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Author Topic: Prostrations during Paschaltide  (Read 8260 times) Average Rating: 0
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Subdeacon Michael
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« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2010, 05:44:01 AM »

There seems to be much confusion about this, so I am glad that FatherHLL has quoted one of the canons that is often cited in suport of the "no prostrations on Sundays" rule.  Here it is with some additional notes, and here is the other commonly-cited canon on the matter, from the first Council of Nicaea, again with notes.

I think that there is often a temptation to be too rigorous about our own interpretation of these things.  A question to those of you who are adamant that prostrations are forbidden on Sundays: do you know, with absolute certainty, that the canons which forbid prayers "on bended knees" actually proscribe prostrations?  The reason I ask is that it seems to me that the plain meaning of the text is that standing, rather than kneeling, is the position to be adopted for prayer on Sundays and the days of Pentecost, in honour of the Resurrection.  There is no mention made of prostrating.  This position of kneeling down for prayer, which is what these canons discuss, seems to me quite a different matter from making a prostration - a momentary gesture of awe and reverence.

When the Holy Chrism is brought out and when the pre-Sanctified Holy Things are removed from the tabernacle, a prostration is made, even if it is a Sunday.  Similarly, as others have said, we prostrate at Sunday Matins on the feast of the Holy Cross if it falls on a Sunday, and also on the third Sunday of Great Lent.  So I do not understand why such a prostration would be forbidden at the epiklesis.  After all, these are not penitential gestures, such as kneeling, but rather are an act of worship and reverence before holy things.

The practice of the Old Ritualists also tells us that these prostrations on Sundays are not an innovation resulting from 18th-century western influence, but were the practice of the Russian church for centuries before the Nikonian reforms brought it in line with the Greek revisions over the centuries.  Are we to believe that the pious faithful from this period of Russian church history, many of whom became great Saints, disregarded the canons and did not understand them, and that all of a sudden we, who are much wiser than they, have some great insight to which they were blinded?  Or might it just be possible that they understood that kneeling down to pray and making a prostration are not the same thing?

In my early days of Orthodoxy, I picked up from rigorist converts that prostrations are absolutely forbidden on Sundays, and that is the practice I followed until recently, when I was confronted by all of the clergy making a full prostration at the epiklesis at an Hierarchical Liturgy on a Sunday.  I was delighted to see this because making a prostration at this point is what my heart calls me to do.  It seems the most natural thing in the world, and I found the rule incredibly restrictive.  I asked my own bishop about this and his response was that there have long been two strains of thought on this matter, and that, while ROCOR practice generally follows that of Jordanville (which, for all of the love that we have for it, we must not forget is only one monastery) in not making these prostrations on Sundays, they are made in large parts of Russia, including Christ the Saviour in Moscow.  He said that there is a place for such variety in the Church.

This is my own viewpoint, as well.  If people are reticent about prostrating on Sundays and, out of honour of the Resurrection of our Lord, choose instead to make a reverence, I have no problem with this.  The problem I have is when those of us who do wish to make the prostrations are accused of being uncanonical, disobedient, ignorant, and so forth, simply for paying honour and worship to the Saviour.  There is something about the mindset behind this that does not sit easily with me.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 05:47:19 AM by Subdeacon Michael » Logged

'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt
Orthodox11
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« Reply #46 on: June 12, 2010, 09:34:30 AM »

I may be wrong, but don't the Old Believers consider standing on ones knees during prayer to be inappropriate at any time? How then do they interpret the prohibition of "praying on bended knees" on days of the Resurrection if it's something that shouldn't be done anyway?

Furthermore, while Old Belivers don't replace all prostrations with bows during Paschaltide, they do replace most of them. Would that really be the case if prostrations and "praying on bended knees" were two entirely different things?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 09:38:52 AM by Orthodox11 » Logged
Subdeacon Michael
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« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2010, 10:43:11 AM »

I may be wrong, but don't the Old Believers consider standing on ones knees during prayer to be inappropriate at any time? How then do they interpret the prohibition of "praying on bended knees" on days of the Resurrection if it's something that shouldn't be done anyway?

Furthermore, while Old Belivers don't replace all prostrations with bows during Paschaltide, they do replace most of them. Would that really be the case if prostrations and "praying on bended knees" were two entirely different things?

As it was explained to me, Orthodox11, both by a young deacon (recently turned hieromonk) and by an igumen of forty years, there is a distinction drawn between those prostrations that are acts of awe and worship and those prostrations which are acts of penitence.  The latter are the ones that are generally not done on Sundays and during Pentecost because they are in keeping with the spirit of kneeling to pray, which is covered by the canons.  The igumen of forty years explained that some older prayer books and sluzhebniks use different terminology for these different acts.  However, I have neither Greek nor Slavonic and do not recall the words that he told me.  Perhaps somebody else may be able to explain more clearly.

In Christ,
Michael
« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 10:44:37 AM by Subdeacon Michael » Logged

'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt
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« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2010, 07:04:29 PM »

According to the Russian Old Rite practices prostrations are VERY common in worship and made at certain prayers no matter if it is Sunday, Saturday or a Feastday. If it is not one of the three days I mentioned prostrations are made at prayers which one would normally bow from the waist on the three previously mentioned days.  I would have to look more into this to be certain but I believe that there even more prostrations prescribed for the period of Lent when one would normally bow from the waist on weekdays!
Personally I can say that at the Serbian parish I currently attend and the Antiochian parish I used to attend prostrations are/were normally only made during Lent at the Presanctified Liturgy and during Holy Week. In my private prayer I use the Old Orthodox Prayerbook printed by the Old Orthodox in Erie (ROCOR) and make several prostrations everyday. To re-state what has already been written it simply feels like the right thing to do and the most natural act for one who believes.
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