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Living the Liturgy
|Stanley S. Harakas|
|Light & Life Pub Co (1974)|
|No copies available (1 copy out on loan)|
|Book review by C. Culver:|
LIVING THE LITURGY is a guide by Greek Orthodox priest Stanley Harakas written to help Orthodox Christians in America have a deeper appreciation of the Sunday liturgical experience. As a catechumen in the Orthodox Church, I found it somewhat interesting and useful.
The Divine Liturgy is, quite literally, the "work of the people", and yet very often the faithful attending services are passive, detached, and intimidated. Harakas organises his work around three three "keys" which make the liturgy understandable and even captivating for believers. The first is a basic understanding of sacramental worship, that the Church's natural moment is its gathering to celebrate the Eucharist. The second is an understanding of the structure of the liturgy as it is conducted today. While some books on the liturgy track its long history and development, Fr Harakas says that the average Orthodox Christian can focus on the modern form. Finally, the third key is a pratical definition of what kind of participation is necessary in the liturgy. As an appendix, he gives the entire text of the Divine Liturgy.
The book was written in 1974, and it targets an audience somewhat different than many Orthodox materials today. In 1974, Orthodoxy was still mostly a church limited to ethnic enclaves, whose churchgoers were often present on Sundays just for fellowship with people of the same national origin. This ethnic Orthodox are the sort of people to whom Fr Harakas addresses his work. These types remain even to this day, and so the book can still be useful. However, in the following decades, many have converted to the Orthodox Church from Protestant denominations or the Roman Catholic Church, and they have an outlook different than what Fr Harakas expects for his audience. The last half of the book, which covers the liturgy in depth part by part, will be most interesting for converts.