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« on: March 15, 2013, 01:06:56 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 01:08:24 AM by montalban » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 01:11:43 AM »

Sounds quite traditional, though the Orthodox wouldn't say they "allow pagan elements," they'd say that they "baptized non-Christian elements, transfiguring them for Christian use" Wink
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 01:12:25 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references


If Catholics are detouring from the one true faith delivered by Christ to His Apostles for all peoples, everywhere, and for all times, then ANATHEMA.

In Orthodoxy, we would introduce the Native Peoples to incense, and encourage them to substitute their smoke for sacred incense. After all, many of the Native Peoples of Alaska converted to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 01:14:53 AM »

Sounds quite traditional, though the Orthodox wouldn't say they "allow pagan elements," they'd say that they "baptized non-Christian elements, transfiguring them for Christian use" Wink

I think that you're oversimplifying in an attempt to be contrarian.
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 01:29:09 AM »

Sounds quite traditional, though the Orthodox wouldn't say they "allow pagan elements," they'd say that they "baptized non-Christian elements, transfiguring them for Christian use" Wink

I think that you're oversimplifying in an attempt to be contrarian.

Possibly, but someone has to fill in when orthonorm isn't posting, right?  Besides, oversimplifying aside (and aren't 99% of our posts oversimplifications?), I think my point is generally accurate.
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 01:30:24 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references
This is an interesting question and I guess that there might not be a clear cut yes or no answer. For example, from time to time we see incense being used in Catholic and Orthodox services. So if this is an example of using more incense, then i don;t see the problem.
But to the question as to whether or not pagan ideas have  crept into Catholic or Orthodox services, it seems like they have.  For example, take the custom of men removing their hats while praying in Church. This is not the Jewish custom, which is for men to wear some sort of hat or yarmulke while praying. I thought i read that this was a custom of pagans in Greece, to remove their hats indoors as a sign of respect. But for the Jews, the sign of respect was to have your head covered with the yarmulke. Priests and bishops sometimes cover their heads as the Jews do, but the lay men follow the pagan custom or removing their hats.
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 01:33:51 AM »

It would depend on what significance the custom took on in a Christian context.
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 03:12:56 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references
I've seen this on youtube from some sort of Catholic Youth Conference in LA. They danced up to the altar with flowing white garments and stone bowls offering up what I assumed was incense. Seems more like what you've described.

Ick.
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 09:43:20 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references
I've seen this on youtube from some sort of Catholic Youth Conference in LA. They danced up to the altar with flowing white garments and stone bowls offering up what I assumed was incense. Seems more like what you've described.

Ick.

I tend to agree with your "ick".  Kinda makes me squirm a little.  Then I remember Scripture passages (don't recall precisely which at the moment, though I could look them up) of David dancing before the Lord, dancing before the Ark of the Covenant, etc.  But, the "ick" remains. Sad
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 03:23:18 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references
This is an interesting question and I guess that there might not be a clear cut yes or no answer. For example, from time to time we see incense being used in Catholic and Orthodox services. So if this is an example of using more incense, then i don;t see the problem.
But to the question as to whether or not pagan ideas have  crept into Catholic or Orthodox services, it seems like they have.  For example, take the custom of men removing their hats while praying in Church. This is not the Jewish custom, which is for men to wear some sort of hat or yarmulke while praying. I thought i read that this was a custom of pagans in Greece, to remove their hats indoors as a sign of respect. But for the Jews, the sign of respect was to have your head covered with the yarmulke. Priests and bishops sometimes cover their heads as the Jews do, but the lay men follow the pagan custom or removing their hats.

I'm not sure incense is used to ward off evil spirits
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 03:35:42 AM »

But to the question as to whether or not pagan ideas have  crept into Catholic or Orthodox services, it seems like they have.  For example, take the custom of men removing their hats while praying in Church. This is not the Jewish custom, which is for men to wear some sort of hat or yarmulke while praying. I thought i read that this was a custom of pagans in Greece, to remove their hats indoors as a sign of respect. But for the Jews, the sign of respect was to have your head covered with the yarmulke. Priests and bishops sometimes cover their heads as the Jews do, but the lay men follow the pagan custom or removing their hats.

It sure wasn't Jewish custom in St. Paul's day for men to pray with heads covered. It became so later:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head." (1 Cor. 11:4)
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 03:49:39 AM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?
I notice that the Orthodox Christians here don't say too much about  the  pagan elements that have been brought into the Orthodox Church.
I mentioned already the pagan custom of ancient Greece where a male removes his hat when entering a building as a sign of respect. This is contrary to the traditional Jewish custom for a male to wear a yarmulke in a religious setting.
As a second example of where Orthodox have introduced pagan elements into their Church I have noticed that around Christmastime, some of the Orthodox Churches have a Christmas tree inside the Church. But honoring a tree is a pagan custom.  According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."[
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2013, 04:04:05 AM »

It sure wasn't Jewish custom in St. Paul's day for men to pray with heads covered. It became so later:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head." (1 Cor. 11:4)
This was the pagan custom of the Greeks, not the Jews of that time:  As we read in Kiddushin 31a:
ב הונא בריה דרב יהושע לא מסגי ארבע אמות בגלוי הראש אמר שכינה למעלה מראש
The Talmud says that wearing a yarmulke is to remind us of G-d, who is the Higher Authority “above us”
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2013, 08:12:29 AM »

It sure wasn't Jewish custom in St. Paul's day for men to pray with heads covered. It became so later:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head." (1 Cor. 11:4)
This was the pagan custom of the Greeks, not the Jews of that time:  As we read in Kiddushin 31a:
ב הונא בריה דרב יהושע לא מסגי ארבע אמות בגלוי הראש אמר שכינה למעלה מראש
The Talmud says that wearing a yarmulke is to remind us of G-d, who is the Higher Authority “above us”


The Talmud came some 500 years after St. Paul. Rabbi Huna ben Joshua was an Amora of Babylon who died in 410 AD. That he "wouldn't walk four cubits bear headed" because of the Shekhina (Presence of G-d) does not prove that Jews would have prayed with their heads covered 300 years earlier. The passage you "read" says nothing of Jewish vs. Greek prayer customs in the 1st century AD. It doesn't even tell us how R. Huna prayed.
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2013, 09:36:17 AM »

As to your second statement about having Christmas trees 'inside' the church, we do have a Christmas tree during the Christmas season But it is kept in the Narthex or Vestibule portion of the church building.  We decorate it with cards that list someone in need and those parishioners pick from the tree and buy that person what he or she wished for in the card. 
As far as wearing head gear, the arch priests and bishops do were head gear as a sign of their office. As to why men don't wear hats or head gear at Liturgy im not sure of.  But I would think it is a sign of respect to do so.  It could also be a sign of the separation from the old covenant and accepting the new covenant. 
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2013, 09:00:20 PM »

As to your second statement about having Christmas trees 'inside' the church, we do have a Christmas tree during the Christmas season But it is kept in the Narthex or Vestibule portion of the church building.  We decorate it with cards that list someone in need and those parishioners pick from the tree and buy that person what he or she wished for in the card. 
As far as wearing head gear, the arch priests and bishops do were head gear as a sign of their office. As to why men don't wear hats or head gear at Liturgy im not sure of.  But I would think it is a sign of respect to do so.  It could also be a sign of the separation from the old covenant and accepting the new covenant. 
But the pagans are the ones who first gave honor to the tree, and this practice has been incorporated into the Orthodox Christian tradition. Was it wrong to do so? If it was not wrong to incorporate this pagan tradition into Orthodox practice, then why would it be wrong for RCs to incorporate other pagan traditions into their practice?
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2013, 09:18:33 PM »

It sure wasn't Jewish custom in St. Paul's day for men to pray with heads covered. It became so later:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head." (1 Cor. 11:4)
This was the pagan custom of the Greeks, not the Jews of that time:  As we read in Kiddushin 31a:
ב הונא בריה דרב יהושע לא מסגי ארבע אמות בגלוי הראש אמר שכינה למעלה מראש
The Talmud says that wearing a yarmulke is to remind us of G-d, who is the Higher Authority “above us”


The Talmud came some 500 years after St. Paul. Rabbi Huna ben Joshua was an Amora of Babylon who died in 410 AD. That he "wouldn't walk four cubits bear headed" because of the Shekhina (Presence of G-d) does not prove that Jews would have prayed with their heads covered 300 years earlier. The passage you "read" says nothing of Jewish vs. Greek prayer customs in the 1st century AD. It doesn't even tell us how R. Huna prayed.
The Mishna is a written compendium of the Oral Law of Judaism and was written down at about 200 AD. This does not mean that these laws were not in effect until 200 AD, it only means that they were written down about 1800 years ago. And we read in Shabbat 156b: 'Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray'
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2013, 10:31:09 PM »

The Mishna is a written compendium of the Oral Law of Judaism and was written down at about 200 AD. This does not mean that these laws were not in effect until 200 AD, it only means that they were written down about 1800 years ago. And we read in Shabbat 156b: 'Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray'

You did not quote from the Mishna.  Wink

A Talmudist of your calibre should know that much.

The story you allude to is about another Babylonian Amora, Rabbi Nahman bar Isaac (d. 356):

Quote
It is also the position of R. Nahman bar Isaac that Israel is not subject to the stars.

For to the mother of R. Nahman bar Isaac the Chaldaean said, “Your son will be a thief.” She didn’t let him go bareheaded, saying, “Keep your head covered, so fear of Heaven may be upon you, and pray for mercy.”

He didn’t know why she said that to him. One day he was in session, studying under a palm tree. His head covering fell off. He lifted his eyes and saw the palm tree, and was overcome by temptation; he climbed up and bit off a cluster of dates with his teeth.

Both quotations describe instances of individual piety (or lack thereof) - they do not formulate a general prayer rule for all Jews. I would say they prove nothing.
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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2013, 10:38:53 PM »

Shabbat (Hebrew: שבת‎) is first tractate (book) in the Order (Mishnaic section) of Moed, of the Mishnah and Talmud. The tractate consists of 24 chapters. Folio 156b of Shabbat appears in chapter 24.
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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2013, 11:05:32 PM »

The Mishna is a written compendium of the Oral Law of Judaism and was written down at about 200 AD. This does not mean that these laws were not in effect until 200 AD, it only means that they were written down about 1800 years ago. And we read in Shabbat 156b: 'Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray'

You did not quote from the Mishna.  Wink

A Talmudist of your calibre should know that much.

The story you allude to is about another Babylonian Amora, Rabbi Nahman bar Isaac (d. 356):

Quote
It is also the position of R. Nahman bar Isaac that Israel is not subject to the stars.

For to the mother of R. Nahman bar Isaac the Chaldaean said, “Your son will be a thief.” She didn’t let him go bareheaded, saying, “Keep your head covered, so fear of Heaven may be upon you, and pray for mercy.”

He didn’t know why she said that to him. One day he was in session, studying under a palm tree. His head covering fell off. He lifted his eyes and saw the palm tree, and was overcome by temptation; he climbed up and bit off a cluster of dates with his teeth.

Both quotations describe instances of individual piety (or lack thereof) - they do not formulate a general prayer rule for all Jews. I would say they prove nothing.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 2:6) states as a ruling that one may not walk 4 cubits without a head covering i.e. yarmulke.
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« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2013, 11:08:17 PM »

Shabbat (Hebrew: שבת‎) is first tractate (book) in the Order (Mishnaic section) of Moed, of the Mishnah and Talmud. The tractate consists of 24 chapters. Folio 156b of Shabbat appears in chapter 24.



The Mishna is the bit in the middle - the Rabbis who produced it by interpreting ("repeating") Tora are called Tannaim and they lived up to 200 AD. Surrounding it is the text of the Gemara ("completion"), consisting of expositions of the Mishna by the Amoraim (later generations of sages - such as the two you quoted - often from Babylon).

 
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« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2013, 11:17:45 PM »

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 2:6) states as a ruling that one may not walk 4 cubits without a head covering i.e. yarmulke.

Oy! The Shulchan Aruch & Rabbi Joseph Caro are from the 16th century AD. This is clearly based on the saying about Rabbi Huna ben Joshua from Kiddushin 31A (he wouldn't walk the 4 cubits bear headed and so on).

What Rabbis do is "build a fence around the Tora" by taking a case of extreme piety (always walking with one's head covered) and turning it into a rule for everybody. This is how some prescriptions of Leviticus, originally intended for Priests and Levites only, were extended in later ages (by rabbinic authorities) to apply to all of Israel ("a kingdom of Priests" etc.).     
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2013, 12:23:13 AM »

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 2:6) states as a ruling that one may not walk 4 cubits without a head covering i.e. yarmulke.

Oy! The Shulchan Aruch & Rabbi Joseph Caro are from the 16th century AD. This is clearly based on the saying about Rabbi Huna ben Joshua from Kiddushin 31A (he wouldn't walk the 4 cubits bear headed and so on).

What Rabbis do is "build a fence around the Tora" by taking a case of extreme piety (always walking with one's head covered) and turning it into a rule for everybody. This is how some prescriptions of Leviticus, originally intended for Priests and Levites only, were extended in later ages (by rabbinic authorities) to apply to all of Israel ("a kingdom of Priests" etc.).     
According to an article written by By J. Immanuel Schochet
Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society
"Since the days of old it was the Jewish custom to keep the head covered at all times. Thus, the skull cap became a familiar part of the Jew's attire."..."Covering the head has been strictly observed by all Jews.[see footnote]. It is stated in the Talmud that covering the head is associated with Yirath Shomaim (piety). The story is told of a boy who was a kleptomaniac by nature, but by virtue of keeping his head covered always and being extra careful about it, his evil nature did not assert itself. However, when the wind once blew his headgear off, he immediately became the victim of his kleptomania (Talm. B. Sabbath 156b)."
Footnote refers to:Mogen Dovid (TAZ) one of the chief exponents of the Shulchan Aruch, and one of the Poskim Achronim (last codifiers), Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, ch. 8. (3)
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/110371/jewish/Introduction-The-Basis-of-All-Precepts.htm
Do you disagree with my belief that it was a custom of pagan Greeks and Romans (free men, not slave) to remove their hats as a sign of respect?

If so, there is still the pagan custom of honoring the tree during the wintertime which has become incorporated into Orthodox Christian practice. I have been to houses where Orthodox Christians set up and decorate a tree inside their house during Christmastime. They will put ornaments of various kinds and electrical lights on their trees inside their houses. I have even seen such trees in Orthodox Churches.  Now, why are some Orthodox going around questioning or condemning Roman Catholics for their pagan practices when Orthodox Christians appear to do the same by adopting the  pagan custom of bringing  trees into the house as part of a holiday celebration?
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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2013, 12:50:53 AM »

"Since the days of old it was the Jewish custom to keep the head covered at all times.

Those "days of old" cannot be older than St. Paul (1st century AD). He sure didn't introduce any pagan (non-Jewish) custom in the early Church as far as head (un)covering was concerned. Quite the contrary - he tries to impose the Jewish custom of his day (men pray uncovered, women - covered) on the Gentile Christians from Corinth.

Do you disagree with my belief that it was a custom of pagan Greeks and Romans (free men, not slave) to remove their hats as a sign of respect?

Until you bring some evidence to support it - it's just that: your belief. The burden of proof is on your side.  Wink

Now, why are some Orthodox going around questioning or condemning Roman Catholics for their pagan practices when Orthodox Christians appear to do the same by adopting the  pagan custom of bringing  trees into the house as part of a holiday celebration?

The Christmas tree is a recent development in the Orthodox world - about 100 years old at the most. It has no liturgical function, so it doesn't really belong in church. It's a petty issue. I wouldn't call anybody a pagan because of it. 
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« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2013, 01:20:54 AM »


Those "days of old" cannot be older than St. Paul (1st century AD). He sure didn't introduce any pagan (non-Jewish) custom in the early Church as far as head (un)covering was concerned. Quite the contrary - he tries to impose the Jewish custom of his day (men pray uncovered, women - covered) on the Gentile Christians from Corinth.
I am sorry to report that the Jewish encyclopedia disagrees with you on this point. According to the Jewish encyclopedia it was customary among the Greeks to offer sacrifices with uncovered head—"capite aperto" and this was the  form adopted by Paul for the Christians in his first Epistle to the Corinthians (xi. 2 et seq.).
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« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2013, 01:25:39 AM »

The Christmas tree is a recent development in the Orthodox world - about 100 years old at the most. It has no liturgical function, so it doesn't really belong in church. It's a petty issue. I wouldn't call anybody a pagan because of it. 
If the Orthodox custom of following a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church is a petty issue, then the same holds true when Catholics use smoke instead of incense in Church. 
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« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2013, 03:29:16 AM »

a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church
Not pagan.
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« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2013, 05:21:16 AM »

a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church
Not pagan.
I am sorry to report that in addition to the Encyclopedia Brittannica referenced above
(see reply  #11 - "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans...."), the History channel also disagrees with you. According to the History channel:
"Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness....Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death....Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder..."
http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees


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« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2013, 07:54:34 AM »

The Christmas tree is a recent development in the Orthodox world - about 100 years old at the most. It has no liturgical function, so it doesn't really belong in church. It's a petty issue. I wouldn't call anybody a pagan because of it. 
If the Orthodox custom of following a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church is a petty issue, then the same holds true when Catholics use smoke instead of incense in Church.

How many Christmas trees have you seen in Orthodox churches?
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« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2013, 08:02:38 AM »

The Christmas tree is a recent development in the Orthodox world - about 100 years old at the most. It has no liturgical function, so it doesn't really belong in church. It's a petty issue. I wouldn't call anybody a pagan because of it. 
If the Orthodox custom of following a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church is a petty issue, then the same holds true when Catholics use smoke instead of incense in Church.

How many Christmas trees have you seen in Orthodox churches?

Maybe three or four. My former parish has one during Chrismastide.
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« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2013, 08:07:21 AM »

The Christmas tree is a recent development in the Orthodox world - about 100 years old at the most. It has no liturgical function, so it doesn't really belong in church. It's a petty issue. I wouldn't call anybody a pagan because of it. 
If the Orthodox custom of following a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church is a petty issue, then the same holds true when Catholics use smoke instead of incense in Church.

How many Christmas trees have you seen in Orthodox churches?

Maybe three or four. My former parish has one during Chrismastide.

In Greece you won't see one. Ever. Either inside or out. No evergreen decorations either. Yuletide paraphernalia are for the home.
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« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2013, 08:18:24 AM »

In Greece you won't see one. Ever. Either inside or out. No evergreen decorations either. Yuletide paraphernalia are for the home.

I guess it's not part of Greek culture then. Finns on the other hand are very fond to their Christmas trees.
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« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2013, 08:23:58 AM »

In my 50 years in Orthodoxy, across several jurisdictions and ethnicities, never have I seen any Christmas trees in any church. The closest I've seen is the Yolka in Russian tradition, but the celebration that it is associated with is always held in the church hall. It's a folk custom, not a liturgical one.
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« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2013, 08:52:33 AM »

In Greece you won't see one. Ever. Either inside or out. No evergreen decorations either. Yuletide paraphernalia are for the home.

I guess it's not part of Greek culture then. Finns on the other hand are very fond to their Christmas trees.

Orthodox Finns do live among Lutherans - the latter invented the "Christmas" tree...
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« Reply #34 on: March 17, 2013, 09:15:28 AM »

I am sorry to report that the Jewish encyclopedia disagrees with you on this point. According to the Jewish encyclopedia it was customary among the Greeks to offer sacrifices with uncovered head—"capite aperto" and this was the  form adopted by Paul for the Christians in his first Epistle to the Corinthians (xi. 2 et seq.).

Explain this then: why did St. Paul need to instruct Greek women to cover their heads like Jewish women and Greek men to uncover their heads like pagan Greek men would? Does it make sense to you?

There is no ancient Jewish text that attests to the custom of men praying with their head covered in Antiquity. What you quoted from the Talmud so far doesn't do it either... 

May I suggest that the Jewish Encyclopedia (which edition?) might want to make St. Paul and Christians in general look less Jewish and more pagan? Rabbis did occasionally try to ascribe the weight of antiquity to some of their more recent beliefs and practices - e.g. all things Kabbalah.   
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« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2013, 10:53:10 AM »

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« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2013, 11:06:12 AM »

a pagan practice of celebrating a holiday by cutting down and decorating a tree and placing it in Church
Not pagan.
I am sorry to report that in addition to the Encyclopedia Brittannica referenced above
(see reply  #11 - "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans...."), the History channel also disagrees with you. According to the History channel:
"Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness....Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death....Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder..."
http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees



Those are two real, real bad sources, Stanley.
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« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2013, 11:57:05 AM »

May I suggest that the Jewish Encyclopedia (which edition?) might want to make St. Paul and Christians in general look less Jewish and more pagan? Rabbis did occasionally try to ascribe the weight of antiquity to some of their more recent beliefs and practices - e.g. all things Kabbalah.   
1906 edition.
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« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2013, 12:01:29 PM »

May I suggest that the Jewish Encyclopedia (which edition?) might want to make St. Paul and Christians in general look less Jewish and more pagan? Rabbis did occasionally try to ascribe the weight of antiquity to some of their more recent beliefs and practices - e.g. all things Kabbalah.   
1906 edition.

Wow. I wonder if that edition caused the San Francisco earthquake?  Roll Eyes

The Lutheran Hymnal of 1906 contained almost the same wording as originally used in the infamous Novus Ordo Missae (NO mass). I had a copy, but my former Catholic priest tossed it in the fireplace and burned it when he discovered the Roman Catholic NO Creed in that Lutheran Hymnal.  After reading that Lutheran Hymnal of 1906, he never said another NO mass, but either celebrated the Tridentine Latin Mass or the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as he was a biritual priest.
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« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2013, 12:06:59 PM »

I have started a new thread on headcoverings - why don't men cover their heads?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,50556.new.html#new
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« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2013, 03:40:03 PM »

In my 50 years in Orthodoxy, across several jurisdictions and ethnicities, never have I seen any Christmas trees in any church. The closest I've seen is the Yolka in Russian tradition, but the celebration that it is associated with is always held in the church hall. It's a folk custom, not a liturgical one.






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« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2013, 03:47:49 PM »

What do Orthodox (and Catholics) think about the Catholic Mass allowing pagan/non-Christian elements into it?

Here in Australia the Catholic church has allowed Aboriginal 'smoking ceremonies' into the mass. These 'smoking ceremonies' involve a cleansing smoke that chases out bad spirits.

Do you think it's a good idea?


"The Smoking Ceremony is one of the oldest living traditions celebrated by Aboriginal people. Our ancestors handed down to us the belief that ceremonies should begin with the smoking away of evil spirits, followed by the reception of good spirits. Many Liturgies prepared by the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry begin with a Smoking Ceremony."
http://www.cam.org.au/acmv/Invisible-no-more.aspx

I'm assuming that this site is linked to the church, if not I can provide other references

I don't see why some sort of rite of blessing using incense and prayers for God's protection/presence couldn't be developed and incorporated into the beginning of a liturgy. Orthodox liturgies already begin with the priest asking the Holy Spirit to "come and abide in us and cleanse us from every impurity" and the invocation of the Trinity (Blessed is the kingdom...). Also, there are western liturgies that begin with a rite of blessing with holy water.

I don't think it would be that hard to "baptize" it into a traditional Christian context, but that's just my opinion.
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« Reply #42 on: March 17, 2013, 03:49:28 PM »

I don't see why some sort of rite of blessing using incense and prayers for God's protection/presence couldn't be developed and incorporated into the beginning of a liturgy.

I thought deacon or priest censes the church during proskomede. Your doesn't?
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« Reply #43 on: March 17, 2013, 04:34:19 PM »

Explain this then: why did St. Paul need to instruct Greek women to cover their heads like Jewish women and Greek men to uncover their heads like pagan Greek men would?    
I don't think that  Greek men of ancient times wore anything on their heads in public or for prayer. However, I thought that Greek women did wear headcovering and it had nothing to do with the Jews.



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« Reply #44 on: March 17, 2013, 05:11:47 PM »

Fashion abhors the stereotypes of tradition. City dwellers (such as the Corinthians) often tended to be more fashionable than traditional. So much so that Duris of Samos reports that at one time the men of Athens κόμας ἐφόρουν, αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες ἐκείροντο ("wore long hair, but the women were close cropped"). This is, of course, exactly the opposite of what St. Paul recommends.

There's another Apostle that asks Christian women to imitate the (Jewish) "holy women of old" in stead of the hairstyles and fashion of contemporary Greek ladies:

Quote
Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; 4 rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight. 5 It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. 6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you. 7 Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life--so that nothing may hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:3-7)


 
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