Liturgy Today…

It was a Hierarchical Liturgy today. For those who aren’t Orthodox it means that our Bishop was at the service and because of that the service was longer, more involved, and had added dimensions. These kinds of liturgies don’t occur very often in the life of a parish simply because Orthodox Bishops, in our current state of things, are often far away from their parishes and live their lives out of their cars as they go to one parish or another. Our Bishop for Minnesota actually lives in Ohio and being hours away from a Bishop is fairly normal for American Orthodox. Because of that your Bishop might visit your parish, barring any kind of trouble, once every year or so. Still, these occasions are a special time and often there are significant preparations made for such a visit and the liturgies with a Bishop.

Some people, of course, view these visits with a certain kind of dread. A Priest and parish can sometimes be overwhelmed by the work and resources needed to make an episcopal visit a reality. There is the pressure many Priests feel to make a good impression in front of the person who literally can change your life with a phone call. Your whole routine as a parish changes when the Bishop comes and any or all of the prior items, by themselves or combined, can make the Bishop’s visit a challenge.

There is a benefit, though, to these visits that might not always be apparent. Because the liturgy is changed for at least the services where a Bishop is present, the Priests and people have to possess a kind of intentionality about the services. In normal Parish life the worship can become routine because people, over time, have settled in to an understanding of what they can, or should, do and what the celebrants are also most likely to do as well. A Bishop’s presence changes that. People can’t sleepwalk through the rubrics and they need to think about what they’re doing. It’s a teachable moment coming to a parish wearing an omophorion.

For that alone its good to have the Bishop visit. If there is no other liturgical education offered at a parish his presence will at least prompt a crash course and its amazing what people can learn when they have to.

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