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Re: The Reader, Church Propriety, & St. John Chrysostom

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  • polychrony
    The message was that the Reader is one of honor, propriety, and leadership; and, regrettably has been denigrated (largely, I was say, the fault of the higher
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 5, 2013
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      The message was that the Reader is one of honor, propriety, and
      leadership; and, regrettably has been denigrated (largely, I was say,
      the fault of the higher clergy). Rationales such as "I don't have
      anyone who can read!" is itself indicting.
      The question of whether the reader read the gospel is a separate
      question, for which a sufficient ecclesiastical record exists to answer.
      The observation that the quotation from St. John Chrysostom shows the
      opposite, i.e., that the reader did not read the gospel (i.e., because
      the bishop was seated), ignores that bishops sat, and some still do
      today, during the reading of the gospel. This observation
      anachronistically extends current practice to all earlier times.
      If it is so that the readers read the gospel in the early church, it
      cannot be called an "innovation" in the sense of something "new," since
      the practice would be very old (possibly late-Apostolic age, since the
      gospel was only reduced to writings towards the close of the Apostolic
      age.) It certainly could not be considered heretical or even a
      transgression of order, again, because of its foundation.
      The argument that the service books must remain immaculate and
      unchanging belies that the current order shows much development over the
      past 20 centuries. We should not be closed to "retracing our steps," if
      warranted. It may be that the current practice arose owing to some
      peculiar circumstance, lack of resources, or some other non-salvific
      cause.
      An illustration by example:
      I have heard it said that there is a " 'grammar to the services' and by
      this we can extrapolate that the bishop should do the most important
      parts of the service." With this I agree, but we must continually
      strive to place ourselves in a more traditional thought.
      Which is more "more important": (a) to carry the preparatory gifts in
      great procession*, surrounded by a cloud of laity, (possibly with some
      of them laying in their path to receive a blessing by the celebrant
      having to step over them like railroad ties) or (b) to wait patiently at
      the gates of the altar for them to arrive. Now, which of these two is
      the responsibility of the deacon and of the bishop?
      We should acknowledge that we are born and raised in the 20th-21st
      centuries, with its outlook, and remaining faithful to tradition is a
      lifelong endeavor.
      Truly, He is the Lord!
      Polychronios

      *at the Cherubic Hymn















      --- In orthodox-readers@yahoogroups.com, Michael Anthony Cornett wrote:
      >
      > I agree with the comment about St. John's quote regarding readers and
      the
      > Gospel...If it were otherwise, why would everyone be sitting, as they
      were
      > in the quote?
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      --- In orthodox-readers@yahoogroups.com, "Fr. John Whiteford" wrote:
      >
      > The quote from Chrysostom hardly proves that readers read the Gospel
      in his time, but whether they did or did not is irrelevant. Clergy swear
      to follow the service books approved by their Church, and these books
      say that the deacon, priest, or bishop reads the Gospel in the services.
      We are not free to innovate, and that's what having readers read the
      Gospel in a Liturgy today would be.
      >
      >
      >
      > Presbyter John Whiteford
      > St. Jonah Orthodox Church
      > Parish Home Page: http://www.saintjonah.org/
      > ROCOR Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/
      > Parish News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saintjonah/
      > Blog: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/
      > Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frjohnwhiteford
      >
      > "This is the cause of all evils: the ignorance of the Scriptures. We
      go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe?" -St.
      John Chrysostom, Homily IX on Colossians.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ________________________________
      > From: polychrony Polychrony@...
      > To: orthodox-readers@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Friday, May 17, 2013 1:37 PM
      > Subject: [orthodox-readers] The Reader, Church Propriety, & St. John
      Chrysostom
      >
      >
      > The following is an excerpt from a recent post of mine to another
      list.
      > I would like to have placed this with the appropriate background, but
      I
      > am rarely able to get to these lists, so I am posting this excerpt as
      > is.
      >
      > The propriety and the status of the reader in the ancient church is
      > something which, regrettably, is largely faded or distorted. Unlike
      the
      > position of the deaconate--which is experiencing a mild revival--that
      of
      > the reader remains diminished.
      >
      > In the early church, execution of the readings was certainly a honor,
      > but it was also seen as a servile function to those higher in the
      > clerical order and to the whole community. Illustratively on this
      > point, I intend to post the New Testament basis for the reader, and
      his
      > status in the church.
      >
      > I would point out the obvious--only because it is astonishingly
      > overlooked--that being able to read is no mark of distinction. From
      > time-to-time I will here some presbyter bemoan that he doesn't have
      > anyone who can read! Need I say that it is not a shortage of reading
      > literacy, but of nurturing appropriate devotion to service?
      >
      > The excerpt below goes to propriety in the church, and the reader,
      > though lowly in his ecclesiastical rank, when he executes his duty, he
      > is a leader in worship.
      >
      > ::
      >
      > > The practice in the early church was for the reader to do the
      reading,
      > including the gospel. Performing the readings was viewed as an
      honorable
      > though servile task, for which the clergy sat on an exo-bema while
      the
      > reader read the readings.
      >
      > > Robert F Taft has well-documented the tendency for liturgical
      > functions over time to be assumed upwards in the clerical hierarchy.
      > >
      > > The reading of the gospel by the deacon is not a diminution down
      from
      > the bishop or presbyter, but an ascension upwards from the reader!
      > >
      > > Illustratively, St. John Chrysostom wrote:
      > >
      > > There must always be one voice in the church since it is one body.
      For
      > this reason [when] only the reader speaks, and while he does so, even
      > the bishop sits in silence.
      > >
      > > Homily on 1st Corinthians 36(9), (1 Cor 14:33).
      > >
      > > Polychronios
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > To learn more about reader services, see:
      > http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/horologion.htm
      >
      > To access this lists archives, go to:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-readers
      > ogion.htm
      >
      > To access this lists archives, go to:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-readers
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • mogiljan_2
      Christ is Risen! On an unrelated note, our priest is retiring this Aug. 31. If anyone knows of a priest seeking employment, please let me know offlist. Our
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 5, 2013
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        Christ is Risen!
        On an unrelated note, our priest is retiring this Aug. 31. If anyone
        knows of a priest seeking employment, please let me know offlist. Our
        bishop could use some help in this matter.


        On Wed, Jun 5, 2013, at 02:45 PM, polychrony wrote:


        The message was that the Reader is one of honor, propriety, and
        leadership; and, regrettably has been denigrated (largely, I was say,
        the fault of the higher clergy). Rationales such as "I don't have
        anyone who can read!" is itself indicting.

        --
        http://www.fastmail.fm - Accessible with your email software
        or over the web



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • infowolf1
        The Church is unchanging only in core theology, there have always been local variations in other things, the sort of things someone called tradition with a
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 9, 2013
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          The Church is unchanging only in core theology, there have always been local variations in other things, the sort of things someone called tradition with a small t. As time passed some variations became general. Even in The Holy Canons you find some changes as in earlier a deacon could declare he intended to marry at ordination and be free to do so later but not if he didn't so declare, which was changed later.


          Standing developed in adopting the formal style of Byzantine court protocol, but reference to sitting is in St. James Epistle. If your jurisdiction does procedure A you do procedure A. If it does procedure B you do procedure B as per the oath to follow the liturgical rules. 


          This post shows to my mind two things. 1. history, which is also relevant to the days when not everyone could read. And increasingly, functional illiterates are graduated from high school, so it may be someday in a future cultural full collapse that the Reader may again become extremely important. It might well be someday that the priest is a man of wisdom and teaching ability, wisdom, and greatly understanding the Scriptures he has studied by listening to for years, but is himself illiterate. 2.  the comment about servile role strikes me as partaking of pride or vainglory as motive, not to be harsh just to use the right phrase. It is probably a very minor element present. 


          Justina



          ---In orthodox-readers@yahoogroups.com, <sustain_ability@...> wrote:

          Christ is Risen!
          On an unrelated note, our priest is retiring this Aug. 31. If anyone
          knows of a priest seeking employment, please let me know offlist. Our
          bishop could use some help in this matter.


          On Wed, Jun 5, 2013, at 02:45 PM, polychrony wrote:


          The message was that the Reader is one of honor, propriety, and
          leadership; and, regrettably has been denigrated (largely, I was say,
          the fault of the higher clergy). Rationales such as "I don't have
          anyone who can read!" is itself indicting.

          --
          http://www.fastmail.fm - Accessible with your email software
          or over the web



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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