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Orthodox11
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« on: August 10, 2012, 10:37:59 AM »

"Come and see!" has become something of a cliché among Orthodox today, at least on the internet, and the Liturgy is constantly being pointed to as an important missionary tool. Yet in the early Church, the divine Mysteries were a jealously guarded secret. Catechumens were neither allowed to hear nor see the Eucharistic Liturgy, and things like the Lord's Prayer and the Creed were only divulged to those who had enrolled to be baptised the coming Pascha. Telling a non-Orthodox person to "come and see" the Liturgy, then, seems to be quite antithetical to the beliefs and practices of the early Church, which only really came to an end because the whole society became Christian, rendering them redundant, not because the Church changed its position on the matter.

While a return to the rigour of the early Church is neither possible nor desirable, I find the "come and see" approach to mission (as it relates to the Divine Liturgy specifically) troublesome. I have become increasingly wary of the tendancy of filming and photographing the Divine Liturgy - including what takes place inside the altar - and making these available all over the internet. I came accross the following passage by Met. John Zizioulas today, which I thought was worth sharing:

Quote
The eucharistic gathering can never be a means and instrument of mission, because in the last times, which it represents, there will be no mission; anyway, mission presupposes dispersal, not a gathering 'in one place'. Consequently, it is contrary to the nature of the Eucharist as image of the Kingdom to broadcast it over television or radio, whether for pastoral reasons or for the purpose of mission (a way of broadcasting and advertising the 'richness' and 'beauty' of our workmanship). In the Eucharist, one participates either 'gathered in one place', or not at all. Participation at a distance has no meaning. As for those who are sick or unable to come to the gathering, the Church's very ancient practice is to bring them the fruit of the gathering (Holy Communion, antidoron, etc.), and not the gathering itself, either aurally or visually.
John D. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion and the World, London: T&T Clark Intl., 2011.
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 10:55:01 AM »

"Come and see!" has become something of a cliché among Orthodox today, at least on the internet, and the Liturgy is constantly being pointed to as an important missionary tool. Yet in the early Church, the divine Mysteries were a jealously guarded secret. Catechumens were neither allowed to hear nor see the Eucharistic Liturgy, and things like the Lord's Prayer and the Creed were only divulged to those who had enrolled to be baptised the coming Pascha. Telling a non-Orthodox person to "come and see" the Liturgy, then, seems to be quite antithetical to the beliefs and practices of the early Church, which only really came to an end because the whole society became Christian, rendering them redundant, not because the Church changed its position on the matter.

While a return to the rigour of the early Church is neither possible nor desirable, I find the "come and see" approach to mission (as it relates to the Divine Liturgy specifically) troublesome. I have become increasingly wary of the tendancy of filming and photographing the Divine Liturgy - including what takes place inside the altar - and making these available all over the internet. I came accross the following passage by Met. John Zizioulas today, which I thought was worth sharing:

Quote
The eucharistic gathering can never be a means and instrument of mission, because in the last times, which it represents, there will be no mission; anyway, mission presupposes dispersal, not a gathering 'in one place'. Consequently, it is contrary to the nature of the Eucharist as image of the Kingdom to broadcast it over television or radio, whether for pastoral reasons or for the purpose of mission (a way of broadcasting and advertising the 'richness' and 'beauty' of our workmanship). In the Eucharist, one participates either 'gathered in one place', or not at all. Participation at a distance has no meaning. As for those who are sick or unable to come to the gathering, the Church's very ancient practice is to bring them the fruit of the gathering (Holy Communion, antidoron, etc.), and not the gathering itself, either aurally or visually.
John D. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion and the World, London: T&T Clark Intl., 2011.

I'm not sure the 'come and see' attitude I've seen expressed is missionary as such. Generally I've only seen people say come and see to people who are already enquiring about Orthodoxy - they've had some form of initial contact (from whatever source) and have developed an interest already. The come and see is not so much, in these circumstances, a missionary tool as it is a pedagogical tool and whilst we no longer throw the enquirers and catechumens out  at 'the doors, the doors' the fact that we have that part of the Liturgy at all shows that such people were welcome to learn at the Liturgy, so I don't really see it as antithetical to early Church practice at all. Now, if someone were leafleting complete strangers with invitations to the Liturgy I'd agree with you, but I've certainly never seen, nor have I heard of, that or anything like it.

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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 11:00:06 AM »

Thank you, Orthodox 11!  I've been long appalled by the whole "mission approach" that many Orthodox churches use, including mine, with the Divine Liturgy.  My parish recently made a video where the whole theme throughout was "Come and See."  Though you say that going back to the rigour of the ancient church is not desirable, why not restore the action of having all non-baptized members escorted out at the explanation of τας θυρας!? The Divine Liturgy is worship for only the Orthodox Christian.  Those who are not prepared and not Orthodox shouldn't be there.

Good quote from Metropoitan JOHN, btw.
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 12:07:13 PM »

Now, if someone were leafleting complete strangers with invitations to the Liturgy I'd agree with you, but I've certainly never seen, nor have I heard of, that or anything like it.

Yet we litter the internet with videos and photographs of the Divine Liturgy where they're available to any atheist, pagan, Jew, Muslim, and heretic. Even the faithful who attend the Liturgy, unable to peer behind the iconostasis, are generally not given to see what we shamelessly parade infront of any random individual who happens to stumble upon one of the thousands of videos that are up on youtube. One Russian priest I know referred to filming in the altar as "liturgical pornography", the exposure of the most intimate act of the Church, the Bride of Christ, with her Bridegroom.

Though you say that going back to the rigour of the ancient church is not desirable, why not restore the action of having all non-baptized members escorted out at the explanation of τας θυρας!? The Divine Liturgy is worship for only the Orthodox Christian.  Those who are not prepared and not Orthodox shouldn't be there.

I agree, though now it's difficult to implement, at least in larger parishes, in a way that is pastorally sensitive and conducive to the salvation of those getting asked to leave (setting up an inquirers class or something might be a way to ensure people don't feel excluded.

However, as long as we don't even protect the holy Mysteries from the prying eyes of the masses on the internet, the expulsion of catechumens from the Liturgy seems a very secondary concern.

Good quote from Metropoitan JOHN, btw.

I forgot to include the page number, sorry - p.48.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 12:09:27 PM by Orthodox11 » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 12:52:15 PM »

"Come and see!" has become something of a cliché among Orthodox today, at least on the internet, and the Liturgy is constantly being pointed to as an important missionary tool. Yet in the early Church, the divine Mysteries were a jealously guarded secret. Catechumens were neither allowed to hear nor see the Eucharistic Liturgy, and things like the Lord's Prayer and the Creed were only divulged to those who had enrolled to be baptised the coming Pascha. Telling a non-Orthodox person to "come and see" the Liturgy, then, seems to be quite antithetical to the beliefs and practices of the early Church, which only really came to an end because the whole society became Christian, rendering them redundant, not because the Church changed its position on the matter.

While a return to the rigour of the early Church is neither possible nor desirable, I find the "come and see" approach to mission (as it relates to the Divine Liturgy specifically) troublesome. I have become increasingly wary of the tendancy of filming and photographing the Divine Liturgy - including what takes place inside the altar - and making these available all over the internet. I came accross the following passage by Met. John Zizioulas today, which I thought was worth sharing:

Quote
The eucharistic gathering can never be a means and instrument of mission, because in the last times, which it represents, there will be no mission; anyway, mission presupposes dispersal, not a gathering 'in one place'. Consequently, it is contrary to the nature of the Eucharist as image of the Kingdom to broadcast it over television or radio, whether for pastoral reasons or for the purpose of mission (a way of broadcasting and advertising the 'richness' and 'beauty' of our workmanship). In the Eucharist, one participates either 'gathered in one place', or not at all. Participation at a distance has no meaning. As for those who are sick or unable to come to the gathering, the Church's very ancient practice is to bring them the fruit of the gathering (Holy Communion, antidoron, etc.), and not the gathering itself, either aurally or visually.
John D. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion and the World, London: T&T Clark Intl., 2011.
That's because of the aestheticism that fuels most (?) conversions and not only that, but it's assumed/expected to work on pretty much every individual stepping in an church. Those that missed conversion sword have to put up with half-baked aestheticist ploys.
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 01:18:01 PM »

That's because of the aestheticism that fuels most (?) conversions and not only that, but it's assumed/expected to work on pretty much every individual stepping in an church. Those that missed conversion sword have to put up with half-baked aestheticist ploys.

I guess some would descripe their initial contact with liturgy as beatiful, heavenly etc. but I'd call mine more like messy, confusing and foreign. My non-Orthodox family weren't that impressed either when they saw it on television.
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 01:30:15 PM »

I think part of what is trying to be conveyed with "come and see" is accurate though, that you can't just learn about Orthodoxy through books, as though it's history or some such discipline. Orthodoxy has to be seen, lived, participated in. However much or little of that participating can be managed or allowed is a separate issue. Or, put another way, go ahead and read several books on Orthodoxy, but if you really want to understand it you're gonna have to pray and fast and attend some services.

EDIT--Also, when I was inquiring into Orthodoxy it was popular among some to say "Come, taste and see" (cf Ps. 34:Cool  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 08:39:43 PM »

Nonsense.  Thank God St. Vladimir's emissaries weren't told they weren't prepared.
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 08:46:09 PM »

Nonsense.  Thank God St. Vladimir's emissaries weren't told they weren't prepared.

Do we know that they attended the Liturgy of the Faithful?
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 09:39:35 PM »

Nonsense.  Thank God St. Vladimir's emissaries weren't told they weren't prepared.

Do we know that they attended the Liturgy of the Faithful?

Does it matter? Their testimony to St Vladimir had momentous consequences, evident to this day, more than a thousand years later.
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 10:08:18 PM »

Does it matter? Their testimony to St Vladimir had momentous consequences, evident to this day, more than a thousand years later.

It matters in the context of this thread, which was about needlessly exposing the holy Mysteries, specifically via multimedia, to the public as a missionary tool.
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2012, 01:24:49 AM »

There are also some for whom the liturgy is intimidating or just not appealing. I find it beautiful, but I once heard David Bentley Hart, who is Eastern Orthodox, mention that he isn't as big a fan of liturgy as most.
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2012, 01:43:56 AM »

^ In truth. As for me I have mixed feelings. I really enjoy the solemn nature, the respectfulness, the way it is ornate without crossing over into being gaudy (most of the time), the biblical and traditional elements, the pious custom, etc. Still, I find that I can't identify at all with the idea that it seems like "heaven on earth". I understand and affirm that concept theologically, ie. that the saints and angels and such are all around and so forth, but still, it doesn't feel especially heavenly to me. And if I had to choose a faith group based solely on the worship I would probably be low church Protestant. Admittedly that would be based on feelings, and not some lofty notion of it being beautiful Well, ok, actually it's the opposite, since I find the vulgar* pop-style music to be comforting and enjoyable. In fact, I'm going to go listen to some of those "open the eyes of my heart Lord" songs on youtube as soon as I post this. Smiley But of course I would never dream of not being Orthodoxy because I didn't like the worship quite as much. I'll be at Matins tomorrow an hour and a half before liturgy. It doesn't matter that I would prefer to hear something else; I know my soul will benefit from being there. Though just to be clear, I'm not saying I dislike Orthodox worship, only that "come and see," if that meant mostly "come experience the beautiful liturgy," wouldn't have much impact on me.


*I am not using this word pejoratively
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2012, 02:55:41 AM »

Nonsense.  Thank God St. Vladimir's emissaries weren't told they weren't prepared.

Thank you.

Orthodox11, I became interested in Orthodoxy and am in the process of converting because of the liturgy. Should I go ahead and tell my priest my inquiry into Orthodoxy is over and hope that sometime in the future I'll be converted for the "right" reason?
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2012, 09:37:39 AM »

Orthodox11, I became interested in Orthodoxy and am in the process of converting because of the liturgy. Should I go ahead and tell my priest my inquiry into Orthodoxy is over and hope that sometime in the future I'll be converted for the "right" reason?

Would you have been less interested in Orthodoxy had you only attended Vespers, Matins, and the Liturgy of the Catechumens?

With the wealth of beauty already on offer, do you think it is necessary for the Eucharist (as I said, I'm referring specifically to the Liturgy of the Faithful) to be published all over the internet and have the most intimate act of worship cheapened for the sake of mission (and a lot of the time it's not even a question of mission, but simply a case of showing off).

Has anything I said implied that you converted for "the wrong reason"?
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2012, 05:46:39 PM »

It may just be my personality, and I do appreciate the beauty of liturgy, but I can't imagine my conversion to any faith being heavily based on aesthetics. In fact, the first time I attended a DL I left wondering what was up with all the pictures, smells, bells, and gilded stuff. It initially seemed excessive. Luckily I have found the theological, philosophical, and historical aspects of Orthodoxy compelling.
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2012, 12:16:55 AM »

...needlessly exposing the holy Mysteries, specifically via multimedia, to the public as a missionary tool.

Thinking about it, I can see the wisdom in this. Would you also re-institute the dismissal of non-Orthodox during liturgy?
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2012, 01:35:26 AM »

...needlessly exposing the holy Mysteries, specifically via multimedia, to the public as a missionary tool.

Thinking about it, I can see the wisdom in this. Would you also re-institute the dismissal of non-Orthodox during liturgy?

I would, absolutely.  Get a few deacons with clubs and escort the uninitiated out while chanting τας θυρας, τας θυρας!
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2012, 01:54:12 AM »

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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2012, 07:36:10 AM »

Thinking about it, I can see the wisdom in this. Would you also re-institute the dismissal of non-Orthodox during liturgy?

I think it's a very different situation considering that most of those non-baptised actually present at the Liturgy are, at the very least, there to pray or have some interest or reverence for the faith, which is not the case on the internet. I certainly think it would be desirable to re-institute the dismissal of non-baptised during the Liturgy. However, it would have to be done in a way that was pastorally sensitive, and those asked to leave should understand why they're leaving. Simply rounding people up and kicking them out is not desirable.
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2012, 07:44:01 AM »

The same, of course, applies to baptisms/chrismations, which were kept from the eyes of the non-baptised with equal dilligence. Perhaps such a re-emphasis also on these would lead people to take them seriously and understand them as Mysteries of the Church rather than rites of passage, where the emphasis is not on death and rebirth into Christ and the reception of the Holy Spirit, but on the godmother's dress and how cute the shocked face of the little baby is when the priest, almost unable to move around the pushy photographer, dips it into the water.
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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2012, 11:12:15 AM »

...needlessly exposing the holy Mysteries, specifically via multimedia, to the public as a missionary tool.

Thinking about it, I can see the wisdom in this. Would you also re-institute the dismissal of non-Orthodox during liturgy?

Why not? The Mormons have very stringent rules about who is admitted to their temples, and they are quite adept at converting people to their faith. Attendance rules themselves are not barriers to inquirers. Heck, we should just take their catchphrase: "It's not secret, it's sacred." Sounds about right to me.
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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2012, 03:53:22 PM »

Initially, those converting to orthodoxy were converting from paganism which had a long traditional of mysteries and rituals.  Many who are converting to orthodoxy today, especially in America, are coming from Protestant churches with shallow  worship experiences that sometimes seek to tap into nothing more than an effusive sentimentality. Doesn't this make a difference? Many of these seekers are baptized in the name of the Triune God and have professed Christ / Nicene Creed, etc.  Seekers would definitely need some education prior to attending the service and  I can definitely sympathize with not filming or taking pictures of the Divine Liturgy but closing the doors?
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« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2012, 04:02:21 PM »

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

That for thousands of years the Liturgy has essentially maintained the same distinct structure should be rather telling to its use by the Fathers as an evangelical tool by God's Grace.  The Liturgy is divided into two portions, one public, one private.  The Preparatory Prayers or the Liturgy of the Word is designed for common masses and visitors, the prayers are continually for mercy, the symbolism employed is deeply moving and in the narrative form to describe a lot of the Church functions, and the Scriptures are read to teach the people.  Sometimes sermons are also said during this time, again, to teach the people, faithful or visiting alike.  THEN the Anaphora or the Liturgy of the Faithful is celebrated, and the Catechumens are dismissed.  What has essentially changed is the attitude and approach at most parishes in enforcing this dismissal.  Many visitors and catechumens are not asked to leave or encouraged to leave or even feel any kind of social pressure not to be there, and so they stay the entire service.  Perhaps this is contrary to the spirit of the Fathers, but the Church is not static because the human race which is the Body of Christ which composes the Church is not static either but always dynamic and in motion.  Further, in my own personal opinion, dismissing the cathechumens was not to keep the Holy Communion a secret, but rather to PROTECT those outside of the Faithful from harms way if they were to "presumptuously draw near to the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord" as is said by the priests when they wash their hands of our sins just before the Dismissal of the Catechumens..  Maybe today folks do not need as much spiritual protection in a world that is largely Christian in feel and experience? Christ is not so much a Light shining in a dark place anymore, rather a ray of sunbeam shining through the occasional clouds of an overcast or foggy afternoon Wink

...needlessly exposing the holy Mysteries, specifically via multimedia, to the public as a missionary tool.

Thinking about it, I can see the wisdom in this. Would you also re-institute the dismissal of non-Orthodox during liturgy?

I would, absolutely.  Get a few deacons with clubs and escort the uninitiated out while chanting τας θυρας, τας θυρας!

Maybe they can train with the more bellicose monks at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2012, 04:05:51 PM »

"Come and see" worked with me.  I wandered in, almost as a tourist,  and within five minutes I was (in my heart, at least) converted.  And without hearing one word of English.

Then I had some friends who were curious about my conversion.  "Come and see,"  I said.  They came and also converted, same as me.

"Come and see" doesn't' work with everybody.  Some "came and saw" and said "no thanks!"  But it's always worth a try!
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« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2012, 04:11:06 PM »

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


"Come and see" doesn't' work with everybody.  Some "came and saw" and said "no thanks!"  But it's always worth a try!
Amen to that Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2012, 05:27:56 PM »

Orthodox11, I became interested in Orthodoxy and am in the process of converting because of the liturgy. Should I go ahead and tell my priest my inquiry into Orthodoxy is over and hope that sometime in the future I'll be converted for the "right" reason?

Would you have been less interested in Orthodoxy had you only attended Vespers, Matins, and the Liturgy of the Catechumens?

With the wealth of beauty already on offer, do you think it is necessary for the Eucharist (as I said, I'm referring specifically to the Liturgy of the Faithful) to be published all over the internet and have the most intimate act of worship cheapened for the sake of mission (and a lot of the time it's not even a question of mission, but simply a case of showing off).

Has anything I said implied that you converted for "the wrong reason"?

The liturgy of the Eucharist has some of my favorite parts of the liturgy, but ultimately probably not. Sorry, you didn't mention Vespers or Matins in the OP so it seemed like you were discouraging taking liturgy into account at all.
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« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2012, 04:54:53 AM »

Further, in my own personal opinion, dismissing the cathechumens was not to keep the Holy Communion a secret, but rather to PROTECT those outside of the Faithful from harms way if they were to "presumptuously draw near to the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord" as is said by the priests when they wash their hands of our sins just before the Dismissal of the Catechumens..

The Church Fathers are quite clear that Holy Communion should not be seen or heard by any non-baptised person, and Christians were forbidden to speak of it to any non-baptised person, even the catechumens who had some kind of formal affiliation with the Church. So while protecting the non-baptised from unworthy participation might be one reason, the dismissal of the catechumens, according to the unambiguous explanations of the Fathers, was part of keeping the Mysteries mysteries (i.e. secrets).
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« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2012, 08:04:23 AM »

I really hope you're not talking about this.
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