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Originally Posted by Dr John
Dear Sister "Lady Byzantine", I have read your post and am somewhat confused.

I think that some of the text changes are decent - they bring us closer to our Constantinople tradition (like "theotokos") and ultimately grease the skids with our Orthodox brethren. We were "one" until the translations were made from Slavonic to English in the 1920s up to the 1950s. Some of the Byzantine-Catholic translations were really kind of "romantic tradition" and rather 'free' in terms of rendering the Slavonic. But they were comfortable for the people in the pews. And to change them now is a real assault on the peoples' worship. Any changes should have come from the community of people and not from some committee of experts. I trust the babas more than anybody else.

I beg you to not move away from the Byzantine Catholic church because of changes. As long-time Byzantine/Carpatho-Ruthenians, we need to stand with our parish communities and the people in them. I always remember: it's the PEOPLE who are the church. And whenever I get frustrated about the 'official' stands on X, Y or Z, I remember Tom, Mary, John, Daria, Monica, and Jack who are my fellow worshippers - and I realize that I could NEVER move away from these incredibly wonderful people who have been stalwarts of the parish and incredibly wonderful supporters of myself and the other members of our parish. It's the PEOPLE!!

Blessings to All!

Dr John


Dr. John,

I am very confused by your post.

You seem to think that this is just a translation issue because we were 'one' with the Orthodox when Slavonic was the norm everywhere. Do you realize the differences in rubrics that exist now in the official translation compared to the red book and orthopraxis. Do you realize that one verse antiphons is not the norm? Do you realize how many litanies are cut out of the RDL? etc.

Go to St. Elias (a Greek Catholic parish) in Toronto sometime if you can and you will see a complete liturgy. It takes from 100-120 minutes as opposed to the 45 minute liturgies that take place in many parishes in the BCA. Now I can already hear the cries that it's not the time that matters, so on and so forth, but the salient point is don't tell me that we are greasing the skids back to the Orthodox when one can be in and out in under an hour. Why did I bring up the time factor, because anyone with a fifth grade education can figure out that things are missing from the RDL when they are in and out in under an hour.

If you are going to do any begging, I respectfully ask that you beg the BCA to allow the Red Book because it is the BCA that has changed and moved away from the people. Beg them to have Vespers and Matins at least at their cathedrals and at as many parishes as possible too. Beg them to remove the pews so that the people can do proper prostrations.

Your heart definitely is in the right place by having the fellowship with those you worship with, but it is matter of how much is too much for one to take. Some have a different breaking point. Some have a different place of refuge. Some have sought the Orthodox church, some, like myself, have gone to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Monomakh

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Originally Posted by Dr John
I think that some of the text changes are decent - they bring us closer to our Constantinople tradition (like "theotokos")

I find it rather interesting that you think the term "Theotokos" is perfectly understandable, but the word "mankind" is not.

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Originally Posted by Etnick
Dr. John,

While I appreciate your stand to fight for what is right, how long should one wait for the wrong to be corrected, if it ever is? A year, two, five, ten? Hasn't the Byzantine Catholic church been through enough in its history?

This recent chapter was not needed, and has caused myself and others to leave for the Orthodox church. If everything was corrected tomorrow, I would not run back to the BCC, because it ran away from me in the first place. Ones church should be a source of peace and stability in an otherwise chaotic life here in the U.S..

I know, the Orthodox church is not perfect, like any other church, but I've never been more at peace spiritually since becoming an Orthodox Christian.

Continued prayers for the Ruthenian Greek Catholics.

Christos Voskrese!

I concur with this.

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The future is not looking good. Many "Pirohy Rust Belt" churches
will be closing. The elderly parishioners with no Ruthenian Church near by(you know, the old "Chapels of Conveniece") will be forced to go to their local Roman Church. What will the few younger faithful do? Drive 10-20 miles to attend a Ruthenian RDL parish? Assimilate into a local RC parish? How many will choose to attend an Orthodox parish, and how many of those will just join the Orthodox Church of what ever jurisdiction?

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Brother Monomakh, I hear your points and generally agree. "Dumbing down" the liturgy is not spiritually profitable; it deprives the community of 'prayer forms' that may (or may not) be useful to the baptized faithful. I do remember the 'Litany of the Catechumens' and wondered why we were doing this when we didn't have anybody coming in. But, hey, perhaps we were praying for folks in other parishes.

It's pretty clear that the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom has had a number of emendations over time. The variances between the Greek and Serbian/Ukrainian/Russian/Romanian/Albanian/Damascene etc. recensions bear witness to this. The intro to the Liturgy involved the Patriarch getting vested in one place and then processing to the Temple is a clear example. Same for the bishop and the pastor. (Our opening psalms and litanies were present for 'something to do' while the clergy processed to the altar. It's the old musicians': "vamp until ready" practice!)

My own perspective is that of the Holy See: when doing anything regarding the liturgy, LOOK TO OUR ORTHODOX BRETHREN FOR THE MODEL. Thus, the Liturgikon published in Rome in the late 1940s should be the gold standard - it was and is the best delineation of what our liturgics have been.

This does NOT mean that we worshipping Christians can't make emendations. This has been the practice since time immemorial and gives the liturgists a reason to exist and study this. So, in the U.S., when it is Super-Bowl Sunday, and the priest decides to give a one minute homily, it's just accommodating the needs of the faithful. No biggie!! Liturgy is, as the term demands, the action of the people.

As for doing Vespers and Matins, I agree that they are among the most inspirational services because of their texts. But the fact is: people (even the most devout Orthodox) don't generally attend. Among Greeks, Othros is standard on Sunday morning before the Liturgy. But you can generally count on the fingers of one hand the folks who are there for the "Blessed be God". Vespers on Saturday is more a Slavic thing. A few people attend, but not many. I once went to the OCA cathedral in Boston for the Vespers of a feast day. The priest was vested and standing before the altar, waiting for someone to arrive. I, and another Jesuit seminarian came through the door, he looked at us and then began. Thank God we knew what to do, sorta-kinda.

The poor priest was a bit flummoxed when he realized that there were more Uniates in the church than Orthodox. (No problem - he was grateful that there was someone there to pray with him for the feast.) Thus, my perspective that we have to get beyond this Orthodox/Catholic stuff. It's the prayer and worship.

Ung-Certez, I agree that the future isn't looking too rosy for the Byzantine Catholic/Ruthenian churches in the Rust-Belt. Our older people will certainly be damaged by the closure of the local parish churches. Should they be forced to go Roman, it's a serious failure to provide for the people. Should they find an Orthodox parish that fulfils their spiritual needs, then all well and good. Johnstown parishes will be pretty comfortable with the same liturgical practices, music and 'family' atmosphere; OCA churches with their current issues and their GREAT RUSSIAN!! perspective might be somewhat uncomfortable.

One would hope that there would be serious examination of the current parishes and their locations and the assignment of priests to serve the people so that all the Byzantine Catholics (old and young) could have a satisfying home.

To be honest, I'd rather the older folks (and the youngers) find a spiritual home that mirrors their heritage so that they can continue to find God and practice their faith as they have done for many decades. In this case, jurisdiction shouldn't seem to be the primary concern.

I attend a Ruthenian parish (for more than 30 years!). The liturgy has 'changed' somewhat. But what keeps me attending is the people in the community with whom I have a relationship. They welcomed me more than 30 years ago - a strange Greek among the Carpatho's - and they continue to be the bedrock of the parish and my relationship to it. I could go elsewhere in a heartbeat, but when I list the names of the people in the parish and their kindness to me (and my stroke-victim Mom), I cannot consider going elsewhere. Indeed, it's kind of 'ethnic' and 'cradle', etc., but it works.

It's the people. Not the hierarchy, not the clergy, not the liturgy, or anything else. It's the baptized faithful who constitute the loving, baptized-Christian community. And I am eternally grateful for the wonderful people in our parish. And I hope that the people in 'dying' parishes will be able to find solace in being with other good Christian people of whatever jurisdiction. People who really care.

Blessings to All!

Dr John

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Dear Brother John,

In honesty, can we as Christians justify chopping the several hours out of the week that we give back to God as concessions to pastoral sensitivity? Isn't the role of the Church to elevate mankind to the level Of God, not drop the Godhead down to mortal levels? Should not the Church have expectations for the laity to meet? Yes, Orthos, and Vespers are poorly attended. Now we can address this in 2 ways. The first way is to eliminate them and pretend that there is no problem. The correct way, of course, would be to present the standard and educate and encourage the faithful to meet it. Just like in school. we can lower the standards and make everybody an A+ student (which, unfortunately, we have done in this country), or we can maintain proper standards and assist the students with meeting those goals.

As far as your comment "It's the people. Not the hierarchy, not the clergy, not the liturgy, or anything else. It's the baptized faithful who constitute the loving, baptized-Christian community.", this is congrgationalism. There are many good people right down the street from me. Nice, family oriented people, gathered together at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness. What separates "these" good people from Christians? The hierarchy, the clergy and the liturgy that you have dismissed so readily.

Hold fast to that which has been passed on to you.

sinner Alexandr

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Brother Alexander, I understand what you are saying. But the church is "congregational" in the sense that it is the baptized people who are the church. And when baptized people leave, the congregation is diminished.

And if we have the opportunity to ensure their continued participation, are we not sinning when we require adherence to a particular format for worship. This is not to say that we should jettison some things or everything, but rather that we should clamor to make sure that they (as well as everyone else!) is a part of the community. It's not a 'dumbing down' but rather a keen awareness of how to keep human communities intact.

The main question is: the Gospel demands that we love God and love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, and how do we encompass the un-churched to do this demand of the Lord? If we require adherence to one or other set of liturgical or cultural practices, we once again shoot ourselves in the foot and set ourselves apart from the reality of the world around us.

While 'coming apart from the world' and its values (spiritually!!) is a good thing, demanding that people adhere to a specific set of practices that are not consonant with peoples' real, daily lives, is setting the Christian community up for failure.

Holding to practices of XYZ year might be historically significant, but if people can't accommodate it, then what is the value. [I think of the fasting practices that prohibit me from 'back-boned' tuna fish during Lent, but allow Lobster and crab cakes. In my U.S. circumstances, eat the foolish tuna as the penance (as opposed to meat, shellfish or dairy) and give a pass to the Lobster and crabmeat. Not 'traditional', but surely penitential!] It's the circumstances that make the determination, not the rules in a book.

As for the liturgical practices, too often the services are at 8:00 or 10:00 a.m. Most working adults are at their jobs and can't attend. Sometimes the services are at 7 or 7:30 pm and many can't get to the church from work. In our current economy, many folks work beyond their usual quitting time. When the question is: 'church' or keeping the job and income, most will opt for a paycheck and a roof overhead and food on the table.

AS for the prayer, I find myself on the subway every morning and evening, and I hunker down in my seat (if I get one!) and I use this time to prepare my day and to pray that I do good to everyone that I meet. It's a good thing.

The Lord, as God, came down to us as a human being to show us how to live according to God's plan. We aren't denigrating God when we look to the Christ as the model for our lives. As a human being, He was human in all things, sin alone excepted. So, we look to the Lord as a guide for our lives. We must consecrate our human lives to God's plan in the most loving human way that we can devise. And the Lord of the Gospels is our model.

We must continually pray and meditate on the realities of our salvation so that we fulfill the mandates that Christ gave to us. And we must pray that the Holy Spirit will come to us to guide our every action - and He will come, because Christ promised this to us. We can't be afraid to change things for fear that we will screw up. The Holy Spirit, the butt-kicker of humanity, will be there to make sure that we do what the Lord demands of his baptized faithful.

Blessings to All!

Dr John

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Originally Posted by Recluse
Originally Posted by Etnick
Dr. John,

While I appreciate your stand to fight for what is right, how long should one wait for the wrong to be corrected, if it ever is? A year, two, five, ten? Hasn't the Byzantine Catholic church been through enough in its history?

This recent chapter was not needed, and has caused myself and others to leave for the Orthodox church. If everything was corrected tomorrow, I would not run back to the BCC, because it ran away from me in the first place. Ones church should be a source of peace and stability in an otherwise chaotic life here in the U.S..

I know, the Orthodox church is not perfect, like any other church, but I've never been more at peace spiritually since becoming an Orthodox Christian.

Continued prayers for the Ruthenian Greek Catholics.

Christos Voskrese!

I concur with this.


I agree too.

When we fail to attend church services without a good reason, we miss the mark (we sin), because we do not really love God. This prayer might be familiar ....

Quote
AN ORTHODOX CONFESSION WHICH LEADS THE INWARD MAN TO HUMILITY

From "The Way of a Pilgrim"

Turning my eyes carefully upon myself and watching the course of my inward state, I have verified by experience that I do not love God, that I have no religious belief, and that I am filled with pride and sensuality. All this I actually find in myself as a result of detailed examination of my feelings and conduct, thus:

1. I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually thinking about Him with heartfelt joy. Every thought of God would give me gladness and delight. On the contrary, I much more often and much more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking about God is labor and dryness. If I loved God, then talking with Him in prayer would be my nourishment and delight and would draw me to unbroken communion with Him. But, on the contrary, I not only find no delight in prayer, but even find it an effort. I struggle with reluctance, I am enfeebled by sloth, and am ready to occupy myself eagerly with any unimportant trifle, if only it shortens prayer and keeps me from it. My time slips away unnoticed in futile occupations, but when I am occupied with God, when I put myself into His presence every hour seems like a year. If one person loves another, he thinks of him throughout the day without ceasing, he pictures him to himself, he cares for him, and in all circumstances his beloved friend is never out of his thoughts. But I, throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a single hour in which to sink deep down into meditation upon God, to inflame my heart with love of Him, while I eagerly give up twenty-three hours as fervent offerings to the idols of my passions. I am forward in talk about frivolous matters and things which degrade the spirit; that gives me pleasure. But in the consideration of God I am dry, bored and lazy. Even if I am unwillingly drawn by others into spiritual conversation, I try to shift the subject quickly to one which pleases my desires. I am tirelessly curious about novelties, about civic affairs and political events; I eagerly seek the satisfaction of my love of knowledge in science and art, and in ways of getting things I want to possess. But the study of the Law of God, the knowledge of God and of religion, make little impression on me, and satisfy no hunger of my soul. I regard these things not only as a non-essential occupation for a Christian, but in a casual way as a sort of side-issue with which I should perhaps occupy my spare time, at odd moments. To put it shortly, if love for God is recognized by the keeping of His commandments (If ye love Me, keep My commandments, says our Lord Jesus Christ), and I not only do not keep them, but even make little attempt to do so, then in absolute truth the conclusion follows that I do not love God. That is what Basil the Great says: 'The proof that a man does not love God and His Christ lies in the fact that he does not keep His commandments'.


Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

Last edited by Elizabeth Maria; 05/17/08 01:42 AM.
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John, wouldn't it be better to make people's life Church and God-centric rather than to merely accommodate God into the schedule of people? From what I see, people aren't leaving because Church is too demanding, but because they are spiritually unfulfilled by the Church's attempt to accommodate mammon. Don't water down the Bride of Christ to accommodate the lowest common denominator. Instead, raise the lowest common denominator to a level where all can become one in Him. Through the Grace of His Holy Church.

Alexandr

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I understand the perspective of making our lives “God-centric” and subordinated to the spiritual reality of service.

The problem, clearly, is the fact that most working people have specific hours when they have to be at their stations. Taking time off for religious purposes is without a doubt covered by the Labor standards, but in reality it can lead to trouble. For the non-employed, whether retirees or students, there is not quite the same problem. Sister Elizabeth-Maria's perspective is a valid one, but it applies to the monastics, whose 'job' it is to meditate and to pray. For working people, it's a whole different reality.

I think the big thing is: how does one progress spiritually and in prayer (and good deeds!) while maintaining the employment that ensures a roof over one’s family’s head and food on the table – not to mention clothing and other ‘luxuries’.

Monastics have a leg up on us regular folks on this one. Their ‘job’ is to meditate and pray. And the people provide support to the monasteries that enables the monastics to accomplish this necessary function in the Church.

For us working folks, we need to discern ways that we can accomplish the very necessary “work” that provides the paycheck, but also ways that we can fulfil our spiritual needs and not force a choice between the two. Here is where the 'gender-neutral' translations comes into play.

While earlier communities had clearly defined roles for men and for women, and their daily 'employment' tasks were clearly defined, our contemporary lives don't make too much of a distinction between men's jobs and women's jobs, and a unified language/description would seem to be more in order with respect to the current reality. So too, a use of 'common' words to exemplify scriptural messages for today's working people would seem to be the appropriate way to go.

I am more than aware of the referential elements of scriptural texts...."X in the Old Testament" refers to Jesus, so we have to maintain the 'male' referent" but on a more pedestrian and obvious level, the blunt, straightforward literal meaning of a text in terms of morals and behaviour needs to be primary. And if a moral obligation or 'lesson' applies to everyone with a soul, then ensure that the message is transparent enough to include both the boys and the girls, then don't restrict it to the boys only.

Blessings to All!

Dr John



















Prayer and meditation are critical for every Christian. And these activities take time. Thus, we MUST find ways that provide the time for meditation and prayer. This is a huge challenge in our everyday lives.

Problems arise when the “church” makes a schedule based on historical not contemporary realities, and expects the faithful to accommodate themselves to it, e.g., feast day liturgies at 10:00 a.m. when most working folk are at their desks or on the assembly line or other duty-station. Suggesting that these working folks are somehow abdicating their Christian responsibilities by being absent from services is just wrong.

In the “old country” (whatever that might have been), absenting one’s self from the fields for a few hours wouldn’t have been a huge problem. In the contemporary U.S., it’s grounds for termination. Not good.

A hundred years ago, labor unions (mostly loudmouth Irish and German Catholics – and Jews) fought for the weekend, and got it. Otherwise, Sunday would be just another workday and there would be no concession for people to go to church. And many unions still have Good Friday as a day free from work to attend church. In Europe, the workers still have Easter Monday as a holy-day to attend church, as well as Assumption Day in August, and All-Saints/All-Souls in November. Not to mention Christmas. But how far can we push?

The Church MUST be accommodating to the needs of its people as they engage in their daily work. We’re not agrarian societies anymore where one controls one’s schedule.

People should be encouraged to pray during the workday; they should be aided to take a minute or two – or ten – to stop and focus on God and their personal spiritual state, without jeopardizing their employment.

Liturgical celebrations must be attuned to people today, and to their workday realities. Historical elements are to be respected as part of our community history, but what is happening now needs to be the yardstick for determining what our contemporary practices should be.

Blessings to All!

Dr John

Last edited by Dr John; 05/17/08 03:49 AM. Reason: Stupid clause structure
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Sorry for the craziness of the preceding post. I was editing and hit (apparently) a wrong key that submitted what I was working on.

How does one 'anathematize' a computer program?

Dr John

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Dear Dr. John,

You wrote: “And to change them now is a real assault on the peoples' worship.”

That is the only thing in your post that is accurate. The bishops have assaulted the people with their reformation.

Lady Byzantine

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A interesting article titled "Making the Word of the Lord PC" that appeared in the Irish Press in 2000. I think at about mid-way it quotes a Greek Catholic Archimandrite...

http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2000/09/10/story359251138.asp

james

ps via crescat blog...

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Mea culpa, it's not via the crescat... crazy james


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Brothers and Sisters, I beg your indulgence in my preceding post. I was working on several different ideas that were seperated and ultimately were spread apart in the post. And the program just enlisted them in the post. Sorry.

Blessings to All!

Dr John

Last edited by Dr John; 05/20/08 04:01 AM. Reason: Programmatic computer hegemony!
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