Liturgy: On Second Thought…

For all the Orthodox Liturgy’s potential glory – the Glory of God – Orthodox have also often traditionally taken a more relaxed stance regarding it, than, say, the stereotyped pedantic, hyperactive Latin or High Anglican liturgist or Director of Religious Activities. We read of one very difficult time in the life of the Church in Milan, Italy, when, while serving the Liturgy, the Bishop St. Ambrose – an Orthodox Father of the Church – was passed notes several times about important things going on in another part of the city! He paused, read the notes, kept himself apprised of developing problems, then continued with the service. Today, at least early in the service, while people are still arriving, there may often seem to be a ‘holy hubbub,’ as some stand or sit in prayer and/or song, others cross themselves and bow, yet others pray and light candles, and even (hopefully discreetly if at all) greet one another. There’s a kind of ‘holy comfortableness’ that ideally doesn’t feel anything at all like a party or irreverence. Frederica Mathewes-Green’s point number 1 here says it better. Think of it as a comfortableness not lacking in highest reverence, like grandkids visiting the patriarch of the family – which in a sense we are, there in church. (Yes, I know, “God has no grandchildren,” but bear with me!) Or reverence that doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or alien to us.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I got the “kids” part of the last bit somewhere else long ago, but can’t remember where. But the “patriarch” part is mine, FWIW.)

You might also see or hear the priest interrupting himself to give ‘supplemental’ directions to the servers, or starting the wrong prayer, or the choir messing up, or whatever. Most of us “don’t have a cow, man.” Orthodoxy is very human, humane, even amid all the “smells and bells” and ancient Holy Tradition.


  1. Destination Macedonia

    I am curious to learn how the Orthodox Church has seen the Hellenic culture. So I’ve suggested some readings on my blogsite. Could you help me with your comments?


  2. me

    Please see here for my response, and if you don’t mind, post further comments, if any, there rather than here please. Thanks. Leo Peter

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