Discover more from New High Church Letters
Minimizing Eastern Customs, Retaining Catholic Practices.
Interesting news from the Orthodox Church in South Korea. With the imminent threat of COVID-19, they are recommending modified church customs:
For this reason, we urge all believers to follow the following instructions until the problem ends:
1. During the Divine Liturgy all believers will wear masks.
2. Before entering the Church, they will disinfect their hands with a disinfectant present at the entrance of the Church.
3. They will not shake hands with anyone.
4. They will not kiss the hand of the Clergy.
5. They will not kiss the Icons, but they will bow before them.
6. They will not use the liturgical books at the time of prayer.
7. They will not receive the Antidoron from the Clergy, but on their own as they leave the church.
8. The Agape Meal will not be served following the Sunday Liturgy.
9. The various group meetings of the Faithful as well as the Catechumens will not take place.
Note that modifying Eucharistic practice to something more 'modern' is not mentioned.
Certain practices that are difficult for Westerners are more negotiable than some Orthodox might otherwise express, and this shows at times of challenge rather than ease. I have been in relaxed and uptight Orthodox contexts, so those that are already relaxed should be able to keep on truckin'.
These observations do not diminish the importance of the practice but rather, that these are interesting hints at how Orthodoxy itself could be contextualized for different cultures and customs (we all have a terminal illness, after all).
3. Stop Passing the peace. Anglicans, Catholics, everyone. The Peace is a moment of reconciliation, not a meet-and-greet or chance to catch up / make plans.
4. Many Anglicans and most protestants would be very uncomfortable with this, even after catechizing the role of Clergy and usefulness of a blessing.
5. Similar to #4. Modern westerners generally feel weird about kissing stuff, but can show proper reverence in other ways.
6. Bring your own prayer book & Bible to church. No more pew bibles, handouts, etc. Save church funds, encourage liturgical familiarity, uniformity to published works, and personal ownership of your communal faith.