Author Topic: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers  (Read 5008 times)

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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #45 on: February 28, 2017, 10:45:49 AM »
Any advice for those of us not comfortable with touchy-feely stuff?

Trust your gut and stay away from it.

I hate the circle of forgiveness and avoid it when possible. I am happy to currently attend a parish that does not inflict it upon us. My understanding is that it is a recent introduction to parish life generally, via Valaam monastery. While it might make a lot of sense in a monastic setting, where the monks/ nuns have been living in close quarters and getting on each other's nerves all year, among the laity it is highly artificial and bound to be shot through with hypocrisy and affectation.

I am curious how often our members outside the US encounter this practice in parishes.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 10:47:20 AM by Iconodule »
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #46 on: February 28, 2017, 10:50:34 AM »
I am curious how often our members outside the US encounter this practice in parishes.

I've only seen it in my UK parish, where there are maybe 30-35 people present. In Greece, with hundreds of people there, it would take longer than the DL.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #47 on: February 28, 2017, 11:34:46 AM »
Any advice for those of us not comfortable with touchy-feely stuff?
Trust your gut and stay away from it.

If someone is uncomfortable with the ritual, then yes, they should avoid it... to a point.  If the action is spiritually beneficial, then at some point it would be good to go through it.  But that's between them and their Spiritual Father.

I hate the circle of forgiveness and avoid it when possible. I am happy to currently attend a parish that does not inflict it upon us.

OK, I'll bite - why "hate?"

My understanding is that it is a recent introduction to parish life generally, via Valaam monastery.

I suppose so.  Although saying that it was introduced to parish life via a Monastery doesn't make sense.  Are you saying they encouraged pilgrims to take it back to their parishes, or are you saying that pilgrims decided to emulate what they saw at the monastery?

While it might make a lot of sense in a monastic setting, where the monks/ nuns have been living in close quarters and getting on each other's nerves all year, among the laity it is highly artificial and bound to be shot through with hypocrisy and affectation.

1. If you don't think that parishioners get on each other's nerves, you're naive to the full nature of parish life.

2. There are myriad ways in which you can inadvertently hurt / offend your neighbor

3. Avoiding a spiritual activity because the participants may engage in it with hypocrisy and affectation pretty much precludes the parish from doing anything.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 11:35:02 AM by Fr. George »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #48 on: February 28, 2017, 11:45:18 AM »

If someone is uncomfortable with the ritual, then yes, they should avoid it... to a point.  If the action is spiritually beneficial, then at some point it would be good to go through it.  But that's between them and their Spiritual Father.

Or they could just attend a sensible parish where such absurdities are not perpetrated.


Quote
OK, I'll bite - why "hate?"

Asking forgiveness from/ being asked for forgiveness by people whom I never talk to, and who never talk to me, and then smooching over said imaginary slights, which we both know never happened, is awkward, absurd, and downright pretentious. It's the sort of empty pious gesture that makes the church into a spiritual theme park. It's exactly the sort of fake humility that we are warned against in our ascetic literature.

Quote
1. If you don't think that parishioners get on each other's nerves, you're naive to the full nature of parish life.

2. There are myriad ways in which you can inadvertently hurt / offend your neighbor

Of course parishioners get on each other's nerves. It does not follow that every parishioner gets on every other parishioner's nerves, especially in larger parishes where half the people don't even know each other.

Quote
3. Avoiding a spiritual activity because the participants may engage in it with hypocrisy and affectation pretty much precludes the parish from doing anything.

There is no way for a reasonably sized parish to do a "circle of forgiveness" without hypocrisy and affectation. It is inherent to the practice.  If one parishioner has actually offended another, he should approach the problem directly and not abstract it in a depersonalized, ostentatious ritual where forgiveness is asked and given in precisely the same way between strangers.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 11:50:41 AM by Iconodule »
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline WPM

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #49 on: February 28, 2017, 11:51:21 AM »
If you follow the church calendar for the year.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #50 on: February 28, 2017, 12:04:15 PM »
Any advice for those of us not comfortable with touchy-feely stuff?

Trust your gut and stay away from it.

I hate the circle of forgiveness and avoid it when possible. I am happy to currently attend a parish that does not inflict it upon us. My understanding is that it is a recent introduction to parish life generally, via Valaam monastery. While it might make a lot of sense in a monastic setting, where the monks/ nuns have been living in close quarters and getting on each other's nerves all year, among the laity it is highly artificial and bound to be shot through with hypocrisy and affectation.

I am curious how often our members outside the US encounter this practice in parishes.

In our Church, the rite of forgiveness is its own service*, celebrated at noon on the first Monday of Lent after the canonical hours have been prayed.  It is sometimes anticipated on Sunday evening or even Sunday morning after the Liturgy, but it's a thing and not an import from a particular monastery. 

Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

This year, I had to attend the service at a (Greek) church at which I am a recurring visitor but in no way part of the community.  I left after the dismissal thinking there was no point in going through the rite of forgiveness if I'm hardly ever there, but I'm not sure they did it either because everyone else followed me out.  :)

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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2017, 12:07:20 PM »
.  Although saying that it was introduced to parish life via a Monastery doesn't make sense.  Are you saying they encouraged pilgrims to take it back to their parishes, or are you saying that pilgrims decided to emulate what they saw at the monastery?

One or the other is how I understand it. And this began sometime in the 19th century. If anyone can produce evidence that this was done in parishes before then, of course, I would be curious to see that.
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline Alkis

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #52 on: February 28, 2017, 12:12:24 PM »
In our cathedral in Serres, the bishop called us, after the vesper, to bless us and then we kissed a miraculous icon of Christ and some relics of saint Basil, saint John the Baptist,...
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #53 on: February 28, 2017, 12:18:31 PM »
Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

Parishioners who have offended each other should exchange forgiveness. And it may even be proper to have a moment in the liturgy for them to do this- in which case, one person can deliberately seek out the other person he has offended. But having all the parishioners line up and do the same forgiveness ritual with each other, regardless of what was or wasn't done, or how well they know each other, seems to me to severely mitigate any possible power the act can have when conducted between two people who actually have beef.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 12:26:21 PM by Iconodule »
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #54 on: February 28, 2017, 01:07:57 PM »
Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

Parishioners who have offended each other should exchange forgiveness. And it may even be proper to have a moment in the liturgy for them to do this- in which case, one person can deliberately seek out the other person he has offended. But having all the parishioners line up and do the same forgiveness ritual with each other, regardless of what was or wasn't done, or how well they know each other, seems to me to severely mitigate any possible power the act can have when conducted between two people who actually have beef.

When I was in seminary, I participated in this rite for the first time in a non-Indian church.  In some ways, a seminary is like a monastery...a relatively stable community of faculty, staff, and students living, working, and worshiping together.  I remember feeling uneasy about the rite of forgiveness for reasons similar to yours.  There were definitely people I knew well and interacted with all the time and from whom I ought to have asked forgiveness.  There were other people I barely knew and had little interaction with, and yet I couldn't ignore them in the context of the rite, I had to confront each of them and ask for forgiveness and offer it.  It seemed weird to me.   

I'm generally cynical about these things, but I can't adequately express the feeling of abiding love that I felt at the end of the service and for a long time thereafter.  Some of those people whom I barely knew became great friends, and I really think it started at the beginning of that first Lent. 

I think there's a value in going through this ritual even with people you don't know and interact with.  I could spin a theological yarn about how our sins affect other members of the body of Christ whether we know it or not and so we should ask forgiveness of all indiscriminately, etc., but even without that, I think it's enough to ask forgiveness of the "strangers" because, for example, we have kept them as strangers to us rather than making them friends.  In the end, I think that, while it starts with expressions of forgiveness, it is really about love.   
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #55 on: February 28, 2017, 01:08:30 PM »
In our Church, the rite of forgiveness is its own service*, celebrated at noon on the first Monday of Lent after the canonical hours have been prayed.  It is sometimes anticipated on Sunday evening or even Sunday morning after the Liturgy, but it's a thing and not an import from a particular monastery. 

It may very well have been practiced in a different form among us EO as well.  I don't know.  We do know that it was common to have the kiss of peace exchanged among people of the same station (clergy w/ clergy, others with people of the same gender) within the Liturgy - an act that, in a large Church, would have consumed the better part of an hour.  There may have been an understanding that forgiveness must be sought if one knew that they offended someone, and that the kiss of peace was the time to do so (which would make sense in light of the Lord's direction to "leave your offering" and seek forgiveness).

Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

The first time I went through the exchange of forgiveness I also found it to be rather perfunctory, partially because I wasn't as good about forgiving then as I should have been, and partially because others wanted to treat it in said (disrespectful, IMO) manner.  But there are lots of solemn rituals that when first experienced come off as perfunctory, underappreciated, and/or misunderstood, including Confession, the reception of Holy Communion, Marriage, Initiation (Baptism/Chrismation), Blessing the Home, etc.  There is a degree to which my appreciation of each of those ceremonies, which I either participated in or witnessed in my early years, grew through further experience, study, prayer, instruction, and the like.  I'm still not fully sure that my experience of each of these services/sacraments is fully what it could/should be; each time I see or participate or celebrate them, I find new insight and complexity where I had scarcely perceived it. 

My hope is the same with forgiveness, whether sought individually or in a formalized ritual.  Even one-on-one, I don't think most of us appreciate the full depths of what the Lord is looking for with our granting of forgiveness, and I think the only way to deepen our appreciation is through experience.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #56 on: February 28, 2017, 01:10:10 PM »
In our Church, the rite of forgiveness is its own service*, celebrated at noon on the first Monday of Lent after the canonical hours have been prayed.  It is sometimes anticipated on Sunday evening or even Sunday morning after the Liturgy, but it's a thing and not an import from a particular monastery. 

It may very well have been practiced in a different form among us EO as well.  I don't know.  We do know that it was common to have the kiss of peace exchanged among people of the same station (clergy w/ clergy, others with people of the same gender) within the Liturgy - an act that, in a large Church, would have consumed the better part of an hour.  There may have been an understanding that forgiveness must be sought if one knew that they offended someone, and that the kiss of peace was the time to do so (which would make sense in light of the Lord's direction to "leave your offering" and seek forgiveness).

Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

The first time I went through the exchange of forgiveness I also found it to be rather perfunctory, partially because I wasn't as good about forgiving then as I should have been, and partially because others wanted to treat it in said (disrespectful, IMO) manner.  But there are lots of solemn rituals that when first experienced come off as perfunctory, underappreciated, and/or misunderstood, including Confession, the reception of Holy Communion, Marriage, Initiation (Baptism/Chrismation), Blessing the Home, etc.  There is a degree to which my appreciation of each of those ceremonies, which I either participated in or witnessed in my early years, grew through further experience, study, prayer, instruction, and the like.  I'm still not fully sure that my experience of each of these services/sacraments is fully what it could/should be; each time I see or participate or celebrate them, I find new insight and complexity where I had scarcely perceived it. 

My hope is the same with forgiveness, whether sought individually or in a formalized ritual.  Even one-on-one, I don't think most of us appreciate the full depths of what the Lord is looking for with our granting of forgiveness, and I think the only way to deepen our appreciation is through experience.

+1
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2017, 01:11:36 PM »
Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

Parishioners who have offended each other should exchange forgiveness. And it may even be proper to have a moment in the liturgy for them to do this- in which case, one person can deliberately seek out the other person he has offended. But having all the parishioners line up and do the same forgiveness ritual with each other, regardless of what was or wasn't done, or how well they know each other, seems to me to severely mitigate any possible power the act can have when conducted between two people who actually have beef.

When I was in seminary, I participated in this rite for the first time in a non-Indian church.  In some ways, a seminary is like a monastery...a relatively stable community of faculty, staff, and students living, working, and worshiping together.  I remember feeling uneasy about the rite of forgiveness for reasons similar to yours.  There were definitely people I knew well and interacted with all the time and from whom I ought to have asked forgiveness.  There were other people I barely knew and had little interaction with, and yet I couldn't ignore them in the context of the rite, I had to confront each of them and ask for forgiveness and offer it.  It seemed weird to me.   

I'm generally cynical about these things, but I can't adequately express the feeling of abiding love that I felt at the end of the service and for a long time thereafter.  Some of those people whom I barely knew became great friends, and I really think it started at the beginning of that first Lent. 

I think there's a value in going through this ritual even with people you don't know and interact with.  I could spin a theological yarn about how our sins affect other members of the body of Christ whether we know it or not and so we should ask forgiveness of all indiscriminately, etc., but even without that, I think it's enough to ask forgiveness of the "strangers" because, for example, we have kept them as strangers to us rather than making them friends.  In the end, I think that, while it starts with expressions of forgiveness, it is really about love.   

All fair points. I may be overreacting. I prostrate and beg your forgiveness with many tears and sloppy kisses.
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #58 on: February 28, 2017, 01:15:11 PM »
Among us, my experience is that the exchange of forgiveness is often rather perfunctory, and so I can sympathise with your criticism.  That said, the priests seem to be working on changing that for the better, and I don't see how that would happen without practice.  There's definitely a need for it: unless you show up for services and leave immediately after with no further interaction with anyone, you're bound to offend and be offended in any parish.  If anything, it should be done more than just at the beginning of Lent.   

Parishioners who have offended each other should exchange forgiveness. And it may even be proper to have a moment in the liturgy for them to do this- in which case, one person can deliberately seek out the other person he has offended. But having all the parishioners line up and do the same forgiveness ritual with each other, regardless of what was or wasn't done, or how well they know each other, seems to me to severely mitigate any possible power the act can have when conducted between two people who actually have beef.

When I was in seminary, I participated in this rite for the first time in a non-Indian church.  In some ways, a seminary is like a monastery...a relatively stable community of faculty, staff, and students living, working, and worshiping together.  I remember feeling uneasy about the rite of forgiveness for reasons similar to yours.  There were definitely people I knew well and interacted with all the time and from whom I ought to have asked forgiveness.  There were other people I barely knew and had little interaction with, and yet I couldn't ignore them in the context of the rite, I had to confront each of them and ask for forgiveness and offer it.  It seemed weird to me.   

I'm generally cynical about these things, but I can't adequately express the feeling of abiding love that I felt at the end of the service and for a long time thereafter.  Some of those people whom I barely knew became great friends, and I really think it started at the beginning of that first Lent. 

I think there's a value in going through this ritual even with people you don't know and interact with.  I could spin a theological yarn about how our sins affect other members of the body of Christ whether we know it or not and so we should ask forgiveness of all indiscriminately, etc., but even without that, I think it's enough to ask forgiveness of the "strangers" because, for example, we have kept them as strangers to us rather than making them friends.  In the end, I think that, while it starts with expressions of forgiveness, it is really about love.   

All fair points. I may be overreacting. I prostrate and beg your forgiveness with many tears and sloppy kisses.

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #59 on: February 28, 2017, 01:16:54 PM »
I went through the line on Forgiveness Sunday.  If someone asked me how many of them were hypocritical, I would say that I have no idea.  Only the Lord knows.  It is still a good thing, as many of us go through the circle sincerely.  I also agree with Fr. George that there may be some who we have offended without knowing it.  It reminds me of Job.  He was righteous enough that he offered sacrifices for his young ones in case they committed an unknown offense.

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #60 on: February 28, 2017, 01:34:54 PM »
If someone is uncomfortable with the ritual, then yes, they should avoid it... to a point.  If the action is spiritually beneficial, then at some point it would be good to go through it.  But that's between them and their Spiritual Father.

Or they could just attend a sensible parish where such absurdities are not perpetrated.

I suppose I recoil from the stronger language of "absurdities" when applied to a spiritual exercise which is being attempted in good faith.  I can understand the discomfort considering what was discussed above (perfunctory execution at best, downright hypocrisy or lying at worst), but to dismiss it entirely within the scope of parish life seems misguided.  The Metropolis I serve has at least half of its parishes with fewer than 100 families each "on the books" (mailing list, stewardship list), and most of those parishes would have the right level of familiarity and intimacy on a regular basis to make such a service meaningful (especially when one takes into account the level of inter-relatedness, both by blood and by the sacraments).  The same ritual of forgiveness being done in a 400+ family parish, OTOH, would have limited effect on the people present, especially if it were done after Liturgy (to try and "trap" people there) vs. in the evening (when only those who wish to engage in the ritual would come, most likely). 

OK, I'll bite - why "hate?"

Asking forgiveness from/ being asked for forgiveness by people whom I never talk to, and who never talk to me, and then smooching over said imaginary slights, which we both know never happened, is awkward, absurd, and downright pretentious. It's the sort of empty pious gesture that makes the church into a spiritual theme park. It's exactly the sort of fake humility that we are warned against in our ascetic literature.

I think Mor's post (Reply #54) speaks well enough to your concerns here.  I cannot say it better than he did.

1. If you don't think that parishioners get on each other's nerves, you're naive to the full nature of parish life.

2. There are myriad ways in which you can inadvertently hurt / offend your neighbor

Of course parishioners get on each other's nerves. It does not follow that every parishioner gets on every other parishioner's nerves, especially in larger parishes where half the people don't even know each other.

You'd be surprised.  I served for 5 years in a parish of 600 families, and my experience indicates that it is very likely that parishioners who have never spoken to one another have inadvertently offended each other at least once, if not once per year.

3. Avoiding a spiritual activity because the participants may engage in it with hypocrisy and affectation pretty much precludes the parish from doing anything.

There is no way for a reasonably sized parish to do a "circle of forgiveness" without hypocrisy and affectation. It is inherent to the practice.  If one parishioner has actually offended another, he should approach the problem directly and not abstract it in a depersonalized, ostentatious ritual where forgiveness is asked and given in precisely the same way between strangers.

I could repeat your sentiment above and simply replace "circle of forgiveness" with "reception of Holy Communion" or "mandatory confession before communion" (a la Slavic practice) and it would be as apropos.  I don't dispute your point, but I do dispute your conclusion - that the presence of a hypocritical spirit among the people should cause us to avoid a spiritually beneficial practice.

I don't think the circle of forgiveness is right for every parish.  But I don't think it's wrong for every parish, either.
I don't typically presume to speak for Mor
You can presume to speak for Mor.   

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #61 on: February 28, 2017, 01:42:45 PM »
If someone is uncomfortable with the ritual, then yes, they should avoid it... to a point.  If the action is spiritually beneficial, then at some point it would be good to go through it.  But that's between them and their Spiritual Father.

Or they could just attend a sensible parish where such absurdities are not perpetrated.

I suppose I recoil from the stronger language of "absurdities" when applied to a spiritual exercise which is being attempted in good faith.  I can understand the discomfort considering what was discussed above (perfunctory execution at best, downright hypocrisy or lying at worst), but to dismiss it entirely within the scope of parish life seems misguided.  The Metropolis I serve has at least half of its parishes with fewer than 100 families each "on the books" (mailing list, stewardship list), and most of those parishes would have the right level of familiarity and intimacy on a regular basis to make such a service meaningful (especially when one takes into account the level of inter-relatedness, both by blood and by the sacraments).  The same ritual of forgiveness being done in a 400+ family parish, OTOH, would have limited effect on the people present, especially if it were done after Liturgy (to try and "trap" people there) vs. in the evening (when only those who wish to engage in the ritual would come, most likely). 

OK, I'll bite - why "hate?"

Asking forgiveness from/ being asked for forgiveness by people whom I never talk to, and who never talk to me, and then smooching over said imaginary slights, which we both know never happened, is awkward, absurd, and downright pretentious. It's the sort of empty pious gesture that makes the church into a spiritual theme park. It's exactly the sort of fake humility that we are warned against in our ascetic literature.

I think Mor's post (Reply #54) speaks well enough to your concerns here.  I cannot say it better than he did.

1. If you don't think that parishioners get on each other's nerves, you're naive to the full nature of parish life.

2. There are myriad ways in which you can inadvertently hurt / offend your neighbor

Of course parishioners get on each other's nerves. It does not follow that every parishioner gets on every other parishioner's nerves, especially in larger parishes where half the people don't even know each other.

You'd be surprised.  I served for 5 years in a parish of 600 families, and my experience indicates that it is very likely that parishioners who have never spoken to one another have inadvertently offended each other at least once, if not once per year.

3. Avoiding a spiritual activity because the participants may engage in it with hypocrisy and affectation pretty much precludes the parish from doing anything.

There is no way for a reasonably sized parish to do a "circle of forgiveness" without hypocrisy and affectation. It is inherent to the practice.  If one parishioner has actually offended another, he should approach the problem directly and not abstract it in a depersonalized, ostentatious ritual where forgiveness is asked and given in precisely the same way between strangers.

I could repeat your sentiment above and simply replace "circle of forgiveness" with "reception of Holy Communion" or "mandatory confession before communion" (a la Slavic practice) and it would be as apropos.  I don't dispute your point, but I do dispute your conclusion - that the presence of a hypocritical spirit among the people should cause us to avoid a spiritually beneficial practice.

I don't think the circle of forgiveness is right for every parish.  But I don't think it's wrong for every parish, either.

Fair enough. I concede the point. It's still icky, though.
Quote
But it had not been in Tess's power - nor is it in anybody's power - to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them. She - and how many more - might have ironically said to God with Saint Augustine, "Thou hast counselled a better course than thou hast permitted."
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Offline Bob2

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #62 on: February 28, 2017, 03:33:59 PM »
I enjoy this service, it just doesn't seem like clean Monday unless your legs are a little sore from all the prostrations, and it is fun to see all those in prodrasniks covered in sweat from the effort. It seems to me in my parish like it is done with sincerity.

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #63 on: February 28, 2017, 05:50:13 PM »
 :laugh:
I enjoy this service, it just doesn't seem like clean Monday unless your legs are a little sore from all the prostrations, and it is fun to see all those in prodrasniks covered in sweat from the effort. It seems to me in my parish like it is done with sincerity.

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How can you be so incarnationally constipated?

Don't forget about oc.net's women ;)

Can we have one thread where it doesn't devolve into how many people are hot for Mor?

Offline Luke

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #65 on: March 01, 2017, 01:55:55 PM »
I had to look up " perfunctory." :P

Offline rakovsky

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #66 on: March 05, 2017, 10:08:19 PM »
When I was in seminary, I participated in this rite for the first time in a non-Indian church.  In some ways, a seminary is like a monastery...a relatively stable community of faculty, staff, and students living, working, and worshiping together.  I remember feeling uneasy about the rite of forgiveness for reasons similar to yours.  There were definitely people I knew well and interacted with all the time and from whom I ought to have asked forgiveness.  There were other people I barely knew and had little interaction with, and yet I couldn't ignore them in the context of the rite, I had to confront each of them and ask for forgiveness and offer it.  It seemed weird to me.   

I'm generally cynical about these things, but I can't adequately express the feeling of abiding love that I felt at the end of the service and for a long time thereafter.  Some of those people whom I barely knew became great friends, and I really think it started at the beginning of that first Lent. 

I think there's a value in going through this ritual even with people you don't know and interact with.  I could spin a theological yarn about how our sins affect other members of the body of Christ whether we know it or not and so we should ask forgiveness of all indiscriminately, etc., but even without that, I think it's enough to ask forgiveness of the "strangers" because, for example, we have kept them as strangers to us rather than making them friends.  In the end, I think that, while it starts with expressions of forgiveness, it is really about love.   
I participated in an Antiochian church I had been visiting. I liked the ritual.
I think you gave a very good summary, and I felt the same good way you did about it.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 10:08:40 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Bridget

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #67 on: March 06, 2017, 11:59:00 AM »
In my parish we were offered an explanation about asking for forgiveness from people we don't really know or who we do not believe we have offended before the service. I'm probably going to paraphrase the priest badly, but the gist was that regardless of the specific relationships, all of us in the church injure each other by sin. Because we all sin, we all contribute to making the world a place where it is harder to obtain salvation, and if nothing else that is worth asking each other for forgiveness from.

Offline William

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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #68 on: Yesterday at 10:33:23 PM »
Any advice for those of us not comfortable with touchy-feely stuff?

Trust your gut and stay away from it.

I hate the circle of forgiveness and avoid it when possible. I am happy to currently attend a parish that does not inflict it upon us. My understanding is that it is a recent introduction to parish life generally, via Valaam monastery. While it might make a lot of sense in a monastic setting, where the monks/ nuns have been living in close quarters and getting on each other's nerves all year, among the laity it is highly artificial and bound to be shot through with hypocrisy and affectation.

I am curious how often our members outside the US encounter this practice in parishes.

Interesting, I did not know it was a recent introduction. It always did seem rather out of place in a religion whose liturgy is about formality and gravity.
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Re: Forgiveness Sunday Vespers
« Reply #69 on: Yesterday at 10:43:10 PM »
Any advice for those of us not comfortable with touchy-feely stuff?

Trust your gut and stay away from it.

I hate the circle of forgiveness and avoid it when possible. I am happy to currently attend a parish that does not inflict it upon us. My understanding is that it is a recent introduction to parish life generally, via Valaam monastery. While it might make a lot of sense in a monastic setting, where the monks/ nuns have been living in close quarters and getting on each other's nerves all year, among the laity it is highly artificial and bound to be shot through with hypocrisy and affectation.

I am curious how often our members outside the US encounter this practice in parishes.

There's nothing Christian in this reply.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are