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ceramic

Introduction to Original Christianity

This thread is dedicated to reflections, icons, prayers, quotes or anything relating directly to Eastern Orthodoxy, as passed down through the "living tradition" - and is not an area to dispute its content.

Orthodox Christianity is the life in faith of the Orthodox Church, inseparable from that concrete, historic community and encompassing its entire way of life. The Orthodox Christian faith is that faith "handed once to the saints" (Jude 3), passed on in Holy Tradition to the apostles by Jesus Christ, and then handed down from one generation to the next, without addition or subtraction.

The sole purpose of Orthodox Christianity is the salvation of every human person, uniting him to Christ in the Church, transforming him in holiness, and imparting eternal life. This is the Gospel, the good news, that Jesus is the Messiah, that he rose from the dead, and that we may be saved as a result. This is taken from: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthodox_Christianity

On a personal note: Most people will say to themselves at this point I have heard this before. Salvation is wholeness in every aspect of your life. One of the reasons I quit a cult that I was a member of before I was Orthodox, was because there was No Fruit in my life. The reasons were written right in front of my face, unhappiness, dejection, despondency, even depression... it had permeated every aspect of my life, financially, physically and spiritually. So, sometimes to get a different result we have to try a different recipe. I would encourage all those who desire more in their life to try the 'Original Recipe', even if you are already Orthodox... My effort in life is to live John 8:31-32 "The Truth Shall Make You Free." vs 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

However, Christ spoke of our spiritual liberty, not a physical liberty. The majority of people who quote this verse quote it wrong. They very often say, "You shall know the truth and the truth will SET you free." I always pictured in this case a bird being set free from a cage and then it became free. This is not the case because the verse says, "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall MAKE you free." Big difference because the first is an instantaneous action and the other is a long process requiring effort.

Knowing the truth is the first step. So, who is the truth? In John 14:6 (New King James Version) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. How well do you know the truth? John 16:13 (New King James Version) 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak;

How well do you know the truth? It says, and the truth shall MAKE you free... The Word of God is a person who will lead you and guide you into all truth.

Try it and you will See!
Lexilogio

Quote:
ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 8 - 32 καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς.


and knowing the truth, and the truth frees us

:wink:
ceramic

Lexilogio wrote:
Quote:
ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 8 - 32 καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς.


and knowing the truth, and the truth frees us

:wink:


Lexi, my computer doesnt pick up the Greek characters :( but knowing the truth does free us ...
Farmer Geddon

Now there's a surprise...


Greek is what the NT is all about and you cant't get it....
ceramic

Lucifers Duck wrote:
Now there's a surprise ... Greek is what the NT is all about and you cant't get it....


I read and speak fluent Demotic and Koine Greek - your point is?

Indeed, I know that the New Testament scripture that is written in Greek and preceeds the English ... says completely different things to what the protestants interpret from their watered down versions ...

I feel sorry for people who dont know the Greek -- you can use a dictionary to translate but only the Greeks have the true understanding of the poetry and music of the language and its true essence and meaning ...
ceramic

This is an early 2nd century epistle called the "Letter to Diognetus" that I read from another forum.

The writer of the letter gives a brief on Christianity on how Christians lived at the close of the Apostolic age. He explains how Christians were perceived at that time and how they believed themselves to be in a world that was not Christian but Anti-Christian. This letter is VERY relevant for today, for the more things change the more they stay the same. If we strive to live a life half as pious as described of these early Christians our hearts will be at peace.

Quote:
"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."


From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)

Source: http://www.vatican.va/spirit/docu.../spirit_20010522_diogneto_en.html
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/fathers.x.i.ii.html
Lexilogio

ceramic strong wrote:
Lucifers Duck wrote:
Now there's a surprise ... Greek is what the NT is all about and you cant't get it....


I read and speak fluent Demotic and Koine Greek - your point is?

Indeed, I know that the New Testament scripture that is written in Greek and preceeds the English ... says completely different things to what the protestants interpret from their watered down versions ...

I feel sorry for people who dont know the Greek -- you can use a dictionary to translate but only the Greeks have the true understanding of the poetry and music of the language and its true essence and meaning ...


Yay! Another Greek speaker! Although I'd say I wasn't entirely fluent - conversational, but not fluent.

If you have a windows PC you can enable Greek script by going through the settings - language route. It's similar on a Mac - and I've just discovered you can now enable Greek script on an Iphone.  Smilie_PDT

I find it makes things easier than trying to transliterate the alphabet - which I find very difficult to read.
Judders Lady...

The Word of God is no longer in the letter but it is in the Spirit as Jeremiah 31:33-34 &
2 Corinthians 3:6 (King James Version)

6.Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.


followed by:-


1 John 2:27 (King James Version)

27.But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.


Shows- the new covenant was to be where God put his laws within a person. As all Holy Men spoke the teachings and words given them by the Holy Spirit, the true source of the truth of the bible is the Spirit.
The Spirit is a real person as Acts 8:29 shows.Acts 8:29 (King James Version)

29.Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.



The most truthful teaching that shows the Spirit does not require a believer to have knowledge of language to impart truth is Acts 2:4-13.
If we need to learn the greek language to know the truth of the bible then we are lacking the most essential truth that the Holy Spirit  is to  teach the truth.(John 16:13)
When God is teaching a person they understand the truth of the bible.
There is another truth that shows the belief of understanding greek means you will know the truth. The scholars who translated the KJV were all fluent speaking in Hebrew and Greek and every verse was checked 14 times to ensure the meaning did not change. But the only word that God promised would not change was the OT because he said he would keep them for every generation. But the truth of scripture has one teacher and one giver who imparts the truth. The Holy Spirit.

The Apostles and the Lord Jesus all understood that every person must have the Spirit teaching the person for themselves.
All believers receive their lamps lit the faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
But not everyone walks in the Spirit. So some are going to be disappointed. The Spirit would never teach men contrary to the teachings he has already given.



Smilie_PDT
ceramic

I was speaking about linguistics ... a translator can translate and correct a piece of work as much as they want ... it will never be the same as the original ... its like cordial ... adding water dilutes the sweetness.

Second, people who ARE Greek versus people who learn Greek ... dont share one thing ... inherant DNA ... the stuff that makes our language come alive ... the character behind the linguistics ... translations can never achieve that initial poetry that exists in the Greek language.
Lexilogio

ceramic strong wrote:
I was speaking about linguistics ... a translator can translate and correct a piece of work as much as they want ... it will never be the same as the original ... its like cordial ... adding water dilutes the sweetness.

Second, people who ARE Greek versus people who learn Greek ... dont share one thing ... inherant DNA ... the stuff that makes our language come alive ... the character behind the linguistics ... translations can never achieve that initial poetry that exists in the Greek language.


True - language is about more than words - it's also about the cultural meaning behind those words.
Modern language teaching also looks at the culture behind the words - so people can learn that. It takes time, and without spending time living in the country, true fluency will never be achieved, but people can go so far along the way.
ceramic

Lexilogio wrote:
ceramic strong wrote:
I was speaking about linguistics ... a translator can translate and correct a piece of work as much as they want ... it will never be the same as the original ... its like cordial ... adding water dilutes the sweetness.

Second, people who ARE Greek versus people who learn Greek ... dont share one thing ... inherant DNA ... the stuff that makes our language come alive ... the character behind the linguistics ... translations can never achieve that initial poetry that exists in the Greek language.


True - language is about more than words - it's also about the cultural meaning behind those words.
Modern language teaching also looks at the culture behind the words - so people can learn that. It takes time, and without spending time living in the country, true fluency will never be achieved, but people can go so far along the way.


This is possible to a point ... a person who is not Greek who aims to learn meaning behind words and culture can not truly learn it ... its not a scientific formula to become something you are not (as an aside that doesnt mean that if someone doesnt know Greek they are somehow disadvantaged from salvation ... we all say it many times that salvation is the language of the heart - love of God and man).

back to Greek linguistics/character ... a Greek has passion for his/her history and though it is dormant in our country (because we love to be social foreigners assume that the true Greek spirit is dead) however, if Greece were to ever come under fire by any country ... you will see Greeks unite ... in something that can only be understood as ... "its in our blood and in the Cross of our Country's flag!" ....

that can never be taught ... that is why the Apostle Paul loved the Greek people ... Greek is not just living in Greece ... there are Greeks who do not live in Greece who are more Greek ... because they have maintained the spirit of the language and the culture ... the passion and the love.

Unfortunately, the demonic program is to wipe that out so the devil can take root in the world ... the only thing that holds him back is Orthodox nations ...
Lexilogio

Quote:
back to Greek linguistics/character ... a Greek has passion for his/her history and though it is dormant in our country (because we love to be social foreigners assume that the true Greek spirit is dead) however, if Greece were to ever come under fire by any country ... you will see Greeks unite ... in something that can only be understood as ... "its in our blood and in the Cross of our Country's flag!" ....


Which is why "Oxi" day is such a big deal - because it's a symbol of that unity in the face of a bully.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the demonic program is to wipe that out so the devil can take root in the world ... the only thing that holds him back is Orthodox nations ...


?

Quote:
This is possible to a point ... a person who is not Greek who aims to learn meaning behind words and culture can not truly learn it ... its not a scientific formula to become something you are not


I'm sorry - but this does sound as if you are saying "if you aren't greek, you aren't good enough".
ceramic

Lexilogio wrote:
Quote:
back to Greek linguistics/character ... a Greek has passion for his/her history and though it is dormant in our country (because we love to be social foreigners assume that the true Greek spirit is dead) however, if Greece were to ever come under fire by any country ... you will see Greeks unite ... in something that can only be understood as ... "its in our blood and in the Cross of our Country's flag!" ....


Which is why "Oxi" day is such a big deal - because it's a symbol of that unity in the face of a bully.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the demonic program is to wipe that out so the devil can take root in the world ... the only thing that holds him back is Orthodox nations ...


?

Quote:
This is possible to a point ... a person who is not Greek who aims to learn meaning behind words and culture can not truly learn it ... its not a scientific formula to become something you are not


I'm sorry - but this does sound as if you are saying "if you aren't greek, you aren't good enough".


Probably could sound that way but that is not what its supposed to mean ... if you are not Greek you CAN be good enough if better ...

So, clarifications:

Our lives are not judged by how well educated we are or what language we speak ... our lives should be judged by the quality of our character ..right? How loving were you ... how compassionate where you ...did you put a 150% into everything ... etc etrc .... THAT is what defines a "good enough" if not "awesome" person ... that is what I believe ...

Also, if someone cant speak Greek that doesnt make them less of a person (???) ... however, if someone wants to learn Greek, Italian, Spanish, french whatever language ... its a reality that we can never be 100% that "language" culture ... we can learn it all academically with perfect colours but its one thing to learn something and be "smart at it" and its another to "be it" ... I could never claim to be a "french person" no matter how hard I tried to learn the language and the culture ...why? My heart will always be Greek /Australian! It is where I have grown up ... it is what defines me ... being French doesnt define me but that doest mean I cant participate in its beaty ...

does that make things any clearer about what I mean?

I doubt it ... but I hope so ...
Sprocket

ceramic strong wrote:

Indeed, I know that the New Testament scripture that is written in Greek and preceeds the English ... says completely different things to what the protestants interpret from their watered down versions ...

OY!  I don't mind you pushing Orthodox Christianity, but don't make unsubstantiated attacks on Protestant Christianity, which is my branch of the faith (I'm an anglican).  Protestants have numerous different translations of the Bible, which by and large all say the same as each other in different words, so it's unlikely that they're all "watered down".  In any case, plenty of protestants read NT Greek, so they'd be aware of mistranslations, if there were any.  Maybe you'd like to either back up that statement with evidence, or withdraw it.
Ketty

ceramic strong wrote:

I feel sorry for people who dont know the Greek -- you can use a dictionary to translate but only the Greeks have the true understanding of the poetry and music of the language and its true essence and meaning ...



Well, this is definitely bigging up the Greeks.    :wink:  :lol:

Is it to say then, taken to the nth degree, that only a genetically Greek, Greek, can ever fully understand the Word of God?

What more understanding does there have to be to John 3:16?  Or to Matthew 4:4?  Or to Matthew 13:16? Or to Matthew 22:37-40?

I'm content, just like any little child, Abba Father speaking to me in a language I understand.   8)
BevIsHopeful

Amen, Ket!  

On something CS did say, though, about the poetry of the language being only understood in the original language, perhaps even accentuated nicely with being born into Greek heritage, a professor of Greek once said the same thing about the language.

But, then, so did one Russian professor, speaking about reading the Russian writers in translation versus the original language (and knowledge of the cultural history.)  

I think this applies only to literature and can never apply to scripture, which as a few here have said, is taught to us by the Spirit (and needs no language.)
ceramic

dear Bev, that is what I said from the start in reply to Lynne ... I cleary pointed out that I was speaking about linguistics/language and not about salvation ...

Everyone:
If everyone else is touchy about what I said that is because they are presuming I am speaking about salvation and thinking that I am judging them in some way (which I am not) ... I did say that salvation is taught through the Holy Spirit and does not need a specific language ... so, how I am suddenly "racist" (word not used by anyone) is a twisting of my point or a misunderstanding of my point ...

I can not retract my statement about 'watered down versions of the bible' because from a linguistical and cultural point of view - they are watered down! That is not "offensive" because it does not mean that the Holy Spirit does not work through the english language (acknowledged prior to entering into this discussion btw) so that it is a linguistical fact it is; the language of Scripture in English is VERY different from the Koine Greek ...

If I can think of some examples to prove it .. I will.

Also, my point is not that it is a matter of "us or them" mentallity - it is a fact that someone who is Greek is able to understand the rhythm and the music of their own language moreso than someone who has learnt it through a mechanical educational system. I am very sorry if people consider that offensive but we can not have cake and eat it too ... just because I pick up a book and read it does not make me an engineer and it is the same - you cant claim to be Greek just because you learnt its alphabet and have learnt its conjugate verbs.

Example, I can not profess to completely understand the culture infused into the language of the Chinese or the Russian people, for example, even IF I learnt it!

That is all I am saying.

So, I think others need to understand carefully where I am coming from and not alter my context to suit a pre-conceived defensive mechanism response. All us westerners should truly humble ourselves because the English language is NOT capable of painting the same images in words as the Greek ... this is an academic fact and not something from my own head.
ceramic

Some Things You Should Know while in an Orthodox Church by Father David Barr

Standing vs. Sitting
The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church has been to stand. In the Orthodox "old countries", there are usually no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usually reserved for the elderly and infirm. In North America, we have tended to build our churches with pews, and since we have them, we need to figure out when we may sit and when we should stand. First of all, it is fully acceptable (even preferable) to stand for the entire service. If you prefer this, it would be better to find a place closer to the back or side of the church so as not to stand out or block someone's view. When should you definitely stand? Always during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal. In many parishes, the Divine Liturgy books in the pew have suggested times when sitting is acceptable. Follow those instructions (it's probably safer than to follow what the people are doing in the first couple of rows). When in doubt, stand. It is never wrong to stand in church.

[Many parishes also follow the practice of kneeling on Sundays during the Cherubic Hymn, consecration, and the "Our Father". Strictly speaking, this is not correct, because every Sunday is a "little Pascha" in which the Resurrection is remembered - hence, no kneeling. The "kneeling prayers" said five weeks after Pascha are said after the Sunday Liturgy, "reinstating" kneeling for Vespers, Matins, and weekday Liturgies only. If the tradition of the parish you are visiting is to kneel, and everyone kneels, it's better to do so than to stick out like a sore thumb. If there is a mixture of standing and kneeling, then stand. - NTK]

Lighting Candles
Lighting candles is an important part of Orthodox worship. We light them as we pray, making an offering to accompany our prayers. Orthodox typically light candles when coming into the church - and that is usually the best time to light them, but there are times when candles should not be lit. It is not proper to light candles during the Epistle or Gospel readings, during the Little or Great Entrances, the sermon, and most of the times when the faithful are standing. If you find yourself arriving to church after the Liturgy has begun, a good rule of thumb to remember is - if everyone is standing, wait until they are sitting to light a candle (unless they are sitting for the sermon, of course). Other than that it is probably all right to light a candle.

Entering the Church (Late)
The time to arrive at church is before the service starts, but for some unknown reason, it has become the custom - or rather the bad habit - for some to come to church late. If you arrive after the Divine Liturgy begins, try to enter the church quietly - and observe what is happening. If the Epistle or Gospel is being read or the Little or Great Entrance is taking place, wait until it is finished to quickly find a seat. If Father is giving the sermon, stay in the back until he has concluded. If in doubt, check with one of the ushers to see if it is a good time to seat yourself. Try not to interrupt the Liturgy with you entrance. By the way, the best way to avoid this problem is to arrive on time - then you don't have to wonder if it's okay to come in or not. People who come late to the Liturgy should not partake of the Eucharist!

Crossing those Legs?
In some Orthodox cultures, crossing one's legs is taboo and considered to be very disrespectful. In our North American culture, while there are no real taboos concerning crossing one's legs, we tend to cross our legs to get comfortable while sitting. Should we cross our legs in church? No. Not because it is "wrong" to ever cross legs, but rather because it is too casual - and too relaxed - for being in church. Just think about it, when you get settled in your favorite chair at home, you lean back, cross your legs, and then your mind can wander anywhere it wants to. Remember that sitting in church is a concession, not the normative way of prayer. You surely don't want to get too relaxed and let your mind wander off too much. In fact, when you do sit in church, you should sit attentively - and not too comfortably. When sitting in church, keep those feet on the floor, ready to stand at attention (which is what "Let us attend" means). Cross yourself with your fingers and hand - but don't cross your legs!

In and Out
In and out? It's a hamburger place in LA, but shouldn't be the traffic pattern by the back door during services. On some Sundays, it almost seems like we have a revolving door in the back of the church - and it is used by both children and adults. Use the restroom before coming to church. You shouldn't need to get a drink of water during the service (especially if you are taking Communion!). Don't come to church to go to the fellowship hall - come to pray.

[Taking restless little ones out is a different matter. If a child is disruptive, take him/her quickly and quietly out of church, just long enough to settle him down, then return to Liturgy. Follow the rules for entering late: not during readings, sermons, or Entrances. My toddler, who is just beginning potty training, needed to leave in the middle of the sermon last week. On returning, she announced loudly to all that "I went potty all by my self, see?" and pulled up her dress to show off her new panties. I was so embarrassed, but Father just smiled and continued. - NTK]

Leaving Before Dismissal
Leaving church before the Dismissal - besides being rude - deprives us of a blessing. Worship has a beginning ("Blessed is the Kingdom…") and an end ("Let us depart in peace…"). To leave immediately after Communion is to treat church like a fast food restaurant where we come and go as we please. We live in a fast-paced world where we seem to be hurrying from place to place. But in God's presence, we need to make every attempt to fight this pressure to move on to the next thing on the day's agenda. We deprive ourselves of blessings by not being still and participating in God's holiness. Eat and run at McDonald's - but stay in church and thank God for his precious gifts.

Blot that Lipstick!
Have you ever looked at an icon in just the right light and seen the lip prints all over it? It's disgusting, isn't it? In fact, it's downright gross. Lipstick may look fine on lips, but it looks horrible on icons, crosses, the Communion spoon and the priest's or bishop's hand. Icons have been ruined by lipstick; and even though the cross can usually be cleaned after everyone venerates it, it just isn't considerate to others to impose your lipstick on them. What is the answer? If you insist on wearing lipstick to church, blot your lips well before venerating an icon, taking Communion, or kissing the cross or the priest's or bishop's hand. Even better, wait until after church to put it on. After all, God is not impressed with how attractive you look externally - your makeup or clothing - but how attractive you are internally, your adornment with good works and piety.

Venerating Icons
When you enter the church, it is traditional to venerate the icons. Usually there are icons at the entrance to the church and many churches have icon stands in the front as well. [Parishes that follow the Slavic tradition usually place the icons on a table (the tetapod) in front of the solea, the elevated area in front of the icon screen - PMO] When venerating (kissing) and icon, pay attention to where you kiss. It is not proper to kiss an icon in the face. You wouldn't go up and kiss the Lord or His mother on the lips, would you? You would kiss their hand, and only of they invited you would you even dare to kiss them on the cheek. Pay attention to what you are doing. When you approach and icon to venerate it, kiss the gospel, scroll, or hand cross in the hand of the person in the icon, or kiss the hand or foot of the person depicted. As you venerate and icon, show proper respect to the person depicted in the icon - the same respect you would show the person by venerating him or her in an appropriate place. And remember, blot off your lipstick before kissing.

Talking during Church
Isn't it great to come to church and see friends and family members? But wait until coffee hour to say "Hi" to them. It just isn't appropriate to greet people and have a conversation with them during the services. Besides being disrespectful towards God, it is rude towards the other people in the church who are trying to worship. Talk to God while in church through your prayers, hymns, and thanksgiving, and to your friends in the hall afterwards.

Kiss (Don't Shake) the Priest's or Bishop's Hand
Did you know that the proper way to greet a priest or bishop is to ask his blessing and kiss his right hand? How do you do this? Approach the priest or bishop with your right hand over your left hand and say "Father (or "Master" in the case of the bishop), bless." [He will make the sign of the cross, and place his right hand over yours.] This is much more appropriate (and traditional) than shaking their hands. After all, the priest and bishop are not just "one of the boys." When you kiss their hands, you show respect for their office - they are the ones who "bless and sanctify" you and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf. So next time you greet your priest or bishop, don't shake his hand, ask for his blessing.

Sunday Dress
Remember the time when people put on their "Sunday best" to go to church? In fact, dress clothes were often referred to as Sunday clothes. In some parts of the country, this is not common today. In fact, all too often, dress in church has become too casual. In all areas of our lives, we should offer Christ our best. And the same is true of our dress. We should offer Christ our 'Sunday best", not our everyday or common wear. And we should dress modestly, not in a flashy way that would bring attention to ourselves. Our dress should always be becoming of a Christian - especially at church. Here are some specific guidelines we use in our parishes:

Children
Only young children (under 10) should wear shorts to church - and then only dress shorts. Athletic shorts, cut-offs, and spandex shorts are never appropriate church wear (for children or adults!). Shoes or sandals should be clean and tied. No one should wear T-shirts with any kind of writing on them ("This Bud's for You!" is definitely out).

Women
Dresses should be modest. No tank tops or dresses with only straps at the shoulders, no short skirts (mini-skirts), and no skin-tight dresses. Dresses should have backs and not be cut low in the front. If women wear pants to church, they should be dress pants (not jeans, leggings, etc.). Shorts of any type are not appropriate for church.

Men
Men should also dress modestly. While coat and tie are not mandatory, shirts should have collars and be buttoned to the collar (the actual collar button may be left undone, but two or three buttons undone is inappropriate). Slacks should be cleaned and pressed. Jeans (of any color) are usually too casual for church, especially ones with patches or holes. Again, shorts are not appropriate church wear.

If you're going somewhere after church where you need to dress casually, bring a change of clothing with you and change after coffee hour. Remember, use your best judgment and good taste when dressing for church. After all, you don't go to be seen by everyone else - you go to meet and worship God.

Pew Blocking
Never heard of pew blocking? It's that practice of sitting right next to the aisle so that no one else can get by to sit in the middle of the pew. Everyone has seen it. In fact, the best pew blockers come early so they can get their coveted aisle seats and then be sure that no one can get past them. The most effective form of pew blocking takes place when two people take their places at opposite ends of the pew, occupying both the center and aisle seats. This effectively eliminates anyone else from sitting on that row. There are two solutions to pew blocking. The first is to move towards the middle of the pew, leaving the aisle seats for those coming later. And for those of you who just can't handle sitting in the middle of the pew [or those with small children who may need to make a fast exit - NTK], take the outside aisle spot and graciously allow those coming after you to go past (by moving out for them so they can get by). Remember, pew blocking isn't hospitable - nor is it an efficient method of seating. So don't be selfish. Move on over towards the middle. Don't be a pew blocker.

To Cross or Not To Cross
Anyone who has looked around on a Sunday morning will notice that different people cross themselves at different times (and sometimes in different ways). To a certain extent, when to cross oneself is according to personal piety and not an issue of dogma. But there are times when it is specifically proper to cross yourself, and times when you should not. Here is a brief list of when to cross and when not to cross:

To Cross
When you hear one of the variations of the phrase, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"; at the beginning and end of the liturgical service or your private prayers; entering or exiting the church, or when passing in front of the Holy Altar; before venerating in icon, the cross, or Gospel book.

Not to Cross
At the chalice before or after taking Communion (you might hit the chalice with your hand); when the priest or bishop blesses saying, "Peace be to all" - bow slightly and receive the blessing; when receiving a blessing from a bishop or a priest (kissing the right hand of the bishop or priest is appropriate, but not making the sign of the cross).

Touching the Hem of Father's Garments
Many people like to touch the hem of Father's phelonion as he goes through the congregation for the Great Entrance [I have witnessed this custom in Antiochian parishes - PMO]. This is a nice, pious custom by which you "attach" your personal prayers to the prayer of the entrance with the holy gifts. At the same time, you need to be careful neither to grab too hard and trip up the Great Entrance, nor to push people out of the way. And be sure to help your children so that they observe these guidelines as well.

Snacks for Children
You can always tell where young children have been sitting in the church. The tell-tale signs are graham cracker crumbs, Cheerios, and animal crackers. Parents often bring snacks and a cup of fruit juice along for children during church. And for young children (0-2 years old), this is fine. But by the time children are 3-4 years old, they should be able to make it through Liturgy without eating anything, and by the time they reach seven (the age of their first confession), they should begin fasting on Sunday morning for Communion (or at least make an attempt at fasting by cutting back on the amount of breakfast and eating "fasting"-type foods - talk to your priest about this). For those children who get snacks, please don't feed them while in the line for Holy Communion (this applies to holy bread as well). They need to come to Communion without food in their mouths. And one last note: try to keep the snack mess down to a minimum. The floor shouldn't be covered with Cheerios! Chewing gum during Liturgy is a No-No for everyone!

Handling the Holy Bread
After taking Holy Communion and at the end of the liturgy, it is traditional to eat a piece of holy bread or antidoron - the bread that was left over after Holy Communion was prepared. While antidoron is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread and as such, should be eaten carefully so that crumbs don't fall all over the place. After taking Communion or kissing the cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy, take one piece of antidoron (you don't need four or five pieces) and when you return to your seat or get to a place where you can stop for a moment, eat the bread trying not to drop crumbs. If you want to give a piece to someone else, go ahead and take an extra piece - don't break yours in half (it produces too many crumbs). And monitor your children as they take the antidoron and teach them to eat it respectfully.

A Final Thought
North American society in the late 20th century is rather casual in its approach to life. Don't allow this prevailing attitude to enter into your Orthodox Christian piety. There are surely a lot of other areas that could be covered here. Much of church etiquette is based on common sense and showing respect for God and others. Always remember that you are in church to worship God, the Holy Trinity. The priest says, "With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near." Let this be the way you approach all of worship. If you do, you will probably have good church etiquette.

-----
Father David Barr is rector of Holy Resurrection Antiochian Orthodox Church in Tucson, Arizona, and is currently working on another installment of "church etiquette". We are grateful to Fr. David for granting us permission to reprint this timely article, which first appeared in The Word, January 1997, pp. 4-7.

© 1997 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
URL: http://www.theologic.com/oflweb. This web site is donated and maintained by TheoLogic Systems, which provides software and information tools for Orthodox Christians and parishes world wide.
Lexilogio

Just to come back in on this issue of language.

Language is constantly evolving. It is a reflection of the culture, both geographical and chronological.

Therefore, there will be aspects of the written word which will be less immediately and fully understood due to the distance of geography and time (as well as language difference).

For example, a native Greek speaker living in the UK will not have the same full cultural understanding of modern Greek, as one living in the country (something my teacher will attest to). Minor modern variances, such as "spikey hair" are lost.

That's not to say that with reflection, and study, full understanding cannot be gained, because it can.

Translations are interesting, and well debated points. There are moments when a translated word fully encompasses the spirit of what was originally written - and meant - by the writer. There are times when this is watered down. It's most common where the phrase is translated into a commonly used word or phrase, which has other meanings attached as well.

English is a very rich language, with a large number of words which can be chosen to express the meaning of text. But there will still be times where the exact meaning, because of the cultural depth behind the word, requires study.

And I'll use a modern example.
The phrase - used in the post above - dress modestly.
This has different meanings in different social groups - and different geographical areas. In some parts of Greece, this still means that wearing red is not acceptable to a woman, that an older woman who is widowed should wear black. In the UK, this may mean anything from simply covering breasts and genitals, to skirts below the knee, and a top covering the abdomen and shoulders. In NT times, this again would have had a different meaning.
But the question should be about the spirit behind the words. Is it about wearing a particular outfit - such as a head covering? Or is it about "dressing modestly for the society you live in" - in other words, not being mistaken for a prostitute (wearing red in certain parts of Greece), or not being respectful?
Ketty

ceramic strong wrote:


Everyone:
If everyone else is touchy about what I said that is because they are presuming I am speaking about salvation and thinking that I am judging them in some way (which I am not) ... I did say that salvation is taught through the Holy Spirit and does not need a specific language ... so, how I am suddenly "racist" (word not used by anyone) is a twisting of my point or a misunderstanding of my point ...


Ceramic  :-)  to discuss your points and even to see humour in them, is not being 'touchy'.  

As for racism?  :shock: :?   That's a bit of a bizarre comment.  For a Christian, imho, there is only one race - made in God's image and descended from Adam and Eve . . . all Messiah Yeshua's adopted family.

My understanding of your earlier posts is that I'm unable to fully understand the Bible because I'm not Greek.  To me, that pov is not credible and so it's also not something I take particularly po-facedly seriously.    8)

Lexilogio wrote:
[Re - modesty] . . .But the question should be about the spirit behind the words . . .


I agree totally.  The Bible is the living Word of God; organic and dynamic.  It's relevant for all time and for all people/cultures.
ceramic

Ketty, I dunno - I get very confused  :shock: on the forums sometimes with whether someone is being serious or whether they are being light hearted ..etc ... honest ... its hard to gauge without the facial expressions!

Cest La Vie ... can only follow it up with another post to double check what the person has said .. or clarify oneself ...
ceramic

The virtue of Philotimo in the Orthodox heart:

"Philotimo is that deep-seated awareness in the heart that motivates the good that a person does. A philotimos person is one who conceives and enacts eagerly those things good."

See NGL thread, http://nglreturns.myfreeforum.org/sutra28536.php#28536
ceramic

The Bridegroom

Christ stands outside the door of our soul and knocks for us to open to Him, but He doesn't enter. He doesn't want to violate the freedom which He Himself gave us.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and I will dine with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:20)

Christ is courteous. He stands outside the door of our soul and knocks gently. If we open to Him, He will enter us and give us everything - Himself - secretly and silently.



O Lord, by They Holy Spirit enlighten Thy people that all may know Thy love

O Merciful Lord, let all mankind, from Adam to the end of time, come to know Thee, that Thou art good and merciful, that all nations may rejoice in Thy peace, and behold the light of Thy countenance. Thy gaze is tranquil and meek and draws the soul to Thee.

- St. Silouan the Athonite
ceramic

Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shortcomings of their neighbor but always their own and they set about eliminating them.

Such was the man who saw his brother doing wrong and groaned, 'Woe is me; him today - me tomorrow!'

You see his caution? You see the preparedness of his mind? How he swiftly foresaw how to avoid judging his brother?

St. Dorotheos of Gaza
ceramic

The Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. If faith is what you need, there you will find it in abundance: and you will feed your soul with food which will never make it hungry. If you need love, truth, righteousness, hope, meekness, humility, repentance, prayer, or whatever virtue or spiritual struggle and will obtain grace-filled help for every virtue.
ceramic

The ANNUAL MIRACLE OF THE HOLY FIRE
at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Easter)

The ceremony, which awes the souls of Christians, takes place in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. The date for Pascha is determined anew for every year. It must be a first Sunday after the spring equinox and Jewish Passover. Therefore, most of the time it differs from the date of Catholic and Protestant Easter, which is determined using different criteria.

The Holy Fire is the most renowned miracle in the world of Eastern Orthodoxy. It has taken place at the same time, in the same manner, in the same place every single year for centuries. No other miracle is known to occur so regularly and so steadily over time.

It happens in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the holiest place on earth, where Christ was crucified, entombed, and where He finally rose from the dead.

The miracle of the Holy Fire is almost unknown in the West.

In Protestant areas it may, to a certain extent, be explained by the fact that there is no real tradition of miracles; people don't really know in which box to place the miracles, and they rarely feature in newspapers. In the Catholic tradition, however, since there is vast interest in miracles they do know.

Why is it not more well known?

For this only one explanation suffices: Church politics.

Only the Orthodox Churches attend the ceremony which is centered on the miracle.

It only occurs on the Orthodox date of Easter and without the presence of any Roman Catholic authorities.
ceramic

Sunday, November 15, marked the beginning of the Nativity Fast (40 days before Christmas).

How did the contemporary Nativity Fast come to be?


The first mention of a preparatory period before Christmas is mentioned in a decree of the Council of Saragossa (380). The Council Fathers stated that every Christian should daily go to church from December 17 until the Theophany (January 6th). At the Synod of Mac (581) in Gaul (present day France) it was decreed that from November 11, the day of St. Martin, until December 24 every Christian should fast three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).

Our pre-Nativity period of preparation developed rather late. Scholars do not agree about the exact time it began. Some hold that it began in the sixth century. Others believe it began in the seventh or eighth century. The present liturgical pre-Nativity season was finally established at the Council of Constantinople (1166). The Council decreed that the fast would begin on November 15 and last until December 24 inclusive. Thus, there was created another 40 day fast.

The pre-Nativity fast is often called "Philip's Fast" because it begins on the day after the feast of St. Philip. The fast was introduced to prepare the Church for a worthy celebration of the great and holy day of the Birth of Christ. The regulations for the fast were far more lenient than the Great Fast before Pascha. Only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were days of strict fasting without meat, dairy products or oil (in Slavic countries). On Sundays fish was permitted. Lay people were at first permitted to eat fish on other days, too, until the monastic rigoristic influence prevailed.

It is interesting to observe that the famous 12th century Byzantine canonist Balsamon expressed the opinion that it would be enough if the lay people fasted only one week before Christmas. In 1958 a modern Greek author, Christos M. Enislides, welcomes Balsamon's suggestion and believes that the best solution would be for the Church at large to abstain from meat and dairy products for 33 days; during the last seven days of the fast everybody should observe the strict fast. But for now this is a mere proposition and should not be seen as the rule.

-----

“If we fast but do not forgive our enemies – our fasting is of no use. If we fast and do not find it drawing us into humility – our fasting is of no use. If our fasting does not make us yet more keenly aware of the fact that we are sinful before all and responsible to all then it is of no benefit. If our fasting does not unite us with the life of God – which is meek and lowly – then it is again of no benefit”.

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