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


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 04:25 PM

This website and discussion group was originally conceived and created as a place for scholarly and academic exchange. That means that the discussion is prejudiced towards more analytical and complex discussions of what might otherwise be considered minutiae. Given that many of the participants on this forum are academically inclined, is it any wonder that the discussions appear to have that tone.


Yes, I am sure you won't find any old Russian babushkas on this forum. But nevertheless I am sure that, without ever having read any extra commentary, only attending all her life, she gets far more out of the services then I.

Anna, the far too academically minded sheep

#42 Anna Stickles

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 05:05 PM

To which I respond that if modern day believers are having trouble with the complexity with the liturgy, (and Darlene is not the first to express this, Owen Jones has also lamented the lack of a connection in homiletics but that is another matter altogether), then could it be that what you think is deep is actually counterproductive?

Here Fr Raphael has given in brief the reason for the increased complexity.

increased liturgical complexity of a particular direction was chosen to more fully convey the reality of the divine and cosmic worship which the church is part of.

Is it counterproductive? Well, I think here we are dealing with issues similar to what was discussed in the "Local language vs the language of our Fathers" thread. Orthodoxy has not taken a position of trying to come down to the level of the people, but rather to raise the people to the level of heaven.

"Come further up, come further in." says the unicorn in the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia. In other words, Christ is asking us to convert into a deeper knowledge of, participation in, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, ie He calls us to continue stretching ourselves to a more heavenly, more holy level of praxis, knowledge and worship.

But should we expect this to be easy or attainable without effort? Is a worship context where this effort is necessary counterproductive to spiritual growth? I do not think we can say this. IN fact the opposite.

Just to copy here some of Fr Irenei's points from that thread

The traditional Orthodox liturgical use of language is:

  • Never venacular; it is always a different, refined, specific form of a language shaped for divine purpose. It is never the common language of the people.
  • Ascetically orientated; that is, it does not aim to make its contents 'understandable' or 'familiar', but to raise up the hearer to the challenge of transformation and change. Traditionally (even in our earliest liturgical texts) this was accomplished, in part, through the use of carefully-crafted, often archaic, verbal images and structures.
  • Theologically forged; that is, it bases its vocabulary on the accurate ability to ascetically convey divine reality, not on intellectual comfort or familiarity, nor on cultural or social linguistic aesthetics.

What do we have, instead, in our current circumstances? The vast majority of English translations of the Holy Scriptures, quite apart from being made not from Orthodox original texts and canons but from source documents deemed authoritative by external religious and scholarly groups, have been translated into English by groups of religious and scholars who have had a 'translation ideology' that is not only different from, but diametrically opposed to the Orthodox understanding of liturgical language -- grounded instead in the desire to be accessible, understandable, familiar, etc.

Here we can see the two directions which we can choose from. Either demand that things are made understandable and thus we can be spoon fed, staying basically the way we are, without having to make the effort to learn and grow.

Or make the ascetical effort to move out of the common and into the heavenly, allowing ourselves to be transformed in the renewing of our mind so that we can start to see more clearly those divine realities.

Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Consider this Apostolic call to Christian worship - and we cannot read this interpreting it simply as a call to acts of charity as that is not at all how "presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice" is understood in the church writings. This verse is a sacramental statement that grows out of the mystical worship of the church as discussed in my post above. It is a call to identify with Christ in His sacrifice of Himself. This identification is something we do in a special way in each Liturgy, and it is also something we strive to take out of the liturgy letting it permeate every action, thought and movement of our being.

#43 Laura Short

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:39 AM

Orthodoxy can be fully grasped by a child, yet the brightest academic will never fully plumb it's depths before leaving this mortal realm.


For me, this is the beauty of Orthodoxy!

I am of a scholastic bent. In all humility, God has blessed me with a keen intellect (quite a stumbling block, sometimes!) and the adjunct abilities to read and learn and retain and cognate. When I was a Protestant, I hardly thought Van Tilian presuppositionalism or Boettner's Systematic Theology or Calvin's Institutes (in French, no less) were easy reading or shallow learning.

But the depths of the Fathers harken back to my early days in Catholic High School and muddling through St Augustine...in Latin. And I have barely scratched the surface of the surface. Just understanding the beauty and the depths of the Liturgy will keep me enthralled for the rest of my puny life. I remember the fascination, the light-bulb moment I had when I attended all the service for Theophany and heard the numerous teachings on water... how it cleansed, purified, covered, and revealed. I am still meditating on just that one thing: water. Life-giving water.

In any case, thank you for this discussion. Thank you for the links, several pages back, and the teachings I can read that will inform me more about liturgics.

I am happy to be here.

#44 Brian Rowlands

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:03 AM

Over the last few pages discussion seems to have turned to the ‘apparent’ complexity of the services. The last few responses have finally begun to throw light on the ‘apparent’ problem.

Essentially the daily, weekly, annual, Lenten and Paschal cycles are rooted in monastic usage. They are an offering of praise to God; a sacrifice (of time, if nothing else); an exposition of teaching (of the history of the Church and of the lives of the saints) and theological doctrine; prayer.

These services are not there to be studied and dipped into, they are to be lived - 24/7/365. Other than having grown up in an Orthodox community and tradition, one needs perhaps to spend just a few days in an Athonite-type monastery, praying communally the full cycle day by day (not a monastery which gathers for a couple of hours morning and evening to pray the major services only, rather than every service of the daily cycle (and I imply or intend no criticism of that practice – there are places and times where it is the most appropriate)) to begin to experience what the liturgical books have to offer. Spend time at the chanters’ stand with half a dozen books open simultaneously, at the appropriate pages. The ‘apparent’ complexity soon vanishes to reveal a work of polished perfection and infinite beauty. Then start to delve into ‘The’ Typikon. If I were to be stranded on a desert island I would certainly be glad to have a five inch thick typikon (with Mark’s annotations) to study and pass away the hours.

On this forum not infrequently there are questions from neophytes and catechumens asking how to do this or that service, perhaps as a ‘rule of prayer, with or without the blessing of a spiritual father, when it is not considered appropriate or even necessary to attempt this in a smaller monastery or skete. Read again the start of the previous paragraph (and the postings above from the reverend fathers). Not everyone, nor every small community, has the resources, the skills or the needs. Such things belong to the monastery, and the parish church will use what is most useful and most apposite. The Divine Liturgy (which to some extent stands outside of all this) is the most required (and ‘easiest’). If the parish can give to God - and to itself, its people – vespers, matins or the vigil, so much the better. One priest and one reader/chanter is all that is necessary. More is better, of course. If the people come they come, if they don’t they don’t. The more beautiful the service the more likely they are to want to come. If it is an inharmonious confused and confusing muddle it is unworthy. The service should be the best offering, not a slavish attempt to follow a liturgical recipe whose ingredients we do not fully know and understand. The priest, as pastor, recognises the needs and the limitations of his people.

A well established tradition and practice of the services is a good foundation – and some appear (albeit with the best of intentions) to try to build on a poor foundation. Doctrine and theology and sharing one's faith and beliefs, one's knowledge and experience of 'The Truth' are one thing, performance of the divine services on the other hand does require knowledge and experience, particularly on the part of those ‘leading’ the people in the communal prayer of the Church. It is something to have been lived, something in which to have grown up, to some extent, and in which to have matured. It should not be a personal attempt to interpret the requirements of a library of books or to satisfy one's own 'liturgical desires' or one's own perception of what is required of or by the Church.

These observations are not written with the purpose of offending or criticising any person - if they do I apologise.

#45 Christina M.

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:19 AM

I will share my humble thoughts, even though they are probably too simplistic for most of you:

One observation I made is that Sacha seems to be saying (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that the Church has somehow made a mistake in making the services overly complex. If it is true that the Church has made a mistake with Her services, then this is like saying that God made a mistake, since Christ is the Head of the Church. Of course this concept is paired with the presupposition that the Orthodox Church is the Church of God.

But if the Orthodox Church isn't the true Church because the services are overly complex, then where would one go to find this true Church? Are we to believe that somehow one of the over-20,000 Protestant denominations somehow hit the nail on it's head by meeting the perfect balance between complexity and simplicity in it's services?

#46 Sacha

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:37 AM

I will share my humble thoughts, even though they are probably too simplistic for most of you:

One observation I made is that Sacha seems to be saying (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that the Church has somehow made a mistake in making the services overly complex. If it is true that the Church has made a mistake with Her services, then this is like saying that God made a mistake, since Christ is the Head of the Church. Of course this concept is paired with the presupposition that the Orthodox Church is the Church of God.

But if the Orthodox Church isn't the true Church because the services are overly complex, then where would one go to find this true Church? Are we to believe that somehow one of the over-20,000 Protestant denominations somehow hit the nail on it's head by meeting the perfect balance between complexity and simplicity in it's services?


Christina,

This is a difficult topic, and I don't know of any other way to respond to your first set of thoughts other than to ask you this: did God make a mistake as the One who brought the Jews into being, when the Pharisees took His commandments, added to them and burdened His people with a burden they could not carry?

On your second point: let me state it this way: when I watch that video that has since been viewed all over the world, of greek and armenian orthodox monks brawling in the church of the Holy Sepulcher (or when I see the excesses of the 'drive-thru' consumer led church in the US, or the behavior of the charismatics and so on) it intensifies my belief in what I call a theology of fallibility. I do not believe that what Christ calls His church is what we call His church. He who does the will of His Father in heaven, he is the one who is part of His church (Matt 7:21). We are so convinced that we are right, and everyone else is wrong, but I'm afraid it's not so simple. I do not deny anyone the possibility of being part of Christ's church, the one that is defined on His terms, yet I am denied that possibility by the orthodox, because I am not among their ranks. It is what it is. I am at the back of the temple, at a distance, asking God to have mercy on me, as I look around and inward, and acknowledge my fallen nature in a fallen world.

Edited by Sacha, 11 June 2011 - 06:02 AM.


#47 Christina M.

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 10:18 AM

Sacha,
Thank you for sharing your viewpoint.

You are correct that I had brought up a completely different topic, and by no means did I intend to derail this thread. But I am glad that you clarified your position, because I like to see how other people look at things.

#48 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:49 PM

Fr David wrote:

To which I respond that if modern day believers are having trouble with the complexity with the liturgy, (and Darlene is not the first to express this, Owen Jones has also lamented the lack of a connection in homiletics but that is another matter altogether), then could it be that what you think is deep is actually counterproductive?

Anna wrote:

Here Fr Raphael has given in brief the reason for the increased complexity.
increased liturgical complexity of a particular direction was chosen to more fully convey the reality of the divine and cosmic worship which the church is part of.

And then she asked:

Is it counterproductive?



My comments were directed towards answering what is a fair question: why are our present day services of the typikon of St Sava- which were developed in a monastic environment- more complex than say the monastic services of the 4th century Egyptian monks? Isn't this a sign that our services have lost track of their ancient core, and have been covered up over the centuries with distracting material? This in essence was the question asked earlier on in the thread (but of the Liturgy I think); and it is important because the same question is from time to time also raised in Orthodox circles. So it is a serious question that can have serious effects for the faithful, unless we go deeper into why the Church has adopted such services over the centuries.

I would say then that what we have in our services is the result of a prayerful and conscious process which occurred over the centuries. It isn't something that was imposed upon the rest of the Church by ascetics with no connection to the rest of the Church (ie the so called split between monastic and lay spirituality). Rather what we have in our services is the result of the monastic Byzantine typikon being consciously adopted as a liturgical rule for the entire Church. Even historically we can see that this is what occurred- for the evidence shows for example in Russia how the typikon of St Sava was adopted after seeing what was done in Constantinople. Evidently then there is something about this typikon- a typikon which can take many years to feel confident of beginning to grasp- which spoke to the Church so as to promote its adoption.

Here though I think that we have to back up a moment in order to understand why this occurred. First of all we are talking about the Church, not a human institution. Therefore in our present day typikon the Church evidently sees something which accurately reflects Its own spirit and which is meant to carry a message to those who participate in these services. What is this?

As I said yesterday the essence of the present day typikon is its particular ascetic & theological dynamic. This accounts for the length and complexity of the services (eg Matins) for each part speak its particular message, but as set within the greater unity of the whole message which that service is meant to convey.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#49 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:04 PM

did God make a mistake as the One who brought the Jews into being, when the Pharisees took His commandments, added to them and burdened His people with a burden they could not carry?


Of course not, therein of course is the dilemma. Despite being imperfect, despite being "fallen", the Jews were STILL the People of God. "Salvation is from the Jews". Christ still worshipped in the Temple, Christ followed the Law (in the way it was meant to be followed of course) and Christ established His Church through the Jews and their worship. It was not something "new" in that sense. Christ did not leave us the Bible, He left us the Church. It wasn't a mistake and brawling Armenians and Greeks don't change that, just like brawling Cretans and Ephesians didn't. The early Church had problems too, but they were still ONE Church (why do you think the Apostles had to write all those epistles?), not different churches. No organization associated with human beings is going to free from human issues. The Jews certainly weren't and don't be surprised if no church on this earth is.

People can be rather rambunctious. Ask any priest who has survived a "typical" parish meeting. Christ is perfect, we aren't. We Americans can be rather put out about about how those of southern European and Eastern persuasions do business, but to them that is simply how its done, even when it involves brawling. Things tend to be a little more "emotional" than Northern Europeans and typically Americans are used to dealing with. Such is life. Good luck with that search Diogenes, let us know how it goes.

Herman the sometimes rambunctious Pooh

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 11 June 2011 - 01:49 PM.
Added pertinent link. Thanks Olga!


#50 Christina M.

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:19 PM

I do not believe that what Christ calls His Church is what we call His Church

Can anyone please tell me if there is a common name for this type of theology? Is it called "the invisible church", or something like that? (I'm being serious - I would really like to know.)

#51 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:26 PM

Can anyone please tell me if there is a common name for this type of theology? Is it called "the invisible church", or something like that? (I'm being serious - I would really like to know.)


It certainly is not Orthodox theology as found in the New Testament.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#52 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 02:29 PM

Can anyone please tell me if there is a common name for this type of theology? Is it called "the invisible church", or something like that? (I'm being serious - I would really like to know.)


Yes, this is "invisible church" theology.

#53 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:58 PM

Fr David wrote: ...


A small correction: I did not write this, this was from one of Sacha's posts. My later post was actually more of a reaction to his comments.

Fr David

#54 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 04:04 PM

A small correction: I did not write this, this was from one of Sacha's posts. My later post was actually more of a reaction to his comments.

Fr David


Sorry about that Father! I'm starting to get confused with all of the different quotes.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#55 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 04:49 PM

These services are not there to be studied and dipped into, they are to be lived - 24/7/365.


This was the point of my post a couple of days ago. I know that when this is said to someone trying to learn the services, it can sound like you are being difficult or like the Master instructing Grasshopper in Kung Fu. But the actual purpose of such advice is to prevent false impressions for someone trying to learn. It's to avoid cheating them of real knowledge that is gained through the real method by which we learn.

Thus to take even a small example: 'what is the 9th Hour?' An answer: 'it is a small service done before Vespers at the 9th hour'.

Well, this sounds decently straightforward. But anyone who has done the 9th Hour regularly, knows that in parishes this service is rarely done at all, let alone before Vespers. OK- but when it is done is it done at the 9th Hour? Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. And when is the 9 hour anyway?- at 3pm common time or 3pm Byzantine time as on Mt Athos? One of these works- or right before Vespers which could be anytime from latish afternoon to early evening (what happened to Great Lent when we can do this in the morning though?).

OK- so now you've tried to answer when the 9th Hour is done- but you haven't yet begun to answer what the 9th Hour actually is as a service. So now you provide an outline of what constitutes the 9 Hour: 'normal beginning' (what's that? is this always the same- no; when, why, how?); 3 Psalms (but these change at certain times; when?; which psalms never change?); then chanted tropars (what is added here or changes during the eves of certain great feasts, and on weekdays of Great Lent?). This is only the beginning of trying to describe what the 9th Hour is and I'm not sure how helpful such an attempt at an answer is.

The only answer then which can be provided to even this small question, for someone without years of experience of what the 9th Hour actually is, would be 'it is a small service to mark the 9th hour and which can be done before Vespers'. Unfortunately though a person hearing this still has very little idea what you're really talking about. Maybe they don't know this yet- but we do.

So, beyond the most basic of answers as to what such and such a service is, the best answer I believe is to encourage a commitment of time and energy for attendance at services. From my experience it is after some time has been given to this, that questions are best answered, not least because the questions asked relate to a lived reality that is right in front of you.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#56 Sacha

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:01 PM

Fr David wrote:
Anna wrote:
And then she asked:

My comments were directed towards answering what is a fair question: why are our present day services of the typikon of St Sava- which were developed in a monastic environment- more complex than say the monastic services of the 4th century Egyptian monks? Isn't this a sign that our services have lost track of their ancient core, and have been covered up over the centuries with distracting material? This in essence was the question asked earlier on in the thread (but of the Liturgy I think); and it is important because the same question is from time to time also raised in Orthodox circles. So it is a serious question that can have serious effects for the faithful, unless we go deeper into why the Church has adopted such services over the centuries....

In Christ-
Fr Raphael


Fr Raphael, I appreciate your input. When you speak of orthodox circles above, of whom exactly are you speaking of? Are these questions raised among the higher ranked or laity or both?

#57 Sacha

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:04 PM

Of course not, therein of course is the dilemma. Despite being imperfect, despite being "fallen", the Jews were STILL the People of God. "Salvation is from the Jews". Christ still worshipped in the Temple, Christ followed the Law (in the way it was meant to be followed of course) and Christ established His Church through the Jews and their worship. It was not something "new" in that sense. Christ did not leave us the Bible, He left us the Church. It wasn't a mistake and brawling Armenians and Greeks don't change that, just like brawling Cretans and Ephesians didn't. The early Church had problems too, but they were still ONE Church (why do you think the Apostles had to write all those epistles?), not different churches. No organization associated with human beings is going to free from human issues. The Jews certainly weren't and don't be surprised if no church on this earth is.

People can be rather rambunctious. Ask any priest who has survived a "typical" parish meeting....

Herman the sometimes rambunctious Pooh


"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"

#58 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:59 PM

Re: the 'earliest Christians', you wrote:

Now these same Christians had a simple liturgy and were accepted in the Lord's eyes

I am keen to know what you mean by this (specifically); what is the 'simply liturgy', precisely, to which you believe you refer, and where you get your understanding of its simplicity and contents?

INXC, ​Hieromonk Irenei

Edited by Archimandrite Irenei, 11 June 2011 - 07:04 PM.
Typo correction


#59 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 06:58 PM

As others have already hinted at, there is a profound degree of 'fiction' (if I may gratefully copy that usage from Fr Raphael) in the air as to just what early Christians did in their worship; and this was behind the whole 20th-century Protestant fascination with 're-creating the New Testament Church', which has largely died down but still exists in various forms today.

The 'testimony' most often given in support of a vision of some pristine, simple early form (later made complex, etc. - such constructions as we've read above) is often drawn from single statements in the New Testament, or from extracted notes by one or another Father (e.g. St Justin the Philosopher and Martyr, when speaking with Trypho on the significant characteristics of the Orthodox Eucharist). However, these regularly fail to take into account a few very important things: (1) that such comments are made to draw special attention to attributes that are unique to Christian worship, (i.e. things that wouldn't be seen elsewhere in the same way), but which assume the foundation of an ongoing life of the basic worship of God's people that had been ongoing for centuries (a fact explicitly noted in the Acts of the Holy Apostles); (2) that the testimony of all the earliest written records of specific liturgical rites and passages (which, like most Christian writings, come from the third century and onwards) is that the liturgical life and form being recorded there is one of unbroken continuity with all previous generations of Christians; and (3) that the promise of His direction and governance of the Church, made by Christ and which all the early Christians take as truth and fact, means that the lived expression of liturgical continuity in the Church is itself a divine revelation.

To take each of these in a little more detail:

(1) The assumed background of traditional mystical worship. The problem with taking people like St Justin, St Irenaeus, or other early witnesses, as offering definitive explanations of how early Christians worshipped, is that taking only their comments on the particular characteristics of Christian worship, divorces their testimony from the lived continuity that they and all Christians took from the revelation of heavenly worship God gave His people centuries and millennia earlier. The book of the Acts of the Apostles makes it explicit that the first Christians (after the Pentecost) gathered together for their particularly Christian celebrations (cf. e.g. Acts 2.42), but did this as an expansion of an ongoing life of Synagogue and Temple worship, in which they continued to participate (cf. e.g. Acts 2.46; 3.1).

The early Christians worshipped the worship God had revealed as far back as Moses: the mystical worship of liturgical offering and rite; but they did so in light of the fullness of that revelation, to which it had always pointed. Just as Christ did not destroy the Law but perfect and fulfil it, so the worship of the early Church did not do away with that God had shown before, but expose its fulness and perfection - that toward which it had been a preparation. The early Christians' worship was that of the Temple, but sacrifice was now understood fully as completed in Christ, and thus the Temple rite was fulfilled in the Eucharistic sacrifice and fellowship (which St Irenaeus, St Justin, draw attention to for that very reason); it was the worship of the Synagogue, but fulfilled in the true Word fully known in the Son. It was worship of mystical ritual, of ordered and prescribed service with dedicated ministers of distinct roles; it was richly iconographic; it was highly ritualised and included processions, movement, sacraments.

This is in stark contrast to the idea of the 'simple house Church' that is fictionalised out of an abstraction of comments from the continuous reality of Christian worship. There were, indeed, house Churches in ancient Christianity -- but what did these look like? The only one that remains to us is that at Dura Europos, dating from ca. AD 235. This house, used for Christian worship, had the whole concourse of its rooms dedicated to the liturgical progression of that worship: the iconography on the walls make clear that the faithful progressed in procession from themed rooms, one to the next, moving from instruction to baptism, to Eucharist, to fellowship (the basic 'key points' of this liturgical progression being, interestingly, precisely those emphasised by St Justin), all as part of a richly iconographic, liturgical, patterned form of worship that is in direct continuity with the ancient worship that has always been the foundation of Christian life.

(2) The expression of continuity in the early written liturgical rites. The above is reinforced by the fact that our earliest written records of specific liturgical 'rites' (i.e. the detailed texts containing prayers and rubrics/instructions on service) emphasise the continuity with the ancient and continuous tradition of worship, as do the Fathers who commentate upon them. While these texts are of course later (liturgical practice is always first and foremost received by experience and action, not text -- a fact that is just as true today as then, despite our ready availability of texts now), they all draw attention to the continuity with traditional and ancient form. The fact that the various rites are so similar further emphasises that this was a universal heritage.

(3) The promise of Christ to be the rule and head of His Church. The above two points are largely historical and practical -- dealing with how we can rightly read what is borne testimony to in Scriptural and patristic texts, what can be seen from archaeological evidence, textual history, etc. A far more important theological point, however, comes in the necessary requirement of voiding God's promise to be with His Church, if one wishes to envisage a 'pristine simplicity' apart from the ongoing experienced liturgical life of Christianity. Quite apart from the fact that there is no textual, archaeological or other evidence for the 'early simplicity' view, this view drives a strong wedge between God's establishment of His Church, and its continuing life. Man and 'his traditions' become things that 'get in the way' of a pristine authenticity, such that what God actually wants and desires His creatures' worship to be, is not what His creatures' worship is. This is, fundamentally, a denial of God's true headship of His Church, of the Church as His living Body, and of His power to overcome human sin. It is, as never ceases to amaze me, a doctrine that places the power of man's sin above the power of God to overcome it and direct His Church through it. It is a doctrine that finds its most concise form, perhaps, in Mormonism.

It is not Christianity!

INXC, ​Hieromonk Irenei

#60 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 08:32 PM

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?


Dear Sasha,

Since it was my questions to Father that initiated this thread, I would like to say that it was the depth of the Divine Liturgy that drew me toward the Holy Orthodox Church. Although I didn't understand quite a bit that was going on the first time I attended worship, I was drawn in and knew that I was where God wanted me to be. The Liturgy in the Orthodox Church has been a comfort to me, a refuge that I seek, an inspiration to continue faithful to God in the midst of difficulty, a joy to my heart. Never did I experience worship of this nature when I was an Evangelical Protestant. Really, words fall short in describing the peace my soul experiences while worshipping in the Divine Liturgy.

It is my hope, Sasha, that one day you can experience what I have in the worship of the Orthodox Church.

In Our Risen Lord,

Darlene Griffith




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