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Author Topic: Orthopraxy for complete idiots  (Read 2913 times) Average Rating: 0
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Clancy Boy
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« on: December 27, 2010, 03:32:44 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I have been Orthodox for nearly two years.  I have my history and theology down pat.  Which is to say, I'm an expert on anything that can be found in a book or on the internet in some form.

What I don't understand yet are the very basic things.  Things that people born in the Orthodox Church would have learned as children and so don't get discussed on intellectual sites such as these.

So here is my shameful list.

1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?
 I've never ever seen it done, I've only read very vague descriptions.

2) Which prayer should be said before meals?  When I finish do I cross myself or the entire table?  I hear there is a prayer for after meals too, does anyone know what it is?

3) Is there a right and wrong way to set up the icon corner?  I know they should be directed East. Are there any other rules? Also should the candle/lamp be left burning all day?

4) I still have no idea what the candles in church are for.

5) The priests change color from time to time during the year.  I gather that this happens in conjunction with specific holidays.  Are these the major holidays? 

6) Aside from the four big fasts, what holidays are usually observed at home and how does one observe them?

7) What does the prohibition against eating oil during strict fasts refer to exactly?  Everything has a little oil in it, so it can't mean complete abstention...
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2010, 03:49:20 AM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.

A little more on number 2- Regardless of how you're told to pray the before meals prayers (some prayer books have an entire portion omitted after the Lord's Prayer, unless a priest is present) you will say "In the name..." (cross)  Lord's Prayer... either the "Glory. Both" or "Through the prayers of our holy fathers..." (either way, cross) and "Lord have mercy (3times)".  After this, cross your food.

# 3 Not too much, just what looks aesthetically pleasing to you.  Don't put anything above your main icon of Christ except for a crucifix.  Candles can be extinguished, lamps as well unless you're trying to maintain a vigil lamp, which I wouldn't advise unless you or someone else will be around all the time to supervise it.  Even then I wouldn't do it if you have children or a cat.

#4 People like to light candles when they pray, and the donation for the candles can be seen as a sacrificial offering.

#5 Dormition, Christmas, Easter, and one or two others, I'm sure your priest would be happy to explain just what those colors mean and what days the change falls on (don't be shy.  this is the guy you tell all your dirty secrets to).  You'll also notice they change the fabrics around the Church as well.

#6 Watch the calendar.  Did "Fish allowed" or "Wine and Oil" just suddenly appear on a Wednesday or Friday?  Are there extra services at the Church?  Odds are there's a saint behind it.

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Clancy Boy
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2010, 04:00:17 AM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.

 Undecided

Quote
A little more on number 2- Regardless of how you're told to pray the before meals prayers (some prayer books have an entire portion omitted after the Lord's Prayer, unless a priest is present) you will say "In the name..." (cross)  Lord's Prayer... either the "Glory. Both" or "Through the prayers of our holy fathers..." (either way, cross) and "Lord have mercy (3times)".  After this, cross your food.

Ah, very good.  This is extremely helpful.  Looks like I had it half right.

Quote
# 3 Not too much, just what looks aesthetically pleasing to you.  Don't put anything above your main icon of Christ except for a crucifix.  Candles can be extinguished, lamps as well unless you're trying to maintain a vigil lamp, which I wouldn't advise unless you or someone else will be around all the time to supervise it.  Even then I wouldn't do it if you have children or a cat.

#4 People like to light candles when they pray, and the donation for the candles can be seen as a sacrificial offering.

You don't light them for someone in particular?  I recall my Russian friends saying something like that.

Quote
#5 Dormition, Christmas, Easter, and one or two others, I'm sure your priest would be happy to explain just what those colors mean and what days the change falls on (don't be shy.  this is the guy you tell all your dirty secrets to).  You'll also notice they change the fabrics around the Church as well.

#6 Watch the calendar.  Did "Fish allowed" or "Wine and Oil" just suddenly appear on a Wednesday or Friday?  Are there extra services at the Church?  Odds are there's a saint behind it.

Those pop up every other week!

It's another one of those things I never would have anticipated.  I'm used to going months at a time with no holidays.  By the Orthodox calendar every day is a triple or quadruple holiday.  Do I need to spend time remembering each of these people or just the ones I really like?
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2010, 04:04:55 AM »

1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?
 I've never ever seen it done, I've only read very vague descriptions.

2) Which prayer should be said before meals?  When I finish do I cross myself or the entire table?  I hear there is a prayer for after meals too, does anyone know what it is?

3) Is there a right and wrong way to set up the icon corner?  I know they should be directed East. Are there any other rules? Also should the candle/lamp be left burning all day?

Ask your priest. Not everyone's personal prayer life is going to be exactly the same.

Quote
4) I still have no idea what the candles in church are for.

They represent the offering up of our prayers and the shining forth of the light of Christ.

Quote
5) The priests change color from time to time during the year.  I gather that this happens in conjunction with specific holidays.  Are these the major holidays?
 

The most important Feasts of the Orthodox Church and the sacred events for which specific colors of vestments have been established, can be united into six basic groups.

1. The group of feasts and days commemorating Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles and the Holy Hierarchs. Vestment color: Gold (yellow) of all shades.

2. The group of feasts and days commemorating the Most Holy Mother of God, the Bodiless Powers and Virgins. Vestment color: Light blue and white.  

3. The group of feasts and days commemorating the Cross of Our Lord. Vestment color: Purple or dark red.  

4. The group of feasts and days commemorating martyrs. Vestment color: Red. [On Great and Holy Thursday, dark red vestments are worn, even though
the church is still covered with black and the Holy (Altar) Table is covered with a white cloth.]  

5. The group of feasts and days commemorating monastic saints, ascetics and fools for Christ. Vestment color: Green. The Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Holy Trinity Day (Pentecost) and Holy Spirit Day (Monday after Pentecost) are, as a rule, celebrated in green vestments of all shades.

6. During the Lenten periods, the vestment colors are: Dark blue, purple, dark green, dark red and black. This last color is used essentially for the days of Great Lent. During the first week of that Lent and on the weekdays of the following weeks, the vestment color is black. On Sundays and Feast days of this period, the vestments are of a dark color with gold or colored ornaments. Funerals, as a rule, are done in white vestments.


Quote
6) Aside from the four big fasts, what holidays are usually observed at home and how does one observe them?

7) What does the prohibition against eating oil during strict fasts refer to exactly?  Everything has a little oil in it, so it can't mean complete abstention...

Ask your priest.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2010, 04:19:52 AM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.

 Undecided


Why worried?  Does your priest scare you?  I'd like to help more, but those three just aren't something one lay person could say to another.  I have no idea where you are spiritually in order to tell you what prayer book to use or how to use it.  I suppose I could go so far as to say that most prayer books follow some sort of lay-out like this:
Morning Prayers: In the Name... Glory to thee... Heavenly King and the rest of the Trisagion... Troparia of the Morning (having arisen from sleep I fall down to Thee O Blessed One)... Psalm 50... Creed... (here depends on the prayer book/rule, anything from St Basil's Second Morning prayer to a whole list of 10 different morning prayers from different saints), prayers to the Mother of God, (maybe prayers to the Angels, Apostles, and your Patron Saint), a General Intercession, It is meet, Glory. both. Lord have mercy (x3).

As far as fasting goes, it really depends on jurisdiction.  Some allow vegetable oils, some don't.  Hence ask your priest.



Quote


You don't light them for someone in particular?  I recall my Russian friends saying something like that.


Many do (a departed loved one, or someone they know is in trouble).  It's also okay to light a candle for intercession for yourself.

Quote
#5 Dormition, Christmas, Easter, and one or two others, I'm sure your priest would be happy to explain just what those colors mean and what days the change falls on (don't be shy.  this is the guy you tell all your dirty secrets to).  You'll also notice they change the fabrics around the Church as well.

#6 Watch the calendar.  Did "Fish allowed" or "Wine and Oil" just suddenly appear on a Wednesday or Friday?  Are there extra services at the Church?  Odds are there's a saint behind it.

Those pop up every other week!

It's another one of those things I never would have anticipated.  I'm used to going months at a time with no holidays.  By the Orthodox calendar every day is a triple or quadruple holiday.  Do I need to spend time remembering each of these people or just the ones I really like?
[/quote]

Well, I'm fairly new to all this myself.  I try to read the daily saints (goarch.org or oca.org will have them, and a google search for menologion 3.0 will get you a nice little program directly on your computer with a daily lives).  The ones you really like are going to stick with you, of course, and there's not going to be a pop quiz.  You're not going to go up for communion one day to have your priest say "Who were the 40 martyrs and how did they die?"  But, if you notice that there's a feast designated on a calendar (your jurisdiction's main website should tell you) then by all means, read the life of the saint and you should get a good understanding of why there was a feast for that particular saint/saints.
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2010, 04:27:07 AM »

The most important Feasts of the Orthodox Church and the sacred events for which specific colors of vestments have been established, can be united into six basic groups.

1. The group of feasts and days commemorating Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles and the Holy Hierarchs. Vestment color: Gold (yellow) of all shades.

2. The group of feasts and days commemorating the Most Holy Mother of God, the Bodiless Powers and Virgins. Vestment color: Light blue and white.  

3. The group of feasts and days commemorating the Cross of Our Lord. Vestment color: Purple or dark red.  

4. The group of feasts and days commemorating martyrs. Vestment color: Red. [On Great and Holy Thursday, dark red vestments are worn, even though
the church is still covered with black and the Holy (Altar) Table is covered with a white cloth.]  

5. The group of feasts and days commemorating monastic saints, ascetics and fools for Christ. Vestment color: Green. The Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Holy Trinity Day (Pentecost) and Holy Spirit Day (Monday after Pentecost) are, as a rule, celebrated in green vestments of all shades.

6. During the Lenten periods, the vestment colors are: Dark blue, purple, dark green, dark red and black. This last color is used essentially for the days of Great Lent. During the first week of that Lent and on the weekdays of the following weeks, the vestment color is black. On Sundays and Feast days of this period, the vestments are of a dark color with gold or colored ornaments. Funerals, as a rule, are done in white vestments.


This is useful, thank you.
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Clancy Boy
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2010, 04:33:35 AM »

Why worried?  Does your priest scare you?

His English isn't very good and my Russian is worse, that's all  Wink
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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2010, 04:43:00 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

Quote
2) Which prayer should be said before meals?  When I finish do I cross myself or the entire table?  I hear there is a prayer for after meals too, does anyone know what it is?

Before: 'Our Father' (there is also more sophisticated prayer but I don't know anyone who says it), after:

Quote
We thank Thee, Christ our God, for Thou hast satisfied us with Thine earthly gifts. Deprive us not of Thy Heavenly Kingdom, but as Thou camest among Thy disciples, O Savior, giving them peace, so come to us and save us!

then 'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.' then 3 x 'Lord, have mercy'.

Quote
3) Is there a right and wrong way to set up the icon corner?  I know they should be directed East. Are there any other rules?

I've heard that icon depicting God should be on the top but such rules are rarely known and observed.

Quote
Also should the candle/lamp be left burning all day?

If you want to...

Quote
6) Aside from the four big fasts, what holidays are usually observed at home and how does one observe them?

Frankly I don't understand this question. Could you explain what you mean by 'observe'?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 04:48:31 AM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2010, 04:47:06 AM »

Why worried?  Does your priest scare you?

His English isn't very good and my Russian is worse, that's all  Wink

 Cheesy that could present a problem.  If worse comes to worse, for the fasting question you could always bring in a bottle of vegetable oil and ask if that was okay or not.  
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2010, 01:21:25 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.

So thank you for the links.

Quote
Quote
2) Which prayer should be said before meals?  When I finish do I cross myself or the entire table?  I hear there is a prayer for after meals too, does anyone know what it is?

Before: 'Our Father' (there is also more sophisticated prayer but I don't know anyone who says it), after:

Quote
We thank Thee, Christ our God, for Thou hast satisfied us with Thine earthly gifts. Deprive us not of Thy Heavenly Kingdom, but as Thou camest among Thy disciples, O Savior, giving them peace, so come to us and save us!

then 'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.' then 3 x 'Lord, have mercy'.

Perfect, thank you very much.

Quote
Quote
3) Is there a right and wrong way to set up the icon corner?  I know they should be directed East. Are there any other rules?

I've heard that icon depicting God should be on the top but such rules are rarely known and observed.

Quote
Also should the candle/lamp be left burning all day?

If you want to...

Quote
6) Aside from the four big fasts, what holidays are usually observed at home and how does one observe them?

Frankly I don't understand this question. Could you explain what you mean by 'observe'?

"Celebrate?"

For example on palm Sunday I know I should have a palm leaf (if available) or a pussywillow (if in Russia) over the icon of Christ.
Things like that.  Little things we can do at home and I can teach the children.
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2010, 10:12:22 PM »

Never heard them called Pussy Willow,i believe they grow in marsh lands ,sorrowfull or joyfull are the words used from the willow Trees...One hangs down the other grows upward... Grin



I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.

So thank you for the links.

Quote
Quote
2) Which prayer should be said before meals?  When I finish do I cross myself or the entire table?  I hear there is a prayer for after meals too, does anyone know what it is?

Before: 'Our Father' (there is also more sophisticated prayer but I don't know anyone who says it), after:

Quote
We thank Thee, Christ our God, for Thou hast satisfied us with Thine earthly gifts. Deprive us not of Thy Heavenly Kingdom, but as Thou camest among Thy disciples, O Savior, giving them peace, so come to us and save us!

then 'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.' then 3 x 'Lord, have mercy'.

Perfect, thank you very much.

Quote
Quote
3) Is there a right and wrong way to set up the icon corner?  I know they should be directed East. Are there any other rules?

I've heard that icon depicting God should be on the top but such rules are rarely known and observed.

Quote
Also should the candle/lamp be left burning all day?

If you want to...

Quote
6) Aside from the four big fasts, what holidays are usually observed at home and how does one observe them?

Frankly I don't understand this question. Could you explain what you mean by 'observe'?

"Celebrate?"

For example on palm Sunday I know I should have a palm leaf (if available) or a pussywillow (if in Russia) over the icon of Christ.
Things like that.  Little things we can do at home and I can teach the children.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2010, 10:16:07 PM by stashko » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2010, 12:34:55 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2010, 02:12:10 AM »

Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Got that down pat.  Wink
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2011, 04:24:24 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.

And orthodoxy means correct content.  There we are, all covered  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2011, 04:29:05 AM »

Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

"Seek that which is correct, and all that other junk will follow" - Hezekiah 3:12   police
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2011, 05:08:22 AM »

"Seek that which is correct, and all that other junk will follow" - Hezekiah 3:12   police

Yikes, this is why I avoid the NIV translation.
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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2011, 05:09:04 AM »

Is it customary to make sign of the cross before and after reading the Bible?
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2011, 05:24:18 AM »

"Seek that which is correct, and all that other junk will follow" - Hezekiah 3:12   police

Yikes, this is why I avoid the NIV translation.

Actually I can't find that verse in the NIV... probably another verse those liberals cut out because of modern biblical "criticism"!
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2011, 08:50:23 AM »

Is it customary to make sign of the cross before and after reading the Bible?

I believe that many, but not all, do.  I've also seen people kiss it and then touch it to their foreheads after reading from it.  I think this might largely be an Arab/Middle Eastern tradition, though.
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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2011, 10:18:58 AM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.
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« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2011, 10:33:36 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.
I didn't ask about orthopraxy. I asked about Orthodoxy. We're Orthodox Christians, not Orthoprax Christians.
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« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2011, 10:47:21 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.
I didn't ask about orthopraxy. I asked about Orthodoxy. We're Orthodox Christians, not Orthoprax Christians.

Well said, and wise words. It isn't all about the 'show' my friends.
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« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2011, 10:56:28 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.
I didn't ask about orthopraxy. I asked about Orthodoxy. We're Orthodox Christians, not Orthoprax Christians.

The thread title states "Orthopraxy for idiots".  Are we still talking about Orhopraxy or has the thread changed?
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« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2011, 11:33:07 AM »

  Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Is this not a false dichotomy?  If one cares a great deal for correct form, does that automatically imply that they care nothing for content?  Here the Russian Church is said to be very exacting in form, but is such exactitude at the expense of content?  Interestingly, this exactness with regard to form is the reason why services in the Russian Church preserve more content than is typically used in other jurisdictions.  For instance, few churches in other jurisdictions serve Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy for feast days and on Saturdays and Sundays.  Where these services are served, and Matins precedes the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Matins is reduced to a one hour services, whereas in the Russian vigil services the Matins portion may easily last for 2 hrs or more.  This lengthy is not due to dragging out the service, but rather from including more of the texts from the Menaion, etc.  

Of course, my point here is not to say that the Russian Church is more Orthodox than other jurisdictions, but perhaps more of Orthodoxy is expressed through its services, both in form and content which are inseparable.  Now, of course, with one’s private prayer rule, the morning prayers in the Jordanville Prayer Book are consistent with the usage in Russia today, and this form is longer than the morning prayers found in most other prayer books.  But it is true that length of services, length of prayers, and a multiplicity of words are of little value if the one praying them is not praying with humility, with attention, etc.  The form must be preserved, but we must show equal exactitude in watching over our hearts and in eradicating pride and every other passion for such prayers to be truly beneficial.  Without the internal work, without praying from our heart, and without joining our prayer with fasting and genuine spiritual struggle, all the hours of prayer in the world will be of little value.  
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2011, 07:31:57 AM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.
I didn't ask about orthopraxy. I asked about Orthodoxy. We're Orthodox Christians, not Orthoprax Christians.

 Shocked I thought we were both.

Of course there are right ways and wrong ways.  If I wanted to keep doing things any old way I goshdarn please I could have just stayed Protestant, couldn't I.

Is this not a false dichotomy?  If one cares a great deal for correct form, does that automatically imply that they care nothing for content?  Here the Russian Church is said to be very exacting in form, but is such exactitude at the expense of content?  Interestingly, this exactness with regard to form is the reason why services in the Russian Church preserve more content than is typically used in other jurisdictions.  For instance, few churches in other jurisdictions serve Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy for feast days and on Saturdays and Sundays.  Where these services are served, and Matins precedes the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Matins is reduced to a one hour services, whereas in the Russian vigil services the Matins portion may easily last for 2 hrs or more.  This lengthy is not due to dragging out the service, but rather from including more of the texts from the Menaion, etc. 

Of course, my point here is not to say that the Russian Church is more Orthodox than other jurisdictions, but perhaps more of Orthodoxy is expressed through its services, both in form and content which are inseparable.  Now, of course, with one’s private prayer rule, the morning prayers in the Jordanville Prayer Book are consistent with the usage in Russia today, and this form is longer than the morning prayers found in most other prayer books.  But it is true that length of services, length of prayers, and a multiplicity of words are of little value if the one praying them is not praying with humility, with attention, etc.  The form must be preserved, but we must show equal exactitude in watching over our hearts and in eradicating pride and every other passion for such prayers to be truly beneficial.  Without the internal work, without praying from our heart, and without joining our prayer with fasting and genuine spiritual struggle, all the hours of prayer in the world will be of little value. 


Beautifully said.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 07:39:21 AM by Clancy Boy » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2011, 01:51:23 PM »

I'm a little embarrassed to be posting this.

I know a few worse thing to be embarrassed because of than posting here Wink

Quote
1) Which prayers should we say in the morning and at night?  I have two prayer books.  Are some more important than others?  Is there a freestyle portion where you say whatever is on your mind like the Protestants do?  Is there a proscribed order?  Approximately how long should one spend praying?

In Russian practise there is a prescribed order both for evening and morning prayers. They take about 15 minutes to say. In America you seem to have a more personal approach and consult such things with your spiritual fathers.

I joined the Russian church on purpose.  No loosey-goosey around my house, we're going to do it correctly.
Is Orthodoxy really all about correct form? What about the content?

Yes indeed, that's what orthopraxy means.
I didn't ask about orthopraxy. I asked about Orthodoxy. We're Orthodox Christians, not Orthoprax Christians.

 Shocked I thought we were both.
We are both. It just sounded to me as if you were emphasizing correct form (the letter of the law) to the extent that you were overlooking the need to cultivate an Orthodox spirit (the spirit of the law). Looks to me now that my first impression may have been a bit off.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 01:51:50 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2011, 03:01:48 PM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.

I suppose more helpful would be to say: "If all else fails, find the oldest parishioner who speaks English and ask him/her what they've been doing". 

Given the vastly different approaches each of the American jurisdictions take it gets dicey, like with vegetable oil.  The Antiochian jurisdiction allows it, my GOA priest told me no.  I haven't found out what the OCA practice is yet (if it's even standardized), my current priest has a hands-off approach.... 
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« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2011, 03:36:39 PM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.

I suppose more helpful would be to say: "If all else fails, find the oldest parishioner who speaks English and ask him/her what they've been doing". 

Given the vastly different approaches each of the American jurisdictions take it gets dicey, like with vegetable oil.  The Antiochian jurisdiction allows it, my GOA priest told me no.  I haven't found out what the OCA practice is yet (if it's even standardized), my current priest has a hands-off approach.... 

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is not the original intent that one should abstain from olive oil because it is an expensive luxury? 

By that logic there are a lot of modern things not explicitly covered by the fasting rules that should maybe be avoided as well.  Chocolate, coffee, coca cola etc. especially come to mind.  Vegetable oil perhaps not so much.
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« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2011, 04:35:51 PM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.

I suppose more helpful would be to say: "If all else fails, find the oldest parishioner who speaks English and ask him/her what they've been doing". 

Given the vastly different approaches each of the American jurisdictions take it gets dicey, like with vegetable oil.  The Antiochian jurisdiction allows it, my GOA priest told me no.  I haven't found out what the OCA practice is yet (if it's even standardized), my current priest has a hands-off approach.... 

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is not the original intent that one should abstain from olive oil because it is an expensive luxury? 

By that logic there are a lot of modern things not explicitly covered by the fasting rules that should maybe be avoided as well.  Chocolate, coffee, coca cola etc. especially come to mind.  Vegetable oil perhaps not so much.

I think it has to do with two things, expense, but also richness. Oil is a rich food, as are meat and dairy products. These weigh us down. In fasting periods, we lighten the quantity and substance of our food, if we can, according to what the Church teaches.

As for other things, what people do varies greatly, even amongst Russians.
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« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2011, 04:42:03 PM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.

I suppose more helpful would be to say: "If all else fails, find the oldest parishioner who speaks English and ask him/her what they've been doing". 

Given the vastly different approaches each of the American jurisdictions take it gets dicey, like with vegetable oil.  The Antiochian jurisdiction allows it, my GOA priest told me no.  I haven't found out what the OCA practice is yet (if it's even standardized), my current priest has a hands-off approach.... 

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is not the original intent that one should abstain from olive oil because it is an expensive luxury? 

By that logic there are a lot of modern things not explicitly covered by the fasting rules that should maybe be avoided as well.  Chocolate, coffee, coca cola etc. especially come to mind.  Vegetable oil perhaps not so much.

Sure, bring intent into it, that's a whole 'nother war brewing.  Let me grab some popcorn.

Seriously, though, at the time the fasting rules were laid down, olive oil wasn't really that expensive.  In a Mediterranean society such as Greece, Judea, Rome, etc, olive oil was fairly common.  The point was xerophagy, dry eating, the eating of food as plainly as possible.  Cutting out olive oil removed fried foods, garlic dips, and a host of ways of spicing up food beyond simple boiled vegetables with herbs.

Likewise the shrimp and lobster we're allowed to eat most fast days.  Sure it was cheap in seaside communities then, and is a luxury item now, but that was only half the reason for allowing it, the other reason being that like the locusts St John the Forerunner ate, it has no backbone nor advanced circulatory system.  There's a certain symbolical order to the fasting proscriptions, going from flesh to flesh by-products, to fish, to dry-eating that is just as important to the intent as price.

At later points, in the Slavic regions, there were different fasting restrictions in place because too many were luxuriously indulging in "fasting foods" like the whole "fresh water fish" is fasting while "sea caught fish" isn't (I haven't figured out if this was a "fish days" only debate or throughout the year).  And it is indeed possible to indulge oneself while at the same time following the letter of the fasting law.  

As for myself, I try to follow the rules as best I know how for the parish I attend and whatever jurisdiction it might be under, without stressing too much over whether or not "I'm getting it right".  Orthopraxy varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from diocese to diocese, and even from parish to parish, but in the end it's all the same Church.  We all cross ourselves from right to left at the mention of the Trinity; and on Wednesdays and Fridays, Lent, Advent, Dormition, and Apostles Fast we all (should) abstain from some form of food.  As far as practice is concerned everything else is up in the air.
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« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2011, 04:52:22 PM »

#1,2, and 7- ask your priest.  That's a common answer here, but in all honesty that's the best one for those two.  If you have any doubts about your prayer rule or questions about fasting, ask your priest.  That's what he's there for.


Joining the OP in his consternation. This type of answer isn't helpful to those of us with priests who a hands-off  approach and/or  are very busy with a larger parish.

I suppose more helpful would be to say: "If all else fails, find the oldest parishioner who speaks English and ask him/her what they've been doing". 

Given the vastly different approaches each of the American jurisdictions take it gets dicey, like with vegetable oil.  The Antiochian jurisdiction allows it, my GOA priest told me no.  I haven't found out what the OCA practice is yet (if it's even standardized), my current priest has a hands-off approach.... 

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but is not the original intent that one should abstain from olive oil because it is an expensive luxury? 

By that logic there are a lot of modern things not explicitly covered by the fasting rules that should maybe be avoided as well.  Chocolate, coffee, coca cola etc. especially come to mind.  Vegetable oil perhaps not so much.

Regarding abstaining from luxurious food items, I should point out that olive oil is not considered a luxury these days. Speaking of this (very healthy) oil, I remember the two reasons why the the Imam (sort of a Muslim priest) fainted when he ate "Imam Bayildi," the justifiably famous, delectable and plain yummy Turkish eggplant dish. The first was that the faint was caused by the Imam's delight in smelling and eating this vegetarian dish. The second reason was that he had found out how much of this (then) expensive olive oil had cost.  Smiley

BTW, I agree with Shanghaiski about the "richness" of food being a predominant factor and I would add that quantity is also a critical factor in any fasting regimen. I also agree with other posters who have pointed the variances in praxis, where not one may be said to be inferior to the others. Finally, I should say that the fasting regimen itself is not nearly as important as the fact of us subjecting ourselves to that regimen. That goes habd in hand with the reason why we fast. I guess what I am driving at is that fasting from certain foods is not an end in itself but a vehicle for spiritual growth. Indeed, fasting without praying and alms giving is not going to be efficacious. Fasting/prayer/alms giving must also be practiced in a self-effacing manner. The upshot of all of this verbiage is that you should not do more or less than your fellow parishioners unless your priest wants you to.

I sense that you want to do the right thing. That is commendable and you can certainly pick up any prayer and fasting rule and follow it. It is my experience that, generally speaking, the Russian practices are longer, more elaborate, and stricter than other  traditions. If such considerations are important for you--go for them! However, I really think that you should consider the "why" of it as you address the "what, when and where" of it. (I also think that you should make a conscious effort not to seem "holier than thou" to your fellow parishioners--that is, if your prayer life and fasting practices are different from theirs). The reason behind Orthopraxy is often more important than the praxis itself and you, as a baptized and illumined disciple of the Lord, have the duty to find out what these reasons are. Yes, the priest is your spiritual father and he has been blessed by the Holy Spirit in his vocation, and therefore you must listen to him. Yet, you are still obligated to also reason for yourself, to decide for yourself--even if you end up doing what your priest tells you to do.

Regarding prayers, it seems to me that the Trisagion prayers are an integral part of any Orthodox public prayer service and should therefore be also part of personal (or family) morning and evening prayers. As many writers, priests, and fellow Orthodox have said, however, what you mean (that is what you are really telling the Lord) is so much more significant than the verbiage that you use that we Orthodox, alone in the Christian world, have the Jesus prayer. You must be aware that some practitioners of this prayer have reduced it from: "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,, have mercy on me a (the) sinner" to "Lord have mercy" and even just "Jesus." In each instance, the one who prays says the same thing but the words are different. Similarly with the Lord's Prayer: the phrase "Thy Will be done" may also be a distillation of the entire prayer to those four words.

Looking at those morning and evening prayers, one is struck by the inclusion of prayers that are appropriate for those times of day. In the morning we thank the Lord for having watched over us during the night and ask Him to help us during the coming day (I really like Metropolitan Philaret's prayer for the coming day, BTW). In the evening, the same approach is used and also includes a prayer or two for the forgiveness of sins that we have committed during that day. But, we are to pray if we have fallen short anyway so that a prayer for forgiveness is always appropriate at any time. Our daily prayers should also include intercessions for the living  ailing and those who have passed on simply because it is our duty to do so. Some prayer rules also include the Creed--I suspect as a teaching/learning tool.

Since there are indeed some variances in the prayers that are included and in the various translations, I think that it would be salutary for you as the spiritual leader of your household to lead the development of a draft proposed set of prayers and your family's proposed fasting practices to present to your priest for his approval. Finally, I wish you a healthy, safe and blessed 2011.
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« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2011, 03:56:45 AM »


# 3 Not too much, just what looks aesthetically pleasing to you.  Don't put anything above your main icon of Christ except for a crucifix.  Candles can be extinguished, lamps as well unless you're trying to maintain a vigil lamp, which I wouldn't advise unless you or someone else will be around all the time to supervise it.  Even then I wouldn't do it if you have children or a cat.


We have our wedding crowns in a case above the icons.  Is that strictly a no no?  We use an electric lamp. for safety reasons.  It is lit all day but we turn it off when we sleep because it keeps awake.  Is that okay?
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« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2011, 04:57:59 PM »

Spartan, that sounds fine.  Plenty of people use electric lamps; it's nice having your crowns in a case near the icons.
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« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2011, 10:23:35 PM »

Spartan, that sounds fine.  Plenty of people use electric lamps; it's nice having your crowns in a case near the icons.

Thanks Fr George.  I didn't want to get a talkin' to when the priest comes to bless the house next week.   Grin
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« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2011, 10:31:08 PM »

4) I still have no idea what the candles in church are for.

Light
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« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2011, 10:43:00 PM »

4) I still have no idea what the candles in church are for.

Light

To pay the light bills, maybe.
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« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2011, 04:29:56 AM »

Its possible to get the outer form and motions perfectly correct and still fall far short of the intention behind it all.
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« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2011, 09:42:16 AM »

Its possible to get the outer form and motions perfectly correct and still fall far short of the intention behind it all.

As it has always been, see Luke 18:9-14, i.e. the Publican and the Pharisee.
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