July 30, 2014

Greece, Synod Condemns Liturgy in Modern Greek

(ANSAmed) – ATHENS- The Greek-Orthodox Synod has condemned the Mass in modern language officiated in the diocese of Nicopolis, claiming that it puts ”the Church’s unity” at risk.

Bishop Meletio of Nicopolis, in the northern region of Epirus, a long time ago authorised the translation of the Mass from liturgical Greek (close to the ancient Greek language and once spoken by the upper classes) into modern or ”popular” Greek. Because, he justified his decision, ”otherwise the faithful don’t understand the holy liturgy”. But the Synod has ruled that translating the holy texts is forbidden; it is only allowed ”as an exception and after the authorisation” of the Church.

In the absence of a joint version, according to the orthodox leaders, a spontaneous and causal translation of the liturgy ”could jeopardise the Church’s unity”. The Synod has taken its decision despite the fact that Meletio seems to enjoy the support of his believers and has obtained the official support of other bishops. (ANSAmed).

Comments

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Golly gee whiz Batman, I thought the unity of the Church was in the person of Jesus Christ, the unity of belief and the participation in the Holy Mysteries in which the Holy Trinity is made manifest.

    Guess not, huh?

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    Andrew says:

    Translating the Holy Texts is Forbidden? Does that mean St. Cyril and Methodios should not have translated such texts and evangelized the slavs?
    Strange that the very ancestors of a people who could once evangelize the known world now shun their own cultural inheritance and promote Christian illiteracy instead.

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      Dean Calvert says:

      HI Andrew,

      No….it means we’ve definitely moved BACKWARDS since the ninth century, when giants like Sts. Cyril and Methodios, and St Photios directed the church.

      It also means that when Met. Philip says “we are not fossilized in the 10th century”…he is wrong. That’s an insult to the 10th century Byzantines…despite our internet and blackberries….we’re nowhere NEAR as advanced as they were at that time.

      LOL

      By the way, this is from The Life of Cyril:

      “When the philosopher (ie St. Cyril) was in Venice, bishops, priests and monkspounced upon him like crows upon a falcon and raised the question
      about the trilingual heresy, saying: ‘Good man, tell us: how have
      you now created books for the Slavs to teach them? They were not
      evolved earlier by anyone: neither by the Apostles, nor by the Roman
      Pope, nor by Gregory the Theologian, nor by Hieronimus, nor by
      Augustine. We know only three languages which are worthy of
      glorifying God in books: Hebrew, Greek and Latin.”

      The philosopher answered:

      “Does not the Lord send rain to all alike? Does not the sun too
      shine for all? And do we all equally breathe the air? And how is it
      that you are not ashamed to recognize only three languages, and to
      command all the other peoples and tribes to be deaf and dumb?
      Explain to me – do you consider God powerless, to grant all this, or
      envious, so that He does not wish it? For we know many peoples who
      understand books and glorify God each in their own tongue. Well
      known are the following: Armenians, Persians, Abazgi, Georgians,
      Sugdites, Goths, Avars, Tirsi, Khazars, Arabs, Egyptians, Syrians,
      and many others…”

      With these and many other words the philosopher put them to shame, left them and departed.’

      From – The Detailed Life of Cyril

      Best Regards,
      Dean

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Dean, if I may go off on a tangent here. In reading Runciman’s The Great Church in Captivity, it becomes obvious that things have quite seriously gone downhill since the 11th century. We blame the Turks for the imposition of a dhimmi mindset, but Runciman clearly shows clericalism and intellectual inbreeding taking place at least 4 centuries earlier. I think this buttresses your argument.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    I will never understand the language thing.

    I’ve worshipped in a Greek Orthodox Church long enough to more or less get the gist of the shorter things said in Greek. But it is old Greek. I doubt even native Greek speakers really understand it word for word. Moreover, there is this strange fascination with Greek school. I have nothing against Greek-Americans teaching their children to speak modern Greek. It has nothing to do with religion though. Can they read the Gospels or Fathers in Greek once they’re done?

    To be fair, this is also a problem in the Slavic churches. Many continue to use Church Slavonic. I’ve heard Slavs complain that the children don’t know what is being said – - almost like in the Old Latin Mass. The only good thing about it is the Slavic unity angle. You can go to most any Slavic country and, if you understand Slavonic, you’ll hear the liturgy you know. Also, Slavonic has functioned as a kind of lingua franca in Eastern Europe for the clergy. However, this is really outweighed by the fact that a considerable amount of the services are unintelligible, or only peripherally intelligible, to the laity.

    On a side note, I wonder if the Ecumenical Patriarchate has translated the liturgy and services into Turkish. If they have or might, it would go a long way toward earning the respect of many who are critical of them. It would show that they remain in Turkey to spread the Gospel, not to tend store in the last remnant of a lost empire.

    Also, in all fairness to the Greek Synod, we should wait to see if they appoint a committee to do a standard translation of the liturgy, etc. into modern Greek. There is something to be said for not having something like this done piecemeal.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Scott, there is something to be said not having it done piecemeal yet do the tenor of the comments sound as if the synod has any intention or desire to do any translation?

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      Priest-monk Gregory-Francis DesMarais says:

      Scott is right in saying he never understands the language thing. (my edit) And neither do 98% of the faithful who attend the Divine Liturgy in liturgical Greek, Slavonic, or any other non-spoken language today. This, he pretty much agrees with.

      What I don’t agree with is the question of unity. Using language as a tool for unity is a superficial approach. Rome found that out. What is important is that the faith professed, stated and understood in the texts of the Liturgy must be the source of unity. If these are not understood at the outset, then the real unity of the Church is in jeopardy. And this is exactly the problem. The Liturgy is a “School of Theology” for the believer. Everything that is prayed must become what is believed. And this is not possible in situations where the faithful can not understand (or hear) the prayers and hymns which contain the kerygma of faith.

      As for the advantage of being familiar with a practice ensured by a “dead” language, I think it will always be possible to acclimate oneself to different linguistic situations if the faith is nourished by ones “mother” tongue. I travel throughout Western and Eastern Europe whereby I am continually presented with the use of varied language uses, both ancient and contemporary, and I don’t find this to be a problem. Yes, the use of an ancient language in different parts of the globe might assist you in hearing sounds you are familiar with, but not necessary the Liturgy “you know.”

      There are ways to deal with the problem pastorally. Some parts of the Liturgy, especially those sung by the choir such as the Hymn of the Cherubim or the Megalynarion after the Epiclesis, may very well be sung in the ancient languages. Even some of the short acclamations and reponses could be sung likewise, for we all know what KYRIE ELEISON means. However, the texts of the Anaphora (which should be said audibly) and the hymns which contain the teaching of the day should be sung in a language understood by the people – not to mention the readings.

      And as to Scott’s suggestion that a committee be formed to work on and issue a unified translation, my response would be one which I think was made by Napoleon – “if you want to avoid something, form a committee.”

      As for poor Bishop Meletio; we should support him especially with our prayers. And to those who oppose this much needed reform, all I can say is “right faith – wrong Bishops!”

      Prist-Monk Gregory DesMarais

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    Chrys says:

    The way I read the article, we could be dealing with two very different issues – and I am not clear which one we are actually dealing with here. It is possible that the Synod is not condemning the idea of a translation per se, but rather

    a spontaneous and causal translation of the liturgy ”could jeopardise the Church’s unity.”

    If they are against the very idea of translation, then there is indeed a serious problem that amounts to a betrayal of the faith. As St. Paul said (and the Fathers have always done since):

    in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than 10,000 words in [another] language.

    However, if all they want is a carefully constructed and properly authorized version, I would have to say I agree. In fact, I strongly agree. I saw what happened in the Roman Catholic Church when they took a beautiful liturgical tradition and turned it into Who Hash. (So you know, this is a much more tempered expression than the terms I would prefer to use). Likewise, the different translations used in our different jurisdictions offer yet one more problem that we will have to deal with on the road to some kind of unity in America. (Because, as you know, everyone is used to and prefers their own version.) So, if this is primarily an issue of procedure (which would, in a sense, be similar in nature to our objection over the insertion of the filioque in the Creed), then I would gladly support the Synod.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Chrys,

      The words “translation of the holy texts is forbidden” seem to viatate against the idea that they wish to have a unified translation that all can understand. Wouldn’t you agree?

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        Chrys says:

        Michael: yes, it would certainly seem so. But the latter comments about a “spontaneous and casual translation” are unnecessary if they are against any/all translation. This was, in fact, the key contradiction that leaves me confused about what is meant. (Of course, I have given up on looking to journalists for either accuracy or nuance.) On the other hand, maybe there no issue at all – since, after all, they are talking about a translation of the Mass rather than the Liturgy. In short, I don’t have a lot of confidence in whoever wrote the article.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Chrys, the insane attachment to moribund languages in America would make sense if there was no good English translation. (I for one love a beautifully chanted Greek or Slavonic liturgy for the same reason that I’ve bought Gregorian chant CDs.) I could see the various bishops wanting to get together to make an authorized liturgy, vespers, matins, etc. However there is no need to reinvent the wheel: Isabell Hapgood did a remarkable job translating the liturgies of the Church into beautiful Elizabethan English almost a century ago. The refusal of many jurisdictions to take advantage of their great good luck is due to obstinancy which is a by-product of pride.

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        Chrys says:

        George, I generally agree. I’m not entirely sure why we have so many translations. (I will note that in my experience, the older English has a clarity – and certainly a dignity – that’s occasionally in modern translations. The accuracy, care, dignity and beauty – but especially the accuracy, is why I prefer the Holy Transfiguration Monastery prayerbook.) I suspect that you are right: pride (the desire of each jurisdiction or translator to put “my” stamp on a translation) is likely underneath it all.

        That said, I do hope that the Synod was only expressing a preference for the manner in which a translation is to be done — and that it will be done. It would be utterly inexcusable – indeed, a dereliction of pastoral duty and Christian love – to create obstacles for the current and prospective faithful. It’s frightening what people can believe when they are effectively kept in the dark. Anyone who thinks that there is some special fidelity in strict adherence to a language that the congregation does not understand may well have a lot for which to answer. It is not that we must understand everything, since so much that is vital is beyond our comprehension, but it IS essential that the Light that has been given be put on a lampstand and not under a bushel basket.

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          Harry Coin says:

          So many people that attend our parishes are very, very highly educated compared to even 50 and 100 years ago. An average group probably has a person who is a professional musician or music instructor or professor. Same for gifts of language and so on.

          It isn’t necessary to have ‘one official translation’ and having ‘one official translation’ is probably not a good thing since it is likely to reflect the sense and sentiment of whoever the official translator is that has favor that season and may not capture what people understand the words to mean elsewhere.

          So I am not afraid of having many translations and muscial variations — so long as the pastors and so forth are making sure the dignity and accuracy is good.

          Except, except for the Creed, the Lord’s prayer, and an agreed English version of Christ is Risen. For lots of reasons being able to go to any Orthodox parish and be able to have a common version of those two things be not just close to what you knew but the same, thats a good thing.

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      Fr John says:

      Speaking of “Who Hash” what about the Synod’s corruption of the Typikon resulting in the “Greatest Hits of Orthros” which is de riguer since the XIX c. in Greek parishes. A Greek priest is actually not allowed to celebrate the service in a logical manner.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Fr John, I was not aware of this. Is this true for parishes in Greece or for all EP eparchies?

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          Fr John says:

          I think it is true of all parishes in Greece under the Abp. of Athens and EP parishes of North America; it may be elsewhere, but I cannot say for sure.
          The recent recording of the Divine Liturgy and Orthros by Alex Lingas’ choros, Capella Romana with Archim. Meletios Weber as celebrant provides a restored version of the Canon as well as the Liturgy Prokeimenon which is also elided in common contemporary Greek parish practice. The disc demonstrates that it is not impossible to do the services in the canonical way. Who’d a thunk it.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Fr, I’d like to order this CD that you talk about. Where could I get one? (Also, what does “who hash” mean?_

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            Chrys says:

            I’d like to find a copy as well. (At the risk of opening a can of worms, it sounds like the same deft approach was used with the Typikon that was used with the calendar. And I here I was thinking that such autocratic changes were supposed to be characteristic of the “imperial” approach of the West, not the conciliar approach of the East.)

            As for Who Hash, it comes from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. (Okay, it’s really a sign that I have kids.) Of course, in the story, it is supposed to be a good thing. The Grinch, in his effort to deprive the Who’s of their Christmas celebration stole even the last can of Who Hash. Here, however, it serves as a suitable place holder for “horse . . .puckey.”

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            Fr John says:

            The link for the CD of which I speak:

            http://www.cappellaromana.org

            The Divine Liturgy in English in Byzantine Chant

            Cappella Romana’s highly anticipated two-CD release of the Divine Liturgy in English set to Byzantine Chant. A male ensemble led by Alexander Lingas chants the service’s hymns, psalms, and responses in a resonant natural acoustic according to the most authoritative Byzantine traditions, including works adapted from Petros Peloponnesios (+1778), Nileus Kamarados (+1922) and St. John Koukouzelis (+ca. 1341).

            The Very Rev. Dr. Archimandrite Meletios Webber (priest) and the Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis (deacon) render in full all of the litanies and prayers of the entire Eucharistic assembly. Issued with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop +GREGORIOS, this 2-CD set employs the official translation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, and features a 40-page booklet with an annotated text of the service and essays on Orthodox worship and Byzantine chant by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash), Alexander Lingas, and John Michael Boyer.

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            Chrys says:

            Father, Thank you.

            Given the importance of this issue, some of your previous comments and the availability of the CD as an example of what we are missing, I think a discussion on the current – and the proper – state of the liturgy might warrant a separate post. This is especially important since we recognize, as Priest-monk Gregory-Francis noted, that the liturgy is a school of theology. Indeed, as I was thinking about this and the importance of the actual form of the liturgy in forming our faith, I was reminded of a passage that played a critical role in changing my old notions about liturgy. With your indulgence, I offer the excerpt here:

            “Metropolitan Anthony,” I began, “five years ago when I visited you I attended the services which you yourself conducted. And I remarked to you then how struck I was by the absence of emotion in your voice. Today, in the same way, where it was not you but the choice, I was struck by the same thing, the almost complete lack of emotion in the voices of the singers.”

            “Yes,” he said, “that is quite true. It has taken years for that, but they are finally beginning to understand . . .”
            . . .
            I put my question further: “The average person hearing this service – and of course the average Westerner having to stand up for the several hours it took – might not be able to distinguish it from the mechanical routine that has become so predominant in the performance of the Christian liturgy in the West. He might come wanting to be lifted, inspired, moved to joy or sadness – and this the churches in the West are trying to produce, because many leaders of the Church are turning away from the mechanical, the routine–”

            He gently waved aside what I was saying, and I stopped in mid-sentence. There was a pause, then he said: “No. Emotion must be destroyed.” He stopped, reflected and started again, speaking in his husky Russian accent: “We have to get rid of emotions . . . in order to reach . . . feeling.”

            . . . He continued: “You ask about the liturgy in the West and in the East. It is precisely the same issue. The sermons, the Holy Days – you don’t know why once comes after the other, or why this one now and that one later. Even I you read everything about it, you still wouldn’t know, believe me.

            “And yet . . . there is a profound logic in them, in the sequence of the Holy Days. And this sequence leads people somewhere – without their knowing it intellectually. Actually, it is impossible for anyone to understand the sequence of rituals and Holy Days intellectually. It is not meant for that. It is meant for something else, something higher.

            “For this you have to be in a state of prayer, otherwise it passes you by –”

            “What is prayer?” I asked.

            He did not seem to mind my interrupting with this question. Quite the contrary. “In the state of prayer one is vulnerable.” He emphasized the last word and then waited until he was sure I had not taken it in an ordinary way.

            “In prayer one is vulnerable, not enthusiastic. And then these rituals have such force. They hit you like a locomotive. You must not be enthusiastic, nor rejecting – but only open. This is the whole aim of asceticism: to become open.”

            –Jacob Needleman, Lost Christianity (1990), pp. 24-25.

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            SubDn. Lucas says:

            I would heartily second Fr. John’s endorsement of Cappella Romana’s Divine Liturgy in English. The Thyateira translation is a masterwork (by Fr. Ephrem Lash), and although eschewing Elizabethan English for modern, it still retains the dignity and high-register necessary for liturgical texts.

            The setting of the music is itself very important. John Boyer approached the composition of the music from the ethos of the Byzantine composers: he took the musical principles of Byzantine composition and applied them to the text rather than the previously-common method of fitting the text into pre-existing melodies.

            The end result is that it works. Not only does the music sound like it was made for the text (it was), but it is in continuity with our received musical tradition. It proves the error in the old thinking that ‘Byzantine chant will never work for the “western ear”.’ One hopes that others will take this traditional approach to heart and neither err on the side of manipulating texts to match melodies, nor pushing for an artificially-constructed ‘new form’ of chant in opposition to our tradition.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Chrys, I heartily agree. The proper celebration of the liturgies of the Church needs a seperate post. I feel this is important because we have done yeoman work on this blog in correctly formulating the historical, canonical, and intellectual narrative of Orthodoxy in North America. It would all be for naught if the Episcopal Assembly actually does produce something worthwhile but the liturgies remain erratic.

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    Harry Coin says:

    In what way would the translations put the unity of the church at risk? The people that already generally don’t go to church would be even less likely to go now that they might understand it?

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      Chrys says:

      No question that it would be a really good idea to make it intelligible so that people could hear the faith expressed in their own language. (See the verse from St. Paul quoted above.) At the same time, the history of liturgical reform has left an impressive amount of division in its wake. Just ask an Old Believer – or a lot of Catholics (per my previous comment). While these reforms were partly done in the Catholic Church to make the Mass more accessible – and presumably to effect the outreach you rightly note – they had a very different and largely unwelcome result. In short, liturgical changes invariably have the greatest affect on those who do attend, even though they might be intended for those who do not.
      In the end, though, the issue that you cite regarding the vast number of those who could (but do not) attend is in part a pastoral failure and in part an indictment of the lack of love and transformation in the lives the rest of us. (We really do tend to get the leaders we deserve – because they come from us.)

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    SubDn. Lucas says:

    _ Has anyone taken the time to examine the primary Synodal documents? All we have on translations being ‘forbidden’ is narrative from the story, not a direct quote. Until we’re sure, it would be better to refrain lambasting the Synod. (I don’t speak modern Greek, otherwise I’d check it myself.)

    _ I agree with Chrys, that the force of the Synod’s concern seems to be for division caused by a non-Conciliar translation. It may be difficult for us Americans to imagine, with our many translations, but in a context where the service texts are all the same (and have been for many centuries), the thought of visiting another parish where something strange is being said would be shocking.

    _ Michael and Harry flippantly dismiss the import that different translations might have on unity. But, our unity is expressed in liturgical terms (“in communion with…”), and our liturgy is largely comprised of the spoken word. It might not be so ridiculous to find that differences here might have far-reaching, unintended consequences. Do you think they foresaw what a mess they were making when they heavy-handedly insisted on something as simple as moving the Calendar 13 days ahead?

    _ Finally, let’s not kid ourselves about St. Cyril’s translations into ‘vernacular Slav’. Church Slavonic was adapted from old Bulgarian, and even then it was shoehorned to conform to Koine Greek syntax. The typical Slav-on-the-street would not have heard this and said (in flawless Church Slavonic): “Oh my–why, I understand this now!” Rather, the Russians & co. would still have had some learning to do.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Sb. Deacon, Flippant? My opening words were more of a device to remind myself not to take myself too seriously.

      But…where does our unity lie?

      How can we be unified if we cannot hear what is being prayed?

      I’ve been to maybe two Divine Liturgies in my entire life in the Chruch that were done wholly in English. Lately, more and more Arabic is being used, not the reverse. Apparently though, even what I have experienced is far more than the folks in Greece and Slavic lands have. I find that sad. Maybe that is a reason behind the lack of application of the liturgical message?

      I would rather see any number of translations done by a person with a sharp mind and a poetic heart than a common translation done by a committee of scholars that intended to produce a horse but came up with a camel instead.

      The calendar issue was forced by hierarical command so that does not apply to this particular situation.

      Just came from a session with Fr. Paul Tarazi on the Bible at one of our local parishes. I should see the whole synodal decision.

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        SubDn. Lucas says:

        Michael,

        _ There are two issues at play, both serious ones. The first is the stated concern of the Synod, that there be unity and conciliarity in any translation work that might be done in the Church of Greece. I can’t think why anyone would take issue with this concern in itself.

        _ The second, is whether a translation should ever be done, by anyone, into vernacular Greek. I agree that the services should be comprehensible, but I return to the first exhortation in my opening comment: we ought to examine what the Synod actually said about translations being ‘forbidden’ vs. what a reporter said about the same in narration.

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    Harry Coin says:

    Chrys,

    The leaders you mention are not the ones we deserve as you write because they don’t come ‘from us’, they come only from those of ‘us’ who are ‘ordained young and never married’ and choose without our consent others so inclined — only a very small part of the ‘us’ I’ve been given to notice as I look around in church.

    So, we appear to be upholding what the ‘tower of Babel’ problem complains of while ignoring the Gospel bit about ‘choose from among you .. the husband of but one wife’, etc.

    Also is there not some space between offering what we have right now in English or in modern greek and the whole guitars, sopranos rocking out for Jesus and big hair thing that happened elsewhere?

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      Chrys says:

      Also is there not some space between offering what we have right now in English or in modern greek and the whole guitars, sopranos rocking out for Jesus and big hair thing that happened elsewhere?

      Of course. See my comments: 4.2.1

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    Harry Coin says:

    Lucas, Do you feel more or less ‘in communion’ the Orthodox that don’t use the language used at your church? Greece is a place with more churches per square hectare than the USA has convienience stores. Take a leaf from what happens in other countries– look out into the room and see what language is understood by those who came that day then offer services in that proportion. Just like they’ve been doing in Turkey to attract all the converts there under the EP’s flag….

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      Andrew says:

      Harry, Don’t forget that there are more Russians than Greeks in Constantinople. The language of services should be adjusted accordingly.

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        Harry Coin says:

        Andrew, there are more Turks than ether Russians or Greeks over there, what adjustments do you think that calls for? Maybe lots of flags here in the USA? That’ll do it.

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Speaking of flags, has anybody heard about this latest idiocy being implemented? Or has it died a merciful death (like the diocesan landgrab and offer of Turkish citizenship)?

          geo

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      SubDn. Lucas says:

      Harry,

      _ Addressing your second concern first: I don’t disagree that the services of the Church ought to be comprehensible to the people, but I also don’t see that that’s the real issue for the Synod in their prohibition of independent translations.

      _ Do I feel more, or less in communion depending on translation? No, not so much–my use of ‘in communion with…’ was more to emphasize the role liturgy has in the constitution of the unity of the Church. I think there are ‘shades’ of disunity in the concern expressed by the Synod. Certainly, when I visit a parish whose English translation is markedly-different from our own (how many versions of ‘O Gladsome Light’ do we have in English?), I feel out-of-place and find the text to be a distraction and hindrance to prayer. I know I’m not the only one who finds this discomfiting. If we feel so uncomfortable worshiping in other parishes because of differences in translations, then I do think this is a legitimate concern, and one that ought to receive due consideration.

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    Alexander says:

    So, do the Athenian and Constantinopolitan Churches celebrate Pentecost? It’s coming up soon.

    Just checking.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Dear Alexander,

    Too funny!!!

    It’s really kind of sad isn’t it? Think of it, 10 centuries ago, this same church (ie Constantinople) shocked the world by sending missionaries to the Slavs in Moravia with an alphabet, specifically designed to allow the Slavs to understand the Bible. If you go back and read the contemporary literature, you get a sense of the excitement surrounding this “project”, which had been going on for 30 years in the monasteries of Bithynia when St Cyril (Constantine) showed up. While St Cyril is given credit for the Glagolitic alphabet, it seems more likely that he put the finishing touches on a project that had long been in the works.

    The only modern equivalent that I could come up with was the Apollo Project..that’s the degree of excitement and anticipation which surrounding this “project”. It was momentous, and the Byzantines knew it. Keep in mind that Sts. Cyril and Methodios were contemporaries of St. Photios..and we are talking about a period when the “best the brightest” minds of the day (St. Cyril St. Photios, Leo the Mathmetician) all ended up in church service. What a difference from today eh? Don’t think mental misfits; think Kennedy Administration Harvard whiz kids…and you are in the right pew.

    There was a letter, which accompanied the Mission to Moravia which helps to give a sense of the value the Byzantines applied to this sharing of the alphabet. It is alluded to on P 75 of the book Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica: The Acculturation of the Slavs by Anthony-Emil Tachiaos, who says:

    After adequate preparations, in the spring of 863 the group of missionaries set off for Great Moravia, taking with them gifts and a letter from Emperor Michael III to Prince Rastislav. The Life of Cyril contains an adapted summary of this letter:

    Michael assured Rastislav that God, seeing his faith, “has now, in our time, revealed letters in your tongue, a thing which has not happened for a long time, but only in ancient days, so that you may be included among the great nations which praise God in their own tongue. Moreover, we are sending you the one to whom He has revealed them, a virtuous and devout man and a most learned philosopher. Therefore, accept a gift greater and more valuable than gold and silver and precious stones and all transient riches.

    Unbelievable eh? 10 centuries later, people like you (and me) are asking, “Does Constantinople celebrate Pentecost?”

    Tell me we haven’t moved backwards? Tell me St Photios and St. John Chrysostom are not spinning in their graves seeing things like this occur?

    THE church which evangelised half the world, using LANGUAGE as the main weapon in it’s arsenal…THE church which argued with the Trilingualists in Rome, ultimately convincing the Pope to sanction the use of a local language…THE church which was a beacon to the barbarians for 10 centuries…

    …that same church is now afraid to translate the liturgy into understandable Greek in Greece, and resists translating the liturgy into English in North America.

    It’s enough to make you ill.

    Lord Have Mercy!!!

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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    Robert says:

    I am sure if St. Paul were alive today he would rather speak 10,000 words in an unknown tongue then utter 5 that people could actually understand and benefit from.

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