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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Canada!



Above is a video of the Great Entrance from the church of St Elias in Brampton, Canada. This is an Eastern Catholic church which serves in English and Ukrainian.

It may seem unusual for me to be posting a video of a church in the Unia, especially a Ukrainian church, given the history and current relations, but the truth is that, all of that aside, they actually serve the Liturgy with care and devotion, faithful to the inherited liturgical tradition, and seemingly without idiosyncratic innovation. See the way they do the Great Entrance, for instance. It is just so beautiful and doesn't grate or distract in the way that some of my Orthodox experiences have done. The only thing that the servers didn't do was to reverence the High Place but this is likely barely noticeable to the people. I am not a liturgical perfectionist as I have lived through the results of that mentality in my past church life, and it is unhealthy. There are many instances where what is ideal is simply not practical or even possible in a given situation and economy must apply. I believe that a humble and contrite heart is the most important thing where prayer is concerned.

Yet in corporate, liturgical prayer, I firmly believe that the second most important thing is obedience and faithfulness to the liturgical tradition. Making up one's own practices may be personally satisfying, but it is a distraction to the worship and prayer of others, and I think that I sometimes do not appreciate as much as I ought my parish priest's training at the hands of monks and his adherence to that spirit of monastic obedience. I wish we would more often see less of a particular priest's preferences coming through in the Liturgy and a simple adherence to the rubrics and spoken words that we have received. I know that this is another borrowed term from Catholics of a certain variety but I think that there is a great deal of sense in the maxim, "Do the red; say the black." When a Catholic church serves the Orthodox Liturgy more faithfully than the Orthodox, I believe that there is a lesson to be learnt.

Incidentally, I have been in friendly contact with the priest and some of the people at St Elias', and have been a fan of their Youtube videos for some months now, since I first discovered them. I have found them to be incredibly friendly and generous and, if I were to accept the doctrinal claims of my Catholic friends, would probably migrate to Canada just to be able to make this my parish.

I leave you with a processional moleben.

2 comments:

Geoff said...

Of course, the catch would be living in Brampton. Even Hamilton would be preferable, and would neatly solve the confessional problem!

Michael said...

I take it Brampton isn't that nice a place. Still, I don't see how it could be worse than Oldham. It's the only place I've lived where I haven't known my neighbours because people don't seem to talk to each other, they've closed the railway station, because of the high altitude the buses out this way get cancelled at the first sign of a snowflake, it's inconveniently far away from civilisation, it was recently featured on a national televison programme because of the high crime and binge drinking in the town centre every weekend (just a few years after it featured constantly in the news because of the race riots), and I just find it a thoroughly depressing place to live.

Substitute "Oldham" for "Orkney" here and you should have a fairly good picture of things.

Roll on Brampton!