Friday, May 12, 2006

"We Pray Straight Ahead"

An outstanding post by Eric Jobe on why would-be Orthodox converts -- in this case, Lutherans -- are attracted to the Western Rite:
Bishop Mark was asking these converts why they like the Western Rite. They responded, "Your Grace, the Byzantines pray in circles. We pray straight ahead."
Eric means no offense; the metaphor is merely a descriptive he eloquently develops:
Anyone familiar with the Eastern liturgies knows the seemingly endless cycle of hymns and litanies...Anyone familiar with the Western liturgies knows the terseness of the Roman rhetoric, the elegant simplicity of the prayers, and the relatively short length of the services...

Yet both pray. It may be in different rhetorical styles, languages, and vestments, but it is still prayer that is acceptable to our God through Jesus Christ. It is the same Body and Blood that sits on the alter, the same presence of Christ that fills every heart.

So, pray in circles or pray straight ahead, but eventually, by the grace of God, we will all end up at the same destination.
This is such a moving description of Orthodoxy's two (IMHO) complementary rites, I wish I'd written it.

BTW, Eric, you're welcome for putting you in touch. Now you know why I always refer to my times with Father with such joy.

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