In our discussion of Vesperal Liturgies, I posted the following:http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24720.msg829965.html#msg829965
Because of our limited parish resources, it's practical for us to have only one service at Christmas. Once again (last year's Sunday Dec 25 made an exception), our priest has announced that it will be the VDL with St Basil's Liturgy. I'm disappointed about that decision. I think we'll have had our fill of VDLs in the previous weeks for one thing. Then, this service is the least joyous of the Christmas services. It is not one to which I would invite family (all non-Orthodox) or friends, but I would invite them to join me for Orthros + DL of St John C - especially if it were at midnight. That hour would create interest in itself, and is certainly not unusual in this community due to the high number of RCs who do celebrate Midnight Mass at Christmas. I really had my heart set on attending a Christmas Eve service at a church of one of my family members. I'm thinking I'm going to go ahead and do that anyway. My priest won't be happy about that - I generally anchor the chanters - but I am annoyed that he made that announcement with no consultation of the congregation. I know there are others who, like me, have family obligations that we like to attend to just once a year, so I am concerned about the attendance in any case.
This morning I told me priest how I felt. I told him that it is important for me to spend at least one Christmas service with my non-Orthodox family. Since I can't (or won't) invite them to ours because of the nature of the service, I would be planning to attend one of their services. My priest's reasoning for the VDL was, "That's the way we've always done it before." I told him how disappointed I was that there was no discussion about the matter ahead of time.
He told me that if we are going to have just one service at Christmas it has
to be St Basil's DL, and therefore if we're going to have only one service it has to be the VDL. I believe that if only one liturgy is prescribed for the Feast (i.e. when Dec 25 falls on a Sunday or Monday), then that Liturgy will be St Basil's. However, if a parish because of limited resources has to limit the number of services, are we consigned to the VDL? That would surprise me. But according to my priest, if we want to have Orthros + St John's DL, we must
have St Basil's as well. He went on to tell me that if I insisted on having two services, and it was a flop, he would blame me. When I suggested that the midnight observation of Nativity ought to be considered, then he said that that's impossible, as we would have to have the VDL very early on the morning of the 24th so the services wouldn't be so close. I really don't think he understands that Nativity is one of three occasions where two liturgies are prescribed for the same liturgical day. The number of hours in between really isn't an issue. Besides, in any case, my suggestion is still that we have just one service - preferably the midnight one.
So here are my questions:
If your parish has Compline/Orthros/DL in the very late evening and over midnight, at what hour do you have St Basil's VDL?
Is there anyone else out there in a small parish that simply has to limit the number of services - and if so, how are you handling it?
I know what the books say about which
services are there for us over Christmas, but none of them spell out a specific timetable, or address the issue of how to abbreviate the number of services for very practical reasons.
I feel a bit like I'm whining and priest-bashing, but that's not the case at all. My priest is a dear man - this is one of very few points where we disagree.