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Author Topic: Differences between OO and EO spirituality?  (Read 5387 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 12, 2011, 12:56:15 PM »

I know this is a rather broad topic, but I would prefer to keep it that way, so people can ask and discuss a broad range of things concerning OO spirituality. First, in what way do the OO spiritual practices differ (in general) than those of the EO? Are there different fasting rules, prayer rules, etc? Is the Jesus Prayer as important as it is to EO? Do you use prayer ropes and icon corners? It has recently occurred to me that I have investigated little into this aspect, and I'm hoping to learn more. Thanks!  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 01:14:53 PM »

I know this is a rather broad topic, but I would prefer to keep it that way, so people can ask and discuss a broad range of things concerning OO spirituality. First, in what way do the OO spiritual practices differ (in general) than those of the EO? Are there different fasting rules, prayer rules, etc? Is the Jesus Prayer as important as it is to EO? Do you use prayer ropes and icon corners? It has recently occurred to me that I have investigated little into this aspect, and I'm hoping to learn more. Thanks!  Smiley
I've spent a lot of time with the Copts, some time with the Syriac, little time with the Armenians and Indians.  I've never noticed any great difference, asside from cultural factors which also appear amongst EO.

There is not such a developed devotion of the Jesus prayer among the OO that I've noticed (in Egypt the prayer ropes are too uncomfortably close to a Muslim devotional).  If any OO dispute that, I'll be interested in what they have to say.  Among the Copts at least, there is more a development of the Liturgy of the Hours than among the EO.

The OO have the fast of Ninevah, that "damnable heresy of the Armenians" as the EO have referred to it, and which has been discussed here.  No, I don't agree that there is anything heretical about it, but I do prefer the fast free week of the Pharisee.
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 01:42:27 PM »

The problem with this question is that it seems to assume uniformity among the OO, when in reality we have some diversity in our practices.

Regarding fasting, you might want to look at this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25101.0.html


The fast of Ninevah dispute which Isa mentioned, is discussed in the seventeenth paragraph of an article you can find here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9335.0.html
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 01:59:33 PM »

The problem with this question is that it seems to assume uniformity among the OO, when in reality we have some diversity in our practices.

Regarding fasting, you might want to look at this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25101.0.html


The fast of Ninevah dispute which Isa mentioned, is discussed in the seventeenth paragraph of an article you can find here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9335.0.html

I see. Perhaps we could narrow down the focus to Coptic spirituality then? Is there still quite a wide range of diversity and practice among various Copts? Also, thanks for the links.
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 02:07:53 PM »

I see. Perhaps we could narrow down the focus to Coptic spirituality then? Is there still quite a wide range of diversity and practice among various Copts? Also, thanks for the links.

I hope not. I love that practices very so widely in the Oriental communion. Byzantine Orthodoxy has become very uniform, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we need to be reminded that this is a recent occurance in the Church, and that historically our practices differed widely from region-to-region. The OO remind us of that, and in varying their practices within their own communion display a beautiful aspect of the Ecumenical nature of the Church of Christ not as vividly maintained by us.

I would like this thread to not only discuss differences in focus between the OO and the EO, but also to discuss different practices amongst OO churches. If the Copts practice a, b and c...what to the Armenians do? How does that differ from the Syrians? And, what do all of these differences demonstrate? What is the underpinning truth to it all? Very interesting. At least, to me.  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 02:16:25 PM »

I see. Perhaps we could narrow down the focus to Coptic spirituality then? Is there still quite a wide range of diversity and practice among various Copts? Also, thanks for the links.

I hope not. I love that practices very so widely in the Oriental communion. Byzantine Orthodoxy has become very uniform, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we need to be reminded that this is a recent occurance in the Church, and that historically our practices differed widely from region-to-region. The OO remind us of that, and in varying their practices within their own communion display a beautiful aspect of the Ecumenical nature of the Church of Christ not as vividly maintained by us.

I would like this thread to not only discuss differences in focus between the OO and the EO, but also to discuss different practices amongst OO churches. If the Copts practice a, b and c...what to the Armenians do? How does that differ from the Syrians? And, what do all of these differences demonstrate? What is the underpinning truth to it all? Very interesting. At least, to me.  Grin

Yes, i agree. I would be interested in learning about all this as well. Perhaps my title was a bit limiting. Perhaps a mod could change it to something more general like "Differences in OO Spirituality"?
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2011, 03:06:03 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, we have a very extensive spiritual life.  We have in common the Hours prayers, the incense offeriings, prayer beads, devotional prayers, a heavy emphasis on icons and ritual worship.  The core of Ethiopian spirituality is the Psalter, and various groups of Psalms accompany almost any and every activity in daily life.  The Psalms, much like in the Coptic Hours, are a divine source of guidance, spiritual reflection, and meditative prayer. 





We also have the common practice of Saint's days and pilgrimages, which are a very tangible form of devotion and spiritual asceticism.  There are also many hermetic monks who practice the strict spirituality of the Early Desert Fathers, they are called Bahtawi.

The lives and days of the people are also filled with hymn and song, the mezmur, which along with the Psalms are the fundamental core of everyday spiritual life in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo faith. Our distinctive element of prayer and hymn is the drum and liturgical "dance" which has attracted negative attention and scorn in Jerusalem for a thousand years, but is very deeply a part of our hymnology, we are African, and the drum is essential.  It reverberates the sounding energy of prayer and song to God across time and space, it is crucial, it is distinctive, it is not widely accepted in Orthodoxy, in fact are there any other Orthodox traditions of hand drums (maybe the Armenians?)

There is also a strong tradition of indigenous Patristic writings and commentary by the clergy which are quite popular, as are many many traveling preachers (usually deacons) who are well renown and very inspiring of popular piety.

The Saint's lives, gedel, along with the Synaxarium bring the interactive history of the Church into our daily routines, connecting our struggles and celebrations with those of the entire Christian family, both militant and triumphant.

Stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2011, 03:51:36 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, we have a very extensive spiritual life.  We have in common the Hours prayers, the incense offeriings, prayer beads, devotional prayers, a heavy emphasis on icons and ritual worship.  The core of Ethiopian spirituality is the Psalter, and various groups of Psalms accompany almost any and every activity in daily life.  The Psalms, much like in the Coptic Hours, are a divine source of guidance, spiritual reflection, and meditative prayer. 

You mention "hours" and "incense offerings" seperately. Is there an Ethiopian tradition that maintains an offering of incense more like what would be seen in the Jewish temple? I know that many old Jewish customs, laws and worship have been preserved in your church due to your ancient interactions with Israel, which flowed well into the acceptance of the Gospel for the Ethiopian people.

Also, I haven't heard much about Ethiopian prayer beads, or Oriental Orthodox prayer ropes/beads in general. How are these beads constructed (lengths, materials, patterns, etc.) and what prayers are used? I'm interested to know how they differ from the EO use of the chotki and the RC use of the rosary.

Lastly, I just have to comment that I have a great appreciation for Ethiopian iconography!
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2011, 03:53:53 PM »

we are African, and the drum is essential
Do Europeans, Asians, Americans, and Australians have their own "essential" instruments?
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2011, 04:34:59 PM »


Also, I haven't heard much about Ethiopian prayer beads, or Oriental Orthodox prayer ropes/beads in general. How are these beads constructed (lengths, materials, patterns, etc.) and what prayers are used? I'm interested to know how they differ from the EO use of the chotki and the RC use of the rosary.

You may want to refer to this thread for the prayers for the Ethiopian prayer beads, or Mequteria:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13200.msg324832.html#msg324832

The Copts also use Mequteria beads, but I think they say the Jesus prayer with them.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12740.msg173806.html#msg173806


The Armenians don't use prayer beads or prayer ropes.  Probably the most popular devotional prayer for the Armenain laity is the prayer written by St. Nerses, with 24 verses:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13200.msg199055.html#msg199055

You may want to just browse through the sticky thread about prayer.  That will give you a good idea of what our prayers are like. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2011, 04:39:36 PM »


Also, I haven't heard much about Ethiopian prayer beads, or Oriental Orthodox prayer ropes/beads in general. How are these beads constructed (lengths, materials, patterns, etc.) and what prayers are used? I'm interested to know how they differ from the EO use of the chotki and the RC use of the rosary.

You may want to refer to this thread for the prayers for the Ethiopian prayer beads, or Mequteria:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13200.msg324832.html#msg324832

The Copts also use Mequteria beads, but I think they say the Jesus prayer with them.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12740.msg173806.html#msg173806


The Armenians don't use prayer beads or prayer ropes.  Probably the most popular devotional prayer for the Armenain laity is the prayer written by St. Nerses, with 24 verses:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13200.msg199055.html#msg199055

You may want to just browse through the sticky thread about prayer.  That will give you a good idea of what our prayers are like. 

Thanks, Salpy! I'll get to reading. Grin
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2011, 08:07:57 PM »

Someone just put "racialism" as a tag on this thread.  What does that mean?  I'm not asking who put it there.  I kind of like the anonymity that tags have.  I just want to know what it means.
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2011, 10:10:39 PM »

Someone just put "racialism" as a tag on this thread.  What does that mean?  I'm not asking who put it there.  I kind of like the anonymity that tags have.  I just want to know what it means.

"racialism is the basic epistemological position that not only do races exist, but also that there are significant differences between them."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racialism

I have no idea what this has to do with this thread (and i'm not sure I want to know).
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2011, 10:16:47 PM »

"...not only do races exist, but also that there are significant differences between them."

You mean like Armenians having bigger noses than other people?  I'm not sure what that has to do with this thread either.  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2011, 11:18:14 PM »




You mention "hours" and "incense offerings" separately. Is there an Ethiopian tradition that maintains an offering of incense more like what would be seen in the Jewish temple? I know that many old Jewish customs, laws and worship have been preserved in your church due to your ancient interactions with Israel, which flowed well into the acceptance of the Gospel for the Ethiopian people.

Also, I haven't heard much about Ethiopian prayer beads, or Oriental Orthodox prayer ropes/beads in general. How are these beads constructed (lengths, materials, patterns, etc.) and what prayers are used? I'm interested to know how they differ from the EO use of the chotki and the RC use of the rosary.

Lastly, I just have to comment that I have a great appreciation for Ethiopian iconography!

The Hours (Se'at) in Tewahedo tradition are not the same as the horologium in the Latin tradition and the Agpeya in the Copts, rather its an indigenous version of the similar prayers. Unlike in the Copts, the Hours in Ethiopia is almost strictly monastic, though many in the laity enjoy it as a colloquial prayer book, and the services at the appointed times are made public.

The Incense offering is its own distinct prayer in the morning and evening in the Tewahedo tradition, separate from the Hours prayers or from the Divine Liturgy, and is offered each and every day by the clergy and by the ordained monastics within the churches.  These prayers are also quite public, it is the Morning Incense offering which many Ethiopians attend each morning as their morning prayer in the Hours style.  Those exceptionally pious will pray the Se'at privately before the Morning Incense.  On Saint's days, commemorative Divine Liturgy services are offered after the Morning Incense (accept on fasting days, when Liturgy is offered strictly after 12pm).  On Sunday services, the Morning Offering is prayed, then any scheduled Baptisms, then the "Prayer of the Covenant" (every morning, afternoon at weekday Divine Liturgies, and every evening along with Evening Incense), then Divine Liturgy.

We have a solid Judaic aspect to our worship, including the popular and theological embracing of Deuteronomic ritualistic purity in connection with the Church building, the Ark of the Covenant as an Altar Stone (the Tabot), and a general feeling of entering into Temple worship at the Church building, alongside other Judaic cultural practices inherent from Ethiopia's indigenous Semitic culture.  Of course, I understand many of these Judaic aspects to also be quite common in other Orthodox jurisdictions, even in the Roman Catholics.


You may want to refer to this thread for the prayers for the Ethiopian prayer beads, or Mequteria:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13200.msg324832.html#msg324832


These links were very accurate to my understanding of Tewahedo prayer beads.  A common prayer on the beads is the "Be'ente Mariam Mehadene Kristos" (For the Sake of Mary, Christ Have Mercy on Us") and also some people rhythmically clack the beads during Divine Liturgy, but I am not sure what this signifies or its origin, I just see and hear it at services from time to time.

Do Europeans, Asians, Americans, and Australians have their own "essential" instruments?
I'm not quite sure if you are being facetious but I will take you seriously and say, what other Orthodox Christian traditions use hand drums? In all seriousness, I don't know of any others.  The only indigenous hand drums I know if Orthodox regions are the Armenians who have lovely hand drums, but I am not sure if they use them liturgically or in prayer.  In Tewahedo, the hand drum is the essential instrument to liturgical worship, it is crucially crucial, and I also know that the other Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem complain that the Ethiopians make a racket during our celebrations and processions with our drums.  Again, do any other Orthodox traditions incorporate the hand drum into liturgical worship?

While I have enjoyed discussing the spiritual and ascetic practices of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity, I think an idea this OP was trying to express were perhaps ideas like Energies and Essence theology of EO which have different explanations to the economia and activity of the Godhead in the earth, which have fundamental implications in prayer theology in the concepts of theosis and kenosis and the Divine Mysteries.  OO theology is far less mechanically oriented as the EO, and we rely on Cyrilian language to guide our understandings, which are a bit less precise and have fundamentally different views on spiritual matters.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2011, 11:45:01 AM »


The Hours (Se'at) in Tewahedo tradition are not the same as the horologium in the Latin tradition and the Agpeya in the Copts, rather its an indigenous version of the similar prayers. Unlike in the Copts, the Hours in Ethiopia is almost strictly monastic, though many in the laity enjoy it as a colloquial prayer book, and the services at the appointed times are made public.

The Incense offering is its own distinct prayer in the morning and evening in the Tewahedo tradition, separate from the Hours prayers or from the Divine Liturgy, and is offered each and every day by the clergy and by the ordained monastics within the churches.  These prayers are also quite public, it is the Morning Incense offering which many Ethiopians attend each morning as their morning prayer in the Hours style.  Those exceptionally pious will pray the Se'at privately before the Morning Incense.  On Saint's days, commemorative Divine Liturgy services are offered after the Morning Incense (accept on fasting days, when Liturgy is offered strictly after 12pm).  On Sunday services, the Morning Offering is prayed, then any scheduled Baptisms, then the "Prayer of the Covenant" (every morning, afternoon at weekday Divine Liturgies, and every evening along with Evening Incense), then Divine Liturgy.

We have a solid Judaic aspect to our worship, including the popular and theological embracing of Deuteronomic ritualistic purity in connection with the Church building, the Ark of the Covenant as an Altar Stone (the Tabot), and a general feeling of entering into Temple worship at the Church building, alongside other Judaic cultural practices inherent from Ethiopia's indigenous Semitic culture.  Of course, I understand many of these Judaic aspects to also be quite common in other Orthodox jurisdictions, even in the Roman Catholics.

Interesting. Many monastics in the EO will pray the hours, but in parish life they have become tacked on to the regular services. I.e., the First Hour is read immediately after Matins, Third and Sixth before Divine Liturgy, and Ninth before Vespers. This practice of Incense Offering intrigues me greatly. To my knowledge no EO church (or other OO church, for that matter) has such a service, which seems to come clearly and directly from the daily incense offerings of the Jewish temple. Is there an online text of these services, preferably in English? I would be very interested in learning more about how this service is conducted.

Most people walking into an EO church who are familiar with Jewish worship will feel immediately at home, that is true. However, the Ethiopian Church seems to go above and beyond in its practice of Deuteronomic ritual, which I find so very intriguing. You have not only maintained certain Jewish traditions lost in other churches, and have some practices which seem to never have been incorporated in other churches (such as the incense offering, or the observation of certain kosher laws).
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2011, 12:07:12 PM »

What is "Deuteronomic" about what you guys are describing?
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2011, 08:39:04 PM »

Several OO websites i've come across have articles relating to evangelism. I find this interesting. Have the OO always placed an emphasis on sharing the faith, or is this a recent trend?
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« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2011, 11:40:23 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
However, the Ethiopian Church seems to go above and beyond in its practice of Deuteronomic ritual, which I find so very intriguing. You have not only maintained certain Jewish traditions lost in other churches, and have some practices which seem to never have been incorporated in other churches (such as the incense offering, or the observation of certain kosher laws).

Well, at least if they went to a Tabot procession on say Timket/Epiphany, Jews would feel quite familiar.  When I told my pops about our processions, which are similar to how David processed with the Ark in Samuel, he said, "Like the Jews with the Torah?" He was referencing that both the Torah and the Tabot are processed to song and prayer in the Church and indeed the neighborhood veiled and venerated.  Processions and parades are by no means uniquely Ethiopian, however it is the theology of our Tabot processions that is unique, as we directly relate the sacredness of the Tabot with the Ark of the Covenant, which of course the Ethiopians have maintained to have, and have made this claim consistently for at least a thousand years.



The dietary restrictions are actually a matter of cultural coincidence.  Ethiopia is the cradle of Semitic culture and language, so there is an immense diversity of indigenous Ethiopian Semitic groups.  A common thread, even amongst "pagan" Semitic groups in Ethiopia is strict monotheism, taboos on pork, and elements of ritual purity connected with worship.  So the Ethiopian Christians and Muslims who also practice these in their respective cultures more than likely were already doing so before conversion to these otherwise foreign religions.  These cultural traits coincide and interrelate, which is why they are so widespread across Ethiopia (and also North East Africa and the Arabian peninsula)

Ethiopians took on Christian features but thoroughly Ethiopianized them, including processions, ritualistic worship, and biblical restrictions.  I am not only a convert, but an Ethiopianist historian, and so my bias coming into Orthodox was an Ethiopian Orthodox centered view.  I am always surprised to find out that sacred altar stones are found in the Syrian Orthodox and even the Roman Catholic (any other Orthodox have these?) similarly to the Ethiopians, and that many Orthodox cultures also practice the ritualistic purity (associated with Deuteronomy in connection with menstruation and sexual activity) that I had mistakenly thought of as uniquely Ethiopian Orthodox considering the prevalence and diversity of these practices in Ethiopia (Christian, Muslim, 'pagan')

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2011, 10:32:48 AM »

Thanks for sharing that insight! I am not so educated on Ethiopian history, but it sounds fascinating. I think I will seek to learn more.

It's true that many of those things are maintained in other Orthodox traditions, but often to a lesser degree. The OCA, for example, actually will not allow a priest to refuse the Eucharist to menstrating women (I'm not sure how they would know that, these days, but regardless...). I am unsure what our stance is on receiving the Eucharist when one is bleeding in some other way, although I am fairly certain that if a priest is bleeding, he cannot serve the Liturgy.
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