[quote=Maccabees]This is a problem that I don’t think it Latin rites fault. …Here the easterns need to look in the mirror. Many of the eastern rites I visit have liturgies that cater to the grandparents and those who have immigrated from their former land the dominant language used whould be the native tongue of the former home of the transplanted parishoners.
The under 30 crowd main tongue is English and just don’t understand what the heck is going on. When a lot of their friends are attending a latin rite which has more flexible times for mass and an easier to understand liturgy. I think the eastern rites need to have more than one mass on Sunday and one of them should be done exclusively in English so those who are not aquainted in Russian, Arabic, Greek etc wouldn’t be intimidated. I am sure there are other big issues but that’s the main one I see as a Latin.
I agree, it’s just the reality of being a minority group.
I don’t think the point of the article is merely that they are losing members in the West, but how to adapt culturally and also serve the scattered flock, I believe they want to address all of the issues confronting them.
But as to your points (which sound like suggestions) to make the church more appealing to visitors and potential new members, I’d say you are pretty observant.
Most of the Byzantine churches I have attended around Chicago have more than one liturgy (contrary to the Canons) and at least one of them is English. (For the moment I will restrict my comments to the Byzantine churches because I know them better.) But that hasn’t really helped much apparently.
To be honest about it the Eastern churches lose their young people at an alarming rate. Often the Byzantine parish is too small to afford a school and the Byzantine family has to send their kids to the Roman Catholic school, and pay extra charges for the privilage. Some parishes also require the parents to attend and that takes them right out of the Byzantine orbit.
As people escape to the suburbs the old neighborhood parishes go into decline, and there aren’t resources to build new parishes in the suburbs in all directions, so the city parish building will be sold at a loss and some members will be royally bummed out and angry.
I agree that the Slavonic (or Ukrainian or Arabic) liturgy can be discouraging to all but the most animated visitors. If the membership is not out there knocking on doors, how will they grow?
Many of the older parishes have a lot of empty spaces in the pews, and you’ll see a lot of silver hair with few children. These are real issues that need to be confronted. On any given Sunday most Byzantine Catholics attend Roman Catholic parishes,( and a few will attend Orthodox parishes). There are more Byzantines in the USA in Roman parishes than in their own.
Then there is that same problem with the young that the Roman church is afflicted with, except in the most traditional immigrant cultures the church is losing young people to indifference and secularism.
The Eastern (Byzantine-Ruthenian) parish I belong to has only one liturgy on Sunday and it is totally in English, done very well with a lot of chanting and singing.
The parish is relocated to the suburbs, looks beautiful, and attracts a lot of visitors. We are returning to our traditions and growing. For a small parish (just 180 families) we have a lot of children, a good choir, more cantors than we can use and two deacons. Volunteerism is high, the place is hopping!
We have a lot of new members (myself included), two years ago we had 159 families, today it’s 180 families. That’s progress, even if on a small scale
So there is hope for the Eastern churches in the new world. We should pray for the success of the conference, and encourage the Eastern churches to be all they were meant to be. It’s good for the church as a whole.