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#423485 03/28/23 01:57 PM
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Christ is in our midst!!

We have been discussing the Presanctified Divine Liturgy which is the norm for Chalcedonian Orthodox Christians and Byzantine Catholics during Great Lent.

I would like to learn what the Oriental Orthodox Churches have as their Lenten practices. Is anyone familiar with these Churches and their practices?

Bob

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I can only contribute anecdotally that a few years ago....probably 5...a Coptic Orthodox visited the local Antiochian Orthodox parish and expressed surprise--or more precisely, shock-- at the brevity of the services compared with what he had found customary in his tradition.

Thinking back, I believe it was Good Friday Royal Hours. He was expecting a 6 hour plus service and was dismayed that we finished in a little over two.

Last edited by Fr. Deacon Thomas; 03/29/23 03:23 AM. Reason: Additional detail
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Christ is in our midst!!

I attended Good Friday Royal Hours in Russian parishes during my university days and the lasted 4 1/2 hours.

I was wondering if there were equivalent services to the Presanctified DL in the Oriental Orthodox traditions.

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Originally Posted by theophan
Christ is in our midst!!

I attended Good Friday Royal Hours in Russian parishes during my university days and the lasted 4 1/2 hours.

I was wondering if there were equivalent services to the Presanctified DL in the Oriental Orthodox traditions.

None of the Oriental Orthodox serve a Presanctified Liturgy now although the Syriacs once did. The Copts actually serve the Divine Liturgy daily during the Great Fast in the evening. The Armenians and Syriacs have Lenten versions of Vespers and Compline.


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Originally Posted by Fr. Deacon Thomas
I can only contribute anecdotally that a few years ago....probably 5...a Coptic Orthodox visited the local Antiochian Orthodox parish and expressed surprise--or more precisely, shock-- at the brevity of the services compared with what he had found customary in his tradition.

Thinking back, I believe it was Good Friday Royal Hours. He was expecting a 6 hour plus service and was dismayed that we finished in a little over two.

It would have been the same for Divine Liturgy. I attended a Coptic Divine Liturgy a couple of months ago. It started at 9AM, and finished at 1:15PM It was St Basil Liturgy (the Anaphora and many of the prayers were similar). Divine Liturgy last Sunday was right at an hour.

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Christ is in our midst!!

I read an article a few years ago that stated that all liturgical innovation was cutting back, not adding to. It's interesting that the Coptic DL of St. Basil is similar, but longer than that served by Byzantines.

Case in point was an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1937 edition, that stated the Kyrie in both the Tridentine Mass and the new Mass was an abbreviation of the entire Litany of the Saints.

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It is not all just cutting back. There is an ebb and a flow to liturgical innovation. Liturgy grows, things are cut, then new things are added. A case in point-Psalm 140 in Vespers. Originally it was just that psalm with a refrain (Hear me, O Lord). In Jerusalem, this was expanded to Psalms 140, 141, 129, 116 (each with different refrains). The refrains were troped and became longer, first into the short Stichera we see on Saturday evening, and then into the longer stichera, but these were added to the end of the psalm sequence with the psalm verses that they were intercalated among being repeated (the Old Rite Russian does this, and St Symeon of Thessalonica attests to this). Then the refrains were dropped (save for the first two verses) and the repetition of the last 4, 6, 8 or 10 verses was dropped. Then the verses between Ps 140:2 and the first verse before the first sticheron were dropped. Now these verses are being brought back, and I have seen some places even doing the refrains.

The Coptic DL has things that are just plain more. Instead of just a short Prokeimenon, Epistle, Alleluia, Gospel sequence, there are (normally) a reading from the Old Testament, Acts, Catholic epistle, then Psalm (more verses than the prokeimenon-I cannot recall the exact location, so it may not be here), a reading from the Synaxarion, the Pauline epistle, each preceded by its own prayer of preparation. During the Anaphora, the laity would not just say "Amen", but something like "Amen. We believe". The priest did not rush the Anaphora, but sang almost the entire prayer to a slow melody.

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There is that sentiment in religion that always laments the present as a time of the "Watered Down".  Watered down services, watered down rituals, watered down prayers.....and watered down fasts. 

In that view, "the Past" represents a clearer sence of duty in worship and consequently,  is more pleasing to God. "Back then", they might proclaim......."a service was holier because it was longer. A ritual was more profound because it was ancient. Prayers were more mystical because they were in a foreign or archaic language. And fasting......well, back then, there were real "hunger artists!" ( to quote Franz Kafka, lol)"

I often wonder.....do these sentiments reflect reality? Do they have merit? Are they constructive to our spirituality? Might they be part of an invented, collective nostalgia? Does not every age feel these sentiments? Were they not an issue even in the time of our Lord's earthly life?...... And finally, what are the redeeming qualities of present worship that are an improvement on "the Past"?

But, that's just me........Regardless of my musings,  I am fascinated with the practices and liturgies of non-Chalcedonian, apostolic churches- largley because they contain authentic glimpses into the rich history of our faith. I am looking forward to reading more on Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syrian, Armenian and Indian lenten practices. I sure hope Oriental Orthodox members contribute to this thread. It is very interesting.

(I don't want to side track the topic, but does anyone have favorite Forum out there for Oriental Orthodox discussion?)

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