April 19, 2010

On Liturgical Language and Understanding

Once a Russian called Fr Tobias, who lived in the skete, came to the vigil and revealed to Fr Gideon that he was bored because he did not understand anything in the service. Fr Gideon consoled him: "It doesn’t matter: don’t grieve because you don’t understand. Sit in your stall, keep praying and don’t be troubled because you don’t understand. Look at a ship on the sea, there are various passengers on it: Greeks, Romanians, Russians, Arabs. They don’t understand each other but they’re on the same ship, sitting down together, and the ship will take them all to the port. So it is with the Church; it doesn’t matter who is in it, whether they understand or not, the Church will take them all to the port of the Kingdom of Heaven."

- From Elder Gideon the Greek (+ 1896) in Lives of Nineteenth Century Athonite Ascetics of Piety by Hieromonk Antony of the Holy Mountain, Jordanville 1988.