Offering the Lamb: Reflections on the Western Rite Mass in the Orthodox Church
Worship is something that we do but it is not something that we create. The rites and ceremonies of Orthodox Christian worship today are the product of an organic growth and development, which has been guided by the Holy Spirit, and shaped by culture and experience. The manner in which Orthodox worship is conducted in the twenty-first century is not the precisely the way it was done in the seventeenth, or in the seventh. Some elements in worship communicate in the same way they have; others cease to do so, and are gradually replaced. Change occurs because anything that is alive grows and develops, but in worship this does not occur quickly, or for the sake of change; but carefully and organically, since the Church is instinctively conservative when it comes to its traditions. As we grow up, and our bodies develop, we do not suddenly decided to produce a third arm: it would make no sense, it would not have any real connection with how the human body functions, and it would not be part of the integral whole, but something that we must figure out what to do with each time we try to use it. This is true in worship: what develops in prayer and piety has an organic connection with what went before, or else it makes no sense: it must be a logical development of what went before, or else we must figure out why we are doing it each time we worship. If we must stop and decide why something is done each time that we worship, than something is wrong.