Week 2 Discussion Topic: Do You Think We Need a New Typikon?

Trisagion School Forums Typikon 101 – Term 1 (Winter) 2024 Week 2 Discussion Topic: Do You Think We Need a New Typikon?

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    • #43663
      Peter George

        It is clear that as time passes, the liturgical needs of a people also change. However, it is important to note, that while Violakis’ Typikon has some pretty significant changes from the ancient Typikon of St. Sabbas, Violakis also strived to preserve as much as possible from the old Typikon, even if he had to present certain things differently. In your opinion (no judgement) do you think the Church should produce a new Typikon, or should we keep to Violakis? Please explain your answer as thoroughly as possible and feel free to respond to the posts of others.

      • #43687

          Creating a typikon seems to create a church as much as it reflects it, as it aligns theological principles with material praxis. Therefore, I think the question hinges on the degree to which changes in social and material realities begin to open a gap between the document’s guidelines (and the world they originally reflected) and the structural habitus and organization of the faithful’s lives.

          There are many dimensions to this issue. Time, space, and the relation between them matters tremendously for how a faith is practiced and experienced. For example, the lectures mentioned the significance of the shift from sun time to clock time with the advent of modernity and how that affected the order and pace of services. In my own experience, going to church every day was just a matter of course in an environment where there were Orthodox churches on every other corner that were open dawn to dusk and which followed common rituals; so wherever my day’s errands took me, I could still go in. Language is another issue. Languages change all the time. Moreover, all translation is interpretation at least to some extent. Not the least, the character of institutional authority itself is cultural, historically contingent, and situated. I had some fun looking through some of the older Bulgarian typika (e.g., from 1890, 1909, etc.). Among other sources, the 1909 one went back to Palestinian models for some of the daily services, some of them reference Konstantinos, others mention TAS. This is not surprising, given the close proximity between Bulgarians and Greeks, the time Bulgarians were part of the Byzantine empire, and then the life in common under the Ottoman empire. Then the restoration of Bulgarian autocephaly in 1945 prompted the creation of a new typikon by the Synod. Each of these typika attempts to negotiate principles and material conditions for an institutional entity that makes some life in common possible.

          So, to get to the prompt about whether the Church should produce a new Typikon, frankly the question for me is “which Church”? The North American Orthodox scene is a collage of traditions, languages, and jurisdictions, that is as glorious as it is dizzying. The move toward English changes a lot for each of the “old country” churches here that aim to appeal to the second and third generations that lose touch with their heritage languages. Plus, this is a mobile society where people often need to move parishes. Yet, I am not sure whether the shared English language here will facilitate more unity or foster more competition and fragmentation between and within the different jurisdictions as well as in relation to the “old world” Churches from which they came. In sum, my hunch is that how a new typikon is created (by whom and for whom) may matter more for what it does than what it actually says.

          • #43690
            Alexandra Zampino

              My apologies – I wanted to respond directly to your answer, but it seems as if I created a separate post altogether in this thread. Please see below 🙂

          • #43689
            Alexandra Zampino

              What a thought-provoking response, Zornitsa. I especially enjoyed reading about what you discovered upon leafing through some older Bulgarian typika. Your last sentence sums up much of what I’ve been thinking, as well, and I pray that this would be thoroughly considered if a new typikon indeed is written for our day.

            • #43698
              Sarah Helena

                What a thoughtfully reasoned response. Thank you for that. My own initial thought was much simpler, but I will post it anyway.

                While the typikon has changed historically, I wince at the idea of change now. The changes that we learned about in the lesson were at least in some part made in order to reach for a deeper level of worship (the love of hesychasm stood out for me), but my instinct is that change now would be to accommodate the modern lifestyle, making things easier and more “accessible”. Parishes already make certain modifications as needed (e.g., shortening the length of a service), but if an easier version becomes codified, then that’s the new baseline, which will then be seen as too hard and needing modification. If the speed limit is 60 but everyone goes 70, raising the speed limit to 70 just means that everyone will go 80. We can’t change doctrine without an Ecumenical Council, so let’s hold the line on the Typikon 🙂

                Again, this is all based on my preconceived notion that the reason for changing the Typikon would be to make things easier for our modern life. I am now going to think about the other possible reasons that Zornitsa brought up, which are intriguing and many-faceted.

              • #43705
                Alexandra Zampino

                  In reflecting on the question of whether we need a new Typikon, I have been edified greatly by both of your responses, Zornitsa and Sarah Helena. Both of you bring up very important points that must be considered if we are to weigh whether our worshippers today would benefit from a new Typikon.

                  In order to sift through the many considerations here and reach the essence of what is most beneficial for the Church today, I believe that we need to start with identifying what our phronema, or frame of mind, would be if we are to advocate for a new Typikon.

                  Should the goal of a new Typikon be to simplify (or shorten) the services to better suit our modern lifestyles and / or needs? Historically, this was a consideration when Konstantinos wrote his Typikon, in order to adapt the rigors of monastic worship to better suit lay worshippers.

                  However, I think it would be an oversimplification to state that Konstantinos aimed to promote a shortening of the services, and to say so, I believe, doesn’t do justice to the work that Konstantinos was aiming to accomplish. Konstantinos only wishes, it seems to me, to justify the need for more simplified services so that laypeople may participate more fully in the cycles of daily worship – the key here being that there is a clear distinction between the time that a layperson is able to dedicate in worship and the time that a monastic is able to dedicate in worship, purely by the nature of what is blessed for the vocation of each. I’ve heard monastics tell parents, for instance, “Your children are your prayer ropes”; in other words, the monastic and the layperson (with or without a family) each have their own blessed way of ascesis. However, the ascesis of a layperson (typically) does not include the time spent in services equal to that of the monastic.

                  I decided it would be worthwhile to go into detail about the above point because it is important for us to acknowledge exactly why certain Typika (namely Violakis) have attempted to justify more simplified services. It is not because these changes were more convenient for the layperson; it is because these changes were essentially necessary for the layperson in order to participate fully. It is not a “dumbing down”, or even a necessarily “easier” version of the services, but rather a way for the layperson to be able to live the full cycle of services without residing in a monastery. These changes, I will argue, are not an attempt to lessen the “ascesis,” or rigor, or the depth, for lack of better words, of these services.

                  So, I return to the question, “Should the goal of a new Typikon be to shorten (or simplify) the services?” My answer is that no, there is not a justifiable need to do so in our present day (as opposed to in Violakis’ day). Yes, we modern folk have all sorts of commitments that cloud our consciences and tell us that we need to be out of Liturgy at a certain time that morning. Yes, our legs and voices may at times lack the enthusiasm for services as lengthy as our predecessors. Yes, we are often told by others, “I like the Orthodox services, but they’re simply too long.”

                  Are such challenges to modern worship a detriment to the “accessibility” of the services? I’d say, hardly. In a world in which many are “selling out” and trying to do what is popular, the Orthodox Church is a bastion, a haven, for those seeking Truth. We should not change (or, in the sense of descriptive Typika, we should not describe or advocate for) our worship in a simplified way in order simply to please others or to make it more “accessible”.

                  Rather, we need to change our hearts and minds to conform to the mind of Christ, who desires us to dine with Him at His heavenly banquet and to give us His Body and His Blood, to have us present with the Synaxis of the angels and saints who are mystically present with us. We need to leave our pressing sense of time and urgency at the door of the Church and remind ourselves that we are not of this world, although we are in it.

                  And being in the world, if we have this “phonema” or mindset of not changing our worship simply because it is “easier,” this love of the services will show in our lives without us needing to say a word to others. The grace that Christ gives to us in the services is real, and it is irresistible to those outside the Church who are seeking Her. I’ve known many people personally who were drawn to the Church initially because they were amazed that we actually want to be in Church for “this long.” They reasoned, if Orthodox faithful desire to be in Church this much, Orthodox worship must be more than a social gathering or a “feel good” session. It must be life-giving, it must be Truth. And those people found Truth in Orthodoxy and converted. Our persistence in worship evangelizes in a very real way.

                  You might be thinking at this point that I am advocating against a new Typikon. Quite the contrary. I simply don’t agree with the advent of a new Typikon simply to make services “more accessible.”

                  I do feel as though a new Typikon would be helpful for parishes, especially in the United States, where, as Zornitsa put it, the multitude of jurisdictional traditions can be “dizzying.” As a descriptive (not prescriptive) endeavor, a new Typika should aim to have the mindset of preserving the purity of worship in an age where it is threatened more than ever, both by temptations inside and outside of the Church.

                  As you said, Peter, the services in some parishes are being condensed beyond recognition. I do feel that, in many areas of the US, parishes are under-served, meaning that they may not have enough skilled chanters, or perhaps the faithful, priests, or chanters do not live locally (our society is hardly the “village” society as it was during the time that many of these Typika were written). So, I am sympathetic toward parishes who feel that they are not able to hold to the standard that Violakis’ typika sets forth. I do not make a value judgment on those parishes who condense services, although I think doing so should be only out of true necessity, and not purely for convenience’s sake.

                  However, since the condensing of services has already been set in motion for what I assume to be at least a couple of decades here in the US, this means that parishes are largely not following Violakis’ Typikon, as written. As such, a new Typikon should be written in order to identify the most common departures that parishes have made from the Violakis Typikon and to reconcile these departures in a way that is blessed, so that parishes as a whole can hold to a Typikon. Even though the individual traditions between parishes of differing jurisdictions will still vary, at least the framework of the services could be clearly defined, with room for “choices,” taking a cue from Fr. Konstantinos Papagiannis’ Typikon.

                  Furthermore, I would advocate for this Typikon to be printed in English as its primary language (with translations in other languages, too, of course) and to address the needs specifically of parishes in the United States.

                  As Zornitsa and Sarah Helena each voiced, in their own way, careful consideration would have to be made in creating a new Typikon in order to not create a sense of separation between various jurisdictions, and also to not give the impression of allowing modifications to shorten services simply because doing so is “easier”. However, I believe that each of these two issues are secondary in nature. Divisions and temptations will always exist, but if we take care to provide our Churches with the tools and information in a new Typika in order to preserve the worship handed down to us over the ages, the Body of Christ here on Earth will be more able to navigate such challenges.

                • #43735
                  Ephraim Burshek

                    I have not heard a compelling argument or case to change the typikon. I don’t know how the lay person of the 2000s is in such different (ie worse) conditions than a lay person of the 1800s. If we are to believe in “progress” we all should have more time, energy and health to pursue worship and thanksgiving than ever before.

                    Is there a need to harmonize practices across the United States? From what I understand from the lecture, liturgical practices have and still do vary based on historical and local contexts. It is doubtful any attempt to “harmonize” any American practice would overcome the local “need” to deviate from the Typikon to accommodate one factor or another.

                    The question is “Do we need a New Typikon?” No, I think we need to struggle with the distance between our practice and what the Typikon actually describes as the worship of the Church.

                  • #43744

                      My apologies for posting this late.
                      I agree with what everyone has posted above in the following ways:
                      The liturgical needs of the church, especially here in America, are changing & thus a new Tipikon may be needed. However, I feel that whoever undertakes this needs to do what Violakis did to preserve as much as possible the old typikon. Language is an issue (it would be great to have one translation throughout the Orthodox world here in America). Maybe the church here in America should have a separate Typikon since our issues of language, jurisdictions, & culture vary from other countries. I also see Sarah Helena’s point that the changes made in the past were for a deeper level of worship. I in a sense fear any change because it seems that many Orthodox Christian’s are looking for the Church to be more like the Protestant & Catholic, bringing the Church down to what people want instead of people to the Church. People complain about the length of our services among other things. There’s a reason the Fathers of the Church created our services the way they are. Messing with the doctrines & Traditions of the Church is detrimental. Being a Christian especially an Orthodox Christian isn’t meant to be easy.

                    • #43776
                      Peter George

                        I’d like to thank everyone for this robust discussion; I appreciate all of the views brought forth here.

                        First of all, Zornitsa, I appreciate you taking the time to look through the Bulgarian typika and giving us a look at a local Church that has recently (at least in Orthodox years) released a new Typikon. I agree that a primary goal of a typikon is to create a “life in common” for worshippers, which is a challenge in the United States where the experience is vastly different across jurisdictions (and sometimes within).

                        I also wanted to give attention to your response, Alexandra. I think you hit it on the head when you said that the purpose of typikon changes is to allow fuller participation versus “shortening” or “simplifying.” There is a subset of “traditional Orthodox people” who like to scoff at Violakis, but I think they miss the point of what he was attempting to do. You said it in a way I never thought of and I think you’re 100% right.

                        As to everyone else, I think the issues we’re identifying are:

                        1. Lack of Consistency Across Jurisdictions
                        2. The Mobile Society (most people have to travel significantly to attend an Orthodox church)
                        3. Changes being co-opted by “Modernism/Innovation” to make the Church more “convenient” to worshippers or potential worshippers.

                        All of these are extremely relevant points and well taken. For me, a first step would be to get our typikon documents translated into English, without the filter of DCS or “service packets” so that we can all be on the same page of what the Typikon actually says, versus what we think it says. That is one of the major goals of this course!

                        Anyways, great discussion and please feel free to respond to my post to keep it going!

                      • #43777

                          Your response is much appreciated, Peter! The typikon question aside, I can only hope that at some upcoming pan-orthodox conference someone proposes the creation of a shared document/site that lists the hymns and their (common and alternative) titles in all the different languages that the different jurisdictions practice in. Such translation issues can be a significant barrier for orthodox fellowship. For example, I admit it took me 3+ months to figure out that “It is truly meet” is the same hymn as “Достойно ест” (“Άξιον Εστί).” The Slavonic title/first line uses the word honor/dignity: “It is dignified/an honor that we…” How/why that became “It is truly Meet” in English, I truly don’t know.

                          There is a site

                        • #43780
                          Alexandra Zampino

                            I very much agree with you on your last post, Zornitsa. I have struggled with the differences in translation, as well.

                            Thank you for your follow- up post, Peter. I agree that the DCS / “service packets” can result in us not understanding the Typikon fully. I wonder if these texts actually can be considered an “unwritten typikon” themselves, in the way that they are structured and that chanters have come to expect / rely on that structure.

                          • #43797

                            I would be for the codification of Typikon for use in America.

                            1.) This way those in America who only speak English will have a standard, accessible Typikon to familiarize themselves with services outside the season which they occur or for a personal spiritual enhancement.

                            2.). To standardize services because just as Konstantinos wrote his Typikon to standardize services across different churches, sometimes even in the same city, we have this issue in America.

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