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#417616 - 10/22/17 07:44 AM The bane of Eastern Christianity in America  
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The young fogey Offline
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The bane of Eastern Christianity in America, Catholic and Orthodox: you can do everything right, from offering the traditional services translated into English to a wonderful youth program, and most of the grandchildren still leave. I don't have a solution. (I'm not knocking the East: I go part-time to a Ukrainian Catholic parish and have Russian Orthodox icons and prayer books.)

Last edited by The young fogey; 10/22/17 07:47 AM.
#417650 - 10/24/17 01:40 PM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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theophan Offline
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Christ is in our midst!!

This problem is universal. Among some things that are problems to consider and overcome:

1. Sunday is no longer sacred. Many parents will tell you that their child will be tossed from the team, from the play, or from some other activity if they are not present Sunday morning.
2. School activities seem to demand evenings and weekends that are not Sunday for activities, too.
3. The schools are anti-Christian. Make no mistake that the things we teach in church are challenged day-in and day-out, class after class. The media is also beating the drum in this area. Christianity is blamed for every malady that plagues our country and our culture. The assault is on Western civilization as a whole and its foundation is the Church.
4. Peer culture plays a big part. There are so many things pulling young people in every community and, for every one of our teaching, there is a counter teaching in another community that a peer will put up to challenge our youth.
5. Youth is a tough time and everyone wants to find his/her way and "fit in" in some fashion. No one likes to be challenged by peers.
6. Sometimes family is part of the mix, especially if anyone has the legalistic attitude about how much or how little one "has to do."

These are a few things we have discussed at my parish in small groups. They are not the only things, but a start. We have a mountain to climb, but the Lord is in charge and His Holy Spirit is alive and well to help us out.

Bob

#417654 - 10/24/17 05:01 PM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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Sure, all the churches in America are hurting for those reasons, but evangelicalism sure holds its own, and Latin Catholicism can take the hit because it was so big (but it has shrunk a lot). The puzzle is why Eastern Christianity despite all its spiritual riches (no heresy, an artistic "unreformed" rite, great cultures, and intense prayer) disappears when its people assimilate in America. A down side of being so connected to certain Old World cultures? Protestant America is that inhospitable? (That didn't stop Latin Catholicism from the 1800s until the 1960s. Its success scared the Protestants.) I think its great unrealized potential here is it can fly under the radar of Protestants' and secular people's prejudice (they hate what they think Catholicism is) to present them with... traditional Catholicism. Traditional services with a vernacular option? Married priests? Mysticism you thought you had to dabble in Hinduism for? It's all here. The recent Orthodox convert boomlet hinted at that potential being realized. But most of the people born into it in America leave.

#417657 - 10/25/17 08:25 AM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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I know at least two Orthodox parishes in the Philadelphia area that were founded in the 20's-30's and are still thriving. My ACROD parish (founded in the 30's) has as many kids in it as adults on many Sundays.

#417674 - 10/26/17 09:52 AM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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Christ is in our midst!!

Swan:

What do you attribute this success to? Can we duplicate it?

Bob

#417676 - 10/26/17 01:57 PM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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I can only speculate but I would guess three factors have some part to play:

1. All services are in English. These parishes have a particular historic ethnic background (Carpatho-Rus') but are not centered on it- they are not closed off to the local culture and community.
2. The parishes are small enough so that everybody knows everybody.
3. Parents are encouraged to bring their kids and no one yells at them for making noise or wandering around.

#417677 - 10/28/17 08:04 AM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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But most such parishes can do all three and still sink.

#417678 - 10/28/17 01:05 PM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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Christ is in our midst!!

It seems to me that what any community needs to stay afloat is just what it means to be a "community"--a "common unity," a sense of being community, a sense that everyone belongs, is welcome, is needed, is vital for the community to continue. If a parish becomes a "spiritual filling station," a place where I come to get what I need and I don't care who sits next to me or who else belongs in the place, then one has the beginning of the end. It may take time, but a place without a sense of community will never stand the test of time.

How a community establishes, maintains, and grows its sense of community may have many answers. But somehow the Holy Spirit finds a fertile ground in which to work and the people act as His leaven. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is not active in other places or even in a "spiritual filling station," but it seems to me that it makes it a bit harder for the Spirit to produce the yield He wishes.

I think it boils down to a comment that a new person made in my parish some years ago. She said that she enjoyed coming to LIturgy with us because she felt that each and every person wanted to be there and enjoyed each other's company.

Maybe that's the key--people want to be part of the community and they enjoy each and every person who is there--just for their being present. And enjoying Liturgy, they come back to be part of all the other activities that the parish sponsors to bring people together and to witness and serve the greater community of which the parish is part.

Bob

#417705 - 11/03/17 01:09 PM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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East of the West
It is really unfair to draw comparisons between the American evangelical world and Eastern Christianity in the West.
How many Great Awakenings has American Protestantism gone through? I have lost count. Though it is hardly monolithic, American evangelicalism constantly has to reinvent itself (I am thinking here about non-rural areas). But it does have a spectrum as wide as American society. The successes of one generation lead to the undoing of the next -- I am thinking here especially of the adoption of tactics of the commercial culture at one extreme and following the verities of academia at the other.
With every generation, Eastern Christians (and to a lesser degree Roman Catholics) become assimilated to American "mush". This should come as no surprise to the kind of religious minority the ECs have been. American society now offers too many distractions to anyone from a traditional faith to maintain institutional stability.
It is tempting to find hopeful parallels in the Jewish community, but as it is even more ethnically based (and in a different way) than Eastern Christianity, that would draw unrealistic comparisons as well.

#417746 - 11/10/17 05:01 AM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: theophan]  
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Originally Posted by theophan
I think it boils down to a comment that a new person made in my parish some years ago. She said that she enjoyed coming to LIturgy with us because she felt that each and every person wanted to be there and enjoyed each other's company.


Lilnk: Catholicism: "Here comes everybody," even the annoying ones.

The problem with the romance of "gathered communities" and "small Christian communities," such as ethnic-based congregations or Episcopalian-style congregationalism as in a charming Anglo-Catholic parish, is they can become clubs for "my set," not really churches. Michael Cuneo, not a conservative Catholic, once noted that American Novus Ordo often really is for only one kind of person; middle-class decorum like mainline Protestantism. Disclosure: I don't belong to my territorial parish, instead belonging to a semi-traditionalist magnet parish.

#417769 - 11/14/17 11:17 AM Re: The bane of Eastern Christianity in America [Re: The young fogey]  
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Christ is in our midst!!

Actually we try to go out of our way to be welcoming to everyone who comes along. We try to meet everyone where he is, not where we, or anyone else, thinks they should be. It gets messy, but we've all got a long way to go in being faithful--being the image of Christ to those we meet each day. If I fail to be the image of Christ to another person, I have failed twice--I have failed Him and I have failed the one He put in front of me.

Bob


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