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Author Topic: First Orthodox Sunday service experience with reflection and questions  (Read 1337 times) Average Rating: 0
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Hurdle
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« on: June 10, 2012, 11:09:48 PM »

Thanks everyone for advice! I finally attended Orthros and Divine Liturgy for the first time.
I attended a Greek parish in Manhattan today and really like the incense, Icons and the chanting. Since I have explored Orthodoxy for more than two years, I didn’t have much trouble with kissing the Gospel Book, icons and other general converting issues regarding Orthodox faith.  However, I couldn’t really follow the saying, speaking and chanting of the entire liturgy since more than 65 percent of service is done in Greek.
Despite all those issues, the liturgy experience was quite positive.
I felt been an outsider while participating in Divine Liturgy with other parishioners, since I am the only Asian, and almost everyone else is Greek. The only parishioner I exchanged a few words with is the Greek lady who ushered the service. I didn’t stay for the Coffee hour since I can’t speak Greek and was very intimidated with the ethnic atmosphere and for been as a visitor. How should I approach a Greek parishioner properly, man or lady, especially during Coffee hours (I really have no idea how to start a conversation)?
I also talked to the Father for a few minutes after the liturgy. He was very nice person; he told me that today Orthodox Christians commemorated Holy martyrs in China (I told him that I am Chinese). He also felt sorry for my difficulty to follow the liturgy. Father suggested that maybe I could find a parish under the jurisdiction of OCA of Antioch, since many of them do services entirely in English. Although I told the Father that I will take two semesters of Greek classes in college, he told the language might still be an obstacle for me since it’s done in liturgical Greek. Father suggested that Greek liturgy service is necessary since most of Greek Orthodox parishes on East Coast are made up of ethnic Greek parishioners and language is kind important to them.
The other thing, I am not sure about is how am I supposed to communicate with the Father.  He seems a busy man and prefers me to contact him through email and office phone. I really hope to talk him more to explain my situation, but unfortunately I only had less than ten minutes to do so. I would like to know the best way to talk and contact the priest.
Although I like Greek language, culture and History and everything else, I am not sure whether GOA will be a spiritual home for me. Should I reevaluate faith apart from ethnicity and culture? How should I move on? I felt sad because I might even study in Greece one year as an exchange student if I have a chance. I don’t really want to be “pushed” to other parishes, but now, maybe I should be opened to other jurisdictions now as well. 
Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 11:12:16 PM »

If you want to go back, you may look for the pew books and see if they have ones in Greek and English. My church does, and that helped me a lot.  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2012, 09:04:56 AM »

I attend a Greek parish and have the Liturgy in English if you would like a MS Word version contact me. When I first started to attended Liturgy at my Parish , the majority was in Greek, many years later it is now mostly in English with some parts still in Greek or both, so things do morph over time.

On your question, how to approach someone at coffee hour, i would recommend introducing your self and that you are an inquirer to Orthodoxy and express your plans to learn Greek. That will be a great opening for the ethnic connection.

Also contact Father by email and ask to set a time to sit down and talk to him. You will find that they will find time for you.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 09:07:29 AM by soderquj » Logged

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age234
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2012, 10:33:02 AM »

He also felt sorry for my difficulty to follow the liturgy. Father suggested that maybe I could find a parish under the jurisdiction of OCA of Antioch, since many of them do services entirely in English.

Should I reevaluate faith apart from ethnicity and culture?

Always. The culture is icing on the cake, but when he suggested looking at other parishes also, I think the priest seemed like he was being very honest with you and was probably looking out for your well-being.

I always suggest that people visit as many parishes as possible before choosing one. Choose the one where you can pray the best and that has a priest you can develop a good relationship with.

And if you decide that the Greek parish is indeed "home", it may take some extra effort, but it will be worth it. (Just remember the people who were converting 50 years ago, when basically no Orthodox churches used English!)

Language aside, I think the services can be hard to follow at first. It took me six months of regular attendance to start understanding what was happening. It is information overload at first. Wherever you go, keep at it and it will get more clear. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2012, 10:41:32 AM »

Dear Hurdle,

How exciting to hear you attended Liturgy and enjoyed it.  

The Liturgical Greek you heard is different than modern Greek - there are probably parishoners who speak Greek and don't understand all of the service.  But the prayers and hymns of the Liturgy are the same every week and if you continue to attend you will quickly grow familiar and eventually begin to learn them.  A side-by-side translation would be really helpful.  Most Churches have pew books with the translation.  Or you can easily order one online, just Google Divine Liturgy in Greek and English.  
 
I atttend a Greek parish in the Northeast as well.  I'm not of Greek heritage and do not speak modern Greek.  When I first came to the parish I simply threw myself into the deep end of the pool, made an effort to speak to as many people as possible, and began volunteering according to my ability.  I soon came to know many wonderful and affectionate people.  You may find people who question why you are there, but please consider this as curiosity not hostility!  Just this weekend I was chatting with one of our new Orthodox who is also of Chinese heritage.  One of our past parish council presidents came into the Orthodox Church from Judaism.  

May the prayers of St. John of Shanghai be with you.

Love, elephant
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2012, 11:28:48 AM »

Language aside, I think the services can be hard to follow at first. It took me six months of regular attendance to start understanding what was happening. It is information overload at first. Wherever you go, keep at it and it will get more clear. Smiley

I found it helpful to read through the Liturgy - especially right afterwards when I got home. "Oh, so that's what they were doing!" Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis' book, The Heavenly Banquet, is also very good.
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Hurdle
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 12:01:30 PM »

biro: Thank you. I will try to study liturgy a little ahead of time next time when I visit the Church.

soderquj: Thank you. I will contact you if I need it. I will consider your advice.

age234: Thank you for your encouragement. I might try to visit other parishes, although GOA is my favorite. I really admire His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, since GOA is under the authority of Ecumenical Patriarchate. I also like His eminence, Archbishop Demetrios.

Elephant: Thank you for your encouragement. You are so nice and I really like your profile picture! I will definitely consider your your advice for both the liturgy and speaking to people.

katherineofdixie: Thank you for the advice. I just checked it Amazon; looks great but seems a little bit expensive to my budget ( I am a college student).





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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 12:27:42 PM »

katherineofdixie: Thank you for the advice. I just checked it Amazon; looks great but seems a little bit expensive to my budget ( I am a college student).

Inter-library loan can be your best friend.

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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 12:39:25 PM »

Thank you for the advice. I just checked it Amazon; looks great but seems a little bit expensive to my budget ( I am a college student).

Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires (memory eternal) wrote a very informative "play-by-play" explanation of the Divine Liturgy, which can be read here: http://fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/liturgy_e.htm

Or a good book (only $12) is The Feast of Faith by Archbishop Paul of Finland. (Not to be confused with the book of the same name by Pope Benedict.)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 12:40:14 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 02:52:05 PM »

Search for an OCA parish! Smiley It's done in all English
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2012, 03:36:20 PM »

It's done in all English

Except sometimes during coffee hour.
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2012, 03:54:24 PM »

Dear Hurdle,

Keep us updated!  You will find plenty of encouragement here. 

Since you are a student you may want to see if there is an Orthodox Christian Fellowship at any campus near you.  This is the pan-Orthodox college group.  http://www.ocf.net/wikis/chapters/ocf-chapters.aspx

Love, elephant
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 04:59:47 PM »

If you want to go back, you may look for the pew books and see if they have ones in Greek and English. My church does, and that helped me a lot.  Smiley
Definitely. Even though I was raised in a GOA parish as an ethnic Greek, and can generally decipher the meaning of even the Greek phrases that are unfamiliar to me, I like to compare the liturgical Greek with the English, side by side. It helps me to better my understanding, as well as pick up some of the Greek language utilized in the Liturgy. Lord, have mercy. I wish you the best of luck, keep working at it Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2012, 05:58:23 PM »

Search for an OCA parish! Smiley It's done in all English

Not necessarily. I've been to OCA parishes that were mostly Slavonic. Depends how many Russian immigrants there are at the parish. There are also OCA parishes of Romanian (Byzantine) and other ethnicities that are 0% English.

But in most cases yes, OCA will be all English.
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2012, 06:19:35 PM »

Search for an OCA parish! Smiley It's done in all English

Not necessarily. I've been to OCA parishes that were mostly Slavonic. Depends how many Russian immigrants there are at the parish. There are also OCA parishes of Romanian (Byzantine) and other ethnicities that are 0% English.

But in most cases yes, OCA will be all English.

i've also been to OCA parishes that are 100% in Romanian, 100% in Bulgarian & 100% in Albanian.  Make sure it doesn't have one of those ethnic groups attached to the name of that church you may find.  (if you're searching for an OCA church)
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2012, 07:57:19 AM »

congrats on your first visit...I have been attending an OCA parish for over two years now but I go mainly to Vespers (I am still a protestant who goes to my protestant church on Sundays). When I first decided I was going to visit an Orthodox church, I contacted the GOA priest on the phone and asked if the services were in English. He said, No so even though the GOA parish is closer to my house, I travel 25 minutes to an OCA parish because the services is in English.

I imagine I could have tried to "fit it" the GOA parish but it would have been more work.

God bless you!
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2012, 11:03:28 AM »

Though I'm sure this will be objected to, I strongly suggest you start learning Greek.  So many English versions of the Lirturgy are just, well wrong and/or of poor quality. The translations are poor and with  any translation the poetics are left out.  It will take you a long time, I grant, but like many Greeks I know, they would jump at the opportunity to help you.  The hymns that are sung during the Divine Liturgy are pretty standard so you  could pick up the Greek text of those pretty quickly assuming you attend faithfully.  Like anything, it's about repetition.  Remember, it's more important to live the liturgy than to understand it.  And anyone who says they actually understand the Liturgy is lying to you.
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2012, 03:55:40 PM »

Update
----------------
I visited Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of New England (Boston) today and the priest is very nice. It is the first time of me receiving blessed bread.

Liturgy itself was wonderful, full of the Grace of God. The service itself is much easier to follow since I this is my second liturgy experience. Orthros is hard since more than 80 percent is in Greek.

I hope I can become Orthodox soon; but I realized this is much dependent on God.
Lord have mercy upon me a sinner.
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2012, 04:15:48 PM »

I was just recently at Annunciation!  It is a beautiful church.  And Fr. Cleopas seems like a good man.  He is very warm and inviting.  I'm glad you had a good experience today! Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 08:23:22 AM »

Dear Hurdle,

I hope you will enter into the Orthodox church soon too.  It is blessedness. 

Check out E-matins for Orthros translations Greek/English: http://www.ematins.org/

At first it will be confusing, but soon you'll be able to follow along.  Attending Orthros is a catechism, as the hymns are the teaching of the Church. 

From last Sunday:

To the Holy Spirit honor, worship, glory and dominion, as befit the Father and the Son, must also be offered. For the Trinity is a Monad, in nature but not in persons.

And this:

Because they said to me, Let us journey to the courts of the Lord, my
spirit has been cheered, and my heart rejoices also.

Love, elephant
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