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Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: AMM] #310187 01/21/09 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by AMM
Basically, I look at his writings as a mix of good and not so good.


I agree.

Originally Posted by AMM
I find his journals very disturbing


I do as well.

Originally Posted by AMM
I am thankful a program of liturgical reform has not gained acceptance in the church.


Amen.




Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Paul B] #310191 01/21/09 02:06 PM
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"Faith" is a deep feeling from the soul, as shaped by the Church and the Holy Spirit, of God's love, mercy and brotherly yet Divine care of me as a person -- created in the image of God, receiving the Gift of Redemption, and baptized as an heir to the Kingdom.

"Religion" is adherence to Church rituals, customs and traditions (small "t"). This adherence may be a very enthusiastic embrace (everything MUST be done according to the letter of the law), or a minimumist "least I can do and still be in good graces" member.


Fr. Deacon Paul, that makes sense, and certainly others such as Bonhoeffer have come to similar conclusions.

I think the problem for us as Orthodox is the rituals are part of deposit of faith, and probably our the principle element of it. So we can not easily separate out these two in to neat categories. I very much agree that both elements you describe above are needed.

I will go one step further and say that one problem I have with academic theology, and in particular liturgics, is that as I perceive it there can be a critical disconnect from the actual lived community of faith and worship. I say this as a complete outsider to the academic world. It is my perception though. My own feeling for instance seeing what is going in at St. Vladimir's surrounding all of this is that little of real value will come out of it, and possibly some bad.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: AMM] #310206 01/21/09 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by AMM


I think the problem for us as Orthodox is the rituals are part of deposit of faith, and probably our the principle element of it. So we can not easily separate out these two in to neat categories. I very much agree that both elements you describe above are needed.

I will go one step further and say that one problem I have with academic theology, and in particular liturgics, is that as I perceive it there can be a critical disconnect from the actual lived community of faith and worship. I say this as a complete outsider to the academic world. It is my perception though.


Christ is among us!

I think most people would agree with your comments about academic theology; it becomes important when there is a synod or Council and there are theological matters on the agenda; it can be useful for catechetics but should be explained at the layman level, and mostly as a supplement to basic faith formation.

However, I think that Fr Schmemann's journal entry in the opening post has merit; for a change in ritual, rubrics, hymns, etc should not be an occasion to drop out of Church membership -- or, shall we say, to lose their "faith." But then, this is my humble opinion.

Along a similar line, divorce and remarriage outside the church is very prevalent in our ill society. So now the church shuts these people out; then their children are also shut out. How can this be addressed? There is an insurmountable wall built and the Church, rather than looking for the lost sheep, basically condones damnation of both the guilty and innocent.
'Tis a nasty dilemma which has has no practical solutions if the normal tradition (small T) of the Church is followed.

I don't pretend to have any solutions to this problem, but my soul is pierced to see so many broken families which are either unchurched or go the Protestant churches. Then we point out that we are losing our youth for some reason.

He is and shall be!
Fr Deacon Paul

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Paul B] #310220 01/21/09 08:55 PM
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However, I think that Fr Schmemann's journal entry in the opening post has merit; for a change in ritual, rubrics, hymns, etc should not be an occasion to drop out of Church membership -- or, shall we say, to lose their "faith." But then, this is my humble opinion.


Depends on the change I suppose. Of course one shouldn't lose faith, but one can seek to change to where the faith is more properly expressed and practiced. In my humble opinion.

Quote
Along a similar line, divorce and remarriage outside the church is very prevalent in our ill society. So now the church shuts these people out; then their children are also shut out. How can this be addressed? There is an insurmountable wall built and the Church, rather than looking for the lost sheep, basically condones damnation of both the guilty and innocent.
'Tis a nasty dilemma which has has no practical solutions if the normal tradition (small T) of the Church is followed.


Which re-affirms a belief of mine that our problems are largely pastoral and not liturgical.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: theophan] #310247 01/22/09 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by theophan
Maybe it's about the whited sepulchre. All formal and good on the outside but did any of the purification offered get inside. I ask myself that every time I don't seem to be the kind of example I think a good Christian ought to be. And it's not about looking down on someone else who doesn't see what I see. It's about wishing that they'd get the grace to see the riches they are presented with.

BOB


Dear Bob ...

I just happen to be 'in town' and dropped in on this thread and really have not read it all yet. I was going through it getting the favor of the thread … and stopped here at your words above.

I think your words (the thought they represent) is very profound.

I am real tired tonight my 2 cents ... may not be worth much.

The crux of the question is: The holiness that it is the church's responsibility to present to us (and to the world) ... as differentiated from our individual or personal holiness.

Where does our personal holiness come from??

In a way … there are two schools of thought. And these two beliefs often pull at each one of us - at the same time. One day we feel this way and the next day we feel that way - or they can collide in us and we are really confused.

It is absolutely true that we all (at times) use the church as a wobbie-blanket. You know ... that security blanket that a child drags around everywhere and sucks on a corner of it - and feels secure and safe when he has it and in total panic if it can‘t be found (mom is washing it).

Being humans - I think we all have our seasons of doing that wobbie thing. I know I have had my seasons of doing that.

Allow me to thrown out some thoughts to kick around.

Is it wrong? (using the church as a security blanket) .. well .. in the ultimate ... using the church as a security blanket (and only as such) does not do one a bit of good for personal holiness. No matter what anyone else may say ... I say that we can not ride on the coat tails of the church as a method to get into heaven (whatever heaven may be). God demands our cooperation as he forms us into his own image ... and THAT cooperation takes place ‘out there’ in the events of daily life. The people we work with, the strangers we meet, the hard times we weather, the goods that we can reach for that may hinder us ... etc.

Personal holiness ... really does not happen as a result of going to church and rituals ... it takes place 'out there' in the everyday life we have in the world and the choices we make everyday by conscience or not. That is the real theater in which Providence (hidden inside and behind so many seemingly mundane daily events) does His work on us. This same path to holiness (cooperation with God through our conscience while involved in what appears to us to be normal and natural daily events) is available to every human no matter his religion. Sanctification is not exclusive to this or that ... or any ... particular church - for the simple reason that no church (not one) can sanctify - anyone. This thought had often been codified in early Church Councils under the rubric that the salvific sacraments of the church - are not - magic. They do nothing by themselves. They are only effective in the fertile ground of a good conscience and the accumulation of virtue (another was to say cooperation with Providence in our daily lives) which fertile ground can be had by any man anywhere..

The idea that the church saves us … if we assiduously attend rituals etc.. is certainly an enticing one. As if we absorb holiness simply by attending church services and do all the rituals well .. A member in good standing. And certainty at the height of political (social) Christianity (Christendom) ... When the Western church went so far as to define union with Peter as the only means to salvation … one was made to feel that membership in the church … social and political … actually made one holy just by that membership alone. If one accepted the primacy of the Pope … and abided by all church laws and regulations for membership - salvation was assured. So in crept the concept that the church imparted salvation to its members. To this day that idea remains very strong and is at the root of any ideas of church exclusivity (MY church is the TRUE church and YOUR church is not).

Guilt (good ole Roman Catholic guilt) was a powerful weapon to keep the political structure of the church intact. You are guilty and only we (this particular church) can fix that (you had better be a member). And so the action of Providence (the only REAL thing that makes anyone holy) in everyday life - faded away to be replaced by social and political membership in a particular church..

So - one need not look to far to find where it is that we laity have this nagging feeling that our membership in the church (and attendance at ritual) automatically imparts holiness into us (we absorb it in some way) and that attendance to church will overflow into our daily lives and should ease and smooth everyday life for us. If we attend church - holiness will spill over into normal daily life.

So - this though - is what Father Schmemann is trying to get at. However the way he is trying to do it - is to say that what is happening is not real effective because people are not absorbing well what church has to offer. Holiness is not being transferred to the people. Father Schmemann in trying to understand why attending church is really not being effective to change people - and is assuming that the presentation must be done - better. The presentation must be more effective.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a more effective presentation of the treasures and guidance of the church. As long as a balance (or continuity) is maintained between tradition (the past) and a more relative expression to us of the 21st century culture.

But as you note well … someone who IS doing the daily cooperation with Providence .. WILL be thrilled at church even if the human aspect of the presentation is lacking and dull. And that person will wonder why everyone else is not as thrilled as he is. What’s wrong with them!!?? Can’t they see how wonderful this all is???!!

The truth is - some are there to absorb holiness from the church (wobbie blanket) … and some are there because being there compliments the way they live their own life in cooperation with Providence day by day.

Q: Which am I?
A: The answer to that is day by day and week by week.

Sometimes I want my wobbie and sometimes I am looking for a little assistance and encouragement for when I go back out there and have to deal moment by moment at trying to live my daily life by my conscience with each event that comes to me.

Ultimately - there are no inviolable steadfast rules that one can live his life by (there is no rule book). We WANT these rules in order to learn and apply (note the Roman Catholic catechism is now over 800 pages!!). But union with God remains on the mystical level (an existential and dynamic experience). We would like holiness to be something we can learn (like school) and graduate and be certified in. I spent 14 years in school and I am now a Doctor, a lawyer, policeman, etc… I spend plenty of time in church so I must be saintly!. So we have this habit of thinking “I go to church and know all the rules .. So I must be holy” (or at least not guilty any longer). The original idea of Protestantism was that the Bible (not the Pope) WAS that rule book.

Now the funny human thing about all this is ... that when we do not have (or are involved with) personal holiness on a day to day level - we automatically switch over to 'wobbie mode'.

Our nature MUST have God. That is built right into us. No way around it. And if we do not have the real living God (alive and active in a mystical union with our conscience) then that hole (lack of the real living God) which abhors a vacuum - fills that place with a reasonable facsimile (an idol of God).

Rules.

Do you see that? Does it makes sense to you?

When Eve was tossed out of the garden (Eve represents our psychological mind of thoughts and reasoning) that exile is equal to the place where God should be alive in us - - - is now empty and void. This condition is totally against how our nature was designed. Our psychological mind (Eve) automatically creates a reasonable-facsimile and fills that spot with an image (idol) of God. And so Eve says upon the birth of Seth “I have made for myself … a god.”

(The English translation of that passage “I have given birth with the help of god” is wrong).

The sense of that passge is that if we are not in a living union with the living God - our psychological mind will automatically create (give birth to) a replacement that we can follow and worship as it it were God.

Now isn’t that exactly what we humans do?? Yes it is.

For some - our god is money. For others our god is politics, power, sexual pleasure, and for some the idol which stand in the place where God should be is - religious fundamentalism.


And so the Church (material and earthy with rules and rituals) will always be - both. That is: transparent through which we can see the real living God which can not be known by the senses AND opaque by which we believe God to be rituals and rules and membership.

It depends upon our own personal state of soul at the time.

This is why I have sometimes said that the Church is the ONLY idol which God allows us. And only reluctantly too.



What is missing?? What is the catalyst which transforms the idol-church into a transparent window through which we can experience the living God himself …?? what is the alchemy which turns lead into gold?? and (most importantly) HOW shall we know the difference between the idol and the real McCoy???

It is not - the presentation. Father Schmemann is mistaken, but understandable so, and I admire him for even recognizing a problem and nearing the subject. The Church does not impart holimess to anyone ... that is the task of Providence alone. The Church CAN assist us ... IF and only if ... we ourselves make the ground fertile (good conscience and cooperation with Providence on a daily level).

Father Schmemann has missed the mark of what the catalyst (that turns a wobbie into an assistant to personal holiness) ... is. But I preach to the choir because you already know what the catylist is Bob. It is present in your life. It is bound up in our personal pray and how we pray. Not all prayer is transforming. There is much ignorance and plenty of misinformation regarding personal prayer. meditation, and contemplation. Too many books written by people who would like to have us think of them as holy and that they know all about prayer hen they really do not.



My post here is already too long and I have to make out a job application needed tomorrow … so the catalyst will have to wait.

Peace be to all who live by conscience and know how to cooperate with Providence.

-ray.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Ray Kaliss] #310251 01/22/09 03:59 AM
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To sum it up, in the words of one of the great Christian illuminati and spiritual teachers, Saint Gregory of Sinai...

"The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realised in two ways. First - to speak generally - this gift is revealed... through arduous and protracted practice of the commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments the radiance of the Spirit is increasingly manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God."

St. Gregory of Sinai.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Ray Kaliss] #310268 01/22/09 12:23 PM
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(I have a few minutes this morning before work as I woke up early)

I would love to talk about prayer. Personal prayer ... but many people would be surprised ... people who have been mostly mislead by many authors who write about prayer. I would need to draw on personal prayer (once called mystical prayer) as it was practiced before the 17th century.

Saint John of the Cross is easy to understand once one puts his writing into context of his times - before we knew so much (as we do now) about the structure of the mind (thanks to Freud, Jung, Fromm, etc..) ... John did not have the tools of even the concept of the 'subconscious' ... and so one needs to know what he is talking about but transposed a bit into modern terms (we are not living in his culture - we are formed by the 20th and now 21st century terms).

Most Christians think of prayer as a real mystery. They do not know that it really is not such a mystery anymore. It was no mystery to John of the Cross! He taught it to many of his sons and daughters ... and they too became saints. And John of the Cross got it from John Cassian. There is always a thread .. a trail ... one can follow. Pick out any great saint and you will find that his spiritual father was a 'mystic' and the people that he himself guided - became mystics. This is true for the Spanish mystics and also true for the European mystics of England and the Rhine.

We should return to the concept of contemplation as it was amoung the early fathers of the church .. the Anchorites and hermits of the desert ... and one will then find out that our current concepts of prayer across the majority of Christians today .. is but a shell and shallow understanding of what had been the depths of personal prayer.

Another subject I would love to approach is the current concept (given to us by so many books and biographies of saints) that when one becomes spiritual (yes - let us use the term mystical life) ... our life down here becomes smooth and etherial like and troublels seldom come to us and if troubles do come - we pray for them to be fixed and God makes them go away. In our wobbie-mode we imagine the spiritual life to be a smooth life in the clouds were we should not be getting sick, we have enough money to pay bills, life is sweet, etc... a bit more like the American Dream of chicken in the pot and a nice car and steady employment. To my knowledge .. God could care less about the American Dream (not that it is exclusive to America). God care about our relationships with other - people - he cares that we are supported in THAT theather. Hardly anyone knows how St John's writings became a political football after his death - how they were fought over by the Church - nor does anyone remember that Saint John of the Cross died from cancer lingering many months with that horrible illness.

We are often sold this lovely picture of sainthood ("you TOO can have this") in just the same way that Padre Pio's body has now become an advertising gimmick.

But forgetting all that ... we do not really need to know why and how the Church has failed in modern times to produce saints (change us) what we do need to know is how we DO become saints .. and that has to do with the catalyist of personal prayer.


what is prayer?
in contemplation - are we empty of all thoughts?
must I always say the prescribed prayers?
does God speak to us in dreams?
do I pray with eyes open or closed?
what if something unusual happens during prayer - what does it mean?

How do I know that God is active in my life - beyond just believing He is? Do I just have 'faith' in God's presence in my life - or does there ever come a time when God does something that blows my mind and faith is not needed because what happened to me is just beyond all doubt?

But .. I often yak yak yak in here and I would not want to approach these subjects if no one was interested in what I say about them. Perhaps I should start a blog - I have really been thinking about that lately. Maybe even audio mp3. I would LOVE to talk about this stuff.

-ray

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #310270 01/22/09 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Hieromonk Ambrose
this gift is revealed... through arduous and protracted practice of the commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments the radiance of the Spirit is increasingly manifested in us.
St. Gregory of Sinai.


Absolutely true. Today we call (what this good saint was talking about) we call it Abandonment to Divine Providence .. a cooperation we do with God as he arranges and brings to us .. the events which comprise our daily lives. God is hidden behind the seemingly so mundane and boring and often troublesome events which come to us hour after hour. Spending time at church is good - but the real work of personal holiness is accomplish 'out there' in the theater of the ordinary.


Originally Posted by Hieromonk Ambrose
Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God."

St. Gregory of Sinai.


Again .. absolutely true. This is sometimes call the Practice of the Presence of God ... sometimes it is called 'mindfulness'. It is the practice of keeping one's attention entirely upon the present moment. In this way we do not live in what we imagine the past to have been - nor do we live in what we imagine that the future should be - instead we live in the existential reality which God surrounds us with - and THAT is called - - Providence. Our attention is upon the eternal NOW created for us at every moment by God himself. This - is where God is present. This is where God is alive. This is where God is always doing his work.

No matter if we call it 'existential reality' or if we call it 'the present moment' or if we call it 'mindfulness' like the Buddhists do .. or we call it Tao as the Chinese do ... or we call it "Providence" as we Christians do ... it is what it is despite what we call it - and we need to live in it. It is the first expression of the living God toward us as individual. It is tailored just exactly for each of us. It is God speaking loudly right at us - it is the quintessential "word" of God that speaks creation out to us. It is available to any man and every man, woman, and child no matter where they live, when then lived, who they are, or what religion they follow - or no religion at all. God makes himself available to everyone everywhere just as a father would make himself available to all his children and not just some of his children. It was the main form of holiness as practiced by the desert father and they went to the desert were all distractions from it were absent. But we do not need to go to the desert for it once we know what it is, what it does, and why it works.

What I used a ton of words to say in my long post .. was said in few words by this quote. Cooperation with Providence during all hours of the day and personal prayer - here is where holiness lay. It is no mystery. It is not handed to us by the church. We do not come to the end of our life, hope in the mercy of God, and hope that we find ourselves 'saved'. No one gets to heaven (after death or even today while we yet live in the body) without a knowing cooperation with God (Providence - doing the will of God).

Our knowing cooperation is needed. If we find ourselves saying secretly "Well .. I THINK I know God in my life ... I try to believe that I know God is in my life because the church tells me God is in my life... I try to have faith in it but I really do not know for sure.." then how can one cooperate with God? How can one cooperate with something he really doesn't know? It is impossible.

The catalyst which begins the real transformation is prayer. And the practice of the presence of God - is one form of real prayer. There is no mystery to it. This practice removes us from living in what we had thought the past to have been (we are wrong about what we thought had been) and it keeps us away from living in an imaginary scenario of what we think the future will be (and we base our expectations of the future on our memories of the past). This practice plats us firmly in the only reality there is - this moment NOW. Unwittingly to us .. we are firmly planted into the eternal from which all things flow. It comes to us through our senses (God enters us from the outside) and it comes to us from the inside (our conscience). God looks upon God - and we are smack dab in the center of that meeting.

If people knew that this too is prayer - perhaps they would run to it.


OK .. OK.. I will shut up now unless invited to talk further.

-ray


Last edited by Ray Kaliss; 01/22/09 01:44 PM.
Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Ray Kaliss] #310302 01/22/09 10:57 PM
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My suggestion is that if one wants to understand the passage written in the first and original post one should read 'Introduction to Liturgical Theology' by Father Alexander. It would paint the background for understanding the incomplete passage in which Father Alexander was quoted in the original post.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: Orthodox Pyrohy] #310408 01/24/09 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul B


As has been reflected on this forum, the "flaws" of our "religion" are among us. Recognizing them is the first step toward correcting them; the next challenge is for us to bring our personal worship and our congregation's to a higher level, not as measured by this earthly level, but to a super-natural level.


I know I come in a bit late - especialy to address the original post. But......

Thank you Father Deacon Paul for posting this. It's interesting, and I think the snippet I kept from your original post is of course quite interesting.

The quote reminds me of a question posed by another book - "Hymn of Entry" by Father Vasilios Gondikakis, then the abbot of the Monastery of Stavronikita on Mount Athos. At the beginning of the book he describes Christianity in terms of "a manifestation of grace and as the fullness of the new life which renews the earth-born and the whole of the world" - and after talking about this some he asks the question

Quote
The painful problem is this: how can contemporary man fulfill his liturgical nature? How can we bridge the gap which seperates theology from life? When this is achieved, then new streams will water our thirsty land, and the sap of our deep-rooted Orthodox tradition will generate the shoots of our courage and our life. Then we shall appreciate the single, unique and universal quality of Orthodoxy, which sums up everything in itself [when he says "Orthodoxy", to my understanding he means is nothing less than a Trinitarian life revealed in the events of "salvation history"]. We shall appreciate that there is no basis for comparison with anything preceding or subsequent. Orthodoxy conceals within it all that has gone before, from before the ages, and that all that will come to be subsequently, without end


I guess our main problem is, how do we do this in our world? Many of our parishoners would rather be at the mall than at church most days (this is true here, maybe even truer in some of the "old countries"). Among us who are at church, how many of them really understand what's going on (Fr. Alexander's point,I think)? Can we teach them this in religious ed class? I don't think so, beyond a basic level of facts. How many of us lead essentially secular lives where Church is one place and the rest of our life is seperate (another point Fr. Alexander discusses in his Great Lent book)? How do we confront the drastic changes that have taken place in Christianity since the Reformation (and counter-reformation) and the subsequent rationalism, atheism, etc. which cannot but form our consciousness?



I personally think we have all the answers readily with us. All we need to do is partake of it, and learn from those who are further along (our spiritual fathers).

I'm personally not particularly fond of blind obedience. Everyone at Church should understand what's going on at our services. This is especially so for our acolytes (who IMO should be plentiful and range in age from boys to adults), cantors and clergy - all of whom should be able to answer in their own terms why such and such is at a particular point during a service, and the service's role in the liturgy of the Church.

As for the Typicon and "liturgical reform" - the rubrics represent the faith of the church. That said, historically there have been several different typica (e.g. the Saint Sabbas Typicon versus the "Cathedral rite" performed at Haghia Sophia - see the works of Father Robert Taft) and I'm sure that there are differences between monastic typica today and cathedral typica (and maybe even the typica of Constantinople, Moscow, etc.). As far as I'm concerned, the typicon completely changable - but only by right people of a local church (i.e. bishops, hegumen of monasteries) for good reasons which are informed by serious scholarship on the tradition of the church and which are integrated with the faith and the life of the Church. I don't think that many of the "liturgical reforms" and proposals I've seen -among all flavors of Christianity - of the past 50 years meets those criteria, unfortunately.

Last edited by MarkosC; 01/24/09 03:26 AM.
Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: AMM] #310490 01/24/09 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by AMM
Quote
However, I think that Fr Schmemann's journal entry in the opening post has merit; for a change in ritual, rubrics, hymns, etc should not be an occasion to drop out of Church membership -- or, shall we say, to lose their "faith." But then, this is my humble opinion.


Depends on the change I suppose. Of course one shouldn't lose faith, but one can seek to change to where the faith is more properly expressed and practiced. In my humble opinion.

Quote
Along a similar line, divorce and remarriage outside the church is very prevalent in our ill society. So now the church shuts these people out; then their children are also shut out. How can this be addressed? There is an insurmountable wall built and the Church, rather than looking for the lost sheep, basically condones damnation of both the guilty and innocent.
'Tis a nasty dilemma which has has no practical solutions if the normal tradition (small T) of the Church is followed.


Which re-affirms a belief of mine that our problems are largely pastoral and not liturgical.


AMM,

We seem to have come to a common general agreement. With regard to your opinion that our problems are "largely pastoral and not liturgical" I agree.

Please don't take this to mean that I think our pastors are doing poorly; I have a great respect for them and commend them on their willingness to administer multiple parishes. Rather they have no "training" to take on one-on-one communication with modern day problems. How many experiences do they have in seeking out those who have given up attending worship because they are too embarassed or feel condemned?

What I mean is, how do you even know if a woman or a member of a family has had an abortion? Generally (I think) a priest won't seek out the woman; he will notice she hasn't been attending but for what reason. The same with a new divorce -- yes, the clergy should have been contacted for counseling -- but does it happen most of the time? How does the clergy approach someone who drops out? Is contact attempted to find the reason? Is there a follow-up visit a month after the funeral?

There has been a detachment between clergy and laypeople that started when people moved out of the church neighborhood and both spouses worked during the day -- the priest stopped the annual blessing of homes; Christmas caroling by the parish stopped. The contact of church and home ceased.

There are many reasons but alternative solutions haven't been developed. The Church has stagnated; there has developed a separation of Church and Life.

"Public sins" like divorce and/or re-marriage like I wrote about previously becomes an informal excommunication. How can reconcile someone to the Church?

Most professions have continuing education; so does the clergy, but I'm not aware of any seminary which trains its priests on modern life problems and attempts to find new ways to reconcile Western materialistic sins which permanently separate souls from the Church.

As we read the Gospels we see that Jesus would eat in the homes of publican sinners; visit and forgive the prostitute; carry on a dialogue with the woman who has "had five husbands." What can a pastor do in this situation? He is painted into a corner by the "law" and has to abandon this soul?

Fr Deacon Paul, who has questions but no answers.

Re: Fr Alexander Schmemann and rubrics [Re: MarkosC] #310510 01/25/09 03:14 AM
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Paul B Offline OP
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Originally Posted by MarkosC
[quote=Paul B]



The quote reminds me of a question posed by another book - "Hymn of Entry" by Father Vasilios Gondikakis, then the abbot of the Monastery of Stavronikita on Mount Athos. At the beginning of the book he describes Christianity in terms of "a manifestation of grace and as the fullness of the new life which renews the earth-born and the whole of the world" - and after talking about this some he asks the question

Quote
The painful problem is this: how can contemporary man fulfill his liturgical nature? How can we bridge the gap which seperates theology from life? When this is achieved, then new streams will water our thirsty land, and the sap of our deep-rooted Orthodox tradition will generate the shoots of our courage and our life. Then we shall appreciate the single, unique and universal quality of Orthodoxy, which sums up everything in itself [when he says "Orthodoxy", to my understanding he means is nothing less than a Trinitarian life revealed in the events of "salvation history"]. We shall appreciate that there is no basis for comparison with anything preceding or subsequent. Orthodoxy conceals within it all that has gone before, from before the ages, and that all that will come to be subsequently, without end


I guess our main problem is, how do we do this in our world? Many of our parishoners would rather be at the mall than at church most days (this is true here, maybe even truer in some of the "old countries"). Among us who are at church, how many of them really understand what's going on (Fr. Alexander's point,I think)? Can we teach them this in religious ed class? I don't think so, beyond a basic level of facts. How many of us lead essentially secular lives where Church is one place and the rest of our life is seperate (another point Fr. Alexander discusses in his Great Lent book)? How do we confront the drastic changes that have taken place in Christianity since the Reformation (and counter-reformation) and the subsequent rationalism, atheism, etc. which cannot but form our consciousness?



I personally think we have all the answers readily with us. All we need to do is partake of it, and learn from those who are further along (our spiritual fathers).

I'm personally not particularly fond of blind obedience. Everyone at Church should understand what's going on at our services. This is especially so for our acolytes (who IMO should be plentiful and range in age from boys to adults), cantors and clergy - all of whom should be able to answer in their own terms why such and such is at a particular point during a service, and the service's role in the liturgy of the Church.

As for the Typicon and "liturgical reform" - the rubrics represent the faith of the church. That said, historically there have been several different typica (e.g. the Saint Sabbas Typicon versus the "Cathedral rite" performed at Haghia Sophia - see the works of Father Robert Taft) and I'm sure that there are differences between monastic typica today and cathedral typica (and maybe even the typica of Constantinople, Moscow, etc.). As far as I'm concerned, the typicon completely changable - but only by right people of a local church (i.e. bishops, hegumen of monasteries) for good reasons which are informed by serious scholarship on the tradition of the church and which are integrated with the faith and the life of the Church. I don't think that many of the "liturgical reforms" and proposals I've seen -among all flavors of Christianity - of the past 50 years meets those criteria, unfortunately.



Thanks for your comments MarkosC.

Let me just propose something radical, not according to Tradition, without a lot of ritual and rubrics, but something as important as the other six Mysteries. That is Annointing, the healing mystery. It is almost always administered outside the parish community. Let's say that a separated husband and wife get back together, or someone returns to the parish family and is once again attending liturgical services. Why not have a public Annointing (Healing) rite during the Divine Liturgy to welcome back the person or family. The ritual can borrow hymns and prayers from the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, or the Samaritan Woman.

This isn't what Father Schmemann is discussing in the opening post, but its the "spirit" of what he is saying; that is -- merging the joy of God's love with our personal life. This is similar to including an infant baptism during the Divine Liturgy, instead of it being a private ceremony. The parish family is united in solidarity to the newborn's family in a joyful celebration!

When we revitalize our parish communities in these ways we attach more relevance to our precious faith.

Christ is among us!
Fr Deacon Paul



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