Author Topic: first time at vespers  (Read 1864 times)

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Offline standing8

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first time at vespers
« on: February 08, 2011, 03:50:42 PM »
I have never been to an Orthodox service and there is a Vespers this evening at a OCA here in Portland, OR.  Would a weekday Vespers service be a good introduction to Orthodoxy or would going to the  Saturday or Sunday services be better? 

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 04:14:12 PM »
There's no reason you shouldn't go to a daily vespers as your first service. Usually there are less worshippers present and it should be easier to get to the priest and speak with him afterwards. There might even been a catechesis class (sometimes called "inquirer's classes" or "Orthodoxy 101") following the service. And, I do encourage you to introduce yourself to the priest after, and sit in on the class if at all possible for your schedule.

Of course, it would be a good idea to soon follow up with a Saturday vigil and Sunday liturgy to get a better feel for the full liturgical life of the Church. You can't go to one service, at one parish, and use it to judge all of Orthodox Christianity, or even all of Orthodox Christian worship. But, there's nothing wrong with going to a weekday service.
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Offline UniversalistGuy

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 04:14:46 PM »
I have never been to an Orthodox service and there is a Vespers this evening at a OCA here in Portland, OR.  Would a weekday Vespers service be a good introduction to Orthodoxy or would going to the  Saturday or Sunday services be better? 

My idea is that inquirers who go visit a church during the week are likely to meet the church members that are more, shall I say, enthusiastic.  Go this evening and then post with your reaction.  I don’t feel like waiting until the weekend to know your early impression. ;D

Offline orthonorm

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 04:16:57 PM »
I have never been to an Orthodox service and there is a Vespers this evening at a OCA here in Portland, OR.  Would a weekday Vespers service be a good introduction to Orthodoxy or would going to the  Saturday or Sunday services be better? 

IME, both the weekday and especially the Great Vespers on Saturday are a great way to start. The services are shorter and more easily followed, for me at least.

That is not to discourage you from going to the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

Everyone who has accompanied or accompanies me and goes to Great Vespers seem to "enjoy" the service no matter their religious leanings.

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Offline standing8

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 04:34:32 PM »
Thanks alot for the replies.  I will go this evening and let you know how it goes.  I am excited to check it out.  Been wanting to go for a while now. 

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2011, 04:37:43 PM »

Just don't be too stressed!

Relax and absorb what you see (icons, faithful,...), what you hear (prayers, hymns,...) and what you smell (beeswax candles and incense..).

Don't feel pressured....just enjoy the experience.

Curious to hear how it goes.

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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2011, 05:05:59 PM »
IME, both the weekday and especially the Great Vespers on Saturday are a great way to start. The services are shorter and more easily followed, for me at least.

Not always! Weekday services, almost surely, but not always true for Saturdays. It varies widely. Most Greek/Antiochian parishes will do great vespers, which is shorter than daily vespers, but Slavic parishes will do the Vigil, which combines Great Vespers and Sunday Matins.

Unfortunately, I have been to OCA parishes in which this beautiful service is mostly chanted and done within 35-40 minutes. Nothing against anyone if you go to such a parish, but that is not how this service should be! It is a festal celebration of the resurrection, our mini-Pascha each week. It should be festal, mostly sung, etc.

In my OCA parish, the Vigil service lasts roughly 2 hrs. 20 mins. Maybe longer if it is also an important feast (an important saint or a Great Feast), due to singing a double canon, as well as the litya and magnification, all of which often get cut out on a "regular" Saturday.

Just don't be too stressed!

Relax and absorb what you see (icons, faithful,...), what you hear (prayers, hymns,...) and what you smell (beeswax candles and incense..).

Don't feel pressured....just enjoy the experience.

Curious to hear how it goes.

Absolutely. You've never been to an Orthodox service, and much of it will be foreign. That's okay. Enjoy what you do understand, and just take in the rest. Not just the words, but the way they are sung or chanted, the movements of the clergy and people, the lighting of candles and burning of vigil lamps, the use of the incense, the look of the icons, etc. We worship with all five senses, and it's very important to us!

And also, don't worry when people start crossing themselves, bowing, etc. and you don't. They'll know you're not a regular and won't judge you for it. Even if you do catch on but would prefer not to for the time being, it's not a problem. Again, just stand there and take it all in. And of course...report back!
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 05:07:59 PM by Benjamin the Red »
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 05:08:58 PM »
IME, both the weekday and especially the Great Vespers on Saturday are a great way to start. The services are shorter and more easily followed, for me at least.

Not always! Weekday services, almost surely, but not always true for Saturdays. It varies widely. Most Greek/Antiochian parishes will do great vespers, which is shorter than daily vespers, but Slavic parishes will do the Vigil, which combines Great Vespers and Sunday Matins.

Unfortunately, I have been to OCA parishes in which this beautiful service is mostly chanted and done within 35-40 minutes. Nothing against anyone if you go to such a parish, but that is not how this service should be! It is a festal celebration of the resurrection, our mini-Pascha each week. It should be festal, mostly sung, etc.

You are correct, I was just assuming since he mentioned it was an OCA parish.
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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2011, 05:21:40 PM »
You are correct, I was just assuming since he mentioned it was an OCA parish.

No, unfortunately, there are OCA parishes that make short work of the All-Night Vigil. It makes me very sad. In its fullness, the service should last literally all night. For the sake of time (and parishioner's sanity) it is often shortened to about 2 1/2 hrs. Although, some OCA parishes go through the service with little fanfare in about 40 minutes. Very unfortunate. It is my favorite service on the regular cycle, and it pains me to see it so downsized.
"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Offline David Garner

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 10:31:45 PM »
Too late to give good advice, but for what it's worth, my first ever Orthodox service was Vespers.  I concur with what most have said here -- we met the regulars, spoke for a long time with the priest and his wife, and basically decided when we left we'd be back.

Offline Gypsy

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2011, 12:36:26 AM »
I am RC - but studying icon writing.  My second session - the Heiromonk I am studying with invited me to Vespers after the lesson...

Has anyone read that lovely children's book The Wind in Willows?  When Ratty unpacks the picnic basket by the river....and Moley - who has lived underground all his life and has certainly never been on a picnic - and sees the marvelous spread laid out before him....all he can say is "Oh My- Oh My!"

Well - that was what it was like for me....

It is light, incense, black robes, glowing icons, candles, bowing, crossing, icons, bowing, angels, Theotokos, Christ, ST Michael, crossing, bowing, light, roses, chanting, alleluia alleluia alleluia, blessings, robed in majesty, kissing, reverences, worship, light again, icons glowing and shining and shining, Father Bless

Now I go every week.  I'm afraid to go to the Liturgy though....

Offline FormerReformer

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2011, 12:48:34 AM »
I am RC - but studying icon writing.  My second session - the Heiromonk I am studying with invited me to Vespers after the lesson...

Has anyone read that lovely children's book The Wind in Willows?  When Ratty unpacks the picnic basket by the river....and Moley - who has lived underground all his life and has certainly never been on a picnic - and sees the marvelous spread laid out before him....all he can say is "Oh My- Oh My!"

Well - that was what it was like for me....

It is light, incense, black robes, glowing icons, candles, bowing, crossing, icons, bowing, angels, Theotokos, Christ, ST Michael, crossing, bowing, light, roses, chanting, alleluia alleluia alleluia, blessings, robed in majesty, kissing, reverences, worship, light again, icons glowing and shining and shining, Father Bless

Now I go every week.  I'm afraid to go to the Liturgy though....

*sigh* I miss Vespers services, for one reason or another the parishes around here don't have them regularly.  It was the first service I attended and that was it for me.  Even now, when I have full access to the Mysteries there's something about Vespers that speaks to peace and the quietness of the soul.

By all means, fear the Liturgy.  Then we'll have you: hook, line, and sinker  ;)
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Offline standing8

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2011, 04:12:28 AM »
Well, I have to say that I loved it.  It seemed to sooth my soul.  I have been soul searching for a long time.  I have looked into quite a few denomination and a religion or two over the years and I have never felt like this.  I know I have a lot to learn and quite a few steps to take before all is said and done but I pray that I have found a "home" :) 

The service was only about 45 minutes or so but it was beautiful.  I really liked the way everything was sung.  Also the smell of the incense does something to you also.  I had been inside a few orthodox churches in the past while visiting other countries but I don't think i ever saw a service.
I talked to the priest and I am going to go to the introduction class they have before saturday vespers.
The only hang up is I need to talk my wife into going with me.  She was raised seventh day adventist but stopped believing.  I think I can talk her into it though.

Offline UniversalistGuy

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2011, 07:53:40 AM »
Well, I have to say that I loved it.  It seemed to sooth my soul.  I have been soul searching for a long time.  I have looked into quite a few denomination and a religion or two over the years and I have never felt like this.  I know I have a lot to learn and quite a few steps to take before all is said and done but I pray that I have found a "home" :) 

The service was only about 45 minutes or so but it was beautiful.  I really liked the way everything was sung.  Also the smell of the incense does something to you also.  I had been inside a few orthodox churches in the past while visiting other countries but I don't think i ever saw a service.
I talked to the priest and I am going to go to the introduction class they have before saturday vespers.
The only hang up is I need to talk my wife into going with me.  She was raised seventh day adventist but stopped believing.  I think I can talk her into it though.

I hope you can.  What a delightful post.  Thank you so much.

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2011, 08:52:32 AM »
"By all means, fear the Liturgy.  Then we'll have you: hook, line, and sinker  "


And you know I know this!  But then.....here s my fear....how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....



Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2011, 08:59:53 AM »
Well, I have to say that I loved it.  It seemed to sooth my soul.  I have been soul searching for a long time.  I have looked into quite a few denomination and a religion or two over the years and I have never felt like this.  I know I have a lot to learn and quite a few steps to take before all is said and done but I pray that I have found a "home" :) 

The service was only about 45 minutes or so but it was beautiful.  I really liked the way everything was sung.  Also the smell of the incense does something to you also.  I had been inside a few orthodox churches in the past while visiting other countries but I don't think i ever saw a service.
I talked to the priest and I am going to go to the introduction class they have before saturday vespers.
The only hang up is I need to talk my wife into going with me.  She was raised seventh day adventist but stopped believing.  I think I can talk her into it though.

Glory to God!  :angel:

Offline smithakd

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2011, 08:19:19 PM »
I talked to the priest and I am going to go to the introduction class they have before saturday vespers.
The only hang up is I need to talk my wife into going with me.  She was raised seventh day adventist but stopped believing.  I think I can talk her into it though.

Thank God, and welcome!

Also, not sure if anyone's mentioned this - don't forget to pray for and, ideally, with your wife!  It's important that our spouse is with us on this journey of life - especially when it comes to our relationship with God.
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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2011, 10:44:58 PM »
I am RC - but studying icon writing.  My second session - the Heiromonk I am studying with invited me to Vespers after the lesson...

Has anyone read that lovely children's book The Wind in Willows?  When Ratty unpacks the picnic basket by the river....and Moley - who has lived underground all his life and has certainly never been on a picnic - and sees the marvelous spread laid out before him....all he can say is "Oh My- Oh My!"

Well - that was what it was like for me....

It is light, incense, black robes, glowing icons, candles, bowing, crossing, icons, bowing, angels, Theotokos, Christ, ST Michael, crossing, bowing, light, roses, chanting, alleluia alleluia alleluia, blessings, robed in majesty, kissing, reverences, worship, light again, icons glowing and shining and shining, Father Bless

I agree with that! It was our first exposure to the church where we ended up joining. Don't be afraid to attend a Liturgy! It is all of that and more! We get visitors/first-timers to Liturgy all the time! You will love it! Oh-My!

Now I go every week.  I'm afraid to go to the Liturgy though....

I totally identify with that! Our first experience at the church we later joined was first through Vespers. Don't be afraid of attending Liturgy, though. It's all of that and more! We have visitors/first-timers come to Liturgy all the time and they are warmly received.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 10:48:10 PM by myrrhbear »
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Offline myrrhbear

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2011, 11:11:42 PM »
"And you know I know this!  But then.....here s my fear....how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me...."

We (and others who have been chrismated) were not asked to renounce anyone, only to renounce "previous errors", not name any person. That is something to ask the priest.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Offline myrrhbear

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2011, 11:14:04 PM »
Standing8, we are so glad you loved it! We are on this long journey together, a life time of drawing closer to God!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Offline bogdan

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2011, 12:32:34 AM »
"By all means, fear the Liturgy.  Then we'll have you: hook, line, and sinker  "


And you know I know this!  But then.....here s my fear....how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....

You may pray to those who you believe are in heaven. The Orthodox Church cannot vouch for the sanctity of anyone outside the Orthodox Church, but there are more people in heaven than the saints who have been formally glorified.

Once a priest told me about a sweet old lady who was once a member of his parish, but has since died. He prays to her as much as he prays to his own patron saint. I know Orthodox people who pray to Mother Theresa. If you believe Padre Pio intercedes for you, then by all means, pray.

As Myrrhbear said, you only renounce the errors. If saints of the Roman Church brought you back to Christ, then there is something worth keeping there. As St. Paul said: "Remember those who have spoken God's word to you." Even if they did not bring it perfectly or exactly right, it has still brought you to the doors of Holy Orthodoxy, and that is certainly worth something.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 12:32:50 AM by bogdan »

Offline Paisius

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2011, 12:37:19 AM »
how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....




No need to feel tortured my friend. You are certainly not betraying Padre Pio because if he is in heaven (and I believe he is), then he is Orthodox now.  ;)

Offline blessedbeggar

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2011, 02:52:35 PM »
"By all means, fear the Liturgy.  Then we'll have you: hook, line, and sinker  "

And you know I know this!  But then.....here s my fear....how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....

Do not fear...it was St. Padre Pio and his story that first drew me to the ancient faiths long ago. I thought surely Catholicism was my path...until I encountered Holy Orthodoxy. Now that I have seen the truth of Orthodoxy, I can see myself as nothing else. However, I still have love and devotion for St. Pio....holiness has no jurisdiction or boundary. May God bless you on this journey, and I pray you will allow yourself to go to Divine Liturgy....when you do I believe your fears will be set aside....
"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved."

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2011, 03:14:33 PM »
how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....




No need to feel tortured my friend. You are certainly not betraying Padre Pio because if he is in heaven (and I believe he is), then he is Orthodox now.  ;)

Hopefully there is no need for labels such as orthodox or catholic in heaven...

Offline JLatimer

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2011, 03:59:37 PM »
Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I feel like this applies to things, and people, in or outside of the Church. Everything good is from God. If you become Orthodox, I don't think you have to renounce anything good. Like others said, you just have to renounce error. All goodness, truth, saintliness, belongs to Christ.
1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

Offline Shiranui117

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2011, 04:29:46 PM »
how do I renounce the power that got me back into RC....those Saints...especially the one who picked me - Padre Pio the Capuchin monk...he brought me back into communion with God and interceded for me....

This tortures me....




No need to feel tortured my friend. You are certainly not betraying Padre Pio because if he is in heaven (and I believe he is), then he is Orthodox now.  ;)

Hopefully there is no need for labels such as orthodox or catholic in heaven...
Yeah... Just saints and angels, and of course God.

Offline Paisius

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2011, 08:05:24 PM »
Hopefully there is no need for labels such as orthodox or catholic in heaven...


 ???

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Re: first time at vespers
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2011, 02:11:37 AM »
Thank you all so very much for your wonderful comments about my tortured state!

They brought tears to my eyes, I feel such relief.

Paisius your comment about Padre Pio being Orthodox now gave me a good laugh too
Nice to see you guys have a sense of humor, as do I...!

Also very good to see that others are still devoted to the same Saints....and have not abandoned them.
I'm going to go blow my nose now....

Also, I am sorry if I hijacked the Vespers thread....it's not about me I know - but Rather the Vespers service which is extraordinarily beautiful.  Thank you all for setting my mind at peace over this matter.