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Author Topic: Ortho_cat's General Liturgy Questions  (Read 885 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ortho_cat
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« on: April 24, 2011, 04:06:19 PM »

Christ is risen!

I have some generalized liturgy questions which I will pose in this thread. It occurred to me last night that one of the areas of Orthodoxy that I least understand at this point is the liturgy itself. Ok, here's my first question then.

Why is there so much repetition in the liturgy? For example, why do we say the same petitions more than once? (e.g. prayers for this city and countyside and all the faithful that dwell therein...) Similarly I could use censing the faithful or the icons as examples. I just can't help but think to myself sometimes during liturgy, "didn't we already cover this? Why do it again?"

Thanks for reading! I Hope you all have a blessed Pascha.
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Michał
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 05:08:11 PM »

Christ Himself used repetitions during prayer (cf.: Matthew 26:44).
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 06:08:35 PM »

Christ Himself used repetitions during prayer (cf.: Matthew 26:44).

One of the most destructive things that the Roman rite did was to work so diligently to rid the liturgies of all of those useless repetitions.  There is NO such thing as a useless repetition.

We learn and absorb all things by repetition.  Muscle memory saves our lives millions of times a week and the only reason we have muscle memory is because in our daily lives we repeat the same actions over and over and over again and we do it from the moment we are conceived...or nearly.

IF the goal in this life is to be awakened to the Indwelling Trinity...or theosis...then the only ways we build that kind of awareness and ability to discern the Trinity within is to turn our minds, hearts and souls to Him.

We do that in part by that glorious waste of time---prayer---and more to the point that terribly useless activity of repetition...over and over and over again.

Useless repetitions build "muscle memory" for the soul.

Sorry to be the one to respond like this but it is one of my pet peeves:  Wasting time in prayer and useless repetitions can set me off on hours of didactic rant!!

Christ is Risen!!
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 07:41:39 PM »

Well, I understand the importance or personal repentance, such as saying continually lord have mercy and repeating prostrations, etc. and how repetition can aid this. What I am referring to specifically are things in liturgy that are repeated, such as censing the lay people many times, and repeating the same petitions many times. I just find myself something thinking that the liturgy wouldn't last as long if things weren't repeated so much, and perhaps people would attend more often. I don't know, i'm just thinking out loud here. I'm sure there are other reasons and symbolisms for why things are repeated when they are, but i think many people just don't get it...
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2011, 08:51:09 PM »

The liturgy recognizes and embraces this repetition... "Eti kai Eti..." "Again and Again..."

Why for the repetition? Why does our lungs repetitively inhale and exhale? Why does our our repetitively beat? The same answer to these questions is the same answer to your question.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2011, 09:23:57 PM »

Christ is risen!

I can't remember who wrote this (it might've even been someone here!), but somewhere I read "we say 'Lord, have mercy!' forty times because we don't mean it until the thirty-seventh time". That really struck a chord with me.

I personally love hearing "eti kai eti" / "again and again" at the beginning of each of the litanies, because it gives me an opportunity to pray again for the things I didn't pray for fervently enough the first time. I especially love the "antilavou, soson, eleison" / "help us, save us, have mercy on us". I never get tired of repeating that one!

But you've said you already understand this aspect of the issue, so I'm not sure how helpful that is. Hmm ...

There's also some hardcore academic discussion out there about the structure of the liturgy and how it is not linear, but spiraling/looping -- which gives a sense of being outside of linear time, in eschatological time. In God's time, really, where nothing happens just once but is constantly happening. I think this is also why we Orthodox speak in the present-tense about things that have already happened in historical time: "Christ IS risen".

Can't say my dilletantish mind really grasps such things.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 09:40:06 PM by akimori makoto » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2011, 10:57:28 PM »

Actually, if you believe Gregory Dix part of the reason there is so much repetition in Eastern rites is that at some point there was a fusion of the main eucharistic rite with some of the other rites, resulting in common portions being repeated. We don't have those in the west not because they were stripped away, but because they were never added. The Latin rite in particular is almost always more primitive than any given Eastern rite, not to mention other western rites such as the Gallician.
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2011, 11:00:39 PM »

The Latin rite in particular is almost always more primitive than any given Eastern rite, not to mention other western rites such as the Gallician.

Unqualified assertions aren't helpful.
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2011, 02:24:44 AM »

The Latin rite in particular is almost always more primitive than any given Eastern rite, not to mention other western rites such as the Gallician.

Unqualified assertions aren't helpful.

hmm i would like to see some citation for this claim as well.
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2011, 02:55:43 AM »

Ok, I have some more liturgy related questions now. This is regarding the vestments. Why are they so "fancy" for lack of a better word, and particularly, why does the bishop wear a crown? Some of it all just seems a little over the top, forgive me... Embarrassed
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2011, 03:37:10 AM »

Ok, I have some more liturgy related questions now. This is regarding the vestments. Why are they so "fancy" for lack of a better word, and particularly, why does the bishop wear a crown? Some of it all just seems a little over the top, forgive me... Embarrassed

I personally like that the priest wears the most simple black robes in his everyday life but wears the most extravagant vestments for the liturgy. It illustrates continuity with the worship of the Temple and also the liturgy of heaven, which we see in Revelation and elsewhere.

I can understand the criticism that they are over-the-top, though. I think St John Chrysostom said that you should use whatever money is left over after helping the poor and healing the sick to adorn the priest and the chalice. Seems like a good rule.

That is not an answer, but I think I can answer your question about the crowns. Apparently they date to the Ottoman period when the bishops received temporal authority from the Ottomans, in addition to their spiritual authority. They each became "emperor" of their diocese, in the absence of the Byzantine emperor. I think we started calling them "despota" / "vladyka" around the same time, though I could be mistaken.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 03:40:07 AM by akimori makoto » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2011, 05:00:42 AM »

The Latin rite in particular is almost always more primitive than any given Eastern rite, not to mention other western rites such as the Gallician.

What do you mean by "the Latin rite"? There are many Latin rites and the Gallican (I believe that's what you meant by "the Gallician") is one of them.
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2011, 12:05:16 AM »

Ortho:

Father Thomas Hopko is in the middle of an exhaustive study on the meaning of the Liturgy in his podcast series, Worship in Spirit and Truth. If he hasn't gotten round to answering your questions yet, he will.

« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 12:12:17 AM by sainthieu » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2011, 01:05:26 AM »

If you sit down and read the structure of the services, there is actually less repetition than you would think.  One of the reason that it appears repetitive in certain parts is because the vast amount of material that has been removed between the repetitive parts.  'Fixed' portions, such as Little Ektenias, that seem overly monotonous were at one time separated by hymnody which has since been removed.  The repetitive parts were once mile-markers within the services that have been shortened.

Christ is risen!

I have some generalized liturgy questions which I will pose in this thread. It occurred to me last night that one of the areas of Orthodoxy that I least understand at this point is the liturgy itself. Ok, here's my first question then.

Why is there so much repetition in the liturgy? For example, why do we say the same petitions more than once? (e.g. prayers for this city and countyside and all the faithful that dwell therein...) Similarly I could use censing the faithful or the icons as examples. I just can't help but think to myself sometimes during liturgy, "didn't we already cover this? Why do it again?"

Thanks for reading! I Hope you all have a blessed Pascha.
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2011, 04:31:09 PM »

The Latin rite in particular is almost always more primitive than any given Eastern rite, not to mention other western rites such as the Gallician.

What do you mean by "the Latin rite"? There are many Latin rites and the Gallican (I believe that's what you meant by "the Gallician") is one of them.

I suppose really I should have said the rite of Rome, and you're right, I meant to say "Gallican". In any case the point is that the reason why that rite lacks repetition is because it has always lacked it.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2011, 05:04:58 PM by Keble » Logged
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