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Which Is The Tradition?

In the village of Omsk all was not well in the local Parish. Every year, during Lent at a certain point in Matins ("Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes", ) half of the congregation would make a bow (a metania) at the waist, and half would make a full prostration to the floor.( a great metania)

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 Benjamin. "Father, what is the tradition? In Lent, at 'Blessed art Thou', do we make a little metany, or a great metany?" Knowing the rancor attached to the dispute, poor Fr Benjamin trembled, grew pale, then fainted and fell backwards.

So next they went to the Skete of the Forerunner, and asked the Abbot: "Father, we want to know, we have a terrible argument at our parish--what is the tradition? Because half the people say to make small metanies at "Blessed art Thou' now, and half say great metanies. And we start fighting, terrible, terrible. So, tell us, what is the Tradition?" Seeing the ferocity in their faces, poor Hieromonk Anatoly simply fainted.

Then someone shouted, "Let's go to Elder John and ask him!" It was a marvelous idea. Surely the elder's answer would bring peace, for he was respected by all, a native of the village, and his hoary 94 years guaranteed a knowledge of what the old tradition had been.

So a large crowd gathered at the elder's hut on the outskirts of town. Some 15 men from both sides entered the hut, and found frail Elder lying on his bed. As he struggled to draw himself up and offer tea, they cut him off: "Elder John, you have to help us! What is the Tradition? Every year in Lent, at 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord', half of the people at our village make little metanies, and half the people great metanies, and we start to argue, and the service doesn't even finish because of the fist fight!" Then Elder John said firmly, in his voice shaking with age, and with tears streaming down his joyful face, "That... is... the Tradition!"