Do they drop their namesdays and make up a Slava? Should they learn how to make sarma?
Easy question, verbose answer. I’m breaking it down to make it easier to follow and more convenient to pick at my thinking.
This question has been raised before! My first point, before answering your questions, is that Slava is not equivalent to sarma. One is a holy, Serbian Tradition that integrates the life of the Church with the life of the believer and unites the entire family in the Orthodox Faith. Sarma is a traditional food of ethnic Serbs. The two questions are not equal, and I’m not suggesting that you were making them to be.
1. Concerning dropping namedays, the answer is usually no. While I am not free to drop the parts of Serbian praxis I find uncomfortable, I can still maintain the traditions I brought with me to the Serbian church with the help of my priest and community.
e.g. My wife is an ethnic Slovak. She celebrates namedays and still does. Christmas at our home has a decidedly Slovak flavor. The food we make is Slovak, the songs we sing are Slovak or American, but we follow all the guidelines of Serbian praxis. Yes, we go to church and sing Oj Badnjace! Everything we do regarding the faith is discussed with our priest and is integrated into our church.
2. Concerning sarma, one does not have to know how to cook sarma in order to practice Orthodoxy in our daily lives in the way we have been taught by our Serbian Church (praxis). Praxis has nothing to do with diet, except when one does and does not fast and what foods are involved in the fast. Personally, I prefer my wife’s holupki to sarma.
3. I don’t think you quite understood what I was getting at when I mention the OCA. I did so out of a great deal of respect and not in a pejorative way. The OCA has a very important role. I think the OCA is working out the integration of the mess in the Americas in a way that no one else can. What you are describing is part of what the OCA *must* do.
a. I don’t think the OCA has developed a complete “praxis” yet and that is part of this great struggle. America will develop a very unique approach to praxis, a praxis that I will never see completed (for instance, consider the Romanian churches here). What that means to me as a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church is that y’all (sorry, but English needs a distinct second person plural) have a “freedom” in praxis that would be harmful in a Serbian Orthodox setting.
e.g. You don’t have to celebrate Slava or namedays. For my family, without this tradition our family will have an irreparable gap in our praxis.
b. What that means for y’all in the OCA is that your “freedom” of praxis requires a vigilance to ensure you have a complete praxis that integrates Orthodox doctrines and dogma completely to your daily lives, but, because you are so focused on developing praxis, you have fewer problems understanding its meaning and importance.
c. We have to be extremely vigilant in following our praxis because it is very easy for us to surrender to dead traditionalism and not to the living Tradition of our church. That’s why I’m so adamant about maintaining full praxis within “classical” Orthodox traditions because if you tell these folks that something isn’t important then they’ll drop it and five other things.
e.g. Dropping the Slava would do tremendous harm to Serbian Orthodox families and to Serbian Orthodox churches. Oftentimes the conversion of traditionalism to living tradition is how we reinvigorate stagnating parishes.
4. I also mentioned the “Coastal” churches with reference to the older ethnic churches that have become social clubs and add Orthodoxy down to the bottom of their ethno-social list of importance. I did not mention them to discuss or deride the OCA churches.
I call myself Serbian Orthodox because my patriarch is Patriarch Pavle, I was brought into Orthodoxy under this patriarchate and I follow Serbian praxis. It has nothing to do with my ethnicity. Those monikers concern praxis and, sometimes, identification of canonicity.
It is helpful when I visit an Orthodox church to know what to expect. There are certain things in the praxis of a church that alter certain actions when we go into that church. Some find the crossing of arms (sometimes hands) or the placing of hands in pockets to be very disrespectful. Some bow and cross and different times, some have differences in the liturgy. When I go to an Antiochian church, I usually know how to act and what to expect. If I were to go to, say, a Ukrainian church I would make absolutely certain that my wife does not forget her scarf.
When I see “St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church” I know I can go check to make sure this is really an Orthodox Church and not some other group. When I see “St. Olga’s Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church” I have to do some checking. Is this Byzantine Catholic? Is this some other group?
I hate to think of the holy practices of St. Sava and his successors as a flavor at Baskin Robbins. I think it’s much more than that.
Okay guys, pick away! I look forward to hearing your corrections, rebuts and arguments!