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Different Parishes, Different Liturgies (kind of)...


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#1 kshaft

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 10:56 PM

 When I was going to College last year there happened to be a church within short walking distance from me. I thought I would see how it was since it was so close and It turned out to be a true blessing. I mean not just better than what I had expected, but better than any parish I had attended thus far. Even better than the ROCOR Cathedral that I would drive 45 min to get to (well their choir is a little better than us but we are still pretty good). In side it looks like a poor man's Jordanville. We dont have frescos but there are icons every where and the oriental rugs on the hardwood floors. Its much smaller where we are at but the actual church is big as it was a western church and the sanctuary/nave/narthex is in a side area that was converted. No pews. Full services. Full vigil and if our priest is busy because of work or because of his children which have medical needs he will still have a vesper service that lasts at least an hour and probably an hour and a half with a lives of the Saints homily or other talk or discussion. The Divine Liturgy would last around 3 hours. We sing the hymns in between the beatitudes (like youre supposed to do but nearly no one does), a canon during the preparation before the Eucharist (probably for the reading of names of the departed) always a St John Chrysotom like homily and always very patristic, the 33rd psalm afterwards with the prayers of thanksgiving and some of the canon again and finally the departure. On Holy days like those during lent like the canon of St. Andrew of Crete and other specific days of Holy week we do monastic length services. Not only that but having those services in English whereas usually one can only hear them in Slavonic or Greek(Greek Monastery) so your getting the full service plus all of the edifying and theological content you wouldnt understand and its just incredible. On top of that a lot of our Icons weep and some monastics have sent children to our priest for exorcisms because of his known piety.

 

Now I am back home and Divine Liturgies are adequate I suppose, some being an hour and some an hour and a half with the ROCOR being two hours(this being more than merely adequate). Nobody but the ROCOR cathedral does the Vigil, and vespers is a wham bam, thank you mam 30 min affair in nearly all of the parishes but one(not including the ROCOR parish of course). It seems as if sometimes the Liturgy is just something to get through, check the box type thing with people more into the coffee hour than the Liturgy. I was the only one to show up for Vespers at the Parish I attended, and 8 maybe 10 showing up for vespers at the Other Church I attend literally a stones throw away, 3 of which are clergy, and 17-20+ for the Vigil at the Parish by the University. There seems to be very little gravity at the services save a few individuals back home, whereas more than not (the guys who show up for the Vigil go figure) takes the Faith seriously at the Church by the School. Its not so bad as say some Greek parishes where its nothing more than a social club, but there is this definite protestant mentality to check the sunday box of worship and then act like the rest of the world afterward.   

 

It seems to me that only the ROCOR cathedral and the parish I attended by the University are the only ones that do stuff right. Im having a hard time even wanting to go to the home parishes. It seems (may the Lord forgive me for saying this) the other parishes lack a measure of grace. It makes me angry and sad at the same time, not to mention somewhat troubled.  What should one think of this? Im sure this is just a symptom per se of the great apostasy, and stuff like this happened even in the time of the Apostles as can be noted in Acts and The Revelation of St. John but how does affected worship affect individuals in the church? At times I dont feel Im being transported into the Heavenly realm, it can feel weak or dying or Lord have mercy dead.

 

Can anyone elaborate and give advice on this.  

 

Thank you, and Glory be to the Holy Trinity unto the ages. Amen.



#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 11:19 PM

When it is hardest to pray is when we need to pray the hardest. Every DL transports us to worship in the Heavenly realm, even the "boring" or "dead" ones. If we are not being "transported" perhaps we need to work at it a little harder. We must be careful not to judge too harshly or our peace will be taken from us.

 

Herman



#3 Michał

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 07:15 PM

Been to Liturgies ashort as 50 minutes up to the ones that crossed 4 hours (funnily, the shortest and the longest one I've attended were celebrated at the very same place). I can understand the need for some special Liturgies for feasts, with processions, multiple sermons, choirsinging operas are necessary evil. But regular sunday Liturgy that crosses 2:00-2:30  is an abuse of the people and an abuse of the Liturgy itself. You can't serve normal Liturgy that long, so either you prolong it with sophisticated music when everything isung 5 times, 45+ min-long sermon, or adding extra elements, like aforementioned canons, molebiens, extra-prayes, paralitirgical hymns etc.

 

And it generates a couple of results that I would not call positive much:

- people less go to church because they fear all services are or are supposed to be that long

- people do not attend other services from daily circle because that super-size-Liturgy with extra fries and milkshake saps them from all of their strength, time, and will to attend other services

- people arrive late or leave to early because they have already been to 2 hours of service and that would be enough for most of the people

- people have no idea (not that most people have any) about the structure of services because of all that addictions

- people get bored because the Liturgy becomes a set of moments of action when Liturgy proceeds and elements that prolong it when choir is in the 15th minute of Cherubikon singing it for the 4th time, and priest in the altar has no intention to leave, but he does whatever he is doing there, or the period when the curtain ishut after the Lord's prayer. and bored people start to chat, wander, play with their phones, children or loose concentration in many other ways

- and it many places I've been to when Liturgy (or other services) was prolonged with all those extra stuff they still lacked the basic elements


Edited by Michał, 26 January 2015 - 07:20 PM.


#4 Phoebe K.

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:50 PM

The lecth of a Liturgy can also be effected by how you veiw the service, of course the Liturgy of St Basil is normally around 20 minutes longer than that of Chrisostom when they are celibrated with all the prayers said aloud.  I would still not expect eather as only a liturgy to last over two hours.  The only divine liturgy I might expect to take as long as three hours would be that of St James yet this is very rarely celebrated.

 

In Parishes such as mine where we celibate Matins on the Sunday morning both services normally take around two and a half hours or three when it is the Liturgy of St Basil.  A little over half of this being spent on Matins, we also celebrate in the Greek manor with the amphoms normally although sometimes with the Tipyca (although this is often the marginally shorter days), I have observed the longest single part of the service is often the distribution of communion when there is a larger congregation and only one chalice.

 

In my limited experience it is the spirit of the liturgy (and other services) which is important rather than the exactness to the rubrics, one of the most powerful liturgy I have attended was one where the choir was led by an inexperienced singer who had little time to prepear but sang with love.  And some of the services I have found the most difficult are those sung with lots of procian but at times a lack of feeling for the content (or that is how it has seemed to me).  It also seems to mater little how long the service is, a considerable number of people who arrive in time for communion but not for the whole service, and very few if any come for matins services except the clergy, there families and those who have a reason to be at the church before the services.



#5 kshaft

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:08 AM

Well when you speak of spirit, once again the parish where we have the longest Liturgies is by far the most intense. Ive never met a priest as serious about the faith as he is. Now his homilies contribute to at least 30-45 min of the Liturgy. Hence the comment about the "St. John Chrysostom" homilies. And it includes the thanks giving prayers(which most people dont even do even when they take communion) and a long reading of departed commemorated before Communion. 

 

Some will comment on how long services will drive people away. I have found that, that is totally incorrect. When a parish does the full Liturgy and Divine office with love and piety, it doesnt scare people away, it brings more people into the parish! The Holy Spirit breathes life into the parish and and leads the people to it.  The parishes that are dying are the ones that are lukewarm and just do what is necessary. The only people it drives away are the lukewarm any way. 

 

I know about the Greek thing with the abbreviated Matins which goes straight into the Liturgy. I sometimes go to St. Gregory Palamas in Ohio, and when they do that they start at 6am and end at 11:30(not abbreviated of course as it is a monastery). Now that is a bit taxing but wonderful at the same time. Of course at the parishes its around half that time at a more serious parish and not too hard to do(except when they start the Organ and sound like Roman Catholics in melody; then I do a face palm and cringe a bit...). 

 

I do agree that the spirit of the Liturgy is important as well as those worshiping taking things seriously makes a big difference.  But those who take stuff seriously in faith and love typically take  around two hours for the Liturgy,(even if it includes the parts such as the thanks giving prayers and final blessings that some dont stick around for or are already in the hall for coffee hour).

 

People complaining about spending 2 or 3 hours in contemplation and worship to the Lord really should check their priorities, cause they are off and are Christian in name only. And often times I am too. Lord have mercy.



#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:09 PM

Rather than comment about various liturgical practices, I will try and answer your question directly.

 

Humble yourself and accept the parish that God has given you.  Embrace the services that are provided as fully as you can.  Attend them all, participate in all the hymns and prayers (get a blessing to chant and sing if you can), pray throughout.  Do not judge the parish Church because it is not a cathedral nor a monastery for it is equally a place where we come to meet God - in fact do not judge the parish or the parish clergy at all for this is a grave sin, just assume that they are doing the best that they can in the place where they are.

 

The value and spiritual fervor of the service is not determined by its length, but rather by those who pray within it. (Remember that the Jesus Prayer - that most loved and concentrated of all Orthodox prayers - is only a few words long) If you are too busy thinking about what is or is not included then you are not praying and are yourself contributing to what your perceive as a lack of spiritual content.  Give God thanks that you have a convenient place to go and pray - and remember to always thank the priest for his service after each and every service you attend.  Pray fervently for your priest and for the people in the parish, especially for the singers and chanters.

 

God has given you this parish for a reason - for your salvation.  Use what He has given to its fullest extent.

 

Fr David Moser



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 04:21 PM

It is tempting but, I would say, misplaced to assess a priest and services according one's desires and expectations. The length of a service cannot be a guide to how 'holy' or grace-filled it is - there are too many variables for that. Further, we should not regard the demeanour of those around us in church since we may be wrong: God alone knows a person's true inner disposition.



#8 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:14 AM

What is an "acceptable" time to spend in Heaven? How long should eternity last? When we spend time with the one we love, hours can seem like minutes. One of the things the Eastern Divine Liturgy does is to institute a sense of "timelessness". If you are truly involved in worship, time can seem to cease to exist. You don't worry about how long it has been or how long there is to go, there is just "now" and standing in the presence of the Living God.

 

People can spend three or four hours walking around shopping at a mall, or watching a game, but three hours in the presence of God is too much?

 

I don't know but at our parish, Matins starts at 8:45, Divine Liturgy starts at 10:00 and is generally over around 11:45ish on a "normal" Sunday, longer for special Sundays. Not a lot of people attend Matins, but those that do receive an additional blessing. Why pass up an opportunity to receive a blessing? Are God's gifts so onerous they are not worth our time?



#9 kshaft

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 09:27 PM

Its hard to write up a reply without some either accusing you of, or you genuinely being somewhat judgemental. Folks who want services to be short in general, dont want to be there. If you wanted to be there, you would want it to last longer. No they just want to check the box and get back to shopping or basketball or football or yapping away with friends. You know the important stuff. Church and Orthodoxy isnt a way of life, its something to do to kill time. 



#10 kshaft

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 08:46 AM

Rather than comment about various liturgical practices, I will try and answer your question directly.

 

Humble yourself and accept the parish that God has given you.  Embrace the services that are provided as fully as you can.  Attend them all, participate in all the hymns and prayers (get a blessing to chant and sing if you can), pray throughout.  Do not judge the parish Church because it is not a cathedral nor a monastery for it is equally a place where we come to meet God - in fact do not judge the parish or the parish clergy at all for this is a grave sin, just assume that they are doing the best that they can in the place where they are.

 

The value and spiritual fervor of the service is not determined by its length, but rather by those who pray within it. (Remember that the Jesus Prayer - that most loved and concentrated of all Orthodox prayers - is only a few words long) If you are too busy thinking about what is or is not included then you are not praying and are yourself contributing to what your perceive as a lack of spiritual content.  Give God thanks that you have a convenient place to go and pray - and remember to always thank the priest for his service after each and every service you attend.  Pray fervently for your priest and for the people in the parish, especially for the singers and chanters.

 

God has given you this parish for a reason - for your salvation.  Use what He has given to its fullest extent.

 

Fr David Moser

 

Father Bless,

 

I thank you for your advice. Please know that If I had a choice I would be back there, and because of my negligence, and I have to admit frustration with higher education and its penchant for taking theories and touting them (especially when they go against the Christian Faith) as fact. This frustrated me and my grades suffered and I was academically released. Just yesterday in a civilization class(at a community college back home), I had to deal with the theory that the Hebraic Faith was influenced by Sumerian myth (for instance the Deluge narrative is very similar) as opposed to the oral tradition being spread about from a historical event and some (one I should say) getting it right, some getting it okay, and some just messing it up all together. I dropped a feminist class because two paragraphs into it they were already whining about oppression and marginalization. This delusion is touted around in such a flouted, condescending, matter-of-fact manner and it leads me to anger. And in someways I see it as a punishment for not doing my worldly duties so I could have stayed at the University. So please dont think Im judging the Clergy. That really didnt cross my mind because they have all been kind to me for the most part, and I figured they did the service as the Bishop and/or parishioners wanted anyway as these parish councils have way way too much power, and is a protestant concept and not Orthodox. Laity I admit I do get preconceived notions, but many fully admit to having a secular outlook about life and sometimes see the Church in a Marxist(historically) fashion and not guided by the Providence of the Lord and the Holy Spirit so what am I supposed to think about that? That its acceptable? That stuff DOES NOT go on at the Church by the University accept once by a guy who I saw at Church ONCE for the anniversary of his dad's death. 

 

Have a good day.

Keith



#11 Father David Moser

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 02:22 PM

Father Bless,
 
I thank you for your advice. Please know that If I had a choice I would be back there, a

And this comes back to the point that I wanted to make. God has given you the parish where you are for your salvation. Rather than complain about the way things are and wish for what you have lost, simply accept what God has given you today and work with it to the best of your ability. There is a great deal of grace in every place where the Divine Mysteries are celebrated - the Holy Spirit comes down and, despite our unworthiness, miraculously transforms the Gifts into the Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood for our salvation. There is more grace in that simple event that you could make use of in a lifetime - don't ignore it and lose it by complaining about what you don't have or what God hasn't provided for you.

Fr David

#12 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 January 2015 - 03:42 PM

If I could add to these wonderful comments by Fr David and others.

 

Much too often it is forgotten that entering a parish should be to us like becoming part of a family, or entering a relationship that is even akin to marriage.

 

We must pray God first that He guide us to where He wants us. When I once asked a monk on Mt Athos why he was at this monastery rather than at one of the others that were more famous and well known for their spirituality, he replied- he loved the ieronda and the community. A light went on in my head and this sense of how God works has been of help ever since.

 

Our fathful then are at parishes of all sorts. Some do services long, some short. Weakness comes in but also a recognition of one's conditions. These two are not easy to sort out until you spend time in a place and come to love it and understand it. The same thing goes for whole jurisdictions, or people of certain backgrounds or training. You don't just throw all this out the door and 'start clean and in the right way' for when we do this grave mistakes can be done against God's will.

 

So then we all are walking on the fine line between patience with what God gives us and improvement of what we can work on as members of the parish family with the priest as our father. This is the line the Church walks and we only grow in it (or rather through it) as we grow in humility, patience and wisdom.






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