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Offline PJ26

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My experience in GOA so far
« on: April 29, 2018, 02:38:01 PM »
Well, I’ve been attending a GOA parish for going on a year now having previously attended a ROCOR parish.  I expected it to be less strict but I’ve been pretty stunned especially by the pastor. 

There’s no Confession.  I mean I’ve asked to go and he’s obliged me but I think I’ve heard him mention it in a homily maybe twice and then only generally and dismissively.  There are no scheduled Confession times.  As a Catholic and now as an Orthodox Christian, the parishes I have attended always had scheduled Confession times, generally on Saturday evening, but if you couldn’t make it then, the priest, Catholic or Orthodox, would bend over backwards to accommodate the penitent on Sunday or even during the week. 

Same with fasting.  No mention of the fasting guidelines prior to Dormition or Nativity - not even during Great Lent.  And at one of the parish meals during Great Lent he even said that he would bring the Parmesan cheese. 

He communed a visiting Catholic woman.  He has said things like it’s not important what pronouns one uses when referring to God; that if you don’t believe that you are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ when you commune then you are just receiving bread and wine.  He has talked about the “Catholic” saint Augustine (the Church Father, not the Archbishop of Canterbury) and called Arius a bishop (that was just annoying).  He has lamented that we don’t have the exchange of peace after the Our Father the way Catholic and Protestant parishes do.  If you try to raise his hand to kiss it, he will forcefully hold it down.  He has criticized our hierarchs as being arrogant.  He has said he’s committed to making our parish a “progressive” one.  I have no idea what that means.  And other things. 

I don’t know.  Is this typical of a GOA parish?  I’m trying to think positively.  I’m still so thankful that I found Orthodoxy and that I’m not in some war torn area where it’s a struggle to even practice one’s faith.  I don’t want to be some “hyperdox” convert, but I’m struggling with some “this isn’t what I signed up for” feelings.  There’s a Serbian parish about two hours away.  But I couldn’t go every week like I can now and there would be some expense involved. 

Thoughts?

Offline Antonis

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2018, 03:42:21 PM »
I wouldn't say this is typical, but it is not unusual. In any case, it is very unfortunate. I would say, for the time being, at least you have the sacraments.
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Offline Antonis

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2018, 03:52:13 PM »
A small consolation: I believe things are getting better.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2018, 04:23:56 PM »
I don't think your experience is typical but it is definitely not unheard of.  There are many priests who, for whatever reason, don't seem to much care for the traditions of the church, whether doctrinal and/or in practice.  And it's not just in the GOA.  However, with some of your observations, I wouldn't necessarily say that your priest's lack of mentioning them in a homily or in a note is because he disagrees with them or finds them to be unimportant but maybe these are things that are just taken for granted or understood by the parishioners.  Who knows? 

I would also say that you coming off as "hyperdox" doesn't mean you are NOT in need of pastoral care. Whenever the phrase "pastoral care" is put out there, it only seems to concern itself for the needs of the not-so-observant, but even the traditionalists need pastoral care, too so don't feel like you just have to accept it.  You need pastoral care for your needs.  Tell your priest that.  What's the worst he could say?
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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2018, 04:33:40 PM »
1. I'm surprised by "no confession".
2. Fasting - well, at least in Polish tradition, it's pretty common to see at Great Lent and Nativity Fast Sundays (plus weekdays of the Apostles Fast and Dormition) cheese and milk at parish/believers tables, but it's of some historical and country-circumstances reasons.
3. Maybe the story of this Catholic ("Catholic"?) woman is not so obvious? It's better not to judge, but to justify the acts (not thinking ofc).
One of the most influential Polish Orthodox priests, that teaches history of the Church at Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw, claims that Nestorius was only victim of some battles between Constantinople and Rome (plus Antioch and Alexandria). And that he was no heretic. It's quite ridiculous, as he's very anti Dioscuros.
4. Exchange of peace, or rather kiss of peace - that's really something to lament, as it should be done at every Liturgy, but not after Our Father, but before the Creed. And it's ridiculous that heterodox have maintaed it, while most of Orthodox don't (except special occassions, like Sunday of Forgivness).
5. My priest - and I know a few others, sometimes even one of our bishops - also raise hands to avoid kissing them, as an act of humility (or rather: trying reach it).

Again: even if some things seem to be bad, try not to judge, as it's a great and dangerous sin, especially in the name of Orthodoxy and righteousness. I know it very well, as it's my problem ;)
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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2018, 04:39:53 PM »
We don't have scheduled confession times in my church and we deal with it just fine (we just go to our respective confessor in proper moments and ask), the exchange of peace does happen in some very Orthodox parishes (but before the Creed), thinking Arius was a bishop isn't a big deal and some clergy just don't like to have their hand venerated, but some things there sound very very wrong... Specially his disregard for the Eucharist. He shouldn't have become a priest if he doesn't even believe in priesthood essentially. You're not being Hyperdox in your general distaste, you're just being Orthodox.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2018, 04:41:16 PM by RaphaCam »
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Offline biro

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2018, 04:41:19 PM »
I'm sorry you've had these experiences.

My parish doesn't have regular confession times either, but it is generally acceptable for anyone to either drop by the office on Saturday morning, or else schedule a confession for another time.

Hopefully, it gets better for you.
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Offline PJ26

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2018, 08:00:42 PM »
Can someone answer this question for me?

My personal preference would be to go to a ROCOR parish though present circumstances make that very difficult.  If, and I know it’s still an if, the EP were to establish an autocephalous jurisdiction in the Ukraine that led to the MP excommunicating Constantinople, by continuing to attend and commune in a GOA parish, would I be breaking communion on a personal level with the MP?  Would I need to find a parish like the Serbian one still in communion with the MP?  Or is the excommunication just on a hierarchical level and things just proceed as normal for the average Orthodox?  So this Sunday, I commune in my local GOA parish, but next Sunday I’m traveling to a city with a ROCOR parish and I can commune no problem?

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2018, 08:10:57 PM »
Can someone answer this question for me?

My personal preference would be to go to a ROCOR parish though present circumstances make that very difficult.  If, and I know it’s still an if, the EP were to establish an autocephalous jurisdiction in the Ukraine that led to the MP excommunicating Constantinople, by continuing to attend and commune in a GOA parish, would I be breaking communion on a personal level with the MP?  Would I need to find a parish like the Serbian one still in communion with the MP?  Or is the excommunication just on a hierarchical level and things just proceed as normal for the average Orthodox?  So this Sunday, I commune in my local GOA parish, but next Sunday I’m traveling to a city with a ROCOR parish and I can commune no problem?

Why is being in communion with the MP so import to you? I mean, Antioch and Jerusalem aren't in communion right now, but I doubt it makes a difference to most Antiochians.
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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2018, 08:17:10 PM »
Regularly scheduled confession seems to be anathema in the Greek church.   ;)

My priest said he tried putting Confession on the schedule once years ago, and ended up being there until midnight. Seems like an exaggeration, but I suppose it's possible, if he tried doing Vespers then Confessions, and everyone who wanted to confess showed up right then, and he wanted to spend half an hour talking to each penitent uncovering their root passions?

As it is, it's by appointment, and you should probably block out at least half an hour for it.

Regarding the Kiss of Peace, I know of one Greek and one Antiochian parish that have it, but not mine. I thought it was a bit modernist, but actually I know nothing.   :-\

Again: even if some things seem to be bad, try not to judge, as it's a great and dangerous sin, especially in the name of Orthodoxy and righteousness. I know it very well, as it's my problem ;)
Seconded. My priest basically says it's the worst sin.
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2018, 08:48:53 PM »
If, and I know it’s still an if, the EP were to establish an autocephalous jurisdiction in the Ukraine that led to the MP excommunicating Constantinople, by continuing to attend and commune in a GOA parish, would I be breaking communion on a personal level with the MP?  Would I need to find a parish like the Serbian one still in communion with the MP?  Or is the excommunication just on a hierarchical level and things just proceed as normal for the average Orthodox?  So this Sunday, I commune in my local GOA parish, but next Sunday I’m traveling to a city with a ROCOR parish and I can commune no problem?
Sounds like an impediment to me, but it's a very difficult question you might rather try to directly ask your bishop, unless some other orientation comes after this misfortune (which would be probable).
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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2018, 10:53:44 PM »
If, and I know it’s still an if, the EP were to establish an autocephalous jurisdiction in the Ukraine that led to the MP excommunicating Constantinople, by continuing to attend and commune in a GOA parish, would I be breaking communion on a personal level with the MP?  Would I need to find a parish like the Serbian one still in communion with the MP?  Or is the excommunication just on a hierarchical level and things just proceed as normal for the average Orthodox?  So this Sunday, I commune in my local GOA parish, but next Sunday I’m traveling to a city with a ROCOR parish and I can commune no problem?
Sounds like an impediment to me, but it's a very difficult question you might rather try to directly ask your bishop, unless some other orientation comes after this misfortune (which would be probable).
Another (hopefully less difficult) question:

I'm not sure that going to a parish of a different jurisdiction than the one you were received/baptized/chrismated by, automagically means your bishop is now that of the new parish. Until you write your original bishop for a formal transfer?
Quote from: Michael, Pope of Rome
We should fortify ourselves with the truths of the Faith. Our main focus should be to become saints. Unfortunately some spend much of their time in either trying to sort things out or what is worse, trying to convince the world that they are right. If we all aim at sanctifying ourselves, God will intervene and He will straighten things out. We cannot do it without Him.

Offline MariaJLM

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2018, 02:09:24 AM »
Sounds like an unusual case to me. I occasionally go the local Greek church and I've never heard of anything like this occurring there. I've heard of the opposite extreme in the local ROCOR church though, a terminally ill woman being kicked out in the middle of winter for not wearing a skirt(my parish ended up having to bury her when she died because ROCOR would not). Essentially, I think a lot of these weird differences between churches depends largely on the priest(s) presiding over the parish.

Offline Apostolos

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2018, 05:59:30 AM »
So, is anyone from the States able to explain to a Greek native, how can a Church stricter and more conservative than ROCOR (I'm talking about the Greek Church in the old country), becomes GOARCH i.e. the bastion of liberalism (with the European meaning of the term, libertarian?) in America? (from what I hear or read, I have no personal experience, obviously).
I mean that's a looong distance to cover, has anyone conducted a GOARCH sociological study?   
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Offline Agabus

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2018, 09:57:08 AM »
So, is anyone from the States able to explain to a Greek native, how can a Church stricter and more conservative than ROCOR (I'm talking about the Greek Church in the old country), becomes GOARCH i.e. the bastion of liberalism (with the European meaning of the term, libertarian?) in America? (from what I hear or read, I have no personal experience, obviously).
I mean that's a looong distance to cover, has anyone conducted a GOARCH sociological study?   

The short answer is because America is not the old country and the prevailing culture is not one of strict Orthodoxy. There's a lot of second/third generation assimilation into a very different zeitgeist, etc., which is probably inevitable. It's easy for everybody to acknowledge these pious, strict received traditions when they and all their neighbors have a granny to smack their hands in church, but when you're the only Greek kid in the neighborhood and church is just as much the place you go to Hellenic Society as anything else, it's really easy to slide.

The long answer is probably much, much longer.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 09:57:37 AM by Agabus »
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Offline Rubricnigel

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2018, 10:29:27 AM »
So, is anyone from the States able to explain to a Greek native, how can a Church stricter and more conservative than ROCOR (I'm talking about the Greek Church in the old country), becomes GOARCH i.e. the bastion of liberalism (with the European meaning of the term, libertarian?) in America? (from what I hear or read, I have no personal experience, obviously).
I mean that's a looong distance to cover, has anyone conducted a GOARCH sociological study?   

Im interested in your more conservative version, can you explain more?
Im a recent member and only know the greek oc here in america, and some memebers are very liberal while some (older greeks, russians) arent. Whats a conservative greek hurch like in Greece  (i assume you live rhere)
Thanks

Offline IreneOlinyk

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2018, 05:08:42 PM »
So, is anyone from the States able to explain to a Greek native, how can a Church stricter and more conservative than ROCOR (I'm talking about the Greek Church in the old country), becomes GOARCH i.e. the bastion of liberalism (with the European meaning of the term, libertarian?) in America? (from what I hear or read, I have no personal experience, obviously).
I mean that's a looong distance to cover, has anyone conducted a GOARCH sociological study?   

Im interested in your more conservative version, can you explain more?
Im a recent member and only know the greek oc here in america, and some memebers are very liberal while some (older greeks, russians) arent. Whats a conservative greek hurch like in Greece  (i assume you live rhere)
Thanks

Are there any "conservative" churches (I assume you mean parishes) in Greece itself?  I have only heard of the old calendar Greek jurisdiction considered "conservative" in Greece.  The official Church of Greece is the same as GOARCH.

Until I went to university and met some Greek Orthodox Christians I just assumed that the Greeks required or practised private confessions just as in my jurisdiction but found out this is not true.  Most of the students I met said they had just never experienced a private confession in Greece or in Canada and the same with their parents.  The prof who taught the course on the Orthodox Church for the Department of Religion was a Greek himself & told me private confession has not been the norm in Greece for centuries. 
Regarding the fast: the Greeks (at least officially) do not eat eggs or other dairy products during Lent.  That is on their web sites & in the parish bulletins.

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 06:06:29 PM »
The official Church of Greece is the same as GOARCH.

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Offline Antonis

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2018, 08:23:40 PM »
So, is anyone from the States able to explain to a Greek native, how can a Church stricter and more conservative than ROCOR (I'm talking about the Greek Church in the old country), becomes GOARCH i.e. the bastion of liberalism (with the European meaning of the term, libertarian?) in America? (from what I hear or read, I have no personal experience, obviously).
I mean that's a looong distance to cover, has anyone conducted a GOARCH sociological study?   
Hi, Apostolos,

I would love to see such a thing, but I fear, if it were honest, it would be too severe an indictment to ever be published.

I think there are a number of variables. On the grassroots, I've heard an interesting supposition that the Greeks who were coming to America for income were likely to have a different character than those that cherished their homeland with its history, faith, monasteries, relics, etc., and couldn't bear to be separated from these. This is supported by the nature of early, pre-episcopal Greek-American congregations, which were basically run by successful moguls with a revolving door of priests based on who would obey their commands. In my anecdotal experience, this is more true of certain waves of immigrants than others. I'm not sure how seriously I take the claim on the whole, but I feel most comfortable in those few parishes of more recent off-the-boat immigrants, where there is more organic piety, more traditional church structures and music, usually an off-the-boat priest, and (seemingly) less greed. Greek-American Orthodoxy very often lacks any perceptible faithful ethos, in my experience. I don't know, perhaps I'm jaded.

On the clerical level, I think it was to our spiritual detriment that we found ourselves under Constantinople, which has been concerned primarily with preserving its image on the world stage and the Ottoman institution itself. Constantinople and its titular hierarchs like to make a big deal (sometimes with shouting and condescension) about how much we need the stability of the mother church, but it is in many ways little more than a clerical-historical-academic fraternity. The pious hierarchs of that synod have been sent to missionary sees (thank God!).

The hierarchical heroes of Greek-American Orthodoxy, most notably Archbishop-then-Patriarch Athenagoras, expressed views which are, even to an ecclesiastical moderate, quite horrifying. These "New Holy Hierarchs" make up a solid chunk of Sunday School curricula and official Archdiocese lingo. It is its own sort of religion.

Related to that, even though the portion of our budget that goes to Constantinople is relatively small for us, it is nevertheless very important to the Mother Church, and it is also supported by the private donations of wealthy Greeks who are courted by a few (or less) mafioso clergy. They hold influence. They can be bishop makers-or-breakers. The former Archbishop Spyridon had his problems, but they probably would've been tolerated had he not upset the powers-that-be. He was a perceived threat, and he was turned on just like Archbishop Iakovos.

There are generations of clergy that were hardly Orthodox and this was permitted, even encouraged by seminary professors. Traditional piety in many (maybe most?) places almost ceased to exist. Very little confession or eucharist-centered teaching, and usually very few services outside of Sundays and Holy Week. Popular Protestant homilies preached from the pulpit, charismatic preaching, and the persecution of more traditionally-minded clergy such as Fr. George Florovsky (that's right!), Fr. John Romanides, and the monasteries today, among others in the past. This is definitely getting better with time.

There's probably a lot more that could be said, but that's what comes to mind right now.

« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 08:28:20 PM by Antonis »
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Offline Antonis

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2018, 08:56:36 PM »
I would just like to add that I hope I do not offend anyone who has an attachment to the GOA. For all its faults, I am attached to our Archdiocese, I love it dearly, and I wish only the best for it and for the Patriarchate. I just think the best way to move forward is to be as honest as possible. I think I am relatively well-informed, but am definitely open to correction if someone feels otherwise about the situation or has contrary information.
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Offline Apostolos

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2018, 06:27:33 AM »
Thanks Antonis & Agabus, very interesting analyses.
@IreneOlinyk
What do you mean by "private confession" & that your friends & the prof "had just never experienced a private confession in Greece or in Canada and the same with their parents" (sic)?
Secondly, your definition of a conservative Church is based on the use of calendar?
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Πρῶτος παρ'ἡμῶν εὐλογείσθω τοῖς λόγοις.
Τὰ πρῶτα πρῶτε τῶν καλῶν λαχῶν φέρεις
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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2018, 06:31:25 AM »
Secondly, your definition of a conservative Church is based on the use of calendar?

I suspect it's at least 90% calendar and headcoverings. (Who's going to tell them? ;D)
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Offline IreneOlinyk

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2018, 09:31:03 AM »
Thanks Antonis & Agabus, very interesting analyses.
@IreneOlinyk
What do you mean by "private confession" & that your friends & the prof "had just never experienced a private confession in Greece or in Canada and the same with their parents" (sic)?
Secondly, your definition of a conservative Church is based on the use of calendar?

By "private confession" I mean an individual confession with one individual confessioning to a priest and receiving absolution as an individual.

Secondly I did not provide a definition of a conservative church just as the original poster did not provide his definition of a conservative church. 

Offline Apostolos

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2018, 11:46:26 AM »
By "private confession" I mean an individual confession with one individual confessioning to a priest and receiving absolution as an individual.
So, the professor told you that there's no individual confessioning in Greece? for centuries? are you sure the professor is Greek? because his/her claim is totally absurd. The only way a priest hears confessions in Greece is privately. In fact we take confession so much seriously, that being a father-confessor is an office here (or offikion if you prefer the Byzantine nomenclature) commissioned to experienced priests by the local bishop (so, no inexperienced 30-something extra-zealous hyperdox confessor).
Secondly I did not provide a definition of a conservative church just as the original poster did not provide his definition of a conservative church.
And what defines a conservative church by your standards, if I may ask?
The official Church of Greece is the same as GOARCH
I'm sorry if you believe that. Definitely no.
Ἦχος Πρῶτος

Τέχνη μελουργός, σούς ἀγασθεῖσα κρότους
Πρώτην νέμει σοὶ τάξιν, ὦ τῆς ἀξίας
Ἦχος ὁ πρῶτος μουσική κληθείς τέχνη
Πρῶτος παρ'ἡμῶν εὐλογείσθω τοῖς λόγοις.
Τὰ πρῶτα πρῶτε τῶν καλῶν λαχῶν φέρεις
Πρωτεῖα νίκης πανταχοῦ πάντων ἔχεις.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2018, 11:50:00 AM »
PJ26:

There were some areas in the US where confession was altogether unknown until 30-40 years ago; the clergy were busy trying to get their people to recognize the importance of sacramental participation before working on things like confession.  We've seen a change (at least in our Metropolis) over the last 30 years thanks to Camp and youth programs, where kids were able to learn about confession and participate in it from a young age (8 or 9).  As successive generations come, the percentage of those who seek confession at least semi-annually (if not more often) increases.

Adherence to fasting seems to depend mostly on how strictly one's parents fasted.  I've found families who didn't seem particularly religious who fasted strictly for the four major fasts, and others who didn't.  We do still have holdovers who don't fast for most of the year, then strictly fast during Great Lent, and very strictly in Holy Week, to prepare for their 1-2 communions in Holy Week (and they don't generally commune the rest of the year).

The other stuff (re: communing a Catholic, pronouns, etc.) - uncommon.  The Archdiocese is large enough with enough clergy that we do have a few odd birds who seem to fly under the radar while holding those beliefs.  A priest knowingly communing a Roman Catholic is doing so without his Hierarch's blessing or permission and can be suspended or defrocked for doing that.  The kiss of peace is not a Catholic thing, it was our thing too; in the Great Church it could take a considerable amount of time.  Arrogance is not unique to hierarchy - there are arrogant paupers, too. 

I think you're right in being scandalized by some of the above. 
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Offline jah777

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2018, 02:33:07 PM »
There were some areas in the US where confession was altogether unknown until 30-40 years ago; the clergy were busy trying to get their people to recognize the importance of sacramental participation before working on things like confession.

It is a great scandal for confession to be separated so much from Holy Communion.  That is not to say that one must always go to confession before receiving Holy Communion, as some in Slavic churches teach, but the same Kollyvades Fathers which labored to encourage frequent communion also emphasized proper preparation through Confession and penances.  St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, for instance, is widely regarded for speaking so highly of the importance of frequent communion, yet he is also the author and compiler of the Exomologetarion (Manual of Confession) with its disciplinary canons and guides to confession and spiritual fatherhood.  It is very sad that clergy are not teaching people how to prepare, how to confess, and the importance of the epitemias (penances) in bringing us to repentance and helping us to properly prepare.  Even where confession is frequently advocated, penances are disregarded almost completely, and the faithful wonder why they cannot overcome their passions. 

Offline jah777

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2018, 02:38:00 PM »
I don’t know.  Is this typical of a GOA parish?

As others have said, it is not unusual for GOA clergy to not speak of confession or encourage fasting.  It is very sad, but common. 

I, too, attend a GOA parish and was formerly in ROCOR. There is much from our ROCOR parish that I really miss but we moved several hundred miles and no longer have such a parish near me.  While the parishes in the GOA may not be the best, the monasteries in the GOA are.  If you find a good spiritual father who can guide you according to the Fathers and help you to confess, repent, and make progress in the spiritual struggle; then it doesn't matter what Orthodox parish you attend in order to worship God and receive the Holy Mysteries.  Find a good spiritual father, and everything else will fall into place.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2018, 02:45:30 PM »
There were some areas in the US where confession was altogether unknown until 30-40 years ago; the clergy were busy trying to get their people to recognize the importance of sacramental participation before working on things like confession.

It is a great scandal for confession to be separated so much from Holy Communion.  That is not to say that one must always go to confession before receiving Holy Communion, as some in Slavic churches teach, but the same Kollyvades Fathers which labored to encourage frequent communion also emphasized proper preparation through Confession and penances.  St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, for instance, is widely regarded for speaking so highly of the importance of frequent communion, yet he is also the author and compiler of the Exomologetarion (Manual of Confession) with its disciplinary canons and guides to confession and spiritual fatherhood.  It is very sad that clergy are not teaching people how to prepare, how to confess, and the importance of the epitemias (penances) in bringing us to repentance and helping us to properly prepare.  Even where confession is frequently advocated, penances are disregarded almost completely, and the faithful wonder why they cannot overcome their passions.   

I think one of the challenges that faces us is not understanding the differentiation between true "spiritual fatherhood" and being a confessor.  The latter is to be a sacramental functionary - hearing confessions & providing epitimia for the more serious offenses; the former is to dive into the mind and heart, to probe the soul, to discuss the thoughts and intentions.  The former is practiced par excellence by the Abbot with his brothers, since he is able to see their day-to-day lives and is able to compassionately minister to them very frequently (and this is all founded on the solid bedrock of obedience). 

The former, if practiced by those with neither the skills (developed by study) nor charisma (imbued by the Spirit), is malpractice.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2018, 02:52:06 PM »
On the clerical level, I think it was to our spiritual detriment that we found ourselves under Constantinople, which has been concerned primarily with preserving its image on the world stage and the Ottoman institution itself. Constantinople and its titular hierarchs like to make a big deal (sometimes with shouting and condescension) about how much we need the stability of the mother church, but it is in many ways little more than a clerical-historical-academic fraternity. The pious hierarchs of that synod have been sent to missionary sees (thank God!). 

I'm not sure that the attachment to the EP has affected the spirituality here as much as you may think it does.  Most of our hierarchs of the last 40 years have been US born and educated, and those beforehand often had visionary ministries (like Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos of blessed memory, who was a bishop here in Pittsburgh for a decade).

The hierarchical heroes of Greek-American Orthodoxy, most notably Archbishop-then-Patriarch Athenagoras, expressed views which are, even to an ecclesiastical moderate, quite horrifying. These "New Holy Hierarchs" make up a solid chunk of Sunday School curricula and official Archdiocese lingo. It is its own sort of religion. 

I'm not sure that this is entirely accurate, either (or, at least, not normative for the last 20+ years).

Related to that, even though the portion of our budget that goes to Constantinople is relatively small for us, it is nevertheless very important to the Mother Church, and it is also supported by the private donations of wealthy Greeks who are courted by a few (or less) mafioso clergy. They hold influence. They can be bishop makers-or-breakers. The former Archbishop Spyridon had his problems, but they probably would've been tolerated had he not upset the powers-that-be. He was a perceived threat, and he was turned on just like Archbishop Iakovos.

I want to be careful in this type of discussion.  Those who attempt to use this type of will or influence to turn the fate of the Archdiocese are, generally speaking, very few - I have spare digits on one hand after counting them.  The Archdiocese has survived in large part because the majority of its clergy and laity are not influenced / directly affected by them.  The 30-50 year priests in parishes had more influence than either of the listed Archbishops on the parishioners of said parishes.

There are generations of clergy that were hardly Orthodox and this was permitted, even encouraged by seminary professors. Traditional piety in many (maybe most?) places almost ceased to exist. Very little confession or eucharist-centered teaching, and usually very few services outside of Sundays and Holy Week. Popular Protestant homilies preached from the pulpit, charismatic preaching, and the persecution of more traditionally-minded clergy such as Fr. George Florovsky (that's right!), Fr. John Romanides, and the monasteries today, among others in the past. This is definitely getting better with time. 

Definitely getting better with time.  We do have areas where the pendulum has not swung, others where it is nearly in balance, and others where it has over-swung.  It's a complicated matter - made more complicated by the fact that we're trying to describe one Orthodox jurisdiction covering the US, a country with many major cultures and sub-cultures which are often at odds with one another.  The socio-political dynamic affects outlook a lot (because it, in turn, is influenced by the diversity of economic situations and living environments across the country - something that is inescapable for the Church).
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Online Mor Ephrem

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2018, 06:01:20 PM »
Antonis got schooled.   8)
I think you can say ~ In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and post with charitable and prayerful intentions.

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2018, 06:23:35 PM »
Antonis got schooled.   8)

Not my intention!
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Offline Antonis

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2018, 01:10:38 AM »
Thank you, Father, for your comments which moderate my post. No need to comment further, because I agree in large part.
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Offline jah777

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2018, 07:07:26 AM »
There were some areas in the US where confession was altogether unknown until 30-40 years ago; the clergy were busy trying to get their people to recognize the importance of sacramental participation before working on things like confession.

It is a great scandal for confession to be separated so much from Holy Communion.  That is not to say that one must always go to confession before receiving Holy Communion, as some in Slavic churches teach, but the same Kollyvades Fathers which labored to encourage frequent communion also emphasized proper preparation through Confession and penances.  St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, for instance, is widely regarded for speaking so highly of the importance of frequent communion, yet he is also the author and compiler of the Exomologetarion (Manual of Confession) with its disciplinary canons and guides to confession and spiritual fatherhood.  It is very sad that clergy are not teaching people how to prepare, how to confess, and the importance of the epitemias (penances) in bringing us to repentance and helping us to properly prepare.  Even where confession is frequently advocated, penances are disregarded almost completely, and the faithful wonder why they cannot overcome their passions.   

I think one of the challenges that faces us is not understanding the differentiation between true "spiritual fatherhood" and being a confessor. 

I agree with this statement absolutely and this is a challenge across Orthodox jurisdictions.  In Slavic practice, we see Optina monastery with true elders and also confessors who were not considered elders.  There was an understanding of the role of each and how they fit together.  In the lives of contemporary saints and elders, such as St. Paisios the Athonite, we can see the role of an elder who was not a priest.  The lives of contemporary saints who were elders and true spiritual fathers are filled with stories primarily, but not exclusively, of how they helped and guided the laity.  In our times, many parish clergy are reluctant to give a blessing for parishioners to have monastic spiritual fathers for various reasons.  I recall our GOA priest giving a sermon where he warned people to not go to a monastic for confession because they may tell you not to have communion for 5 years.  He didn't say that this is done for any particular sin, like murder, but just across the board.  He said this even though his own wife and mother confess to a monastic spiritual father.  A few days after these remarks, the parish celebrated the feast of St. Paisios who served as a monastic spiritual father to the laity.  A few days after that, the same priest was encouraging people to sign up to go to confession with a monastic confessor who had been appointed for this role by the bishop.  Part of the challenge in understanding these respective roles in the GOA is that there were really no monasteries in the GOA for over half a century, and as the monasteries were established, their presence and role had become something foreign and unfamiliar.  There are similar challenges in other jurisdictions in America where we do not have enough monasteries in any jurisdiction for the parish-monastery relationship to have developed into the harmony that should exist.

Offline PJ26

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #33 on: June 12, 2018, 08:29:08 PM »
Your reaction to your Orthodox parish holding two food-related fundraisers, one during Great Lent and one during the Apostles’ Fast, would be:

A. No big deal.  Most of the people coming aren’t Orthodox anyway and therefore aren’t bound by fasting restrictions.  Opa!

B. While true that most of the potential customers aren’t Orthodox, it is inappropriate for the parish, as the only local representative of Orthodoxy, to be hosting these events during the prescribed fasting periods.  Fasting is a pillar of Orthodox spirituality and having these events during these times is both a poor witnessing to the Orthodox Faith toward non-believers and spiritually harmful to the Orthodox parishioners themselves who are participating in the event.

C.  Something else.



Offline augustin717

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Re: My experience in GOA so far
« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2018, 08:58:57 PM »
Your reaction to your Orthodox parish holding two food-related fundraisers, one during Great Lent and one during the Apostles’ Fast, would be:

A. No big deal.  Most of the people coming aren’t Orthodox anyway and therefore aren’t bound by fasting restrictions.  Opa!

B. While true that most of the potential customers aren’t Orthodox, it is inappropriate for the parish, as the only local representative of Orthodoxy, to be hosting these events during the prescribed fasting periods.  Fasting is a pillar of Orthodox spirituality and having these events during these times is both a poor witnessing to the Orthodox Faith toward non-believers and spiritually harmful to the Orthodox parishioners themselves who are participating in the event.

C.  Something else.
other than perhaps in monasteries the Apostles fast was usually disregarded . At least that was my impression in Romania . So was the Dormition fast perhaps to a slightly lesser extent . Weddings occurred regularly during both with the bishop ‘s. blessing.
"I saw a miracle where 2 people entered church one by baptism and one by chrismation. On pictures the one received by full baptism was shinning in light the one by chrismation no."