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Kneeling at GOA parish?

Shlomlokh

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Glory to Jesus Christ!

This morning I went to a local GOA parish for liturgy because my pastor and his family and others in the parish were out of town at the Bulgarian Diocesan Convention and the Youth Conference in Chicago. I don't know which part of the liturgy it was, (I still don't know all the liturgical names for them yet, so please forgive me  ;)), it might have been after the anaphora, when everyone in the nave knelt down and stayed down for a while. I had been there two times before when our priest was out of town.

The first time everyone knelt and the second time only a few did. This last time everyone did except for me, because I had read that at one of the Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea, I believe?) the faithful are told not to kneel on Sundays out of respect for the fact that Christ is risen. Is this normal across the board for the GOA? I felt a little awkward being the only one standing and I could hear some little old ladies whispering about why I wasn't kneeling (I didn't take offense at all though).  :D

A few months ago I talked about this with a friend of mine who said that sometime in the mid-20th century the GOA tried to make itself look American and adopted a lot of Anglican things, such as the clergy collars, organs, kneeling, etc. Is this true? Is there any move to get rid of these "Americanizations" or what have you? I ask these out of pure curiosity and mean no offense to anyone in the GOA. :)

In Christ,
Andrew
 

88Devin12

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No idea about what it's like at GOA parishes but:
the faithful are told not to kneel on Sundays out of respect for the fact that Christ is risen.
I will say that i've heard this also, and if true, I believe that if we are truly the Church of the Ecumenical Councils, we need to uphold them, no matter how old or out-dated they may seem. We didn't get where we are by changing our faith to suit the culture we are in, rather we mold the culture to fit our faith.
 

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Schlomlokh asked:

"Is this normal across the board for the GOA?"

Yes, it is. Sigh. I've lived in the Chicago Archdiocese and the Denver Archdiocese, and the same practice takes place across the U.S., as I understand.

"I felt a little awkward being the only one standing and I could hear some little old ladies whispering about why I wasn't kneeling (I didn't take offense at all though).  Cheesy"

Don't feel awkward. When I attend the local GOA parish near me, about 90% of the congregation kneels. The Serbs and Russians (and a few converts familiar with the canons) stand. Everyone is at peace - at least in this parish.

"A few months ago I talked about this with a friend of mine who said that sometime in the mid-20th century the GOA tried to make itself look American and adopted a lot of Anglican things, such as the clergy collars, organs, kneeling, etc. Is this true?"

Well, those aren't specifically Anglican things - you could just as easily say they were Catholic or western things.

The way it was told to me, a lot of these changes were adopted after WWI and around the 1920s, during the split between Venizelos and the Royalists.  The entire Greek church split for awhile over those changes, the calendar, kneeling during the Liturgy, etc. It took a long, long time for these two groups to be reconciled.

I've had some priests admit as much to me that the canons state that we shouldn't kneel during the liturgy - but that the Greek hierarchy in the U.S. keeps insisting upon it.

"Is there any move to get rid of these "Americanizations" or what have you?"

Well, such a move *could* be perceived by some Greeks as having political/historical implications. Or in my case, it could be perceived as another "xenos" convert telling lifelong Orthodox "to do things the right way." So at least this "xenos" convert has kept his mouth shut.  ;D
 
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We never kneel on Sundays except for when we do.  :D  ;)

Yes, I know the ruling from the Ecumenical Council too, however there are parishes within the GOA, UOC, (and other jurisdictions as well) that DO kneel on Sundays. Some say it is an attempt to be more "American" or "Western", but whatever it is, it has received the blessing of their local Bishop.

We're also not supposed to do the Litany for the Departed on Sundays, but guess what, there are parishes/jurisdictions that do them too.

You are going to find some practices in Orthodoxy which are not in complete agreement with the Councils. This includes pews, organs, kneeling on Sundays, Litanies for the Departed on Sundays, and a whole host of other things.

Rather than get bent out of shape about it, just go with it. It does not change the truth of Orthodoxy.

The old saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do" applies here.
 

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HandmaidenofGod said:
We never kneel on Sundays except for when we do.  :D  ;)

Yes, I know the ruling from the Ecumenical Council too, however there are parishes within the GOA, UOC, (and other jurisdictions as well) that DO kneel on Sundays. Some say it is an attempt to be more "American" or "Western", but whatever it is, it has received the blessing of their local Bishop.

We're also not supposed to do the Litany for the Departed on Sundays, but guess what, there are parishes/jurisdictions that do them too.

You are going to find some practices in Orthodoxy which are not in complete agreement with the Councils. This includes pews, organs, kneeling on Sundays, Litanies for the Departed on Sundays, and a whole host of other things.

Rather than get bent out of shape about it, just go with it. It does not change the truth of Orthodoxy.

The old saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do" applies here.
Amen to that.
 

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REPLY TO REPLY #2

Kneeling on Sunday's, during the Consecretion of the Gifts, (some kneel during the Great Entrance, too)was authorized during the tenure of Archbishop Michael of America, of Thrice Blessed Memory, who was the GOAA Archbishop, from 1950 to 1958.  It was a practice picked up from somewhere in Greece.  I read this in a paperback book about rubrics written by a former professor of teleliturgics of Holy Cross School of Theology, Brookline, MA.  The kneeling was thought to be out of respect for the "change" of the bread and wine, being brought about by the Holy Spirit.  It was not an effort to Americanize.  Archbishop Michael was thought to be a very spiritual hierarch.  Even so, kneeling is prohibited during the 49 days after Pascha.  There are priests and at least one bishop whom I know of, who do not kneel, consistent with the canon, but do not make an issue of it.

The organs and pews are remnants of GOAA parish's use of Episcopalian and other Christian churches, in the 1920's when we hadn't yet constructed churches.  The faithful became accustomed to the pews and the organ.  With all the problems he encountered bring unity to the GOAA, Archbishop Athenagoras did not try to dissuade parishes from these innovations.  In fact, he may have liked the organ, as he had written in support of its use.  There had been an organ in his former Cathedral of St. Spyridon, on the Island of Corfu, which I've read remains to this day.
 

88Devin12

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Personally, the only thing I really take issue with is organs. However as long as the Church deems something to be ok, then IMO it's ok. I treat chairs/pews & other such differences as just a difference in where they come from in Orthodoxy.
 

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Basil 320 said:
The kneeling was thought to be out of respect for the "change" of the bread and wine, being brought about by the Holy Spirit.  It was not an effort to Americanize.  Archbishop Michael was thought to be a very spiritual hierarch.
Thanks for the clarification.

This practice is also common in Romania, including in its most traditional monasteries. In fact, it is pious custom to kneel during several portions of the Divine Liturgy -- even on the Sabbath and on the Lord's Day -- including the reading of the Holy Gospel, the recitation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Epiklesis.
 

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Our Greek parish does not kneel on Sundays - only on weekdays.

Eugenio said:
I've had some priests admit as much to me that the canons state that we shouldn't kneel during the liturgy - but that the Greek hierarchy in the U.S. keeps insisting upon it.
First: there is no prohibition against kneeling during Liturgy; the prohibition is against kneeling on Sunday (and Saturday). 

Second: Don't let "some priests" fib to you on this one - the "Greek hierarchy" in the U.S. does not insist on kneeling during Sunday Liturgy.  Some allow local custom to stand without interference.  Some have told those parishes that kneel on Sundays that the practice is in error.

Shlomlokh said:
A few months ago I talked about this with a friend of mine who said that sometime in the mid-20th century the GOA tried to make itself look American and adopted a lot of Anglican things, such as the clergy collars, organs, kneeling, etc. Is this true? Is there any move to get rid of these "Americanizations" or what have you?
The only movement in the GOA was this: Archbishop IAKOVOS wanted the Church to function while not drawing heaps of negative attention to itself.  He wanted the priests to wear Western Clerical garb and trim their beards/shave so that they wouldn't stick out in society (Greeks were already facing negative attention in this country, where groups like the KKK would give them the usual foreigner treatment).  As for pews and organs (and all the other hellish evils decried on the 'net), they weren't implemented by hierarchs in Churches - they were the result of people liking them and wanting them; many of the Churches were built with minimal (if any) clerical input in the design, which is why we have so many churches with painfully small Sanctuaries, organs, pews, stained glass icons, etc.
 

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Basil 320 said:
REPLY TO REPLY #2

Kneeling on Sunday's, during the Consecretion of the Gifts, (some kneel during the Great Entrance, too)was authorized during the tenure of Archbishop Michael of America, of Thrice Blessed Memory, who was the GOAA Archbishop, from 1950 to 1958.  It was a practice picked up from somewhere in Greece.  I read this in a paperback book about rubrics written by a former professor of teleliturgics of Holy Cross School of Theology, Brookline, MA.  The kneeling was thought to be out of respect for the "change" of the bread and wine, being brought about by the Holy Spirit.  It was not an effort to Americanize.  Archbishop Michael was thought to be a very spiritual hierarch.  Even so, kneeling is prohibited during the 49 days after Pascha.  There are priests and at least one bishop whom I know of, who do not kneel, consistent with the canon, but do not make an issue of it.

The organs and pews are remnants of GOAA parish's use of Episcopalian and other Christian churches, in the 1920's when we hadn't yet constructed churches.  The faithful became accustomed to the pews and the organ.  With all the problems he encountered bring unity to the GOAA, Archbishop Athenagoras did not try to dissuade parishes from these innovations.  In fact, he may have liked the organ, as he had written in support of its use.  There had been an organ in his former Cathedral of St. Spyridon, on the Island of Corfu, which I've read remains to this day.
In my old OCA parish, I noticed that a handful of folks knelt during the consecration. We were all expected to kneel during the Lord's Prayer if the Liturgy was during a weekday.  I never understood why but didn't ask . The Antiocian Church up the Road actually has kneelers like in a Catholic Church. 

I am in Rocor now.. No stinking kneeling in Rocor  ;)
 

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Marc1152 said:
I am in Rocor now.. No stinking kneeling in Rocor  ;)
You don't kneel during the Entrances, Consecration, and Lord's Prayer on weekday liturgies? That's different than the ROCOR parishes I've been in previously.

As Cleveland notes, the canon is that we don't kneel on Sunday's because Sunday is particularly the day of ressurection. That the Fathers emphasized that we don't kneel on Sunday rather implies that we do kneel on every other day.
 

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I have also noticed the custom at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral (OCA) in DC, when I attended there for a time, that people knelt during the Great Doxology at the end of Vigil. Is this a custom from somewhere in the Old Country?
 

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Reader KevinAndrew said:
I have also noticed the custom at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral (OCA) in DC, when I attended there for a time, that people knelt during the Great Doxology at the end of Vigil. Is this a custom from somewhere in the Old Country?
The explanation I was told is that many OCA parishioners come from families that only a few generations ago were Unites ( who converted to the Metropolia en masse in the early to mid 20th century).. Therefore, a few Latinizations linger on, like kneeling on Sunday.

My understanding is also that the prohibition is 'no kneeling on Sunday'. However, I have not noticed any kneeling in the Rocor parishes here in DC ( there are 2) even on weekdays... I shall endeavor to ask about it. 
 

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At my home parish I don't remember noticing any kneeling (though it's OCA), the only time i've seen us do it is either on kneeling vespers at Pentecost. If it's any other time, I think it's usually after the Liturgy has "finished". At the current parish i'm going to for the summer, I only notice one or two people out of about 150 that kneel, usually during the Gospel reading.

Interesting note though, was listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's podcast, The Names of Jesus in which episode he was discussing the title "Teacher". He pointed out that in those days, the "teachers" (whether Greek or Jew) usually sat while their students stood around them while they taught. He pointed out that among the earliest Christians this may have been the case, as St. John Chrysostom sat while he gave his sermons/homilies. Though I'm assuming the people were standing.
 

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88Devin12 said:
At my home parish I don't remember noticing any kneeling (though it's OCA), the only time i've seen us do it is either on kneeling vespers at Pentecost. If it's any other time, I think it's usually after the Liturgy has "finished". At the current parish i'm going to for the summer, I only notice one or two people out of about 150 that kneel, usually during the Gospel reading.
Same... It was only a couple of people in the OCA Parish that knelt on Sunday. I don't think anyone really cared about it.. It's an issue for the Priest to give guidance on in any event. I don't think he wanted to disturb someone making what they considered to be a pious gesture... No harm no foul sort of thing.
 

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About half the people kneel during the Otce Nas at my OCA parish. No kneeling any other time.
 

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Last week when I was attending DL I noticed that 1 person knelt during the great entrance and approx. 80% kneeled during the consecration (AOCA). It was about this time when I started asking myself where all these people got this idea from, when I looked up and saw that the priest was kneeling in front of the altar too!  :eek:
 

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I've heard of people kneeling during the Great Entrance; even heard of tales from the Old Country where people would want the priests to step over them (one was an exorcism story, where they held the person down at the base of the steps coming down out of the altar so the priest & the about-to-be-consecrated gifts would pass over them).
 

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arimethea said:
This is thread is starting to look like a pews thread  :eek:
Only from where you're sitting ;)
 

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I think Priests have certain points they have to kneel/prostrate... At the current parish I attend, all Priests serving at the altar prostrate before/towards the altar after the third Amen of the people after the Priest proclaims: "Making the change by thy Holy Spirit"...
 

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88Devin12 said:
I think Priests have certain points they have to kneel/prostrate... At the current parish I attend, all Priests serving at the altar prostrate before/towards the altar after the third Amen of the people after the Priest proclaims: "Making the change by thy Holy Spirit"...
Technically it's the epiclesis you're speaking of and technically the amens are reserved for the deacon as this is technically supposed to be recited quietly while the choir sings Tebe Pojem/We Praise thee.  But people invent so somewhere along the lines it became vogue to replace the deacon's role in that prayer and let the people be the deacon during a prayer that is to be by the clergy on behalf of the faithful.
 

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88Devin12 said:
At my home parish I don't remember noticing any kneeling (though it's OCA), the only time i've seen us do it is either on kneeling vespers at Pentecost. If it's any other time, I think it's usually after the Liturgy has "finished". At the current parish i'm going to for the summer, I only notice one or two people out of about 150 that kneel, usually during the Gospel reading.

Interesting note though, was listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's podcast, The Names of Jesus in which episode he was discussing the title "Teacher". He pointed out that in those days, the "teachers" (whether Greek or Jew) usually sat while their students stood around them while they taught. He pointed out that among the earliest Christians this may have been the case, as St. John Chrysostom sat while he gave his sermons/homilies. Though I'm assuming the people were standing.
A) I guarantee that while your OCA parish in which you write (though it's OCA) differs greatly from OCA parishes in Pennsylvania. It's not safe to assume that how your OCA parish where you go in your state is the same as OCA parishes back East.

B) St. John Chrysostom sat? Really.  Perhaps because he was a bishop.  How many of us have seen a bishop sit on his throne and preach the homily?  I know I have seen more than one do it. 
 

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cleveland said:
I've heard of people kneeling during the Great Entrance; even heard of tales from the Old Country where people would want the priests to step over them (one was an exorcism story, where they held the person down at the base of the steps coming down out of the altar so the priest & the about-to-be-consecrated gifts would pass over them).
Is that Old Country really Pennsylvania? lol.
 

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Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
 

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Simayan said:
Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
Does it really affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if we cross ourselves with our left hands? Or if we move around or light candles during the reading of the Six Psalms at Matins, or the chanting of the Creed, the Epistle and Gospel, or the Our Father?
 

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What I want to know is, what do the Greeks do in Greece? Do they kneel too?

Who here has actually attended a church in Hellas? Can you tell us?
 

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It depends which part of Greece you're in. In areas which were under Venetian influence (the Ionian and Aegean islands, Crete, areas of central mainland Greece, the northern Pelpoponnese, etc), you're more likely to see kneeling at various times during the Liturgy. By contrast, it's far less common to see kneeling in the northern provinces - people there almost always stand.
 

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In my mom's village they don't kneel much - of course, a significant percentage of the population (50%+) is over 60 years of age.
 

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Simayan said:
Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
Yes
 

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LBK said:
Simayan said:
Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
Does it really affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if we cross ourselves with our left hands? Or if we move around or light candles during the reading of the Six Psalms at Matins, or the chanting of the Creed, the Epistle and Gospel, or the Our Father?
None of this affects the truth of Orthodoxy, but certainly moving around lighting candles during the Our Father or Gospel would affect our participation in it.  That is why we hear "wisdom, let us stand at attention, let us listen to the Holy Gospel" and "The doors, the doors, in wisdom let us stand and be attentive"
 

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Furthermore, why would we intentionally disobey the instructions built into the Liturgy for the Gospel and the Creed, for example? 
 

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HandmaidenofGod said:
The old saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do" applies here.
Haha, I just noticed the double entendre. Very nice!  :laugh: 
 

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Marc1152 said:
Simayan said:
Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
Yes
ok.. No... or maybe....  See, that's the rub. It may be a "Horton hears a Who" sorta thing.
 

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It's a rhetorical question that I asked, and the answer is No, it doesnt, because nothing can so long as it does not affect the doctrine of the Trinity, Creed, etc. Now, I dont want to get into a slippery slope here (though I'm sure someone living in the realm of hyperbole would love to drag it there), but the point is, legalism is a very dangerous thing. If we start condemning those who kneel, light candles at the wrong time, don't cross themselves 777 times before kissing an icon, then we've become "so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good."
 

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FatherHLL said:
None of this affects the truth of Orthodoxy...
Ritual teaches a part of the Church's truth.  Some aspects are variable, but playing fast and loose with the canons seems foolish to me.  Too much laxity in ritual can lead to too much liturgical reform because the prevailing attitude becomes that nothing is absolutely important, therefore it is acceptable to make as many changes as are deemed necessary.  Sorry for dealing the 'slippery slope' card, but it's true.
 

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Grace and Peace.

At my parish in the Roman Catholic Church we 'stand'... go figure.  ;)

When we go as a family to the Cathedral (Sacred Heart Cathedral) for Midnight Mass etc we kneel. I've seen western mosaics, like the one below, where the faithful are depicted Standing, Kneeling and Prostrating all at the same time so I personally don't get too keyed up about a rigorous application either way.


 

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I think that these types of issues are best taken up with the priest/bishop of your respective parish. If this is something that they feel is leading the congregation away from the truth of Orthodoxy, I believe they will correct it. In the meantime, I think it is very important that the Church body act as a whole.  If most people kneel on Sundays during certain times, I would personally do it.  I think that by protesting (a.k.a. standing up while others kneel) I would risk drawing attention towards myself and away from God, which is not a position I would want to be in. By the way, love the icon/painting Ignatius.  :)
 

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88Devin12 said:
No idea about what it's like at GOA parishes but:
the faithful are told not to kneel on Sundays out of respect for the fact that Christ is risen.
I will say that i've heard this also, and if true, I believe that if we are truly the Church of the Ecumenical Councils, we need to uphold them, no matter how old or out-dated they may seem. We didn't get where we are by changing our faith to suit the culture we are in, rather we mold the culture to fit our faith.
The enforcement or non-enforcement of such canons is the role and duty of the Bishop, not laity.
 

deusveritasest

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LBK said:
Simayan said:
Honestly, does is REALLY affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if the Liturgy is done entirely while standing or in full prostration?
Does it really affect the Truth of Orthodoxy if we cross ourselves with our left hands? Or if we move around or light candles during the reading of the Six Psalms at Matins, or the chanting of the Creed, the Epistle and Gospel, or the Our Father?
No to all of the above.
 
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