Ooh, this'll be long...I love cut and paste...
It was the language of the people in 1st-century times, but spoken languages change, while Koine remained largely static, so if you fast-forward a few hundred years, the two have begun diverging, which divergence only increases as time goes by.
So, logically, I would think, if the first liturgies/sacred texts were written in the language of the people (and not just the elite), then the Church should follow suit as languages develop.
So then, what language should the Orthodox Church of America use? How about the Ethnic Churches in North America, what happens when the younger generations growing up in North America no longer understand their mother tongue?
Standard American English in the US. And, if they're in Latin America, the Spanish that is used in that particular region. And, if in French-speaking Quebec, Canadian French.
Each parish should use the language of the people they serve. If there's a parish in CA that is all Russian imigrants, let them worship in the language they understand! If there is a parish in NJ that has a nearly all greek population, 15% of whom speak greek(and by teh majority also speak English), let them use English with some Greek so no one is listening to what is for them complete gibberish.
Amen, CF! Allowances can be made for substantial percentages of foreign-language-speakers (who, ideally, will be trying to learn English themselves), but the effort should constantly be to move towards a more broadly-accessible language setup.
Unprofitable? Is that the word we use for the Holy Eucharist and other Sacraments of the Church when they are not presented in a manner that falls within the purview of Your intellectual abilities?
Veniamin, I just want to give you kudos for the wonderful job you did of responding to this. To say that we can just show up, receive the Eucharist while understanding nothing, and come away completely edified is just ludicrous. I would be so bold to say that the words of the homily and liturgy are just as important (though not more so) as the Eucharist itself. St. Paul told the Corinthians he would rather speak a few words and be understood than speak many unintelligible words. We'd do well to follow suit.
Shocking as it may sound I agree with GiC here. We believe grace is bestowed through the Mysteria - not that grace comes from comprehension. Otherwise we would stop communing infants.
This is the kind of statement I don't like...and I know, Silouan, you weren't saying here that grace can't
come through comprehension of the spoken word, just that the action of partaking of the Eucharist doesn't have
to be comprehended to derive benefit therefrom...but I have heard some say that grace is bestowed through the Mysteria, so we don't need to have it bestowed through comprehension of the divine services
, and this is just plain wrong, imo. True, infants will receive the grace through the Mysteria of the Eucharist and baptism (my newborn daughter will receive both on Sunday), but as they grow in grace
they have (or should have) the added benefit
of hearing and understanding, so that faith truly can come by hearing the Word of God, not only tasting and seeing.
I will continue to write this opinion until I am blue in the face: The language of the service should be the same as the official language of the country where the service is being held.
I'm with ya', Nick. I like your evaluation of your own "what if" situation here:
Let me ask you this. If I moved lets say to China and I went to an Orthodox Church there, would I expect to find the liturgy in English? NO! I would find it in Chinese and I would have to learn Chinese to make out the words being said during the service even though the service is structurally the same. So if you move to the US, you should expect to find the liturgy in English, not in whatever your native tongue is.
But as for jmbejdl's response:
But what about if the Church were set up by a bunch of English-speaking ex-pats to cater for a community of entirely English-speaking people without one single Chinese member and where the local population has absolutely no Orthodox adherents? Would you still expect the Liturgy in Chinese? That's closer to the original situation of the diaspora churches than your original example.
I would say that it would not be unreasonable to, at first, have services in your native language, because you have only just started a missionary
presence in this new country. What I have seen through personal experience is an immediate effort on the part of the recently-arrived parishioners to learn the native language of the country they have just arrived in and to adapt worship services to this country. The fact that we STILL have groups in the States who exist simply to cater (good word, jmbejdl) to a particular nationality and language is just sad, and shows how many Orthodox have lost the desire to share their faith with others.
I agree (having worshipped in a Greek church where neither the youngsters nor the converts could speak Greek) that this should now begin to change, but the Liturgy should be in the vernacular of the parishioners, not necessarily that of the native population.
Like I said, I agree that this could be allowed at first, but if the parishioners are not themselves making an effort to learn the language of their new country, then they are not giving precendence to making themselves linguistically accessible to others, almost all of whom speak the language of the country.
(Yes, I do think that accessibility of language is ONE (of very few things) we should do to make ourselves more "seeker-friendly" to others...heck, forget "seeker-friendly"; this would just make it "seeker-possible