Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Church Tradition Story 1: Dismissal of the Catechumens

There is a part in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy called the Dismissal of the Catechumens, in which the priest chants, "All ye catechumens, depart! Depart, ye catechumens! All ye that are catechumens, depart! Let no catechumens remain!" and this used to be important, because it would have been terrible for an outsider to see and misunderstand the meaning of the eucharist, when the early church was undergoing persecution. Now, the words remain, but it's understood that no one is expected to actually leave--it's just a tradition. However, some Orthodox churches today have problems with visitors leaving halfway through the service, not knowing that the Dismissal of the Catechumens is vestigial.

As Orthodox churches assimilate into American culture, the services shift from using the congregation's heart language to the English language, with some parts in one language, and some in the other. I've heard of a Romanian Orthodox church in DC that has its services entirely in English, except the Dismissal of the Catechumens is in Romanian, so no one leaves by mistake.


  1. Wow, that's pretty interesting.

    Here's an article that was passed down to me.


    The future wave of Orthodoxy!

  2. The full website is http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2008/09/the-orthodoxy-of-tomorrow.htm

  3. Ok, nm. Just go to facebook.

  4. In our church it is done right after the Prayer of the Catachumens and is addressed to the Catachumens being prayer for, like "Let the Catachumens depart, let no Catachumens remain..." The Catachumens don't leave the nave, but depart from the place where they had all gathered with their sponsors to be prayer for by the clergy and faithful.

    So, who knows? Liturgy is a lot like Jazz - when you play a note - even a wrong note, you can't undo it, you've got to recontextualize it into a larger whole.