My interest in the history of the Morning and Evening Prayer Rules came from a somewhat unusual source: in more than seven years of serving as a parish priest, I have regularly heard it confessed by a large number of people that they fail to complete all of their daily prayers. What is meant by these confessions is that some penitents regularly cut short the Rules contained in the Orthodox Prayer Book. It must be noted, however, that there appear to be no standard rubrics for the composition or length of Morning and Evening Rules, nor is there a mention of the “sin of the shortening of the Prayer Rule” either in the daily confession of sins contained at the end of evening prayers, or in the Rite of Confession contained in the Book of Needs. To be sure, one of the prayers in the evening rule does mention being “neglectful of prayer,” but this likely refers to one’s general attitude toward prayer, rather than to a modification of the Prayer Rule, although there can certainly exist a causal relationship between the two. At least two issues immediately arise from this situation: 1) whether shortening the generally prescribed Prayer Rule should be viewed as a confessional issue; and 2) by whom and when the Prayer Rules were compiled. (more…)
Russian: О церковном этикете
“…all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40)
Every human society, or as sociologists would say, “social group,” has its own specific rules of behavior and etiquette. These rules can be very different, but this does not mean that one group’s etiquette is better than that of another. Quite simply, in Russia, for example, when meeting someone, it is customary to wish each other good health (“Здравствуйте!”), but in the United States to ask “How are you?”
The Orthodox Church is the sacramental Body of Christ, but at the same time, it is a group of people who are united not only spiritually, but also socially. This is why the Orthodox Church has developed its own rules of etiquette. Unfortunately, many of us grew up in an unchurched soviet or post-soviet society and came into the Church at an age when our parents and grandparents were no longer telling us how to behave ourselves, as they did when we were younger. This is why it is up to us to observe and learn the rules and customs of the Church and of our parish. (more…)
Published by Orthodoxy and the World
Pravmir: The Orthodox Church prepares the faithful for the Nativity of the Lord by the 40-days fasting period. The secular world has its own spirit of Christmas preparation: parties, presents, Christmas markets, early decorated stores… How not to be involved by the secular pre-celebration of Christmas and to keep the fast not only in food, but in spirit as well?
Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov: First of all, I would warn against building too high a partition between the “Christian world” and the “secular world.” In the true sense of the word, there is no such thing as the secular world; there is only one world–that which was created by God and corrupted by sin. Trying to “flee from the world” may be a lofty aspiration indeed, but one that in its purest form would require us to abandon our employment, family, relationships, oh, and probably the internet as well. Yet it is unthinkable that the Church would want all of us to become monastic hermits—Christians would simply die out within a generation or two! (more…)