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					 BYZANTINE
CHRISTIANITY
  A PERSONAL
INTRODUCTION
How did you end up here?
• ethnically Asian in a Ukrainian Church
• born non-Religious as many Chinese are
• grew up Presbyterian

•   Rx 1:
•   I am not Italian,
•   therefore:
•   not the ROMAN
•   Catholic Church
daughter, servant, or Sister
• snarkiness notwithstanding: I
  am trying to make an
  important point
  – misconception that we are
    “hyphenated”, minority, sub-
    Church
  – an Ethnic branch Church
  – just for the Ukrainians, or Arabs
    or...
• --the normal Catholic church.
  or if you say Catholic Church
  = Roman Catholic Church
• --then there are the ethnic
  churches: (the Eastern
  Churches)
Church & Ethnos
• Latin Church’s achievement
  was incarnating Church on a
  global level
• Eastern Churche’s
  achievement was incarnating
  Church on the local/national
  level
• but the danger of
  inculturation is ethnocentrism
  and the heresy of Phyletism:
• ---it is a common heresy to
  fall into amongst Eastern
  Churches (eg the Orthodox):
  Phyletism:
Churches universal by Definition
• retired Patriarch Lubomyr: we the
  UGCC are a Church FROM Ukraine
  but FOR the World
• --so it is not just or even primarily
  a Church of/for Ukrainians
• The very essence of Church is that
  it should preach the Gospels to ALL
  Nations. the Great Commission in
  Matthew
• So I always give the Snarky
  Answer: because behind the
  humour there is an important point
  to make.
• No such thing as an Ethnic Church
• To be a Church - always for all
Theology attraction
 •       Real Answer:
     –    As someone grew up evangelical Prot:
          Byz. Church:
          •   Theology
          •   spirituality,
          •   liturgy,
          •   ecclesiology: easier
     –    Most important: prayer, specifically
     –    Liturgical Prayer
The Weirdness Factor
• I liked what I read
• about its theology
• and ecclesiology

•   So I went to see
•   What a
•   Weird Experience
•   I’m not the only one!
1st time in Church: Mother Fred
• She was his wife, and she was standing next to him thinking about
  her feet. They hurt. She wondered why they had pews if you had
  to stand up all the time. The struggling choir was weak and
  singing in an unintelligible language that may have been English.
  The few other worshipers weren’t participating in the service in
  any visible way. Why did they hide the altar behind a wall? It was
  annoying how the priest kept popping in and out of the doors like
  a figure on a Swiss clock. The service dragged on following no
  discernible pattern, and it was interminable. Once the priest said,
  “Let us conclude our evening prayer to the Lord.” She checked her
  watch again; that was ten minutes ago, and still no end in sight.
Liturgical Seduction
•   But I was initially caught by the
    weirdness factor:
•   --that kept me going back
•   --big mistake
•   --after a few sessions
•   --after standing all those hours
•   --discovered, came upon, a way of
    “liturgical prayer”
•          --different from Protestant: lecture
    and learning: informational transmission
•          --different from Latin Church: wh I
    exp. As good in a succinct, intellectual,
    theological
•   --happened to be in Old Church Slavonic
•          --understood very little: mostly
    Lord have mercy and a few hymns
•          --did not even have a Service book
    the 1st few times
Divine Service
•   --but found that because of the Structure, Dynamics,
    and yes Length of the Divine Services
•           --I could just come and after a while find myself
    immersed into prayer
•           --a whole new experience: never experienced
    before
•                        --before Church Service = learning
    information and just applying, implementing
•           --after in my life
•           --if real keener, took notes
•   if family was super zealous: discuss the sermon after
•   --in the Byz Divine Services:
•           --lots of theology, lots and lots!
•           --lots to think about and learn is offered via the
    Stichera, Tropars, Kondaks, etc Hymnody
•           (even more than in the Latin Church)
•   --in the Byz Divine Services:
•           --lots of Scripture present, recited, chanted,
    sung, lots and lots
•           --not studied (in an Evangelical Protestant way)
    by that is just seminar & discussion
•           --point is: Scripture and lots of it (even, and
    especially, in the Hymnody was the “study”)
Byzantine Liturgical Prayer
•   --but above and beyond that (below and
    undergirding everything)
•          --was spirituality, i.e. prayer
•          --not just learning about Gd (something done
    in the 3d person)
•          --but relating to Gd (something done in the
    2d person: cf. Martin Buber: I-Thou)
•          --found God or rather found By God or rather
    Exp. Being found by God
•                     --felt love, exhilaration, enveloped,
    embraced, quickened
•                     --blood ran faster, etc
•          --did not have to work at it
•          --easiest prayer ever
•          --just stand there
•                     --can be totally distracted, thinking
    about the laundry or whatever
•                     --stand there and sing along
•          --then eventually suddenly, notice that I am
    in prayer already, & have been for don’t know how
    long
•   --with that I was addicted for life!
Byzantine AND Catholic
 • Pope John Paul II
 • That the Church may breath with
   BOTH lungs

 • The Various Rites, their various &
   different theologies, different
   spiritualities, different Canon Law,
   even different Creeds
 • Help balance & complete the
   Church’s articulation and
   incarnation of God’s ineffable
   Mystery
 • Balance between 1 & 3 of the
   Triune God
 • Absolutions: indicatory -
   deprecatory
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
•   not a unique experience:
•   While Revd Mother Frederica was experiencing
    there Dissonance with the Byz. Rite Services
•   Her husband had this experience:
•   He was an Episcopal priest, but he was
    standing in an Orthodox church on this
    Saturday night and thinking about Truth. At
    the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and
    forth swinging incense, moving in and out the
    doors of the iconostasis according to rubrics
    that were as yet unfamiliar. Golden bells
    chimed against the censer, and the light was
    smoky and dim. Over to the left a small choir
    was singing in haunting harmony, voices
    twining in a capella simplicity. The Truth part
    was this: the ancient words of this Vesperal
    service had been chanted for more than a
    millennium. Lex orandi, lex credendi; what
    people pray shapes what they believe. This
    was a church that had never, could never,
    apostatize.
“The 1 needful thing”
•   My Church, the UGCC was completely
    suppressed because we refuse to break
    communion with Rome
•   The Russian Orthodox Church compromised
    with the USSR and was allowed some limited
    degree of existence.
•   They were not allowed to have Bible Studies,
    discussion groups, Catechism, Theology
    Classes
•   They were only allowed to perform the
    rituals of the Divine Services:
•   --the Orthodox, in a sense thought:
    providentially!
•          --There were left with the 1 thing that
    was absolutely essential
•          --if they themselves had to choose 1
    thing in their Church life to retain
•          --this is what they would have chosen:
    the Divine Service!
•   Liturgy is at the core of the identity of the
    Byzantine Faith and Practice:
can take the boy out of Orthodoxy
• In a Pentecostal, a convert from the
  Orthodox Church to Pentecostalism
  was giving his Testimony
• --why did he become Protestant:
• --did not talk about discover of the
  Bible, did not talk about Corruption,
  or Clergy
• --did not even mention, as I recall, a
  personal relationship with Jesus
• --then What?
• --he talked about Liturgy (even
  though he did not realize it)
•       --he complained about the
  outdated and ancient chants of the
  Orthodox church
•       --he extolled the beauty of
  Protestant Hymnody!
• --even his rejection of the Byzantine
  Church was based on Liturgics
Ortho-Doxia
• This is at the very core of a
  Byzantine Christian’s Experience
  of the Faith and self-understand
  of their Identity as Christians:
• 1: even our name for ourselves
  (“Orthodox” as used in the
  Vatican approved liturgical texts
  of the Divine Liturgy): = True
  Worshipping (not just true
  believing)
•       --Ortho = true
•       --Dox = glorifying, praising
• 2: whenever Byzantine rite
  Christians talk or write about
  themselves, explain who they are
  or what their church is all about
  they always tell the story of the
  conversion of Rus’ (ie the ancient
  name for Ukraine)
  Conversion of Ukraine:                            AD 987:
Prince Volodymyr summoned together his vassals
   and the city elders, and said to them: "Behold, the
   Bulgars came before me urging me to accept
   their religion.
Then came the Germans and praised their own faith;
   and after them came the Jews.
Finally the Greeks appeared, criticising all other
   faiths but commanding their own, and they spoke
   at length, telling the history of the whole world
   from its beginning.
Their words were artful, and it was wondrous to
   listen and pleasant to hear them. They preach the
   existence of another world. 'Whoever adopts our
   religion and then dies shall arise and live forever.
   But whosoever embraces another faith, shall be
   consumed with fire in the next world.'
• What is your opinion on this subject, and what do you answer?"
  The vassals and the elders replied: "You know, O Prince, that no
  man condemns his own possessions, but praises them instead.
  If you desire to make certain, you have servants at your
  disposal. Send them to inquire about the ritual of each and how
  he worships God. "

• Their counsel pleased the prince and all the people, so that they
  chose good and wise men to the number of ten, and directed
  them to go first among the Bulgars and inspect their faith. The
  emissaries went their way, and when they arrived at their
  destination they beheld the disgraceful actions of the Bulgars
  and their worship in the mosque; then they returned to their
  own country.
• Volodymyr then instructed them
  to go likewise among the
  Germans, and examine their faith,
  and finally to visit the Greeks.

• They thus went into Germany,
  and after viewing the German
  ceremonial, they proceeded to
  Constantinople where they
  appeared before the emperor.

• He inquired on what mission they
  had come, and they reported to
  him all that had occurred.. When
  the emperor heard their words,
  he rejoiced, and did them great
  honour on that very day.
• On the morrow, the emperor sent a message to the patriarch to
  inform him that a Ukrainian delegation had arrived to examine
  the Greek faith, and directed him to prepare the church and the
  clergy, and to array himself in his sacerdotal robes, so that the
  Ukrainians might behold the glory of the God of the Greeks.

• When the patriarch received these commands, he bade the
  clergy assemble, and they performed the customary rites. They
  burned incense, and the choirs sang hymns. The emperor
  accompanied the Ukrainians to the church, and placed them in a
  wide space, calling their attention to the beauty of the edifice,
  the chanting, and the offices of the archpriest and the ministry
  of the deacons, while he explained to them the worship of his
  God.
• The Ukrainians were astonished, and in their wonder praised
  the Greek ceremonial.
• Thus they returned to their own country, and the prince called
  together his vassals and the elders. Volodymyr then announced the
  return of the envoys who had been sent out, and suggested that
  their report be heard. He thus commanded them to speak out
  before his vassals.

• The envoys reported: "When we journeyed among the Bulgars, we
  beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while
  they stand ungirt. The Bulgarian bows, sits down, looks hither and
  thither like one possessed, and there is no happiness among them,
  but instead only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not
  good.
• Then we went among the Germans, and saw them performing
  many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there.
•   Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where
    they worship their God, and
•   we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.
•   For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a
    loss how to describe it.
•   We know only that God dwells there among men,
•   and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.
•   For we cannot forget that beauty.
•   Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept
    that which is bitter, and therefore
•   we cannot dwell longer here.
That Beauty we can never forget

				
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