Thursday, March 04, 2010

Orthograph #58 - Tradition "Handed Down"


David Dickens said...

Forgive me brother, I mean no offense (and I know I am about to take something humorous too seriously).

As someone who has considerable trouble getting to services, this one always disturbs me.

Attendance is not an indicator of anything about a particular person (though of course statistically it might indicate things).

If I could, I would sleep in the Church building and, if I can be so vulgar in public, I have sat and cried more than once over missing a service. When I asked my priest about ordination, for myself, the one "selfish" reason I had was the thought that I could attend every service.

What some folks make of me not being there... well that's the burden of piety they have to carry around with them.

I'm sorry that I was sensitive about this one. It is my weakness and not yourself. This is a pain I carry with me daily.

s-p said...

Hi David, This one is no more (or less) "serious" than any of the others (in fact some of the other orthographs are FAR more "serious" in terms of our inner warfare). There were a lot of "open the door" lines I thought of... like "see all the Greeks before the Gospel reading", or "all the HOCNAs at pan-Orthodox vespers"... etc etc. I guess I'd HOPE someone experiences a twinge of pain at some of the Orthographs even though they are "funny". God bless your sensitivity, brother.

On another note, I wondered how many people knew this "hand trick". Its one of my favorite memories of my Grandfather playing with me.

Kirk said...

s-p, I find this pretty funny based upon my first experience in an Orthodox Church. It was 2005, my wife was out of town, and I finally got up the nerve to go to a service. The internet said that Divine Liturgy started at 10:00, and Orthros at 9:15 or something like that. Being that this was my first Orthodox service and I was driving 90 minutes one-way, I figured I would go to everything. Right? I mean, as a visitor who had no experience with the EOC (other than what I had read in books and listened to on Ancient Faith Radio), I assumed that everybody would be at everything. After all, this is kind of the protestant tradition--from my background anyway--that you have this core group of 50-60% of the congregation that is there whenever the doors are unlocked.

So I drive past the church at about 5 minutes until the Orthros was supposed to start, and there was one, maybe two cars there. It is not unheard of for a church's times as posted on the internet to be badly outdated and wrong, so I assumed the service times had changed. I pulled into the parking lot, and I think there was a sign that verified the 9:15 start time. I settled my nerves, parked the car and opened the door to the church. There in the narthex stood the priest, decked out in green and looking not unlike St. Nicolas. He at first mistook me for his belated reader. The service started a few minutes later (without the reader), and it was just the priest, the Matushka, and me for the first twenty minutes. I sang along the best I could based upon what I had heard on AFR. By the time the Divine Liturgy started there were more people there, and the sanctuary was pretty full by the end of services that morning.

So I'd conclude that your Orthograph is pretty accurate--both humorously and sadly so.

s-p said...

Yep, Kirk, my first service was Vespers on Saturday night at the Greek Cathedral. You'd figger, "cathedral=lot of people"... it was me and the two other first time visitors who came with me, the assistant priest serving, the chanter and the chanter's girlfriend. It turned out to be "what is" for the most part.

-C said...

OK, I did think this was funny. Sad, too? Sure. But it's honest, and it's important for us to see ourselves honestly.

See all the people - at Matins? How about see all the people at liturgy on Sunday before the sermon?

JD said...

As a newbie, I thought for a while that "matins" was Arabic for " a place where the priest and his wife hang out before the liturgy".

Anonymous said...

LOL. I read Matins kind of often at our parish. The secret is to not get distracted by the door opening.

It's hard to get used to Orthodox time. But not that hard.

My grandma used to do this hand-thing, too. *sings* Memorieeeesss......of the wayyyy we weeeereeeee....

nothinghypothetical said...

My little parish actually has the opposite problem. Arrive on-time and you might not have a parking space or any place for my wife w/baby to sit down (or worse, the only floor space at all is right up front about 3 feet from the iconostasis).

My priest has talked about how he worries about our numbers, but if we get any more people we'll have to knock out the back wall and have people standing the the beds of their trucks during services.

And at the end, if the baby is done and we need to go home, we often can't get out of the parking lot because we've been boxed in (probably a fire hazard).

But it is a very small converted-house/building.

Anonymous said...

David, you're not alone. In the mad rush of life, work, family responsibilities, etc., it is easy to be absent. In fact, I am often absent at the request of my wife, who needs help after long days alone with our young daughter.

I figure that I spent 10-15 years away from the church in all but the most superficial respects, that another week or so won't be the end of the world. I hope I'm eventually able to spend a lot more time there, as my daughter grows up and is able to accompany me alone without having to spend the whole time chasing her around the church.

What I've found is that more time alone in solitary prayer, in small chunks of time snatched between meetings, phone calls, and family responsibilities, is priceless in keeping one's focus on God.

Also Anonymous said...

Anon 7:16 am: I'm glad to see that you don't beat yourself up for not getting to every service. I would love to see more people have such a sensible understanding of how there are seasons in life during which stellar church attendance is not possible nor even really desirable. You are doing the right thing to stay home with your daughter to ease your wife's burden.

I'm honestly annoyed to see how so many toddlers and preschoolers are dragged to dang near every Lenten service at our parish. I'm not at all bothered by their running around or noise making; it's not that. It's the attitude of the parents that they're doing the Right Thing by bringing their little kids to church so much. That this will give the children that life-long dedication to the Church that the parents want them to have. I have my doubts. It's not impious to recognize this stage of life as one in which parents and kids don't have to act like monastic wannabes. I suspect it's more about the parents' pride than about the actual benefit to the kids.

I suppose that thunder you hear is leading up to the bolt of lightning that is about to strike me.

thegeekywife said...

I snorted. Thanks S-P. I needed a good laugh.

My first Orthodox church service was a Divine Liturgy. I got there at the usual 10 minutes before start time. I was the only one there, except the priest who *gasp* actually turned around to see me, and then *double gasp* asked me to come closer to the front. Awkward.

And to David, I pray that your situation improves so that you can more frequently attend the services you so desperately want to.

Anonymous said...

Also Anonymous:

I tryto get my kids to one or two Pre-Sanctifieds per Lent. At their ages (9,8, and 5), I just don't see them getting anything but annoyed by being hauled into Church constantly at the same time they can't have pepperoni on their pizza. (I don't do the dairy fast with them, really. Growing bones, and all). To me, that's the essence of "negative reinforcement".

s-p said...

All Anons, You bring up some tough issues. I was a "be there every time the doors are open" protestant and basically my wife and I have been that in the Orthodox Church mainly because I've been "core" (wife= choir director, me reader, catechist, altar etc.) Early on a pious "Cradle" older man told us, "You need to stop making your kids come to all these services you come to... you going to make them hate the Church." And yes, I've seen that happen. I think more the bottom line for kids isn't dragging them to services, but seeing their parents serious about their faith... which means what happens in their lives OUTSIDE of the services is more important than "number of services attended".

Also Anonymous said...

Anon with 3 kids: Good for you. I agree with you about the "negative reinforcement." My kids were quite young when we joined the Church. They didn't fast from dairy during Lent for a while, either. Eventually, and with our priest's guidance, they moved into fasting from dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent.

I never ordered them to do anything about fasting; I just let them know what the basic rules are, provided lenten meals, and made it clear that I trusted them to make their own good decisions about when they're ready to step it up. And they did. My son held on to the dairy a bit longer than my daughter, but a couple years ago, he gave up dairy all days in Lent on his own. I'm pretty sure that now (at 16) he generally adheres to the fasting rules better than I do.

It's good to trust them, treat them with respect, and let them own their own progress in the faith.

S-P, you're so right; what matters is how they see us live the faith OUTSIDE of church, not just trying to collect gold stars for church attendance.

s-p said...

Also anon, No lightning strikes from this side of town. I have also seen this from men who are aspiring to ordination... attending every service and being there for every thing is sometimes more about their "goal"/ego than discernment of their station in life.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed--the left hand has 4 fingers while the right has 5!