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Author Topic: What is "Slava"?  (Read 7033 times) Average Rating: 0
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thornygrace
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« on: August 01, 2004, 08:31:49 PM »

I was reading the thread about the changes in Orthodoxy... and not wanting to move that discussion here, I wondered if this inquirer could ask a simple question:

"What is 'Slava"? It is mentioned several times and elsewhere I have seen references to it.
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2004, 10:18:42 PM »

Hi thornygrace,

I assume you saw it in reference to "Slava Isusu Christo"? ("glory be to Jesus Christ") or "pravoslavni" ("Right glory" or "right praise". i.e. "Orthodoxy" ?
I am not Slavic, but i believe it means "glory"  or "praise" maybe some Slavonic worshippers will correct me or add to this.

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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2004, 11:15:47 PM »

I hear references to doing something, like it is some tradition.  I don't remember which website, but someone posted a photograph of "Slava" he had.  It looked like a potluck.
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2004, 11:56:27 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

A Slava is a special service held primarily in Slavic Orthodox Parishes in honour of the Family Patron Saint.  In the United States it is gaining acceptance in nonslavic  jurisdictions who are now incorporating it into an American tradition. It consists of special prayers offered by the priest and a special feasting meal preprared and served by the host family.  The several that I have attended have the  host family serving the meal assuring that the guests are well fed and entertained but they did not seem to take a break to eat or sit down with their guests.  if you look on the Orthodox Family Life website at http://theologic.com/oflweb there is an article on the Slava I believe. There is also an article on the slava located at http://www.holycross-hermitage.com/pages/Orthodox_Life/serb_slava.htm

I hope this helps.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2004, 11:57:49 PM »

Here is the article noted above by Lev Puhalo:
Most non-Orthodox Christians, with very few exceptions, celebrate the day of their birth in a non-religions, non-liturgical manner, usually placing it second in importance to their Christmas and, often, higher than their Easter. Orthodox Christians seldom give their birth date more than a passing notice. For the Orthodox, everything centres on Christ and His Holy Church. The "personal feast day" of the year is not the date of birth, but rather the feast of God's Saint after which one is named. This day is called the "name day", the Imeneny of the Russians, and it is kept in one form or another throughout the Holy Orthodox Christian Church as a feast of deep spiritual meaning.

In addition to the name day, the Serbs have a very special variation of this wonderful tradition. With them, the name day is not an individual event, but rather a family affair. The feast is called, in Serbian, Slava (Thanksgiving or Glory-giving) and is kept on the feast day of the patron Saint of the entire family. The special spiritual depth of the Slava can only be understood when one realizes that the family celebrates it on the feast day of the Saint which has been the special patron of that family for centuries - ever since the family became Christian. For generations, the patron Saint's day has been a special uniting force in the family, bringing it together to give glory and thanks to God the Creator and Saviour.

On the day of the Slava, the home becomes "a church in miniature and the family becomes the congregation, reminding us that the Church is a family magnified". It is the tradition for all members of the family to gather, usually at the home of the eldest living member of the family, to commemorate the patron Saint, to glorify God and to pray for all members of the family, both the living and the reposed. This is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the Slava: that it celebrates the unity of Christ's Church both on earth and in heaven. The Slava is a sort of spiritual family reunion. Those who are not present in fact are present in spirit; not only living family members who are unable to he present, but also the forefathers of the family who have fallen asleep in Christ, faithful to His Holy Church. The grave does not separate Orthodox Christians one from another.

The Slava is a purely religious celebration and this is epitomized by the slavsky kolach (slava cake) - a special version of the Paschal Kolach (Kulich in Russian) which is baked for the occasion and which bears the family's prosphora seal with the sign of the Cross and the anagram for "Jesus Christ is our victory". The kolach also bears representations of the dove of peace and of the first-fruits of the harvest. When the slavsky kolach is placed on the table, a bowl of kolyivo is placed next to it. Kolyivo (kutiya) is made of boiled wheat mixed with honey and spices. The wheat, of course, symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ and, by that, the hope of resurrection vouchsafed to all who dwell within His Holy Church. The kolyivo, consisting of wheat gathered up and set apart for the feast, also symbolizes the oneness of all true Orthodox Christians everywhere, gathered together and set apart from the rest of the world.

Often, an ikon of the family patron is placed on the table next to the kolach and the kolyivo. The local priest is called to come and bless the home and all those present, offering prayers for the health and well-being of those unable to be present and for the peaceful repose of the forefathers of the family. The highlight of the feast is the service of the Thanksgiving Prayer (molieben) which is served by the priest before the ikon of the family patron saint.


In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2004, 12:25:22 AM »

Ahhh... that makes sense.

My husband, being Serbian, had mentioned family "Saint Days" and how people travel to the villages they originally came from as a family to celebrate.

Their family patron Saint is St. Joseph of Serbia.

In Serbian the phrase for "patron Saint" is "Who is your 'Slava' "  (The Patron Saint of Serbia is St. Slava of Serbia)

now it all fits together.

Doesn't all Orthodox families have a family Patron Saint?
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2004, 09:31:34 AM »

As far as I know, Slavas are a purely Serbian tradition.  But, I might be wrong.  In fact, there's a rather high probability that I am.  I'll email my soon-to-be kum later today and ask him about it, since he's Serbian Orthodox (he is most certainly not ethic Serbian; he just married into it Wink).

But, the fact that it's a Serbian tradition doesn't stop me from thinking seriously about starting it for my family.

And for any Serbians (or anyone else who knows the answer to this) on this board: I assume that the fact that the family has a patron doesn't eliminate the individual patron's, am I right?  I asked my eventual godfather about it, but I don't think he really understood the question (probably because I can't phrase things very well).

Oh, and thorny, Serbia's patron Saint is St. Sava , not St. Slava.  But I'm sure they won't hold it against you. Wink
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2004, 09:45:24 AM »

Just like to add, that, besides the spiritual aspect of it, the family usually invites friends & neighbors to slavas, & after the meal, (& usually much shlivo & rakia) there is dancing, singing, accordian playing, possibly a bonfire, and at least for the Serbs I know who live in the countryside, a lambroast.
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2004, 10:30:42 AM »

As one of this forum's resident "Grumpy Old Greek Orthodox Guys", I am unaware of this "Family Saint" tradition and/or celebration in any of the six autocephalous Greek Churches, but it certainly appeals to me   Cheesy

We must learn more...

Demetri ,"any excuse to roast a lamb for a saint", the GOGOG.
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2004, 11:00:19 AM »

As Oh, and thorny, Serbia's patron Saint is St. Sava , not St. Slava.  But I'm sure they won't hold it against you. Wink

It looked wrong. And since I ask St. Sava for his prayers, I wondered if I had been saying the word wrong.

One of the priests told me that in Serbia it is common to ask "Who is your 'Sava'?" (meaning, who is your Patron Saint?) Then I saw the "Slava" and though I had heard the priest wrong.

Question: Since a "Slava" is liturgical with a Priest needed to perform it, how can someone just "start" doing this?  Wouldn't it have to be a tradition (small "t") of the parish one attends?

I could see choosing a family Saint and having a celebration, even a family reunion. But how could it be a "Slava" without the Priest coming to the home, blessing the water, then coming back to perform the ceremony? (I guess the person who prepares the Slava cake could get holy water at the church.)
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2004, 11:23:06 AM »

As one of this forum's resident "Grumpy Old Greek Orthodox Guys", I am unaware of this "Family Saint" tradition and/or celebration in any of the six autocephalous Greek Churches, but it certainly appeals to me   Cheesy

We must learn more...

Demetri ,"any excuse to roast a lamb for a saint", the GOGOG.

Yeah, but you'd have to  roast a giant potato or something if it fell during a fast period.
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2004, 11:43:31 AM »

Yeah, but you'd have to  roast a giant potato or something if it fell during a fast period.

How true!
Of course the fact that this household keeps the Julian Calendar following my wife's ACROD parish and I'm GOA, well, it's hard to tell when any given day ISN'T a Fast Day. (And, naturally, I've never played between calendars to skirt the rules :blushing: )

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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2004, 12:45:55 PM »

I could see choosing a family Saint and having a celebration, even a family reunion. But how could it be a "Slava" without the Priest coming to the home, blessing the water, then coming back to perform the ceremony? (I guess the person who prepares the Slava cake could get holy water at the church.)

A Slava service is almost like a molebin, or maybe it is a molebin, I don't know.  The Slava's I've been to the priest (or priests) is one of the invited guests.  Priests usually have a "travel kit," some complete with Holy Water, anointing oils, etc.  They also usually have in this case an epetrahil & poruchi (don't know what that is in English, someone help me out).  I know several priests who have very extensive "kits" and travel with them always, just in case.  They preform the service in the family's house, in front of all the guests (wine being poured onto the bread is involved somehow), and after the party starts.
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2004, 01:07:44 PM »

Quote
They also usually have in this case an epetrahil & poruchi (don't know what that is in English, someone help me out).

-¦-+-+-é-Ç-¦-à -+-+-î = Greek epitrachelion (literally, the thing that goes round the neck) = English stole

-+-+-Ç-â-ç-+ (literally, things by the arm/hand) = English cuffs
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2004, 12:01:36 AM »

hi Everyone,

The article posted by Thomas is exactly right. Just a few more points:

The reason Serbs celebrate a Slava - Before their conversion to Christianity Serbs were pagans and believed in may different Gods. Usually each household had a Patron God. When the conversion started many did not want to give up on their household protecter so to appease and convert them each household was given a Patron Saint as their protecter.

In many families the eldest male is named after the family Patron Saint.

On the day of the Feast the male head of the household goes to church with the kolac(h). The family can also ask the Priest to come to the home later in the day. It is a tradition in many parts of Serbia and Montenegro for the male head to stand during the whole day. He may sit for a little to rest but not near the candle or he may ask his next in line such as his son to stand in his place. Why the standing? I do not know- (something I have never asked anyone).

Food is plentiful. If the Saint falls in a period of fasting or a fast day then the food prepared should be fasting food however not all families stick to this.

Sons and daughters inherit the Saint from their fathers. Upon marriage wives take the Saint of their husbands family. However I have heard that when non-serb males marry into a serb family they sometimes take the Slava of their wife or may take one of their own.

By celebrating a Patron Saint we do not forget the other Saints. Many people will attend church for other Saints as well.
It certainly is a great tradition to keep alive.

all the best
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2004, 12:10:21 AM »

Wow....Orthodoxy is just so much more fun than Roman Catholicism...lol.
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« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2004, 09:23:50 AM »

Wow....Orthodoxy is just so much more fun than Roman Catholicism...lol.

This is just begging to be put on a bumper sticker.  Cheesy

Josh
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« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2004, 09:31:24 AM »

Yes, yes it is... :-D (BTW, another great tradition, Namesdays, mine's today, feel free to congrat me... :-D... lots of vodachka & food tonight)
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« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2004, 10:01:41 AM »

Yes, yes it is... :-D (BTW, another great tradition, Namesdays, mine's today, feel free to congrat me... :-D... lots of vodachka & food tonight)

Many, many years!  Raise a glass for me! (stupid underage drinking laws.... grumble, grumble...)
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« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2004, 10:23:35 AM »

Many, many years!  Raise a glass for me! (stupid underage drinking laws.... grumble, grumble...)

Do not overly fret, ExOrienteLux, only those of us on the Julian Calendar can do this right now anyway... Cheesy

Demetri
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« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2004, 12:38:49 PM »

Thanks ExOrienteLux... a sign of non-Slavic (not a bad thing mind you) roots is finding drinking laws as a hinderance (have been drinking vodka since i was knee-high to a grasshopper... well, not really, but I remember being very young & being alowed a "pol-pal'tsa" or 1/2 a fingers worth on big celebration days)
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« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2004, 02:05:19 PM »

+º-ü+++++¦+¦ +á+++++++¦

Sorry, you'll have to teach me how to say/write that in Russian!
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« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2004, 02:33:12 PM »

Just because I'm under-age doesn't mean I haven't drank Guinness or vodka.  Wink Wink, nudge nudge.

Josh.
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« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2005, 09:07:57 PM »

To briefly add to the "Slava" discussion, I would offer to invite all my Orthodox brothers and sisters to my Slava (St. Nicholas - December 19) but alas, you don't invite people to Slava, you have an "open door" policy.

Therefore, if you can find my Father's home, you're all welcome when it rolls around again.

I've read some of the explanations of Slava (from internet sources) and some are very good.  My Slava is a fasting Slava (no animal products, oils etc...).  It is amongst one of my favorite and in some ways most important.

As someone (correctly) pointed out, Serbs were pagans before Christianity.  In early times, nomadic tribal people.  Slava celebrates our entry and belief in Christianity and it's one true faith. 

Without conversion, we would have nothing.  Hence the importance. 

I have one disappointing note about Slava I would like to share... I have noticed that every year when Slava falls on a "work day", Church attendance is only a fraction of what it is when Slava falls on a weekend.  This truly disappoints.

I think everything has to start with one person.  So, for my part, I haven't gone to work or school for that matter (ever) on December 19.  I've actually had exams postponed as a result.  Spread the word... work and school can wait for God.

Thanks.
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2005, 02:10:14 AM »

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Spread the word... work and school can wait for God.

Hey, that's the way I feel too! It's all about what your priorities are, in my opinion. Of course, I am not talking about people who have to work on Sundays or Holy Days because they have to, to keep bread on the table and a roof over their heads.

in Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2005, 04:45:59 AM »

Hi,

I've been reading this thread with interest as I never really knew much about the Serbian Slava. Have I understood this right, each family has their own Slava, which is for their family patron saint (I presume this means that you don't have individual patrons?) and the parish also has a Slava for its patron saint?

If that's correct, it's not too far from Romanian practice either. Everybody has their individual name day (which certainly is treated more or less the same way as the family Slavas have been described here) and in addition, on the feast of the parish saint, there is a something similar to the Slava called hram. Particularly in the villages, hram is probably more important than any other day except for the major feasts like Pascha and the Nativity.

Have I understood correctly or am I barking up the wrong tree?

James
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« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2005, 07:43:40 AM »

I have a suspician that the Irish traditionally had a family saint too, or perhaps it is simply because the irish person I know who follows this tradition is a member of the Serbian Church. I shall ask when she gets back to shore.

John.
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« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2005, 09:17:24 AM »

James,

You are exactly right.  In fact, we also have "village Slavas" as well.  In which an entire village will celebrate the village Patron Saint.

The major difference between the Serbian Slava and say the Bulgarian name day (although I don't purport to be an expert on name days), is that I have understood the name day to celebrate the particular Saint for whom the individual is named after.

Slava, however, is in celebration of the conversion to Christianity.  Again, it may be that name days also include this element as well, but as I said, I'm just not that familiar with the traditions of name days.
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« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2005, 09:56:44 AM »

This discussion is great!

Upon our reception into the Serbian Orthodox Church, our priest immediately asked us, "So, who is your Slava?" 

As SouthSerb mentioned, it doesn't matter if your Slava falls during a lenten season.  It is still celebrated.

There is a special service dedicated to the celebration of Krsna Slava.  The music runs like this:

1. O Holy Martyrs

2. Glory to Thee 

3. Rejoice, O Isaiah 

4. Through the Intercessions 

5. Have Mercy On Us, O God 

6. Litany of Fervent Supplication (this was adapted from Nikola Resavovic)

There is the Slava Kolach, wheat, wine oil and candle.  We were taught that those celebrating do not sit until the Slava candle has burned out.  That takes a while.  Every organization associated with the church and the family has a Slava:  the choir, folklore groups, women's auxilery, etc. 

One thing I have noticed is that Serbs tend to come to church around their Slava.  If they don't ever come to church and never think about spiritual things all year, they invite the priest into their homes when it's time for their Slava, at which time the priest delivers something that they have been missing.  Sometimes I've seen people start attending church more often after a Slava. 

If you're planning on starting to celebrate a Slava, I would recommend that you or your priest contact a Serbian priest.  There is a lot to this tradition (I hate calling it "little 't'" because I find that, well, that's another topic . . .) and it's easy to see the fun and celebration without seeing the prayer and preparation.  Because the Serbian Church has had this tradition from their earliest times, they have developed it in the most spiritually fruitfull way.

If you wish to see some of the music, a setting in Engliish by the Serbian-American composer Nikola Resanovic is available at http://www.narrowpathbookstore.com/PRODUCTS/MDL-RES.htm.  I have a copy of this and will be happy to send anyone the text without the music.  Actually, the $15 is a great price for this work since it has the Divine Liturgy, Wedding Music, Slava Music, etc. in one volume.  SHAMELESS PLUG:  If your choir is looking to supplement a little of the liturgical music with something different for the Izhe Heruvimi or Otce Nas or whatever, this is a good one.  It's very different and we enjoy singing it.

I'm sure SouthSerb can add a lot more to this discussion. 
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« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2005, 09:58:04 AM »

SouthSerb,

OK, I can't claim to talk for any other local church, but I don't think that the Romanian celebration of name days (other than their being for individual rather than family saints) is very different from what you describe. Name days are usually considered far more important than birthdays and some people actually don't celebrate their birthday much at all. It's almost as though their real birth was at baptism, not when they came into the world physically. As an adult convert rather than cradle Orthodox, this idea seems both important and true to me. For me, then, my conversion to Orthodoxy is precisely what I am celebrating on my name day (as well as St. James the Persian, of course) but I don't see that it is really any different for my son - his baptism was still a conversion even if he was an infant.

Now, when you talk about village Slavas, that sounds like Romanian hram. Hram, though, is for the patron saint of the church, so for my wife's village hram is on St. Nicholas' day, because he's the patron of the church. A town might, potentially, have more than one hram if it has more than one church (I honestly am not sure about this, though. I'll have to ask my wife.) Is this what you mean, or do Serbian villages have patron saints separate from their churches?

James
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« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2005, 10:07:01 AM »

James,

Every group developed traditions that bring the mundane daily life of the believer into the spritiual life of the church.  I don't think it's a question of "ours is like this and it's the same," or "ours is better," it's just different.  There is something beautiful in all these traditions.  I'm sure there are a lot of things which we would all love to hear about in the daily spiritual life of Romanian Orthodoxy.  It's rarely discussed!  We always hear about Russians, Greeks, and Antiochians.

What's important is that we live our lives according to the tradition of the church into which we have been born (by that I mean baptized or trully born).  For some jurisdictions or churches, that is difficult.  For American Orthodoxy a "rule" of tradition is still developing and, just like every other tradition has evolved, they are looking at the traditions all though Orthodoxy to find their way. 
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« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2005, 10:12:47 AM »

Hello all!

I’ve been a lurker on this board for quite some time, and I’d like to finally introduce myself and post something.   

For all those interested in Serbian-flavored orthodoxy, I recommend the following sites:
www.sv-luka.org
www.kosovo.com

The first has site has a great deal of information, all in English.  The site also includes chant examples and downloadable pdf files of Serbian chant.   Cinizec mentions Dr. Nikola Resanovic.  He has done a great deal of work in adapting Serbian chant to English and in creating SATB choral arrangements of traditional chant melodies. He has his own website, where a number of his works are available for download.

Best,
-Dylan
(whose Slava is Sveti Ilija)
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« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2005, 10:44:21 AM »

James,

    In response to the Romanian hram...

     I'm not exactly sure about whether there can be more than one Selska Slava (village Slava).  In my experience I've never seen more than one. although I can honestly say, I've never encountered a village with more than one Church (especially nowadays).

     The simillarties are strking though.  I will make some inquiries.
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« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2005, 10:50:23 AM »

General comment to all of you.  Hopefully this won't sound patronizing, but I really am impressed at the general level of religious knowledge on this website.

I look forward to learning more about specific traditions in every "ethnic" group found in Orthodoxy.

BTW, welcome Dylan.
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« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2005, 10:56:57 AM »

James,

Every group developed traditions that bring the mundane daily life of the believer into the spritiual life of the church. I don't think it's a question of "ours is like this and it's the same," or "ours is better," it's just different. There is something beautiful in all these traditions. I'm sure there are a lot of things which we would all love to hear about in the daily spiritual life of Romanian Orthodoxy. It's rarely discussed! We always hear about Russians, Greeks, and Antiochians.

What's important is that we live our lives according to the tradition of the church into which we have been born (by that I mean baptized or trully born). For some jurisdictions or churches, that is difficult. For American Orthodoxy a "rule" of tradition is still developing and, just like every other tradition has evolved, they are looking at the traditions all though Orthodoxy to find their way.

You are, of course, right. Did I actually give the impression that I was trying to see which tradition was better? I hope not. I was just trying to understand what you mean by Slava. I don't know any Serbian Orthodox people and have never been to a Serbian church, so the only way I can understand is to compare it to what I do know - Romanian traditions.

I'm actually interested in this precisely because it isn't Greek or Russian, and so we don't usually hear much about it. It impresses me when I can see the truth of Orthodoxy expressed in different local traditions and still understand the meaning behind each one.

As for Romanian Orthodox traditions, I'd love to discuss them, but I'm not really sure which ones are Romanian and which common to other Orthodox - it's the only local church I'm really familiar with. Actually, if I did talk about them I'd really be talking about Moldovan (the state not the Republic, though I doubt they'd differ much over the border) traditions. My godmother's from Sibiu in Transylvania and from talking with her its quite apparent that our local traditions vary even within the one church.

Anyway, this is a little off topic. If anyone does have a question about Romanian Orthodoxy, though, please feel free to ask me (probably best to start another thread).

James
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« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2005, 11:10:03 AM »

Quote
As for Romanian Orthodox traditions, I'd love to discuss them, but I'm not really sure which ones are Romanian and which common to other Orthodox - it's the only local church I'm really familiar with.

Which is why I dislike the "small 't' tradition" moniker. What may be unique to a particular group (Moldovan, Serbian, Russian, Greek) may be as necessary in understanding the faith *within that tradition* as commonly shared so-called "big 'T' traditions."

I didn't think you were saying that Romanian was better. I was just preaching to the choir. Grin

Concering the links provided, the folks at sv-luka.org are extremely knowledgable and helpful. If you're into music, man that place is great. Check out the "Cantor's Stand" area.

James, check out my pm to you.
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« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2005, 11:27:42 AM »

Which is why I dislike the "small 't' tradition" moniker.  What may be unique to a particular group (Moldovan, Serbian, Russian, Greek) may be as necessary in understanding the faith *within that tradition* as commonly shared so-called "big 'T' traditions."

Well said.  Couldn't agree more.
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« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2005, 11:34:56 AM »

I have a general question (which is not really intended for this board) but I didn't want to start a new discussion if one already existed.

I wanted to get some thoughts on Ecumenism and if some one could point me to a discussion on exactly that issue, I would appreciate it.

If not, maybe I'll start a discussion.  It seems that we may be a house divided on this issue.

See http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/

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« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2005, 12:28:12 PM »

AW MAN!

This is something I wish the Antiochians would catch on to this. Havent seen anything like it, at least not where I am. I feel so deprived! Sad

I have protestant parents as well.....ah well.

Pizza and Beer aint that bad! Grin

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« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2005, 12:32:36 PM »

Ian,

The issue is in going to the tradition from which it came and learning it correctly.  That's not to say that any Orthodox person can't, with the aid of their priest, celebrate Slava.
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« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2005, 03:30:46 AM »

Most Holy Trinity have mercy on us sinners of whom the first one is me.

As my grandma used to say (free translation):" Slava is, my child, what kept this people ( Serbs) away from the turk for 500 years. And thanks be to the God for it".

To this, I got nothing to add........ you said it pretty much all...

God bless.
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