Re: Prison liturgies
- Since I wrote publicly, I must apologize publicly. Fr Joseph, please
forgive me my angry words.
We must agree to disagree about your ideas about baptism of
prisoners. I was offended with those remarks, but it would have been
better for me to not reply to your letter on that subject.
As for your suggestions concerning services, while I do not share
your belief that the Divine Liturgy should not ever be celebrated in
prison, the restrictions that Texas places on me make it very
difficult to celebrate properly.
I was looking for advice from people who had negotiated the system,
and precedents from what other priests have done and are doing. I was
not sure, and am not sure now whether a liturgy can be celebrated
properly in the Texas prison system. I am not aware of any special
liturgies for circumstances such as prison ministry, but since this
is a list about the typikon, I figured if there was something,
someone here would know.
I am still looking for any communication from those who are doing
prison ministry, especially in Texas. I may or may not be able to do,
or even choose to do what they do, but their experiences and advice
can only help me to have a better chance to do what is right.
I am inclined to not celebrate a liturgy because of the restrictions,
but I will test this opinion with Bishop Peter, when he is available
again. I do intend to increase their liturgical awareness and am
contemplating serving lenten matins, the hours, or compline. I have
served molebens before.
> Priest Seraphim Holland 972 529-2754 CELL:972 658-5433church
> ST NICHOLAS ORTHODOX CHURCH:http://www.orthodox.net
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- In addition to the excellent and necessary points made by several
others, I would like to add a couple of observations:
If sin is a barrier to baptism, what good is baptism? Only those
(imaginary) folks who don't need it would be eligible!
And if you think that everyone in prison is guilty, you have simply
missed all the news of recent years of people on death row being
exonerated by DNA evidence. Texas is a case in point: the one county
that does not periodically destroy such evidence reports a number of
such cases. What are we to conclude about the rest?
The United States has a higher percentage of its residents in prison
than any other country, including even Russia (which is also
The notion that while in antiquity many innocent people were in
prison, whereas among us only those truly guilty of serious crimes can
be found there, is a self-flattering delusion of American society.
Since state prisons are governed by state laws that vary widely, I
wonder if we could consider asking Congress for federal legal
protection of the ability of the Orthodox Church to administer the
Holy Mysteries to prisoners without petty interferences from laws,
state or federal?
--- In email@example.com, "Fr Seraphim Holland " <seraphim@...> wrote:
> Since I wrote publicly, I must apologize publicly. Fr Joseph, please
> forgive me my angry words.
> We must agree to disagree about your ideas about baptism of
> prisoners. I was offended with those remarks, but it would have been
> better for me to not reply to your letter on that subject.
> As for your suggestions concerning services, while I do not share
> your belief that the Divine Liturgy should not ever be celebrated in
> prison, the restrictions that Texas places on me make it very
> difficult to celebrate properly.
> I was looking for advice from people who had negotiated the system,
> and precedents from what other priests have done and are doing. I was
> not sure, and am not sure now whether a liturgy can be celebrated
> properly in the Texas prison system. I am not aware of any special
> liturgies for circumstances such as prison ministry, but since this
> is a list about the typikon, I figured if there was something,
> someone here would know.
> I am still looking for any communication from those who are doing
> prison ministry, especially in Texas. I may or may not be able to do,
> or even choose to do what they do, but their experiences and advice
> can only help me to have a better chance to do what is right.
> I am inclined to not celebrate a liturgy because of the restrictions,
> but I will test this opinion with Bishop Peter, when he is available
> again. I do intend to increase their liturgical awareness and am
> contemplating serving lenten matins, the hours, or compline. I have
> served molebens before.
> > Priest Seraphim Holland 972 529-2754 CELL:972 658-5433
> > ST NICHOLAS ORTHODOX CHURCH:http://www.orthodox.net
> > PARISH EMAIL:http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-
> > BLOG:http://stnicholasdallas.blogspot.com/
> > BLOG RSS feed:
> > http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/redeemingthetime
> > Podcast (homilies) RSS feed:
> > Catechetical Talks RSS Podcast:
> > http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianCatecheticalTalks
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Dear all
Perhaps this historical note might also be
instructive. While researching confession in imperial
Russia, I came across several cases where priests
assigned to prisons in Siberia (in the middle of the
nineteenth century) sought their bishops' support.
They wondered if the bishops would intercede with
prison authorities to allow prisoners whose crimes
sentenced them to be permanently chained to the wall
to be unshackled for Holy Communion (after having
confessed to the priests, while still shackled).
The bishop wrote a moving and eloquent response to the
prison authorities explaining what the mystery of
repentance was, and what it implied (I will quote it
in full in my book). The prisoners were indeed
unshackled for Holy Communion from then on.
--- Lewis Whitaker <lhwhitaker@...> wrote:
> Fr. David:=== message truncated ===
> Father bless.
> Thanks be to God for your beautiful posting. I was
> afraid, when I read Fr.
> Joseph's missive that I had accidentally slipped
> over into an alternate
> universe. Our Lord's "mercy endureth forever," and
> surely that mercy extends
> to those in prisons (those whom we have been
> commanded to visit and care
> I cannot imagine a church that would find any crimes
> such that the sinner
> would be "canonically prohibit[ed]" from confessing,
> receiving absolution
> and baptism. My mouth literally fell open when I
> read this.
> Thank you for restoring some "sanity" here. And do,
> please, continue to pray
> for all sinners "of whom I am first."
> On Fri, Mar 21, 2008 at 12:37 AM, Fr David Straut
> > I must say that I am flabergasted at the Fr
> Joseph's post. I apologize
> > in advance for this tirade, but I honestly believe
> it is necessary.
> > The Prophet Moses was a murderer. (Exodus 2:11-12)
> > The Prophet-King David was both an adulterer and a
> murderer. (2
> > Kingdoms 11-12)
> > St Paul was complicit in a murder. (Acts 7:57-60)
> > Righteous Joseph was thrown in prison as a rapist.
> St John the
> > Forerunner was imprisoned and executed. The
> Apostles Peter, John, and
> > Paul were all imprisoned. Ss Peter and Paul were
> executed by the lawful
> > decree of the civil authorities.
> > Our Blessed Saviour was imprisoned and executed.
> > Prison was not so unclean a place that it
> prevented an Angel from
> > appearing to the Apostle Peter there and freeing
> him. (Acts 12:1-11)
> > Ss Paul and Silas did not think a prison too
> filthy a place to sing the
> > Lord's praises at Midnight, even though the other
> prisoners - who
> > really deserved to be there! - were listening to
> them. (Acts 16:25)
> > Should the St Paul the prisoner have thought twice
> before celebrating
> > "the most sacred act of the Divine Liturgy [in]
> such a horrid place "
> > as a ship transporting inmates with their
> corrections officers in the
> > middle of a life-threatening storm? (Acts 27:35)
> > Should Christian priests who were about to be
> martyred for the faith,
> > whether in 1st century Asia Minor, or 3rd century
> Rome, or the 20th
> > century Soviet Gulags, have refused to celebrate
> the Divine Liturgy for
> > other Christians in the places of their
> imprisonment because they were
> > horrid places? And would the answer to this
> question depend on whether
> > those for whom he celebrated the Liturgy were for
> life-long faithful or
> > newly-believing criminal converts?
> > Had the woman caught in adultery been brought to
> Fr Joseph instead of
> > Our Lord, would she have been told that she could
> she receive
> > forgiveness only if she spent the rest of her life
> in repentance?
> > Had the thief been dying on the Cross next to Fr
> Joseph instead of Our
> > Lord, might he have been told that it was just too
> late for him, as he
> > had no time to live a repentant life before he
> could be forgiven?
> > Do the following passages mean anything to us?
> > "But go ye and learn what this meaneth: `I will
> have mercy and not
> > sacrifice.' For I am not come to call the
> righteous, but sinners to
> > repentance." St Matthew 9:13
> > "When Jesus heard it, He said unto them, "They
> that are whole have no
> > need of the physician, but they that are sick. I
> came not to call the
> > righteous, but sinners to repentance." St Mark
> > "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to
> repentance." St Luke
> > 5:32
> > Archpriest David Straut
> > Rector, St Elizabeth the New-Martyr Orthodox
> Church, Rocky Hill, New
> > Jersey
> > Assistant Director, Jail Chaplaincy of Somerset
> > --- holytransf@... <holytransf%40aol.com>
> > > Dear Father Seraphim, Brother and Concelebrant,
> > >
> > > Certainly, we are encouraged to "visit those in
> prison." This
> > > admonition
> > > came at a time when those in prison were not
> always serious
> > > criminals; i.e.,
> > > murderers and rapists, but also those imprisoned
> for mere
> > > indebtedness.
> > >
> > > I have serious reservations about how many
> modern "Prison Ministries"
> > > are
> > > conducted considering that most of those
> imprisoned today are
> > > criminals of a
> > > serious nature. Certainly we can bring them the
> Holy Gospel and
> > > even convert
> > > them to Christianity. For Orthodox, however,
> Holy Baptism should
> > > [probably] be
> > > postponed until such time as the prisoner
> finishes his sentence and
> > > is
> > > released or if he is in serious poor health or
> of great age or on his
> > > death bed.
> > > The crimes that most of these men have committed
> canonically prohibit
> > > them from
> > > receiving Holy Baptism, or any Holy Mystery,
> except in the cases
> > > above.
> > >
> > > Now, considering that you have, pastorally,
> determined that some of
> > > these
> > > criminals MAY be baptized and receive Holy
> Communion because they are
> > > sincerely
> > > repentant and their crimes are not of the nature
> that they would be
> > > canonically
> > > forbidden to receive the Holy Mysteries until
> their death bed, the
> > > manner in
> > > which you have given the Holy Eucharist should
> be sufficient.
> > >
> > > I am aware that some Orthodox priests/chaplains
> do celebrate the
> > > Divine
> > > Liturgy in prisons. I believe this is a mistake.
> Perhaps a
> > > Molieben would be
> > > more appropriate so that the inmates can have
> some experience of
> > > worship but to
> > > bring the most sacred act of the Divine Liturgy
> into such a horrid
> > > place as a
> > > prison (with all that we know happens there)
> should not be done.
> > > With the
> > > restrictions imposed by the prison Divine
> Liturgy could not be
> > > properly served.
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