“These Truths We Hold” (Part XVI)

Resurection of Christ

Continued from (Part XV)

Great Lent and Pascha

The Feast of Feasts the Holy Pascha the Resurrection of the Lord-is the climax of the Church’s liturgical year and is also the most glorious, most joyful and bright festival of the Christian Church. On it Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ arose as victor over death, destroying the power of death over man once and for all and annulling the curse pronounced upon man in Paradise. But, before the bright joy of Pascha, the Church has ordained a lengthy period of repentance and spiritual searching a period of preparation, so to speak the 40-day Great Lent.

The Forty Days of Great Lent commemorates Israel’s forty years of wandering in the Wilderness the forty years of painful struggle as Israel longed for and then received entrance into the Promised Land (Ex. 16:35) Moses remained fasting on Mt. Sinai for forty days (Ex. 34:28) and the Prophet Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8). Great Lent also recalls the forty days the Lord spent in the Wilderness after His Baptism, when He contended with Satan, the Temptor.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XV)

 Interior of the Church of St. John the Evangelist on the Ishna, near Rostov Yaroslavsky. Painting of Vasili Vasilyevich Vereshchagin 1888

Interior of the Church of St. John the Evangelist on the Ishna, near Rostov Yaroslavsky. Painting of Vasili Vasilyevich Vereshchagin 1888

Continued from (Part XIV)

Concerning Bows and the Sign of the Cross.

Orthodox worship is characterized by a complete utilization of the senses — sight, smell, hearing, speech and touch. We see the candles, Icons, frescoes, etc., we hear the sounds of singing and reading, at times lifting up our own voices, and we smell the characteristic odor of the incense. The whole of the human person is involved in worship, and important among the senses is the actual deportment of the human body. The attitude of the Orthodox Believer to worship is reverential, and certain types of bodily movements are utilized to reinforce this sense of reverential piety — we stand during the services, we make bows and prostrations, and with great frequency, we make the Sign of the Cross. Accordingly, there are several types of Bows, depending on the solemnity of the moment.

Prostration (Great Metanoia — Great Poklon).

Here the worshipper prostrates the whole body, throwing the weight forwards onto the hands and touching the ground with the forehead.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XIV)

Book of Gospel Gold case

Book of Gospel Gold case

Continued from (Part XIII)

Liturgical Books.

The Liturgical books used in Orthodox worship fall into three main groups. The first of these are three books containing readings from Holy Scripture. These are the Book of Gospels, the Book of Epistles (Apostol), and the Book of Psalms (Psalter).

Book of Gospels.

This book contains the text of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) ar-ranged in sections called pericopes (or zachalo in Russian). This book normally rests on the Holy Table, and is customarily treated in the same way as the Holy Icons, itself being regarded as an Icon of the Savior in His teaching ministry.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XIII)

the holy eucharist

Continued from (Part XII)

Holy Communion.

Communion is preceded by the fraction of the Lamb. The Priest and concelebrating Cler-gy, if any, communicate from the portion XC and the portions NI and KA are for the Commu-nion of the laity. The portion IC is placed in the Chalice last. Hot water is poured into the Chalice after the IC portion, symbolizing the water that poured forth from the Lord’s side, showing that although He was dead, His body was not devoid of divine virtue — that is, the warmth and vitality of the Holy Spirit.

After the Communion of the Clergy, the curtain is opened and the Priest comes out with the Chalice, at the exclamation, “In the fear of God and with faith, draw near!” Before the Com-munion of the Faithful, the Communion Prayer — a brief Symbol of Faith in Christ — is recited.

Prayer:

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XII)

St John Chrysostom and St Basil the Great

Continuued from (Part XI)

The Divine Liturgy.

The Divine Liturgy has its origins in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, instituted by the Lord Himself: Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and ‘ay to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’“ And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they pre-pared the Passover. When it was evening, He sat at table with the twelve disciples…. Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins… And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:17-20; 26-28, 30). This Eucharistic Supper and the Lord’s commandments concerning it were held sacred by the Apostles; for when they met together, they spent the time in prayer, in the singing of sacred hymns, and the breaking of bread in memory of Christ.

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“These Truths We Hold” (Part XI)

Vatopedi monks

Continued from (Part X)

Compline.

Compline, most often served in monasteries, is the Service of Prayer before retiring to bed and thus it is sung after Supper (Greek — Apodeipnon — after supper). As sleep is the image of death, Compline is filled with the thought of death and repentance. On Great Feasts and Saturday evenings, if All-Night Vigil is served, Compline is omitted. There are two types of Compline: Great Compline and its shorter form, Small Compline.

Great Compline consists of three parts, each of which begins with the introductory “Come, let us worship…” and ending with a concluding prayer and the Priest’s blessing. The first part begins with a special set of six Psalms and then the special hymn, “God is with us…,” taken from the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Savior Who was to come into the world. Then fol-lows prayers addressed to the Holy Trinity, the Creed, the Invocation of the Theotokos and all the Saints and the Prayer of St. Basil the Great. Thus, in this first part of Compline, we give thanks to God for the day that has just passed and we express the hope that He will grant us a restful sleep during the coming night, as well as a peaceful repose after death with all the Saints.

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