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Re: [rocaclergy] 2003.08.20 NG-Religion: What Should The...

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  • frpeterjackson
    ... emotional, and at ... Peter clearly ... have never taken ... Orthodox Church ... without ... parish, if asked ... Columbus, we ... have anyone who ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 5, 2003
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      --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, frvboldewskul@a... wrote:
      > I have noticed that the Church language issue can be very
      emotional, and at
      > times rather destructive if not kept in proper context. Father
      Peter clearly
      > noted the problems of over romanticizing of Church Slavonic. I
      have never taken
      > a poll, but I am sure that nearly every priest in the Russian
      Orthodox Church
      > Outside of Russia (within the United States), would easily and
      without
      > comment serve in either and all English, all Slavonic, or a mixed
      parish, if asked
      > to by proper diocesan authorities. When I started a parish in
      Columbus, we
      > used a mix based on need and ability. In other words, I did not
      have anyone who
      > could sign the stikhirions in Slavonic, but they could sing in
      Slavonic several
      > parts of the services. That parish still serves (although we are
      looking for
      > a priest), but already a history has been established, and I hope a
      healthy
      > mix will continue.
      >
      > What troubles me is when certain individuals or groups, regardless
      of their
      > language desire, attempt to impose a position without taking into
      consideration
      > the history of the parish, current makeup, and feelings of others
      who attend
      > regularly. This causes great hardship and divisions which at times
      leave deep
      > scars. Often these problems could have been avoided, but
      stubbornness and
      > arrogance on BOTH sides lead to destruction, demoralizing the
      clergy.
      >
      > I particularly note the importance of history of the parish. For
      example, if
      > a parish was founded to be "All English" (as I believe was the case
      in Fr.
      > Peter's parish) and the vast majority of the her members wish to
      keep it that
      > way, I would see as improper for a recent emigre to
      start "demanding'' more
      > Slavonic. Likewise, many of our parishes in the US were founded by
      emerges after
      > World War II and they had other options, but chose to form their
      own parishes
      > with Church Slavonic and keeping an ethnic feel. While it may be
      true that
      > often their children or grandchildren, for a variety of reasons,
      may no longer
      > attend, these sensibilities cannot be ignored. In my parish, the
      situation is
      > different, we have actually grown with a Church Slavonic formula.
      Sadly, many
      > of the founders' children and grandchildren don't attend, but we
      have a wave of
      > new parishioners who have become part of our parish fabric. When we
      put out
      > pamphlets from Vladyka Alexander's website to be given out for
      free, the
      > Russian texts are taken 9 to 1 over the English text. That does
      not mean we don't
      > have people who regularly push and push and push for more English
      (and shorter
      > vigil services!). These demands can be demoralizing, but I suppose
      a cross
      > many modern day clergymen must carry.

      Good points, Fr. Victor. For the record, I am not advocating that our
      Slavonic parishes all switch to English. As Fr. Victor indicates,
      each community has its own needs. If an area has a sizeable new
      Russian population, Slavonic probably meets their needs better than
      English. What I have experienced at our parish, however, is that our
      immigrants do not care. None has ever voiced any regret that we serve
      in English. Those that have visited and then left the parish did so
      for reasons unrelated to language. I'm glad to have a core of Russian-
      speakers here who can make our new immigrants feel at home and visit
      with during the coffee hour. But then, the issue is having Russian
      being spoken at the parish, not Slavonic. Your point about Vladyka
      Alexander's website confirms this. We must make literature available
      in Russian, but this is a separate issue from that of Slavonic as a
      liturgical language.

      Also for the record, I do not advocate replacing Slavonic with
      Russian. I understand that this thread began as a response to
      Pospielevsky's advocating this, but it quickly turned to the Slavonic
      issue in general, and this is what I have been responding to. I was
      going to stay out of the fray until people starting advocating that
      converts learn Slavonic, and that those who don't care about Slavonic
      don't care about the "purity of the Church".

      Finally, I just want everyone to know that I do love Slavonic and I
      appreciate every opportunity I get to serve in it. We should all
      appreciate its beauty and its place in our tradition. But I cannot
      stop thinking about the people I have met who have grown up in
      Slavonic parishes and then hear the services in English. More often
      than not, the feedback I get is "Is *that* what that hymn means? Wow!
      I had no idea!" I have people who never understood the doctrine of
      the Trinity or the role of the Theotokos or the two natures of Christ
      until they heard it expressed and sung in English. It makes me wonder
      what would happen if some heretical idea found its way into a
      Slavonic liturgical text (either a newly composed text which wasn't
      properly reviewed or an old one into which some error inadvertantly
      crept in.) If an English text had a heretical idea, people would
      notice and take action right away. But since many parishes have no
      one that is actually fluent in Slavonic, such a text might go
      unnoticed for years. In the end, intelligibility is the most
      important factor, in my opinion. "Yet in the church I had rather
      speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might
      teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." I
      Corinthians 14:19

      Priest Peter Jackson
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