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Author Topic: How to raise possible touchy subjects with parishioners  (Read 1221 times) Average Rating: 0
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scamandrius
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« on: July 16, 2011, 11:31:44 AM »

I'll just come right out and say it--I'm a judgmental person.  My own "righteousness" gets the better of me way too often and it is a cross I have been trying to carry for my entire life, unsuccessfully.  Having said that, ever since I have come down from the choir loft because the situation up there was such that I could not pray, there have been so many things I have noticed that concern me.  These are real distractions and I'm not sure how to bring them up to the parishioners.  My priest won't dare mention anything from the pulpit (I think he's tried in the past to no avail) and, of course, I'm unaware of anything he's maybe tried to do privately.  So, how can I raise these subjects of distraction to the parishioners without coming off as some legalistic, know-it-all, self righteous person?  Here are a few of the issues that are constantly going on:

1) It's summer so the dress code seems to go from casual to beach casual.  People are wearing loud flip flops and shorts and other beach apparel.
2)  People are talking and surfing the net during the service on their phones.
3)  The same people always get up and leave at certain points of the service (e.g. CHerubimic Hymn) and it's always loud when they do so.

This last one, I do believe though needs to be addressed by the priest:
4)  People are jumping communion lines.  They want to be communed by the priest and not the deacon so they go to "his" line. This seems to me an abuse of the Eucharist.

Suggestions are appreciated.
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2011, 11:42:32 AM »

I struggle with being judgmental as well. This is a good thing to remember:


A brother at Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to say to him, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting’ for you.’ So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, ‘What is this, Father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

emphasis mine


As-Salamu alaykum! Smiley
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 11:42:58 AM by zekarja » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 04:12:26 PM »

Don't raise those issues with parishoners. It is not your place. Raise them with the priest, it is his place to deal with them as he sees fit.
As Philippians 2:12 says, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. If people are line jumping, that is between them and God. You don't fit into it, and by being concerned with it you can only harm yourself.
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Maria
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 05:26:05 PM »

Perhaps a letter to the Bishop would help.

Sometimes priests are threatened into silence by certain powerful people who have connections.
When I was in the OCA and in the GOA, I witnessed this.
When attending parish councils where people get up and threaten the priest with a vote of confidence (to fire him), it gets pretty bad.
One brave parishioner wrote Bishop Benjamin of the OCA a letter and he addressed the problem immediately.

Do not let parishioners threaten the priest. The bishop should be called in.


« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 05:27:24 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 01:43:09 AM »

To point 2:

Just tell people to knock it off.

Some young adult guys here going on in Romanian during a DL about at conversational level and using their phones to txt and surf the web and discussing what they were seeing. Laughing etc. Even the content of the conversation wasn't too kosher even to my horrible understanding of Romanian.

They were surrounded by the a swath of the white middle class people who were just palpably being passive aggressive about the situation.

I turned around and told them to knock it off.

They did.

NBD.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:45:32 AM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2011, 03:17:56 AM »

It is the height of bad manners to engage in disruptive behaviour when it is a time for prayer, so don't feel bad about wanting to reprimand such people.

I was fortunate that I never had to deal with it personally during services - and they could get noisy at times with chit-chat.  My brother monk was on the cliros with the choir and it was his job to turn around and go, very loudly, "Shsshhhh!"   It always worked.  They actually loved him a lot because he cared for them in so many ways.

So if your priest is ducking the issue you, or some other brave soul, could try that strategy.  It's a tough call but the parishioners in the church certainly do deserve to be praying in peace.

I suppose that if you have a judgemental nature this could become an occasion of sin for you so maybe someone else could be asked to police this problem.
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 07:21:17 AM »

I agree with orthonorm on issue number 2 and probably would tackle this as directly and briefly as i felt able. The others, i wouldn't be so concerned.

~ Dyhn
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 09:37:11 AM »

If I were you, I might bring this up in confession.  I would do it this way:

"Father, I have been struggling with my own pride.  I see people (no names) do _____, _____ and ____ during liturgy, and I'm afraid it distracts me from prayer, and makes me want to mend the situation, when I should just try and focus on prayer."

This would be the best approach.  I should think he would do something about it, especially if he knew it was possibly harming someone's spiritual life.

Our spiritual Father isn't for tattling on our brothers and sisters.  But he is there to help us when we have a problem such as this.

good luck!
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 10:43:24 AM »

I'll just come right out and say it--I'm a judgmental person.  My own "righteousness" gets the better of me way too often and it is a cross I have been trying to carry for my entire life, unsuccessfully.  Having said that, ever since I have come down from the choir loft because the situation up there was such that I could not pray, there have been so many things I have noticed that concern me.  These are real distractions and I'm not sure how to bring them up to the parishioners.  My priest won't dare mention anything from the pulpit (I think he's tried in the past to no avail) and, of course, I'm unaware of anything he's maybe tried to do privately.  So, how can I raise these subjects of distraction to the parishioners without coming off as some legalistic, know-it-all, self righteous person?  Here are a few of the issues that are constantly going on:

1) It's summer so the dress code seems to go from casual to beach casual.  People are wearing loud flip flops and shorts and other beach apparel.
2)  People are talking and surfing the net during the service on their phones.
3)  The same people always get up and leave at certain points of the service (e.g. CHerubimic Hymn) and it's always loud when they do so.

This last one, I do believe though needs to be addressed by the priest:
4)  People are jumping communion lines.  They want to be communed by the priest and not the deacon so they go to "his" line. This seems to me an abuse of the Eucharist.

Suggestions are appreciated.

I can be judgemental too, but rather than say anything to people, I just go elsewhere. I'm struggling with this right now, because I'm trying to decide on which Orthodox church to be involved with, and all the ones I have been to so far, the women don't cover their heads except for me, and many dress immodestly (pants, sleevless tops, short dresses, etc) The Russians are the only ones where I have not seen this, so I may end up there (its just a shame they are so far from my home.)
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2011, 11:11:34 AM »

I'll just come right out and say it--I'm a judgmental person.  My own "righteousness" gets the better of me way too often and it is a cross I have been trying to carry for my entire life, unsuccessfully.  Having said that, ever since I have come down from the choir loft because the situation up there was such that I could not pray, there have been so many things I have noticed that concern me.  These are real distractions and I'm not sure how to bring them up to the parishioners.  My priest won't dare mention anything from the pulpit (I think he's tried in the past to no avail) and, of course, I'm unaware of anything he's maybe tried to do privately.  So, how can I raise these subjects of distraction to the parishioners without coming off as some legalistic, know-it-all, self righteous person?  Here are a few of the issues that are constantly going on:

1) It's summer so the dress code seems to go from casual to beach casual.  People are wearing loud flip flops and shorts and other beach apparel.
2)  People are talking and surfing the net during the service on their phones.
3)  The same people always get up and leave at certain points of the service (e.g. CHerubimic Hymn) and it's always loud when they do so.

This last one, I do believe though needs to be addressed by the priest:
4)  People are jumping communion lines.  They want to be communed by the priest and not the deacon so they go to "his" line. This seems to me an abuse of the Eucharist.

Suggestions are appreciated.

I can be judgemental too, but rather than say anything to people, I just go elsewhere. I'm struggling with this right now, because I'm trying to decide on which Orthodox church to be involved with, and all the ones I have been to so far, the women don't cover their heads except for me, and many dress immodestly (pants, sleevless tops, short dresses, etc) The Russians are the only ones where I have not seen this, so I may end up there (its just a shame they are so far from my home.)

This is pretty much how I handled the problem.  I know scamandrius' church well, and my wife still attends there.  I also know that the priest has done all that he can, and some of it at great cost to him.  I know this because I have directly spoken with him on the matter.  We are blessed in this city to have five Orthodox Churches.  I attend one now where this behavior is not tolerated.  While perhaps I just ran away from my temptation and did not address my judgmentalism, at least now I come to Church to worship and pray and actually benefit from the service.  I used to leave every service in the other Church upset and mad.  I have to fight this even now when I occasionally attend there with my wife.  It is sad it has to be this way since I really like the priest and most of the people, and loved serving with him during a couple of funerals while my priest was away. 

As to the dress habits of the Russians and Serbs, I, too, have found them somewhat more modest.  On the other hand, I have found them to have perfected the art of dressing modestly while still appearing incredibly HOT.  Which brings up another temptation that I have to deal with . . . 
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2011, 11:55:41 AM »

I agree with everything above:

Ignore the line-jumping or forgive it. Everyone in my church "line-jumps"; we just don't care whether or not someone gets there first. At that particular point in the service, it doesn't matter. Do you really want to be angry when you take the eucharist? I don't think so.

Take up the issue of dress code with the priest, and let him handle it. Then forget about it.

Forgive someone if their phone goes off accidentally...

BUT

Confront any idiot yakking or actively using technology in church. If you're reticent, stare pointedly at them. If you're bold, ask them to please be quiet, or shut it off, or leave. You have the right to do this because it is your prayer time. If someone doesn't take being in church seriously, they do not belong in church, and it's as well that they leave.

Why am I confrontational--and totally non-Orthodox--on this issue? Because if we don't take a stand and insist that our church is a sacred place, then it soon won't be.

Besides, maintaining the sacredness breeds the right attitude, and is what most serious Christians are looking for.  Here, I've got an anecdote: The first time my friend attended our church, the priest ordered him to take off his hat. My friend knew immediately that he was in the right place and has attended ever since.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 12:04:04 PM by sainthieu » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 12:02:50 PM »

if we don't take a stand and insist that our church is a sacred place, then it soon won't be.

I couldn't agree more!
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 12:05:11 PM »

If I were you, I might bring this up in confession.  I would do it this way:

"Father, I have been struggling with my own pride.  I see people (no names) do _____, _____ and ____ during liturgy, and I'm afraid it distracts me from prayer, and makes me want to mend the situation, when I should just try and focus on prayer."

This would be the best approach.  I should think he would do something about it, especially if he knew it was possibly harming someone's spiritual life.
Don't tell him to be manipulative  Roll Eyes

he is there to help us when we have a problem such as this.
Then tell him straight...."Can you do something about this, this and that minger please??"
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 12:15:01 PM »

Confront any idiot yakking or actively using technology in church.

I am just the you know what to do this sorta thing, but this is a situation where women have the advantage. In a reasonable public environment, women are more effective in getting men to knock off silly behavior and to a lesser degree women than men.

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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 12:44:19 PM »

... this is a situation where women have the advantage.

I disagree; everybody has to do it. Men still command respect--or should. My priest will walk up to an adult man and take his hands from out of his pockets as if the man were still 12. If you're uncomfortable acting aggressive in church, rehearse something to say that is kind, but firm.
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2011, 02:12:16 PM »

... this is a situation where women have the advantage.

I disagree; everybody has to do it. Men still command respect--or should. My priest will walk up to an adult man and take his hands from out of his pockets as if the man were still 12. If you're uncomfortable acting aggressive in church, rehearse something to say that is kind, but firm.

I agree. I am just saying that men often respond better or less passive aggressive / aggressive to women "correcting" them than when another man does.

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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2011, 02:36:55 PM »

I get ya.
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2011, 10:25:45 PM »

In this case, the priest is who you'll want to talk to.
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