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#1 Michael Albert

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 03:10 PM

I am struggling with an issue at our Church. There is a push to begin Church school for the children immediately after receiving Holy Communion. I understand this is a practice at many Orthodox Churches. However, my wife and I feel that partcipation in the entirety of the Divine Liturgy is important and we do not want to let our toddler begin to get the idea that it is okay to leave after receiving Holy Communion. We would opt out of Church school before depriving our child of the full Liturgy--we teach our child at home, but she loves the fellowship with the other children at Church school. This is a difficult thing for us.

Any comments are appreciated.

Is there anything from the Church Fathers about leaving the Divine Liturgy early?

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 02:41 AM

Yes, there is. They say don't leave until after the final prayers are said.

#3 Jason Hunt

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 05:05 AM

I realize also that this practice of Church School has become very common in Orthodox parishes in this country. When we were in the OCA, the homily was read after the Gospel and the children departed for Church School following Communion and would remain in Church School through the final prayers, announcements, veneration of the cross, and for part of coffee hour. Unfortunately, most of the adults also departed after the veneration of the cross and the church was basically empty when the post-Communion prayers would be read, but this is another story. We didn't have anything like Church School during the Divine Liturgy in our ROCOR parish. Our ROCOR parish was very small, which may have been a reason, though once a month our priest would spend coffee hour at a table just with the teenagers to talk to them and answer their questions. Those on this list in ROCOR, do any of your parishes have a Church School during any part of the Divine Liturgy?

Hopefully someone can provide some helpful patristic quotes on the subject that you are asking about, since it seems this is what you are looking for. I only wanted, for the sake of perspective, to raise the point that many jurisdictions and parishes in the US tend to skip parts of the Divine Liturgy anyway. If you attend such a parish, it could be argued that you skipped part of the Divine Liturgy whether you stayed until the end or not. Also, it does little good to stress the importance of remaining to the absolute end if one is not also arriving before the beginning.

#4 Theodora E.

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 06:02 AM

My OCA parish has church school *before* Liturgy (this includes an adult class). The Antiochian parish I was chrismated in had church school for all ages after coffee hour. I loathe the kids skipping any part of the Liturgy.

#5 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 01:06 PM

Those on this list in ROCOR, do any of your parishes have a Church School during any part of the Divine Liturgy?


Our parish doesn't presently have a Church School due to our small size. At the times when it did in the past, this occurred on Saturdays. But this also comes from the idea of a 'Russian school' which is a bit different since it includes culture & language as part of its focus as well as what is called Law of God (Zakon Bozhii)- ie basic religious teachings. In a sense though this is what is found anyway in Russian influenced sermons and households (a lot more social and cultural content than you find in purely western contexts) so it's not as if nothing occurs without the School.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#6 Michael Albert

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:25 PM

Unfortunately, most of the adults also departed after the veneration of the cross and the church was basically empty when the post-Communion prayers would be read, but this is another story.

Yes. Only a few people out of more than one hundred stay for the post Communion prayers. But these prayers are important to me and my family. I insist on staying until those prayers are finished. If Church school time is going to happen during Liturgy, than our child will not participate.

Thank you everyone for your contribution. I have not been able to find any Church Father quotes on this subject--but I am still looking.

#7 Michael Stickles

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 03:59 PM

I have not been able to find any Church Father quotes on this subject--but I am still looking.


The closest I've found so far is in St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures. In Lecture 23, verse 22, he says that after receiving the Body and Blood:

Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who hath accounted thee worthy of so great mysteries.


Also, like Theodora's, my OCA parish has church school before the liturgy (though ours is for kids only). Matins and Sunday School both start at 9:00, Divine Liturgy starts around 10:00 (exact time depends on how well we paced Matins), and the children are dismissed from Sunday School around 9:45-9:50 to make sure they're in the nave and settled for the start of Liturgy (and to make sure the altar servers get in place on time - in fact, I think the altar servers are dismissed a few minutes before the rest of the kids).

Sunday School does not take away from Matins attendance - if anything, I think we have more people attending Matins when Sunday School is in session.

In Christ,
Michael

#8 Michael Albert

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 05:56 PM

The closest I've found so far is in St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures.

Thank you.

Also, like Theodora's, my OCA parish has church school before the liturgy (though ours is for kids only). Matins and Sunday School both start at 9:00, Divine Liturgy starts around 10:00 (exact time depends on how well we paced Matins), and the children are dismissed from Sunday School around 9:45-9:50 to make sure they're in the nave and settled for the start of Liturgy (and to make sure the altar servers get in place on time - in fact, I think the altar servers are dismissed a few minutes before the rest of the kids).

This is how it currently works for us--but there is a push to change it by some of the teachers and parents.

Sunday School does not take away from Matins attendance - if anything, I think we have more people attending Matins when Sunday School is in session.

This is part of the issue. The parents usually drop off their kids and go back home instead of staying for Matins--then they are inconvenienced because they must drive back in an hour. It makes me want to pull my hair out!

#9 Benjamin Amis

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 05:44 PM

I will chime in with the other members of the OCA who have spoken of having church school before Liturgy: we do the same. ALL Orthodox Christians (including your baptized and chrismated children!) are supposed to stay for the entire service, neither arriving late nor leaving early. It is the body of Christ meeting together to receive our Lord, the parish should not have any other activity going on during the entire time of the Divine Liturgy, through the Post-Communion prayers.

And, of course, we celebrate the All-Night Vigil on Saturday evenings, so there is no issue with Matins attendence prior to Liturgy.

#10 Seraphima Sierra Butler

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:59 PM

Michael, I feel your pain. My children did not participate in religious education (RE) when they were asked to leave liturgy in order to do so. RE should SUPPORT and not REPLACE liturgical experience. In addition to Sunday during Matins, we are doing Saturday prior to Vespers, and have in the past offered weekdays afterschool. I would like to move to time slots that are completely outside of any liturgical event, because I agree with you that we are establishing patterns in the children's attendance during liturgy. At least now the children are able to stay and give thanks to God for the gift of Himself in the Eucharist.

The whole expectation of having RE on Sundays is an outcome of Protestant tradition which is shown plainly in the writings of Schmemann, Koulomzin, Nicozisin, Boojamra and others. Perhaps it will take several generations for the Orthodox Church to unlearn this practice we have absorbed from the West. In the meantime, we can only stand firm in what we believe is right for our families, and hope that our witness and contributions to the discussions can change things for the better.

#11 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:14 PM

I would like to move to time slots that are completely outside of any liturgical event...

The whole expectation of having RE on Sundays is an outcome of Protestant tradition which is shown plainly in the writings of Schmemann, Koulomzin, Nicozisin, Boojamra and others.


Well, it could be that having Church school on Sundays is simply what works. I have done church school classes at about every conceivable time and the only consistent time that the children are present is on Sunday (or at some other regular liturgical service - like Saturday evening Vigil). Any other day of the week just doesn't make it - they don't come (there's always something more pressing or time consuming or that the parents have to do so they can't bring them etc etc.) I don't think that there is much of anything that has to do with all those theological writers you listed - its just that the only time the kids will be brought consistently by their parents is around the service times.

Now I don't and won't have church school during the service - that would be "robbing peter to pay paul" or "cutting off your nose to spite your face" or something else self defeating like that. So you have the class after the liturgy while the parents are sitting around the hall socializing having a little coffee or wine and a light meal. Makes everyone happy(er)

Fr David




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