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What exactly could be said about the role of the laity in Orthodoxy?


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#1 Nathaniel Woon

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 03:54 PM

What exactly is the role of the lay person in Orthdoxy? How would this differ from the role of lay people in heterodox liturgical churches?

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:51 PM

Without the laity, there is no liturgy.

One explanation I have heard: In Catholic practice, the celebrant officiates on behalf of the people, therefore he often faces the people as he serves so they can see what he is doing. The presence of the laity is not necessarily required (priests can serve "private" masses).

In Orthodoxy, the celebrant leads the people in worship, that is why celebrats mostly with his back to them. Without laity present, there can be no Liturgy (Orthodox priests do not serve "private" liturgies)

I eagerly await correction if I am in error.

Herman the lay Pooh

#3 Owen

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:57 PM

What is a head without hands and feet? What is a heart without a digestive tract and lungs? The body needs all of tis members, and this is reflective in the Orthodox canonical rule that no Liturgy may be served by one person alone. It also supports the practice of frequent Communion; for what is a shared meal if only one person eats? When I was actively serving as a cantor, it was impressed on me that I syhould be properly prepared to receive Communion at any Liturgy for which I chanted, just to insure that at least two people communed.

#4 Nathaniel Woon

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 08:06 AM

Herman and Dr. Owen

This is in response to what someone asked me - we were going through the book 'The Living God Vol 2' which is published by SVS Press. I did remember the very same point that you have both brought up.

The book in chapter 26' The Mystery of Chrismation: The Personal Pentecost or The Royal Priesthood of the laity’ Pg 304 states ‘The Church is a nation of priests; Chrismation transforms every Christian into a priest. This is what we now call ‘The priesthood of the laity’ through which Christians become a priestly and royal community.

This seems to be very much what one of our inquirers feels is similar to what might be said of the role of the laity in heterodox liturgical churches... is this an accurate assessment or was this a sweeping statements? I noted that there is a difference in what the books states and what is understood by ‘the priesthood of the laity’ all believers’ in various Protestant churches for example.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 29 June 2010 - 12:25 PM.
removed extraneous formatting


#5 Owen Jones

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:07 PM

You have the theory and then you have the practice. IMHO, there is a huge gap in Orthodoxy between the two. On the one hand it is extremely important to understand, appreciate, and respect Episcopal authority. On the other hand, in practice, what we have is a very passive laity (except when it comes to parish budget meetings). When a priest is asked by his parishioner about the need for Orthodox evangelism, for example, and the priest responds by saying, "that's why we send money to the office of missions and evangelism at the Archdiocese," you know we have a serious problem. When you treat people like children, they act like children. As dependents. Lord knows I have been guilty of going off half cocked without a priestly blessing or Episcopal blessing. On the other hand, people are going to make mistakes, and to have a Church policy of total risk averse behavior is a kind of walking death for the Church as a whole.

I encountered the problem of a passive laity in the Episcopal Church, only from the other angle. The hierarchy had been taken over by heretics and people involved in absolutely the grossest forms of sexual sins as well as financial dishonesty, etc. And because people had been taught in traditional Anglicanism to be obedient and respectful, they just let it happen without challenge. And I have met a number of people who are proudly ignorant. They claim to be obedient and ignorant at the same time, which makes no sense.

BTW, I am certainly not speaking from a perspective of a holy man. But I just do not believe humility is the same as passivity.

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:29 PM

There were two orders of priesthood, the Levitical order and the order of Mechielsedek, the "royal priesthood." In Christ we are all members of the royal priesthood.

#7 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 02:53 PM

In Orthodoxy, the priesthood of the laity is also a singular thing. I know that sentence probably doesn't make much sense. Let me explain.

In evangelical protestantism, the priesthood of believers is thought of as "you're a priest", "you're a priest", "he's a priest", "she's a priest", etc. But, scripture says we are "a holy nation, a royal priesthood" - note that it doesn't say "royal priests" - instead, it refers to a single priesthood. One priesthood that we all collectively share together. What difference does this make? Maybe not much, but the idea is that we are, in communion with each other, a corporate priesthood. It's not something that we can go off and be a "Lone Ranger" with. It's something we do together.

#8 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 05:30 AM

Without the laity, there is no liturgy.

One explanation I have heard: In Catholic practice, the celebrant officiates on behalf of the people, therefore he often faces the people as he serves so they can see what he is doing. The presence of the laity is not necessarily required (priests can serve "private" masses).

In Orthodoxy, the celebrant leads the people in worship, that is why celebrats mostly with his back to them. Without laity present, there can be no Liturgy (Orthodox priests do not serve "private" liturgies)

I eagerly await correction if I am in error.

Herman the lay Pooh

This is a twisted view of the western practice.  

 

In Anglican practice, at least, the eucharistic president is just that:  "the president of the brethren", in Justin Martyr's phrase.  When he faces the people, it is because we are a family gathered around the table.  When he faces eastward, it is because he is leading the people.  Either way, it presupposes the presence of the congregation.



#9 Phoebe K.

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 01:19 PM

Liturgy means work of the people, in the early tradition of the church the people were always present as we are in orthodoxy.  The clergy yes lead the people in the worship of God, but as one of the people primerly yet set apart by the spirit to lead and given the grace to be the alter Cristos.

 

There may be some outward simalarites between the Orthodox trodition and that of the Anglicans but that it outward the spirit is conpleatly different.  I say this from experience as I was an Anglican server and being groomed for ministry before I left it all to come home to orthodoxy.  There are more differnces than there are simalarites.

 

Hermon, your understanding is accurate in reference to the Roman Catholic tradition, despite the changes made at Vatican 2 the liturgy is still served on behalf of the people rather than as the climacs of the peoples worship.  West facing liturgy was only brought in after Vatican 2 to try and redress this and although privet masses are not supposed to happen they probably still do.  this mostly comes from the Roman Catholic understanding to the Eucharist which is alien to that of the orthodox and to the fathers.

 

Back to the original topic, Laity are the fourth order in orthodoxy by the virtue of crismation, the primary aspect of their ministry is that to the world and to those seeking the truth as inquires, while supporting those set aside for special service as clergy by maintaining the church and preparing the things needed for the liturgy.  Well that is what I have observed as a catacumin and read in the texts of the fathers.  The role of the clergy is inposible without the prayers and support of the laity, who are also the primary witness to the world due to the fact that they work and live among those who are not of the faith.

 

Phoebe






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