Frankly, I cannot relate to the feeling expressed and unexpressed here. This is xenophobia, not the hard variety, of course, but still some soft form of it. When one starts with the assumption that "only American demeanor" is or can be friendly etc.
I attended back home some Catholic masses that were completely in Hungarian; I didn't freak out or thought they were weird for doing that.
I visited an Assyrian church a few times; everything was in Syriac and I didn't freak out.
But then gain, if the parish is made up in majority of native English speakers, it only makes sense to hold the services in that language. Turing to Greek or Slavonic, absent the Greeks or the Serbs or the Russians etc, would only be an affectation.
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2010, 01:43:55 PM »

Quote
This is quite obvious when you meet some of us! I hope that our friendly, American demeanor is enough to undo in possible alarm caused by foreign languages in our services.
Frankly, I cannot relate to the feeling expressed and unexpressed here. This is xenophobia, not the hard variety, of course, but still some soft form of it. When one starts with the assumption that "only American demeanor" is or can be friendly etc.

I am not starting with the assumption that only Americans are friendly. I'm simply stating that we're a friendly parish that is also mostly made of American converts, which can give a visitor a sense of familiarity in a very unfamiliar place, especially if unfamiliar languages are being spoken.

If you actually read the whole of my post, I'm supportive of the use of other languages in the Liturgy for a plurality of reasons. I personally would have no issue with attending a parish in which all of the services were in a completely different language from my native one. At the same time, however, I recognize the importance of using English in the services to facilitate the mission-mindedness of the American Church.
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2010, 01:54:20 PM »

I personally feel that hearing a foreign language sung/spoken during the liturgy adds to the sense of 'otherness' that I experience during worship, which for me is important.  Then again, I am kind of a language geek as well...
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2010, 04:54:01 PM »

Quote from: Benjamin the Red link=topic=31958.msg505180#msg505180
Greeks who have attended church for a long time can understand Koine just fine.

And what about those Greeks who have not attended Church for a long time? Even if Orthodox churches don't overtly proselytize, ours remains a missionary faith in that anyone who walks through the door should be presented with Christian doctrine and called to repentance. If a newcomer can't understand our saving message, that's our problem.

Quote
The same is true with Slavonic in Russia.

I really wouldn't bank on Russians' understanding of Slavonic. I've met numerous elderly churchgoers in both Russia and in the diaspora who, in spite of a lifetime going to services, unknowingly maintained heretical ideas simply because they couldn't understand the truth proclaimed at every single liturgy.

Quote
Another beauty about this, however, is that when one goes to church, they hear a language that is spoken no where else but in the services. It is another way to set apart the divine from the profane and remind us that we are joining something other-worldly...something timeless.

This is a variation of the Trilingual Heresy, fought hard and bitterly by many of the saints. Ss. Cyril and Methodius, for example, when told by Rome that the liturgy should only be in respected liturgical languages, presented a dizzying list of peoples who glorified God in their own vernacular.
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« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2010, 04:58:41 PM »

Quote
This is quite obvious when you meet some of us! I hope that our friendly, American demeanor is enough to undo in possible alarm caused by foreign languages in our services.
Frankly, I cannot relate to the feeling expressed and unexpressed here. This is xenophobia, not the hard variety, of course, but still some soft form of it. When one starts with the assumption that "only American demeanor" is or can be friendly etc.
I attended back home some Catholic masses that were completely in Hungarian; I didn't freak out or thought they were weird for doing that.
I visited an Assyrian church a few times; everything was in Syriac and I didn't freak out.

LOL. They take Nestorius as their teacher. You should have freaked out.
Quote
But then gain, if the parish is made up in majority of native English speakers, it only makes sense to hold the services in that language. Turing to Greek or Slavonic, absent the Greeks or the Serbs or the Russians etc, would only be an affectation.
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2010, 07:57:31 PM »

Quote
This is quite obvious when you meet some of us! I hope that our friendly, American demeanor is enough to undo in possible alarm caused by foreign languages in our services.
Frankly, I cannot relate to the feeling expressed and unexpressed here. This is xenophobia, not the hard variety, of course, but still some soft form of it. When one starts with the assumption that "only American demeanor" is or can be friendly etc.
I attended back home some Catholic masses that were completely in Hungarian; I didn't freak out or thought they were weird for doing that.
I visited an Assyrian church a few times; everything was in Syriac and I didn't freak out.

LOL. They take Nestorius as their teacher. You should have freaked out.
Quote
But then gain, if the parish is made up in majority of native English speakers, it only makes sense to hold the services in that language. Turing to Greek or Slavonic, absent the Greeks or the Serbs or the Russians etc, would only be an affectation.
Well, I didn't commune there, unlike you with the followers of Severus, Filoxenus or Dioscorus.
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« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2010, 08:21:30 PM »

The first Orthodox Church I visited was a Greek parish and a lot of the service was in Greek. The service books they had helped me out tremendously as part of it was in Greek, another part showed how to pronounce the Greek, another part was in English and the last part explained what was going on. Through the research that I did before I attended I came to expect part of the service to be in Greek; I am thankful for the priest (who was a convert) because he Anglicized the service for me (whilst still keeping Greek for those cradles from the "mother country").

The Anitochian parish I attend now uses English ("with a Southern accent" as my priest puts it) through out the service (with the exception of a few words i.e. Theotokos, antidoron, etc). This parish is a very large convert parish so most of the people speak English natively. I guess it just depends on where you go; however I do not think any body at my new parish would be opposed to using some Greek or Slavonic in the service for special occasions.
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« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2010, 12:57:34 AM »

^You obviously haven't been to my parish. I can recall particularly one occasion when the Trisagion hymn was sung in Arabic to a great melody and with great devotion and one person, claiming to speak for all the parish, said that we chanters "took him out of worship."  It's not like the Trisagion is a long hymn.  To learn the Greek, Arabic or Slavonic versions of it doesn't really require much work.
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« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2010, 01:12:27 AM »

^You obviously haven't been to my parish. I can recall particularly one occasion when the Trisagion hymn was sung in Arabic to a great melody and with great devotion and one person, claiming to speak for all the parish, said that we chanters "took him out of worship."  It's not like the Trisagion is a long hymn.  To learn the Greek, Arabic or Slavonic versions of it doesn't really require much work.

Admittedly I have only been to two parishes and I am not familiar with many in my area or their particular practices, let alone those outside of my area. I think to hear the Trisagion in Arabic would be very beautiful, though I might have flash backs to Iraq; one of our Iraqi Police stations that we maintained was right across the street from a mosque and we always ended up there in time for prayers... and they had loud speakers...

On a side note, I never could understand the Iraqis when they came over radios or the loudspeakers for their trucks (during prayer was a different animal as they sang quite beautifully)... it always sounded like they were just saying, "Lalalalalalala, lalalalallala, la la la la!" This lead some to theorize that they really weren't speaking Arabic...
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« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2010, 01:12:28 PM »

I thought that this thread was supposted to be in English.
What is the trilingual heresy?
Who are the "followers of Severus, Filoxenus or Dioscorus"??
I know who Nestorius is, but the average guy doesn't know who that is.
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« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2010, 04:29:29 PM »

I thought that this thread was supposted to be in English.
What is the trilingual heresy?
Who are the "followers of Severus, Filoxenus or Dioscorus"??
I know who Nestorius is, but the average guy doesn't know who that is.

Prof. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books is likely the only Severus most would associate the name with!
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mike
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« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2010, 06:25:24 PM »

What is the trilingual heresy?
Trilingual heresy (AKA Pilate's heresy) is a view present till 1960's in the Latin  Church that God is to be worshipped only with Greek, Latin or Hebrew.

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Who are the "followers of Severus, Filoxenus or Dioscorus"??
I know who Nestorius is, but the average guy doesn't know who that is.

Dioscurus was a Patriarch of Alexandria who did not accept the Council of Chalcedon. Severus was a non-Chalcedonian Patriarch of Antioch. IDK who Filoxenus was.
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augustin717
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« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2010, 07:21:26 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philoxenus_of_Mabbug
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synLeszka
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2010, 02:25:46 PM »

What is the trilingual heresy?
Trilingual heresy (AKA Pilate's heresy) is a view present till 1960's in the Latin  Church that God is to be worshipped only with Greek, Latin or Hebrew.
[/quote]

Who invented this myth?

In Croatia and the Czech lands, the Mass was said in Church Slavonic up to the 1960's..
The majority of worship in Roman Catholic Churches in the Polish lands was in Polish. Vespers were sung in Polish(since the Reformation), Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Godzinki ku czci Niepokalanemu Poczęciu NMP(devotion to the Immaculate Conception) May,June, and October devotions, church hymns etcetera .
The priest said his mass in Latin, while the faithful sang the parts of the Mass in Polish. The same was in Germany and Hungary.
The Greek Catholic church had all of its devotions in Old Church Slavonic... 
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mike
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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2010, 02:43:56 PM »

Who invented this myth?
Western Bishops in the second half of the first millenium. People listed there supported this.

Quote
In Croatia and the Czech lands, the Mass was said in Church Slavonic up to the 1960's..
That was not a rule.
Quote
The majority of worship in Roman Catholic Churches in the Polish lands was in Polish. Vespers were sung in Polish(since the Reformation), Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Godzinki ku czci Niepokalanemu Poczęciu NMP(devotion to the Immaculate Conception) May,June, and October devotions, church hymns etcetera .
But the Mass was not
Quote
The priest said his mass in Latin, while the faithful sang the parts of the Mass in Polish. The same was in Germany and Hungary.
A bit schizophrenical, don't you think?
Quote
The Greek Catholic church had all of its devotions in Old Church Slavonic...  
That was not a rule too.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 02:44:19 PM by Michał Kalina » Logged
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