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Author Topic: Divine Liturgy celebrated alone  (Read 2755 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jonathan
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« Reply #45 on: August 13, 2013, 10:18:50 PM »

When the Copts came to North America in the 1960's-70;s, they would meet in each others homes and read the Bible together. Very quickly they requested care, and priests were ordained to serve them. Within 50 years there are hundreds of churches, most with multiple priests. Today, when they go to areas that have no church yet, they meet, and they ask a neighbouring priest to come as often as possible, usually once a month on a Saturday since they have to pray in their own church on Sundays, until the community is able to support a priest, and then a priest is ordained for them and they have Liturgy every Sunday and on feast days. Often the Liturgy will be prayed by a visiting priest in a family's home with just the family, or if there are a few other families in the city, with them too. There are some who go to remote areas to work and do not seek the visits of a priest to pray the Liturgy with them. But that is not out of asceticism, it is out of indifference.

This process has nothing to do with asceticism.

In the Liturgy we are united to God and to fellow Christians as we become together the Body of Christ. This is the essence of the Liturgy, that we are members of the Body.  It is not something that can be done alone. Christianity is essentially communal. However, some are also called to a life of solitude. They practice silence, vigil, ceaseless prayer (we are all called to pray without ceasing), and even so they come together once a week for a common Liturgy and teaching. A select few, become hermits, living entirely alone. This is not a denial of Communion or the Body of Christ. They have moved passed the outward form of the Liturgy and live it internally: they are perpetually in Communion with God and united to Him and with other Christians mystically. Many of them are bourn in the Spirit and assemble together for Liturgy, but even if they do not, they are living always with God. This in no way applies to us in the world, not even to most monks in a monastery, we are given the easier means of entering Communion and being Church through the visible Liturgy, though we only benefit from it if we participate internally as well.

There was a period of persecution in Egypt where the doors of the Church were forcibly closed for more than 7 years, and there were no Liturgical services, no weddings, no baptisms, no Eucharist. God can give grace at times like this, but again, this has nothing to do with choosing a life apart from the Eucharist
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 10:20:39 PM by Jonathan » Logged
PoorFoolNicholas
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« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2013, 12:32:08 AM »

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What is a "liturgical center" as opposed to an "area that has been Orthodox for years with no priests available"? 

Jerusalem vs. Bumbleton, Wyoming.
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IoanC
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« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2013, 12:05:44 PM »

...and we have to remember that the priest himself needs the liturgy as well as the congregation. Even if you are not a priest, can't you join the liturgy from wherever you are? Personally, I would.

Does that mean if you're a hermit who's not a priest, you can just celebrate Liturgy alone in your cell with a few animals and birds attending? 

Yes, the priest needs the Liturgy because he's also a member of the Church, but that's precisely it.  He's a member of the Church, and the Liturgy is a public act of the Church's worship.  The whole point is to gather together for worship, not to somehow manage to acquire the mystical powers necessary to transubstantiate bread and wine so that you can avoid human contact in pursuit of noetic prayer. 

If a priest is a hermit and he arranges to receive one or two visitors for the sake of having a Liturgy in the place of his isolation, so be it.  I wouldn't say that is the ideal, but at least it is something.  Otherwise, why shouldn't he come down to the church for the Liturgy?  Why sacrifice orthopraxis for one's notion of prayer?   

Well, no situation is ever the same. Some priests end up hermits and hermits sometimes end up in the world, and everything in between I imagine. Too much emphasis on external rules, as far as I am concerned. What should hermits do? Forget all about the Liturgy. Not all would want that and if you are a priest you'd probably have to recite the Liturgy. 
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Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
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« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2013, 12:12:28 PM »

...and we have to remember that the priest himself needs the liturgy as well as the congregation. Even if you are not a priest, can't you join the liturgy from wherever you are? Personally, I would.

Does that mean if you're a hermit who's not a priest, you can just celebrate Liturgy alone in your cell with a few animals and birds attending? 

Yes, the priest needs the Liturgy because he's also a member of the Church, but that's precisely it.  He's a member of the Church, and the Liturgy is a public act of the Church's worship.  The whole point is to gather together for worship, not to somehow manage to acquire the mystical powers necessary to transubstantiate bread and wine so that you can avoid human contact in pursuit of noetic prayer. 

If a priest is a hermit and he arranges to receive one or two visitors for the sake of having a Liturgy in the place of his isolation, so be it.  I wouldn't say that is the ideal, but at least it is something.  Otherwise, why shouldn't he come down to the church for the Liturgy?  Why sacrifice orthopraxis for one's notion of prayer?   

Well, no situation is ever the same. Some priests end up hermits and hermits sometimes end up in the world, and everything in between I imagine. Too much emphasis on external rules, as far as I am concerned. What should hermits do? Forget all about the Liturgy. Not all would want that and if you are a priest you'd probably have to recite the Liturgy. 

This is not a matter of an "external rule," this is about one of the central tenets of our faith. The 2 (or 3) person minimum is just that--an irreducible minimum.
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« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2013, 12:22:17 PM »

...and we have to remember that the priest himself needs the liturgy as well as the congregation. Even if you are not a priest, can't you join the liturgy from wherever you are? Personally, I would.

Does that mean if you're a hermit who's not a priest, you can just celebrate Liturgy alone in your cell with a few animals and birds attending?  

Yes, the priest needs the Liturgy because he's also a member of the Church, but that's precisely it.  He's a member of the Church, and the Liturgy is a public act of the Church's worship.  The whole point is to gather together for worship, not to somehow manage to acquire the mystical powers necessary to transubstantiate bread and wine so that you can avoid human contact in pursuit of noetic prayer.  

If a priest is a hermit and he arranges to receive one or two visitors for the sake of having a Liturgy in the place of his isolation, so be it.  I wouldn't say that is the ideal, but at least it is something.  Otherwise, why shouldn't he come down to the church for the Liturgy?  Why sacrifice orthopraxis for one's notion of prayer?    

Well, no situation is ever the same. Some priests end up hermits and hermits sometimes end up in the world, and everything in between I imagine. Too much emphasis on external rules, as far as I am concerned. What should hermits do? Forget all about the Liturgy. Not all would want that and if you are a priest you'd probably have to recite the Liturgy.  

This is not a matter of an "external rule," this is about one of the central tenets of our faith. The 2 (or 3) person minimum is just that--an irreducible minimum.

What if you don't have that minimum because you are in the wilderness? You don't have a right to the Liturgy? The minimum is for the case of being in a community (it would look insane to serve by yourself).
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 12:22:42 PM by IoanC » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: August 14, 2013, 12:29:52 PM »

What if you don't have that minimum because you are in the wilderness? You don't have a right to the Liturgy? The minimum is for the case of being in a community (it would look insane to serve by yourself).

Can any of us really claim to have a right to the Liturgy? The Liturgy is our service to God, not to each other; and it's certainly not God's service to us.
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« Reply #51 on: August 14, 2013, 12:56:00 PM »

What if you don't have that minimum because you are in the wilderness? You don't have a right to the Liturgy? The minimum is for the case of being in a community (it would look insane to serve by yourself).

Can any of us really claim to have a right to the Liturgy? The Liturgy is our service to God, not to each other; and it's certainly not God's service to us.

The Liturgy is God's gift to us. We need the Liturgy, not God. And, it is through God's care ("service") that we are able to have the Liturgy.
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« Reply #52 on: August 14, 2013, 01:18:03 PM »

What if you don't have that minimum because you are in the wilderness? You don't have a right to the Liturgy? The minimum is for the case of being in a community (it would look insane to serve by yourself).

Hi IoanC,

It does not follow that because he has the grace of priestly ordination, a priest-hermit has a "right" to the Liturgy any more than a deacon-hermit or an unordained monk-hermit.  Even if he "lives apart" from the rest of the community for more solitude and communion with God, he's not a man unto himself.  He is still part of the Church, and needs the Church.  

Especially in monastic life, but also in general, one's priesthood is not one's own, but is a gift put at the service of the community.  You don't become a monk and then decide you want to be a priest.  You become a monk, and if the community needs a priest and you are called to accept that obedience, then you are ordained.  You don't serve when you want, you serve when you are needed and as directed.  It is aways at the service of the Church, and not of one's self.  Any monk knows that, any priest knows that, and therefore any hermit would know that before embracing that call and being blessed to accept it.  

It's not a matter of too much emphasis on external rules.  Really, what we do liturgically is a reflection of our ecclesiology.  When St Ignatius of Antioch describes the Catholic Church, he describes what we'd call the "hierarchical Liturgy".  If the Liturgy is always a reflection of the Church, how can one ever do that on one's own?  The bare minimum of two or three for Liturgy is, as someone else said, an irreducible minimum because Liturgy realises and actualises the Church.  You admit that it would be insane to serve the Liturgy alone within a community, but you think it should be acceptable for a hermit in the wilderness.  But you're assuming that the hermit has left the community: he has not left the "liturgising community" (the Church), the community within which the Liturgy is celebrated, the "assembly" which is called together for that purpose, but rather has merely secluded himself from the monastic brotherhood and from the society of others for the purpose of greater silence and solitude and communion with God.

When I was in school, I remember a professor discussing one of the Byzantine stichera for Great Vespers of Palm Sunday:

Quote
Today the grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together, and taking up the Cross we all say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!’

IIRC, he explained the origin of this hymn, and specifically of the bolded part, in terms of the return of the hermits from the desert to the monastery for Holy Week and Pascha.  In other words, the entire brotherhood was present, and that was a cause for joy in the Spirit.  That would sound silly if they were there last Sunday, and on Wednesday/Friday for the Presanctified Liturgy, etc.  But it was the case that people went out into the wilderness and came back.  Why would you need to do that if you could just serve the Liturgy on your own?  If you follow the Orthodox rule, then at least the "violation" of solitude is for the Liturgy and prayer.  But if you follow your own idea, what justification could there be for leaving one's isolation except "indulgence"?                  
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« Reply #53 on: August 26, 2013, 03:14:43 AM »

If the only people present for a Divine Liturgy are two priests, or a priest and a deacon, could one the deacon or the second priest not serve, but stand in for the faithful?

I can't speak for the Byzantine rite, though I suppose the answer would be "yes".

In our tradition, three are needed: obviously you need a priest, and you need a congregation, but you need a deacon, or one that can stand in for the deacon.  You can't just have Liturgy without a deacon or a stand-in for the deacon.  At least that's how I recall being taught.  I'm sure in a pinch two will work, but at that point I think convenience takes over.  

Twice I was being a pretend-deacon with my priest at weekdays, and no one showed up. So when there was no one there to answer back that they were lifting up their hearts to the Lord, we sat and waited for a while, then went home with no offering having been made.

What did you then do with the Lamb?
Also, did you know that was going to happen when you reached that point or did the priest stop you when you tried to say "we have them with The Lord"?
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hecma925
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« Reply #54 on: August 26, 2013, 08:06:17 AM »

If the only people present for a Divine Liturgy are two priests, or a priest and a deacon, could one the deacon or the second priest not serve, but stand in for the faithful?

I can't speak for the Byzantine rite, though I suppose the answer would be "yes".

In our tradition, three are needed: obviously you need a priest, and you need a congregation, but you need a deacon, or one that can stand in for the deacon.  You can't just have Liturgy without a deacon or a stand-in for the deacon.  At least that's how I recall being taught.  I'm sure in a pinch two will work, but at that point I think convenience takes over.  

Twice I was being a pretend-deacon with my priest at weekdays, and no one showed up. So when there was no one there to answer back that they were lifting up their hearts to the Lord, we sat and waited for a while, then went home with no offering having been made.

What did you then do with the Lamb?
Also, did you know that was going to happen when you reached that point or did the priest stop you when you tried to say "we have them with The Lord"?
Liturgy can be done without a deacon.  Bare minimum of participants would be 2 people: the priest and one person for responses.  If all that showed up were the priest and deacon, the deacon would stand in as reader/choir.
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« Reply #55 on: August 26, 2013, 08:40:27 AM »

If the only people present for a Divine Liturgy are two priests, or a priest and a deacon, could one the deacon or the second priest not serve, but stand in for the faithful?

I can't speak for the Byzantine rite, though I suppose the answer would be "yes".

In our tradition, three are needed: obviously you need a priest, and you need a congregation, but you need a deacon, or one that can stand in for the deacon.  You can't just have Liturgy without a deacon or a stand-in for the deacon.  At least that's how I recall being taught.  I'm sure in a pinch two will work, but at that point I think convenience takes over.  

Twice I was being a pretend-deacon with my priest at weekdays, and no one showed up. So when there was no one there to answer back that they were lifting up their hearts to the Lord, we sat and waited for a while, then went home with no offering having been made.

What did you then do with the Lamb?
Also, did you know that was going to happen when you reached that point or did the priest stop you when you tried to say "we have them with The Lord"?
Liturgy can be done without a deacon.  Bare minimum of participants would be 2 people: the priest and one person for responses.  If all that showed up were the priest and deacon, the deacon would stand in as reader/choir.

I think qawe and Jonathan are speaking with respect to the Coptic rite, which I assume requires 3 people: Priest, Deacon, and Laity.
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« Reply #56 on: August 26, 2013, 08:57:38 AM »

If the only people present for a Divine Liturgy are two priests, or a priest and a deacon, could one the deacon or the second priest not serve, but stand in for the faithful?

I can't speak for the Byzantine rite, though I suppose the answer would be "yes".

In our tradition, three are needed: obviously you need a priest, and you need a congregation, but you need a deacon, or one that can stand in for the deacon.  You can't just have Liturgy without a deacon or a stand-in for the deacon.  At least that's how I recall being taught.  I'm sure in a pinch two will work, but at that point I think convenience takes over.  

Twice I was being a pretend-deacon with my priest at weekdays, and no one showed up. So when there was no one there to answer back that they were lifting up their hearts to the Lord, we sat and waited for a while, then went home with no offering having been made.

What did you then do with the Lamb?
Also, did you know that was going to happen when you reached that point or did the priest stop you when you tried to say "we have them with The Lord"?
Liturgy can be done without a deacon.  Bare minimum of participants would be 2 people: the priest and one person for responses.  If all that showed up were the priest and deacon, the deacon would stand in as reader/choir.

I think qawe and Jonathan are speaking with respect to the Coptic rite, which I assume requires 3 people: Priest, Deacon, and Laity.

Very good.  My apologies if I offended.
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« Reply #57 on: August 26, 2013, 01:31:40 PM »

No I don't think the DL can begin without another present. I recall several years ago that I arrived for a service before anyone else - and it was already a couple of minutes past the scheduled hour to begin - the priest was relieved and dragged me to the chanter's stand, even though I had only recently been chrismated and had never before attended that particular service.

Something similar happened to me last year.  I was living in an area where Oriental parishes were few and far between, and I had to figure out where to attend Liturgy on Holy Thursday.  I decided on an Armenian parish: the parish schedule said it started at 10am, so I figured I could make it there with the long commute.  When I arrived about fifteen minutes late, the priest was standing in the church alone.  When he saw me, he ran up and gave me a big hug and said that, because the time is inconvenient for people's work schedules, no one showed up, and so he was worried he wouldn't be able to liturgize, and so he prayed that God would send him someone, and apparently God sent me.  I told him he should have prayed harder, and he might've gotten an Armenian instead of a clueless Indian.  Smiley  Anyway, we served the Liturgy together, just the two of us.  Liturgically not as smooth as a normal Sunday Liturgy would've been with deacons and choir, but it was a sublime experience.  Rarely have I seen a priest commune with such compunction. 

He was new to the parish (less than half a year there, I think), so he just did the schedule the way he was told it was done last year.  I suggested that he might try an early morning Liturgy next year that would end in time for people to go to work and see if that would work out better. 

Re: the original post, I suspect that when the article says St Theophan served alone, it means he served with one person to assist him or at least be present.  That "cell attendant" could be the one. 
This is a really cool story!  I would love to be a part of something like that.  What an excellent testimony of love on the part of that priest (and of you too, but I don't want to give you a big head.  Grin)
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« Reply #58 on: August 27, 2013, 07:12:33 PM »

I would like to be able to be present at a celebration of the liturgy during the week, but most parishes probably don't do that because the only staff that they have is a priest and a deacon, in the best case. There would have to be a 3rd person there to warrant celebrating a liturgy, if not a small group of people. Anyhow, daily observances are quieter and more reverent than Sunday and feastday liturgies.
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