In the village of Omsk all was not well in the local Pokrov Parish. Every year, during Lent, at 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes', half of the congregation would make a metania at the waist, and half would make a full prostration. The little metanists would start whispering sharply, 'No! No! From the waist!' To which the great metanists would hiss back even louder, 'Wrong! Full prostration! Who are you following, the Devil?!' And fist fights would break out and the service could not even be completed.
Finally the war-weary parishioners decided to ask their priest, Fr Veniamin. 'Batiushka, what is the tradition? In Lent, at "Blessed art Thou", do we make a little metania, or a great metania?' Knowing the rancor attached to the dispute, poor Fr Veniamin trembled, grew pale, then fainted dead away and fell backwards.
So next they went to the Skete of the Forerunner, and asked Fr Onouphry: 'Batiushka, we want to know, we have a terrible argument at Omsk--what is the tradition? Because half the people say to make small metanias at "Blessed art Thou" now, and half say great metanias. And we start fighting, terrible, terrible. So, tell us, what is the Tradition?' Seeing the ferocity in their faces, poor Hieromonk Onouphry simply fainted dead away.
Then someone shouted, 'Let's go to Elder Ioann and ask him!' It was a marvellous idea. Surely the elder's answer would bring peace, for he was respected by all, a native of Omsk, and his hoary 94 years guaranteed a knowledge of what the old tradition had been.
So a large crowd gathered at the elder's dacha on the outskirts of town. Some 15 men from both sides entered the dacha, and found frail Elder Ioann lying on his bed. As he struggled to draw himself up and offer tea, they cut him off: 'Elder Ioann, you have to help us! What is the Tradition? Every year in Lent, at "Blessed art Thou, O Lord", half of the people at Pokrov make little metanias, and half the people great metanias, and we start to argue, and the service doesn't even finish because of the fist fight!'
Then Elder Ioann said firmly, in his voice shaking with age, and with tears streaming down his joyful face, 'THAT ... Is ... the Tradition!'
From an e-mail list. Any resemblance to real parishes or people is purely coincidental!
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