What's next for us?



  • Noise:  darn difficult to concentrate.

    Doing two dissimilar acts at the same time cannot allow for the concentration to pray--simply impossible.  Try rubbing your belly with one hand, and your head with the other in opposing clock motions.  It doesn't last for too long.

    Ecclesiastes tells us:  'there is a time for everything'.

    At the risk of being funny:  stabbing somebody with scissors and drawing blood (intentional or unintentional) is a sacrifice.  You cannot have another sacrifice at the time of Liturgy.
  • Rem,

    I agree with you that we shouldn't be judgmental of people. I think that what ILSM and I have done is not attack a certain person and judge them, but we are speaking of a mode of thinking and a way of acting that is becoming prevalent. The egyptian-ness is too much these days, and it is not tolerable. Now, regarding the verse concerning the Apostles, this was speaking mainly in refutation to the judaizers. Obviously, the rules which the apostles set in Acts 15:27-19 were not the only rules they set. There are unwritten rules which they neglected to write, because they are naturally expected. Bring St. Paul into a Coptic Church on Palm Sunday, and I can almost guarantee that there would be an addition to that verse. It is necessary to respect the church.

    I still regard those people as murderers. It is not a accident when you decide that the person under you on the floor is not as important as you touching the grave of your father. Obviously, they were not acting in hate by killing these people, but they acted in greed; a cause of murder nonetheless.

    Regarding palm sunday weaving in church, I don't care if they are making palms to give to a poor person who needs a basket. There is a time and a place for everything. The monks, who's job was to weave baskets, would often not so much as bring the clothes that they used to weave baskets with into church. The church, after palm sunday, is filthy with palms all over the carpet (in my church, it takes about 10 people, and 5 hours to clean the floor). It is simply not the place. Regrading the metanias on Good Friday, I went inside the altar last year to see what was up, and upon walking in, I saw a fight between two men over who had to mov spots because there was no room. This is what I am speaking about. I don't know the mentality of the people, so I won't speak about what I don't know, but I do know that this obsession with a spot in the altar for prostrations is not spirituality, but superstition.

    I think that making judgements in a public sense is not lack of humility. These forums are filled with judgements about ways of acting, but they are not made in a proud sense (at least not all). We can make judgements in a broad sense so long as they are not hateful, but constructive. If I was geared on hatefulness, please forgive me, and pray for my weakness. Still, please do not understand me. I am not saying that people are not doing metanias at home, nor that not doing metanias is a sign of anarchy. I am simply saying that this "fight" for space in the altar is foolish.

    I don't think I am demanding a supreme standard. I think it is very rational to expect people to not play with leaves in church while they should be focused on the liturgy. I have a servant in my church who, if he sees anyone praying from the Agpeya during liturgy, will respectfully ask them to pray it later, and to focus on the liturgy. I think it is perfectly rational to ask people not to stop out others even if Pope Shenouda was the greatest man since John the Baptist.

    Rem, you make a great point in saying that we burden those coming to XC. Still, I fail to see the burden in asking people not to fight about a spot in the altar because the God inside the altar is the God at home. I see not burden in asking people not to dirty the church, and to focus on prayer. I'm not asking these people to go out an be circumcised and follow mosaic law; that would be a burden. If by burdening people, we turn them back, I can tell you that when people who find spirituality in organization walk into the church and are greeted by the carnival, they are turned off, and make their way out of the church (possibly out of the entire coptic church as I have seen many times).

    Pope Shenouda is right, we should have compassion on the people. But this is the same Pope Shenouda who said, "I should issue a papal decree against anyone praying liturgy in the dark." So while we must be compassionate, we must be strict. No palms in church, not stopping other people to death, and no fighting about metanias in the altar.

    Looking forward to hearing your response, Rem. Please pray for me, and point out to me what exactly I said wrong. I am young, and unexperienced in many things. There is certainly something I am mistaken in, but I am ready to learn :D.

  • [quote author=Remnkemi link=topic=13057.msg154198#msg154198 date=1333556237]
    Having served in the North East Coptic Clergy convention, I can tell you that Pope Shenouda has always instructed his priests to "have compassion on the people". In other words, don't be so strict and judgmental.

    No one will hear me argue that there isn't a decline in spirituality. I will not disagree with the comments about Egyptianism and disorganization. When it comes to matters of faith, there will be no room for compromise.

    However, are we doing the opposite of what the Apostles decreed when they said "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." (Acts 1527-29). Why do we condemn people as murderers when the deaths of these 8 people can simply be deemed an accident? This wouldn't happen in a court of law. And if anyone is to be condemned as a murder, it would be the organizers of the funeral, not the attendees. Why do we consider it anarchy when someone spends his time weaving palms for Palm Sunday? How do you know that this person isn't praising God through weaving while others are praising through psalms and hymns?  How does anyone know the heart and thoughts of those who are weaving palms and adjudicate that they believe the God of Palm Sunday is different from the God of the Resurrection or the God of last Wednesday?

    Yes, in times of crisis people act emotionally and sometimes un-spiritually. And sometimes people tend to forget their spirituality. However, by making these judgments are we not doing the same exact thing? Are we not forgetting our own spirituality, becoming proud and ignoring humility. Isn't this the message of Palm Sunday? Why do we assume those who are seeking forgiveness through repentance and metanias on Good Friday are not doing the same thing in the privacy of their own houses? And even if most people are not repenting with metanias at home, what gives us the right to say it is personal greed or anarchy?

    The Apostles only wanted us to concern ourselves with food sacrificed from idols, blood, strangled animals meat and sexual immorality. This doesn't exclude other sins. But we need not demand a supreme standard that many may not be able to endure. We would burden most people from coming to Christ. This is why Pope Shenouda continued to say "Have compassion on the people".

    Unfortunately, it is not that simple. I don't think we can take a back-seat approach anymore in the name of 'not judging' and allow our churches to look like a circus or a zoo. During Midnight Praises we sometimes sing Tenen which states : "We therefore present an offering and rational worship"...( λογικήν λατρείαν). Liturgy provides us with order and structure. But if we are not going to follow the structure, then we won't be ordered. I'm not saying lets become legalistic and kick deacons out of the altar for walking in with their left foot as opposed to their right foot (which is actually what is mentioned in the rubrics I've read once).

    But there is a huge difference between the example I gave  and people behaving like animals in church, whether it is cutting palms with scissors all over the floor or if I am a deacon walking in and out of the altar with no respect. While the word murder may have been a bit on the heavy handed side, I can certainly understand it...imagine someone in your family going to see the Patriarch only to return in a hearse?? If not being overbearing on people means having a few injured or killed...and during worship to God and a way to honour our Patriarch, then let us be slightly overbearing. I think God would accept that.

    And it is not just us Copts who realize that our churches are like this. Other Orthodox people, priests and laity, even non Orthodox and non Christians have commented on how disordered things are.

    It isn't anarchy to spend time weaving the palms..it is WHEN it is being done. That makes a huge difference.

    Of course we need to have compassion for others. For example, if a child is crying during the liturgy and needs to be taken outside for a bit of fresh air or water etc. At the same time, we need to learn and also teach how to respect God's house. It's not about being harsh with rules. It all comes down to respect and love. When we respect God's house, we will respect the person sitting next to us trying to pray also.
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=13057.msg154200#msg154200 date=1333556604]
    At the risk of being funny:  stabbing somebody with scissors and drawing blood (intentional or unintentional) is a sacrifice.  You cannot have another sacrifice at the time of Liturgy.

    I feel like I sinned laughing at that comment.
  • Ecclesiastes 3 tells "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens". It is true that there is a time for liturgy and there is a time for palm weaving. But it seems some are advocating more. Ecclesiastes doesn't say there is a time for doing good and no time for doing bad. Ecclesiastes, applied in the context of our discussion, doesn't imply "There is a time for liturgy and no time to clean the palms on the floor and pews." It doesn't imply "There is a time for the eucharistic prayers and no time for palm weaving." 

    If you take a closer look at Ecclesiastes 3, you will notice that the theme of the chapter is not warning us to do two things at the same time. It is warning against judging. “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (Ecc 3:17) More important than warning us about a time of judgment, the Teacher (Ecclesiastes means "leader of the assembly") warns us about a more fearful thing: wickedness in Church. "And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there." (Ecc 3:16) While one can argue, weaving palms during liturgy is an act of wickedness, I can also argue judging those who weave palms in Church is much more detrimental to spiritual growth, and a greater cause of God's wrath.

    Ecclesiastes 3 also talks about the scenario you mentioned ("imagine someone in your family going to see the Patriarch only to return in a hearse") Ecc 3:18-20 says, "I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

    The eight people who died at the funeral, because of the chaos, have met the same fate as the person in the funeral (HH Pope Shenouda). It is meaningless to justify HH Pope Shenouda's death as a natural cause death, while the 8 others as murder. The latter being the result of sin and the prior being the result of compassion and age. This doesn't mean we condone murder. Murder is sin because the murderer makes himself God the judge. And that is wickedness. Remember Ecc 3:16.  But it is foolish to call a person's accidental death murder. Who sinned and made themselves God the judge? Any death, whether murder or accidental, as Ecc 3: 18-20 tells us, is no more malfeasant than an animal that dies as prey because this is how God's providence has ordained creation.

    In the Lord's prayer, we say, "Forgive us this day our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Trespasses doesn't only mean grievous sin. It also means forgive people for distracting you with their noise in church. Forgive people for their palm weaving when you are praying. Forgive people for their weakness, not able to focus on prayer. Forgive people for being different than you. As Christ says, "[I]f you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" Mark 6:15. Forgiveness and love are more important than Sabbatical rules and rubrics.

    Right after the Lord's prayer, Christ tells us "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?" Luke 11:11. No real father will physically harm his son. What does it mean for a father to give his son a snake?  If your son, in his weakness delights and praises the Lord through palm weaving, will you give him a snake by overburdening him with chastisement? Look at what Christ says right after. "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." Luke 11:46. Connect the chapter together and what do you get? Christ wants us to forgive, have compassion and show love to each other. But people, like the Pharisees and the experts in the law, apply a minimum standard on others which they themselves have failed to carry, they refuse to offer any help or compassion, and they do not forgive other's short-comings. In this sense they become fathers who give a snake to their sons when asked for bread.

    I am not advocating taking a back-seat approach. Nor am I advocating disorganization is okay. Nor am I saying never chastise your children. All I wanted to point out is what the Teacher of Ecclesiastes concluded in the last verse: "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Ecc 12:14). Every good deed will be judged. There is no immunity at judgment day for the righteous. Their good deeds will be judged and it may be judged as a burden because it was not done with love and compassion according to the Gospel and teaching of Jesus Christ.
  • I agree. Forgive me. I have much to learn.

    Pray for me

  • Remenkimi, again, please understand I am not judging those who are weaving the palms. It's just very distracting! And again, I am not asking for heavy burdens which people can hardly carry to be placed upon people because I certainly would not like that for myself. I (and I think some of the others on this thread) were just asking for some order, some decency, and ultimately some respect. I guess it could be a difference in culture if we cannot agree on what is respectful and what isn't. And also, I was never speaking about children. I was actually talking about the adults. If children do need assistance or get out of line, their parents are supposed to be there to help them out. Sadly, it's often the adults who make a bad example for the younger generations. For example, is it so hard to ask people to get into a single line and wait in their pews for the orban rather than rushing forward as if it were a famine ? I suggested it once to a deacon, but he told me it would be "too Catholic." Alrighty...
  • [quote author=Timothym link=topic=13057.msg154237#msg154237 date=1333596064] For example, is it so hard to ask people to get into a single line and wait in their pews for the orban rather than rushing forward as if it were a famine ? I suggested it once to a deacon, but he told me it would be "too Catholic." Alrighty...

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