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Author Topic: ROCOR - Why so little English?  (Read 883 times) Average Rating: 0
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stavros_388
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« on: April 16, 2013, 09:51:49 AM »

I am just curious about this. I live in a city of half a million people in Canada. The ROCOR church here has some of the most beautiful Liturgical services I have ever attended. They celebrate the Liturgy completely in Slavonic, with the homily in English, for most of the month, and in English with a Russian homily once a month. The English services have the highest attendance by far, it seems to me. Does anyone know why they don't have more English in their services? I almost get the feeling that they don't really want converts, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Any thoughts?

EDIT: Is this pretty standard for ROCOR?

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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2013, 10:04:05 AM »

I am just curious about this. I live in a city of half a million people in Canada. The ROCOR church here has some of the most beautiful Liturgical services I have ever attended. They celebrate the Liturgy completely in Slavonic, with the homily in English, for most of the month, and in English with a Russian homily once a month. The English services have the highest attendance by far, it seems to me. Does anyone know why they don't have more English in their services? I almost get the feeling that they don't really want converts, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Any thoughts?

While attendance may be better for the English services, there may still be a significant number of Russians in the parish who are not comfortable with English.  I have attended ROCOR parishes that use hardly any English, and ROCOR parishes that use mostly English and hardly any Slavonic.  Two older Russian ladies from a mostly Slavonic parish that we used to attend took a trip to ROCOR's Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV which is known for using mostly English in their services.  Upon returning home, the women said that they really loved the monastery, but unfortunately were not able to understand any of the services!  People clearly have different needs, and it is difficult to meet every need fully.

In some parts of the US, if a person wants Slavonic they go to the OCA parish, and if they want English they go to ROCOR.  Much of this depends upon the ethnic composition of a parish, the ethnic composition of the parish council who unfortunately usually calls the shots, the parish's history, the priest, etc.
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2013, 11:12:05 AM »

In the UOCofUSA we have a mixture of both.  My parish does about 50/50, some are totally Ukrainian and others totally English.  I like a mix, even tho my Ukrainian is only somewhat liturgical.
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2013, 11:37:13 AM »

I am just curious about this. I live in a city of half a million people in Canada. The ROCOR church here has some of the most beautiful Liturgical services I have ever attended. They celebrate the Liturgy completely in Slavonic, with the homily in English, for most of the month, and in English with a Russian homily once a month. The English services have the highest attendance by far, it seems to me. Does anyone know why they don't have more English in their services? I almost get the feeling that they don't really want converts, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Any thoughts?

EDIT: Is this pretty standard for ROCOR?



Yes and some places it is more like 80 % church slavonic and 20 % native tongue. The example I use here is my parish (Saint Olga Orthodox Church, Oslo - Norway). But I am fine with as the majority of the parishoners are from Russia or the countries around and/or of slavonic origin.

The question of why, well..I can only speak from my own experiences, but here it has to do with traditions.
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2013, 11:41:00 AM »

My Rocor Parish is 100% in English. The Cathedral downtown has two liturgies, one early all in English and one later all in Slavonic and Russian. On some feast days they combine services. The all English service is growing rapidly.

There is no standard rule. Rocor is committed to preserving the Slavonic Liturgy without doubt but  is open to all the American converts who at least want the homily in English. If the local Rocor parish doesn't have any accommodation for English speakers then have patience.

We have a new deacon  who just transferred in mention to me before the Unciton service last night that there were a lot of readings. He asked if we intended to go through them all. I glared at him (in a joking way).."Welcome to Rocor".. It took over three hours to complete the service btw.. Rocor is reluctant to make any changes in anything. Is good thing.
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2013, 12:26:04 PM »

From the "Resolution of the Pastoral Retreat and Assembly of the Priests and Clergy of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada:"
Quote
In discussing the state of affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church, our assembly expressed anxiety over the well-known increase in the number of calls supporting the gradual elimination of the Church Slavonic language as the sole liturgical language of the Church of Russia—a language which, by the will of God, was transmitted to the Eastern Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Such mindsets, particularly those that originate with respected clergymen and those in hierarchal rank, on whatever specious reasons they may based themselves, are liable to evoke turmoil and temptations within the Church. We understand well that it was precisely the exclusion of the Church Slavonic language from the liturgical practice that characterized the heresy of “Renovationism” of accursed memory, which arose with particular force during the years of persecution. However, we are in no way stating that, for example, the festal and Sunday readings of the Epistle cannot be done, along with Church Slavonic, in the languages of those people among whom the Russian Church Abroad exercises its ministry. In this connection, we also acknowledge that it is highly beneficial to teach the Church Slavonic language in our parish schools, as is done at the Alexander Pushkin Parish School attached to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in Montreal. It is likewise essential to train in the correct method of reading Slavonic those who desire to take upon themselves the obedience of readers, for which a special School of Precentors (headed by the well-known choir director, the reader George Skok, assisted by the reader Nikolai Androsov and Dr. Denis Brearley) exists in our diocese. http://www.synod.com/synod/eng2012/20120406_enmcdioceseresolution.html

Also, a quote from an interview with Archbishop Mark of Berlin:
Quote
In the Church Abroad, we live with the language each of us inherited from our ancestors. Of course, translations of liturgical texts which had been done in previous centuries are in some ways wanting, they rely too much on the original Greek, which can be amended. We do not see this as very important. For us it is far more important to have translations into local European languages—German, English, French, etc., since we have an objective need to use other languages in divine services in addition to Church Slavonic. Church Slavonic is the firm basis upon which we stand, but we sense the need to cleanse it of unnecessary Grecisms. Nonetheless, this is not a question of Russification. We are talking about emancipating the Church Slavonic language from layers which hinder the understanding of the texts. At times one must simply change the order of the words. This sort of work must be done, and we understand why. http://www.synod.com/synod/engdocuments/enart_archbpmarkinterviewfeb13.html
« Last Edit: April 16, 2013, 12:27:59 PM by Andrew21091 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2013, 01:22:13 PM »

In London, at any rate, by far the greater part of the Divine Liturgy is in Old Church Slavonic. I think it is quite beautiful. The chants and hymns in Old Church Slavic are beautiful in that no English translation can ever be, it is also a liturgical language, no, the liturgical language of the Russian Church. I for one would grieve very deeply if English displaced it as the language used.
Quote
Rocor is committed to preserving the Slavonic Liturgy without doubt.
Indeed. As they have Sacred Tradition and especially the traditions of the Russian Church against the accursed renovationists - I particularly like the Montreal quote.
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2013, 01:25:43 PM »

I know the Agni Parthene is not a liturgical hymn but there we go, it's simply a good example.

Since it's in a style of chant not used in any ROCOR church, I'm not sure it's the best example in this case.
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2013, 01:27:23 PM »

it is also a liturgical language, no, the liturgical language of the Russian Church.

AFAIK there are several dozens of liturgical languages in the Russian Church.

Quote
Indeed. The same, of course, goes for all of Sacred Tradition and especially the traditions of the Russian Church against the accursed renovationists

Liturgical language is not a part of Tradition. We are not Muslims.
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2013, 01:30:21 PM »

I know the Agni Parthene is not a liturgical hymn but there we go, it's simply a good example.

Since it's in a style of chant not used in any ROCOR church, I'm not sure it's the best example in this case.

Entirely true. I just happened to have a Slavonic and an English translation on hand. Duly edited.
Michael - You misunderstand me. I meant it by analogy, as ROCOR has preserved Church Slavic intact, so too have they preserved Tradition intact.
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2013, 01:36:39 PM »

as ROCOR has preserved Church Slavic intact, so too have they preserved Tradition intact,

Intact? Intact since when? Meletian Gramman, Nikonian reforms? There are several recessions of CS. Which one is "most traditional"?
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 01:45:57 PM »

I am just curious about this. I live in a city of half a million people in Canada. The ROCOR church here has some of the most beautiful Liturgical services I have ever attended. They celebrate the Liturgy completely in Slavonic, with the homily in English, for most of the month, and in English with a Russian homily once a month. The English services have the highest attendance by far, it seems to me. Does anyone know why they don't have more English in their services? I almost get the feeling that they don't really want converts, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. Any thoughts?

While attendance may be better for the English services, there may still be a significant number of Russians in the parish who are not comfortable with English.  I have attended ROCOR parishes that use hardly any English, and ROCOR parishes that use mostly English and hardly any Slavonic.  Two older Russian ladies from a mostly Slavonic parish that we used to attend took a trip to ROCOR's Hermitage of the Holy Cross in WV which is known for using mostly English in their services.  Upon returning home, the women said that they really loved the monastery, but unfortunately were not able to understand any of the services!  People clearly have different needs, and it is difficult to meet every need fully.

In some parts of the US, if a person wants Slavonic they go to the OCA parish, and if they want English they go to ROCOR.  Much of this depends upon the ethnic composition of a parish, the ethnic composition of the parish council who unfortunately usually calls the shots, the parish's history, the priest, etc.

This is my experience. The language in ROCOR varies to meet the needs of the people. I've been to parishes that serve entirely (or nearly entirely) in Slavonic, others entirely or nearly entirely in English and others of various mixes.

I've even been to a parish that translates the homily. If the homilist knows both Russian and English, he will deliver it in both, sometimes saying the whole homily in one language and then another, and then sometimes translating himself line-by-line. Other times someone else will translate for him.
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 02:11:12 PM »

.
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 02:16:13 PM »

PS: Please excuse the rather misplaced (and rather idiotic looking) zeal.

It's OK. We all fall into that from time to time. (I must confess I keep a Slavonic Liturgy CD from my church in the 1960's , in my car. I need to hear it once in awhile for a variety of reasons probably mostly sentimental and nostalgic though rather than spiritual.)
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 02:51:54 PM »

From the "Resolution of the Pastoral Retreat and Assembly of the Priests and Clergy of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada:"
Quote
In discussing the state of affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church, our assembly expressed anxiety over the well-known increase in the number of calls supporting the gradual elimination of the Church Slavonic language as the sole liturgical language of the Church of Russia—a language which, by the will of God, was transmitted to the Eastern Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Such mindsets, particularly those that originate with respected clergymen and those in hierarchal rank, on whatever specious reasons they may based themselves, are liable to evoke turmoil and temptations within the Church. We understand well that it was precisely the exclusion of the Church Slavonic language from the liturgical practice that characterized the heresy of “Renovationism” of accursed memory, which arose with particular force during the years of persecution.

I am surprised; I had believed all along that the sins of the Renovationists were many and that the language issue was not the worst one, let alone a defining one.
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2013, 04:19:07 PM »

Thank you for all of the informative responses.  Smiley

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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2013, 04:21:02 PM »

In London, at any rate, by far the greater part of the Divine Liturgy is in Old Church Slavonic.

Do you live in London? If so, which London?
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2013, 04:37:13 PM »

The liturgy at my ROCOR parish is almost all English, and the Lord's Prayer and Creed sung in both Slavonic and English.
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2013, 11:32:39 PM »

Indeed. As they have Sacred Tradition and especially the traditions of the Russian Church against the accursed renovationists - I particularly like the Montreal quote.

I don't know about Sacred Tradition, but its a tradition. We should remember that Sts. Cyril and Methodius translated the Scriptures and Liturgy into Slavonic so the people who they were spreading the Gospel to could receive and understand it. The same could be said of St. Innocent who translated sacred texts into Aleutian so the native people of Alaska could understand the services. Besides that, our Lord spoke Aramaic, a language we do not pray in (unless you pray in Syriac), so I'm going to say its pretty clear that God does not care what language we pray in. He wants us to pray from the heart. I'm fine with people preserving cultural traditions, but not at the expense of spreading the Gospel.
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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2013, 12:44:28 AM »

as ROCOR has preserved Church Slavic intact, so too have they preserved Tradition intact,

Intact? Intact since when? Meletian Gramman, Nikonian reforms? There are several recessions of CS. Which one is "most traditional"?
Yes, I doubt SS. Methodius and Cyril would understand the Russian (which is actually the Ukrainian) recension.  For one thing, only Polish has preserved the nasal vowels at all.
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2013, 12:46:13 AM »

In London, at any rate, by far the greater part of the Divine Liturgy is in Old Church Slavonic. I think it is quite beautiful. The chants and hymns in Old Church Slavic are beautiful in that no English translation can ever be, it is also a liturgical language, no, the liturgical language of the Russian Church. I for one would grieve very deeply if English displaced it as the language used.
Quote
Rocor is committed to preserving the Slavonic Liturgy without doubt.
Indeed. As they have Sacred Tradition and especially the traditions of the Russian Church against the accursed renovationists - I particularly like the Montreal quote.
I thought London was in England.  It was the last time I was there.  Have they moved it to Russia?
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2013, 12:48:19 AM »

From the "Resolution of the Pastoral Retreat and Assembly of the Priests and Clergy of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada:"
Quote
In discussing the state of affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church, our assembly expressed anxiety over the well-known increase in the number of calls supporting the gradual elimination of the Church Slavonic language as the sole liturgical language of the Church of Russia—a language which, by the will of God, was transmitted to the Eastern Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Such mindsets, particularly those that originate with respected clergymen and those in hierarchal rank, on whatever specious reasons they may based themselves, are liable to evoke turmoil and temptations within the Church. We understand well that it was precisely the exclusion of the Church Slavonic language from the liturgical practice that characterized the heresy of “Renovationism” of accursed memory, which arose with particular force during the years of persecution. However, we are in no way stating that, for example, the festal and Sunday readings of the Epistle cannot be done, along with Church Slavonic, in the languages of those people among whom the Russian Church Abroad exercises its ministry. In this connection, we also acknowledge that it is highly beneficial to teach the Church Slavonic language in our parish schools, as is done at the Alexander Pushkin Parish School attached to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in Montreal. It is likewise essential to train in the correct method of reading Slavonic those who desire to take upon themselves the obedience of readers, for which a special School of Precentors (headed by the well-known choir director, the reader George Skok, assisted by the reader Nikolai Androsov and Dr. Denis Brearley) exists in our diocese. http://www.synod.com/synod/eng2012/20120406_enmcdioceseresolution.html

Also, a quote from an interview with Archbishop Mark of Berlin:
Quote
In the Church Abroad, we live with the language each of us inherited from our ancestors. Of course, translations of liturgical texts which had been done in previous centuries are in some ways wanting, they rely too much on the original Greek, which can be amended. We do not see this as very important. For us it is far more important to have translations into local European languages—German, English, French, etc., since we have an objective need to use other languages in divine services in addition to Church Slavonic. Church Slavonic is the firm basis upon which we stand, but we sense the need to cleanse it of unnecessary Grecisms. Nonetheless, this is not a question of Russification. We are talking about emancipating the Church Slavonic language from layers which hinder the understanding of the texts. At times one must simply change the order of the words. This sort of work must be done, and we understand why. http://www.synod.com/synod/engdocuments/enart_archbpmarkinterviewfeb13.html
Sounds like the liturgical thought of Fr. Schmemann of blessed memory.
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 01:34:07 AM »

In London, at any rate, by far the greater part of the Divine Liturgy is in Old Church Slavonic. I think it is quite beautiful. The chants and hymns in Old Church Slavic are beautiful in that no English translation can ever be, it is also a liturgical language, no, the liturgical language of the Russian Church. I for one would grieve very deeply if English displaced it as the language used.
Quote
Rocor is committed to preserving the Slavonic Liturgy without doubt.
Indeed. As they have Sacred Tradition and especially the traditions of the Russian Church against the accursed renovationists - I particularly like the Montreal quote.
I thought London was in England.  It was the last time I was there.  Have they moved it to Russia?

There are several US cities by that name, and one in Canada.  Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2013, 10:37:23 AM »

What Rocor tries to do is preserve intact the traditions ( small t ) as they has been transmitted to them from Russia. Of course the practices in Russia have changed over time, just ask an Old Believer. But if you have faith that The Church has been wise and God Pleasing then that is what you ought to do when in a new country, not change too much.

The central thing is strictness. I have a good friend in the OCA who described Rocor as practicing " That Good Old Foot Throbbing Piety".

That is really good for some people and a barrier to others. It's good to have choices. Personally I would never have converted if I had run into Rocor first. The OCA was perfect for me. Years later, now that I know the ropes a bit more, I benefit from being in Rocor.
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2013, 10:43:39 AM »

What Rocor tries to do is preserve intact the traditions ( small t ) as they has been transmitted to them from Russia. Of course the practices in Russia have changed over time, just ask an Old Believer. But if you have faith that The Church has been wise and God Pleasing then that is what you ought to do when in a new country, not change too much.

The central thing is strictness. I have a good friend in the OCA who described Rocor as practicing " That Good Old Foot Throbbing Piety".

That is really good for some people and a barrier to others. It's good to have choices. Personally I would never have converted if I had run into Rocor first. The OCA was perfect for me. Years later, now that I know the ropes a bit more, I benefit from being in Rocor.

I love the ROCOR church in my city. It is where I thought I needed to be when I first moved here. However, for me, the "foot throbbing piety" you speak of is also back pain piety... I simply can't stand that long without my lower back seizing up due to an old injury. Alas...
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« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2013, 11:32:02 AM »

While attending the Sunday of Orthodoxy vespers this year, the presence of ROCOR for the first time locally was noted. It occurred to me that the fact that we Orthodox have a range of practice and liturgical yet we are united in one Faith and dogmatic teaching is amazing. To the outside world these differences are not readily apparent as they lump us together in one "exotic" stew. We tend to overstate those differences and turn them into a barrier.  Within reason, there is room in our faith community to understand and respect those differences.
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« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2013, 07:21:07 PM »

While attending the Sunday of Orthodoxy vespers this year, the presence of ROCOR for the first time locally was noted. It occurred to me that the fact that we Orthodox have a range of practice and liturgical yet we are united in one Faith and dogmatic teaching is amazing. To the outside world these differences are not readily apparent as they lump us together in one "exotic" stew. We tend to overstate those differences and turn them into a barrier.  Within reason, there is room in our faith community to understand and respect those differences.

awesome post, post of the month if you ask me.  I remember the first time the catechumens attended a rural parish (they were coming from a multi ethnic parish).  The priest was from Poland but he was Belarussian. He'd forget the English and just use slavonic.  It was also a soul sat. and they were having a blini dinner for cheesefare.  So the slavonic tripped the catechumens out but they weren't prepared for the choir and priest fight over the panachida. Horrified was their look and I said, ah, this is just how it can be.
The argument was over the fact that the choir didn't want to sing the panachida because they wanted to go start serving lunch.  And the priest said, this is for your departed brothers and sisters.  Ended up with the priest behind the icon screen and fifteen minutes later everyone was fine over at the lunch. 
That maybe a long winded story but it's how life is and goes, and Orthodoxy being Christ's Church attended by man, well, you get different results and well, you get life and its quirks. 
Sometimes I think people want to make church the way they want it to be. If it doesn't feel right or fit some notion then it must be wrong.
Probably any parish that uses any non-English language does it for a reason.  And if there really isn't a reason it's probably just because how it is and has been done and probably best to roll with it. 
My family parish is Ukrainian.  I often wondered why they use Slavonic and insist on it.  Even though Ukrainian is easier to pronounce and a working language.  I thumbed through the archives of the choir and found when they had a formal choir they used Ukrainian mostly and sang parts also in Slavonic.  The ladies now don't remember the Ukrainian but for some reason they can belt out Dotojno Jest like any baba in any village church of Ukrainian heritage throughout the world.  Why? Who knows.  It just is. 
Just think if you learn a little Slavonic you might make friends with the Russians etc.. at coffee hour.  You'll not only know more people in your parish but you'll have new friends and learn a lot from them. 
I've seen so much I could't possibly put it in here.  But its best to go with the flow. 
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« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2013, 07:54:32 PM »

I came across this document the other day http://chicagodiocese.org/files/clericalopenings-spring2012.pdf and thought it relevant to the discussion. You will notice that some of these parishes require an English speaking priest, and some require a Russian speaking priest. They are all in the same diocese in the middle of America. It just goes to show that each parish is unique in its pastoral concerns.
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Joseph
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