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40-day churching, Altar entrance


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#1 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 04:55 AM

It is my understanding, that at least in the GOARCH rubrics, it is specified that upon the 40-day churching of mother and child, that the boy-child is brought into the Holy Vema/Altar area when the priest makes the rounds across the solea towards the end of the ceremony, and before laying the child down. I am curious as to why a Christian, before baptism, is allowed into the Holy Vema for any purpose? If on the 8th day, the rubrics call for the child to be presented before the doors of the Temple, and upon the 40th day, before the Royal Doors of the Narthex, it seems like a natural progression would be for an appearance before the Beautiful Gate and an entrance into the Holy Vema at Baptism, rather than at the 40 days. Was there ever a common practice to baptize before the 40 days, and if so, would the rubrics change for the 40 days? 


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 06 July 2015 - 04:56 AM.


#2 Olga

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 12:33 PM

I speak from decades-long layman's experience of both Greek and Russian practice:

 

My understanding is that newly-baptised male babies are given "the rounds" of the inner sanctum, as there is the potential for them to one day serve in that holiest of spaces, as altarboys, or as subdeacons, deacons, priests, or even bishops.

 

Greeks tend to delay baptism for essentially social, not sacramental, reason. A Greek baptism rarely takes place inside of six months after the child's birth. On the other hand, most Russians and other Slavs, actively encourage baptism as early as possible, often timing it to coincide at 40 days or even earlier. This has not only a spiritual benefit, but it is also far more practical. There is quite a difference in handling a small bub during a baptism compared to a six-to-nine-month larger, heavier and more boisterous one.

 

In the baptisms I have witnessed where the babe is under the age of 40 days, the churching was done as per the rubrics.



#3 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 03:40 PM

Thank you, Olga, for your experiential explanation. I, too, have heard the 'potentiality' reasoning for this practice, but it sounds far too much in line with the 'social' not 'sacramental' reasonings. If essentially the 8th day prayers of naming are likened to a basic 'making of a Catechumen' service, and a Catechumen is never allowed into the Holy Vema, why would a child? Granted some, not all Catechumens have potential for the same heights. 

 

Is not the practice of allowing young folks in the Holy Sanctuary a somewhat more recent development, anyhow? Taking over the minor roles of a subdeacon, etc. Having served for a handful of years as an adult, I have seen the blessed potential of these beautiful youths, but more often than not I have seen the rapid shift from a place of holiness and untouchability to becoming a partitioned chat box of hideout space. I'm sure this can grow into a topic of its own (youth altar servers), so I'll leave it at that.


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 06 July 2015 - 03:43 PM.


#4 Kosta

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 04:39 PM

In my opinion, if a person doesnt have a reason to be in the altar he shouldnt be there. The GOARCH is all over the place bringing in infant girls as well.

#5 Olga

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 10:40 PM

In my opinion, if a person doesnt have a reason to be in the altar he shouldnt be there. The GOARCH is all over the place bringing in infant girls as well.

 

The bringing of infant girls into the altar after baptism is an anomaly, and not proper practice. It is also not, thank goodness, a widespread phenomenon. The sooner it is stopped, the better.

 

Having served for a handful of years as an adult, I have seen the blessed potential of these beautiful youths, but more often than not I have seen the rapid shift from a place of holiness and untouchability to becoming a partitioned chat box of hideout space.

 

This is a matter of enforcing proper discipline and order, and has little to do with whether it is proper for lads to serve.



#6 Kosta

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 03:58 AM

Not at baptism, they are brought into the altar for the 40 day churching. And because of modernism its becoming more widespread. A few of the old timers get offended but the rest could care less.

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 06:32 PM

I think we should steer away from discussing the "anomalies" of any local jurisdiction and stick to the universal teaching of the Church.  The discipline (or lack thereof) in any particular local parish or even jurisdiction is the business of the bishops of that local church - not that of an informal internet discussion community.

 

As for "bringing unbaptized infants into the altar" the rubrics for churching a baptism are very specific in differentiating between the churching of a baptized child and unbaptized child.  When an as yet unbaptized child is brought to the Church for his churching, the prayers are not finished but are truncated at a certain point.  After the baptism, the churching (including the blessing on the for sides of the altar) is completed.  So, if one follows the instructions in the service book - no unbaptized child would be taken into the altar as the churching would be interrupted prior to that by the baptism.

 

As a priest, I must say that the longer a baptism is postponed the greater the difficulty for both the priest and the child.  A 6month+ child is a lot stronger and squirmier than a 40 day old child.  And if you wait into the one or two year range, then the child is downright obstinate and will actively fight all the way (not to mention that a child who has not received the Mysteries on a regular basis will rarely cooperate at the chalice). Also the older the child the more "traumatic" the baptism is (going to a strange place, getting stripped naked, handed to a stranger who dunks you in a tub of water).  The younger the child the more the strangeness of the baptism is simply perceived as just another strange thing in this whole new world (outside the womb) of strange things.

 

Fr David



#8 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 07:25 PM

Wow thank you for blessing me with the insight, Fr David. This differentiation is not made on the provided text of the GOARCH website. Is there any way to link me to the referenced text? Perhaps it is not preserved in the English texts of the Greek Archdiocese due to lack of regular practice?

#9 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 08:37 PM

I found an older copy here: http://www.ccel.org/...eds.iv.iii.html

This isn't meant as showcasing an anomaly but rather giving evidence to common texts which could provide basis for this practice, as found here: http://www.goarch.or...texts/churching

#10 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 01:51 PM

I would assume that the GOARCH practice as outlined assumes that churching happens AFTER baptism. It might be worth noting that in ancient practice, the baptistery was often outside the nave, therefore a child would not have to be churched prior to being baptized. In our parish, we baptize first, then church even though the baptism happens within the church proper.



#11 Kosta

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 08:02 PM

Maybe im mistaking something here. What is that blessing service called where the mom (and dad) brings their newlyborn infant to church on the 40th day and prayers are read?

 Well in GOARCH, in that service many times nowadays the baby girl will be brought into the altar, it was reserved only for boys because he may grow up to be a priest. My opinion is no one should enter the altar that need not be there. 



#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 08:09 PM

Antiochian practice expressly provides for baby girls to be taken into the altar at the forty-day churching.



#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 01:42 PM

The service books still expressly provide for a separate practice when churching boys and girls.  The girls are lifted up outside royal gates while the boys are taken round the altar.  Also, according to the service books, while churching can be done prior to baptism, it is interrupted in both cases and not completed until after baptism. That is the liturgical practice of the Church.  If, however, there is a different practice in some places, then that practice is a local variation/abberation and as such is beyond the scope of this forum.  Therefore, having noted that in some places there is a local practice that is different from the practice of the Church, the discussion should go no further in this direction. 

 

Fr David



#14 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 03:00 PM

I am guessing by the context that what is mentioned as the 'Royal Gates' is the 'Beautiful Gate' leading into the Holy Vema, as opposed to the Royal Doors, which lead into the Nave?

#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:37 PM

I think that there is only one set of doors which are variously called Royal Doors/Gates or Beautiful /Doors/Gates. The best term is said to be 'Beautiful Door' though Russians I know invariably call them 'Tsar Doors'. In my experience, the most common English term is 'Royal Doors', probably because this is a translation from the Russian (Church Slavonic, strictly).



#16 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:40 PM

The Royal Doors are those which Emperors processed through upon entering the Church, those before the Nave. Emperors didn't enter through the Beautiful Gate, which leads into the Holy Vema, as far as I know. I imagine the mixup also came with Russians calling the front step of the Holy Vema the Amvon, rather than that of the pulpit designed for proclaiming and preaching (whether it be free standing, or on a pillar). 



#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 05:06 PM

I think this could be right. The 'Great and Beautiful Door' in Aghia Sophia in Constantinople is the central entrance from the narthex to the nave through which the emperor passed.



#18 Olga

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 11:44 PM

Church architecture for centuries has featured only one set of doors (or an opening across which a curtain is drawn) through which only clergy may pass into or out of the altar area, which is in the centre of the iconostasis between the icons of Christ and the Mother of God.
 
Russians and other Slavs call them the Royal Doors, Greeks call them Beautiful Gate.
 

I imagine the mixup also came with Russians calling the front step of the Holy Vema the Amvon,

 
There is no mixup. The amvon can refer to the pulpit, but also refers to the projecting step of the solea, on which clergy stand at various times during services, including when giving the homily. The prayer towards the end of the Divine Liturgy which begins with O Lord who blesses those who bless you .... is known as the Prayer before the Ambon (ὀπισθάμβωνον εὐχήν), as the priest stands in the nave, not on the solea.



#19 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 11:49 PM

Is not the name of this "prayer before the Amvon" because the Amvon of the Hagia Sophia was in the center of the Nave, with steps leading almost immediately from the Beautiful Gate up to the peak and back down towards the Royal Doors, as is the case in other ancient churches?

(such as in this image from Meteora)
5.JPG


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 13 July 2015 - 11:51 PM.


#20 Olga

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 12:01 AM

Amvon is the same as a podium, the place where oratory or preaching is carried out. It can take the form of a raised pulpit, or a projecting platform.






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