- I m glad to see some very thought provoking responses. We need more responses. This discussion shouldn t be between a few individuals. Yet, at this point, IMessage 1 of 3 , Dec 5, 2000View Source
I'm glad to see some very thought provoking responses. We need more responses. This discussion shouldn't be between a few individuals. Yet, at this point, I would like to add a few comments:
Hope everyone will keep in mind that we are not a representative group of our church either in terms of age, experiences, education or family background. So our vision, opinions and outlook may vary, which is very good in a discussion group. Hope in the coming months we could get more responses.
It is very encouraging to see how informed and involved Sujit is, who is just 20 year old. Sujit, I don't have any concern about the future of our Church if the majority of our youth are like you. (I'm a member of a small parish. Can we borrow you or some of your friends for a while?) I like your comments about the 'flawed approach to the youth'. I believe the youth are part of the solution, not the problem.
Revision is needed not only in terms of length, but also in terms of content. There is no question that our liturgy is the best or one of the best for meditation and spiritual rejuvenation. As far as content, I'm not an expert, but feel that some fine-tuning is needed, not drastic changes. Including the names of our spiritual leaders of modern times is of course a good idea. Avoiding the curses, as mentioned by Mundukuzhy Achen, is just a necessity. (Example for curses: Some prayers or songs during Good Friday service). Who thinks that our Communion service (including the preparation service as reminded by George Mathew) is too long? It's too long for a mother with a young child screaming on her shoulder, while trying to control one or two siblings running around in the church; for a person who attends the Service right after 'the graveyard shift'; for a teenager who wants to go to his part time job at MacDonalds, right after Qurbana followed by the Sunday School; for a priest who struggles to conduct all the related services after the Qurbana and wish to give Good night kisses to his young children before they go to bed. These all may seem to some as just excuses, but it's the reality. The times have changed.
Many are against revision of our liturgy. The fact is that Revision is happening everyday, though not officially. Even the change from the songs in Syriac for example, Besloos emo (pardon me if I'm wrong) to Nin mathavu Vishudhanmar in Malayalam happened in our times. (BTW, I'm 39) Similar changes happened over the years. Our Church hasn't provided leadership in updating our liturgy. The Church's policy is similar to the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the US Military. The question now is whether to bring uniformity by revision, or to continue to let individuals revise the liturgy as they wish. Our Church has a publication dept, and there are some official books, but haven't seen any noticeable organized and disciplined effort to promote such books, or to discourage the unauthorized revisions and publications of worship books by individuals. Revision can't be achieved overnight. A few individuals can't do it either. It must be done by our Church's most qualified, with the input from the young and the old, the ordinary people and the theologians.
Some of the comments and suggestions by George Mathew are very thoughtful. Yes, we need to educate our people more about our worship. George, I understand that you are born and brought up in the US, and when you say that 'our clergy in America is trying desperately to satisfy the malayalee generation', you are absolutely right. We need to encourage our young generation to participate in the spiritual as well as administrative activities. Learning our faith, traditions and history of our Church is not a simple task for anyone in his or her own language to begin with. Then teaching our English-speaking children in Malayalam is not going to be easy. We need to have English services on a regular basis, and find ways to make our children participate wholeheartedly. We need to encourage children to become leaders, and priests. Priesthood is a noble calling, even though what they see very often today among some of our priests is just self promotion, greed for position and power, and lack of love and tolerance. There are many priests in our Church who are serving God and His people with love and conviction. We need to project those great people and their efforts.
George Mathew <gm521@...> wrote:
A few comments.
Remembering our fathers:
There are three sections to an average service --
Pre-Communion Prayers (which consists of the Orders of
Aaron and Melchichizedek), Communion Service, and
Post-Communion. The repetition you refer to cutting
(Lord's Prayer, Shudhan nee aloho etc.) are all in the
Morning Prayers, which are conducted when the
celebrant conducts the Pre-Communion Prayers, and not
during the actual Holy Communion service.
Both of these that you have mentioned are portions of
the Kauma. Every order of prayer begins and ends with
the Kauma. It is said that Parumala Thirumeny used to
recite the "Dheivame! Nee Parishudanakunnu" as if with
every breath (an involuntary process). One thing to
keep in mind is that the celebran't prayers during the
Pre-Communion service can take up to an hour (although
generally 30-45 mins) depending on the numbers of
people he is remembering (whether it be sick,
memorials, those that helped in construction of the
church, his own family, etc.). I noticed that
Barnabas Thirumeny carries with him a few pages of
names that he remembers at each service.
Everyone has their own opinion as to what the correct
time frame of the service should be. And, that's
fine. Some people prefer to come to church only when
the Qurbana actually starts, while some come early in
the Morning to actually receive Confession and
"Hoosoyo" (Absolution) before the service. Something
to keep in mind is that many of the songs and readings
during the Morning Prayers prepare us for the service.
It is thought-conditioning. We are to be repentant
and humble, asking God to forgive us our faults and
help us to live more as He desires. Worship should be
a full-body experience. We should feel moved when
singing the songs and reciting the prayers and Psalms.
So, that by the time the Qurbana starts, we are
prepared to worship our Lord and God. Part of the
problem may be a lack of understanding as to why the
service is structured as it is.
An example can be with any sports events. Why does an
average game take 3-4 hours to play out? It's to
allow the teams a fair chance at winning the game. In
the beginning of the game, everyone is fresh and ready
to play, but by the end of the game, the players have
become weary. The winning team is the one that can
remain focussed. I think the same is true of Holy
Qurbana. I tyhink we sometimes lose our focus about
the purpose of the service. Priests unfortunately
assume everyone understands why we do the things we
do. More education is necessary.
Personally, I don't think taking 2-3 hours out per
week is too much. We need to prioritize our lives.
What is truly important? We need to take the
appropriate time for what is important. I am reminded
of the saying "Soon one life will be past, only what's
done for Christ will last." I sometimes wonder what
Heaven will be like. Services could last days, and
what would it matter, as we would have nothing else to
do than praise our Lord and God?
Participation of our children in Services:
I agree that the American Diocese needs to be
producing its own clergy. And there are a number of
good young people that have accepted the calling,
studying in other church seminaries. We need our own,
But, why haven't more been moved to this vocation? Is
it because of a lack of understanding of the service?
Is it because of the politics? Is it because of a
lack of interest?
Whatever the reason, for this church to hold onto its
American generation members, there needs to be an
emphasis on education and awareness. More conferences
to explain about the church and its services need to
be conducted by priests and bishops that can reach the
youth of today are needed. I feel the clergy in
America are trying desperately to satisfy the
Malayalee generation, the true supporters of the
church today. And maybe that's enough for now. But,
eventually, the majority will be English-speaking,
American-reared adults who can understand
conversational Malayalam, but not "church Malayalam".
What is the solution? I am not sure.
1. Perhaps, priests can spend a little time during
each service to explain a portion of what is done
and/or used. For example, explain about the censor
during one session, or why we recite the Kauma.
2. At a minimum, conduct one (or two) English Qurbanas
each month. If the parish priest is hesitant, then
ask him to invite a priest that can do it. A priest in
America must be able to conduct an English Qurbana.
It shouldn't be any different than conducting a
Malayalam service -- just chanting in English.
3. As the Sunday Schools are organized into districts
or areas, the Sunday Schools should plan to conduct a
combined English Qurbana once a month or once every
other month. This will create a bond between children
of other parishes and a good place for the priests to
"market" the church to the younger generation.
Afterall, if a Malayalee youth can get all the
spirituality they need from a one-hour Catholic mass,
why do they need to come to an Orthodox church? We
have to get them to understand our church and its
traditions and develop their own spiritual lives. St.
Paul reminds us that when we become members of the
church, we are as spiritual infants. Infants that
need to be nurtured and trained. This training from
the church and parents is what is lacking for most of
the younger generation.
I think we (both the people and the church) need to
reorganize our priorities. Else, we will continue to
lose valuable members.
Just some thoughts.
> Remembering our fathers:
> Our prayers are prepared by our forefathers during
> their times. They are manmade and hence nothing
> wrong with updating to reflect today's morals,
> values and needs. I believe our Holy Qurbana is too
> long, the repetitions can be avoided. (Lord's prayer
> itself is very short. (Example: repetitions of
> Lord's prayer, repetitions of the song Shudhan nee,
> aloho…etc) It is a must to remember our
> forefathers. Are we remembering all of them? Why
> aren't we remembering Abraham, Moses or Joshua in
> Thubden? Are we being disrespectful by not
> remembering them in one Thubden? (It's not practical
> to remember everyone by name. We do pray for our
> rulers, and that is very apt.
> Declared saints:
> In one of my previous mails I mentioned that I think
> 'Kothamangalam Bava' was recently declared as a
> saint, in addition to Parumala Thirumeni. Today I
> checked with one of our Achens. He told that H.H.
> Baselius Yaldo ('Kothamangalam Bava') had been
> declared as a saint by our Church in 1947, along
> with Parumala Thirumeni. (I think he was not a
> native of India.) Moreover, our Bava has just
> recently (Oct. 2000) issued a Kalpana reminding that
> the names of both of these saints be remembered in
> Thubden. Also, Vattasseril Thirumeni has been
> declared as a saint by our Synod, the process of
> declaring him as a saint by our Church is in
> Participation of our children in Services
> This is a broad topic that needs further discussion.
> Let me make just a few comments. We can't depend on
> priests from 'Kottayam' for long. The flow of
> immigrants to countries like the US will subside. We
> can encourage children to participate in our
> services, they will attend, but how many can read
> and fully understand the meaning of our prayers? How
> many will become priests to conduct services in
> Malayalam? There will be exceptions, but when we
> make long term plans, we have to have the average
> child and believer in mind. If our Church needs a
> future in any foreign country, we need to start
> services in English more often.
> Church publications:
> We need to encourage publications by individuals.
> However, when it comes to books of common (group)
> worship, some standards are necessary. I can tell
> you one example. One of our priests, Rev. Dr.
> Philip, Pallichira (whom I don't know personally)
> publishes a book (titled Suriyani Christianikalude
> Namaskara Kramam. It's available at Parumala Church
> and other places. I purchased a copy once, which
> wasn't a smart buy. The reason is that some of the
> prayers (for Lenten season) I learned as a child are
> missing in that book. When everyone else in our
> prayer group is reading Psalm 91, I may be trying to
> read from Psalm 23, which is not fun during any
> group worship. We need to set standards like that we
> have in the industries. There are respected priests
> like Mundukuzhy Achen who do a commendable job by
> publishing worship books for the English speaking
> generation in the US. Such services need to be
> coordinated by our Church so that our cousins in New
> Jersey could follow the same book as those in New
> York for worship. If we do have accepted books in
> English, let all of us follow that as a standard.
> Otherwise, let our Church set a new standard and
> have a system to recognize new liturgical books.
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