Why do the Orthodox stick to Byzantine Services

Holy liturgy - Jesus Christ

Question: ‘Why do the Orthodox stick to Byzantine Services?’

S.M.: ‘The Byzantine rite is actually not purely Byzantine. But for now I leave aside the history of all the elements.

‘Conformity itself does not increase with time; there will always be an element of it where any practice proves useful. We’re not afraid of it in other domains; we don’t even notice it. If you came from Mars to a breakfast table in England, after a few weeks of observation you might ask “Why do they always put the food in the same hole?” (Only inexperienced babies try the ears and eyes.) Conforming does not in itself stop something being real and personal. Even if you always use the same brand of cerea s, t e same cups, every breakfast is unique because geogle are involved.‘

In the Church, some conformity comes from passiveness, or because those in authority try to make sure the best worship they know prevails. Transgressions and deviations lead to rules. So conformity is not a hundred per cent pure, even in the Church. But that doesn’t mean you have to actively get rid of what they are conforming to. Firstly, passivity is going to exist, and keeping the worship that has sanctified people is less dangerous than using innovation to wake people up. Even if the local community doesn’t have holy tastes, the services will sanctify their tastes, bring them to the saints’ experience. Secondly, it’s actually very helpful to pray in a common way. Our services don’t change unpredictably according to whims or fashions. We can follow; we are not confused. Wherever you go in the world you feel at home. You lose spiritual peace if you never know what’s coming I hear that from People in [another denomination].

“In Orthodox worship, the potential for surprise is discreetly hidden inside our soul. Only some wise elder would dare to add something original into a service. (I ’m not talking about ’local intercessions and things everyone can add as part of the recognised Tradition.) The “something original” may itself be integrated into the Tradition in time, especially if it was introduced by a venerated person; all the services were embellished like that. The basic reason for sticking to the Byzantine rite is precisely that it’s been tested theologically, spiritually in so many cultures and for so long. ’

Bibliography: Sister Magdalen – Conversations with children.

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