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Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Tim] #290427 06/02/08 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim
I am waiting for someone to comment on what strikes me as an overly generous comment of Fr. Taft's on the Liturgy of the Hours: "Similarly, in the East the Liturgy of the Hours has remained what it was meant to be, an integral part of the worship of God’s people." Would that this were so! Allowing that the good Father may have a different perspective based on the practice of Eastern Churches in Rome, this does not describe a situation with which I am familiar in this country. Looking back over the past fifty years or so, I cannot recall any BCC or UGCC parish where the Liturgy of the Hours was an "integral part" of parish worship outside of Great Week and Easter. Vespers does seem to be making a hesitant return in some parishes these days. Matins seems still to be prayed rarely, however. The Lesser Hours seem to be unknown. Methinks we have a way to go.

I suspect that Father Taft was speaking about the integration of the Liturgy of the Hours into the overall Liturgy of the Church rather then an "as prayed in parishes". It should be noted that while parishes in Europe and the Middle East usually have a fuller liturgical life it is still seldom complete. The liturgical life in monasteries remains the model. In America, Holy Resurrection Monastery and Holy Transfiguration Monastery (both in California) and Our Lady of Solitude (Warren Center, PA) all keep pretty much the full cycle of liturgical services. My personal guess is that at some point there will be an authentic renewal, and we will see the growth of Vespers and Matins. But that the Liturgy of the Hours will not be celebrated in most places. It would be good if at least all cathedrals and pro-cathedrals had the full slate of services.

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Administrator] #290429 06/02/08 06:14 PM
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Fr Serge Keleher Offline
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While I fully agree with those who deplore the near-extinction of Vespers and Orthros in most of our parishes in North America, there are two points to be considered:

1) there has never been a time when the Greek-Catholics in the diaspora have had enough priests or enough qualified chanters - let alone enough deacons. In many cases, it has been imposible to have Vespers and Orthros on a regular basis - and what is not done regularly cannot become familiar to the faithful; and

2) the catechesis which insisted and insists that "Mass" is the utterly essential service and that everything else must give way to the "Mass" has, unfortunately, been successful. Some of the aberrations this gives rise to must be seen to be believed.

Fr. Serge

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Fr Serge Keleher] #290436 06/02/08 07:15 PM
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Tim Offline OP
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Very interesting insights from Fr. Serge and Administrator.

I hope to be able to ask Fr. Robert when he is here for OL XII if he intended to distinguish between monastic "Church" and parish "Church" and how the accomplishments of the one can compensate for the deficiencies of the other. I would also like to ask him how the Liturgy of the Hours can be an "integral part of the worship of God's people" in a Church that celebrates them in full only in a handful of small monastic institutions.

I wonder if Fr. Taft would consider the paucity of priests, deacons and chanters in the Byzantine Churches either as an excuse for their jettisoning the Hours, or as a reason for there having been no success in reviving this element of our liturgical prayer. From a lay perspective, I am tempted to add that perhaps we ought to be looking at ways of celebrating the Hours that do not require the presence of priest or deacon. With resources like the Sheptytsky Institute materials and their counterparts in the BCC, along with some good recordings, committed layfolk may surprise all with what they can achieve.

I wonder, too, if Fr. Taft might have some insights into what might be done to re-balance the liturgical life of the Byzantine Churches, and whether the widespread practice of combining Vespers, for example, or the celebration of one or another Mystery, with the Eucharist has had its own unintended effect of muddling our liturgical perceptions.


Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Tim] #290437 06/02/08 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim
I wonder if Fr. Taft would consider the paucity of priests, deacons and chanters in the Byzantine Churches either as an excuse for their jettisoning the Hours, or as a reason for there having been no success in reviving this element of our liturgical prayer.

I have no idea how Archimandrite Taft will respond to this question.

Father Serge touches on some key issues. Many in the Byzantine Catholic Churches have accepted (perhaps unconsciously) the idea that a liturgical service that does not involve Eucharist is not worth celebrating. We have lost that sense of Vespers & Matins being services that prepare the faithful for the Eucharistic Liturgy.

Further, I think this issue goes hand in hand with the issue for some that a service is not worth the praying if only 3, 5 or 15 participate. I know numerous priests who say they would celebrate Vespers or Matins but won’t because they would not get enough participation to justify the effort. I daresay the root of this problem is a lack (by our whole Church) of understanding of prayer, and the power that flows from even two joined in prayer. It has been my observation that two gathered in prayer in His Name always grows to three, and then four. In our 21st century American culture perhaps a realistic goal would someday to attract 20% of the Sunday crowd to the Vigil.

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Administrator] #290440 06/02/08 08:29 PM
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More interesting thoughts from Administrator.

I wasn't expecting an answer, of course, when I raised the rhetorical question about Fr. Robert's views.

I wonder if Admnistrator is not accepting "perhaps unconsciously" the very idea he seems to reject. Is it true that the purpose of Vespers and Matins is "to prepare the faithful for the Eucharistic Liturgy"? I had rather thought that they were sufficient in themselves as an element of a fabric of public prayer at the center of which stands the Eucharist. It's something like saying that Penance exists only to prepare for the reception of Holy Communion.

As to his final point: I realize he's referring to the views of some old-style clerics. Is liturgical prayer a numbers game? Didn't Someone say something about "two or three gathered in My Name"? Does it even matter if two never grows to three? Is the problem one of clericalism and the idea that the prayer is less "holy" if two or three layfolk pray it than if it is led by priest or deacon?

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Tim] #290441 06/02/08 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim
I had rather thought that [Vespers and Matins] were sufficient in themselves as an element of a fabric of public prayer at the center of which stands the Eucharist.

To say that Vespers and Matins prepare one for the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy does not suggest that they do not stand well as liturgical services, each by itself.

To say that the Mystery of Penance prepares one to receive the Eucharist does not suggest that the only reason for Penance is to prepare one to receive the Eucharist.

Do one or more elements of Vespers and Matins point specifically towards the Eucharist which will follow at the Divine Liturgy? We can see differences in structure of the daily office between an ordinary day (i.e., no major saint or commemoration) and a Sunday or a Great Feast (and those in between). Using Sunday as an example, are the differences only because Sunday is a mini-Pascha? Good topic for discussion.

As to my final point (that Tim references), the views of some priests that I referenced are not necessarily limited to “old-style clerics” (unless we are defining old as any priest over 30!). Does it matter that it might not grow to three? No. But usually it does (my point was that good prayer is not just powerful but attractive).

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Administrator] #290442 06/02/08 09:16 PM
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Fr Serge Keleher Offline
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It is, perhaps, useful to keep in mind that Father Archimandrite Robert has never been a Parish Priest. That experience also has its significance in the consideration of parochial worship.

Incidentally, a good friend of mine is a married priest in a large parish in Pennsylvania. He and his family had the Vigil, every Saturday evening, faithfully, for seven solid years. Rarely, one or two parishioners came - but never the same ones returning. As the years went by the number of parishioners apart from the priest and his own family members fell to zero.

The parishioners had no hesitation in telling the priest that they were willing to come to Church once over the weekend, but not twice. He feels badly about it, but eventually his own children wearied of the obligation on a Saturday evening.

I mention this to indicate that the problem - which is a real problem - is not easily solved.

Fr. Serge

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Fr Serge Keleher] #290476 06/03/08 12:12 PM
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In my parish, one dynamic that has contributed to larger attendance at Saturday evening Vespers is what one might call the "Eastern factor."

The parish is very dedicated to the Eastern liturgical and iconographic traditions - and are "known" for this. Whenever the former parish priest would tell us that "we don't do this, but, instead, that" in accordance with Eastern spirituality, the thing caught on like wild-fire. (In fact, when he told a group of students that pews were not in accordance with our tradition, the kids actually went to get some hammers and screwdrivers and then headed for the church . . .).

In short, since Vespers on Saturday evening is important to serve "in accordance with our tradition" then there are people who make a real effort to come out for it.

Priests also dedicate portions of their sermons to "liturgical-spiritual formation" and this appears to be very successful in the long run. (Another reference to Scripture is "How can they believe if they have not heard?").

One former priest in that parish (the Rev. Fr. Archimandrite of Eire came to know him very well) was given to simple comparisons of East-West practice, referring to the "Latins" and always, of course, with the view to even slightly denigrating the "nonsense" that went on in the Latin Church (as a way to combat what he felt was a "liturgical inferiority complex" among our parishioners - when I read about Archimandrite Panteleimon and his attitude toward Rome, it wasn't anything I hadn't heard before!).

And where the ingrained Western traditions the UGCC picked up were next to impossible to expunge, the parish priests did some creative things with them. For example, there was no way our parish was going to give up the May devotion. So during the week, the Paraclesis (with Canon) to the Most Holy Theotokos is sung (with quite an amazing daily attendance) and on the weekend the full Akathistos Hymn is celebrated both days. So they use the practice of attending Church daily in May as a way to open our parishioner's vistas to even more to solid Eastern liturgical practice.

And when there are some who need a little extra prodding in this department, an appeal is made to their egos e.g. "Look, our parish sets the STANDARD for the Eparchy in this regard . . ."

Who can disagree?

Alex




Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Deacon John Montalvo] #290514 06/03/08 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
Initiation- the holistic patristic unity of was dissolved during the Middle Ages, and further devolved by Pius X. As a result of communion before confirmation, penance became an initiation rite of the Latin Church.
I found this to be a most interesting insight.

Re: TAFT ARTICLE IN AMERICA [Re: Hesychios] #290540 06/04/08 04:50 AM
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Reverend Fathers, sisters and brethren,

You are all correct and should be commended for not hiding behind the mystical while avoiding the psychological and practical. Change is organic and I believe that is why Christ is heavy on the why and light on how His Churches are to operate.

One important factor is distance. Unlike a monastery most can’t just walk across the street to attend church as most parish neighborhoods have been eradicated as “urban renewal”. Here I do have a generous selection of churches to pick from. Sunday morning I travel to our usual Sunday morning parish in 10 minutes. Saturday the same route would take 20 minutes and on weekdays with rush hour traffic that could take 45 minutes even for a 7:30 PM service. There is a local Orthodox church that takes me 5 minutes where I attend Saturday vespers when I can. Weekday Gregorian holiday vespers I go to yet another Church I can travel to within 15 minutes. How many in the pews wish to juggle such a schedule with their already complicated lives, especially without computer friendly current event calendars on web sights to know if and when a services will be held. Many parishes cannot hold evening services because of worry over drive by shootings, there goes the working class and their families.

Yes life is complicated. Saturday my daughter fixes dinner for 6 PM. The Mother of God understands how important it is to get a family with conflicting schedules together even for one dinner. I must also decide if cutting my grass on Saturday negating Vesper attendance (unless I want to smell) is better than the scandal of doing it on Sunday. The Divine Liturgy takes a priest while Vespers, Matins and the like I can be the (royal) priest at my conveyance at home. This does not bring into the equation the many worthy religious TV and radio programming available. Where is our EWTN?

In Holy Pittsburgh WE have a church on every other corner, with dozens of services on the same days and times. Why must everyone have Presanctified on Wednesdays and Fridays? Souls are more important than cannons. Its too bad we don’t have a public listing for a geographic “neighborhood” offering Saturdays services at noon at the GOC, 1 at the OCA, 2 at the BCC, 3 at the CROC, 4 UGCC, 5 RC (why not?), 6 SOC, 7 UOC and 8 at the Methodists (spiritually good, even if sacramentaly flawed) to aid the people to fit God into their schedules of commitments. So what if the Greeks want to salt and pepper with 5 minutes of “Keye Eleison” or Ukrainians open with a “Xpuctoc Bockpec” and the Catholics use the Gregorian Calendar prescribed scripture. Tandem languages is cosmopolitan rather than an inferiority complex, Scripture is Scripture and it’s our Tradition. Just ask Saints Cyril and Methodius.

The most important remark the Revered Fathers made is to explain changes. The people in the pews do not want their time wasted listening to rambling “Spirit move” messengers, who are unavailable to ask questions later due to ablutions and the like. It needs to be prepared and explained verbally and repeated, even if caned. Bulletin write-ups are archaic for the common parishioner, professionally produced CDs and VCRs might be cutting edge. With the new “radical orthodox” clergy seemingly challenging that which we were rebuked as "defenders of orthodox" for saving only yesterday, kid gloves are needed today. Presentation is everything. Remember the old adage “How many Ukrainians does it take to change a light bulb? WE DON’T CHANGE!”

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