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The richness of the Liturgy vs. visions of an early simplicity


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#1 Sacha

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 10:38 PM

[Moderator's Note: The first 57 messages in this new thread have been moved here from another thread in which they were originally found. In particular, the thread of discussion now moved here began with the following post in that thread:

Ok, dear Father, as she shakes her head in a clueless way. I hear these words used in Orthodoxy and yet I don't know what they mean. Sometimes I get the feeling that the mindset in the Orthodox faith is that we are supposed to learn by osmosis. But, I don't learn that way. Ah....blame it on my Western mind - I can just hear someone saying that we Westerners think differently. Well, as an educator I've learned that differentiated instruction is often necessary, that Howard Gardner was right, and that different people learn differently. So, Father, I give you a pedagogical opportunity here on Monachos, you being the mentor and me the mere mentee. Could you please answer the following questions in a clear, and preferabley concise manner?

1. When is the 9th hour? (9 pm?)
2. Why is there a 9th hour and what is its purpose?
3. What prayers are said during the 9th hour?
4. Why specifically is Vespers done and how should I benefit from it?
5. What is Compline?
6. When is Compline done?
7. What prayers are said during Compline?
8. What is the purpose of Compline?
9. What is the purpose of the Midnight Office?
10. What prayers are said at the Midnight Office?
11. What are Matins and Orthros specifically?
12. Is there a difference between Matins and Orthros?
13. Are there specific times that Matins and Orthros should be done?
14. What is the purpose of Matins and Orthros?
15. How should I benefit in attending Matins/Orthros?
16. What are the 1st, 3rd, and 6th hours?
17. What is the purpose for having these hours? (1st, 3rd, 6th)
18. What prayers are said during these 3 different hours?

There ya go. I think that is enough questions for now. It seems to me that there is this implicit understanding within Orthodoxy that I should just "get" the faith without actually being taught the faith. How that happens is beyond me, but I'm left feeling like an outsider. So, I suppose that is why we have forums like Monachos. Afterall, how can I appreciate and grow in my faith if I don't even understand it, or even know what I'm supposed to be doing?



This new thread has been created to treat of this specific theme, and begins with the following post offered in reply to the above:]



Wow, that will take quite a while to digest all that information! Can I complete reading all that prior to the eschaton?


While Christ told us to love God with all of our mind, I don't think He implied that a phd in liturgical studies is necessary....

I just shake my head when I see this complexity (see article link posted above).

See the discussion here:

http://www.monachos....ight=collection

starting with post #215


Edited by Archimandrite Irenei, 11 June 2011 - 06:18 PM.
Added moderator's note vis-a-vis move to new thread


#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 11:09 PM

Excuse me, but yes, there is a real DEPTH to Orthodoxy. If one wants to stay in the shallow end of the pool there is certainly no shame, but for those who want to go deeper there are no end to the depths to be explored. We don't all have to become stylites to be saved but there are always greater challenges for those who are up to it. We are not a faith of complacency. There is always something more for those who desire it. And for those who don't, well, that's fine too.

Herman th stylish, but not a stylite, Pooh

#3 Sacha

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 11:21 PM

Excuse me, but yes, there is a real DEPTH to Orthodoxy. If one wants to stay in the shallow end of the pool there is certainly no shame, but for those who want to go deeper there are no end to the depths to be explored. We don't all have to become stylites to be saved but there are always greater challenges for those who are up to it. We are not a faith of complacency. There is always something more for those who desire it. And for those who don't, well, that's fine too.

Herman th stylish, but not a stylite, Pooh


What if what we call depth is not depth at all to the Lord? If a simple church gathering and liturgy was good enough for the earliest Christians, why is that not good enough for us?

Are we more sophisticated and spiritual than those who were sawn in two, eaten alive by lions, crucified, burned alive for their faith?

Also, think about it this way: how many seekers has the OC turned away with this complexity, leading them to believe that they would never be able to assimilate, when the simple pattern of worship would have sufficed to bring them in the fold?

#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 12:09 AM

Protestantism is nothing more than minimalism. What is the LEAST I have to do to get by?

What would my wife say if I said, "honey, I don't want to go the extra mile to get to really know you. I just want you to tell me enough about yourself I can say you're my wife and we will call that a marriage".

I don't think I would stay married long. Like Herman said, there is nothing wrong with staying in the shallow end of the pool? Or is there? Didn't St. Paul chastise the Romans for still drinking milk when they should by that time have been eating spiritual meat?

Didn't Jesus chastise those who said "Lord Lord didn't we prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name? and He said "Get away from me I never knew you"?

Seems to me we are supposed to go a bit deeper in our walk than just sending a Christmas card or Easter card to my wife once a year.

Paul

#5 Olga

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 12:14 AM

Sacha, the folks who *must* understand liturgical structure are clergy, and choirmasters/choirmistresses. Folks who *should* understand liturgical structure are choir singers. For everyone else, it is not necessary to know every detail, though many of us are interested enough in wanting to find out more. What *should* be the case for everybody is to keep one's eyes and ears open during the services, (and to attend, if possible, a range of services within the liturgical cycle, particularly Vespers and Matins) to see what's going on, and to hear and absorb what is read, chanted and sung. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

#6 Anna Stickles

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 12:50 AM

Wow, that will take quite a while to digest all that information! Can I complete reading all that prior to the eschaton?


When I first became Orthodox my parish priest brought up the old saying, "How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time." :-)

Sometimes I get the feeling that the mindset in the Orthodox faith is that we are supposed to learn by osmosis. But, I don't learn that way. Ah....blame it on my Western mind - I can just hear someone saying that we Westerners think differently.

I think it is less a matter of how people learn, and more a matter of feeding both mind and heart.

Our mind learns by reading and study, but our heart learns by participation in the services, also by spiritual struggle through the disciplines of prayer and fasting, and also through our struggle to be constant in the virtues such as humility, kindness, patience and love, etc.

We recognize that the heart is the more essential and central part of us that needs to grow and so we give its nurture proportionally more time, energy and attention then our mind.

btw if the elephant eventually gets eaten I really enjoyed these reflections on the cycle of services :-)

#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:02 AM

What if what we call depth is not depth at all to the Lord? If a simple church gathering and liturgy was good enough for the earliest Christians, why is that not good enough for us?


Because we are not "early" Christians? Why should we become adults? Isn't being a child good enough for "early" humans? Growth happens. Change happens. Deal with it.

Are we more sophisticated and spiritual than those who were sawn in two, eaten alive by lions, crucified, burned alive for their faith?


Exactly my point. Perhaps we need "longer" services and other challenges because we don't get eaten by lions. Oh wait a minute, didn't some of the Apostle Paul's sermons last hours? Something about someone falling asleep and falling from a third story window? When was the last multi-hour service you attended? If it was good enough for them .... Anyway, getting eaten by lions is not what I would call a major recruiting point, how about you? And yet they came. They had lions, we have long services. Maybe we need more crucifixions and being burned alive? If it was good enough for them...

Also, think about it this way: how many seekers has the OC turned away with this complexity, leading them to believe that they would never be able to assimilate, when the simple pattern of worship would have sufficed to bring them in the fold?


As opposed to the people who were attracted to and saved by the beauty of the worship? Like say, the entire Russian nation? Hard to say I guess. If you think a Liturgy is long now, what are you going to think when you are in the ultimate Liturgy for eternity?

And let's face it, you really have no idea what "early" Christian worship was really like, do you? With the Apostle Paul preaching ALL NIGHT, I suspect they might not have been short services even if the descriptions are sparse. I have to suspect early Christian worship was directly descended from Jewish worship, especially since the first Christians were Jews and "trained" that way. And so too is "modern" Orthodox worship.

As has already been said, we are not minimalists, we are maximalists. We want all the God we can get. We are greedy for God and are sad that other people aren't. We are not into what suffices, we are into what saves. We want beauty, not convenience.

But that might just be me.

Herman the inconvenient Pooh

#8 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:43 AM

Because we are not "early" Christians? Why should we become adults? Isn't being a child good enough for "early" humans? Growth happens. Change happens. Deal with it.


This is deeply insulting to the earliest christians. Polycarp a child? I don't think so, your grandstanding notwithstanding.

Exactly my point. Perhaps we need "longer" services and other challenges because we don't get eaten by lions. Oh wait a minute, didn't some of the Apostle Paul's sermons last hours? Something about someone falling asleep and falling from a third story window? When was the last multi-hour service you attended? If it was good enough for them .... Anyway, getting eaten by lions is not what I would call a major recruiting point, how about you? And yet they came. They had lions, we have long services. Maybe we need more crucifixions and being burned alive? If it was good enough for them...


What do you know of me and what services I have attended? You are distorting what I said. I never implied that crucifixions etc are needed today. That is a straw man. What I was implying was simply that these early christians did not have complex liturgies and yet, look at their faith! Is it not pristine, pure, accepted in the Lord's sight? Are they inferior in any way to a modern day believer, I sure hope that is not what you are saying. They don't need your evolution or growth.

As opposed to the people who were attracted to and saved by the beauty of the worship? Like say, the entire Russian nation? Hard to say I guess. If you think a Liturgy is long now, what are you going to think when you are in the ultimate Liturgy for eternity?


The entire Russian nation? You mean the one I read about today on cnn that is the leading producer of child pornography? You mean the one that compromised with communists and is now forging an unholy alliance with the government? It is the Lord's prerogative to decide who is saved or not, not yours.


And let's face it, you really have no idea what "early" Christian worship was really like, do you? With the Apostle Paul preaching ALL NIGHT, I suspect they might not have been short services even if the descriptions are sparse. I have to suspect early Christian worship was directly descended from Jewish worship, especially since the first Christians were Jews and "trained" that way. And so too is "modern" Orthodox worship.


I do know what it was like, whether you can accept that or not. The writings of the early fathers and others are there for all to see.The Didache is very revealing as to what took place in those services, as well as the writings of Justin Martyr etc. And there is nothing close to the complexity you find in the type of liturgy described above.

Edited by Sacha, 09 June 2011 - 02:02 AM.


#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:48 AM

Wow, you really know how to twist words well beyond their meaning. Nobody is calling St Polycarp a child. I am not saying that the first Christians were children, you are totally missing the metaphor. I have to believe that we are simply talking past each other and not to each other. You seem to have no desire to listen so I'm done.

Enjoy the rest of your discourse. At least you seem impressed with it.

Herman the finished Pooh

#10 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:55 AM

Protestantism is nothing more than minimalism. What is the LEAST I have to do to get by?

What would my wife say if I said, "honey, I don't want to go the extra mile to get to really know you. I just want you to tell me enough about yourself I can say you're my wife and we will call that a marriage".

I don't think I would stay married long. Like Herman said, there is nothing wrong with staying in the shallow end of the pool? Or is there? Didn't St. Paul chastise the Romans for still drinking milk when they should by that time have been eating spiritual meat?

Didn't Jesus chastise those who said "Lord Lord didn't we prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name? and He said "Get away from me I never knew you"?

Seems to me we are supposed to go a bit deeper in our walk than just sending a Christmas card or Easter card to my wife once a year.

Paul


I do agree with you that protestantism in large swaths does emphasize minimalism and that is a tragedy. The whole 'pray this prayer and you are saved' thing.

But that is not what the earliest Christians believed in. They steadfastly taught that obedience was paramount. Now these same Christians had a simple liturgy and were accepted in the Lord's eyes (which is all that we can ask for). Who is anyone therefore to say that they were 'children' and we are 'adults'. That is completely off kilter.

Does not Jude speak of the faith once and for all handed down and entrusted? What more is there to add to that faith, which included liturgical worship? Nothing, if one believes that it was indeed complete.

#11 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:56 AM

Wow, you really know how to twist words well beyond their meaning. Nobody is calling St Polycarp a child. I am not saying that the first Christians were children, you are totally missing the metaphor. I have to believe that we are simply talking past each other and not to each other. You seem to have no desire to listen so I'm done.

Enjoy the rest of your discourse. At least you seem impressed with it.

Herman the finished Pooh



Your metaphor is meaningless and irrelevant, is what my point was Herman. What is the relevance about the child/adult worship comparison when we know that those earliest christians had such an inspiring faith to all of us, to the extent that we still quote them and learn from them 2000 years later?

Edited by Sacha, 09 June 2011 - 02:15 AM.


#12 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 02:02 AM

Sacha, the folks who *must* understand liturgical structure are clergy, and choirmasters/choirmistresses. Folks who *should* understand liturgical structure are choir singers. For everyone else, it is not necessary to know every detail, though many of us are interested enough in wanting to find out more. What *should* be the case for everybody is to keep one's eyes and ears open during the services, (and to attend, if possible, a range of services within the liturgical cycle, particularly Vespers and Matins) to see what's going on, and to hear and absorb what is read, chanted and sung. Lex orandi, lex credendi.


I disagree on your first premise (sentence) there. The Lord said love your God with all your mind and I would want to understand everything about the liturgy, because that's loving God as well.(There is no need to disconnect this from loving God with the heart, that is as important and the two are connected) And yet when faced with the enormous complexity of the greek liturgy, it is very easy for someone to be discouraged and disheartened. Would it not be fitting to return to the simplicity of the liturgy of the first century? Was there anything inferior about it? If not, then why not make it accessible to everyone who walks in the church? I mean look at the title of the thread. Could it be that the liturgy is too complex for people to have a meaningful sense of what is going on and that is why few show up? Now I'm sure it's not complex for all of you posting here, but you are certainly not an unbiased sample.

#13 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 02:46 AM

I don't know this answer so please fill in my blanks. Wasn't James the brother of the Lord the first Bishop and wasn't he credited with the first Liturgy? Did not Paul and Peter go to him for a decision and as head of the church he did make that decision? (I can't remember what it was).

What was the first century liturgy? I thought I was told it was some 4 hours long. St. Basil got it down to 3 hours and St. John Chrysostom got it down to 2 hours. So it seems to me we are pairing down the liturgy from the first centuries, not adding to them.

Paul

#14 Christina M.

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 02:52 AM

Also, weren't the first Christian services adapted forms of the Jewish synagogue worship? Don't we know that the Jewish services were elaborate (or "complex", if you will) and full of symbolism? I think a lot of this is described in Levitocus, if I remember correctly.

P.S. I don't know the answers to these questions, so they are semi-rhetorical.

#15 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 03:00 AM

I don't know this answer so please fill in my blanks. Wasn't James the brother of the Lord the first Bishop and wasn't he credited with the first Liturgy? Did not Paul and Peter go to him for a decision and as head of the church he did make that decision? (I can't remember what it was).

What was the first century liturgy? I thought I was told it was some 4 hours long. St. Basil got it down to 3 hours and St. John Chrysostom got it down to 2 hours. So it seems to me we are pairing down the liturgy from the first centuries, not adding to them.

Paul



As far as dating goes, this is what wikipedia says:

The Liturgy of Saint James is considered to be the oldest surviving developed for general use in the Church. Its date of composition is still disputed with some authorities proposing an early date, perhaps ca. AD 60, close to the time of composition of Saint Paul's epistle to the Romans, while most authorities propose a fourth century date for the known form, because the anaphora seems to have been developed from an ancient Egyptian form of the Basilean anaphoric family united with the anaphora described in The Catechisms of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

#16 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 03:07 AM

Also, weren't the first Christian services adapted forms of the Jewish synagogue worship? Don't we know that the Jewish services were elaborate (or "complex", if you will) and full of symbolism? I think a lot of this is described in Levitocus, if I remember correctly.

P.S. I don't know the answers to these questions, so they are semi-rhetorical.


Yes they were elaborate. But Christ supercedes them, and when He said do this in remembrance of me, the gospels do not describe an elaborate/complex ritual. And when you consider what Justin Martyr relays about the worship service, one would be hard pressed to find complexity there. I think there is an unspoken mistaken assumption that simple means void of depth. That could not be further than the truth. The last supper is simple in its execution, but amazingly deep in its meaning. I think we shouldn't necessarily equate elaborate rituals with depth that honors God.

#17 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 03:49 AM

We know what the liturgy has looked like for 1700+ years or so. What are you suggesting we go back to?

Jesus and his 11 disciples were reclining at table and in a 5 minute period had consumed His body and blood. Are you suggesting we solmenly eat and drink and go home? The story doesn't say they sang songs or prayed or anything other than listen to Him tell how He was going to die.

So what do you want to see happen to the 1700 year old liturgy we have? And what is your idea of a Sunday rememberance service?

#18 Sacha

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 04:52 AM

We know what the liturgy has looked like for 1700+ years or so. What are you suggesting we go back to?

Jesus and his 11 disciples were reclining at table and in a 5 minute period had consumed His body and blood. Are you suggesting we solmenly eat and drink and go home? The story doesn't say they sang songs or prayed or anything other than listen to Him tell how He was going to die.

So what do you want to see happen to the 1700 year old liturgy we have? And what is your idea of a Sunday rememberance service?


Read the words of Justin Martyr in describing the worship service in the other thread, if you are truly interested. That is what the early church did on Sunday as a remembrance. Read the book of Acts. There is a remarkable correlation between the two accounts. Read the other historical accounts. They gathered, broke bread, prayed, sang praises and hymns, heard a sermon, collected offerings, helped the poor, orphans and widows among their ranks.

Also, think of this: the one thread that has really generated a lot of attention recently has not been one on doctrine or anything else, but rather the 'Nettle' thread, where people have been getting to know each other informally. A key feature of the thread is the sharing of recipes. I don't think that's a coincidence. Isn't this reminiscent of the love feast, the agape meal that the early church took part in? Isn't that more conducive to fulfilling the Lord's command to love one another than an extremely complex service that no one understands fully except the priest, choir and one or two dedicated brainy people? You speak of eating, drinking and going home. Why can't it be praying, singing, hearing, sharing food and drink, celebrating communion, helping the needy and then going home.

#19 Olga

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 11:25 AM

Read the words of Justin Martyr in describing the worship service in the other thread, if you are truly interested. That is what the early church did on Sunday as a remembrance. Read the book of Acts.


Two points which need to be made:

1. St Justin Martyr wrote at a time of vigorous and sustained Roman persecution of Christians. Elaborate and public displays of Christian worship in most parts of the Empire would have been quashed most swiftly.

2. I reiterate to Sasha the words of John 21:25 : And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. Orthodox Christianity is implacably opposed to the notion of sola scriptura.

Sasha, you also wrote:

Isn't this reminiscent of the love feast, the agape meal that the early church took part in?


The love feast was conducted after the liturgical observation. A rough equivalent to the love feast would be the present-day artoklasia/blessing of bread (in its fullness, a blessing of bread, wine, oil and grain), conducted during the commemoration of the Twelve Great Feasts and a good number of lesser-ranking ones. There is also provision for this little service to be conducted as a service of thanksgiving outside of the times specified in the Typicon.

Isn't that more conducive to fulfilling the Lord's command to love one another than an extremely complex service that no one understands fully except the priest, choir and one or two dedicated brainy people?


A most patronising and insulting observation, Sasha. I direct you to what I wrote in an earlier post:

Sacha, the folks who *must* understand liturgical structure are clergy, and choirmasters/choirmistresses. Folks who *should* understand liturgical structure are choir singers. For everyone else, it is not necessary to know every detail, though many of us are interested enough in wanting to find out more. What *should* be the case for everybody is to keep one's eyes and ears open during the services, (and to attend, if possible, a range of services within the liturgical cycle, particularly Vespers and Matins) to see what's going on, and to hear and absorb what is read, chanted and sung. Lex orandi, lex credendi.


You are still missing the point.

#20 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 11:54 AM

Dear Darlene,

It's probably best to begin by saying that everything in the Church is learned only in reference to our participation in Her ongoing life. Therefore we learn chiefly through experience but also we learn how the Church lives in reference to what we see going on right before us within the Church (which is really only participation in another way when you think of it).

Or to say it another way- I could explain to you over and over what the 9th Hour is. But you will never really understand what I am talking about until you either take on the commitment to participate in and attend the services. Or else you develop a greater awareness of what the Church at large does on a daily basis. The Church then in this way becomes real, living, and present to you. And from this you begin to understand Her way of life which is reflected in Her services.

Begin then through commitment to the Church. Then I would suggest that if you wish, you can increase your knowledge in terms of what you see and experience within your parish and daily spiritual life. This is always the best and most authentic way of learning within the Church.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael




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