Monday, January 18, 2010

My Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church visit

Ah, Greece. Land of the gyro, home of the baklava. (Hush. I am occasionally culturally shallow. Plus, I *really* like gyros. There is nothing that is wrong with them. *Nothing.* They're like...the perfect food.)

Anyway, so I went to the Greek Orthodox church on Sunday. I loved it. I mean, it had all the same ups as the Serbian church I went to...99% of the women were in skirts, I didn't spot a single pair of blue jeans, everyone was at least in slacks. (Not that people can't go to church in blue jeans, it's just that the majority of the time, they don't need to. They just choose to because they lack a proper sense of respect for where they're going to be and what they're going to be doing.)

More people went up for Communion than in the Serbian church, and that's still a little weird to me. I mean, I understand and 'approve' (in so far as that term applies. The practice doesn't, of course, need my 'approval', but it's the best word I could come up with to say that I understand the reasoning and accept the wisdom behind it in so far as I understand it at this point) of the reasons why fewer people will be receiving, but I'm still used to the Catholic church, where the majority of people receive every Sunday. Most, if not all of the women covered their hair at least for Communion, if not through the whole service.

The Liturgy was in Greek, however, the homily was in English. Which is all I want, really. I could follow along in the broad strokes, thanks to the link M shared a while back. I'd printed it out and read through it before hand several times so I wasn't utterly lost. So I knew, broadly, what was going on at any given moment. I don't know, I hesitate to say that I like the Divine Liturgy more than the Mass, but...and here we're going to delve into that vague, 'psychic' kind of a place...I feel 'warmer' than I do in Mass. (It's nothing to do with the actual temperature of the building, you're just going to have to trust me on this. It's an inner sense.) Not that that's any reason to choose a faith, I'm just laying it out there. I failed to take the blessed bread, again. I *know* I can, but I just...I feel kind of awkward. Like I'm going to go up there and they're going to say 'nope. not you.' Which I *know* they wouldn't. I'm just saying, it's an inner issue. I'll get over it. Everyone was very nice and pleasant, but I forgot my allergy pill, and the incense got to me again, so I didn't hang around for coffee hour. Next time, hopefully.

Hmm...I think that's about it.


  1. Ooooo fascinating. I actually just found a tiny Greek Orthodox Church in my neighborhood and thought of you. It made me want to check it out too! I'd be uber lost though.

    I'm so glad you are enjoying it. It sounds like what I always thought church should be. And I love that they dress up, I miss that people no longer do that.

  2. I've always wanted to go to a church with Greek liturgy since I've spend some time studying N.T. Greek. Sounds like a nice departure from the typical Evangelical church experience.

  3. Enjoyed reading about your experiences at the Greek Orthodox church yesterrday. Thanks for sharing. Welcome back!

  4. heres my 2 pence worth.

    I hear you on the whole warm feeling. I can actually say, when I went to the Greek Orthodox church to a wedding, I can say I felt peace, calm.... Lots of standing, but I think that keeps you awake. It was also SO BEAUTIFUL. All gold and icon pictures. the chandeliers... I did find that people kissing the icons was slightly disturbing. But each to their own. I am sure you get used to that.

    I have also been to other churches, where I can actually say that I felt so hot that I felt sick. My gran used to say that was the Holy Ghost telling me something. And that I wasnt listening enough.

    Also agree that jeans in church is really disrespectful. But if people have no money for other clothes and wish to worship who am I to judge.

    Great post as normal Amber.

  5. hi!
    I was very glad to read that the link was of help and even more glad that you enjoyed the Divine Liturgy.

    I sometimes find myself waking up on a sunday morning to the sound of my alarm clock at 6 in the morning when it's dark and cold and i catch myself thinking that this is too hard and i just need to get some more sleep instead of going through the "typical sunday morning"... Reading your thoughts on the matter makes me even more guilty than i already am! My church is a three minutes' walk from my house and everything is so easy and natural and still i prove to be so ungrateful...

    I just wanted to say that as far as Holy Communion is concerned, it is not proper at all that only few people receive! Everybody should approach and receive Communion. It is a misunderstanding that Holy Communion shouldn't be received often or by all. Everybody should be prepared accordingly and receive Communion. The only case in which somebody shoudn't receive is when their spiritual father has adviced them to do so, for a specific reason and for a specific period of time.
    It is not a personal matter whether we receive Communion or not. The teaching of the Orthodox Fathers is that we are all One in Christ and our spiritual situation affects our brothers, that is, the whole Church. So we have a responsibility towards all humanity and becoming sanctified is a debt to God, to ourselves and to every other human being. And there is no other way to do that except receiving Christ through His Holy mysteries (as Holy Communion for the Orthodox Church is not a symbolic act. The wine and bread by God's Grace become the actual Body and Blood of Christ) and approaching Him through prayer. Orthodox Fathers say that Holy Communion is the food of the soul and without it the soul dies.
    Sorry for the long text, but this is a matter that really "hurts" as it a miscoception so widely spread. I live in Greece and come across it all the time. It is amazing to watch how the devil works on detaching people from the most essential moment of spiritual life. Saint Nikodimos teaches that not only should we receive Communion every Sunday but even three or four times a week if possible!

    p.s. The "M" letter at the bottom of a previous comment of mine was just a mistyping!Sorry....

  6. LK,

    It was great. Of course, I'd say go anyway, but I can understand the whole 'lost' thing. :)

  7. Stacy,

    Nothing at all like an Evangelical service, seriously. If it was, I'd be high tailing it out of there. :)

  8. Susanne,

    It's good to be back. I was forced to entertain myself all weekend. The horrors! :)

  9. Slice,

    'I can say I felt peace, calm....'

    I think that's part of it, yes. In my experience, it's been a very peaceful place.

    Yes, lots of standing, but I don't mind. There're some people (mostly men that I noticed) that stand through the entire service, which is about an hour and a half long. I haven't done that, but I admire them for it.

    They are beautiful. To be honest, I'm not usually much for heavy decorations, but it doesn't seem 'overdone' or anything. Just... pretty. And I love the icons.

    I think the veneration of the icons is something that you have to understand and get used to, especially if you're coming from a Protestant background, where you don't have anything remotely like it.

    Hmm...see, if I felt like that, that overly hot, I'd think there was something wrong with where I was.

    'Also agree that jeans in church is really disrespectful. But if people have no money for other clothes and wish to worship who am I to judge.'

    Both things are true. My problem is I tend to assume that the people are wearing jeans out of laziness and not out of need. I really need to stop that.

  10. Hi,

    Ooh, so what do you want to be called then? :)

    Wow. To live three minutes away from church must be lovely. I'd love to live within walking distance of my church.

    Hmmm...thanks for the explanation. I don't want to misrepresent, at Holy Trinity, more than half the people at least went up for Communion. At the Serbian church, however, a total of four people went up, and I'm pretty sure they were the priest's family. So that was weird, and a bit discordant, for me. But I assumed, from what I'd read (mostly on the internet), that those who weren't receiving weren't receiving for reason - they didn't keep the fast (for other than necessary reasons), they hadn't made confession and needed to, they hadn't properly prepared themselves, etc. But it is good to know that not receiving should be the exception and not the rule. I'll be honest and say the opposite was somewhat the impression I was getting, but that may have been mu misunderstanding of what people were saying.

    The devil is ingenious, isn't he?

    Thanks for all the answers!

  11. Sounded like a pretty conservative Greek congregation, from what I've seen/heard about. I give you a holy thumb's up to continue visiting, provided you remember the blink-in allergy tab! :P

  12. Glad you liked it. I'm surprised that so many ladies in the Greek Church were wearing head coverings. That's usually not the case in the Greek Orthodox Church, but glad it was in this case.

  13. Anna,

    :) I'm glad it meets with your approval. :)

    I'll be going again next break, which won't be for a little while, and I *will* remember by allergy pill this time.

  14. Alana,

    Hmm...most of them only wore it for communion, but I'd say a large percentage did wear it. Maybe it's because we tend toward an older demographic? It is in something of a retirement type of town.


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