During a recent trip to the Guatemalan village of Aguacate, I had the opportunity to reflect more fully on the worship services. The people seemed to be more engaged and connected to God with their prayers. The levels of enthusiasm were high, as reflected in the full participation of the faithful. They are not afraid or ashamed to freely express themselves during times of prayer, especially when singing the simple hymns known to all. One can conclude that a worship service that only features the priest, choir or chanter will not resonate very much with these communicants. It will appear too much like a performance and a bit too complicated for recent Mayan converts, as is the case with many cradle Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox worship services, in order to firmly take root in their hearts, minds and souls must be participatory, engaging and user friendly. If not, we will repeat the mistake of the Greek Church in America, whose faithful, for the most part, remain passive during the service. Such an approach in Guatemala will not attract many to the services, for they will appear insipid to those who want to pray with all their heart and with fervor. What have we lost in our worship that needs to be revitalized? Could it be our focus on Christ?

Even when there is no priest to lead the worship, the pious faithful come to be blessed by a catechist with the Holy Water that the parish priest sanctified on a previous visit. This is one of the great challenges facing the Church in Guatemala- a shortage of priests to meet the sacramental needs of the faithful.

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