10.04.2009

ROCOR

well, goodness.
I don't know why I had such a questionable impression of the ROCOR church, I suppose it has something to do with the fact that we only very recently returned to official communion with them, which I find a bit odd, and to be sure the extra prayer that gives a dash of nationalism to the liturgy was a bit offensive. I am not exaggerating, I mean exactly that, it was only a mild offense, but it was offensive. It was a part of one of the litanies and it was a prayer for those in Russia and those in the Diaspora, and I think the use of the word Diaspora implies that Russia is The Homeland of the church, in the same way that a young midwesterner may be surprised to find that Jesus was in fact not a white american.
but at the same time, the name of the church says it, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. I think it will be a long time before we get real orthodox unity, and I wonder how bad that is. Partially because the church we went to today had a definite Russian flavour, but man did I like it. I mean, I love my home church, it is my family, and I love it.
Today, we experienced serious beauty. It was serious, in that they were working on a beautiful, and I mean beautiful mosaic Pantocrator icon in their very small dome. The dome was wonderful too, a brilliant work of architecture that is hard to understand from the outside because it is so subtle and not at all dome shaped, but inside is perfectly orthodox and clearly intended that way. Anyways, it is not finished, but what is there is absolutely beautiful and serious. Professional.
When I was writing an MA thesis, a hundred years ago, one of the big themes was going to be the difference between the meaning of professional and amateur. Etymologically speaking, one who claims to be able to do something is a professional, they profess ability in a field. One who is an amateur is one who loves what they are doing, but doesn't claim a level of ability.
The whole church was set up by people who were serious and thoughtful about what they were doing, and they knew the right way to do it. There was a little strip of mosaic, halfway up the wall, simple geometric pattern, but it was classy.
The choir was prepared and very easy to understand, though the congregation didn't sing along that much, I found it quite easy to join in because they did all the familiar tones, though some translations were different ie Habitation=Commonwealth(?) But the whole thing was so well put together, everyone was quiet and serious including the kids, it sort of made me sit up and pay attention.
I was glad to visit the ROCOR church, because I had never been, and I had a bad impression which has been erased and replaced by good memories. I am sure we will go to their vespers some sunday night.

6 comments:

elizabeth said...

hmmmmm...

it may not be nationalism actually. Not that there is not nationalism often associated with things, but they are a church from Russia and it would be quite normal to pray for themselves, just like we pray for the Orthodox Christians instead of all Christians. B (now in Winnipeg) gave me an Akathist to St. Xenia that has Russia and St. Petersburg mentioned quite openly but I don't think St. Xenia is closed from helping us... or that the writers of the Akathist where meaning to exclude others by asking St. Xenia to pray for her own country...

I assume we would want to pray for Canada if we were both in another country; it is hard to be an immigrant; I know many people at my church who are first generation immigrants, many of who, including those who are in our age bracket, did not know English upon coming to Canada. They often feel between two places - Canada and whatever place they came from.

Even myself - I have been living in Canada going on 12 years come January and I still am learning more about Canada and sometimes feel really alienated by Canadians because I am an American. (I am a duel citizen with Canada and the US). It can get really lame to feel like you have to apologize to Canadians for this. I have since refused to apologize!! Anyway. Give them time. They are from a country a lot older than ours and have a very strong national identity (Canada, at least based on much of Canadian lit, seems to still try to know who they are) and it is natural to ask God to have mercy on their homeland, since it is the land of their heart. ... and... we are all the diaspora here, a really strange place to be, but before us converts could be converted, the people (including St. Herman who we love) had to come from Orthodox countries...

That said, I know that being a convert, such as we are, is a really odd and at times hard thing. What does it mean to be Canadian and Orthodox? How do we learn from others from Orthodox countries and still retain the identity we feel with either our heritage (yours Finnish, my Dutch etc etc) and be Canadian etc... These are still things I am trying to figure out and will take time! Probably a lifetime...

Anyway. You obviously struck a cord with me on this one.

Sounds like a really beautiful church and that you were blessed by it! That is great! I have yet to go to the Russian churches here, though my own church has a fair bit of Church Slavonic compared to some churches... (We recently added a litany in French...good for me since I need to learn French!!)

Best wishes!

Laurenn said...

huh, I think you make a very good point Elizabeth, at least you made me think about the whole situation a little differently. That all never occurred to me, and perhaps exactly because I am canadian, which means little to no understanding of what exactly that means, nor do I worry about it too much. Perhaps it is having been brought up in a culture other than where they live that gives some people a stronger understanding of what it means to belong to those cultures. Perhaps living abroad woud give me a better understanding of canadian culture, whatever (again) that is.

thank you.

Laurenn said...

um. that was David.

wv-unfulk.

elizabeth said...

oh, (blush) thanks Dave for listening. sometimes I write a lot to say what I am thinking. :)

It is complicated; be assured though that if you were actually hearing the litany in English, they are doing pretty well!! Also you never know (and I don't know myself) what they are instructed to say in the litany; maybe they are required to do it that way? I don't know though myself though.

I have a different experience than some as I go to a parish that is more ethinic than convert and so I get a lot of exposure to what it is like for them. But I know, for instance, that the muliplicity of lanugages that my parish uses are to be inclusive of everyone rather than be exclusive and thereby excluded someone.

It's really odd to be a convert and to try to figure all of this out. I am still learning a lot and sometimes am surpised by what I may or may not be feeling at a given time! :)

I appreciate your deep kindness in listening to me via blogdom. I really do respect you and your gentle kindess that you show to those who comment here.

Be well! and keep telling us of your church adventures! sounds like the ROCOR church was by far a pretty good experience, esp. for one's first time. I have yet to go to one myself, though I have been to a small Serbian church and the monastery I go to uses a lot of Romanian so I am a bit familar with such things, but only a bit!!

pasivirta said...

actually the whole liturgy was in English, like, EVERY word. which surprised me. but yes, it was good.

elizabeth said...

wow. that is suprising and good.