OrthodoxChristianity.net
July 26, 2014, 01:16:08 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Feeling Between Churches  (Read 616 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Mettermrck
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Roman Catholic
Jurisdiction: Diocese of Charleston
Posts: 2


« on: July 20, 2012, 09:06:48 PM »

Hello all, I'm a recent lurker, a trying-to-practice Roman Catholic who converted there about 4 1/2 years ago and now I'm in a tough situation where I'm feeling less and less comfortable about the church, partly because I seem to be obsessing too much over individual rules, sins, etc., partly to do with
recent politics, and because I'm trying to focus on a connection with the historical Church, and it's feeling less and less like the western papacy.

Anyhow, I'm not sure what I'm thinking of doing, but I'm exploring options and even met with a nice local Orthodox priest here locally who let me
get my spiritual tension off my chest, discussed from theological differences with me, and invited me to attend Divine Liturgy. I'm seriously thinking of
attending (even admitted it to my wife hehe) and I had some questions for everyone.

It's an Antiochian Orthodox church, with an eastern English-language rite, as far as I know. Fr. Gabriel was nice enough to give me a little tour of the
church proper and show me some of the differences in church architecture.

If I do attend, what should I expect as a Roman Catholic who is used to a novus ordo Mass? Do I worry about genuflecting before I enter my seat?
I know Orthodox cross themselves the other way, should I worry about that, or not worry about it? Should I mostly watch and observe or try to emulate the others? Is there a good explanation I find online about the basic structure of a Divine Liturgy? Fr. Gabriel said it lasts about 1 1/2 hours, so a bit longer than the typical Mass I attend. Anything else I should be aware of?

As I told Fr. Gabriel, I don't know what I want to do and I have no intention of making fast hasty decisions. But I have been impressed with several points of Orthodox theology, and in my initial studies, appreciate the more conciliar attitude to theology than the more centralized Roman model. Thanks again! - Bob
« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 09:07:33 PM by Mettermrck » Logged
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Faith: refuse
Posts: 29,289


Mzack. Uglyface creatures, unite!


« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 09:16:42 PM »

Bob,

Welcome to the forum Smiley

I'm sure we'll tell you stuff about what to expect and whatnot, but for the most part just go with whatever they're doing, as customs do tend to change from place to place. Or in some cases you might find that half the parish does one thing while half does another (e.g. half kneel while half stand), in which case just do what you feel comfortable doing. You don't have to cross right to left, but can if you so desire. Traditionally when Orthodox cross they put the thumb, index and middle fingers together, representing the trinity, and the other two fingers representing the two natures of Christ, and then cross with that basically pointing at yourself.

Some places bow more than others, some do triple bows, some touch the floor when they bow, etc. Icons are often kissed when entering the Church or afterwards when leaving, with a bow (or three) made. As a Catholic you don't take communion, but there is a bread that, in some parishes, non-Orthodox can have some of (if anyone hands you some, that's what it is, it's fine to eat it). After the service most people go up to venerate the cross by crossing themselves and kissing it (and perhaps bowing), you can do as you want though. Some people kiss the priest's hand after the cross, some don't. Also, don't bow at the same time that you are crossing yourself, thereby making a "bent cross".

I hope this doesn't sound like a lot of rules, it's just customs, and you can follow along as you like. Each crossing of yourself is like a little prayer, and the bows are signs of reverence, and so forth, so it's all just part of the liturgical working out of your salvation, but if you aren't wanting to do something then no one would/should expect you to. I wish you the best in discerning which way to go, feel free to post a thread if you have any questions, people around here are generally friendly folks. Smiley
« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 09:17:12 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
Kerdy
Moderated
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Posts: 5,732


« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 09:48:30 PM »

Go, enjoy, soak it all in.  If it feels odd at first, that is ok.  People will know you are visiting and will most likely be accommodating to you in good fashion.  You should be more at ease than some of us Protestant converts were in the beginning.
Logged
LizaSymonenko
Слава Ісусу Христу!!! Glory to Jesus Christ!!!
Global Moderator
Toumarches
******
Offline Offline

Faith: God's Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church
Jurisdiction: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.
Posts: 12,618



WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 11:06:16 PM »


Bob,

Welcome to the forum!

Go and experience what the True Church has to offer.

Don't stress over crossing yourself, bowing, kissing, etc.

You will see what others do, and if you feel comfortable doing it, do it....if you don't, just stand and absorb the beauty that is Orthodoxy.

You will find, in time, that Christ's entire life symbolically passes before your eyes during Divine Liturgy, and that He truly is present in the Eucharist.  Once you realize what you are looking at, you will be in awe.

Until that time, just go and see...and be open to God's grace working upon you.

Once again, welcome to the forum!!!
Smiley
Logged

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria
Mettermrck
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Faith: Roman Catholic
Jurisdiction: Diocese of Charleston
Posts: 2


« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2012, 06:09:14 PM »

Hello again, thanks for your kind responses. I kept them in mind as I contemplated going to Divine Liturgy. I ended up finally attending yesterday after chickening out for a couple weeks (my wife asked to come...she's a cradle Roman Catholic). A few observations, not necessarily in any organized manner:

1) The iconostasis is beautiful...this is a small church, but I could not take my eyes off the icons throughout the Divine Liturgy. I feel that the icons are more intense than Catholic statuary, almost as if Jesus, Mary, and the saints were staring at me, catching my eye, forcing me to interact with them. Is this a permissible interpretation? Anyhow, they were quite beautiful.

2) I enjoyed the chanting...I'm already a huge fan of Gregorian chant, and wish the Catholic church had more of it still. The choir was nice, sometimes it sounded like it veered from an 'eastern' sound to more of a 'gospel' sound, if that makes sense. I had trouble figuring out when it was just the choir singing or when everyone would join in. But that's partly because I was just soaking it in while my wife was the one reading along with the book they had.

3) I loved how the priest faced away from us. At several points, he had his hands raised, and there was this huge icon of Mary in the back behind the altar, with a child Jesus, and she had her hands spread back at him, like they were both invoking prayers at the same time in the direction of the altar. Not sure if it was intentional, but the symmetry was striking.

4) There was a LOT of chanting, hymn-singing, and praying going on. =) So much that it seemed to go fast, as the prayer moved into a chant and then into a prayer again. I'm sure a lot of my confusion comes from not knowing the meaning of what is going on, but it almost seemed cluttered, if I can apologize for saying it like that. I guess coming from a Catholic Mass, where it is shorter and each prayer is more isolated, that's how I get that impression. Again, I loved the beauty of the chanting and the prayers, it was just a lot going on in rapid succession. Forgive my ignorance...

5) People crossed themselves a lot during the service...I think in the typical Mass I attend, it's maybe 2-3 times? In this Divine Liturgy, I'd have to say at least 10? There were a lot of symbolic moments going on...gestures, how the priest held the gospel book, the crossing, movement, etc. I feel like it's a rich tapestry I haven't even begun to unpack. One part I liked was when the priest walked around the congregation with two (chalices?) covered by clothes. An Orthodox friend at work said this was the Great Entrance? I really liked that ritual even if I'm not sure what it entails.

6) A couple of times, people handed us 'blessed bread'? We weren't sure if we were to eat this or save this during the service. It was a very nice thing, I have to say...I know many times, people feel excluded when they can't receive communion...this was a way to balance the need to include all with the need for the Eucharist as a sign of unity.

7) The folks were friendly, a couple of them said hello afterwards, invited us to the Coffee Hour, and hoped to see us again. I admit my wife and I were really shy and left after the service, but politely. Smiley We agreed it was nice, but we're really not sure where we're at with converting. I've been Catholic for 4 years now, it's a bigger church, we know everybody, there's all sorts of opportunities for social/devotional involvement (Knights of Columbus, Lay Carmelites, bible study, etc). This Orthodox church is probably a 20-min drive versus 5-min for our Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder if I could attend both, and just receive at my Catholic Church. The Orthodox liturgy is just that striking.

Cool It lasted an hour and a half, a bit longer than the usual hour-long Mass, but not much. I didn't feel like I stood too long though as there was no kneeling or prostrations, probably due to the gym-style seating they had.

I was really glad I went...I have been wanting to go for some time, and kept putting it off, so I was happy that I had finally visited.

I'm currently in the middle of a spiritual battle where my head is split three-ways...I'm struggling with Catholic social teachings, some of which I know the Orthodox concur on...I call that my Episcopalian brain, as I was Episcopal before I came Catholic. Then there's my Catholic brain, which loves unity and authority and tradition and I'll admit, I enjoy the scholastic musings of the western saints. Then I have this Orthodox brain, which resolves some of the difficulties I have with papal supremacy in how it seems to exclude the East, and turn what at best would be a Roman prime minister-ship into an absolute monarchy, plus a deep need for beauty of tradition that the Divine Liturgy has in spades versus the new Mass I attend now. And I love how the Orthodox focus more on a communion with God versus atonement for sins..

I'm probably not articulate in how I express myself, as my spiritual thinking lately is as muddled as that last paragraph probably was. I don't have any clear answers yet, but I feel like I need to at least take concrete steps to explore the varying traditions in more depth. I regularly listen to some good podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio, and I've begun reading a few Orthodox books (Ware's Orthodox Church and Orthodox Way), but I'm still in a beginning stage.

Thanks for reading/listening to my musings...I'll try to post more as I move along. God bless you all...
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 06:10:26 PM by Mettermrck » Logged
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Faith: refuse
Posts: 29,289


Mzack. Uglyface creatures, unite!


« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2012, 06:26:48 PM »

Glad things went well! Smiley  I did read your entire post, so I'll hope you'll forgive me if I just give some random thoughts and don't go point by point...  Regarding the blessed bread, you could eat that as you liked (generally I do so right away, but I have had times when there was extra and the priest gave me some to take home). Regarding your reaction to the iconostasis, not only is that permissable, but that's part of why it's there: to give you a sense that we are surrounded by the Church triumphant, that even if we are in a church (or anywhere else) "alone," that we are never truly alone, that angels and saints are always ready to pray for us or celebrate with us. This is also a reason why a priest will cense the side of a Church even if there is no visible person standing there. The Orthodox do indeed cross a lot, which is not only to involve the body "physically," but also as a reminder that we are at prayer and doing a ministry/work/activity of a sacred nature. And though I can definitely identify with being torn, I do not think your writing was muddled at all, and was happy to read what you wrote. Wherever you end up--which I assume is where you decide you can best work out your salvation--I wish you the best.
Logged
mike
Stratopedarches
**************
Offline Offline

Posts: 21,467


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2012, 06:41:37 PM »

Something about great entrance: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Great_Entrance
Logged

Byzantinism
no longer posting here
akimori makoto
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Non-heretical Christian
Jurisdiction: Fully-sik-hektic archdiocese of Australia, bro
Posts: 3,126

No-one bound by fleshly pleasures is worthy ...


« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2012, 07:34:16 AM »

So glad to read your post. I thought I'd offer some tid-bits in response that you might find of interest.

1) The iconostasis is beautiful...this is a small church, but I could not take my eyes off the icons throughout the Divine Liturgy. I feel that the icons are more intense than Catholic statuary, almost as if Jesus, Mary, and the saints were staring at me, catching my eye, forcing me to interact with them. Is this a permissible interpretation? Anyhow, they were quite beautiful.

At the right side of the central (that is, royal or beautiful) doors is the icon of Christ Pantocrator. On the left is the icon of the virgin and child. Thus, the whole of salvation history, from the incarnation on the left to the enthronement in glory on the right is represented on the iconostasis. Symbolically, the liturgy occurs between the incarnation and the end times, so the doors are located between these two icons.

2) I enjoyed the chanting...I'm already a huge fan of Gregorian chant, and wish the Catholic church had more of it still. The choir was nice, sometimes it sounded like it veered from an 'eastern' sound to more of a 'gospel' sound, if that makes sense. I had trouble figuring out when it was just the choir singing or when everyone would join in. But that's partly because I was just soaking it in while my wife was the one reading along with the book they had.

Can I ask -- were you able to identify the style of chant? I prefer the Greek style, myself.

3) I loved how the priest faced away from us. At several points, he had his hands raised, and there was this huge icon of Mary in the back behind the altar, with a child Jesus, and she had her hands spread back at him, like they were both invoking prayers at the same time in the direction of the altar. Not sure if it was intentional, but the symmetry was striking.

That position of the arms and hands is known as the "orans". It appears to suggest a posture of openness and receptiveness to the will and operation of God. The usual icon above the Holy Table is known in Greek as "platytera ton ouranon", which means "wider than the heavens" and is a reference to the womb of the virgin having contained God who transcends all time and space.

The priest adopts the orans posture when facing the people just before the anaphora (what you might know as the eucharistic prayer/canon of the mass). When he does so, he intones "let us lift up our hearts". After the people respond "we have them with the Lord", he returns to the Holy Table, intoning "let us give thanks unto the Lord". The peoples reply "it is meet and right".

4) There was a LOT of chanting, hymn-singing, and praying going on. =) So much that it seemed to go fast, as the prayer moved into a chant and then into a prayer again. I'm sure a lot of my confusion comes from not knowing the meaning of what is going on, but it almost seemed cluttered, if I can apologize for saying it like that. I guess coming from a Catholic Mass, where it is shorter and each prayer is more isolated, that's how I get that impression. Again, I loved the beauty of the chanting and the prayers, it was just a lot going on in rapid succession. Forgive my ignorance...

It is often said that the liturgy is one continuous song. It can be a bit exhausting at first. You'll get used to it.

5) People crossed themselves a lot during the service...I think in the typical Mass I attend, it's maybe 2-3 times? In this Divine Liturgy, I'd have to say at least 10? There were a lot of symbolic moments going on...gestures, how the priest held the gospel book, the crossing, movement, etc. I feel like it's a rich tapestry I haven't even begun to unpack. One part I liked was when the priest walked around the congregation with two (chalices?) covered by clothes. An Orthodox friend at work said this was the Great Entrance? I really liked that ritual even if I'm not sure what it entails.

The item in the left hand (I think) is the diskos upon which sits the bread which will become the Precious Body of the Lord. The item in the right hand is the chalice (I think) in which is contained the wine which will become the Precious Body of the Lord. Both are covered with small veils. There is a larger veil which is used to cover the diskos and the chalice once they are placed on the Holy Table. You might've noticed that the priest wears that larger veil as a cape when making the great entrance.

6) A couple of times, people handed us 'blessed bread'? We weren't sure if we were to eat this or save this during the service. It was a very nice thing, I have to say...I know many times, people feel excluded when they can't receive communion...this was a way to balance the need to include all with the need for the Eucharist as a sign of unity.

That bread is called antidhoron, which means "instead of the [Precious] Gifts". It is bread that is left over after the priest cuts away from the loaf that part of it which will be used offered the anaphora. The priest blesses it after the anaphora.

7) The folks were friendly, a couple of them said hello afterwards, invited us to the Coffee Hour, and hoped to see us again. I admit my wife and I were really shy and left after the service, but politely. Smiley We agreed it was nice, but we're really not sure where we're at with converting. I've been Catholic for 4 years now, it's a bigger church, we know everybody, there's all sorts of opportunities for social/devotional involvement (Knights of Columbus, Lay Carmelites, bible study, etc). This Orthodox church is probably a 20-min drive versus 5-min for our Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder if I could attend both, and just receive at my Catholic Church. The Orthodox liturgy is just that striking.

Of course, you should both become Orthodox, but go at your own pace, haha.

Cool It lasted an hour and a half, a bit longer than the usual hour-long Mass, but not much. I didn't feel like I stood too long though as there was no kneeling or prostrations, probably due to the gym-style seating they had.

Some places take very seriously the canon against kneeling on Sunday. In my part of the world, it would be considered quite shameful not to make a full prostration at the epiklesis (invocation of the Holy Spirit to descend upon the Gifts and change them). You might see some variation in practice there.

I wish you nothing but the best.
Logged

The Episcopallian road is easy and wide, for many go through it to find destruction. lol sorry channeling Isa.
Peter J
Formerly PJ
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: Melkite
Posts: 6,033



« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2012, 01:46:52 PM »

Hello again, thanks for your kind responses. I kept them in mind as I contemplated going to Divine Liturgy. I ended up finally attending yesterday after chickening out for a couple weeks (my wife asked to come...she's a cradle Roman Catholic). A few observations, not necessarily in any organized manner:
...

:thumbs up:
Logged

- Peter Jericho (a CAF poster)
HabteSelassie
Ises and I-ity
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Oriental Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Posts: 3,332



« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2012, 05:19:26 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


1) The iconostasis is beautiful...this is a small church, but I could not take my eyes off the icons throughout the Divine Liturgy. I feel that the icons are more intense than Catholic statuary, almost as if Jesus, Mary, and the saints were staring at me, catching my eye, forcing me to interact with them. Is this a permissible interpretation? Anyhow, they were quite beautiful.


That is a very good way of seeing it, the Fathers have called Icons Windows into Heaven.  They do not portray literal or photographic images, rather they convey spiritual realities about God, and Our Lady, and the Saints, who are always with us.  God and the Saints and Mary ARE always seeming to stare at us, the Icons just serve as a tangible reminder of this.  When we see the Icons in prayer, our spiritual attention is averted to the subject of the images, and we connect with them.  Statues on the other hand, convey a different religious feeling, not quite as intimate as Icons, and yet they have their place.  Statues are are more like photographs, they serve a geographic markers of past events, like sign-posts, where as Icons are like visions in action.  This is why we have statues of famous people and heroes, but not icons of them, and why in the Orthodox Church we have icons of the Saints and of God, but not statues.

Quote

2) I enjoyed the chanting...I'm already a huge fan of Gregorian chant, and wish the Catholic church had more of it still. The choir was nice, sometimes it sounded like it veered from an 'eastern' sound to more of a 'gospel' sound, if that makes sense. I had trouble figuring out when it was just the choir singing or when everyone would join in. But that's partly because I was just soaking it in while my wife was the one reading along with the book they had.

For the meantime, focus on listening and praying along in your heart, and gradually the words will become more familiar.  If you were to just blindly follow the words they might not have as much depth of personal meaning as if you gradually prayed into them, understanding their meaning intuitively and experientially rather than deductively.

Quote

7) The folks were friendly, a couple of them said hello afterwards, invited us to the Coffee Hour, and hoped to see us again. I admit my wife and I were really shy and left after the service, but politely. Smiley We agreed it was nice, but we're really not sure where we're at with converting. I've been Catholic for 4 years now, it's a bigger church, we know everybody, there's all sorts of opportunities for social/devotional involvement (Knights of Columbus, Lay Carmelites, bible study, etc). This Orthodox church is probably a 20-min drive versus 5-min for our Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder if I could attend both, and just receive at my Catholic Church. The Orthodox liturgy is just that striking.


The closer we get to each other as people, the closer we get to God, and also the closer we get to God the closer we inherently get with other people.  I understand that in Catholic parishes many people scuttle off in a hurry after Mass and do not enjoy the privilege of coffee hour as much as in Orthodox. To me that is a shame, fellowship is as important as worship if you ask me, which is why in most Churches these occur together at the same instance.  In the Ethiopian tradition we say that after we have attended Divine Liturgy, we must also enjoy a feast together like the Psalmist said, "Ordain a feast for those who have reached the horns of the Altar."

Quote
Cool It lasted an hour and a half, a bit longer than the usual hour-long Mass, but not much. I didn't feel like I stood too long though as there was no kneeling or prostrations, probably due to the gym-style seating they had.
Our Ethiopian services can easily last upward of EIGHT hours on high-holidays, though Liturgy proper tends to last around 2 hours on a small crowd, and up to 3 when there are many Communicants.  Like Father Melletios Webber has said, the Orthodox Church approaches the present moment with a sense of sacredness and gradual patience.  We don't necessarily like to rush more than is needed, and we know each moment of the Liturgy is a sacred and holy opportunity to stand before our God in the "opportune time" and the "time of blessing" and so we accept that the Kingdom of God comes to earth during the Liturgy.  Sometimes God is in the rush, sometimes not, but the pace and rhythm of Orthodox worship rightfully takes a lifetime to readjust towards, even for those who are craddle as much as converts Smiley

I say go with the Holy Spirit.  If you feel God is bringing you into an Orthodox parish, stay where God has brought you. Above all else, pray about this matter and discuss it with your priest (Catholic currently, and Orthodox potentially).

stay blessed,
habte selassie
Logged

"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.076 seconds with 38 queries.