Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis"

Posted By: Deacon John Montalvo

Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis" - 12/12/06 06:56 PM

...An Orthodox bishop comes to a congregation in his diocese headed by a presbyter. He is greeted at the church door in the most solemn manner. He is wearing a decorated monastic mantia even though he may have never actually lived a monastic life, and never was, and is not now, under monastic obedience to anyone. His clothing is that of the Turkish period. He is wearing a Turkish judge's robe and hat, covered with a monastic veil.

After entering the church, the bishop is solemnly vested in clothing that was once worn by the Byzantine-Roman emperor. He puts on a sakkos (instead of a phelonion), a mitre and decorated crosses and medallions. He carries a staff, stands on an eagle rug and sits on a throne in the nave where the imperial authority used to sit. He may have long hair, the sign of secular authority in Byzantium that was given to the Christian clerics by the Turks, and later adopted in the Russian Empire.

In this solemn liturgical setting, the local pastor and the servers and singers are nervous and scared. They fear making mistakes that will incur the bishop's wrath. The people, for the most part, wonder what all this is about and why it is at all necessary. Some people enjoy it. Others endure it. Others stay home or go to another church on that day.

Almost no one, including the clergy themselves, understand it.

At this liturgy, the vesting of the bishop and the entrance with the singing of many hymns and multiple intonations of "Many Years, Master (Eis polla eti, Despota)" and many repetitions of the Trisagion, with many petitions and blessings, goes on for a very long time. The scripture readings are read in ways that make them difficult, sometime even impossible to understand because of language, style of chanting, and noise from a clanging incenser with bells on it. There is no sermon explaining the scripture readings, or if there is, it has little or nothing to do with them. Multiple litanies are chanted, which include expulsions of catechumens who are either not there, or don't leave the gathering if they are. The Eucharistic Canon, which is the very heart and highpoint of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, takes only a few minutes. How long it takes depends on the length of the singing. The bishop rushes through the prayers silently and quickly, if he even reads them at all. The faithful people hear only the ends of the sentences of the prayers which, by themselves, make no sense whatsoever...

This last praragraph is by far the most important in these liturgical discussions:

...This is the kind of thing that can happen, and does happen, today, not only in North America, but everywhere on earth where there are Orthodox people. I believe that our very existence as the Orthodox Church depends on our attempt to untangle and understand the elements that make up contemporary church life, and to do something about it. Discovering what that "something" is that we must "do about it" for the Church's fruitful life and mission in the world today depends on our common prayer, ascetical practice, study and discussion. But most of all, it depends on our willingness to face reality, both human and divine, and to do Godís will, whatever it may be.

Read the full reflection in context here
Posted By: Slavipodvizhnik

Re: Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis" - 12/12/06 07:13 PM

Whoa there good deacon. Upon reading such a steaming pile of liberal spew, I did not even have to click your link to know from whence such garbage came from. The "Orthodox Christians" for Accountability counts amongst them many of the infamous OCL, Orthodox Christian Laity. A more modernist, anti ecclesiastical, anti Orthodox group of people would be difficult to find on the planet. They have, for a hobby, the practice of suiing Orthodox bishops in secular courts. Fr Hopko's "opinions" do NOT reflect the opinion of the overwhelmingly vast majority of Orthodox theologions, clerics and laity. The OCA is currently embroiled in a scandal, and without going into details, such fluff is being put out to divert attention to the real matter. Kind of like bombing the infamous aspirin factory by former President Clinton.
If you want to know the truth about Orthodoxy, you might want to consider looking elsewhere than neo-Marxist, congregationalist websites. An apt comparison is for me to attempt to learn about Roman Catholicism from Jack Chick.com
My advice is to dismiss anything coming from these people, who have an agenda that is anything but Orthodox.

Posted By: Father Anthony

Re: Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis" - 12/13/06 01:18 AM

Dear Father Deacon,

I have to agree with Slavipodvizhnik regarding what this reflection is about. I also find it a real stretch of the imagination that Father Hopko's comments in any way would be looked as condoning to what has been discussed in this section. I believe a majority of the Orthodox would agree, this is a reflection regarding a scandal that is ongoing, not about the liturgical life of the Ruthenian Church.

Father Anthony+
Posted By: Mark of Ephesus

Re: Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis" - 12/13/06 03:56 AM

Fr. Anthony,

Thank you both for your comments with which I'm in complete accord. I don't quite see the point of that which is quoted here and, with all respect to Fr. Thomas, what is its supposed relation to the current situation in the OCA. I really don't see a relation between the ancient ritual of a hieratic liturgy and the alleged financial improprieties. Furthermore, Alexandr is correct and many of those behind these movements and similar Websites hold views which are far from Orthodoxy. Many of us in the OCA know what the problems are and they have nothing to do with traditional liturgy. In light of the foregoing, I see the great sagacity of Vladyka Dimitri's caution regarding this topic.
Posted By: Father Anthony

Re: Fr Tom Hopko on "pseudomorphosis" - 12/13/06 04:02 AM

In light with most of the Orthodox input and how they feel about this being misapplied to the discussions of this section, I am closing off this thread. If matters of the OCA and its current problems are to be discussed, please start a thread in the appropriate section.

Father Anthony+
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