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Author Topic: Malankar Orthodox Church  (Read 8741 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 07, 2002, 06:09:01 PM »


I discovered a small house Church in my general area with a sign outside saying "St Mary's Orthodox Church".  Naturally, out of curiosity I went in.  It was an Indian Church and I think of the Malankar Rite.  

In the Church itself, it was quite plain.  Where the Iconostasis would be was a solid wall with one large arch and two smaller arches [where the Royal Doors and Deacons doors would be in a byzantine Orthodox Church].
There was a curtain behind each arch and, I'm assuming the Sanctuary was behind them.  There was a small Statue of Christ in the back of the Church and a table with what looked like chest in front of what I will call the Royal Arch.
I was in a hurry (had a doctors appt) so I didn't get chance to talk to the man that was there.

Would like to visit again but would like to know more about it before I go again.  For instance, after I left I thought that I should have removed my shoes before entering.  And hope my ignorance didn't offend the person that was there.
When do they celebrate Pascha?  With the byzantine Orthodox or with the western church?

Would appreciate some feedback that would ensure that I am not be offensive when I go in again.

Bob
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2002, 06:35:01 PM »

Dear Bob,

I can give you some basics.  'Tis my Church, after all.

In the Church itself, it was quite plain.  Where the Iconostasis would be was a solid wall with one large arch and two smaller arches [where the Royal Doors and Deacons doors would be in a byzantine Orthodox Church].
There was a curtain behind each arch and, I'm assuming the Sanctuary was behind them.


Our churches are not known to use as much iconography as Chalcedonian churches, and so, while there is no prohibition of such, it is not often the case, and many churches can look rather plain, both here and back home.  Also, iconostases are not known.  We have veils (curtains) which hang before the Holy of Holies, in imitation of the Temple (most of our Liturgy is based on first century Jewish Temple ritual, so I've read).  In a converted house (as I assume this church was), I guess you could expect to see a wall put in to delineate where the altar would be, although one could just as easily put up a rod on which to hang veils, and make do without the walls.  From what you've described, it sounds like the church had three altars, which is traditional.  

There was a small Statue of Christ in the back of the Church and a table with what looked like chest in front of what I will call the Royal Arch.

A characteristic of Indian churches, not found in Syrian (by which I mean Arab) churches, is a table in front of the main altar's steps.  It usually has a cross and a couple of candles on it, as well as some books.  Here the various offices are prayed (Vespers, Matins and the little Hours before Divine Liturgy, etc.).  It is also the place where other services (baptisms, weddings, festal services, etc.) are conducted.  Often found on this table is a box for monetary offerings; in my church, there are two boxes, one for what for now I'll call "Mass stipends" and the other for other offerings.  In the Syrian churches, if I'm not mistaken, you will likely find either nothing, or a lectern with the book of the Gospels on it for veneration.  Although there is nothing preventing us from putting a Gospel book on this table for veneration (or an icon for that matter), it is not really done.  It is also on this table that the Divine Liturgy of Holy Saturday is offered, since no services are allowed in the main altars from Good Friday's burial service until Vespers of Pascha on Saturday evening.  

Interesting that there was a statue in the church.  I've never really seen this done, but I suppose no one really makes a big stink about it.  I saw a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in an Orthodox church back home, and while I thought it was out of place, I don't think anyone else did.  "It's Mary", after all...or the Lord in this case.  

Would like to visit again but would like to know more about it before I go again.  For instance, after I left I thought that I should have removed my shoes before entering.  And hope my ignorance didn't offend the person that was there.

Yes, in most of our churches shoes are to be removed before entering.  There is usually a place where you can put them.  There's a prohibition of animal products in the main parts of the church: hence, even the priest's slippers which he uses in the altar are made of vegetable fibers.  

I don't think your "ignorance" would offend anyone.  Usually we are not sought out by non-Indians, and so no one really expects newcomers to know what to do.  Besides, what kind of ignorance did you display?  I didn't see any from your post.  Heck, if you offered the standard reverences you make in your own parish church, you probably outdid the regular parishioners in reverence.  Smiley  I never really see anyone do the prescribed reverence.  

When do they celebrate Pascha?  With the byzantine Orthodox or with the western church?

As of 1953, the Indian Church is on the Gregorian calendar exclusively.  Before 1953, we were all Julian.  It was done, if I'm not mistaken, in order that Pascha be celebrated by all Christians in the country at the same time.  Personally, because I'm used to the Gregorian calendar, I am not really itching to switch, although when there is a five week difference in Western v. Orthodox Pascha, I'd rather be on the Julian; because this happened this past year, I've come to appreciate the Julian calendar...I could live with keeping the Julian for moveable feasts based on Pascha, as is done in the Middle East.  But for now, it's all Gregorian.      
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2002, 06:36:16 PM »

Dear Bob,

One more thing I forgot...if you don't mind, I wanted to ask you to contact me privately and let me know where this church is located.  I'm just curious if it is the same one I have in mind...
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2002, 09:00:57 PM »


The church is located at
514 Devereaux Ave
Philadelphia, PA
215-342-5922

It is right off Rising Sun Ave and Devereaux in the NE section of the city.  Right near St Celia's RC Church.  However, there is also another St Mary's Malankar Orthodox Church on Orthodox St. and also in the NE section.

Thanks for your info.  I found it fascinating as well as interesting.  If I were to go to Liturgy what would I expect to see and hear?  Do the Malankar's make the sign of the Cross?  And would the Liturgy be in English?  Please give us some more information on this Rite within the Oriental Orthodox Church.  

I am interesting in knowing why three Altars in such a small Church.  Your reply seems to indicate that all Malankar Churches have three Altars.  What are the other two Altars used for?  Additional Liturgies or specific services like Vespers, etc.

Anyhow, thanks for your reply.

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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2002, 09:35:39 PM »

I was with Bob on our visit to St. Mary's. Needless to say the parishioners were somewhat taken back that a non-Indian would be interested in seeing their chapel.  They were very cordial and invited us in.  The language barrier was not too much of a problem.   They seemed to understand that we were also Orthodox and wanted to see what their chapel looked like. I kind of stayed behind while Bob went into the church. The priest was preparing for the evening service.  All in all, it was a very nice visit, one which I and Im sure Bob would like to do again. Only this time we will be more prepared. Smiley

Bob, I think you ment St. Mary's is near St. Williams RC parish if Im not mistaken, and the statue of Our Lord was sort of located in what we would refer to as the Narthex just inside the entrance.  It wasnt "in" the worship "Nave" area.  :-

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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2002, 10:21:24 PM »

[Bob, I think you ment St. Mary's is near St. Williams RC parish if Im not mistaken,]

You are right.  It is St William's.  Since it is within walking distance from my home maybe some Sunday if I can't make Liturgy at St Stephen's I will go there.

I'm intrigued with the three Altars in such a small Church.  Maybe Mor Ephrem can tell us if the Malankar's have the same rules as the byzantine Orthodox  that only one Liturgy a day can be served  on a specific Altar  Also if the priest can only serve one Liturgy per day.

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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2002, 10:51:12 PM »

Dear Bob and Joe,

I'm glad you two seem to have had such a positive experience with one of our parishes.  And I'm also glad that this was an evening service...I don't know many of our churches that have weekly Vespers.

If I were to go to Liturgy what would I expect to see and hear?  Do the Malankar's make the sign of the Cross?  And would the Liturgy be in English?  Please give us some more information on this Rite within the Oriental Orthodox Church.

The Malankara Orthodox make the Sign of the Cross many times in the Liturgy.  I once tried to keep count of how many times it is done, but after like number thirty-seven I lost count.  I think that's when I started praying.   Tongue  Anyway, it is made in the exact same way you guys make it as far as finger formation, but you go from left shoulder to right shoulder, like the Roman Catholics, although the reasoning for this is different.  The Sign of the Cross, for Oriental Orthodox Christians, is a confession of faith in the Incarnation, as well as the sign of the Holy Cross.  For the Son of God came down from heaven (forehead) to earth (down to the sternum or lower) to save man, enslaved by sin (left shoulder) and bring him to salvation (right shoulder).  

You'd have to ask the priest when English Liturgies are.  Generally speaking, most parishes I know have a monthly English Liturgy, if not one every other weekend.  In our church we have the monthly one, but it rarely gets celebrated.  So much for monthly.  Usually, though, a good amount of English should be used.  The readings are usually done in English, except for maybe the Gospel (and even here it is often done in English), parts of the sermon, some of the diaconal parts, and whatever the priest chooses can and often are in English.  Ask ahead if you want to plan on going to an English Liturgy.  Or you could also ask someone for English "pew books" (don't know if this church has pews; we don't) and ask someone to let you know where you are in the service.  We once had visiting seminarians from Saint Vlad's do this.  It can work.

If you visit one of our churches on an average Sunday, depending on how early you get there, you will first see the service of Matins.  The priest celebrates the first parts of it, along with the preparatory prayers before entering the altar, and then he'll enter the altar, kiss its corners, and ask forgiveness of the people.  Then the curtains close, and while the Prothesis is going on behind the veil, the rest of the morning service will be led by one of the deacons/acolytes, with the people singing the responses.  This is an especially pleasant part of the day because the hymns are sung antiphonally: one side sings one stanza, and alternates with the other side.  Often, this will mean that one stanza is sung only by men, and the other by women, since the sexes are separated in church: men on the left, women on the right.  Before the Liturgy begins, there are a couple of Old Testament readings, for which everyone gets to sit, since you'll have been standing for a while during Matins.  While this is going on, the priest will come out and people prepared for Communion will go up to him and he will pray the Hoosoyo (absolution) over them.  

When the Liturgy begins, the priest intones a short verse invoking the prayers of the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist as we begin the Liturgy, and then the hymn of Saint Severios is sung (Byzantines sing this too, after the Second Antiphon, if I'm not mistaken...the hymn "Only Begotten Son and Word of God"), while the priest and other ministers process around the altar  At this time, bells are rung, and the ripidia are waved: these have small bells all around them, and so they make a loud rattling sound...I held a ripidion once, and if I moved my hand even slightly, it was still loud, so they are pretty nice.  Then the Trisagion is sung, and then the New Testament readings, culminating in the Gospel.  Then the proper prayers of the day, the Proemion and Sedro are sung.  

After these, the blessing of the censer is performed.  This is pretty unique to us.  Incense is burned and the priest takes the chains of the censer and intones "Holy is the Holy Father, Holy is the Holy Son, Holy is the Holy Spirit" and then censes the congregation while reciting a prayer.  

The Creed is then recited, and if this particular parish follows the traditional practice, it will be different from the way most people recite it.  Basically, a deacon will recite "In one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible" and the people will exclaim "We Believe!", and it will go on like that for the whole Creed.  The priest is kneeling at the altar during this, and commemorating all the people he is asked to commemorate for the second time (the first commemoration was at the Prothesis).  

Then the kiss of peace is exchanged.  First the priest gives it to the deacon with the censer.  Then he gives it to the other deacons on the left side.  Then he descends from the altar and gives it to the men, who then pass it amongst themselves to the back.  Same with the women, and then same with the deacons on the right side.  To offer the kiss, one puts one's palms together as if praying, but keeps them open, and clasps the hands of one's neighbour.  Then the veil is lifted from the holy gifts, and the Anaphora begins.  

The Anaphora is pretty straightforward.  It starts out with the blessing "The Love of God the Father, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..."  The words of Saint Paul here are altered a bit to place the Father first.  That dialogue is carried out, then the preface, and then the "Holy, Holy, Holy", and then the Institution, the Anamnesis, and then the Epiclesis, which is very pronounced in our rite.  The priest will flutter his hands over the gifts while the deacons exhorts the people:

"Barekhmor, How awe-ful is this hour and how dreadful is this moment, my beloved, wherein the Holy Spirit from the topmost heights takes wing and descents and hovers and rests upon this Eucharist here present and sanctifies it. Be in calm and awe, while standing and praying."

Then the priest says "Answer unto me, O Lord" three times, and then he pronounces the Epiclesis.

Then come the diptychs which commemorate the living and the dead.  They are like a litany with really long diaconal petitions.   When this is over, the altar is veiled and the rite of Fraction occurs while hymns are sung.  This is considered one of the holiest moments of the Liturgy.  Then the veil is drawn and the Lord's Prayer is sung, and then the elevation of the Holy Mysteries (Holy Things for the holy), and then there are prayers of incense offered first to the Mother of God, then the Saints, and then for the departed.  During this time, the sermon might be given.  After this, the altar is veiled again, and the priest and deacons receive Communion.  Then the veil is drawn again, and the people receive Communion.  

After this, some prayers are recited, then the closing hymns of the day are intoned by the priest, and then the final blessing.  After this, there is some silence, followed by the post-Communion prayers.  Announcements may be given after these, and then the faithful go up to the priest, place their offerings in the designated place, and venerate the hand-cross by letting the priest bless you upon the forehead with it.  After this, there is usually coffee or something.

That's the average Sunday.  It's not the best introduction admittedly, but it's the best I can do.    

I am interesting in knowing why three Altars in such a small Church.  Your reply seems to indicate that all Malankar Churches have three Altars.  What are the other two Altars used for?  Additional Liturgies or specific services like Vespers, etc.

Most churches have three altars.  These are used nowadays only for the Mooninmel Qurbana.  There is no adequate English translation of this word, although I have heard the use of "Tri-Liturgy".  Basically, on important feasts (in America, usually on the patronal feast of the parish), when one can get two other priests, three Liturgies are celebrated simultaneously, with the main celebrant intoning the prayers aloud, and the others silently.  Three altars, three sets of holy gifts, three priests, three sets of bells, ripidia, censers, three of everything.  It's awesome.  It's one of my favourite Liturgies of the year.  In some places in India, like certain shrines, this Liturgy is celebrated every Sunday, or on certain weekdays when finding priests is easier.  My cousins' parish church back home does it every Sunday with three priests...three Bishops do it on great feasts.  Tri-Hierarchical-Liturgy...doesn't get much better than that.  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2002, 10:57:50 PM »

Maybe Mor Ephrem can tell us if the Malankar's have the same rules as the byzantine Orthodox  that only one Liturgy a day can be served  on a specific Altar  Also if the priest can only serve one Liturgy per day.


We share the same discipline on both counts.
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2002, 11:54:07 PM »

<sigh> I guess I didn't get to see the "real" thing, Mor, just a kind of "smoked mirror" version copy of it, but even that was impressive.

The nearest I've been to a Malankara Orthodox Liturgy was more than 30 years ago when a Syro-Malankara Rite Eastern Catholic priest celebrated the Malankara "Mass" in a Roman Catholic church during the Roman Catholic "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" (now called the "Church Unity Octave").  Since the Malankara Liturgy was served in a Roman Catholic rather than an Eastern Catholic church, there was no curtain to veil the altar area, nor were the other liturgical appointments you mention in use, so I have no idea if there were any "Latinizations" or not in the Service itself.

However, I do remember that the priest processed down the center aisle of the church *barefooted*at the start of the Service and that the aisle had been strewn with flower petals beforehand.  I also remember that the priest wore jeweled rings on his fingers, something I've never seen before.  And a Nehru-style hat was worn on the priest's head during the procession.

Do the above features figure into the Liturgy of the Malankara Orthodox Church as well, Mor?

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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2002, 12:21:43 AM »

I guess I didn't get to see the "real" thing, Mor, just a kind of "smoked mirror" version copy of it, but even that was impressive.

It's all the incense we use.  Halfway through the Liturgy, so much incense is used that there are clouds all over the church, and you look (and sometimes feel) like you're floating in heaven.   Smiley  

However, I do remember that the priest processed down the center aisle of the church *barefooted*at the start of the Service and that the aisle had been strewn with flower petals beforehand.  I also remember that the priest wore jeweled rings on his fingers, something I've never seen before.  And a Nehru-style hat was worn on the priest's head during the procession.

Do the above features figure into the Liturgy of the Malankara Orthodox Church as well, Mor?


Not that I know of.  Processions at the beginning of the Liturgy are something I know the Malankara Catholics do, or I have heard they do it.  They are a latinisation.  The flower petals, however, add a nice touch, and we do something like that, although only for Palm Sunday (I won't describe it now...later if you ask).  Most priests I know only wear their wedding ring (if married), and so I don't know what was up with this priest wearing jewelled rings.  

But the other things sound consistent, and I should add that, for the most part, the Malankara Catholics are not too latinised (at least as far as liturgical matters go).  Our priests are to wear liturgical slippers in the sanctuary.  I wonder why the priest in question chose to go barefoot rather than follow the ritual and use the slippers.  And the "Nehru" hat is actually a black cylindrical hat that our clerics wear, instead of the skullcap the Syrians wear.  Both, however, have their origins in Jewish practice.  If this hat actually did look like the genuine "Nehru" hat, however, that is something I've never heard of before.  

If you visit http://syrianorthodoxchurch.com/Liturgy.html and have RealPlayer, you can see video clips of the Syrian Liturgy.  It is done in a Syrian church, and so everything is in Syriac.  I personally think Indian church music is better than the Syriac music, and Indians know how to celebrate Liturgy better than the Syrians, but it's still good.  Smiley
« Last Edit: October 08, 2002, 12:26:27 AM by Mor Ephrem » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2002, 10:53:47 PM »

Thank you.

A good site that serves at least one good purpose not served at other sources: a good introduction to basic  Syriac religious phrases, partly through Arabic transliteration no less!  A reliable guide to the proper pronunciation, despite the lack of vowel marks.

Say'yedna, our late metropolitan knew well.  He was invited to our Liturgy during the Soufanieh anniversary.  I'm happy to see him stress that this Liturgy is celebrated in Christ's language.

Upsettingly, it seems French readings are at play.  Akh.
So are organs.  I wonder when those were introduced.

I enjoy Syriac Liturgies.  I am reminded of the tradition we Chalcedonian Antiochians once had, and of the Syriac roots of our Church.

Oh, and Mor, them's fighting words.

When you locate a recording of an Indian Liturgy, do present it here.

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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2002, 11:33:56 PM »

When you locate a recording of an Indian Liturgy, do present it here.


Dear Samer,

There are rumours I hear kicked around every so often that sometime in the hopefully not too distant future, our parish will be webcasting our Sunday and festal services on the parish website.  When and if that comes to pass, this board will be the first to know.
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2002, 12:08:09 PM »

Very intriguing descriptions Mor Ephrem; we have way more in common than I thought originally. Our Liturgy as well as the internal architecture of our Church is also based on the Hebrew temple. I guess we must be the only two Oriental Churches that take off our shoes inside Church. The Armenians do not and the Copts only do around the Altar. I am especially intrigued by the reasons you give however: a prohibition of animal products inside the temple. We just stress that the Church is holy ground and like God told Moses in front of the burning bush; remove your shoes for the ground you stand on is holy.

 I am very surprised that you have any services in English. Maybe that is because English is one of the official Indian languages and all Indians speak it. It just would not work in our Church; but perhaps the small kids need it. Or perhaps they just need to learn their culture and language.
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2002, 04:56:23 PM »

Welcome, Aklie!  

I am especially intrigued by the reasons you give however: a prohibition of animal products inside the temple. We just stress that the Church is holy ground and like God told Moses in front of the burning bush; remove your shoes for the ground you stand on is holy.

Of course, this reason is another that is given for our practice.  But I think the prohibition on animal products is an allusion to bloody sacrifices.  As I've heard it, this is one of the reasons menstruating women are not allowed near the altar in our churches (and thus for Communion), why priests and deacons with wounds are not allowed to serve, and why leather and other animal products are not allowed.  Since they all involve, in one way or another, the shedding of blood, they are not allowed in the church, which is reserved for the one unbloody sacrifice.  Again, I've heard these answers mostly from outside sources; I've never heard most of these from our own, but have no reason to doubt that these are the real reasons.  

I am very surprised that you have any services in English. Maybe that is because English is one of the official Indian languages and all Indians speak it. It just would not work in our Church; but perhaps the small kids need it. Or perhaps they just need to learn their culture and language.

There are a few reasons for the English.  I am not sure it's because English is one of India's official languages (although, if I'm not mistaken, English was used in the North before the services were translated into Hindi).  Not just the small children, but just about every one of us raised in the diaspora need it.  We know our language, but the liturgical language differs from the colloquial use.  I can read our liturgical books, but I don't understand much of their contents at all.  But, I understand colloquial Malayalam almost like a native.  So for us, English is very necessary.  We haven't been using much of it, but slowly but surely the books are being translated, and I am constantly amazed at the profound theology of our services as they get translated.  Also, we have a few American converts here and there...some American priests, deacons, and a smattering of members here and there.  They need it also.  So we've already done much, but much more needs to be done.  A few months ago, some people requested we have services in Spanish, but I think we'll wait a while before we tackle that.   Cool
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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2002, 11:48:47 PM »

Thank you Mor Ephrem,

Also, we have a few American converts here and there...some American priests, deacons, and a smattering of members here and there.  They need it also.

The Ethiopian Church is also home to many converts, overwhelmingly people of African decent. They (like the Jamaicans) usually insist on Amharic. Actually they have their own Churches in the Caribbean and from what I am told by Ethiopians who visit, it is totally indistinguishable from the Ethiopian ran Ethiopian Churches. In fact Jamaican Ethiopian Orthodox have made it a political issue in Jamaica to get Amharic taught in primary school (it failed and they only have it at the university).

I must say; I very much enjoy the Indian theological discourse that is available in English. I recently saw one on a web site that the Priest was giving the Oriental Orthodox view on sex; it was awesome (even though at first I couldn&#8217;t believe it! and it was an official site from India and not one of these phonies). I wanted to post some of the quote on that thread on this site related to &#8220;Orthodoxy and sex&#8221; or whatever but I could not find it. I will keep looking though.  

Good luck on the Spanish, but is probably far easier for two Spanish speaking converts to learn Malayalam than for an entire Indian congregation to learn Spanish.

BTW, does the allusion to bloody sacrifice have any antecedents in Indian culture or traditional cosmology or is that an Indian understanding of particular scriptural passages?
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2002, 06:11:49 PM »

I guess we must be the only two Oriental Churches that take off our shoes inside Church. The Armenians do not and the Copts only do around the Altar.
In the monasteries and in most of our older churches, we remove our shoes before entering the church, not just the sanctuary. Smiley

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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2002, 02:57:15 AM »

BTW, does the allusion to bloody sacrifice have any antecedents in Indian culture or traditional cosmology or is that an Indian understanding of particular scriptural passages?

Dear Aklie,

I'm not sure I understand your question.  Care to elaborate further?  Thanks!
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2002, 06:39:21 AM »

I'm not sure I understand your question.  Care to elaborate further?  Thanks!

I am very sorry (my academic lingo sometimes comes home with me; I apologize for the 'anthroplogese'  Grin). I meant to ask: is this tradition of taking off leather shoes (because it is a prohibition on animal products or bloody sacrifices); is it based on a particular Indian tradition being carried into Indian Christianity (like something maybe the Hindus do in their temples as well) or is it based on a particular understanding that the Indian Church has of particular Biblical scriptures (which would lead one to take their leather shoes off)? I hope that is clear enough (if not I need to see a doctor).

But I think the prohibition on animal products is an allusion to bloody sacrifices.  As I've heard it, this is one of the reasons menstruating women are not allowed near the altar in our churches (and thus for Communion)

Appreciate your Judaic heritage; the prohibitions restricting menstruating women are directly from the Old Testament. In our Church menstruating women can not enter the Church for the same amount of time that they were restricted from entering the Temple in the Old Testament. During Divine Liturgy they participate out side of the Church (along with everyone else who arrived too late to enter) via loud speaker.

God Bless
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2002, 06:43:46 AM »

In the monasteries and in most of our older churches, we remove our shoes before entering the church, not just the sanctuary. Smiley

Hey you!

Nefsu (my soul) I am sorry for my misunderstanding; I had no idea of the tradition in the older Churches. Please excuse me; like I said I wish to visit them to get a better idea. Please pay no mind to the mistakes of this sinner; corrections are always welcome. Thank you.

Peace and Grace,

Agape

Selam ke-ante gar yihun! (peace be unto you)

Aklile-Semaet  (the correct way Smiley)
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2002, 07:33:56 AM »

Hey you!
Nefsu (my soul) I am sorry for my misunderstanding; I had no idea of the tradition in the older Churches. Please excuse me; like I said I wish to visit them to get a better idea. Please pay no mind to the mistakes of this sinner; corrections are always welcome. Thank you.
Eh ya Aklile-Semaet? (I love your name) Mosh kidda! Smiley Anyone who goes to a church in North America, and even many in Egypt would not know that this is also our tradition. :-) I'll have to take you with me this year - are you free from June 1st - September 6th? :-)

Entef esmoo eron teeren: entef toovo en nen heet: entef talcho en ni shoani: ente nen epsikee nem nen soma
"May He bless us all: purify our hearts: and heal the sicknesses of our souls and our bodies"
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« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2002, 10:33:43 PM »

I am very sorry (my academic lingo sometimes comes home with me; I apologize for the 'anthroplogese'  Grin). I meant to ask: is this tradition of taking off leather shoes (because it is a prohibition on animal products or bloody sacrifices); is it based on a particular Indian tradition being carried into Indian Christianity (like something maybe the Hindus do in their temples as well) or is it based on a particular understanding that the Indian Church has of particular Biblical scriptures (which would lead one to take their leather shoes off)? I hope that is clear enough (if not I need to see a doctor).

Ah, now I get it!  

The prohibition against animal products in the church is based on Christian tradition, so I've heard.  Apparently there is such an emphasis on the Liturgy as the unbloody sacrifice that anything related to the shedding of blood is not allowed.  No leather (you have to kill an animal), hence no shoes.  If you have a papercut, you are technically barred from entering the church, although I don't think the rules are enforced THAT much.  

Taking off shoes in church is a custom hearkening back to Moses and the Burning Bush, but it is also a Hindu custom, so I guess both reasons work.
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2002, 01:15:40 PM »

I'll have to take you with me this year - are you free from June 1st - September 6th? :-)

Tadias yenai Copt wondem,  Cheesy Cool

I would LOVE to go; thanks for the invitation! I do have an archaeological excavation in Kenya sometime during this time (we have not decided exactly when). It could start in June and end in July or start in July and end in August. In any case I can come, leave and come back again; come late, or come and leave early. I can most likely make two out of the three months.  Egypt Air has regular flights between Cairo and Nairobi, it would not be a problem (I think I better start practicing Arabic and I don not even know where to start on Coptic).

A. Semaet
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2002, 01:23:26 PM »

Thank you Mor Ephrem!

Do not come with a paper cut? I can imagine that the Indian Pentecostals always bring that one up. I was aware that Hindus take their shoes off but what is their reasoning? Is it out of a similar allusion to bloody sacrifice?

What kind of dietary rules or traditions are followed in the Malankar Church? We, for instance, can not eat pork. Is their any kind of ban on beef (like Hindus) or a practiced vegetarianism (Sikhs)?

Another question (and this is directed to Fortunatus as well). I was having an exchange elsewhere on the question of the training of our OO Priests. I am under the impression that (to the extent that they are formally educated at all) our Clergy are going through modernized seminaries. So while they get a definite (and needed) dose of history and theology the organic traditions of our Church are not being passed on. Shouldn&#8217;t the core of Clerical education take place in and around the Church within in the culture and tradition of the Church? Are we not missing something when everyone gets it from the classroom (which means that it will be mostly academically oriented theology) and everyone suffers from the envy of people with pieces of paper with their name on it (secular degrees)?  I have seen Deacons and Priests make world class presentations and statements of the Faith but then be totally clueless on questions of that &#8216;peasant stuff&#8217; (meaning the authentic and unaltered tradition of our Church that is usually preserved only in the country side).

What do you think?

A. Semaet
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2002, 06:31:19 PM »

Do not come with a paper cut? I can imagine that the Indian Pentecostals always bring that one up.

It's not so widely known, so they don't bring it up.  However, I know many of them, and I have heard them say that "I don't belong to the Church of Rome, or the Church of Greece, or the Church of Antioch...I belong to the Church of Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost"...funny, that's when we began too, and that's the Church we trace our descent from.  

I was aware that Hindus take their shoes off but what is their reasoning? Is it out of a similar allusion to bloody sacrifice?

Nope.  Taking off one's shoes is a general sign of respect.  Hence, when we enter churches or temples, we take off our shoes.  When we enter someone's house, we take off our shoes.  When we go to pray, we are supposed to take off our shoes.  

What kind of dietary rules or traditions are followed in the Malankar Church? We, for instance, can not eat pork. Is their any kind of ban on beef (like Hindus) or a practiced vegetarianism (Sikhs)?

We have no dietary rules, that I know of, other than the fasts.  

I am under the impression that (to the extent that they are formally educated at all) our Clergy are going through modernized seminaries. So while they get a definite (and needed) dose of history and theology the organic traditions of our Church are not being passed on. Shouldn't the core of Clerical education take place in and around the Church within in the culture and tradition of the Church? Are we not missing something when everyone gets it from the classroom (which means that it will be mostly academically oriented theology) and everyone suffers from the envy of people with pieces of paper with their name on it (secular degrees)?  I have seen Deacons and Priests make world class presentations and statements of the Faith but then be totally clueless on questions of that peasant stuff (meaning the authentic and unaltered tradition of our Church that is usually preserved only in the country side).

Well, speaking for our Church, I know our seminarians go through modern seminary training, but they are also required, before priestly ordination, to be "apprenticed" (for lack of a better word) with a bishop *over there*.  They live with him, pray with him, learn under him, travel with him when he's performing his duties and offering the sacred services, etc., and in this way they get to know the people, the customs, the job, and all of that good stuff.
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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2002, 04:49:10 PM »

I'll have to take you with me this year - are you free from June 1st - September 6th? :-)

Tadias yenai Copt wondem,  Cheesy Cool

I would LOVE to go; thanks for the invitation! I do have an archaeological excavation in Kenya sometime during this time (we have not decided exactly when). It could start in June and end in July or start in July and end in August. In any case I can come, leave and come back again; come late, or come and leave early. I can most likely make two out of the three months.  Egypt Air has regular flights between Cairo and Nairobi, it would not be a problem (I think I better start practicing Arabic and I don not even know where to start on Coptic).

A. Semaet


Ya akhy dantat shurruf!

For real, I don't know which months i'll be allowed to stay at the monastery (i insist on staying at St. Antony's because I'm infatuated with it and for other reasons). Indeed though, write to me (m.rizkalla@sympatico.ca) with when you'll be there, and I will without a doubt arrange things, if God gives me the life. Practice your Arabic, we can work on Liturgical Coptic when we meet. :-)

Peace and grace.
Agape,
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Amen, maranatha!
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« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2002, 06:20:06 PM »

Aklie, introducing yourself to the Egyptian dialect so soon?  Yalla lakan.  Get your hands on some local Egyptian films featuring Omar Sharif.  At the very least, we hope to see you speak English in his manner.  Like a good Hareeth.

Of course, feel free to request any assistance from either Fortunatos or myself if you would like some drills.  Seeing you have proven to be one of the few to successfully distinguish between sun and moon letters on one occasion, you'll make good progress.

Of course, if you would reciprocate once in a while with some Amharic or Ge'ez (to hopefully better improve my communication with a certain Ethiopian individual I of whom I spoke to you) that would be appreciated.

In IC XC
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« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2002, 09:44:34 PM »

However, I know many of them, and I have heard them say that 'I don't belong to the Church of Rome, or the Church of Greece, or the Church of Antioch...I belong to the Church of Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost'...funny, that's when we began too, and that's the Church we trace our descent from.

Mor Ephrem,

I am still praying to be blessed with your amount of tolerance and humility but I still can not bring myself to even CONSIDER Pentecostals as anything but a bunch of crazy pranks swimming in the snake oil of charlatans. I am sorry. 'I belong to the Church of Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost'??? I hope you dont let them get away with that slander; truth is they came out of the Holiness Movement of the late 1800s in the United States. So, where was the Holy Spirit during all that 1,880 years before their movement began? Absent?

Is there something that I am missing? Do they act differently in India? Do they not send sheep thieves (otherwise called missionaries) to come and rip Orthodox from the tradition of their fathers?

As always, I am sitting here with an open mind willing to be convinced. And I do promise; if you can convince me that there is something praise worthy of Pentecostals (and I am not talking mainline Protestants here) operating in Orthodox lands then I will eagerly treat you to a New York Steak with California wine (as much as you want).

In Christ,

A. Semaet
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« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2002, 09:50:38 PM »

Fortunatus!

I will e-mail you and Qidus Anthony's Gedam is fine with me... Cool

In Christ,

A. Semaet
-----------------------------------------------------
Samer!

Thank you for your encouraging words and suggestions! I will definitely pass on phrases and words to you in Amharic (on Ge'ez though it takes a little research so expect a small delay) as you may request them; and trust me by the time I get sophisticated enough to ask an Arabic question that is not sophomoric or too embarrassing you will hear from me---you can count on it!

I know Arabs put the French to shame in their emphasis on linguistic perfection; but that can only be good for me in the long run.

I remember once when I was in Egypt and I was talking to some hotel workers and they started asking me questions about America. So one asked me was their any Muslims in the States. I told him of course. He said 'no, no not the Egyptians [sic] who go live in America but are their any American Muslims?' I told him yes; people like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm (who have both been to Egypt). So he asked me how did they read the Qu'ran. I replied that they read it in the popular English translation of Hassan Ali. 'What?!?; they read in English?' he replied? 'Yes.' So he jumped up, ran around the corner (it seemed he ran around the corner at least three times) before finally coming back with a glossy Arabic Qu'ran in his hand: 'here! Give this to your friends and tell them to learn properly!' I knew right then that if I ever planned to stay in this country for any significant length of time that they would not let me get away with English for long (I still have the Qu'ran too).

I will check out the films you suggest (any online help will be appreciated but I am sure one of our local family run, international video stores will have something). I already ordered a software program but I am not sure if it will be useful with respect to dialect.

Selam hun

A. Semaet
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2002, 11:35:00 PM »

I am still praying to be blessed with your amount of tolerance and humility but I still can not bring myself to even CONSIDER Pentecostals as anything but a bunch of crazy pranks swimming in the snake oil of charlatans. I am sorry. 'I belong to the Church of Jerusalem, which began on Pentecost'??? I hope you dont let them get away with that slander; truth is they came out of the Holiness Movement of the late 1800s in the United States. So, where was the Holy Spirit during all that 1,880 years before their movement began? Absent?

LOL!  I know, and you know, but they don't, and there's really no talking to such people.  It's just funny to listen to sometimes...they once came to my house and "prayed"...I'm usually very careful about being sensitive to other's religious practices, but I couldn't help laughing when the tongues rolled out.

Is there something that I am missing? Do they act differently in India? Do they not send sheep thieves (otherwise called missionaries) to come and rip Orthodox from the tradition of their fathers?

They do.  But I am not so sure it is by tracts and propaganda and things like that as much as it is emphasising "fundamentals".  If the Orthodox people were catechised well enough, then they'd know their faith well enough to withstand the threat of the Pentecostals.  But because people become lax in their practice, or stop learning, or whatever, they do not "get something out of" the Liturgy, they don't realise what's going on, they don't know why they believe what they believe, etc.  So when people come around preaching "from the Bible", our people tend to think it's all the same if everyone's using the same book.  Hence, we have such a problem where even our practicing, faithful, devoted people often read only Protestant sources and think it's all the same, and the problem is also somewhat widespread among our second generation people.  Back in the day, when I read Catholic books, I was criticised, even though I was being criticised by people who were fans of Benny Hinn (himself an ex-Greek Orthodox), John Hagee, and others of that ilk.  Strange world we live in...  In India, they mostly do such preaching "from the Bible", they do charitable works, and they even have a type of quasi-monasticism, where people live celibate lives and do charitable works, but also gather mornings and evenings for Scripture reading, preaching, and prayer.  Such things appeal to many, but they don't realise that we've been doing the same thing for two thousand years.  We've got a lot of work to do...what was that saying about the gold on one's finger being regarded as copper, Aklie?  

As always, I am sitting here with an open mind willing to be convinced. And I do promise; if you can convince me that there is something praise worthy of Pentecostals (and I am not talking mainline Protestants here) operating in Orthodox lands then I will eagerly treat you to a New York Steak with California wine (as much as you want).

Well, I am not sure if there is anything praiseworthy about it.  However, if they get us motivated enough to start doing our job of evangelisation better, then perhaps that's a plus.  They are doing many things which we've been doing for so long.  If we get to teach more, we will be able to prepare our people for these misguided but well meaning (for the most part) folks.  Unfortunately, our Church seems more concerned about Patriarchal/Catholicosal rights and litigation than about evangelisation and feeding the flocks.
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« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2002, 04:50:44 PM »

Mor Ephrem,

they once came to my house and "prayed"...I couldn't help laughing when the tongues rolled out.

You know that Toad from X-Men is a Pentecostal don't you? Where else did you think he learned to move his tongue like that?  Grin

If the Orthodox people were catechized well enough, then they'd know their faith well enough to withstand the threat of the Pentecostals.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head! We got some serious problems. Have you ever seen the summary of that 1965 Addis Ababa Oriental Orthodox conference? It seems that we are still discussing the same issues and complaining about the same thing. In other words not much was done to reverse the "turn over of our youth to other forms of Christianity" as one of the conference concerns was. Here we are, their sons, daughters and grandchildren in 2002 still talking about the same issue. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to get our acts together and start evangelizing and reviving.

I just met a lady this Sunday at my friend's restaurant (Ethiopian food). She came in and made the equivalent of 60 orders to go. I asked her what was the occasion and she said she was preparing her team of Pentecostal missionaries for their stay in Ethiopia. She herself was even studying the language of one of the southern ethnic groups. At first we got pretty upset but after we calmed down we all agreed that we really can't complain. How many of our Orthodox ever bothers to learn the language of southern ethnic groups to do missionary work? Indeed how many northern Ethiopians even respect the southerners enough to learn their language? Or are we they just to busy bragging and patting each other on the back about 2,000 years of Christianity? You see, so long as we are not doing anything we can not really complain about those who are.

So when people come around preaching "from the Bible", our people tend to think it's all the same if everyone's using the same book.

Yeah, sola scripitura to the extreme. But is it the same Bible? I know we have every book they have but do they have every book we have? Doesn't King James cut if off around 66 books or so? What about using the Gospels during the Liturgy or how many times the Liturgy quotes or paraphrases the Bible. What came first the Bible or the Church?

what was that saying about the gold on one's finger being regarded as copper?

It is 'Beidj Yeyazut Work Kemedab Yikoteral': dismissing the gold on your hand as if it were copper. If there is a mesele (proverb) that I can say over and over again to the Pentecostal converts it is that one. They are all into someone else mix because they don't appreciate what they have.

Malcolm X said that if one has nothing to stand on he will fall for anything. That is the case, since many people do not understand the Faith they were given at birth, they could not defend it, they could not stand on it; they fall for anything: Bahai, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the ridiculous assertions as being put forward by Pentecostals. Like I already told you it is up to our generation to make the difference.

if they get us motivated enough to start doing our job of evangelization better, then perhaps that's a plus.

OK, I owe you a steak because that is seriously the only good thing they can do and the best thing that they can do. So I guess you convinced me after all didn't you.
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« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2002, 08:30:15 PM »

Dear Aklie,

You have spoken well.  

In other words not much was done to reverse the "turn over of our youth to other forms of Christianity" as one of the conference concerns was. Here we are, their sons, daughters and grandchildren in 2002 still talking about the same issue. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to get our acts together and start evangelizing and reviving.

This is so true.  Here at college, and I'm sure at other colleges with a decent amount of students of Malayali descent, there is an Indian run Christian group.  It is, theoretically, "non-denominational", but you and me know what that actually means.  Usually, it is run by Indian Protestants, and Catholics and Orthodox will join.  Many join at first for the sake of making new friends and what not, but it usually sparks enough interest in them to get them reading the Bible, praying regularly, etc.  But because Protestants run this, things go in that direction.  The end result: at the very least, our kids, who already "don't get" much out of our Church, just get more solid in their disinterest in apostolic Christianity, and prefer to do it their way, and at most, actually stop going to their own churches and join the Protestants (one friend of mine started out RC, and is now Protestant, and thinking of "Bible College").  

I go mainly because it is really my only link with other Indian Christians on campus.  But it's hard to get through sometimes because it is so Protestant.  I like actual hymns, whether they are liturgical or the really nice Protestant ones that are small "o" orthodox, not that touchy-feely, hands in the air, "If I had a hammer, I'd knock myself out for Jesus" stuff.  I like reading the Bible and discussing it, but it gets weird.  If someone mentions some Protestant idea, it's well received.  If I say something coming from the Orthodox tradition (and for the most part what I bring up could easily be agreed on by Catholics too), people are stopped dead in their tracks, and often do not know what to say.  Some try to shoot it down, but after a while, they can't do that, and so it's "another good idea".  Bull.  It's called dogma.  I go, but I really don't get much out of it, and I wonder how much good I am doing there, but even when I would rather not go, I still go.  I figure something has to be done, even if in the end it's dismissed as just another "good idea".  

Yeah, sola scripitura to the extreme. But is it the same Bible? I know we have every book they have but do they have every book we have? Doesn't King James cut if off around 66 books or so? What about using the Gospels during the Liturgy or how many times the Liturgy quotes or paraphrases the Bible. What came first the Bible or the Church?

Yeah, 66.  Never mind the others, saith the Protestants.  

One of the reasons I really can't blame people who get mixed up with the Protestants is because our people are too lazy.  When our Liturgy was first translated from Syriac into Malayalam and the latter language finally allowed for use in the Liturgy, it was the best thing to happen to us.  People actually understood what was going on now.  I suppose we could've taught everyone Syriac in addition to the usual regimen of Sunday school, but it wasn't done.  Now, in the diaspora, most of the kids use English, and yet the first generation likes to say "Well, you guys understand Malayalam, so it shouldn't be a problem like Syriac was for us".  The problem with this is that, whether we like it or not, while the second generation understands colloquial Malayalam pretty well, the language of the Liturgy, the Bible, and the other stuff is a more refined style that people don't understand very well.  It's hard for me to understand the Liturgy, and I can read the language, which is more than most can say.  Ideally yes, we would be able to preserve the language, and I think it has a good chance of survival here for now, but the liturgical texts need to be done in English, and that work is going slow, because there are other "more important" priorities (in quotes because I think they are silly and/or annoying).  When I first heard the Liturgy in English, I was stunned.  When I first heard the hymns of certain services done in English, I loved it.  If our people really understood what was going on, they wouldn't want to leave.  But because we are lazy, or because we are too keen on preserving the language that we do not preserve the Church, we lose our people.  I'm very concerned that, if things don't get better, in one or two generations, our Church will dwindle away.  There is a LOT of work to be done.    

OK, I owe you a steak because that is seriously the only good thing they can do and the best thing that they can do. So I guess you convinced me after all didn't you.

I'm delighted that you're gonna buy me a steak, because it means we get to hang out one day.   Cool
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« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2002, 07:44:11 PM »

Mor Ephrem,

the liturgical texts need to be done in English

I am a bit slow on this question. I do think that Liturgy should be linguistically colloquial as much as possible (e.g. to change it from Latin to ones native language or to Amharic from Ge'ez) but the idea of English still makes my stomach cringe for some reason. I am definitely interested in hearing Syriac hymns made in the English language; I just have to hear how it sounds. I read an essay by Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel where he was pointing out how important and central the Liturgy is in preserving, teaching and expressing the Faith.    That being the case I know that we miss out on much when the majority of a congregation does not understand the language that the Liturgy is conducted in. We do miss something when everyone has to read the colloquial translation column during Divine Liturgy and can not just live it out and experience it fully. So if the English is the only way to accomplish this I guess it just has to be done.

The other point is the question of heritage. Transmitting the Faith is the most important and the most central but heritage is important as well. Plus, I presume there are many old books in both Syriac and Malayalam that have not been translated into English, people should be able to read them. As the younger generation experiences the Liturgy in English and can actually feel the connection with their Faith, hopefully this will inspire them to take a greater interest in Malayalam and Syriac.

I know your family will kill me for making this suggestion to you but I really encourage you to take some time in India and just immerse yourself into your community and pick up the classic and refined Malayalam, Syriac, and the culture of the Old Church. If it means a couple of semesters off from school--so what; this is the most important education you will ever receive anyway. Just do it; then return to school and complete your secular education.  

there is an Indian run Christian group.  It is, theoretically, "non-denominational", but you and me know what that actually means.  Usually, it is run by Indian Protestants

These Protestant-led study groups are a trap! Their basic structure makes it almost impossible to recruit Protestants to Orthodoxy but always possible to recruit an Orthodox to Protestantism. Since people are talking about "good ideas among many" and not dogma or Creed then the Protestants can always play the game that they are good at. You see; if one Protestant doctrine rejects the Trinity and you convince that Protestant on the soundness of the Orthodox Doctrine with regard to the Trinity then all they have to do is switch to another Protestant tradition that does not reject the Trinity. However, if one of the Protestants convinces the Orthodox out of say one of the Sacraments or some of Tradition then there is no place to go except Protestantism. We are a Church, not a denomination, and that is the problem.

Have you read Baba Shenouda's pamphlet Comparative Theology? I think that it answers the Protestants well from the perspective of Oriental Orthodoxy plus it avoids all the jargonizing sophistry that most of the other theologians make when they discuss the same issue. It is very accessible and it zeroes in on the questions that most of our faithful actually have and answers most of the points made by the Protestants. Try to get a book like that as the basis of the discussion.

But if it is Indian socializing that you need, don't bother with those Protestants; they will drive you mad. Just hang out with Hindus. Smiley (oh boy, I'm gonna get it now).

I'm delighted that you're gonna buy me a steak, because it means we get to hang out one day.

Of course we will hang out! And trust me the steak is just an appetizer!

God Bless
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« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2002, 09:44:56 PM »

Hello Aklie,

Excellent advice.  Mor, you should take it and go imbibe as much as you can from your Indian heritage back home.

And incidentally, Aklie did you receive my private message?

In IC XC
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« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2002, 11:51:48 PM »

Hi Samer,

I did not even know it was there, I just replied check it.
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« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2002, 09:46:16 PM »


Another question (and this is directed to Fortunatus as well). I was having an exchange elsewhere on the question of the training of our OO Priests. I am under the impression that (to the extent that they are formally educated at all) our Clergy are going through modernized seminaries. So while they get a definite (and needed) dose of history and theology the organic traditions of our Church are not being passed on. Shouldn&#8217;t the core of Clerical education take place in and around the Church within in the culture and tradition of the Church? Are we not missing something when everyone gets it from the classroom (which means that it will be mostly academically oriented theology) and everyone suffers from the envy of people with pieces of paper with their name on it (secular degrees)?  I have seen Deacons and Priests make world class presentations and statements of the Faith but then be totally clueless on questions of that &#8216;peasant stuff&#8217; (meaning the authentic and unaltered tradition of our Church that is usually preserved only in the country side).

What do you think?
A. Semaet

Nofri ya Aklile-Semaet! Sorry for the delayed reply :$. I agree with you to a degree, but I think things are done a little differently in our church. THe majority of our priests, especially in the lands of immigration are not trained in the seminary. Instead, they spend forty days in the monastery where they are assigned a monk who is responsible for teaching them oodles and oodles of stuff. Of course, the priest selected (in our church, it is not usually the choice of the priest-to-be to become a priest) is usually already very knowledgable and well-versed in our Theology, History, and all our other treasures. So, i nthe monastery you are living as the poorest among the poor, and people from all walks of life come. So, to be honest, I have yet to see the problem yet among our churches. Even in the poorest of areas I vist, the priest is usually selected from that area anyway, so that he has something in common with the people. Am I misinterpreting the question?

I'm also wondering at the amount of English you guys do in your services...do you do it at all? What about converts - Aklile Semaet mentioned that most of their converts are of African descent, but what about the "white folk"?

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« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2002, 05:02:06 AM »

Fortunatus,

Even in the poorest of areas I visit, the priest is usually selected from that area anyway, so that he has something in common with the people. Am I misinterpreting the question?

No not at all. But do all the priest, both those in the city as well as those in the country side have the same overall impact on the Church and the laity? I remember you telling me something about the country side monasteries being more consistent with tradition. So if that is so, then why don’t the urban areas follow the example of the country side?  

I’m so wondering at the amount of English you guys do in your services...do you do it at all?

Well, that can vary. In my Church none is spoken. The most English I ever heard in our Church coming from a clergy was during a St. Mary commemoration. A Bishop was visiting from another city and the president of the municipal inter-faith council came to give a speech (in English of course) in order to give our Bishop a warm welcome to the city.  When he was finished a priest stood up and said “Thank you very much;” then the congregation burst out in laughter from hearing their Priest utter something in English. In more ‘urban’ areas like Oakland there are some services in English. Like in Oakland there is a youth religious instruction course that is in English, immediately following this class they teach an Amharic language class.

 
The Liturgy is always in Ge’ez and that is not changing Smiley

Aklile Semaet mentioned that most of their converts are of African descent, but what about the "white folk"?

Well, the only white Orthodox I know are 1) those few descendants of Greeks and Italians in Ethiopia who for one reason or another eventually converted to Ethiopian Orthodoxy 2) those who may be getting married to an Ethiopian and get baptized so that the Priest will let them get married in the Church 3) maybe a few converts who are interested (I know they are out there, but I won’t pretend, I have never met one. Those few that are interested in Oriental Orthodoxy are interested in yours and Mor‘s Church [presumably because there is more English available]).

For one, also remember the sad racial polarization that exists in America. If there are not many whites in the African American Church (which is a product of the same history, a similar [but not identical] culture, and language as the whites are) then how less likely are they going to join an African Church that speaks a different language, has a completely different culture, and is the product of a different history?

The reason that people of African descent are the majority of converts is for the obvious reason that an indigenous African Church has attraction to a people that were told to be content and happy that the slave ship brought them Christ and the Church. If I may add, I know one African American Coptic Christian from the Fremont/Hayward/Union City Coptic Church that is just as happy about his Coptic Church for the same reason. He has been an Orthodox for a decade now.

People of African decent are the least likely to complain about something being ‘too ethnic’ in an African Church. They are not going to complain about the Church being a ‘little Ethiopia’ or a ‘little Egypt’ because that is precisely what they want. “Oh, the Liturgy is in Ge’ez? It is in Coptic? Good, because my ancestors were deprived of their African language and forced to adopt English.” See the difference?

Conversely, I have nightmares about the day that some converted ‘folks’ will come to the Church, twenty deep, and protest ‘this is America, make the Liturgy in English.’ Or maybe the mother of one of them will complain to the Priest that little Johnny is offended because the Abesha kids were singing ‘Qidist Ethiopia.’

As far as converting Europeans on a significant and large scale to Oriental Orthodoxy, I have my eyes set on the heart warming example of the British Orthodox Church

This is not to say that we don’t have non-Africans in our Church because we do. The Indian Orthodox are not numerous enough to be able to rent a Church in my city so they attend our Liturgy every Sunday.  

Did this answer your question?

God Bless
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« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2002, 11:01:50 AM »

This is not to say that we don’t have non-Africans in our Church because we do. The Indian Orthodox are not numerous enough to be able to rent a Church in my city so they attend our Liturgy every Sunday.

Dear Aklie,

I would be very interested in hearing of their experience with the Ethiopian Church.  How are they relating to the rest of the parish?  How do they deal with being in a parish where they probably don't understand much of anything and, for lack of a better term for this, are an ethnic minority in the parish's make up?  Do they do other things with the parish besides attending the Sunday Liturgy?  Do they attend other services?  Work with you on fundraisers and other such parish activities?  Do they try in some way to maintain the Syrian liturgical life by maybe praying Vespers the night before or something like that?  How does all of this work?
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« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2003, 03:59:16 AM »

My brother Aklie!

No not at all. But do all the priest, both those in the city as well as those in the country side have the same overall impact on the Church and the laity?

Yes they do, though they have two different cultures. THe rural folk are much simpler and expect much less, but are moved by what they are taught. The city folk have more of what they see as 'sophisticated' needs, and hence their priests are usually much more educated and from professional backgrounds.

I remember you telling me something about the country side monasteries being more consistent with tradition. So if that is so, then why don’t the urban areas follow the example of the country side?  

All of our monasteries are cut off from the world and far from people, I misphrases what I had written before. The monasteries are more consistent because they are in their own world. There are no benches in the churches, so they can enforce the no shoes rule etc... In fact, it is even a Coptic tradition as well about not partaking if you are bleeding, even to the paper cut. I have never seen this observed.

When he was finished a priest stood up and said “Thank you very much;” then the congregation burst out in laughter from hearing their Priest utter something in English. In more ‘urban’ areas like Oakland there are some services in English. Like in Oakland there is a youth religious instruction course that is in English, immediately following this class they teach an Amharic language class.

LOL! I can only picture the confusion on the man's face. Smiley Okay - so in your church, do all of the younger youth understand Amharic? Or is this simply an issue that your church hasn't yet had to face?

 
The Liturgy is always in Ge’ez and that is not changing Smiley
I'm torn on this one.

Those few that are interested in Oriental Orthodoxy are interested in yours and Mor‘s Church [presumably because there is more English available]).
For one, also remember the sad racial polarization that exists in America. If there are not many whites in the African American Church (which is a product of the same history, a similar [but not identical] culture, and language as the whites are) then how less likely are they going to join an African Church that speaks a different language, has a completely different culture, and is the product of a different history?

I see. THat seems odd to me though. I mean, our churches have never competed for converts (thank God), but it seems so strange to me that people would be interested in teh Ethiopian and Eritrean churches only if having been of "African" or "Black" culture. That last sentence seems like it's something your church has chosen to do - that it is intentionally limiting the number of converts. I need to think on that one.

Conversely, I have nightmares about the day that some converted ‘folks’ will come to the Church, twenty deep, and protest ‘this is America, make the Liturgy in English.’ Or maybe the mother of one of them will complain to the Priest that little Johnny is offended because the Abesha kids were singing ‘Qidist Ethiopia.’

Again, I'm torn. I just got back from California today where I saw a possible "compromise". They had something called the Coptic Centre - which is a centre for youth, but in it is a church in which they do service ONLY in Coptic/English, with no Arabic. I could see this as accomodating both - those who want pure Coptic can go to another church...at the same time, I don't like that because it's like dividing the congregation to make two separate churches. Language is such a dumb issue, but it seems to dominate in so many churches. Needless to say, without translation and service in English, our youth and non-Arabic speaking lose just short of most of their spiritual food... Again, I'm torn.


Yes, the British Orthodox have a big mission ahead of them.


Did this answer your question?
Yes, and got me thinking. Smiley

Irini nem ehmot.
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« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2003, 08:45:36 PM »

Quote
Quote
Mina,

LOL! I can only picture the confusion on the man's face

He may or may not have been confused, but nevertheless this Protestant minister (Rev. Hamilton) has been attending Liturgy regularly with us and is on his way to Orthodoxy.

No all the kids do not speak Amharic, thus preponderance of Sunday schools in English. I myself have been assigned to start a Bible class for the youngest ones using English as a medium with Amharic phrases only for expressiveness.  

Quote
The Liturgy is always in Ge’ez and that is not changing

I'm torn on this one.

No need to be torn, there are not many people demanding that the Liturgy be made in any other language, including Amharic which is the national language. During the Liturgy, Gospel Readings and the Prayers are in the vernacular but the Liturgy proper is in Ge’ez because that is the language that the hymns are in.

I went to Houston for the Timket holiday (celebrating the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist). A convert actually runs the Sunday School program and the liturgy is put on a Power Point screen in Ge’ez, Amharic, and English. So people can read and follow what is being said, but the Priest and the Deacons will conduct the ‘out-load’ Liturgy in the liturgical language.

it seems so strange to me that people would be interested in the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches only if having been of "African" or "Black" culture.

What is strange the results or the historical circumstances that led to this situation? The people that have been converting to Ethiopian Orthodoxy have been of a different stripe then the type of people that usually convert to Orthodoxy. They do not come from another Christian tradition or ‘confession,’ for the most part they were non-Christians: Rastas, Muslims, pagans and non-believers. Many of the converts say that they were so turned of to Christianity (due to the role of the Protestants and the Vatican in slavery, colonialism, etc.) that they would have never set foot in a Church had it not been for the EOTC. People who did not have Christ have received Christ; I take particular pride in that fact.

That last sentence seems like it's something your church has chosen to do - that it is intentionally limiting the number of converts. I need to think on that one.

Eh da?!? If what is being insinuated is that because our Church, being an African Orthodox Church, has actively evangelized among the dispersed of the African Diaspora then we are guilty as charged. But if what is being insinuated is that we intentionally limit non-Africans from our Church, then that is false. Our Church is open to everyone who wants to accept Christ, find grace, peace and salvation. All I said was that people of African decent are most likely the ones who will accept the Church on its own terms and not try to alter it. That is because, due to the ethnic make of the Church, besides coming into the Royal Priesthood of Christ they are also re-connecting with an authentic African culture that was forcibly purged. Is there something wrong with that?

Language is such a dumb issue, but it seems to dominate in so many churches.

Language and culture are the means by which the Orthodox faith has intertwined with to produce our Orthodox Cultures. It is an important element in identity. I do not wish to see us separate our culture from our faith and end up as yet another one of these empty ‘Sunday Christian’ denominations that are so prevalent in the West where pop culture reigns supreme and organic continuity with the past has been lost. Theology is best taught and transmitted by tradition.

I don’t agree with separate churches for ethnic groups, it seems like segregation on the face of it. A real American Oriental Orthodox Church should be established as an umbrella. A church with English and American culture as the organizing criteria should then be developed within that. From here we should freely attend each others church, but each Church should maintain its tradition.

God Bless You and please keep me in your prayers.

Akliele-Semaet
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« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2003, 12:25:05 AM »

Welcome back!

I can't reply now - but just wanted you to know that I wasn't implying what you seemed to infer about limiting the people that come in. It had to do with my understanding on the language issue that is apparently not an issue for your church.

but I LOVED the Arabic. Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: January 31, 2003, 07:41:28 PM »

but I LOVED the Arabic. Smiley

Yes, I learned that the Egyptians have this term which is similar to the Ethiopian expression “Endeeeeeee??!!!!” with the same connotations and all.   Smiley
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« Reply #41 on: August 29, 2005, 11:03:49 PM »

This is a very interesting/educational site.  I am interested in the different forms of Christianity and I am open to experiencing them for myself. Would a non-Indian be welcome as an observer in an English service? I understand it is a very general question? Would the answer differ in different parts of the US/Canada, world? Thank you in advance for your honesty.
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« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2005, 10:21:55 PM »

I think in general you would be very welcome to attend one of our services (as in most Churches, EO and OO, some parishes will be more welcoming than others).  The "problem" might be locating a service in English.  Tongue  If you don't mind my asking, where are you located? 
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« Reply #43 on: September 04, 2005, 08:46:00 PM »

I live in NY (Bronx)
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« Reply #44 on: September 08, 2005, 05:24:52 PM »

I live in NY (Bronx)

Here is the website of the Bronx St. Mary's Orthodox Church: http://www.stmarysbronx.org/

-Paul
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