Monday, April 7, 2008

Whose prayer is it anyway?

I heard a comment today that made me think about the Orthodox Church in America. Someone said, “The Church does services every day for those who wish to partake of them. For those who do, we are there.” Is this really the attitude of our churches in America? Should it be? On the surface is sounds good but I fear that it caters too much to the shopping mentality of our American lifestyle. It also suggests that the worship is something we partake of as if we are mere consumers rather than participants. It reminds me of a priest who said once that he was upset about a parish not coming “on time” for liturgy. He was a new priest and the former priest had not been celebrating a complete Orthros as he was now doing so Divine Liturgy was starting later than they were accustomed to so they were coming late since he was starting late. Both of these issues reflect, I believe, the misconception that the services of the church are something to be viewed like a good theater production. Rather, the services of the Church are the work of the people and must reflect their availability and desires. It does no good to just do the services and those who want to partake may do so. Who are we priests doing the services for.....ourselves? NONSENSE! We merely lead the people in their prayers to God. It is no benefit for us to be alone in the church performing like some movie theater where the movie begins whether or not people have purchased tickets. If we are alone, we are prayer our personal prayer for the people, but that is not corporate worship. One has to wonder.....if there are no people to say “Amen” whose prayer it? We are both clergy AND laity.

Have a blessed Fast.


Philippa said...

Father bless!

Found you through Elizabeth's "Garden window" blog.

Your post sounds just like a recent conversation with my priest!

I'll be back!

Rev. Dn. +Panagiotis said...

Father this as a good post but I am not sure that I agree with your last line. Clergy are clergy and laity are laity otherwise the words would mean the same thing. It is clear from the beginning of the Church prior to Christ's crucifixion even, that there was a clear difference in the laity and the "clergy". In the Old Testament there was the same delineation between the Prophets, priests, etc...

To say that we are now somehow the same I think is an oversimplification. You are most certainly correct that without others the prayers of the priest become simply private prayers, and in fact, the priest is not permitted to serve a liturgy by himself. In keeping these facts in mind we are not the same as the laity though; in corporate worship each person has their place to make that (corporate) worship a success. Without one of the participants then the worship cannot go forward. No priest, no service, no people no service.

Other than that I enjoyed your post. Talk to you later.

Rev. Dn. +Panagiotis

Fr. Athanasios Haros said...

Fr Panagiotis, you seem to have misread the last statement meaning that both exist. I believe this to be implicit in the post.