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Question 9.

Αγαπητέ π. Χριστοφόρε, 
Πρέπει οι πιστοί να γονατίζουν κατά τον καθαγιασμό των Τιμίων Δώρων; Άλλοι λένε ότι επιτρέπεται να γονατίζουμε κάθε μέρα εκτός από την Κυριακή ενώ άλλοι λένε ότι απαγορεύεται τελείως. Τι είναι σωστό τελικά;
 

Translation of Question 9

Dear Fr. Christopher,

Should the faithful kneel during the consecration of the Precious Gifts? Some say that it is permitted to kneel everyday except on Sundays while others say that it is completely forbidden. What ultimately is correct?

 

Answer to Question 9
Dear Constantine,
The 90th canon of the Quinisext Council 692 A.D. states:

"We have received from our divine Fathers the canon law that in honour of Christ’s resurrection, we are not to kneel on Sundays. Lest therefore we should ignore the fulness of this observance we make it plain to the faithful that after the priests have gone to the Altar for Vespers on Saturdays (according to the prevailing custom) no one shall kneel in prayer until the evening of Sunday, at which time after the entrance for compline, again with bended knees we offer our prayers to the Lord. For taking the night after the Sabbath, which was the forerunner of our Lord’s resurrection, we begin from it to sing in the spirit hymns to God, leading our feast out of darkness into the light, and thus during an entire day and night we celebrate the Resurrection".

The canon is very clear and forbids kneeling from Saturday Vespers, which as I mentioned in a previous reply, is the start of the Church’s day until the Sunday Evening, which ends the day for the resurrection and thus begins Monday. Although priests are aware of this canon, many prefer to ignore it for what they consider as an act of humility before the moment of consecration and in awe and piety after the consecration. Although their actions are understandable, they are teaching their flock contrary to the canon. The Canon only refers to Sunday so why do some say that it is forbidden to kneel on weekdays. Of course, they are only referring to the actual moment of consecration of the Holy Gifts. With your previous question I mentioned that the Divine Liturgy is united to the aeon and what Christ performed that one time, was performed for all times. If every Sunday Liturgy is a Resurrection Service then it follows that every Liturgy is a Resurrection service for it is always one and the same. But if we keep the rule for Sunday for every day of the year, then we should also keep it for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent, because the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is only an extension of the Sunday Liturgy. I cannot believe that the Priests in favour of not kneeling on weekdays do not kneel during the Presanctified. I would say that kneeling and not kneeling are both acceptable, but the Church should have a common rule so that we all offer our worship to God in a uniform fashion. This also applies to the way the prayers are recited by the priest. Some say the prayers leading up to the consecration in a low voice, others say them aloud, and others say parts in a low voice while the choir is singing and finish the prayer aloud when the choir has finished.

I prefer to wait for the choir to finish the hymns and then say all the prayers in an audible tone. I believe this helps the people to better understand the Liturgy by giving it continuity. If the priest says the prayer between "It is Meet and Right" and  "Singing the triumphal hymn, exclaiming, crying aloud and saying" silently, then the people cannot understand how the two passages are joined together. This applies to all the following prayers and the consecration.
But getting back to kneeling, I don’t kneel on Sundays, but feel we should keep Sunday different from other days, so I will usually kneel during the week, but only after the consecration. The prayers should be said standing. For us priests it is fairly easy to kneel because we have space, but the people in their stasidia (pews) have very little room to move. The need to have the Church filled with seats is a modern problem and doesn’t assist proper Orthodox worship. In the Old days, Churches only had stasidia (pews) along the walls, but the centre of the Church was empty thus allowing for kneeling and prostrations. The Russian Church has preserved this form and they often have longer services than us. I think our people have become very lazy in their worship, preferring to sit throughout the services and the majority find their pride doesn’t allow them to kneel let alone make a prostration. Even on the one Sunday where kneeling is compulsory and necessary, the majority of the people remain standing. I am referring to the Kneeling service of Pentecost. Kneeling is permitting because even though the service is sung immediately after the Divine Liturgy, it is actually the Vespers service for the Monday of the Holy Spirit. It is sung on Sunday morning because if it were sung in the evening, as it should, then only a handful of people would come.

Recently I was sent by email an article by A.K. on the subject of kneeling. It is a little long [about 20 pages] but it covers the subject of kneeling in detail. I am sending this to you as an extra attachment, hoping that whatever I have missed out you will find there. Happy reading!

 

Question 9 continued

Dear Fr. Christopher,
Thank you for your reply. The article by A.K. that you sent me helped me establish my own view on the issue. I studied it carefully and I would like to make some comments on the views of the author which do not appear to agree with the practice you follow when you perform the Divine Liturgy. As far as I understood, the author, who seems to be specialized in Liturgiology, believes that kneeling during the Divine Liturgy is not acceptable, no matter whether the ceremony is performed on Sundays or on weekdays. I could say that his argumentation is strong enough to convince me that his opinion is right. But when I read your reply for a second time I saw that you do not share this view. You mention that you do not kneel on Sundays at all. I can assume that the reason is that you follow the canons which forbid kneeling on the day of resurrection. You also write that you are in favour of kneeling on weekdays but not before the consecration. This practice is presented in Chap. 4/par. A of the article and it is considered as some kind of adoration of the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord. In the Pedalion we read that the canons do not forbid kneeling before icons, sacred relics etc. when performed for reasons of worship. And here comes the question: If you kneel after the consecration on weekdays in order to worship the Body and Blood of the Lord, what prevents you from doing the same on Sundays? But kneeling even after the consecration accompanies specific imploring prayers so it cannot be considered as an act of adoration. That is why the author believes that this is a rather rough argument which cannot justify kneeling before or after the consecration. (Please read the specific paragraph for details.) Personally, I believe that the only acceptable solution to the problem is not to kneel during the Liturgy at all. Finally, I would like to write a few things about kneeling during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts which you use as an argument in favour of kneeling on weekdays. I have never attended that Liturgy in Cyprus so I do not know the local liturgical practice but I think that the typicon does not instruct the priest to kneel during the Presanctified. Only the congregation kneels before the consecrated Holy Gifts which are carried by the priest and then put on the altar. But this could also be justified as an act of adoration and therefore it is not prohibited by the canons and it does not disregard the meaning and symbolism of the Divine Liturgy.
I am looking forward to your own comments.


Answer to Question 9 continued
Dear Constantine,
I think we must put the question of kneeling in its right prospective. I don’t have a copy of the Peladion in Greek so I can’t check the wording. In the English translation, the translator uses the word genuflection, sometimes for kneeling and sometimes for prostrations. You state that “In the Pedalion we read that the canons do not forbid kneeling before icons, sacred relics etc. when performed for reasons of worship”. The only canon I could find was the 10th Canon by St. Nicephoros the Confessor which reads “One must bend the knee for the sake of bestowing a kiss on Sunday and throughout Pentecost, but ought not to make the usual genuflections”. The footnote to the canon explains that the usual genuflections are those which are made in Church during Lent and which are forbidden on Sundays. In other words, the usual genuflections refer to the practice of kneeling. The footnote continues and says “But those which are made for the sake of a kiss and which are like those metanies which are done by Lectors to the choir, or by priests to an Abbot and to a Prelate, in kissing their hands, these genuflections are done also on Sunday and in Pentecost”. In this case, the genuflections refer to the type of metanies we usually make before kissing an Icon of before kissing the Bishop’s hand. St. Nicephoros is aware of the canons forbidding the kneeling on Sundays and when he says one must bend the knee he does not mean kneeling, but the slight bending of the knee, which is normal when making a metania. Your question [If you kneel after the consecration on weekdays in order to worship the Body and Blood of the Lord, what prevents you from doing the same on Sundays?] only makes sense if you believe that the canon says that we must kneel. I don’t kneel on Sundays, because yes, I follow the canons which forbid kneeling on the day of resurrection, but not in fear of disobeying them, for even if the canons did not exist, I would still pray on Sundays in an upright posture because we have been risen up together with Christ and ought to seek what is above and what is heavenly and also because Sunday appears in a way as an image and type of the future age, when, we shall all of us be standing up resurrected. It is a reminder of the resurrection hoped for in the future age and by means of an upright posture, we may transfer our mind from the present age to the future.
You continue with “But kneeling even after the consecration accompanies specific imploring prayers so it cannot be considered as an act of adoration”. If the following prayers are said kneeling than I would agree, but I mentioned previously that the prayers should be said standing. Many priests say the prayers kneeling so that they can finish one with the choir. I follow a practice with I picked up from the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, which is where I first found Christ and was the only Church I knew for many years.
I wait for the choir to finish singing
We hymn Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and we pray unto Thee, our God.
When the choir has finished I will then say in an audible tone and standing
Moreover we offer unto Thee this reasonable and bloodless service; and we beseech Thee, and we pray and implore Thee: send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here set forth.
And blessing the holy bread shall say:
And make this bread the precious Body of Thy Christ. Amen. 
And  blessing the chalice shall say:
And that which is in this cup the precious Blood of Thy Christ. Amen. 
And blessing both the holy bread and the chalice shall say:
Transmaking them by Thy Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. Amen.
This being the consecration of the Holy Things I will say silently to myself “I believe that thou art indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinner of whom I am chief”. Then if it be a weekday I will sometimes kneel without saying ought. After a moment of silence, I will again stand and recite the following prayer.
That they may be to them that partake thereof unto vigilance of soul, the remission of sins, the communion of Thy Holy Spirit, the fulfilment of the kingdom of heaven; and for boldness to approach Thee, neither unto judgement nor unto condemnation.
Moreover we offer unto Thee this reasonable service for them that have gone to their rest in faith: for our forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics; and for every righteous spirit in faith made perfect.
And taking up the censer, I shall cense the Holy Things thrice saying aloud:
More especially our most holy and undefiled, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary.

I fully agree with A.K's argument as long as it only refers to Sundays. He doesn’t convince me as regards to weekdays. In his closing statement he says: "It would be quite just for someone to think how is it possible for there to be a response on the conclusion when the sacred canons and the writings of the Fathers are so clear".  I cannot understand how he relies on the canons to support his argument that “From the whole debate in question which came to pass, the fact becomes clearly obvious that kneeling during the Divine Liturgy is not permitted.” The canons are only clear as regards to kneeling on Sunday. Nowhere does it mention that kneeling is forbidden on weekdays.
He mentions that: "Sadly, kneeling is an offspring of a certain way of thinking which if not attacked quickly, threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable." Doesn’t that sound rather far-fetched and fanatical? I’m all for someone speaking his mind, but fanaticism is dangerous and blocks out views from others which might be more favourable and generally acceptable. I think we are all agreed that kneeling is not allowed on Sundays, but kneeling on weekdays does absolutely no harm to tradition or our faith. The Church has never found reason to question kneeling on weekdays. We neither teach the people to kneel or not to kneel, but leave it up to the individual to express his faith in such a way that he feels best communicates his feelings to God. Whether one stands or kneels should not be such an issue that we forget the more important issues that are for our salvation.
The Presanctified Liturgy does not instruct the Priest to kneel, but does instruct him to make three prostrations before the holy Gifts on the altar are transferred to the Prothesis. Because of the period of Lent, many Priests make the deep prostrations by kneeling and placing one’s head to the ground. Also, the communion prayers are usually read whilst kneeling.

A.K. mentions that moving the Kneeling Vespers for the Monday of the Holy Spirit to the Sunday morning is anti-canonical and supports an argument that the Church accepts kneeling on Sundays. It would be wonderful if the service were sung at its correct time in the evening, but how many would actually attend the service. In a city church, from about two to three thousand who might attend the morning service, only 50 -100 people would come again in the evening. Those in favour of not kneeling might argue: "Granted, a great many more people will hear the service but let us hear it standing and not on our knees." Great, but then we have to rewrite all the prayers for they mention that we are praying on our knees. In England we call this a Catch 22, in other words, there is no solution so you can’t win.

Coming back to you, you mention “Personally, I believe that the only acceptable solution to the problem is not to kneel during the Liturgy at all”.
I would say that the only acceptable solution to the problem is that there is no problem.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher
 

Dear Fr. Christopher,

Thank you for your reply. I feel like apologising for sending a third message on the same subject but I strongly believe that this discussion will help both of us to find the correct answer. Please, let me know whether my English is good enough to convey a meaningful thought.

Firstly, let me inform you about the dimensions which the whole issue has perceived in Greece as you do not appear to know some important details and consequently you do not fully understand what A.K. means in his thesis.

In your previous message you write that the only acceptable solution to the problem is that there is no problem. Unluckily in Greece we do have a problem. Every single priest and theologian has his own opinion which he publishes in books or teaches to the congregation. Thus, a strong disagreement that leads to division has been created.

In his closing statement, A.K. says: "It would be quite just for someone to think how is it possible for there to be a response on the conclusion when the sacred canons the writings of the Fathers are so clear". In Greece there are many priests or even bishops who kneel on Sundays. That is why the author refers to the canons and the writings of the Holy Fathers which forbid kneeling. He just wants to show that their practice does not agree with the canonical tradition. This specific statement refers only to the Liturgy that is performed on Sundays and is not used as an argument in favour of not kneeling on weekdays.
It is true that the canons do not forbid kneeling on weekdays. In spite of that fact, in A.K.'s thesis there is some evidence which can prove that kneeling is not traditionally performed on weekdays (see Ch. 3 – par. A, B, D).

But the strongest argument he uses can be found in his introduction and conclusion:

"According to the teaching of our Church, the Divine Liturgy, on whatever day it is served is the Resurrection and Paschal mystery. the remembrance of the Saviour Christ rising from the dead. This Paschal character as not being appropriate with the fast and days of mourning, does not  permit it to be served during fasting days or periods.  Consequently, it becomes clear that whatever conclusion is deduced as to whether kneeling is permitted or not, whether from this thesis or from whatever other which is related to the subject, should concern not only the Sunday worship, but the Divine Liturgy in general on whatever day it is served. “From the whole debate in question which came to pass, the fact becomes clearly obvious that kneeling during the Divine Liturgy is not permitted.” And this happens because the mourning and repentance which is expressed by the bending of the knees is in complete opposite and incompatible not only to the Resurrection character of the Divine Liturgy but also to its eschatological  dimensions."


The justification of his view is provided straight from the beginning of his analysis.
What argument is stronger than the theological symbolism of the Liturgy and the liturgical tradition itself?
You may answer that the practice you follow has nothing to do with mourning. But does it agree with the liturgical tradition and "Let us Stand Unright" of the Divine Liturgy? Can you find it in an ancient manuscript or even in an official service book? Have you ever thought that it could be an innovation? What about its history? Do you know that the custom of kneeling during the Liturgy appeared in the Orthodox world only sixty years ago and it is considered to be an influence of the Catholic Church? If you insist on your position what would you say about my suggestion that you kneel when receiving the Holy Communion on weekdays? It is not prohibited by the canons, is it?
You do not mention anything about your congregation. Do they kneel or not? Do they know the symbolism of the Divine Liturgy?

Coming back to A.K., you consider that his statement: "Sadly, kneeling is an offspring of a certain way of thinking which if not attacked quickly, threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable" is “far-fetched and fanatical”. Don’t you think that “fanatical” is a rather strong word to characterize a liturgiologist’s professional view?
You also state that "the Church has never found reason to question kneeling on weekdays. We neither teach the people to kneel or not to kneel, but leave it up to the individual to express his faith in such a way that he feels best communicates his feelings to God." I found and copied an extract of an article by Ι. Fountoulis who is a university professor and is considered as the most eminent liturgiologist in Greece. This article has been included in «Λειτουργική Α΄», a university textbook by the same author which was published in Thessalonica in 1993. The file was too large to be uploaded as an attachment so I had to copy it. As I found out later, A. Κ. has based his analysis on this text. If you read it you will understand that when we pray publicly in church we have to follow the liturgical tradition and we are not allowed to express our faith the way we prefer. In Church we are members of the mystical body of Christ and not “individuals”.

Finally, if you read Chap.4 - paragraph F more carefully you will understand that the author does not believe that moving the Kneeling Vespers supports an argument that the Church accepts kneeling on Sundays. On the contrary, he tries to justify it and states that it cannot be used as an argument in favour of kneeling on Sundays.

At any rate, what is really strange here is that you sent me a text which you do not quite agree with and you consider as fanatical or weak in terms of argumentation.

With love in Christ,
Constantine


Answer to Question 9 continued

Dear Constantine,
Firstly, I apologize for sending you the article by A.K. When I received it, I gave it a quick glance, and from what I read, I fully agreed with him. I didn’t study the article carefully, but thought it good enough to pass on to others. My opinion hasn’t changed even now that I have re-read the article [I did find some difficulty understanding every word]. What I didn’t agree with was with some of his wording which [at least to me] came across very strong hence the phrase fanatical. "if not attacked quickly, threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable."  Also in his introduction, he states "The purpose of this present study is to project a questionable climate in whoever is interested with the subject and at no instance does it rely on whatsoever preconceived Liturgical or Theological notions."  I felt while reading his article that he was not totally unbiased, but rather that he was defending the camp for not kneeling. If as you tell me there is a holy war going on in Greece over the subject of kneeling then I can now better understand his strong stance, even though I personally can’t see how bending the knee on weekdays "threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable."

But I think the problem is not kneeling, but what we mean by the word γονυκλισία (genuflection). A.K.'s definition of the word seems to me that he means prostrations "Genuflections are also called μετάνοιες (prostrations). The first kind are as has already been mentioned and are called small Prostrations and the second kind are called great Prostrations." If that is what he means then he is correct in saying "Kneeling is seen as denoting falling to the ground and death. It is as has been written, a symbol of repentance, mourning in Christ and the beseeching of the Divine mercy."
But kneeling as I understand it does not always denote a state of penance and for the argument we have in hand, kneeling is purely in reverence of the very presence of Christ our Lord. If we wish to argue our views with the canons and tradition then we should also allow testimony from the scriptures. Α.Κ. quotes the scriptural references of the Resurrection made by those in favour of kneeling, and accepts that these justify kneeling for reasons of worship, but says that even if the Priests kneels after the consecration of the holy Gifts, it cannot be recognized as worship because he will say the continuing prayer on his knees and the prayer is a petition for those who are to communicate.
Granted, but this is easily resolved if the Priests in favour of kneeling follows the practice I follow.
They can strengthen their argument with more scripture:
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” [Philippians 2-10]. If we should bow at the name of Jesus, how should we be when he is before us?

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. [Rom. 14-11]

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.[Psalm 95-6]

From the Liturgy itself:
O come, let us worship and bow down before Christ. Save us, O Son of God, Thou who art risen from the dead, who sing to Thee, Alleluia.

You posed two questions:
But does it agree with the liturgical tradition and "Let us Stand Upright" of the Divine Liturgy?

and
Can you find it in an ancient manuscript or even in an official service book?

Kneeling cannot be found in the rubrics of the Divine Liturgy, but if the word genuflection also means prostrations which "is seen as denoting falling to the ground and death." It is as has been written, a symbol of repentance, mourning in Christ" then there are many instances during the Divine Liturgy where the Priest is told to make three prostrations. Let us see the rubrics from the Hieratikon published by Apostoliki Diakonia which is the official Liturgical book of the Church of Greece. [the Liturgical books from the Monastery of Simonopetra are in my opinion by far superior].

1) Before the Start of the Service the priests is told to make three prostrations

2) Before the little entrance - they make three penitences (prostrations)

3) The Priest and Deacon say in turn the Thriceholy Hymn making three penitences (prostrations) with Crosses before the Holy Altar.
 
4) Before the Great Entrance the Ministers prostrating thrice before the Holy Altar and kissing the Antimension and the Holy Altar say each to himself  the following troparia:
O Saviour, I have sinned before Thee as the Prodigal Son, accept me, O Father, as a penitent, and have mercy upon me, O God.


With the voice of the Publican I cry unto Thee, O Christ Saviour. Be gracious unto me, as Thou wast with him, and have mercy upon me, O God.


5) Αnd again before the Great Entrance coming to the Holy Prothesis they prostrate thrice before the covered Gifts saying thrice:

O God, be gracious unto me a sinner, and have mercy upon me.

6) Before the Creed the Priest makes three penitences (prostrations) saying to himself:
I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my firm support, and my refuge, and my deliverer.


7) Before the Deacon says Let us give heed, the Priest  makes three penitences (prostrations) saying to himself:
O God, be gracious unto me a sinner, and have mercy upon me. (3)


8) And before partaking, the priest says again

O God, be gracious unto me a sinner, and have mercy upon me.(3)


Now if prostrations [genuflections] are "seen as denoting falling to the ground and death." It is as has been written, a symbol of repentance, mourning in Christ and the beseeching of the Divine mercy",  how much more are the words we say before making the prostrations. Maybe we should rewrite the whole Liturgy without all the penitential phrases for they denote a state of mourning and repentance and are not in agreement with the resurrection character of the Divine Liturgy neither its eschatological dimension.
"And this happens because the mourning and repentance which is expressed by the bending of the knees is in complete opposite and incompatible not only to the Resurrection character of the Divine Liturgy but also to its eschatological  dimensions."

Another Q.
You do not mention anything about your congregation. Do they kneel or not? Do they know the symbolism of the Divine Liturgy?


If they kneel or not I have no idea as I rarely look at them and certainly not during the time of consecration and I very much doubt if they understand the symbolism of the Divine Liturgy. I used to think that it was easy to educate people, but it has taken me years to explain to them that certain customs they had were wrong according to the proper practice of the church and still in their hearts they long for the old ways. If for example, they cannot understand simple things as knowing when and when not to approach and kiss the Icons of the Iconostasis, or that when the priest comes to the holy Doors to bless them they should stand, how could they possibly understand things on a higher spiritual and theological level. This is not being condescending, but if a priest knows his congregation, he knows what they are capable of understanding. It is sad and at times very painful to see people who have been faithful to the church all their lives, yet in truth have no idea in what they believe in. But to understand such things one needs to allow Christ to enlighten the spiritual senses. Because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. [Matthew 13:114-15]

Maybe I don’t appreciate the dimension the argument on kneeling has taken in Greece and cannot see the danger to our tradition and therefore say the only acceptable solution to the problem is that there is no problem. But in truth it is such a minor problem compared to many other problems and I feel both camps have a strong argument. The problem will never be resolved unless the Holy Synods of each church take a firm decision and not leave loopholes.
At the same time, they should concentrate their energies in resolving other matters of the Divine Liturgy, which have no uniformity among the Priests and "threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable."

1) Before the start of the Liturgy the Priests of old used to cense the church and the people, now they don’t.

2) During the singing of the Trisagion the Priest blesses the heavenly throne. The throne used to be behind the altar and spiritually it is still there so that is where the Priest should bless, but instead of the throne many Priest bless the prothesis because rubrics from the Hieratikon published by Apostoliki Diakonia which is the official Liturgical book of the Church of Greece, teach them to do so.

3) Of old, the Priest used to cense after the Apostle reading and before the Gospel when the choir used to sing the Alleluia with the appointed verses. Now they cense during the Apostle to save time of don’t cense at all. The singing of the Alleluia has been reduced to a quick Alleluia three times.

4) After the Apostle, the Priest blesses the reader. Of old, it was just "Peace unto thee," now most priest say "Peace unto thee that readeth."

5) After the Gospel reading there are the common prayers and the prayers for the catechumen and the faithful. Many Priests, especially in Greece, leave these out to save time.

6) At the blessing “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” many Priests bless the people with the folded Aer even though the Liturgy book tells them to place it aside and bless with their hands.

These are just some of the problems, which cause diversity. There are even more problems which again depreciate the Divine Liturgy. Two such problems are the prayers said at the end of the Liturgy to commemorate the Feast of a saint and the Memorials for the departed. The prayers for the commemoration of a saint are said during Vespers and the names of those asking to be remembered are again said at the prothesis and again during the Common prayers of the Liturgy before the Great Entrance. They should not be repeated again. After the Divine Liturgy, it would be Theologically wrong to offer any other prayers except for the prayers of Thanksgiving. The Divine Liturgy is the greatest and most perfect prayer of thanksgiving to God and at the same time the most perfect gift from God to man. After offering the most perfect, what else can we offer except our prayers of thanksgiving? From a theological point of view, nothing else is appropriate. The commemoration at the end comes and depreciates that which is perfect and we do nothing more that just repeat things which we have already said. But then maybe God didn’t hear the first time! Our Bishop, being a man of great spiritual understanding has asked us to stop this practice and we haven’t had the reaction we feared we would have from the people. If all the Churches were to follow suit, it would be a move in the right direction. Memorials for the dead are a deeper problem. Not only is all the above relevant, but they also compromise the Resurrection character of the Divine Liturgy and its eschatological dimension. Of old, memorials were only performed on Saturdays and that is why we have the two Saturdays for the departed: one before Lent and the other before Pentecost. The church allows the memorials to be said on Sundays on the grounds that it is an Economy [Οικονομία], as Saturday is a working day and not convenient for families to come together and pray for their dead. I hope it’s not on the ground of that other Οικονομία as memorials bring a great deal of money to the Church. The Russian Church doesn’t have thing problem. The memorials are said on Saturday evening before Vespers so it is still considered as Saturday. If they have a memorial during the week, the names are commemorated during the common prayers of the Liturgy. In that way they do not depreciate the meaning of the Divine Liturgy.

J. Fountoulis is not only the most eminent liturgiologist, he has always been for me the only authority on Liturgical matters. I have his books ‘Απαντήσεις εις Λειτουργικάς Απορίας’ which have helped me considerably over the years. Two or three years ago, I had the honour of meeting him when our Bishop invited him to speak at one of our Synaxis. I don’t have his book Λειτουργική Α΄ but will certainly obtain it at my next visit to the Church Bookshop. As J. Fountoulis  tells me that I should stand, then I will stand.

In spite of all the diversity among the priests, one should keep in mind that most Priests inherit the way they serve the Liturgy from their predecessors or their Bishops. If the question of kneeling was to become an issue in Cyprus, I cannot imagine every Priest trying to make his own opinion heard. Cypriot Priests are very much low-key, and at least in Limassol, where we have regular Synaxis with our Bishop, we would look at the problem together and our Bishop would come to a decision based on the view of the majority. We would accept the decision as final even if it were contrary to our own personal opinion, because for us, humility and obedience to our Bishop are more important than whether some issue is canonical or in accord with tradition. This doesn’t mean that we disregard the canons and tradition, but rather that humility and obedience are virtues than lead to salvation.

Being that there are so many high-spirited Theologians and Priests in Greece with so much energy to waste on such minor issues as kneeling, it would be more beneficial for the church as a whole if they concentrated first on issues, which could accuse the church of heresy.

Did I say heresy? Wow!

We have the problem of baptism. Adults from other denominations [Catholic and Church of England] are accepted into the Church through baptism, but can be accepted only by Chrismation as the Church accepts their baptism [christening] from their previous Church. That means that the church is sympathetic to their heresy and indirectly accepts that the Body of Christ can be divided. [Church Politics].

Mixed Marriages are accepted thereby again accepting the Non-Orthodox baptism.

Many Icons in our Churches are considered heretical, but we still have them in our Churches and very often new ones are ordered [see my website – Discovering the Icon-chapter six]

Then there is the ever-present problem of monies charged by the church for her services.
The problem of Priests charging people for every blessing and every word they utter even though it is there duty to pray for the people and they receive a wage for doing so.
The Church’s wealth, which is constant source for scandalism.

Then we have the problem of the Bishops who use the mass media to accuse their fellow brothers of all sorts of unreligious ills.

If these issues were to be resolved, it would show the unity of the church and stop the mouths of those always ready to find wrong with the church.

I hope you understand what I have been trying to say. I mentioned only some of the problems facing the church to show you that in the light of such problems, the problem of kneeling is not a problem or at least should not have reached the dimensions it has.

If you feel that the subject of not kneeling has not been exhausted then please feel free to send another email – kneeling, again and again and again. As for my part, I’m not sure what else can be said.

I beg your forgiveness if my opinions have in anyway caused you offence and ask for your prayers that God may enlighten me if I have appeared in anyway stubborn or blind to the issue.

With love in Christ [and Standing]
Fr. Christopher
 

Dear Fr. Christopher,

You do not have to apologize for sending me the article by  A.K. I am glad that I received it because I believe it is helpful. As far as I see, although you do not fully agree with the author’s position, you still think it is good. That is the important thing here.

Firstly, I would like to point out that the author’s definition to genuflections (γονυκλισία) has nothing to do with prostrations. Both genuflections and prostrations are used in order to refer to kneeling. The term «penitence» is also used to refer to prostrations but that is not the case here. Prostrations are made during the Liturgy for reasons of respect and worship so they cannot be associated with mourning. That  "Kneeling is seen as denoting falling to the ground and death." It is as has been written, a symbol of repentance, mourning in Christ," is clearly stated at the footnote on the 20th Canon of the First Ecumenical Synod. So the question on whether you can find the practice you follow in an ancient manuscript or even in an official service book remains unanswered. As regards the scriptural references I believe that they cannot be a proper justification of kneeling during the Liturgy for they do not refer to it. If the holy Fathers believed that this was the case, they would have instructed that we should all kneel before the consecrated Holy Gifts or they would have composed a special service for their adoration similar to the one which is used by the Catholic Church. As Fountoulis writes, kneeling is an influence of the Catholic Church and has nothing to do with the orthodox liturgical tradition.

But I am afraid that I have another objection regarding the practice you follow. In your previous letter, where you described it in detail, you mentioned that straight after the consecration you say “I believe that thou art indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinner of whom I am chief”. I have been wondering where you found that phrase since I read it. Later on, I discovered that it is the opening phrase of a preparatory prayer which is read before the Communion. It is not part of the prayer of anaphora and it is not linked to it in terms of meaning. I am pretty certain that it must not be said there.

I am pleased that you know J. Fountoulis and you have studied his books. He has helped me a lot and if I knew his address I could have sent him many other liturgical questions that I have. If you read his answer to questions n. 547-548, you will realize that A.K. views are based on what Fountoulis writes. I can understand that you respect the practice you picked up from the Monastery of St. John. But what makes you believe that it is right when Fountoulis does not approve of it? You do not kneel on Sundays because you respect the symbolism of the day but why don’t you respect the symbolism of the Liturgy which is exactly the same? If I suggested that you kneel when receiving the Holy Communion on weekdays what would you say?

I fully agree with what you write about the other liturgical problems. Although kneeling is not the most serious issue, everyone agrees that it exists and must be dealt with. The different issues you mention prove that the liturgical tradition is not as respected as it must be. All these unacceptable and wrong practices justify A.K.'s  opinion
"if not attacked quickly, threatens to change the tradition which for centuries remained steadfast and inviolable." Ι think it is more than obvious now that this is not a fanatical statement but an undeniable truth.

If Fountoulis and A.K. did not manage to convince you that your practice is not right, I am afraid that I cannot do that either. Besides, you are neither the first nor the last priest who reads their views and still keeps his own. Sometimes what we have been taught and have been following for years is stronger than the truth itself (remember the lily of the archangel).

Please make sure that you “work on the questions”  before you provide your answer.

With love in Christ
Constantine


Dear Constantine,

Please make sure that you “work on the questions”  before you provide your answer.
Did my answers appear superficial? I apologize. I thought I had worked on them.

That kneeling "is seen as denoting falling to the ground and death." It is as has been written, a symbol of repentance, mourning in Christ," is clearly stated at the footnote on the 20th Canon of the First Ecumenical Synod.

Do you have a copy of the Peladion, and if so why does it differ from mine? Although mine is in English, it is supposed to be an exact translation of the Greek, but I cannot find the phrase you say is clearly stated at the footnote on the 20th Canon of the 1st Ecum. Synod. I am sending you a copy of the Canon and also that of the 90th Canon of the Quinisext Synod. Please highlight the relevant passage and return.
However, I think we should leave the Canons and references from the Fathers aside because they are clearly all talking about Sunday and we are all agreed that kneeling on Sundays is forbidden.

So the question on whether you can find the practice you follow in an ancient manuscript or even in an official service book remains unanswered.

We are also agreed that the question of kneeling cannot be found in any of the Service books, so let us leave them aside also.

It is not part of the prayer of anaphora and it is not linked to it in terms of meaning. I am pretty certain that it must not be said there.

When I say:
“I believe that thou art indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief”. [1 Tim 1:15]
Of course it is not part of the prayer of Anaphora, neither is it meant to be heard by anyone except God. As to its meaning, and why I say it at that moment, I would have thought it was self-explanatory. I am saying that I believe that the Holy Spirit has descended upon the Bread and Wine and has miraculously transmade them into the Very Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and it is He who I have before me. Can I say that? Of course I can, and much more if I desire. We are not robots programme to do and say only what is found in the Liturgical Books. As Priests, we do not change the structure of the Liturgy, but we can add a prayer or two if the need arises. Blessed Gerontas Sophronius of Essex, who is considered by all the Orthodox Churches as a saint of our times, not only did the same, but also wrote many prayers in sets of five, to be said in place of the prayers of the Catechumen and the Faithful. We say many more small prayers or hymns which are not in any of the old Service books, although some have been added to the newer ones, because with time, they have become part of tradition. For example after the priest has communicated, and during the time he needs to prepare the chalice for the people to communicate, he will say the Easter prayer:
“We have seen the resurrection of Christ”, and the Easter Hymns
Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem...
O divine! O beloved! O sweetness of Thy voice...
O Christ, O Great and most sacred Passover...
Just because they cannot be found in any ancient manuscript doesn’t mean that they cannot be said.
Fountoulis answers to this in questions 101 and 102 ‘Απαντήσεις εις Λειτουργικάς Απορίας’

But what makes you believe that it is right when Fountoulis does not approve of it?
And
If Fountoulis and A.K. did not manage to convince you that your practice is not right, I am afraid that I cannot do that either.

Why do you say that Fountoulis did not manage to convince me?
I stated in the previous reply: He has always been for me the only authority on Liturgical matters. “As Fountoulis tells me that I should stand, then I will stand.”

You do not kneel on Sundays because you respect the symbolism of the day but why don’t you respect the symbolism of the Liturgy which is exactly the same?

St. Seraphim of Sarov used to sing "Christ is Risen" everyday. If as you say, the symbolism of a weekday Liturgy is exactly the same as Sunday, it follows that everyday is Pascha: so we should introduce the hymn "Christ is Risen" as a permanent fixture of the Liturgy. You might be surprised to learn that if a Great Feast of the Lord falls on a Sunday, then the hymns of the Feast take precedence over the Resurrection and no Resurrection hymns are sung at all. On other Great Feasts, like a feast of the Mother of God, if it falls on a Sunday, then the hymns of the Resurrection take precedence and then the hymns for the feast.

If I suggested that you kneel when receiving the Holy Communion on weekdays what would you say?
You posed this question in your previous email, which I purposely ignored, but you insist on an answer so here goes:

Apart from the theological reasons for not kneeling, it would also be practically impossible, as one could not see exactly what one is doing and therefore might drop a pearl or two of the Body. But even if we overcame this problem, the Chalice would be even more difficult to manoeuvre.

Not Kneeling on weekdays cannot be proved by the canons or the Fathers or by the Liturgical Books so that only leaves us tradition. You mentioned in your previous email that:
Do you know that the custom of kneeling during the Liturgy appeared in the orthodox world only sixty years ago and it is considered to be an influence of the Catholic Church?
How can we be sure of this? A footnote to the 90th Canon of the Quinisext Council says that we possible stopped kneeling after the Great Schism [read below]. If that is the case then kneeling was permitted until the 11th century and then stopped. Is it possible that the sixty years you refer to was a revival of the custom long forgotten?

Footnote
‘When and by whom was this Evangelical, Apostolical, and Patristical custom of genuflection abolished from our Eastern Orthodox Church? We cannot say with accuracy. We conclude, however, as a matter of guesswork or conjecture, that this custom was abolished after the schism, perhaps as a result of some of our own excessively zealous adherents being inclined to oppose the customs of the Western Church, and consequently also this canonical custom. In verification of this conclusion of ours, see our Meletius Pegas, at the end of his third book concerning Christianity where he mentions genuflections (on p. 240 of the Bucharest edition). For even the so-called papalethra—or, more plainly speaking, the stephanos worn by clerics on their head—in vogue among the Westerners, through a canonical custom, was abolished by our officials; and see c. XXI of the present C. Though even continuous communion of the mysteries as practiced by the Latins is canonical, it was abolished by us; and see the preface or preamble to the Tome of Love. And other canonical customs suffered the same fate. In saying genuflection, however, I do not mean what are commonly called penitences” (or, in Greek, “metanoeae.”), but that which we practice when kneeling to pray.
The custom of kneeling might even have been abolished much later. Take a look at what St. Nicholas Cabasilas [ June 2] has to say in his “Commentary on the Divine Liturgy.”

THE LITURGY OF THE FAITHFUL (I)
24. The bearing of the offerings to the altar
The priest, having said the doxology aloud, comes to the altar of preparation, takes the offerings, and reverently holding them head-high departs. Carrying them thus, he goes to the altar, after walking in slow and solemn procession through the nave of the church. The faithful chant during this procession, kneeling down reverently and devoutly, and praying that they may be remembered when the offering is made. The priest goes on, surrounded by candles and incense, until he comes to the altar. This is done, no doubt, for practical reasons; it was necessary to bring the offerings which are to be sacrificed to the altar and set them down there, and to do this with all reverence and devotion. This is the way in which kings of old brought their gifts to God; they did not allow others to do it for them, but brought their offerings themselves, wearing their crowns. Also, this ceremony signifies the last manifestation of Christ, which aroused the hatred of the Jews, when he embarked on the journey from his native country to Jerusalem, where he was to be sacrificed; then he rode into the Holy City on the back of an ass, escorted by a cheering crowd.
During this ceremony we must prostrate ourselves before the priest and entreat him to remember us in the prayers which he is about to say. For there is no other means of supplication so powerful, so certain of acceptance, as that which takes place through this most holy sacrifice, which has freely cleansed us of our sins and iniquities. If any of those who prostrate themselves thus before the priest who is carrying the offerings adores them as if they were the Body and Blood of Christ, and prays to them as such, he is led into error; he is confusing this ceremony with that of “the entry of the presanctified”, not recognizing the differences between them. In this entry of the offerings, the gifts are not yet consecrated for the sacrifice; in the liturgy of the Presanctified’ they are consecrated and sanctified, the true Body and Blood of Christ.
At the time of consecration he says:
...and took the bread and the chalice, and having given thanks said those words which expressed the mystery; repeating those words, the celebrant prostrates himself and prays, while applying to the offerings these words of the Only-Begotten, our Saviour, that they may, after having received his most holy and all Spirit, be transformed
—the bread into his holy Body, the wine into his precious and sacred Blood.
When these words have been said, the whole sacred rite is accomplished, the offerings are consecrated, the sacrifice is complete; the splendid Victim, the Divine oblation, slain for the salvation of the world, lies upon the altar. For it is no longer the bread, which until now has represented the Lord’s Body, nor is it a simple offering, bearing the likeness of the true offering, carrying as if engraved on it the symbols of the Saviours Passion; it is the true Victim, the most holy Body of the Lord, which really suffered the outrages, insults and blows; which was crucified and slain, which under Pontius Pilate bore such splendid witness;’ that Body which was mocked, scourged, spat upon, and which tasted gall. In like manner the wine has become the blood which flowed from that Body. It is that Body and Blood formed by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, which was buried, which rose again on the third day, which ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father.
In the Greek text the word prostrates is προσπίπτει. Here, Nicholas Cabasilas says the celebrant kneels before the consecration.


Now who was Nicholas Cabasilas? He was born c 1300 and though some say that he succeeded his uncle Nilus Cabasilas as Archbishop of Thessalonica, he probably remained a layman. He was a close friend of the Emperor and was the theologian par excellence of his time. He wrote a number of works, but his fame rests mainly upon two major works. One is his “Commentary on the Divine Liturgy” and the other “The Life of Christ”. Both have been held in high esteem not only among Orthodox theologians but from the west also, in spite of the fact that he attacks the Latins for their practices. As a theologian par excellence and often an ambassador for Orthodoxy, I’m sure he would have known if the prohibition of kneeling included weekdays. He is not writing about the Sunday Liturgy but on the Liturgy in general. He makes a note of the differences between the Great Entrance of the normal Liturgy and that of the Presanctified, which shows it was also customary to kneel during the procession of the Presanctified.

This is getting more confusing.
A.K. says that "We could instead of the Presanctified, serve the perfect Divine Liturgy during the period of Great Lent, having as our argument the serving of the perfect Divine Liturgy during the morning of Holy and Great Saturday, a day observed as a very strict fast", and he is quite right in saying that because it is forbidden to serve the Liturgy on fasting days.
Now where am I going with this?
We have the Liturgy of the Presanctified during Lent because all the days of Lent with the exceptions of Saturday and Sunday are fasting days in the strict sense of the word. But we have also other fasts in the Church’s cycle, but on these days, the Liturgy is allowed. It might be argued that they are not as strict so lets see how strict.
The Apostle’s fast allows for fish so that is not a strict fast. But Wednesdays and Fridays of the fast are considered as days of strict fasting, but here the Liturgy is allowed.
The August fast is considered a strict fast, but here again, the Liturgy may be served everyday.
The Advent fast [Christmas] again allows for fish, so it is not a strict fast but Wednesdays and Fridays of the fast are considered as days of strict fasting, but here the Liturgy is served everyday.
Then we have every Wednesday and Friday, which are considered as days of strict fasting, but here again the Liturgy may be served on these days.

Confused! So am I. Food for thought!

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher
 

Dear Fr. Christopher,

Your replies are not superficial. I just want us to put more emphasis on research.
I previously wrote:

It is not part of the prayer of anaphora and it is not linked to it in terms of meaning. I am pretty certain that it must not be said there.
We are not allowed to add or replace anything in our Liturgy. Are we more faithful than the Holy Fathers who wrote its text? I am certain that they believed that the Holy Spirit descends upon the Bread and Wine and miraculously transmakes them into the Very Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t they instruct everyone to say what you say?

You do not kneel on Sundays because you respect the symbolism of the day but why don’t you respect the symbolism of the Liturgy which is exactly the same?

I think that the symbolism of the Holy Liturgy is clear. We have already discussed it and we agreed, didn’t we?

Do you know that the custom of kneeling during the Liturgy appeared in the orthodox world only sixty years ago and it is considered to be an influence of the Catholic Church?

You said:
How can we be sure of this?

If Fountoulis is sure, so am I. I think he has an answer to your question but I have not studied the history of that practice in detail. Thank you for the texts.

I, too, believe that the subject is exhausted. I believe we had a really interesting discussion.

With love in Christ.
Constantine