Receiving Communion in the Eastern Orthodox Church: Things You May Not Know!

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
The amount of leaven in the bread doesn’t matter. The bread should be common bread. If you live in a culture where unleavened bread is common, use it. The US isn’t such a place.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
What is the distinction between leavened and unleavened bread in this matter? I have always thought that 1 Cor 5:7, 8 had a bearing on this:

"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
The Orthodox tradition holds strongly to the image that Sunday is the day of resurrection. For that reason they will not kneel but stand for the liturgy. Similarly, the bread corresponds to this. Leavened bread reflects the resurrection.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The Orthodox tradition holds strongly to the image that Sunday is the day of resurrection. For that reason they will not kneel but stand for the liturgy. Similarly, the bread corresponds to this. Leavened bread reflects the resurrection.

Bingo!

For the EO, a lot of what they do is grounded in mystical symbolism. In my "catechism" into EO, it was explained that leavened bread symbolically represents Christ's Resurrection. No Scriptural appeals....just "check out the symbolism on that!" and "tradition." And as you know, don't even bother asking an EO for any Scriptural basis for practically anything; they ultimately don't care what's in Scripture. Even if Scripture did show that Jesus used unleavened bread, it wouldn't matter to them.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Bingo!

For the EO, a lot of what they do is grounded in mystical symbolism. In my "catechism" into EO, it was explained that leavened bread symbolically represents Christ's Resurrection. No Scriptural appeals....just "check out the symbolism on that!" and "tradition." And as you know, don't even bother asking an EO for any Scriptural basis for practically anything; they ultimately don't care what's in Scripture. Even if Scripture did show that Jesus used unleavened bread, it wouldn't matter to them.
*mystical symbolism* for the American evangelical converts. It’s really just superstition.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
*mystical symbolism* for the American evangelical converts. It’s really just superstition.

Most of it certainly is! The EO's love to brag about all their so-called mysticism and claim that it makes them so much more superior to the "legalistic West", but so much of that "mysticism" just turns worship into subjective aesthetic feeelz. More bluntly, it's just another way to get high.

Actually, a lot of converts I saw were very drawn to all the "mystical practices" found today in the EO "church." They would go out read some books on "hesychasm" by Gregory Palamas and by monks on Mt. Athos, and, before you know it, they were talking about trying to "experience the uncreated light of the Transfiguration" through breathing exercises and visualizations that (unbeknownst to them) were identical to pranayama yoga used by Hindus and Buddhists, right down to focusing on the breath going into the nostrils and down into the heart. Since I had experience with that sorta thing before I became EO, seeing that was actually kinda frightening frankly. But it's just one more example of all sorts of superstitious and pernicious nonsense that has infiltrated the EO "church" over the centuries. And they cannot clean up any of it because they do not believe in Sola Scriptura and they are unreformable.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
What's your rationale for preferring leavened bread?

1) I don't believe there is a direct 1:1 correlation b/t passover and Lord's Supper, so no need for unleavened bread.
2) The Lord's Supper points towards the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and no one feasts on chiclets.
2a) People in Corinth were abusing the supper. That couldn't have been possible if people though the supper consisted of chiclets.
3) Leaven simply means growth and points to the growth of the kingdom.

Happily, no Reformed church I have been in has used chiclets in the Supper.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
1) I don't believe there is a direct 1:1 correlation b/t passover and Lord's Supper, so no need for unleavened bread.
2) The Lord's Supper points towards the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and no one feasts on chiclets.
2a) People in Corinth were abusing the supper. That couldn't have been possible if people though the supper consisted of chiclets.
3) Leaven simply means growth and points to the growth of the kingdom.

Happily, no Reformed church I have been in has used chiclets in the Supper.

The EO insist that leavened bread was always used by the "church" until the West went off the rails soon before the Great Schism and started to use unleavened bread. In my days as an EO, I just took this for granted and never really looked into it.

Any thoughts on such a claim? I still haven't looked into it. It's pretty much a non-issue for me now, but....oh boy! It certainly IS a BIG ISSUE for the EO's, being right up there with the filioque and Papal supremacy!
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
The EO insist that leavened bread was always used by the "church" until the West went off the rails soon before the Great Schism and started to use unleavened bread. In my days as an EO, I just took this for granted and never really looked into it.

Any thoughts on such a claim? I still haven't looked into it. It's pretty much a non-issue for me now, but....oh boy! It certainly IS a BIG ISSUE for the EO's, being right up there with the filioque and Papal supremacy!

It was always used in the East. In the West it was a different matter. Volume 2 of Jaroslav Pelikan goes into the discussion.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
The ancient evidence for the use of only leavened bread even in the East is not as strong as many make it out to be. 8th century, sure. But using those 8th century sources that claim this is how things were always done is not historically accurate (think of claims like worshipping Mary). I think some of my Armenian friends still use unleavened bread too.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
It was always used in the East. In the West it was a different matter. Volume 2 of Jaroslav Pelikan goes into the discussion.

Thanks. Actually, I think I have that around here somewhere!

EO's love to do the "everyone, everywhere was doing _____", per Vincent Lerins' definition of Tradition and the use of leavened bread is one of those things they claim fits the bill.

Um, doesn't sound like it.

Of course, these are the same people who think that the Apostle Luke was an iconographer and had his own icon workshop where he was cranking out hundreds of icons of the Theotokos, starting on Pentecost!
 
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SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
1) I don't believe there is a direct 1:1 correlation b/t passover and Lord's Supper, so no need for unleavened bread.
2) The Lord's Supper points towards the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and no one feasts on chiclets.
2a) People in Corinth were abusing the supper. That couldn't have been possible if people though the supper consisted of chiclets.
3) Leaven simply means growth and points to the growth of the kingdom.

Happily, no Reformed church I have been in has used chiclets in the Supper.

What do chiclets have to do with the Lord's Supper? No one is suggesting that we use chewing gum as one of the elements.

Your point 3 is incorrect, by the way. Leaven points to sin as much as it points to growth.

Do you dispute that the original Lord's Supper used unleavened bread? If so, on what grounds?
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The ancient evidence for the use of only leavened bread even in the East is not as strong as many make it out to be. 8th century, sure.

This is so true for probably the vast majority of what the EO believes and practices today. They literally CLAIM that what they do/think today goes all the way back to 33 A.D., but your 8th century date is more like it.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The ancient evidence for the use of only leavened bread even in the East is not as strong as many make it out to be. 8th century, sure. But using those 8th century sources that claim this is how things were always done is not historically accurate (think of claims like worshipping Mary). I think some of my Armenian friends still use unleavened bread too.

I was poking around online (slow day at the office) and found a few articles that indicate that the Armenian church (which split from the EO church in 506 and only recognize the first 3 ecumenical councils) always used unleavened bread. These same articles state that one of their rationales was that (as some on this thread suggested) leaven represents sin.

This is interesting especially as the Armenian church can be seen as more of a snapshot-in-time as to what the earlier churches were doing, since it broke off from the EO church in the 6th century. As we know, despite their own claims, so much of what the EO "churches" today practice comes about centuries after this rather than the first century.

Here's one quote I found:

Particularly instructive are the ways in which certain distinctive Armenian liturgical practices, such as the use of azymes (unleavened bread) and a chalice unmixed with water in the eucharist, come to be linked to Christological doctrine. The origins of these practices are unknown, but they certainly antedate any division of the churches. By late sixth century, however, they were becoming symbols of Armenian identity vis-a-vis the Greeks, who used leavened bread and wine mixed with warm water in the eucharist. Refusing an invitation from Emperor Maurice to come to Constantinople to discuss reunion, Catholicos Movses II in 591 declared: “I will not cross the River Azat nor will I eat the baked bread of the Greeks or drink their hot water.”
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
What do chiclets have to do with the Lord's Supper? No one is suggesting that we use chewing gum as one of the elements.

Your point 3 is incorrect, by the way. Leaven points to sin as much as it points to growth.

Do you dispute that the original Lord's Supper used unleavened bread? If so, on what grounds?

Chiclets was tongue in cheek. In any case, no one feasts off the stale wafers that have less taste that gluten free products. No stretch of imagination can make that possible.

Leaven can point to the growth of sin. I wasn't saying leaven never means sin. I was saying that it has other meanings.

I don't grant the premise that they used unleaven bread. I don't think the Lord's Supper = Passover. And if passover was a type, then I am not sure on the surface why we are morally obligated to use the elements of the type. Perhaps we should, but it isn't evident.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
And while this article is more against the pernicious practice of intinction, it does a good job separating Passover from Pascha.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
They probably used unleavened bread for the Lord's supper. It was the during the time of Passover and likely what they had. The point is that unleavened bread is not commanded. Bread is commanded.

I’m strongly of the opinion that the Lords Supper is closely related to the Passover. But there are elements of continuity and discontinuity in all types.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Sophomore
While Lord’s Supper does not equal Passover meal, scripture is clear they were celebrating the Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread the same night and place the Supper was instituted. There wouldn’t have been any leaven in the house.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
While Lord’s Supper does not equal Passover meal, scripture is clear they were celebrating the Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread the same night and place the Supper was instituted. There wouldn’t have been any leaven in the house.
This is certainly true. However, in doing theology one must study whether the specific habit of the moment is part of the new institution, or if it is more to be associated with the occasion when the institution was ordained.

As the latter is undoubted, we must take into account (as previously mentioned) that the singular Supper of the NT is not only associated with one OT feast, but all the OT feasts, including the sacrifices not merely three annual feasts; all the feasts being sacraments of the altar. N.B., leaven is compulsory with the Feast of Weeks, Lev.23:17, and the Peace offering, Lev.7:13.

The operative question must be: is there any positive institution in the NT, from the Lord of the New Covenant, respecting the specific bread to be used in all times, places, and cultures? The answer is: no. The word for "bread" used in the Gospels' words-of-institution (Mt/Mk/Lk) and especially in the Supper instructions of Paul to a Gentile-dominant church (1Cor.11) does not come with a qualifier such as "unleavened."

Because it is bread that is ordained, as well as wine, the church is not free to substitute for the elements themselves (the cup was also referred to by Jesus as "fruit of the vine," from which we may infer that a fresh crushing with zero fermenting, i.e. no alcohol to speak of, is neither forbidden nor preferred). Substitute for the content, and you are no longer eating the same meal as Christ and the disciples; it it not recognizably a sitting down with him/them for the meal. The NT is just flexible enough to allow for cross-cultural celebration, but not so flexible that anything goes.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is certainly true. However, in doing theology one must study whether the specific habit of the moment is part of the new institution, or if it is more to be associated with the occasion when the institution was ordained.

As the latter is undoubted, we must take into account (as previously mentioned) that the singular Supper of the NT is not only associated with one OT feast, but all the OT feasts, including the sacrifices not merely three annual feasts; all the feasts being sacraments of the altar. N.B., leaven is compulsory with the Feast of Weeks, Lev.23:17, and the Peace offering, Lev.7:13.

The operative question must be: is there any positive institution in the NT, from the Lord of the New Covenant, respecting the specific bread to be used in all times, places, and cultures? The answer is: no. The word for "bread" used in the Gospels' words-of-institution (Mt/Mk/Lk) and especially in the Supper instructions of Paul to a Gentile-dominant church (1Cor.11) does not come with a qualifier such as "unleavened."

Because it is bread that is ordained, as well as wine, the church is not free to substitute for the elements themselves (the cup was also referred to by Jesus as "fruit of the vine," from which we may infer that a fresh crushing with zero fermenting, i.e. no alcohol to speak of, is neither forbidden nor preferred). Substitute for the content, and you are no longer eating the same meal as Christ and the disciples; it it not recognizably a sitting down with him/them for the meal. The NT is just flexible enough to allow for cross-cultural celebration, but not so flexible that anything goes.
Bruce, I agree with this entirely. I wasn’t arguing for unleavened bread being required now, just speaking to the historical circumstances at institution. Jacob argued that he didn’t grant the premise that they used unleavened bread at the first Supper.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The NT is just flexible enough to allow for cross-cultural celebration, but not so flexible that anything goes.

This is good. Thanks.

Coming from EO, it really is amazing in retrospect to look back and see just how much they take legalism to an extreme, and this is a perfect example. In the EO church, having unleavened bread in a liturgy is absolutely positively anathema (as is uttering the filioque!). No exceptions. And if you argue the point, they will immediately conjure up strawmen of how "you stupid Protestants just serve CRACKERS at your services!" or whatever, thinking that, if you don't serve leavened bread, then anything DOES go, and total anarchy ensues.
 

JOB

Puritan Board Freshman
The first thing to know is why she is seeking to unite with an Orthodox Church. What is she finding there that has brought about her interest? I suspect it has little to do with doctrinal differences. Mocking and sarcasm will only alienate her further. Orthodoxy is ancient and sophisticated and should be treated with respect, notwithstanding its errors.
 

itsreed

Puritan Board Freshman
I know this is off track, but I wanted to say being closer to the reformed world that there are many reformed churches who employ Jeff Myers/Leithart "Covenant Renewal Worship" that also their liturgy revolves entirely around the Lord's supper. Many PCA congregations, and some that purport to be confessional. They of course celebrate the Lord's supper weekly.

The "eastern orthodox" (hereafter, "EO") liturgy revolves entirely around the Eucharist rather than preaching the Word. Every liturgy the Eucharist is served, without exception. You won't find the Word or the Gospel preached in an EO liturgy, so this is it...

Some Points about the Ritual:

Before the liturgy takes place, a congregant brings a loaf of bread to the priest. This loaf of bread (now referred to as “the Lamb”) is then used to reenact the sacrifice of Christ on the altar shortly before the beginning of the liturgy. The priest takes the Lamb, stabs it with "a spear" (which is how they describe the special knife they use for this), and then divvies up the bread into various triangular-shaped pieces, which get placed on a gold platter, blessed, and then thrown into the chalice, which is then mixed with wine and warm water.

Oh, but before any of this takes place, there is one item that is absolutely required in order for this sacrificial ceremony to commence: the antimins, which is a piece of cloth containing dead body parts, er, I mean relics, of a saint, which is almost always the patron saint of the church in question, such as St. George.

No antimins, no dead body parts of saints...no Eucharist, and no liturgy!

Hmm...

Once the chalice is filled with the bits and pieces of the Lamb, the warm water and the wine, the priest performs the “epiklesis" wherein he calls down the Holy Spirit onto the chalice, to transform the wine-and-warm-water-bread-brew into the actual body and blood of Christ. This can only be done on the altar, which, BTW is hidden from the congregation by the iconostasis, which divides the area of the altar from the nave of the church. (The iconostasis is the Temple analogue of the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary, and EO "theologians" make a point of how the EO liturgy and church architecture recreate the Tabernacle/Temple. They are back in the OT, apparently, and they brag about this.)

After the epiklesis, the priest brings the chalice out into the nave; everyone bows and crosses themselves and many will also do full body prostrations at this time. There's quite a LOT of over-the-top displays of Phariseeism at this point as some love to be seen folding like cheap suits to the floor at this point in the liturgy. Seems the EO church enables this kind of behavior, frankly. One also will often hear "OH THEOTOKOS SAVE US!" by some congregants. Not sure why they say that at this point in the liturgy; there are plenty of intercessory prayers to Mary throughout the liturgy, including right after the priest has finished serving the Eucharist. Why can't they just wait until then???

After the chalice is brought out into the nave, the pre-communion prayer is read. I won’t bore you with the details of that, but the concluding line is “Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of Your holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.” This last part is emphasized by the EO, who view the bread and wine (and warm water?!?) as LITERAL “spiritual medicine.” Also, one of my former priests used to tell me how he would sweat and tremble while doing the epiklesis because he realized that, at that point, in his words, “the power of 100,000 atomic bombs was in his hands” and he feared every Sunday that, if he were to give this to someone who didn’t commune worthily, it might kill them!

Needless to say, he never witnessed anyone to whom he gave communion burst into flames or fall down dead in all the years he served the Eucharist, so there’s that. Plus, doesn't going around saying "I am holding the power of 100,000 atomic bombs in my hands!!!" smack of.... pretension and arrogance? You must be a really powerful priest to be able to do THAT!!! That priestcraft must be some powerful magick!!

After the pre-communion prayer is finished, congregants line up and, one by one, approach the chalice, with the usual bowing and prostrations, and then, when they reach the chalice, the priest dips the spoon in and gives them a spoonful of the wine-warm-water-bread-brew; there has to a piece of bread mixed in the wine with every spoonful! Never did get an answer to why they do it this way, when the Lord (and everyone else it seems) has the two elements served separately. (I'd probably get some magickal-mystical gobbledygook about divine energies and whatnot, knowing them...)

After you’ve taken the spoonful, you have to kiss the chalice and the cloth that the priest uses to wipe your mouth/chin afterwards, followed by more crossings and prostrations before departing back to where you were in the nave.

Paedo-communion:

This idea of literal “spiritual medicine” explains why the EO insist on paedo-communion. I have seen infants as young as 40 days old have a spoon with bread and wine shoved in their mouths for their first communion (though, many priests will just use wine so as to not risk choking the baby to death). But seeing this also led to some inconsistencies in the EO practices. For example, I have also seen a priest accidentally drop a chalice on the floor. The tiles that were stained from the wine had to be cut out and then smashed and burned in order to be "properly disposed of." There were also a lot of tall tales of people such as John Maximovitch, who once served communion to a person with rabies. Right after she received communion, she immediately threw it all back up onto the floor of the nave. What's an EO priest to do? Well, he promptly got down on all fours and licked the floor clean! He explained later that since he was licking the literal body and blood of Christ off the floor, there was no way he could have contracted her rabies!

And we were told by our priests that that is precisely what an EO priest is SUPPOSED to do in that situation!

Oof.

However, somehow these same rules went out the window during paedo-communion, as I saw a few babies promptly spit up the elements onto their mother's clothes when the priest gave them communion. The look on the mother's face was always one of sheer horror! Oh no!! What am I to do!!? For the sake of consistency according to what they were told and taught, they should have had their clothes that were spat upon removed and then burned (at least, once they got back home). But, every...single...time....the priest's response was always "fuggedaboutit! Just go home and throw it in the wash!!"

Hmmm....things aren't adding up.

Then 2020 rolled around...

Hocus-Pocus Views...and Covid-19

This also led to a big rift within EO churches here in the States during the Covid crisis beginning in 2020. Because of this hocus-pocus magickal view of the sacrament, many EO’s insisted that straying from the formula above constituted blasphemy. Nonetheless, many EO churches started adopting disposable spoons, 1 per congregant, instead of using a common spoon for all. This showed that those priests really didn’t buy all the hocus-pocus to begin with. Sure, they preached it and taught it to their catechumens, since it's all part of the EO mythology, but when push came to shove, reality overran their mythology and they had to adapt "practical measures" such as CDC guidelines. Yet it was funny then seeing how these same priests got put on full blast by some of their own congregants, as well as other bishops, priests, and monks, who REALLY DID believe in all the hocus-pocus, magickal views of the sacrament and would not change their practices. I also saw many congregants leave the parishes of EO priests who adopted these practical measures; some even left the eastern church altogether because, once they saw all this about-face, they realized they were sold a false bill of goods.

You can go online and find all sorts of these hocus-pocus views I am referring to, especially from the Monks on Mount Athos, who insist that the Eucharist can never transmit disease to anyone, because of its inherent (magickal) properties. Of course, these same monks also believe that the very NAVE of an EO church is “filled with the divine energies” and even BEING in an EO nave is a protection against any and all communicable diseases!

So, they should all be Covid-free zones! And they openly said so, matter-of-factly....

Well, unfortunately, there were more than a handful of Orthodox priests who contracted Covid during 2020, some of whom passed away. Not sure if that theory of the EO nave being able to prevent and protect against all infectious diseases holds any water. When others pointed to these dead priests (and some monks on Mt. Athos who also died of Covid), the response was always: "Meh!! They HAD to have picked it up elsewhere! Certainly not in the nave/altar!!!" But, as usual, all EO claims are ultimately unverifiable and unfalsifiable.

Final Summations, Reflections, and Questions:
  • The whole liturgy revolves around a magick-priestcraft ritual, which not only magickally transforms elements hocus-pocus like into something completely different, but you also need a rag with dead body parts to accompany the magick ritual, or else it is invalid.
  • The result of magickal ritual is the literal body and blood of Christ, localized in a chalice, which becomes a literal “medicine” which they claim is "spiritual", but they view it very carnally.
  • The naves of EO churches are magick zones that will protect everyone in them from all infectious diseases, including Covid.
  • The naves of EO churches are also reconstructed according to the pattern of the Tabernacle/Temple, which ties in with how the EO have brought back the sacrificial system, despite everything the Book of Hebrews says about this.
  • The antimins has always fascinated me because:
    • First, why would you need a rag with dead body parts sewn into it to perform the ritual? Never did get a good answer for this, but instead just the usual unverifiable and unfalsifiable claims that this is a “tradition going back to 33AD!!” Apparently the apostles and their immediate successors were cataloguing dead body parts of saints and collecting them to be used in all future liturgies. EO's literally believe this! (BTW, does the Roman Church do anything like this? That is, specifically requiring there to be dead body parts on the altar in order to perform the ritual? I mean, I know the Roman Church loves relics too, but not to this degree?? I have been told by some Romanists "NO!" and that this is just another example of how much further down the road into folk-superstition and pagan-idolatry the EO church has gone, even compared to the Roman Church.)
    • Second, I went to two "St. George Orthodox Churches” in my time. Thus, both churches claim that their antimins have THE literal relics of THE St. George, who supposedly died in 303 A.D. Thinking that some of St. George’s dead body parts made it to Ohio in the 21st century seemed to be a bit of a stretch to me even then, but you absolutely had to buy it. It’s “Tradition”, after all! Just like all those "relics of the True Cross" (which the EO are also really into!) I now suspect that there are probably enough “relics” of St. George to reconstruct 100 bodies out of them, if not more. Which makes one wonder: if it is extremely likely that these are NOT the dead body parts of St. George to begin with, then just WHAT are they and WHY are they there? What is their point and purpose? What are they doing??? My occult-tuned senses were tingling, developed during my younger days dabbling in Crowley, which is why I still spell "magick" with a "k." I sensed something sinister, perhaps demonic, going on with this whole antimins business. Or, perhaps, it's just human stupidity and superstition, and nothing more? I still wonder about this...
Just to be clear (showing my ignorance here), there is no preaching of the word in an EO worship Sabbath service?
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Just to be clear (showing my ignorance here), there is no preaching of the word in an EO worship Sabbath service?
Results vary, but in the three parishes I attended (Russian, Serbian, Antiochian), preaching the Word was a rarity. Many of the "sermons" were on topical issues or centered upon the saint-of-the-day or, if it was a major feast day, the history and meaning of the feast day. The few sermons I heard that did draw upon God's Word, were more focused on scriptural eisegesis in order to justify some of the weird practices of the EO church. For example, I remember once hearing a sermon where the priest mentioned that venerating relics is "biblical" because of Elisha's bones in 2 Kings 13:21. But more common was something like the sermon given on the feast-day of the Exaltation of the True Cross, where the priest regaled the congregants with the tale of how the real Cross was rediscovered by Constantine's mom and its pieces were bringing the dead back to life whenever their bodies were made to touch them, which apparently was the litmus test for determining the true Cross from false imitators and the other two crosses upon which the two thieves were hung. And then there was the sermon given on the feast day of the "Triumph of Orthodoxy" where it was explained why EO's MUST venerate icons in order to be saved.

That sorta thing...

And it makes sense why it tends to be that way, since the entire liturgy is focused on the reception of the Eucharist, which the EO view in a sacerdotal, ex opere operato manner. Preaching the Word is a distant afterthought for the most part.
 
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Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Just to be clear (showing my ignorance here), there is no preaching of the word in an EO worship Sabbath service?
Most parishes I was a part of and am aware of have a sermon (homily). And historically that's been the case. However, the sermon is not of necessity required to have the liturgical service. There were Sundays where the priest was running out of time and we didn't have a homily, or it was tacked on at the end.

While some parishes may have weak homilies, in Romania, as well as here in the States, there are priests that can have some good, moving ones - some priests in Romania even having epic ones. By and large though, the emphasis is not on the written Word, but on the "reenacted Word" through the symbolism of the liturgical service culminating in the eucharist. Every movement of the priest and others during the service is symbolic of something. Hence most strict or old school priests require catechumens and those interested in Orthodoxy to sit through a full church calendar year or more to learn these movements. They are not taught, but experienced.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Most parishes I was a part of and am aware of have a sermon (homily). And historically that's been the case. However, the sermon is not of necessity required to have the liturgical service. There were Sundays where the priest was running out of time and we didn't have a homily, or it was tacked on at the end.

While some parishes may have weak homilies, in Romania, as well as here in the States, there are priests that can have some good, moving ones - some priests in Romania even having epic ones. By and large though, the emphasis is not on the written Word, but on the "reenacted Word" through the symbolism of the liturgical service culminating in the eucharist. Every movement of the priest and others during the service is symbolic of something. Hence most strict or old school priests require catechumens and those interested in Orthodoxy to sit through a full church calendar year or more to learn these movements. They are not taught, but experienced.

Yep, that's pretty much what I saw: the sermon was given at the very end of the service. More than a few of the congregants would leave at that point, because they received communion and that's the only reason why they were there, so why stick around for some sermon? And there were times when no sermon was given at all. It really did seem to be an "afterthought" in the parishes I attended.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Most parishes I was a part of and am aware of have a sermon (homily). And historically that's been the case. However, the sermon is not of necessity required to have the liturgical service. There were Sundays where the priest was running out of time and we didn't have a homily, or it was tacked on at the end.

While some parishes may have weak homilies, in Romania, as well as here in the States, there are priests that can have some good, moving ones - some priests in Romania even having epic ones. By and large though, the emphasis is not on the written Word, but on the "reenacted Word" through the symbolism of the liturgical service culminating in the eucharist. Every movement of the priest and others during the service is symbolic of something. Hence most strict or old school priests require catechumens and those interested in Orthodoxy to sit through a full church calendar year or more to learn these movements. They are not taught, but experienced.

BTW, I can't forget one sermon in particular given at the Russian church I used to attend, when the priest made the situation in Ukraine the topic-du-jour. The main message was all about how the West is attacking the EO church via the US State Department by undermining the Russian church's "authority" in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the four or so Ukrainians who were regular attendees didn't like that sermon very well and some of them left because of it.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
BTW, I can't forget one sermon in particular given at the Russian church I used to attend, when the priest made the situation in Ukraine the topic-du-jour. The main message was all about how the West is attacking the EO church via the US State Department by undermining the Russian church's "authority" in Ukraine.

Strictly speaking, I think Hillary Clinton planned to do just that. Ukraine is probably the most important geopolitical place in Europe right now. Doesn't make Orthodoxy or Russia right, to be sure.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Strictly speaking, I think Hillary Clinton planned to do just that. Ukraine is probably the most important geopolitical place in Europe right now. Doesn't make Orthodoxy or Russia right, to be sure.
Romanians see that too, but are caught up between the two. To side with Russia has a bitter taste (Soviet Union bullies anyone) and the West is signing your fate over to pluralism and the loss of your culture. Some reluctantly see Russia as the last blockade. Russia definitely sees itself in that way.
 
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