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902Re: Finding the "right" Orthodox parish

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  • Dave W.
    Feb 23, 2009
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      "What the priest you mentioned likely 'means' is that the fullness of
      Orthodoxy is definitely and 'safely','provenly' to be found in the
      Church and rites of the East and would be the'safest' course of action."

      I understand your point, and better understand now what the OCA priest
      was telling me. Sometimes it's hard for me to "hear" when I think I'm
      listening.

      At any rate, I did want to follow up on this topic about finding the
      right parish. My wife and I visited a Western Orthodox (Antiochian)
      church yesterday and were SO impressed. It was a bit of a drive, but
      the priest was wonderful, kind, and understanding, and took 1.5 hours
      of time to speak with us. He has a good solid understanding of the
      Catholic (wife)/Lutheran (me) backgrounds we come from and could view
      things from our perspective. Funny thing is, the church was originally
      built by LCMS Lutherans! HA! Granted the style is more along the lines
      of Catholic/Anglican with icons and incense, but we both felt very
      comfortable. We'll be going back as soon as possible. He also invited
      us to the pan-Orthodox Great-Lenten celebration at the big Greek
      Orthodox cathedral downtown on March 8th. I'm looking forward to it!

      Dave


      --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Christopher Orr
      <xcjorr@...> wrote:
      >
      > "...Western Rite isn't "quite Orthodox" and that the "real Church"
      is only
      > in the East. That brought to mind a point that has always troubled me
      > about the Orthodox Church: that there tends to be a nationalist bent at
      > times, or that I can't belong because I'm not Greek, Russian,
      Serbian, etc."
      >
      >
      > I think there are two separate issues here, which it is important to
      tease
      > out.
      >
      > First, nationalism is not the same as being culturally Orthodox,
      even in an
      > American context. I don't think any of us would expect a new
      immigrant to
      > immediately 'become American' and turn their back on their language and
      > tradition. Our own families struggled with this same thing - how to
      retain
      > their _______ heritage in multicultural America, do we pass on the
      language,
      > religion and tradition, if so, how and which ones? These are not easy
      > questions, regardless of culture. Many people see the Church as part of
      > their heritage, their birthright, and it is a part of their cultural
      > history. This is not a bad thing. In fact, many people return to the
      > church as adults and find things there they never even knew existed as
      > nominal Orthodox or as children/adolescents. Kyriacos Markides's recent
      > books on Cyprus and 'Father Maximos' show this.
      >
      > That being said, nationalism is a problem in Orthodoxy. I define this
      > negative aspect more as 'ethnicism' than nationalism. It becomes
      negative
      > when the church is no longer serving the needs of newer immigrants,
      but in
      > becoming the repository and standard-bearer of culture, language,
      etc. to
      > the detriment of the church's true mission, which has no ethnicity. The
      > vision is lost that each parish is meant to be The Orthodox Church
      for all
      > peoples in that region, city, neighborhood - and not just to be the
      Church
      > for those of _________ heritage. This may be appropriate when
      dealing with
      > mass immigrations (like Eastern Europeans after the fall of
      Communism) or in
      > rather homogeneous ethnic Orthodox communities (as Astoria, Queens
      was not
      > so long ago). As times goes by, however, their has been a temptation to
      > fossilize each community in the past - which could be the 70s, the
      50s, or
      > the way their community (not necessarily the church alone) was back
      home;
      > this often includes language and other cultural affairs.
      >
      > I have found that I only feel foreign and excluded when in a
      community of
      > Orthodox worshiping in a language other than English - but only when
      i know
      > most everyone there understands English and doesn't understand
      _________. I
      > also don't feel excluded when smatterings of other languages are used
      > throughout the service - especially the Litanies as there are so
      many and
      > they are repeated so often - as a sort of tip of the hat to the various
      > ethnicities that may be present. (My parish in NYC worships
      primarily in
      > English, with smatterings of Slavonic [for Russians, Ukrainians and
      Serbs],
      > Georgian, Romanian and Greek.)
      >
      > Second, the Western Rite has had a checkered history in Orthodoxy
      over the
      > past 150 years or so. Many Western Rite parishes and communities have
      > hopped around, left communion with the other churches, been
      disciplined and
      > left of their own accord, etc. As Gabriel of the Going Along blog once
      > wrote, 'We know what an Orthodox Greek, Russian and Romanian looks
      like, we
      > don't yet really know what a 'successful' American Orthodox looks like
      > yet'. Time will tell; the proof will be in the pudding. The
      Western Rite
      > is still sort of like that for many Orthodox - they are wary of it
      due to
      > the theology underpinning its use, the fact that it is associated with
      > heterodox theology (lex orandi est lex credendi calls its use into
      > question), it checkered history ('by its fruit you shall know it')
      and the
      > fact that most of the local Churches do not accept it. That being
      said, it
      > has been supported by a number of local Orthodox churches (Moscow
      [before
      > the Revolution and after], ROCOR, Antioch] and by esteemed saints (Sts.
      > Tikhon of Moscow and John of SF). What the priest you mentioned likely
      > 'means' is that the fullness of Orthodoxy is definitely and 'safely',
      > 'provenly' to be found in the Church and rites of the East and would
      be the
      > 'safest' course of action. One can argue with the position both for and
      > against the Western Rite, but no one on either side questions the
      'validity'
      > or 'canonicity' of the Western Rite. There were many Eastern and
      Western
      > Rites in times past, but a move towards unification of practice has been
      > underway for centuries and centuries - in fact, many Eastern
      practices were
      > adopted by the West (the Kyrie [Greek] is but an obvious example).
      These
      > past Christians did not feel the need to remove themselves from the
      Church
      > for the sake of their Rite.
      >
      > Finally, foreigness of Rite should always be referred back to the
      experience
      > of past conversions. Should the Greco-Roman world never have
      converted to
      > Christianity because it was 'too Jewish' and they were Greeks and
      Romans?
      > Should the Russians have never accepted Orthodoxy because it was too
      Greek,
      > or the Celts and Germans Christianity because it was too Roman?
      There is a
      > universality in the particularity of each traditional, living Rite. The
      > question is whether it is the Church, not whether it's the prettiest
      or the
      > most aesthetically pleasing. Fr. Roman Braga served Liturgy with
      water and
      > moldy bread on his own chest when the Communists buried him alive to
      die, so
      > he thought. This was every bit as much the Divine Liturgy as the most
      > magnificent Liturgy served in Hagia Sophia in the first century -
      but it was
      > ugly and terrible, aesthetically. It is a temptation for Americans
      to think
      > of inquiring into the Church as if it were akin to shopping. The Church
      > isn't here primarily to serve what we think we need or prefer, but
      to raise
      > us from the dead and save us, to sanctify the world in prayer and
      worship:
      > it's work. I don't like a lot of things about hospitals, but when I
      break
      > my leg that's where I go; when I'm dying, I don't care how
      uncomfortable I
      > am, just that they save me.
      >
      > The Lord bless your inquiry, and that of your wife.
      >
      > Christopher
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > On Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM, Dave W. <dkwiech@...> wrote:
      >
      > > I'm an LCMS Lutheran seriously looking into Orthodoxy and have
      gone to
      > > many Vespers and occasional Divine Liturgy services at an OCA church
      > > in my area. The reason I selected that particular church was the fact
      > > that they stated a large percentage of members were converts, which I
      > > thought might ease the transition. My wife has come with me from time
      > > to time, but is very overwhelmed by the Eastern "foreignness" of the
      > > worship. I was thinking that perhaps a Western Rite Orthodox parish
      > > might be an easier transition for her, since my Lutheran and her Roman
      > > Catholic upbringings are more similar to that. Trouble is, the priest
      > > at the OCA parish I'd been visiting told me that Western Rite isn't
      > > "quite Orthodox" and that the "real Church" is only in the East. That
      > > brought to mind a point that has always troubled me about the Orthodox
      > > Church: that there tends to be a nationalist bent at times, or that I
      > > can't belong because I'm not Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc. I spent 2
      > > years in Russia and visited Divine Liturgy often, Easter Vigil, etc,
      > > and was profoundly moved, but here in the US I am not accepted into
      > > the Russian parishes, since I'm not Russian, despite being rather
      > > proficient in the language, even Slavonic. How do I find the best path
      > > that will also be easier for my wife to accept? Worshiping separately
      > > from her is not my preference.
      > >
      > > Sorry about the long post, and thanks for the help.
      > >
      > > Dave
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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