Wednesday, June 22. 2011
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Revised Church Slavonic? Come on now. You left out this gem from the original article when the linguist/priest in charge states that his goal "is to make the message that the Church is carrying to modern society more transparent and understandable..."
This goes as the dumbest Orthodox idea of the year, and that is saying a whole lot. While the Evangelicals are whooping it up in vernacular Russian, this is the best Moscow can do? Even the Romans didn't use 'pig Latin' in an attempt to keep holding on to the old ways following Vatican 2.
If they truly want to make the Liturgy understandable and accessible to the masses, try using Russian. Using English, French, Ukrainian, Spanish, Slovak, Serbian, Romanian etc...hasn't worked out so bad for the rest of us, has it? Perhaps this is more about Slavophilia than it is about Orthodoxy. I learned the services and the chants in Slavonic and I love it as much as anyone here, but there is a time and a place for everything.
(Editor's note: I don't disagree. It would seem the Russian Church has opted to become an interactive museum in terms of its worship.)
#1 Bez mena on 2011-06-22 13:06
I think they're moving toward using the vernacular eventually. But one cannot be drastic in changing anything about the biggest Orthodox Church in the world. One thing you have to remember is that the territory of the MP is not simply Russia, but also encompasses places like Ukraine and Belarus. One of the reasons Slavonic is preferable in the case of the MP is that all of those countries share certain words with Slavonic. So it is one language that can be used by all.
This does not even touch the potential schism that switching to vernacular Russian en masse could cause. While I'm sure that sounds silly to you, think of how many people ONLY know Church in Slavonic, and the thought of switching is very shocking to them.
My wife is Ukrainian by birth, but has never said her prayers in Ukrainian, nor would she know any hymns in Church in Ukrainian. (Ukrainian is only used by schismatic Churches in Ukraine who are more concerned with nationalism than faith) So Slavonic is the only Church language she's used to.
I think this is a smart move for the Russian Church. Let's not forget that When Patriarch Kyrill was a mere Metropolitan, he was an advocate for allowing vernacular Russian to be used *when it was desired*, though the Russian Synod never blessed it. I think that reforming the Slavonic texts is a good first step toward using the vernacular, and will allow many people to understand more, without alienating the faithful.
#1.1 Kolya on 2011-06-22 16:23
Your assertion on Ukrainian as a liturgical language in Ukraine is false. The Church of the Transfiguration near Kyiv frequently celebrates liturgy in vernacular Ukrainian (every Saturday, and on other occasions as well). Archbishop Oleksander Drabinko is the rector of this parish. The press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Moscow recently released a video showing where the Metropolitan of Kyiv, Volodymyr, presided over a liturgy where Ukrainian and Slavonic were both used (the press service is called "Світ Православія.") Several other parishes of the UOC-MP use liturgical Ukrainian as well, at the discretion of their diocesan bishops. Furthermore, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also celebrate liturgy in Ukrainian. We have a serious need to demythologize the idea of absolute liturgical uniformity in Orthodoxy, and language is a good place to start.
#1.1.1 N. Denysenko on 2011-06-23 13:57
Although there are some points in this update that may reflect positive results, I found much of it indicative of how troubled the Church truly is.
To serve the Divine Liturgy in a language that many of the participants do not understand is an insult to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. I cannot conceive of how any God fearing bishop would permit this.
The impeding of the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church to pursue It's Apostolic mission can only be understood as an indication of how close we are to our Lord's Second Coming. I fear that there are more foolish than wise virgins, remaining in the Church.
How will the bishops and presbyters who support this corrupt clerical and academic tradition answer to our Lord?
Lord have mercy!
#2 Marc W. Trolinger on 2011-06-22 14:23
Let's not get this wrong here. Plenty of Slavonic is understandable to a Russian. This is not like Latin used in the Catholic Church. Slavonic is the proto-language of all the Slavic languages, therefore, all the Slavic countries can understand Slavonic, they may not understand all of it without looking things up, but the same could be said for English as well. Sometimes all it takes to make a Slavonic word Russian is to change one letter.
(Editor's note: As long as one understands some of the service, that's good enough, right? Pretty low standard, friend, since the command was to go out and proclaim to the world the Good Uutiset. (See, you understood part of what I said. Good enough, right? All joking aside, this is a real issue with profound implications for the majority of Orthodox Christians in the world. Are we being "sensitive" to historical realities, or just devolving into an interactive museum - hoping that when people wander in, they will use the exhibits, and if not, be willing to "look them up" at home? )
#2.1 Kolya on 2011-06-22 16:35
I believe Kolya, Mr Trolinger, is correct. Pastoral necessity requires slow, steady and gentile changes especially when it comes to making them in a socio-cultural milieu that is steeped in our Holy Faith. The lines between Church and culture are not as stark in Russia as they are here in the US. A radical change would be, could be, very detrimental to the faith of many. Let us honor and love the weaker vessels, if you will, while gentile change takes place. Thank God our Church moves at glacial speed.
As well I might suggest you reflect on your post, Mr Trolinger. It does contain poor historical and theological understanding, as well as a point or two of real concern.
(Editor's note: What you affirm is true: what you criticize (poor theology and historical understanding) is mitigated by your poor spelling. It is "gentle" not "gentile" - although I appreciate the pun. The issue is not really either/or, but how to move from your point to his. )
#2.2 Ba2shka Bean Bag on 2011-06-22 17:13
After reflecting on my post as you suggested, I do admit my own ignorance on how the Orthodox Christian Faith effects the Slavic culture. However, I firmly believe that the Apostolic mission of the Orthodox Church is to illuminate as many as are called into the fullness of Christianity. The beautiful way that the Divne Liturgy conveys so much of the Truth of our Faith in any language, is why it should always be served in a language that insures maximum understanding for the majority of the people present.
When those gathered to worship are of different cultures and languages, pastoral economia regarding the language of service is often required. However the retention of Slavonic or Greek as the liturgical language in any parish were they are not understood by the majority present simply because it is a "tradition," does indeed impede the work of the Holy Spirit.
If the Orthodox Church in this world is going to effectively carry out Her Apostolic mission, She needs to abandon many of the traditions that are neither Holy nor Apostolic. Although many of these harmful traditions may have been added over the centuries at a "glacial" rate, the fact that more Orthodox Christians have been martyred for the Faith since 1917 than in all of history, and that the human conditions everwhere continue to decline, confirms that we probably do not have much time. We need to act at a much faster pace to remove these impediments to sharing the Holy Apostolic Orthodox Faith, before it is to late.
#2.2.1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-06-23 07:56
You advocate a "slow, steady" pace, Um, the bishops in Russia recommended switching from Slavonic to the vernacular languages in each area (Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, etc.) in 1905!!! That was *106 years ago!!** How much more "slow" and "steady" can you get than that???
#2.2.2 David Barrett on 2011-06-23 10:41
They have had one or two things to attend to in the mean time.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2011-06-23 17:32
The fall of Communism occurred during Reagan's administration!! What's the excuse, since then, for continuing to being "slow" and "steady"??? Sounds like the redneck racists in this country who, during the Civil Rights Movement, wanted to "take more time" to give blacks their constitutional rights, which, to that point, had been denied them for 400 years!!!
#18.104.22.168.1 David Barrett on 2011-06-29 09:52
A few reformists suggested a switch to vernacular after the revolution in 1905. The 1917 All-Russian Council resolved to make this switch. Unfortunately, the Bolshevik revolution disrupted the life of the Russian church, and set discussions of reform or elimination of the use of Slavonic back about 200 years.
The switch to Modern Russian advocated by the 1917 council was supervised by the Bolshevik supported Living Church, or “Renovationists” during the Russian Civil War. The Renovationists took nothing “slow and steady” and they were branded as heretical by the laity that remained in the Churches in face of Bolshevik persecution. Since they were viewed as heretics, the laity felt the need to eliminate ALL liturgical and linguistic practices associated with the Renovationists, including the use of Modern Russian. This “tradition” has been passed on in Russia by the babas who kept the church, and any discussion of linguistic reform is a potential powder keg. That a “reform” and “Modernization” of Slavonic can be discussed a mere 20 years after the collapse of the USSR is amazing.
(Editor's note: And there you have it. The glass half full perspective!)
#22.214.171.124 Fr Simeon Johnson on 2011-06-24 00:22
Oh please - because nothing significant disrupted the Church of Russia in the intervening decades.
#126.96.36.199 Mordecai on 2011-06-24 05:38
Well, now, David, a little something happened in between. There was a revolution in 1917, which put an awful lot of things (inc. and esp. matters brought up at the 1905 council, as I understand) on hold for a few decades. I think anything in this discussion needs to be sen in that light, and the fact that the CHurch of Russia is still in the process of finding its way out of that morass.
#188.8.131.52 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2011-06-24 08:47
See my reply to Yousuf Rassam, regarding the fall of Communism during Reagan's administration, and so forth!! There's a difference between going "slow and steady" and dragging one's behind on the ground!!!
#184.108.40.206.1 David Barrett on 2011-06-29 09:55
Not our business, this slavonic stuff.
JONAH and co. That is our business, lets keep the eye on the prize.
(Editor's note: It is our concern and business. It concerns the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in the world. It is not our decision, in the end, but we can offer "friends of the court" opinions to help them come to a better final decision.)
#3 needful things on 2011-06-22 17:01
ALL of Orthodoxy is "our business". You are a member of the Orthodox Church, who happens to be in one particular jurisdiction; but we are all the same Church. I didn't join "the Greek Orthodox Church" I joined "the Orthodox Church" I merely happen to attend a Greek parish. However I'm an equal member of the Church all over the world and I think everything affects me at least indirectly!
#3.1 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-06-25 16:37
Chuck - you are right on the money. Everything that happens in Orthodoxy is our business, and if we want unity to truly prevail some day, we must be aware of the various jurisdictions having issues - some of them are the same in each one - which shows you how serious the problem is.
And everything that is going on is the business of the laity, as well as the clergy. The Hierarchs are being divided by the big guy, and therefore they are not united in their efforts to heal. They have taken very specific sides in this troubled mess, so it is up to the laity to speak up and be heard, to voice our concerns and our opinions, and to expect the righteous thing to be done.
Woud our Lord expect us to just sit back and take this abuse? I don't think so. I really think HE is waiting to see how strong we are, and what kind of good stuff we are made of. God gave us this beautiful faith to nurture and grow, and if we stand back and wait for others to act, it will only get worse. Time to move forward - otherwise we are doomed.
I look at Moscow's moves on the liturgical language as their first attempt around the mind set of the "Living Church" having "contaminated" using Russian as the liturgical language - with the help of the Bolsheviks in the 1920s, a time when most of the work of the 1917/1918 council was lost (except for the return of the patriarch). Let's look at what history has done to a lot of those reforms, killed them.
(Editor's note: History has also presevered them as well. You can't keep a good idea down.)
#4 William Kosar on 2011-06-22 18:13
The attempt to preserve Slavonic as a liturgical language is a sign of two things.
First, it signifies the subservience of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Putin regime and its dreams of reviving the Russian Imperial past. Church Slavonic has always been used as a tool of cultural imperialism. During the 19th century abolition of the Georgian Patriarchate, the Russian exarchs outlawed the use of the native liturgical language and required the use of Slavonic, a language foreign even to their own countrymen.
Second, the retention of Slavonic demonstrates an abrogation of the Christian duty to evangelize the world. Slavonic is only understood by trained philologists. The Slavonic verb system is all but completely different from that of modern Russian. Serving in Slavonic means that there is no real desire to evangelize the Russian people; much less the 100 non-Russian ethnic groups (nerusskiye rossiyanniny) inside the Russian Federation.
The following articles illustrate this process. The first quotes figures from the Levada Center (Russia’s version of the Gallup poll) which showed only 2% of Russians attended church over the Christmas holidays. The second describes the division within the schismatic Abkhaz Eparchy created by the Moscow Patriarchate in occupied Abkhazia, a division caused by the MP’s attempt to force Slavonic services its Abkhaz parishioners.
Of course, the very existence of this non-canonical, schismatic “Eparchy” ruled by a de-frocked Archimandrite, demonstrates the Moscow Patriarchate’s total abandonment of traditional Orthodox praxis in favor of service to a godless, political imperialism. Our Lord said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Luke 16:13. It is clear that the Moscow Patriarchate has chosen a master, and it is not Christ.
Window on Eurasia: Church Attendance at Christmas Undercuts Moscow Patriarchate’s Claims on Orthodox Nature of Russian People
Staunton, January 8 – Fewer than two percent of Russian citizens attended Orthodox Christmas church celebrations this year, a number that calls into question not only the claims of the Moscow Patriarchate that Russian population is overwhelmingly Orthodox but also the special relationship it has with the state and the state’s spending to promote Orthodoxy.
As Svetlana Solodovnik noted in yesterday’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” perhaps no other public organization has benefited as much from the tandem as the Russian Orthodox Church which has positioned itself as the moral arbiter of the majority and extracted both the return of property and enormous state subsidies (ej.ru/?a=note&id=10721).
Most of that state deference reflects the personal convictions of the leaders, especially Dmitry Medvedev and his wife, and their views about the role of Orthodoxy in the life of Russia past, present and future. But at least some of it reflects the acceptance by the secular authorities of the Patriarchate’s claims concerning the number of its followers.
(That second factor seems to be particularly important now given the growing evidence of religious fervor of the country’s Muslims as reflected in the massive celebration of Islamic holidays not only in traditional Muslim areas but particularly in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other “traditionally” Russian cities.)
Because of the impact both of Soviet anti-religious policies in the past and of the forces of secularization then and now, far fewer people are believers and active practitioners of any religion than most religious leaders regularly claim. But no denomination in Russia has more consistently overstated both the number and share of its followers.
Orthodox hierarchs routinely say that 65 to 85 percent of Russian Federation residents are Orthodox Christians, a figure that reflects their counting as believers almost all those who are members of historically Orthodox nationalities such as the Russians. In brief, they count as believers all “ethnic Orthodox” even as they dismiss equivalent claims about “ethnic Muslims.”
Obviously, precision in this question is difficult to achieve. On the one hand, declarations of faith are very different than actual belief and practice in Russia as everywhere else. And on the other, the sources of information about such matters vary widely, with religious leaders claiming more and others reporting fewer faithful.
But despite that, many in Russia attend to the numbers of people who take part in religious services especially on holidays as an important indicator. And this Christmas, which took place yesterday according to the Eastern calendar, the numbers of Russian Orthodox were both low and if anything smaller than in earlier years.
According to interior ministry sources, approximately 2.5 million people took part in the celebration of Orthodox Christmas this year, attending services in approximately 8500 churches. The attendees constitute fewer than two percent of the country’s population, and the number of Orthodox churches conducting Christmas services about two-thirds of all Orthodox churches.
In reporting these numbers, the Siberian news agency Babr.ru said that they once again “demonstrate the falsehoods of the demagogy of the Russian Orthodox church about the traditional Orthodox essence of the Russian people” and raise questions about state support for the Orthodox Church (news.babr.ru/?IDE=90878).
“It is curious,” the news service said, “that despite the strongest propaganda of Orthodoxy, including in the schools, the number of convinced believers over the last five years has not changed” and that the Patriarchate continues to “exaggerate the real figure by a factor of four to five.”
But it is not just in church attendance on a high holy day that the Russian Orthodox Church appears to be less widely supported than its leaders claim. This week, Archbishop Ioann of Belgorod, one of the most Orthodox places, released figures showing sharp declines in the number of practicing Orthodox there (www.portal-credo.ru/site/?act=news&id=81743).
Not only have the number of divorces now risen to equal the number of marriages, but the share of people marrying in the church has fallen by two-thirds over the last several years, from 30 percent to only nine percent, the archbishop said, statistics that he acknowledged showed that the standing of Orthodoxy as a “fashion” among the population has changed.
But however that may be, the Russian state is pushing ahead with programs to push the cause of Russian Orthodoxy both at home and abroad. In the waning days of 2010, the country’s ministry of culture announced without much notice that it is spending “almost six million US dollars” on the popularization of Orthodoxy
Excerpt from the Article: “Abkhazia Again Struggles for Independence; but this Time from Russia?” by Vladimir Vorsobin Moskovskaya Komsomolskaya Pravda, 5/17/2011
Original article (in Russian):
Further on the way to the border, in the Sochi airport, I meet the well known Russian missionary, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev. He frowns, furtively and diplomatically. If he speaks, “it is not for publication”. For the past several months, Deacon Andrei has been running shuttling back and forth between Moscow and Sukhumi; trying to maintain peace in the confidential religious sector of Russian-Abkhaz relations. Alas, there is a trench warfare going on. The conflict flared up in the New Athos monastery when the Russian Orthodox Church installed a retired priest, Igumen Efrem, as the new abbot of that monastery. Oddly, the head of the Abkhaz Church, Vissarion Apliaa, calls Fr Efrem by the respectable Abkhaz surname “Lakerbaia”, while their opponents call Fr Efrem by his Russian surname, Vinogradov.
To the amazement of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Abkhazians actually cared. The nationalist scruples of the local Sukhumi Orthodox newspaper “Necessary” described it thus:
“If Fr. Efrem had come alone and had Abkhaz roots; well then let him come; but no - he came with three (read Russian) hieromonks, five or six monks, and a novice… This requires a negotiation.”
“The monastic brethren do not like the fact the Bessarion, behind their backs, took This Fr. Efrem to Moscow and presented him to Patriarch Kirill, and then in their words, Fr Efrem began to give orders what should be and what must not be in the monastery. There was to be nothing of the Byzantine or Greek style; emphasis must be on the Slavonic. It did not please the brothers nor the lay people, who came to worship in Novy Afon, that Fr. Efrem would conduct the services in Slavonic rather than in the Abkhazian (Apsynni) language.
The uproar led the former rector of the monastery, Fr. Andrei (Anpar), with the help of public meetings, to obtain the recommendation of the Public Chamber of Abkhazian ‘to suspend the appointment’. Moreover, Fr Andrei clearly formulated the main and clearly understood idea of an established nation, which has finally become independent.
‘We believe that the future of the Abkhaz church must be built not only on our relationship with the Russian church; but also with the other Orthodox churches: with the Greeks, with the Serbs. The foreign policy of the Abkhaz church should be multipolar.’ As a result, the (Abkhaz) Orthodox community erupted in conflict. The next Sunday, the Abkhaz church split – those under the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Fr. Vissarion, and the independents headed by Fr. Andrei.
Since I promised the Orthodox diplomat (Archdeacon Adrei Kuroev) that I would not cite him in my article, I will only say that the deacon expressed his astonishment at these events in the most colorful and emotional Russian language.
#5 Francis Frost on 2011-06-22 18:18
So Father Joseph Fester is going to the GOA....do they know what they are getting? How could Met.Jonah allow this?
(Editor's note: He is apparently going to ACROD, a part of the GOA. This was his request, ultimately. )
#6 stephen on 2011-06-23 00:18
I am attempting to check this one out on my end. Frankly, it sounds like one of those one-sided player trades the Mets are famous for, give up two good players and get......
#6.1 Bez mena on 2011-06-23 07:13
As someone in ACROD, could you tell me where you found any news about Fr Fester's intriguing move from OCA to us?
(Editor's note: Multiple sources.)
#6.2 Janotec on 2011-06-23 08:47
The poor Carpatho-Russians! As if they haven't been through enough turmoil, now Fester???
#6.3 Anonymous on 2011-06-23 10:08
???? and what turmoil is that?
#6.3.1 Robert on 2011-06-24 20:46
It may have ultimately been Fester's request, but the release would have come from his diocesan bishop, +Jonah. And +Jonah should have been aware, as was Fester, that a spiritual court was awaiting Fester. Did the metropolitan knowingly bring disorder to his own jurisdiction?
#6.4 Ann Onymous on 2011-06-23 15:30
So, that's it? A clergyman....plot, conspire .... then simply transfer jurisdictions to avoid accountability and restitution?
#6.4.1 Anon. on 2011-06-23 20:26
FYI The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese is not a part of the Greek Archdiocese of America. It is an separate diocese under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
In YHWH Made Flesh, Christ our God,
(Editor's note: Technically true, but at the moment as they both share the same Primate, and the for the time being the same Archbishop... allowing the current situation to have developed seamlessly.)
One thing to remember is that it is possible that not all of the people would want to change the languages of the services. Take a look at this video from Greece, when a Metropolitan decided on his own that the OT readings should be read in modern Greek. The people tried to stop him and created a scene, yelling at him not to use the vernacular, but to use the ancient language. Bad church behavior aside, it is important to think about. The same thing could happen in many churches throughout Russia.
#7 Sbdn. Anthony Stokes on 2011-06-23 07:29
Were the complainants create a scene because they understood liturgical Greek better than vernacular Greek? Did anyone ask them why they were yelling at their bishop, besides the language change?
I suppose that if he had insisted that the Holy Gospel be read in modern Greek, they would have torn the crown off his head!
God save the Church!
Rdr. James Morgan - monolingual in English....
#7.1 Rdr. James on 2011-06-23 13:06
Wonder why the "people" acted in such boorish way to preserve Orthodoxy. Inadequate catechism perhaps? Dislike of the Bishop? Got up on the wrong side of the bed? Inordinate fear of change? In any case, these people and this incident cannot be held up as typical Orthodox behavior, for if it is, we are in deep trouble indeed.
#7.2 Carl Kraeff on 2011-06-23 13:14
As to Antiochian candidates for "Rd Table Bishops" (demoted to parish visitations) we find two chosen candidates ... Abdallah & Michaels foreordained. Both at least Amer. born but NO converts (ala Bp Mark).
Met. P. will already assure MidWest parishes not worry about Sat Vespers, Hoiy Days ON the holy days, etc.
Bpo Mark my Bishop was the "best" but stuck with hard headed social mid easterners to whom spiritual comes AFTER membership in the "Club".
Won't attend Chicago broomha, had enough the last few, and no place for the serious, no more attempts at transparency, a watered down Board fitting the Met.'s ambitions. Pay, and Obey - we hope pray?!
#7.3 anonymous on 2011-06-23 14:57
Did anyone read the press release on the Patriachate of Antioch Website, they just elected 12 new Auxilary Bishops. For various locations., including Mexico, Brazil, Europe, and 2 Syrian archdiocese.
#7.3.1 Anonymous on 2011-06-25 12:19
Just received from my Priest the 2011 Annual Financial report. All adjusted as the Englewood group specializes in !!
Annual Report but never total assets, certain hidden funds, ad infinitum. Such transparency! Never will occur. With all the OCA troubles present Treas in Syosset will give you an up-to-the-dollar accounting.
"If you tell them all - they will not give!" Now who said that?
#7.3.2 Anonymous Council member (Antiochian MidWest) on 2011-06-25 22:30
Fr. John Abdalah, I should note, was Bp. MARK's spiritual father, is -- so I'm told -- very convert-friendly, and incorporates -- again, so I'm told -- certain charismatic practices in his own prayer life such as speaking in tongues. It's been suggested to me by people "in the know" that he's the best of all worlds for Toledo and the Midwest -- if he has to correct the "cradle" Arabs, he'll be in a position to do so in a way that they understand and respect. We'll see.
#7.3.3 rex vexans on 2011-06-30 13:12
Anthony, if that's what is going on in the video it's pretty lame. Were there people at Pentecost who demanded the Apostles stop speaking in languages they could understand? Or was the Holy Spirit as mistaken as this bishop who clearly has a lot of catechizing to do. It sure must be easy picking for groups like Jehovah's Witnesses when they go to a place and start spreading their faith in a language that is understandable. They never play fair and use languages like Slavonic or Byzantine or ancient Greek. The Orthodox have much to teach the world and so very much to not teach them.
#7.4 Bob Koch on 2011-06-24 22:24
As a linguist, and an American convert who worships in a Russian Church and lives part time in Romania, this conversation is fascinating.
I am a Latin teacher and I have been told by older Hispanics that they were dismayed by the move to Vernacular at Vatican II. They claim to have understood the Mass in the main quite well. As a functional speaker of Spanish and scholar of Latin, I believe them.
I listen to a considerable amount of Slavonic every Sunday. I don't study it at all and it doesn't bother me that I don't understand what I hear. I do know what the Liturgy says at every point because I was versed in it at an all English parish first. I don't know what a Russian understands in the Slavonic. But the assertions made here that no God-fearing bishop would allow a non-Vernacular to be used are unacceptable judgments. In other words the plurality of men ordained as bishops in the Orthodox world are not "God-fearing"?
The Romanians have been perhaps a bit more constant in updating the Liturgy to match the spoken register. It is a formal Romanian, to be sure, but it is not even archaic.
But, finally, I think all of us have to take the Russians at their word that the process of organically updating the Liturgy was interrupted by the Communist Revolution and they only now have the stability to return to this important process. Let's not judge them. Period.
We need not judge the motives or the actions of the Russian bishops in regards to the issue of liturgical language; but we can and must call them to account for their violations of the Sacred Canons and their flagrant disregard for the most basic principles of Christian morality.
As long as the Russian bishops maintain a schismatic "Eparchy" within the universally recognized territory of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate, as long as they commune with a defrocked Archimandrite, whom they received with no canonical release, then they are not faithful Orthodox.
As long as the Russian bishops bless acts of violence against civilian populations and bless the very arms used to destroy Orthodox churches, they are not even Christians! You may see the videos for yourself.
The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” has been re-released and posted on You Tube at the following url:
Portions of this documentary plus additional footage are now available with English voice over at the following urls:
The bottom line is that the current leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate is fatally compromised by its relationship to the Putin regime. Given that fact, it matters not what language they pray in.
"You have become a dissatisfaction to Me: I will not forgive your sins. When you stretch forth your hands to Me, I will turn My eyes from you. Although you make many prayers, I will not listen to you. Your hands are full of blood." Isaiah 1:15
#8.1 Francis Frost on 2011-06-23 18:46
Francis Frost! WE KNOW YOU HATE EVERY THING RUSSIAN!
#8.1.1 SASHA RESHETAR on 2011-06-27 09:55
couldn't have said this better
#8.2 sasha on 2011-06-23 21:56
I would suggest that if they are going to change the liturgy, they don't do it top down (some commission), or all at once.
1. Commision poets to write beautiful Russian for troparians etc (things that arent the same all the time) .
2. Then start having Russian liturgies for students (the Orth. Church does still have influence in schools/colleges), and vernacular for local areas (Siberia tribes and Ukr, and south Ru come to mind) as missionary thing. Allow individual priests to do liturgies in Ru as they choose.
3. Then finally, have these people, some who are now clergy themselves, that have grown up in it, write beautiful liturgical texts.
4. and finally .... switch.
Have willing priests, take this on as personal projects, on-top of their Slavonic liturgies. The entire process may take 20 years, but by the time its ready, people will be ready for it, and some of the more resistive people will have moved on from this world into the next. I think its not just about accessibility but rather, if you make people desire the Vernacular, to enjoy it, the switch will happen naturally.
At least this is my experience of the Coptic Church which has done the switch, some places nearly completely, as well as some Uniate churches.
#9 Reader Michael on 2011-06-23 17:16
I have one question, I agree this issue is important for the Russian Church, how will thissue effect the American parishes in any of the Archdiocese of the ROCOR, Russian PAtriachal, or the OCA who still use Slavonic (if any)- will this cause a more divison between the Patriach of Moscow and its American Church?
(Editor's note: Absolutely not - the language the Russian Church chooses to worship in does not affect the language we worship in here, nor should it. However, it is of note to us, since they are the largest Orthodox Church in the world, and their decision to "revive" a dead language, rather than use a living one, is of missionary import . It is especially interesting and significant given their public statements to be more involved in European culture and politics. Many would suggest that making the liturgy more accessible to a secularized Europe by using a language people could more easily understand, would be a good start. Its their choice however.
Finally, I was not aware the Russian Church and the American Church were "divided" in any way. Officially, and unofficially, relations have been and remain very cordial and brotherly....)
#10 Anonymous on 2011-06-24 11:26
I can only say that those who were in the Diocese of Sourozh in the UK and did a huge amount of work in developing the translations of the Services into English, and building up English-language parishes in the UK, were effectively told by Metropolitan Kirill to leave the Russian Orthodox Church, as they were not going to conform to the crude and boorish Slavic Nationalism he wished to promote at the behest of Mr. Putin. Kirill is now, regrettably, Patriarch. He clearly wants a fossilised and irrelevant Church in his homeland. At the same time he has left a legacy of deep bitterness in the UK and throughout Western Europe and there are many who feel, with justification, that he cannot be trusted.
Kirill recently had published a book on "Freedom and Responsibility" purportedly on human rights and ethical issues. He is definitely not the man to deliver this message to the West. If he really does believe in true human rights, he could start by ceasing the persecution of other Orthodox Christians, promoting in his homeland the Rule of Law, and genuine representative democracy. But - when will pigs fly?
#10.1 Zhivot Moya on 2011-06-27 11:43
Regarding Slavonic being updated with "more correct translation of certain words" perhaps is moving in the right direction. Personally growing up in the Metropolia, where church slavonic was used in the majority of the liturgical services, I used my English/slavonic liturgy book. That's okay, but I didn't understand any of the troparion/kontakion which changed it liturgy, nor did I understand the Epistle (which was always read in Church Slavonic. Nor did I understand the Prokemion or any other reading from the church books. When one looks back, many of the children of my generation married either outside the church and reared their children in another church. Those who did stay, eventually heard the services in all English (because of the autocephaly and the diligent work of SVS Press.
I know a couple who married in the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia (he American, she Russian) and they requested that the ceremony was performed in both English and Church Slavonic (any maybe some in modern Russian). Slavonic is used by many of the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe (Poland, etc.) Just look at the Greeks in the United States. There is disagreement about what language to use here. Personally I think the liturgical language should be understood by the people in their daily language.
#11 anonymous on 2011-06-24 12:12
It's always (ALWAYS) interesting to see what is said in the Church about languages. It always presents an embarassing spectacle that doesn't embarass enough people. Along with every national Church publication I know of over 26 years, everything on this topic is yet something else I hope my children will never read. Along with People Magazine or the Enquirer. As long as they hear a good sermon and have a good confessor (they have both and I can't be thankful enough) they have enough. The confessor and preacher habitually speak in a language understood by my family and me. No one in the parish stops them, so I am thankful to live in the US and very thankful to see bishops very rarely.
#12 Bob Koch on 2011-06-24 14:10
i see the OCA is full of hate of the Russian Church
time for me to get away from the OCA
(Editor's note: There is not hate for the Russian Church in the OCA. Some people have objections to various actions: as do Russians for some American actions. That is normal and usual for people of different perspectives and cultures and politics; but it has little to do with the Faith, and certainly no reason "to get away" from anybody. One would never stop running if one was looking for the "perfect church". It exists only in heaven. )
#13 sasha on 2011-06-25 10:55
With all due politeness, it is usually those that have come to the Orthodox church on a recent basis that do not understand the relationship between Church Slavonic and the modern Slavic languages.
First of all, Slavonic IS very intelligible to most, if not all speakers of a given Slavic language. It is true that the verb tenses are rather peculiar and there is a paucity of plural vs. singular grammatical structure and that the direct order of a Slavonic sentence is quite different than that of a direct order of a Slavic-language sentence.
Slavonic script is quite different from Cyrillic; however, it is quickly and easily mastered by any literate person of from a Slavic-language speaking country.
Slavonic is nothing more than a transparent veil over the current modern language.
1. Modern Bulgarian is closet to Slavonic in form and structure;
2. Modern Ukrainian is second-closed to Slavonic in form and stucture;
3. Modern Serbian and modern Russian are slightly more removed from Slavonic but still within highly easy grasp of any of its meaning.
4. Modern Polish and Czech, given the extreme occidentalisation of each language, are the most removed, particularly in terms of structure and meaning.
In their collective and almost entire inability to understand Slavonic, the heirarchs and clergy of the OCA have strayed very, very far from Church "ustav", very, very far from a proper order of services, etc, etc.
In their collective rush to be so American, they have lost all contact with the roots of the Orthodox church that those braves immigrants in the 19th Century brought to the United States.
There are very, very, very, very few parishes of the Orthodox Church in America where any given service resembles an Orthodox service at all. Frankly, they all run and look like Anglican services.
There is even one well-established OCA parish in Eastern Canada, in a large city, that has "dispensed" with an iconostasis altogether.
So in the end, I am simply saying, to be rather direct, that it is usually the converts that jump and scream about the usage of Slavonic and not those in whom the faith has been transmitted generation-through-generation.
Thus, for all intents and purposes, the OCA is a church without a rudder of any kind.
(Editor's note:Then let me ask you the following: where are all those generations through generations from the past three generations? Most are not in Church, sadly. It is why the majority of our bishops, and many of our priests are converts. And how is it that all our missions choose to be in English, not Slavonic? I think your criticisms are misplaced in the American context. )
I have to step up to the plate and defend those of us in the United States who are Orthodox and stem from common roots, i.e. Ukrainians, Galicians, Lemkos, Rusyns etc.... and who formed the backbone of the OCA (fomer Metropolia parishes), ACROD and the UOC-USA from the comments made by this poster.
I daresay that of the dozens of immigrant and first generation clergy and hierarchs, mostly now of thrice blessed memory, that I was honored to have known in my lifetime, few, if any would concur with Xiao's observations about their flocks' 'knowing' the meaning of Church Slavonic. ( I will never forget the sincere baba who argued with her priest that she knew what 'Svatyj Boze, Svatyj Krypkyj' meant - "....of course, Father....it's all about Jesus busting out of the crypt!....True story.....)
Yes there was a certain 'knowledge' possessed by our parents and grandparents but it was a 'folk' knowledge passed on by oral tradition and through the Icons that adorn our churches, our homes and our Iconostases.
I have heard the calumny that our 'praxis' is not Orthodox enough for some my whole life. To that I simply say, 'bah!'
Whlle most of us have chosen NOT to emulate the life cycle of a rural village in pre-Revolutionary Russia, that DOES NOT mean that our Orthodoxy is neither True nor authentic. There is no room for triumpalism, boasting or finger pointing.
And by the way, I do have 'wayward' relatives who are 'Anglican.' I've been to their weddings, funerals and holidays over the years and if you think that our ACROD, OCA UOC etc...parishes resemble them, well, frankly I have no idea what kind of glasses you are wearing and you have no idea of what you are talking about.
For those who don't 'like' us (i.e. SCOBA/EA Orthodox), there are plenty of alternative churches in the USA and Canada who proclaim themselves as 'true' or 'really, really true' Orthodox and who distance themselves from us for fear of 'contamination.' I am sure that they will welcome any and all who share in your opinions.
#14.1 Bez mena on 2011-06-27 07:58
Xiao Lin, I think some of your information may possibly be out of date. Why not tell us which parish so we can verify the iconostasis or lack thereof for ourselves? There aren't that many well-established OCA parishes in major cities in Eastern Canada-- in fact there aren't that many major cities in eastern Canada-- and I can't find any pictures of such a situation online.
A number of OCA parishes in Canada are on the Old Calendar and/or worship in Slavonic. There is certainly a wide variety of parishes in this Archdiocese, of many ethnic backgrounds.
(Also, about English, Mark-- here in Canada unfortunately not all of our OCA missions do choose to be English (or to be French, which is our other official language-- we do have some parishes that use French). I think that's a mistake, as previous generations here have learned. The old Russian churches here in Canada have lost not one but two or three generations, and are only replenishing their numbers with the influx of new, largely unchurched Russian immigrants. Occasionally the English language parishes pick up some reverts from these OCA Russian churches. We also get people who come from Greek, Romanian, Ukrainian and other traditionally Orthodox countries, whose common language is English and who want to bring up their children in the church.)
Xiao Lin, I think your description of the number of parishes in the OCA where services don't 'resemble an Orthodox service at all' and the extent to which they resemble Anglican services (even old prayer book Anglican services, let alone modern ones) is very, very, very, very exaggerated. I speak as a now 25 year convert from Anglicanism.
#14.2 Anonymous on 2011-06-28 11:34
sorry, I did not mean for that to be anonymous.
#14.2.1 Donna Farley on 2011-07-01 14:26
Firstly, length of time that you have been "converted" does not necessarily equate to a profound understanding of Orthodoxy and origins.
Secondly, the church to which I refer, and which posts a good number of videos on youtube, is in very, very large French-speaking city of a bilingual Eastern Canadian parish. Just go look at the videos and all the comments.
Thirdly, you truly, if you very kindly were to excuse me, have no competence to speak for the people of Russia -- I believe that in their numbers and int he plenitude of their newly-restored faith that they are able to speak for themselves.
As for interpreting the Gospel and proclaiming dogma "your comfort is not what the Gospel requires", I, for one, with a great deal of St-Seraphim-like-humility, would never, ever, ever declare or proclaim what the Gospel requires, to cite your own words. That is just so, so, so Protestant, truly, so John Calvin and Martin Luther like. I would simply pray that the Almighty reveals the truth as He chooses fit.
Thirdly, that OCA services are often cooked-up-on-the-fly is no deep secret. Please go visit the "cathedral" in Ottawa and watch what is done to Church uctav in all of its forms and shapes. And evening presanctified liturgies? An OCA invention. Saturday night vespers without a full vigil? Not in any uctav book of any serious nor major Orthodox denomination. Another item that truly shocked me was how on Good Friday, in Philadelphia, the "OCA Churches" parade around the neighborhood and the church with an American flag leading the procession. Now where o where, do I ask you, in any uctav book should an American flag be paraded around on Good Friday? Just totally out-of-place for the seriousness of the moment. Next, communion-without-confession...only the OCA allows it with so much frequency, a l'anglicane. There is no other major Orthodox church that permits that any more. And the list could go on-and-on-and-on.
All of which goes to the heart of what saying : a copy is only a copy. It is never the original, and often not even a good copy.
The OCA is beset with problems, all of them serious, and it would do quite well, thank you, to stray out of the language issue.
(Editor's note: Clearly, friend, you are not well-versed in American Orthodox history. The flag in the Paschal procession ( it used to be on most every amvon as well, as well as the old Russian tricolor in my former parish) is a hangover from the days when being Orthodox meant you were Russian, which meant you were a Soviet Communist, and hence a enemy of the USA. Walking in a procession with the flag showed your average American small town you could be Russian and a loyal America at the same time. Thank God those days are over, if the practice still lingers in some places, like so many parochial "traditions".
Secondly, no one is speaking for the people of Russia - they are indeed capable of speaking for themselves, if they are ever asked. In this case they were, and so were we, by the DECR for comments via the internet. That is what is taking place. I understand comments and opinions apart from the party line are not always welcome in China, but this is still the USA, where they are.
As for what "The Gospel requires", this is not a specfic Lutheran, or Calvinist, or even Protestant term, as you so incorrectly suggest. Our Patriarchs are all frequently telling us " what the Gospel requires", from hot button issues such as abortion, to same-sex marriage, to environmental concerns, to less hot button issues as support for the Church, etc. Stop being tenditious.
As for your rather Platonic aesthetic, that "a copy is only a copy and never an original" that would seem to invalidate every icon every created. Including each of us as the icon of God. We are, in your terms it would seem , only a copy of copy of a copy for a copy, going back thousands of generations, to Adam and Eve, who were icons of God. Fortunately, the Gospel requires us to reject such reasoning. (LOL)
As for evening presanctifieds - I suggest you read a book on the development of liturgy before making such blanket comments again. Presanctified was originally Vespers with Communion in its earliest form - which, when I last looked, was an evening service. I have no problem with people criticizing other people's pratices in order to raise the bar for everyone; but if you are going to do so, at least be informed correctly about what you are criticizing. )
Forgive me if I missed it, but in all this discussion I have seen no mention of a critical criteria for language and liturgical change--beauty and poetry of expression. While language comprehension is important, indeed essential, the words of the liturgy need to express to the greatest extent possible, and in the best way possible, the awe and grandeur of our mystical life in Christ.
If we fail to do this, the end result is the Latin Mass in a very inferior vernacular or Rite 2 in the Episcopal Church. For all my criticisms of the OCA, one thing it did right to its everlasting credit was to use much of the language of the traditional Anglican rite with the appropriate additions and subtractions. Hence a superior English Orthodox rite compared to the language used by other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America.
Changes in language and other traditions is inevitable over time, but whether it is desirable and worthwhile depends to what degree it improves and enhances liturgical experience. A conservative approach that preserves the essentially elements of the past, while carefully making changes when needed, should be the Orthodox Way.
#15 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-06-27 12:27
I'm always amazed to learn how many people are still locked in 1920 and care about using foreign languages in American churches. Silly & ridiculous! "Oh, it sounds so much more religious in Slavonic (Greek, Romanian, etc.)" Just backward!
#16 Anonymous on 2011-06-28 06:12
Didn't "holy Russia" make Orthodoxy the state religion because people were flocking to evangelicals of various denominations after perestroika so as to celebrate their faith in their native language? “Dumbest idea of the year” indeed, and these are the people who so many American Orthodox worship!!!
#17 Anon on 2011-06-30 05:52
I never thought I'd say it because my Romanian Orthodox grandmother was such an inspiration to me but; i am so sick of the ethnic delusionism within orthodoxy that I really now see it as a pathology all these wacky converts and bitter cradel misanthropes. What in the hell does it have to do with XC you might as well embrace Disney Land and worship Walt that is how rediclous it is ... and this Russia thing the myth of "holy" Russia .. ok move there see how "holy" it is ... how totally blasphemous and shameless all this fetishism is.
#18 john on 2011-06-30 09:27
This must make Antiochian Orthodox in America quite proud of their church leaders. +Philip's cohorts continue to enhance his legacy. I’m sure there will be a lot of open conversation in Chicago at the Self-Ruled AOCA Convention.
#19 disgusted priest on 2011-06-30 15:25
As a ROCOR member I am not happy with the numerous critics on your website, including Mr. Stokoe, of the Russian church and its use of Slavonic. i do sincerely hope you work your problems out. We are not out here as your critics but as fellow orthodox. And any time you need a tutorial in chuch Slavonic, we'd be glad to help you out.
(Editor's note: Criticism is a fact of life in the West, and includes the ability to criticize ( quel horror!) even the Russian Church. Get used to it. Stifling it won't work; at least not in this country. As for a tutorial in Church Slavonic, thanks; but I can read and sing in it just fine. Although I have no use for it these days, being in a mono-lingual English parish, my youth and young adult-hood were spent in Slavonic-English parishes, on both coasts. ( I admit, though, I would find it difficult to get through Matins these days....) In the 19th century Protestant missionaries used to float bibles - in English and German - to China and Japan as a means of "missionizing". We find that absurd today. Yet, we think we are going to evangelize people today in a incomprehensible language? I do not contest, nor does anyone, the historical, social, literary importance of Slavonic. It is a treasure that should be preserved. But the Church's task, given to it by the Lord himself, is not to preserve but to preach. To reach out with an open hand that holds a gift - not a closed fist that first must be pried open. That is the issue. I am happy Slavonic remains meaningful and comfortable for you; Great. But your comfort is not what the Gospel requires. Now for some, this makes me anti-Russian. Balderdash. It makes me pro-evangelization, even for Russians, who should not now be excluded from hearing the Good News through the Divine Liturgy, even though they have had it available for 1000 years. )
#20 Anonymous on 2011-06-30 15:49
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