Learning the Liturgy...

Perhaps the greatest challenge in becoming a Priest was the suddenness of my placement at St. Elias. I was ordained one Sunday, had one Sunday to practice a Liturgy, and then was sent to St. Elias basically to figure it out for myself. I had been a Deacon for two years, of course, but watching and doing are two different things and ever since then I've felt like I've been playing "catch up" when it comes to serving the liturgies of the Church.

Complicating it is the reality there are few standard forms for serving the liturgy. For whatever time you have to learn the liturgy you largely learn it in the "style" of the person who teaches you and so whenever Priests gather there can often be confusion about who is doing what. Yes, there are rubrics in the various texts, instructions for what you should be doing, but these are often amended or left out entirely depending on the "style" of who is serving and whole sections of the Liturgy, items like the ektenia before the Lord's Prayer, can be dropped or added depending where you are and who you're with.

Because of this it can be a difficult task thing to serve the Liturgy well when you feel like you've simply not had the training to do it or aren't sure even what "good" is. Harder yet is serving with other Priests and feeling totally unprepared. If you make a mistake other Priests can be tough customers and I can't wait to stop being the "junior Priest" at some of these gatherings so some of the tasks fall away from me. Add my bi-vocational status and its lack of daily preparation time to that and it can be quite frustrating.

So what to do? Well, I'm reading the Liturgikon over and over again and trying to make sure that what I'm doing up front is as close to conformity with it as possible. And I try to do my best in the place between knowing the extreme seriousness of what I must do and the reality that in heart, soul, and technique I may never ever be good enough. Oh, and I pray that the people of St. Elias are forgiving when I slip up while I'm hanging on for the ride.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Father, bless,

I am sure that your parish is forgiving, and I thank you for your explanation of how rubrics interact with the Liturgy.