Saturday, 23 August 2014

Weeping

Abba Poeman said: "One who wishes to purify one's faults purifies them with tears; one who wishes to acquire the virtues acquires them with tears. Weeping is the way that the Scriptures and the Fathers give us, when they say: 'Weep!' Truly, there is no other way than this."

Thursday, 21 August 2014

What is a Thanksgiving Moleben?

In the last post something called the "Thanksgiving Moleben" was mentioned. I checked this up and found that this is something, I believe, that only priests and hierarchs can serve. It seems that they are services of thanksgiving, blessing of food or asking a saint for help services of prayers. Here is one I picked up on the net:

THANKSGIVING MOLEBEN
PRIEST: Glory to Holy, Consubstantial and undivided Trinity, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
READER: Amen. Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Three times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.

Lord have mercy. (Three times)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in the Heavens, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

PRIEST: For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory; of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
READER : Amen.

Lord have mercy. (12 times)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.

PSALM 117
O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good for His mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Israel now say that He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say that He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever. Let all that fear the Lord now say that He is good His mercy endureth for ever. Out of mine affliction I called upon the Lord, and He heard me and brought me into a broad place. The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. The Lord is my helper, and I shall look down upon mine enemies. It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to hope in the Lord than to hope in princes. All the nations compassed me round about, and by the name of the Lord I warded them off. Surrounding me they compassed me, and by name of the Lord I warded them off. They compassed me about like unto bees around a honeycomb, and they burst into flame like a fire among the thorns, and by the name of the Lord I warded them off. The Lord is my strength and my song, and He hath become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength, the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me, the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength. I shall not die, but live, and I shall tell of the works of the Lord. With chastisement hath the Lord chastened me, but He hath not given me over unto death. Open unto me the gates of righteousness; I will enter therein and give thanks unto the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter thereat. I will give thanks unto Thee, for Thou hast heard me and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein. O Lord, save now; O Lord, send now prosperity. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. God is the Lord, and hath appeared unto us. Ordain a feast with thick boughs, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will confess Thee; Thou art my God, and I will exalt Thee. I will give thanks unto Thee, for Thou hast heard me, and Thou art become my salvation. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endureth for ever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Glory to Thee, O God (three times)

Then the Deacon recites the litany:

DEACON: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
CHOIR: Lord have Mercy (after each petition)

For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
For the peace of the whole world, for the good estate of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
For this holy temple, and for those who with faith, reverence, and the fear of God enter herein, let us pray to the Lord.
For the Orthodox Episcopate of the Russian Church; for our Lord, the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan (N), First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad; for our Lord, the Most Reverend (Archbishop (N) or Bishop(N)); for the venerable Priesthood, the Diaconate in Christ; for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.
For this land, it's authorities and armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.
For the suffering (Russian) land and it's Orthodox people both in the homeland and n the diaspora, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
That the Lord will deliver His people from enemies both visible and invisible, and confirm in us oneness of mind, brotherly love and piety, let us pray to the Lord.
For this city, for every city and country, and the faithful that dwell therein, let us pray to the Lord.
For seasonable weather, for abundance of the fruits of the earth and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.
For travellers by land, by sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, and for their salvation, let us pray to Lord.

Here the special petitions are included:

That He will graciously accept this present thanksgiving and supplication of us unworthy sinners on His most heavenly altar, and in His compassion have mercy upon us, let us pray to the Lord.

That He will not despise the thanksgiving of us his unprofitable servants, which we offer with humble hearts for the benefits that we have received from Him; but that it may acceptable unto Him as sweet smelling incense, and a whole burnt offering, let us pray to the Lord.

That he will hearken now unto the voice of petition of us, His unworthy servants, and will always fulfil the good intention and desire of His faithful, as may be most expedient for them; and, in that He is bountiful, may always bestow his benefits upon us, and grant unto His holy Church and unto every faithful servant of His their petitions, let us pray to the Lord.

That he will deliver His holy Church (and His servant(s) (N)) and us all from every affliction, wrath, danger, and necessity, and from all enemies, both visible and invisible; and that He will always hedge about his faithful people with health, long life, and peace, and the host of his holy Angels, let us pray to the Lord.

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by thy grace.

Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

Exclamation:

PRIEST: For unto Thee is due all glory, honour, and worship: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and the ages of ages.

Then:

DEACON: In the _ Tone: God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Stichos (before the choir chants the first time): O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.

Stichos: Surrounding me they compassed me, and by the name of the Lord I warded them off.

CHOIR: God is the Lord ...

Stichos: I shall not but live, and I shall tell of the works of the Lord.

CHOIR: God is the Lord ...

Stichos: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

CHOIR: God is the Lord ...

And the following Troparia:

FOURTH TONE
We, thine unworthy servants, O Lord, grateful for thy great benefits which Thou hast showed upon us, glorifying Thee do praise, bless, give thanks, sing, and magnify Thy loving-kindness, and with love do cry aloud unto Thee in humble submissiveness: 0 our Benefactor and Savior, glory to Thee.

THIRD TONE
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Master Who hast freely vouchsafed Thy benefits and gifts unto Thine unprofitable servants, zealously resorting unto Thee, we offer unto Thee thanksgiving according to our strength, and glorifying Thee as our Benefactor and Creator, we cry aloud: Glory to thee, O God most bountiful.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Theotokos, the helper of Christians, having acquired thy protection, we thy servants gratefully do cry aloud unto thee: Rejoice, most pure virgin Theotokos! And from calamities deliver thou us always by thy prayers, O thou who alone art a speedy helper in trouble.

DEACON: Let us attend .
PRIEST: Peace be unto all!
READER: And to thy spirit.
DEACON: Wisdom!
READER: The Prokeimenon in the Fourth Tone. I will sing praises unto the Lord, because He hath dealt so lovingly with me, yea I will praise the name of the Lord Most High.

Verse. My Heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.

Then the Epistle is read:

(Eph 5:8-21) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

PRIEST: Peace be unto thee that readest.
READER: And to thy spirit
DEACON: Wisdom!
READER: The alleluia of the Gospel in the Fourth Tone:
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
DEACON: Wisdom, Aright! Let us hear the Holy gospel!
PRIEST: Peace be unto all.
CHOIR: And to thy spirit.
PRIEST: The reading is from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
CHOIR: Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.
DEACON: Let us attend.

St. Luke 17:12-19: 12 And as (Jesus) entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

CHOIR: Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.

And immediately, the Deacon recites the following Litany:

DEACON: Have mercy upon us, 0 God, according to thy great mercy, we beseech Thee: hearken. and have mercy.
CHOIR: Lord have mercy (Thrice, after each petition)

Returning thanks with fear and trembling, as unprofitable servants unto Thy loving-kindness, 0 Lord, our Saviour and our Master, for Thy benefits which thou hast poured out abundantly upon thy servants, we fall down in worship, and offer unto thee praise as God, and fervour we do cry aloud unto thee: Deliver thou thy servants from all calamities, and in that thou art merciful fulfil thou always the desires of us all, as may be expedient for us, we diligently entreat Thee, hearken, and have mercy.

In that thou now hast mercifully hearkened unto the supplications of thy servants, O Lord, and hast manifested upon us the tender compassion of thy love for mankind, so also, in time to

come, despising us not, do thou fulfil, unto thy glory, all good desires of thy faithful people, and reveal unto us all Thy rich mercy, disregarding our iniquities, we beseech thee: hearken, and have mercy.

And may this our thanksgiving be as sweet-smelling incense, as a fat whole burnt offering before the majesty of thy glory, 0 gracious Master, and send thou down always upon thy servants, in that Thou art beneficent, Thy rich mercies and bounties; and deliver from all assaults of enemies, both visible and invisible, thy holy Church, and this city, and grant unto all thy people length of days, sinless and healthful, and increase in all virtue, we beseech thee, 0 all bountiful King: mercifully hearken, and speedily show mercy.

Exclamation:

PRIEST: Hear us, 0 God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of those who are far off upon the sea; and show mercy, show mercy, 0 Master, upon us sinners, and be merciful unto us sinners, and be merciful unto us. For Thou art a merciful God who lovest mankind, and unto thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

CHOIR: Amen.
DEACON: Let us pray to the Lord!

And the priest, with all heed and devoutness, reads the following prayer, aloud:

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, the God of all mercies and bounties Whose mercy is immeasurable, and whose love for mankind is an unfathomable deep: falling down in adoration before Thy majesty, with fear and trembling, as unprofitable servants, and now humbly rendering thanks unto Thy loving-kindness for Thy benefits bestowed upon Thy Servant(s) (N), we glorify Thee, we praise Thee, we sing Thee and we magnify thee as our Lord, and Master, and Benefactor; and again falling down before Thee, we humbly thank Thee, supplicating Thy boundless and inexpressible mercy. And in that Thou hast graciously vouchsafed to accept the petitions of Thy servants and to fulfil them, so also grant that henceforth thy Holy Church and this city may be delivered from every hostile assault, and may be vouchsafed peace and tranquillity, and that increasing in true love of Thee, and in all virtues, all Thy faithful people may receive Thy benefits; and that we may ever offer thanksgiving unto Thee, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all holy, and good, and life giving Spirit, God glorified in one person; and that we may say exceeding good things and sing:

and immediately, he exclaims in a loud voice:

Glory to Thee, O God our Benefactor, unto the ages of ages.

CHOIR: Amen.

And immediately is sung the great Doxology, or the Hymn of St. Ambrose:

GREAT DOXOLOGY
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will among men. We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory. O Lord, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty; O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; and O Holy Spirit. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord, O Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. Every day will I bless Thee, and I will praise Thy Name forever, yea, forever and forever.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy name unto the ages of ages. Amen. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes. (Three times).

Lord, thou hast been our refuge in generation and generation. I said: O Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee. O Lord, unto Thee have I fled for refuge, teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. For in Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy light shall we see light. O continue Thy mercy unto them that know Thee.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Three times).

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Immortal have mercy on us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

And when it is finished:

DEACON: Wisdom!
CHOIR: More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
PRIEST: Glory to Thee, O God, our hope, glory to Thee.
CHANTERS : Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Lord, have mercy. (thrice) Father (master), bless.
PRIEST: May Christ our God, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, (the patron saint of the temple) , and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.
CHANTERS : Amen.

The end of the Service of Thanksgiving

Practical Tips for Orthodox Living

St. Pelagia the Penitent
The following "tips" are by Mother Pelagia of Lesna Convent (sent to the website Orthodoxinfo here), who prefaces them with the remark: "Orthodox families train their children from a very early age to acquire religious habits, in some of which I was myself, as a Protestant, brought up." Her first tips are:

1) Prayers are said morning and evening, either together as a family or individually.

2) A blessing (grace, we called it) is said by the head of the family before a meal, and a prayer of thanks afterwards.

3) On entering a room where there is an icon, cross yourself before it and say a brief prayer.

4) When leaving one's dwelling, make the sign of the cross over the door and pray for its protection.

5) On seeing a priest, abbot or abbess, or even when phoning them or writing to them, always ask their blessing.

6) Before going to bed, make the sign of the cross over it and pray for protection during sleep.

7) When you hear of anyone's death, immediately say a prayer for their eternal memory.

8) If discussing or planning the future say: "As God wills."

9) If you offend or hurt anyone, say as soon as possible, "Forgive me," always trying to take the blame yourself

10) If something turns out well, say "Praise be (to God)."

11) If something turns out badly, if there is pain, sickness or any kind of trouble, say "Praise be to God for all things," since God is all good and, though we might not understand the purpose of these things, undoubtedly they have been permitted by God

12) If you begin some task, say, "God help me," or if someone else' working: "May God help you," (How sad that this expression is so perverted in the modern exclamation "God help you!")

13) Cross yourself and say a brief prayer before even the shortest journey by car.

14) For a longer and more difficult journey, ask a priest to sing a Moleben, failing that, at home say the troparion and kontakion for a journey.

15) If there is a possibility of future trouble of any kind, either for yourself or for someone you care for, say an Akathist to the Mother of God.

16) When you receive a blessing after prayer, always remember to thank God; if it is a small thing, you may add a prayer of thanksgiving to your daily prayers or make an offering. For matters of greater import, ask the priest to serve the Thanksgiving Moleben. But NEVER neglect to give thanks.
Excerpts from The Shepherd: General Tips

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

On behalf of all

I would like to recommend a blog I have been following which is specially designed to answer any questions you may have about Orthodoxy. It's called "On Behalf of All" and can be accessed here. Here is the 'about us' information included on the blog:

"This is a simple blog with the express purpose of promoting the Orthodox Christian faith.

Most of the contributors to this website are converts to Orthodoxy from other religions or forms of Christianity, and all of us live in the “diaspora”—that is, in places where Orthodoxy is relatively new, and the result of both immigration and missionary efforts.

This site began several years ago as my own personal blog, where I would share thoughts and reflections from theological studies, scripture, and my conversion journey from Protestantism to the Orthodox Faith. Over the years, it has evolved in both focus and scope. I am now joined by many other people who have gone on similar-but-different journeys of faith, and the blog is richer for it.

There are many websites devoted in some way to Orthodox Christianity on the Internet. It is quite the mixed bag. In fact, there are more sites that either misrepresent or even attack Orthodoxy—under the guise, perhaps, of “scholarship” or other pretences—than there are positive, encouraging, and faithful sites representing the beauty and richness of the Orthodox faith. We hope that On Behalf of All is the latter; a place that actually embraces, celebrates, and positively promotes the Orthodox faith, in contradistinction to both heterodoxy and heresy.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Praying for the Church

"You are told to pray especially for the people, that is, for the whole body, for all its members, the family of your mother the Church; the badge of membership is your love for each other. If you pray only for yourself, you pray for yourself alone. If each one prays for himself, he receives less from God's goodness than the one who prays on behalf of others."
St. Ambrose of Milan

From Orthodox Daily Prayer
And first of all remember Your Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which You have purchased with Your precious blood. Confirm and strengthen it, enlarge and multiply it, keep it in peace, and preserve it unconquerable by the gates of hell forever. Heal the schisms of the churches, quench the ragings of the 
heathen, speedily undo and root out te growths of heresies, and bring them to naught by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops, priests, ministers, and deacons, and the whole clergy of Your Church, which You have established to feed the flock of Your word and by their prayers have mercy upon me, and save me, a sinner.

Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon the old, the young, the needy , the orphans and the widows, and on all that are in sickness and sorrow, in distress and affliction, in oppression and captivity, in prison and confinement. More especially have mercy upon Your servants who are under persecution for Your sake and for the sake of the Orthodox Faith at the hands of heathen nations, of apostates, and of heretics: remember them, visit, strengthen, keep, and comfort them, and make haste to grant them, by Your power, relief, freedom, and deliverance.

Friday, 15 August 2014

From the Akathist Hymn to the Divine Passion of Christ

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
Creator of Heaven and earth,
Saviour of the world,
Behold I who am unworthy
and of all men most sinful,
humbly bow the knee of my heart before
the glory of Thy majesty
and praise Thy Cross and Passion,
and offer thanksgiving to Thee,
the King and God of all,
that Thou wast pleased to bear
as man all labours and hardships,
all temptations and tortures,
that Thou mightest be our Fellow-sufferer and Helper,
and a Saviour to all of us in all our sorrows, needs, and sufferings.

I know, O all-powerful Lord, that all these things
were not necessary for Thee,
but for us men and for our salvation Thou didst endure Thy Cross and Passion
that Thou mightest redeem us from all cruel bondage to the enemy.

What, then, shall I give in return to Thee, O Lover of mankind,
for all that Thou hast suffered for me, a sinner?
I cannot say, for soul and body and all blessings come from Thee,
and all that I have is Thine, and I am Thine.
Yet I know that love is repaid only by love.
Teach me, then, to love and praise Thee.

Trusting solely in Thine infinite compassion and mercy, O Lord,
I praise Thine unspeakable patience,
I magnify Thine unutterable exhaustion,
I glorify Thy boundless mercy,
I adore Thy purest Passion,
and most lovingly kissing Thy wounds, I cry:
Have mercy on me a sinner,
and cause that Thy holy Cross may not be fruitless in me,
that I may participate here with faith in Thy sufferings
and be vouchsafed to behold also the glory of Thy Kingdom in Heaven. Amen.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Believing in God

"The ideal and ultimate form of true faith means having direct experience of God as a living reality."
Father Maximos in The Mountain of Silence

(A popular fallacy is that believing in the Creed represents...a blind faith in God). "True faith means in live with God, I am one with God. I have come to know God and therefore I know that He truly Is. God lives inside me and is victorious over death and I move forward with God....

"......when during the liturgy we recite the prayer "I believe in one God...." we try in reality to move from an intellectual faith in God to the actual vision of God. Faith becomes Love itself. The Creed actually means 'I love in a union of love with God.' This is the path of the saints. On,y then can we say that we are true Christians. This is the kind of faith that the saints possess as direct experience . Consequently they are unafraid of death, of war, of illness, or anything else in this world. They are beyond all worldly ambition, of money, fame, power, safety, and the like. Such persons transcend the idea of God and enter into the experience of God."
Ibid page 45

Monday, 11 August 2014

Keeping prayer simple

"Let all multiplicity be absent from your prayer. A single word was enough for the publican and the prodigal son to receive God's pardon. … Do not try to find exactly the right words for your prayer: how many times does the simple and monotonous stuttering of children draw the attention of their father!

Do not launch into long discourses, for if you do, your mind will be dissipated trying to find just the right words. The publican's short sentence moved God to mercy. A single word full of faith saved the thief."
John Climacus (d. 649)

Resolutions

Resolutions from Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky, the New Confessor

1. Remember, you are a son (daughter) of the Orthodox Church.  These are not empty words.  Remember the commitment this entails.

2. Earthly life is fleeting; one is hardly aware of the swiftness of its passing. Nevertheless, this transient life determines the eternal destiny of your soul.  Do not forget this for a moment.

3. Try to live piously.  Pray to God in church, pray to God at home–fervently, with faith, trusting yourself to God’s will.  Fulfill the holy and saving precepts of the Church, her rules and commandments.  Outside the Church, outside obedience to her, there is no salvation.

4. The gift of words is one of God’s greatest gifts. It ennobles man, lifting him above all other creatures.  But how this gift is now misused by a corrupts humanity!  Safeguard this gift and learn to use it as befits a Christian.  Do not judge, do not speak idly.  Avoid, like fire, bad language and seductive conversation; do not forget the words of our Lord and Savior: By thy words thou shall be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Mt 12:37)  Do not indulge in lying.  Holy Scripture sternly forewarns: The Lord shall destroy all them which speak a lie. (Ps 5:4)

5. Love your neighbor as yourself, according to the Lord’s commandment. Without love there is not Christianity. Remember, Christian love is SELF-SACRIFICING, and not egocentric. Do not miss an opportunity to show love and mercy.

6. Be meek, pure and modest in your thoughts, words and deeds.  Do not imitate the profligate.  Do not take their example, and avoid close acquaintance with them.  Have no unnecessary dealings with unbelievers-unbelief is infectious.  Observe meekness and propriety always and everywhere; avoid becoming contaminated by the shameless habits of todays world.

7. Fear vanity and pride; run from them. Pride caused the highest and most power angel to be cast down from heaven.  remember, ‘thou art earth and to earth shat thou return…’ Deeply humble yourself.

8. The fundamental task in life is to save one’s soul for eternity.  Keep this as the most essential task, the main concern of your life.  Woe to those whose indifference and neglect bring their souls to eternal ruination.
Source: Orthodox Heritage, Vol 7, issue 09-10, p 32

Friday, 8 August 2014

Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?

As an Evangelical the Scriptures are very important to me but I am beginning to see them from a different perspective thanks to articles like the following from Fr Bernstein entitled “Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?”  It was published by Conciliar Press/Ancient Faith Publishing can be found on the following website (click here).

It is available in booklet form, along with many other booklets on topics of Orthodox faith and practice, at http://store.ancientfaith.com/booklets/

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

I was very struck recently reading about Eastern Orthodox's etiquette rules. 'Rules' is probably not the best way to describe a set of guidelines for those unfamiliar with worship in an Orthodox Church, but do set important standards in relation to how you should appear before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Here is one such set taken from the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

In the Orthodox Church, there are a lot of customs and traditions that are important parts of our worship. Some are cultural; some are pious customs. Some are essential; some are not. From time-to-time, we need to address some of these various etiquette issues to inform our communities how we can best understand each other and work together to worship the all-holy Trinity.

Standing vs. Sitting 
The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church has been to stand. In the Orthodox "old countries", there are usually no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usually reserved for the elderly and infirm. In North America, we have tended to build our churches with pews, and since we have them, we need to figure out when we may sit and when we should stand. First of all, it is fully acceptable (even preferable) to stand for the entire service. If you prefer this, it would be better to find a place closer to the back or side of the church so as not to stand out or block someone's view. When should you definitely stand? Always during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal. In many parishes, the Divine Liturgy books in the pew have suggested times when sitting is acceptable. Follow those instructions (it's probably safer than to follow what the people are doing in the first couple of rows). When in doubt, stand. It is never wrong to stand in church.

Lighting Candles 
Lighting candles is an important part of Orthodox worship. We light them as we pray, making an offering to accompany our prayers. Orthodox typically light candles when coming into the church - and that is usually the best time to light them, but there are times when candles should not be lit. It is not proper to light candles during the Epistle or Gospel readings, during the Little or Great Entrances, the sermon, and most of the times when the faithful are standing. If you find yourself arriving to church after the Liturgy has begun, a good rule of thumb to remember is - if everyone is standing, wait until they are sitting to light a candle (unless they are sitting for the sermon, of course). Other than that it is probably all right to light a candle.

Entering the Church (Late) 
The time to arrive at church is before the service starts, but for some unknown reason, it has become the custom - or rather the bad habit - for some to come to church late. If you arrive after the Divine Liturgy begins, try to enter the church quietly - and observe what is happening. If the Epistle or Gospel is being read or the Little or Great Entrance is taking place, wait until it is finished to quickly find a seat. If Father is giving the sermon, stay in the back until he has concluded. If in doubt, check with one of the ushers to see if it is a good time to seat yourself. Try not to interrupt the Liturgy with you entrance. By the way, the best way to avoid this problem is to arrive on time - then you don't have to wonder if it's okay to come in or not. People who come late to the Liturgy should not partake of the Eucharist!

Crossing those Legs? 
In some Orthodox cultures, crossing one's legs is taboo and considered to be very disrespectful. In our North American culture, while there are no real taboos concerning crossing one's legs, we tend to cross our legs to get comfortable while sitting. Should we cross our legs in church? No. Not because it is "wrong" to ever cross legs, but rather because it is too casual - and too relaxed - for being in church. Just think about it, when you get settled in your favorite chair at home, you lean back, cross your legs, and then your mind can wander anywhere it wants to. Remember that sitting in church is a concession, not the normative way of prayer. You surely don't want to get too relaxed and let your mind wander off too much. In fact, when you do sit in church, you should sit attentively - and not too comfortably. When sitting in church, keep those feet on the floor, ready to stand at attention (which is what "Let us attend" means). Cross yourself with your fingers and hand - but don't cross your legs!

In and Out 
In and out? It's a hamburger place in LA, but shouldn't be the traffic pattern by the back door during services. On some Sundays, it almost seems like we have a revolving door in the back of the church - and it is used by both children and adults. Use the restroom before coming to church. You shouldn't need to get a drink of water during the service (especially if you are taking Communion!). Don't come to church to go to the fellowship hall - come to pray.

Leaving Before Dismissal 
Leaving church before the Dismissal - besides being rude - deprives us of a blessing. Worship has a beginning ("Blessed is the Kingdom…") and an end ("Let us depart in peace…"). To leave immediately after Communion is to treat church like a fast food restaurant where we come and go as we please. We live in a fast-paced world where we seem to be hurrying from place to place. But in God's presence, we need to make every attempt to fight this pressure to move on to the next thing on the day's agenda. We deprive ourselves of blessings by not being still and participating in God's holiness. Eat and run at McDonald's - but stay in church and thank God for his precious gifts.

Blot that Lipstick!
Have you ever looked at an icon in just the right light and seen the lip prints all over it? It's disgusting, isn't it? In fact, it's downright gross. Lipstick may look fine on lips, but it looks horrible on icons, crosses, the Communion spoon and the priest's or bishop's hand. Icons have been ruined by lipstick; and even though the cross can usually be cleaned after everyone venerates it, it just isn't considerate to others to impose your lipstick on them. What is the answer? If you insist on wearing lipstick to church, blot your lips well before venerating an icon, taking Communion, or kissing the cross or the priest's or bishop's hand. Even better, wait until after church to put it on. After all, God is not impressed with how attractive you look externally - your makeup or clothing - but how attractive you are internally, your adornment with good works and piety.

Venerating Icons 
When you enter the church, it is traditional to venerate the icons. Usually there are icons at the entrance to the church and many churches have icon stands in the front as well. When venerating (kissing) and icon, pay attention to where you kiss. It is not proper to kiss an icon in the face. You wouldn't go up and kiss the Lord or His mother on the lips, would you? You would kiss their hand, and only of they invited you would you even dare to kiss them on the cheek. Pay attention to what you are doing. When you approach and icon to venerate it, kiss the gospel, scroll, or hand cross in the hand of the person in the icon, or kiss the hand or foot of the person depicted. As you venerate and icon, show proper respect to the person depicted in the icon - the same respect you would show the person by venerating him or her in an appropriate place. And remember, blot off your lipstick before kissing.

Talking during Church 
Isn't it great to come to church and see friends and family members? But wait until coffee hour to say "Hi" to them. It just isn't appropriate to greet people and have a conversation with them during the services. Besides being disrespectful towards God, it is rude towards the other people in the church who are trying to worship. Talk to God while in church through your prayers, hymns, and thanksgiving, and to your friends in the hall afterwards.

Kiss (Don't Shake) the Priest's or Bishop's Hand 
Did you know that the proper way to greet a priest or bishop is to ask his blessing and kiss his right hand? How do you do this? Approach the priest or bishop with your right hand over your left hand and say "Father (or "Master" in the case of the bishop), bless." This is much more appropriate (and traditional) than shaking their hands. After all, the priest and bishop are not just "one of the boys." When you kiss their hands, you show respect for their office - they are the ones who "bless and sanctify" you and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf. So next time you greet your priest or bishop, don't shake his hand, ask for his blessing.

Sunday Dress 
Remember the time when people put on their "Sunday best" to go to church? In fact, dress clothes were often referred to as Sunday clothes. In some parts of the country, this is not common today. In fact, all too often, dress in church has become too casual. In all areas of our lives, we should offer Christ our best. And the same is true of our dress. We should offer Christ our 'Sunday best", not our everyday or common wear. And we should dress modestly, not in a flashy way that would bring attention to ourselves. Our dress should always be becoming of a Christian - especially at church.

Here are some specific guidelines we use in our parishes:

Children 
Only young children (under 10) should wear shorts to church - and then only dress shorts. Athletic shorts, cut-offs, and spandex shorts are never appropriate church wear (for children or adults!). Shoes or sandals should be clean and tied. No one should wear T-shirts with any kind of writing on them ("This Bud's for You!" is definitely out).

Women 
Dresses should be modest. No tank tops or dresses with only straps at the shoulders, no short skirts (mini-skirts), and no skin-tight dresses. Dresses should have backs and not be cut low in the front. If women wear pants to church, they should be dress pants (not jeans, leggings, etc.). Shorts of any type are not appropriate for church.

Men 
Men should also dress modestly. While coat and tie are not mandatory, shirts should have collars and be buttoned to the collar (the actual collar button may be left undone, but two or three buttons undone is inappropriate). Slacks should be cleaned and pressed. Jeans (of any color) are usually too casual for church, especially ones with patches or holes. Again, shorts are not appropriate church wear.

If you're going somewhere after church where you need to dress casually, bring a change of clothing with you and change after coffee hour. Remember, use your best judgment and good taste when dressing for church. After all, you don't go to be seen by everyone else - you go to meet and worship God.

Pew Blocking
Never heard of pew blocking? It's that practice of sitting right next to the aisle so that no one else can get by to sit in the middle of the pew. Everyone has seen it. In fact, the best pew blockers come early so they can get their coveted aisle seats and then be sure that no one can get past them. The most effective form of pew blocking takes place when two people take their places at opposite ends of the pew, occupying both the center and aisle seats. This effectively eliminates anyone else from sitting on that row. There are two solutions to pew blocking. The first is to move towards the middle of the pew, leaving the aisle seats for those coming later. And for those of you who just can't handle sitting in the middle of the pew [or those with small children who may need to make a fast exit - NTK], take the outside aisle spot and graciously allow those coming after you to go past (by moving out for them so they can get by). Remember, pew blocking isn't hospitable - nor is it an efficient method of seating. So don't be selfish. Move on over towards the middle. Don't be a pew blocker.

To Cross or Not To Cross
Anyone who has looked around on a Sunday morning will notice that different people cross themselves at different times (and sometimes in different ways). To a certain extent, when to cross oneself is according to personal piety and not an issue of dogma. But there are times when it is specifically proper to cross yourself, and times when you should not. Here is a brief list of when to cross and when not to cross:

To Cross 
When you hear one of the variations of the phrase, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"; at the beginning and end of the liturgical service or your private prayers; entering or exiting the church, or when passing in front of the Holy Altar; before venerating in icon, the cross, or Gospel book.

Not to Cross 
At the chalice before or after taking Communion (you might hit the chalice with your hand); when the priest or bishop blesses saying, "Peace be to all" - bow slightly and receive the blessing; when receiving a blessing from a bishop or a priest (kissing the right hand of the bishop or priest is appropriate, but not making the sign of the cross).

Touching the Hem of Father's Garments 
Many people like to touch the hem of Father's phelonion as he goes through the congregation for the Great Entrance. This is a nice, pious custom by which you "attach" your personal prayers to the prayer of the entrance with the holy gifts. At the same time, you need to be careful neither to grab too hard and trip up the Great Entrance, nor to push people out of the way. And be sure to help your children so that they observe these guidelines as well.

Snacks for Children 
You can always tell where young children have been sitting in the church. The tell-tale signs are graham cracker crumbs, Cheerios, and animal crackers. Parents often bring snacks and a cup of fruit juice along for children during church. And for young children (0-2 years old), this is fine. But by the time children are 3-4 years old, they should be able to make it through Liturgy without eating anything, and by the time they reach seven (the age of their first confession), they should begin fasting on Sunday morning for Communion (or at least make an attempt at fasting by cutting back on the amount of breakfast and eating "fasting"-type foods - talk to your priest about this). For those children who get snacks, please don't feed them while in the line for Holy Communion (this applies to holy bread as well). They need to come to Communion without food in their mouths. And one last note: try to keep the snack mess down to a minimum. The floor shouldn't be covered with Cheerios! Chewing gum during Liturgy is a No-No for everyone!

Handling the Holy Bread 
After taking Holy Communion and at the end of the liturgy, it is traditional to eat a piece of holy bread or antidoron - the bread that was left over after Holy Communion was prepared. While antidoron is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread and as such, should be eaten carefully so that crumbs don't fall all over the place. After taking Communion or kissing the cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy, take one piece of antidoron (you don't need four or five pieces) and when you return to your seat or get to a place where you can stop for a moment, eat the bread trying not to drop crumbs. If you want to give a piece to someone else, go ahead and take an extra piece - don't break yours in half (it produces too many crumbs). And monitor your children as they take the antidoron and teach them to eat it respectfully.

A Final Thought 
North American society in the late 20th century is rather casual in its approach to life. Don't allow this prevailing attitude to enter into your Orthodox Christian piety. There are surely a lot of other areas that could be covered here. Much of church etiquette is based on common sense and showing respect for God and others. Always remember that you are in church to worship God, the Holy Trinity. The priest says, "With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near." Let this be the way you approach all of worship. If you do, you will probably have good church etiquette.

The challenge of Orthodoxy

"Orthodoxy" - its very name, with its Chestertonian, take-no-prisoners ring, appealed to the truth-lover in me. Here was a religion that cost something, and that something was my total participation. I would have to stand up in the very presence of God and actively show Him that I worshipped Him, rather than passively sitting in a pew to receive His Word secondhand. I would have to admit to my sins and repent of them, rather than just sort of hoping they would disappear by themselves. I would have to employ every bit of intelligence God gave me just to comprehend the depth of thought reached in patristic writings. And best of all, there would be no guarantee that I would succeed. Salvation did not come automatically with Church membership."
Mary Heather Lowe from "Our hearts true home." Edited by Virginia Nieuwsma

Note: The above excerpt is taken from a book containing accounts of fourteen women's journey to orthodoxy.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The following is the testimony of an Orthodox convert, Father Barnabas of St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral (see the following website here).  Father Barnabas was a Pentecostal before joining the Orthodox Church:

From the desk of Father Barnabas
The Pentecostal church I grew up in had a profound impact on my life. The lively services, the thundering sermons, and the emotional altar calls gripped my young heart and fed my hunger for an intimate encounter with God. As a young man growing up in a Pentecostal church, I always knew I wanted to be a preacher because all the powerful men I had ever known had been men in the pulpit, and I wanted to be just like them.

In my Pentecostal church I was told that a stream is purest at its source, so what we had to do was to be like the Church in the Book of Acts. If we were going to affect our world for Jesus then we needed the same power the Early Church had, and that meant being Pentecostal. The whole purpose for our emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, lively, emotional worship services, and powerful, motivating, sermons, was to keep us motivated to win lost souls. If you weren’t witnessing, you weren’t on fire for the Lord.

I was the youth choir director and our youth group traveled around the Southeast singing and preaching the Good News. Sometimes I would give the sermon, but that had been a honor earned on the streets, since none of the young preachers were allowed to speak at church until they’d proved their mettle by preaching on the street corners. It was there that we got our first speaking experience.

Over the years, I began having difficulty dealing with those times when the level of religious excitement wasn’t at a fevered pitch. I knew I was excited about Jesus, but I began questioning whether I knew Him or not. I knew I didn’t want to go to hell. I knew I wanted to go to heaven (after all, if you’re in heaven, then you’re not in hell, right?). I knew I wanted to be a preacher, because everybody listened to the preacher. I knew I wanted to have a successful ministry (meaning a large church), but what I didn’t know is what to do when the emotions died down. All my quick and simple answers weren’t working for me so why would I think that they’d work for others. I was missing something.

It was then that I received the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do: go to college for a theological education. So, off I went to Toccoa, Georgia, where I attended a small, conservative, Evangelical Protestant, theological school. To help put myself through school, I continued doing what I had been doing in the Atlanta area; I served as a police officer in the local community. While at school, I was exposed to a depth of theology I had never imagined. Wow, this was it! Deep theology! But a lot of this theology was causing me to question my Pentecostal upbringing. I could no longer see the Christian life as one of constant emotional excitement, or ecstatic religious experiences. I had to admit that some of the doctrinal positions I once held were not entirely accurate.

I Became an Evangelical
Gradually, I became an Evangelical, committed to the classic theology of the Protestant Reformation. At least our goal was still to win the world for Christ. My time at school was wonderful. The classes were, for the most part, challenging and enlightening. I was being taught to be a scholar, to ask the right questions, and to discover the right answers. But the longer I studied the more I became convinced that something was missing! It was then that I discovered an interest in church history.
Every graduate of a Pastoral theology course of study at Toccoa Falls College had to have what was called an internship at a church. So, the last summer of my senior year I had scheduled my internship at one of the most successful churches in the Southeast, Christ Church, in Nashville, Tennessee. This church was well known for being a Pentecostal church that had successfully married Evangelical theology with Pentecostal worship.

Some of the questions I was asking were also being asked by the assistant pastor of Christ Church, Dan Scott, Jr. He and I had long discussions about this. Dan was a scholar with a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Southern California. We would talk for hours about theology and church history.

A Dream About Orthodoxy
Dan told me about a dream he had while he was a missionary in Canada. In the dream, he was walking inside this very old church building, with marble floors and high ceilings. Inside there were pictures all over the walls and candles burning everywhere. Several old men with long white beards and dressed in black robes, were praying standing up, and he sensed, stronger than he had ever sensed, the presence of God in the place. The men were actually glowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and Dan said he was speechless.

All of a sudden, one of the old, bearded, men turned to him and asked: “Where have you been?”
One day Dan advised me to read The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. I started reading this book and was captured by the history of the Orthodox Church. Here was the story of what happened to the missions of St Peter and St Paul in the New Testament; the continued story of the missions to Greece, Ephesus, Antioch, Asia Minor and Jerusalem.

It was eye opening to say the least. I had been trained to see all of Christianity as a question of either Roman Catholicism or Protestantism and now I was being confronted with a third Way.

Much to my surprise, I learned that not only were there still Orthodox Christians, but that there was even a group of former Evangelicals and Charismatics who had become Orthodox. I got in touch with them and two of their leaders journeyed to Georgia to visit with me.

By the fall of 1989, I was pastoring a growing Evangelical Protestant congregation in Woodstock, Georgia called Church of the Firstborn. I was also working as a Promotions Manager at In Touch Ministries in Atlanta. This placed me deep in the Evangelical world of media and ministry. Every week my best friend, Rod Loudermilk (a former Pentecostal pastor himself), and I would meet to discuss theology and the books we were reading and invariably we would turn to the church history books we both found so interesting. In these books we discovered the Church fathers, the witness of the Holy Spirit in every age of the Church and the heroes of the Faith we began to identify as true and genuine followers of our lord Jesus. We began to be convinced that there were treasures here for us today that we desperately needed to reclaim.

I was also trying to incorporate what I was learning about the early Church into our local congregation: things like a weekly Lord’s Supper, and the weekly recitation of the Apostle’s Creed. Also, I began involving the congregation in regular responses: “Peace be with you,” “And also with you.” I imagine our Pentecostal church was the only Pentecostal church in the area with icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary behind the pulpit! As a Pentecostal, I had been taught that worship wasn’t a spectator sport. I didn’t realize till it was too late that the underlying theology behind historical Christian worship wasn’t compatible with my current theology. It was like trying to mix oil and water. It didn’t work.

Discovering the Orthodox Church
In 1992 I began to have regular discussions with those who had become Orthodox. I found myself drawn to these men and their journey. They didn’t try to persuade me they were right. They just told me about their own story.

After an invitation from one of these men, I visited an Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, Indiana to experience what we had been reading about. What we both experienced there was both overwhelming in an emotional and experiential aspect and exciting in that here was the historical perspectives I had been searching for in a modern setting.

After the service, we said our good-byes and headed back to Atlanta. For a long time neither of us said a word. There were no words. I was convinced that I had to have the theology behind the beauty that I had just experienced.

For the next several years we studied, read, experimented with different worship styles, and I preached and taught what I was learning to my people. We tried mixing Pentecostalism with a sacramental practice. We worked with our brothers and sisters who were on a similar journey. We attended weekend meetings at New Skete monastery (an Orthodox monastery) in upstate New York. We had “teaching weekends” with brothers who had started this journey years earlier. We worked hard.

I eventually had to come to grips with my own spiritual journey and my pastorate at our church in Atlanta. The breaking point came when an evangelist I had invited to our church for a series of meetings (we still called it a “revival” at that time) began praying for my folks in a prayer line and I was there praying that his prayers wouldn’t harm or deceive these dear people. That was it! I had to make a choice. I approach our church elders and spoke frankly with them about my own journey to Orthodoxy, and we agreed to make a clear message to our church about my own choices. At the end of those days of talking and praying 20 families from our church had decided to enter the Orthodox Church with me. We were all chrismated into the Church at St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church in America) in Atlanta in November of 2001. Our journey to Orthodoxy took nine years, but we were finally home.

In August 2007 my family and I moved to Boston, MA to attend seminary at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and on November 8th 2009 (a little over 8 years to the day we were received into the Church) I was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta. In March of 2010 I was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Alexios at the same cathedral. After my graduation from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology I was assigned to my first parish – Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, GA. Lord, be gracious to me, the sinner.

Orthodoxy attracts me precisely because of my background as a Pentecostal. Worship is very important to Pentecostals. And in Orthodoxy I have found a depth of worship that doesn’t deny my emotions, but doesn’t depend on them as well. Orthodox worship takes into account the whole person. It was said by the great Russian writer, Dostoevsky, that “beauty will save the world,” and I have found a beauty in Orthodox worship that draws me to God.

A former professor and Evangelical Protestant once said that the theology he read that had been written by Christian writers in the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries (times that were suppose to be gripped in the darkness of ritualism and false teachings) were more beautiful and more powerful than most of all the conservative Protestant writers of his own day. In effect, he said that their so-called “error” was more beautiful and more powerful than his so-called “truth.”

Richness and Fullness
My journey has led me into Orthodox worship and belief. This should not lead others to think I have abandoned my desire to find the fullness of Christian faith and worship. It simply means that I no longer feel the need to reconstruct a pure church in the image of the early church. I am not certain I would be able to recognize such a Church if I encountered it. If those folks mocking Christ failed to recognize the scourged, beaten, bleeding, and crucified person hanging on the cross as the Lord of glory, would I recognize his body today? My only recourse is to trust the Holy Spirit has preserved His Church and ask that same Spirit to form me within the Church that exists today. The question of authority has been settled in my own heart by coming to the conclusion that I will give the consistent witness of the Church through the ages the benefit of the doubt in matters of faith, theology, and practice. This is what G.K. Chesterton called giving our ancestors a vote.

Nonetheless, for me, Orthodoxy offers a richness and a fullness that is timeless and yet refreshingly new. It is so vast and wide-reaching and so full of mystery that it will take more than a lifetime to fully examine it. While I am not competent to judge the hearts of others, I am convinced that there is preserved within Orthodox Christianity a foundational core of worship and faith that is fundamentally true to the Spirit and life of the New Testament. This is the faith “once, for all, delivered to the saints.”

For those who wonder whether this can be true, I refer them to the words of St. Philip the apostle:
Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

And Nathaniel said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46

Fr. Barnabas is married to the former Connie Demas, and they have two daughters, Alexandra and Katerina. They live in the Cumming, GA area and are part of the Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox parish community.

Orthodox on Purpose

Monday, 4 August 2014

"An Exact Exposition... Concerning Scripture


I have been reading excerpts from "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" by St. John of Damascus and it makes fascinating reading. It was written in the late 7th or early 8th century A.D. and is full of Biblical language, quotations and allusions. But what is of particular interest to me - an evangelical contemplating becoming Orthodox - is the list of books that make up the Bible in John's day including those which are know as being from the Apocrypha and the inclusion of some of Clement's letters in the New Testament! Here is the Chapter:

BOOK IV CHAPTER XVII - Concerning Scripture.

It is one and the same God Whom both the Old and the New Testament proclaim, Who is praised and glorified in the Trinity: I am come, saith the Lord, not to destroy life law but to fulfil it. For He Himself worked out our salvation for which all Scripture and all mystery exists. And again, Search the Scriptures for they are they that testify of Me. And the Apostle says, God, Who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days

spoken unto us by His Son. Through the Holy Spirit, therefore, both the law and the prophets, the evangelists and apostles and pastors and teachers, spake.

All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable. Wherefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of waters, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season, viz. orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation. For in these we find both exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every vice. If, therefore, we are lovers of learning, we shall also be learned in many things. For by care and toil and the grace of God the Giver, all things are accomplished. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to hint that knocketh it shall be opened. Wherefore let us knock at that very fair garden of the Scriptures, so fragrant and sweet and blooming, with its varied sounds of spiritual and divinely-inspired birds ringing all round our ears, laying hold of our hearts, comforting the mourner, pacifying the angry and filling him with joy everlasting: which sets our mind on the gold-gleaming, brilliant back of the divine dove, whose bright pinions bear up to the only-begotten Son and Heir of the Husbandman of that spiritual Vineyard and bring us through Him to the Father of Lights. But let us not knock carelessly but rather zealously and constantly: lest knocking we grow weary. For thus it will be opened to us. If we read once or twice and do not understand what we read, let us not grow weary, but let us persist, let us talk much, let us enquire. For ask thy Father, he saith, and He will shew thee: thy elders and they will tell thee. For there is not in every man that knowledge. Let us draw of the fountain of the garden perennial and purest waters springing into life eternal. Here let us luxuriate, let us revel insatiate: for the Scriptures possess inexhaustible grace. But if we are able to pluck anything profitable from outside sources, there is nothing to forbid that. Let us become tried money-dealers, heaping up the true and pure gold and discarding the spurious. Let us keep the fairest sayings but let us throw to the dogs absurd gods and strange myths: for we might prevail most mightily against them through themselves.

Observe, further, that there are two and twenty books of the Old Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew tongue. For there are twenty-two letters of which five are double, and so they come to be twenty-seven. For the letters Caph, Mere, Nun, Pe, Sade are double. And thus the number of the books in this way is twenty-two, but is found to be twenty-seven because of the double character of five. For Ruth is joined on to Judges, and the Hebrews count them one book: the first and second books of Kings are counted one: and so are the third and fourth books of Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena: and the first and second of Esdra. In this way, then, the books are collected together in four Pentateuchs and two others remain over, to form thus the canonical books. Five of them are of the Law, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. This which is the code of the Law, constitutes the first Pentateuch. Then comes another Pentateuch, the so-called Grapheia, or as they are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus the Son of Nave(6), Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and the two books of the Paraleipomena which are one book. This is the second Pentateuch. The third Pentateuch is the books in verse, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of Solomon and the Song of Songs of Solomon. The fourth Pentateuch is the Prophetical books, viz the twelve prophets constituting one book, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then come the two books of Esdra made into one, and Esther(8).

There are also the Panaretus, that is the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus, which was published in Hebrew by the father of Sirach, and afterwards translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus, the Son of Sirach. These are virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the ark.

The New Testament contains four gospels, that according to Matthew, that according to Mark, that according to Luke, that according to John: the Acts of the Holy Apostles by Luke the Evangelist: seven catholic epistles, viz. one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude: fourteen letters of the Apostle Paul: the Revelation of John the Evangelist: the Canons of the holy apostles, by Clement.

(Note: You can buy a cheap copy for Kindle here (UK)

An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith - St. John of Damascus

Saint John of Damascus (also known as John Damascene) c. 675 or 676 – 4 December 749) was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.

He was a polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination.He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world. He is considered "the last of the Fathers" of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defence of icons.

Among his most important works is The Fount of Knowledge (also The Fount of Wisdom). It is divided into three parts:
1. Philosophical Chapters; 2. Concerning Heresy; and 3. An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. This third section of the book is known to be the most important work of John de Damascene, and a treasured antiquity of Christianity.

You can access the Complete Text here.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Ordination of women as bishops

The following is a question asked of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk on the Interfax-Religion website about the recent vote to consecrate women as bishops in the Church of England, something which is imminent in my own Church in Wales.

The General Synod of the Church of England has by a majority approved the decision to ordain women as bishops. What have you to say on this decision? 

As you know, the Orthodox Church takes a negative view of the so called women's priesthood and women's episcopate. We see in this process the rejection of the Anglican Church and a whole number of Protestant denominations of the ancient order of the Church and the following of contemporary liberal tendencies. We regret that these decisions are being taken. It is the internal affair of these confessions, there is no way we can interfere, but we can express our opinion. Of course, such steps do not bring us closer to the unity which is still spoken of at inter-Christian meetings as the goal of such meetings. They only further alienate us.

At the time when women's priesthood was introduced, the Orthodox Churches reacted negatively to this, yet nevertheless dialogue, including theological dialogue, with a number of Protestant churches continued. For example, our Church continues to hold dialogue with the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Germany and Finland, we maintain relations with the Church of England, and I hope that they will be maintained in the future. But we have to continually re-format these relations because if before we could discuss theological, ecclesiological and moral problems, now it has become all the more difficult as we are moving further and further apart and the field of co-operation is constantly becoming more narrow. We have practically removed theological and ecclesiological issues from the agenda in dialogue with the Protestant confessions. We are still capable of discussing together moral issues, but in this field there are greater and greater differences between us. The area for dialogue is becoming ever more narrow - it is the fault of our partners, and we state this with great regret.

When I was still bishop of Vienna and Austria I participated as an observer on behalf of the Russian Church in the Lambeth Conference - the conference of Anglican bishops which gathers once every ten years. At one of the round tables within the framework of the conference I was asked the question: 'Why do you speak out against the women's episcopate, if you have managed to 'swallow' the female priesthood? (Blog note: 'swallow' here does not mean acceptance as seen in the following quote from a speech given at Lambeth Palace on 9th September 2010):

The first difficulties in relation to the Church of England emerged in 1992 when its General Synod agreed to ordain women to the priesthood. The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church came out with an official statement expressing regret and concern over this decision as contradicting the tradition of the Early Church.
Is there any principle difference?' Up until then I had never thought about this. But when the question was put so directly, I answered that there is a principle difference because the succession of ecclesiastical authority passes through the direct chain of the ordination of bishops, and this chain goes back directly to the apostles. Priests do not have apostolic succession: they receive ordination from a bishop. If from our point of view we say that a particular bishop incorrectly ordained someone, then we can at least interpret this as a mistaken decision of the bishop but does not impinge on the episcopate as such. But if within the episcopate itself there occur violations which we consider unacceptable, then for us even the theoretical possibility of the recognition of apostolic succession in this episcopate disappears. Indeed, this was one of the topics of the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue as far back as the nineteenth century when the Anglicans wanted to prove that they enjoyed apostolic succession. In the hypothetical instance of our Churches coming together this issue could arise again, but now it can no longer arise as the presence of women in the episcopate closes the door for any discussion of the topic of apostolic succession in the Anglican episcopate. This is what for us is the essential difference between the female priesthood and the female episcopate. And that is why the introduction of female bishops narrows further not only the possibility of coming together, but also the possibility of dialogue. Nonetheless, we will continue this dialogue in the hope that our voice will be heard.
01 August 2014, 15:17 
http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=interview&div=98

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Fathers on fasting

When a non-believer asks you why you fast, don’t tell him it is because of the Lord’s suffering, or because of His Cross. We do not fast for the Passion or the Cross, but for OUR SINS, because we are preparing to approach the Holy Mysteries. The Passion of Christ is not a reason for fasting or mourning, but for joy and exultation! We fast and mourn, not for the Cross or for Christ’s sufferings, but because of our own sins.
St. John Chrysostom

He who is gloomy does not believe in the mercy of God, but bases his spirituality on his own rotten ascetic achievements and seeming external improvements; he boasts in them and being overwhelmed with self-importance, measures his feelings as if with a thermometer-, the fruits of self love!
Holy New Hieromartyr Barlaam of Russia (20th C)

Prepare yourselves to be the clean wheat of Christ; perfect yourselves by your labors of fasting, struggling in humility, chastity, love and prayer. Then you will make from yourselves bread which is pleasing to the Lord.
St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk

What shall we say of the belly, the queen of passions? If you can slay it or half kill it, keep a tight hold. It has mastered me, beloved, and I serve it as a slave and a vassal. It is the colleague of the demons and the home of passions. Through it we fall, and through it we rise again, when it behaves itself.
St. Gregory of Sinai

Although we have received the power to become the children of God (cf. John 1:12), we do not actually attain this sonship unless we strip ourselves of the passions.
St. Thalassius

What do you think Church is?

video

The Divine Liturgy of James, the Apostle and brother of God

ORDER, WITH GOD’S HELP, AND SERVICE OF THE SACRED RITE ACCORDING TO THE HOLY SYNAXIS

Prayer of the Prothesis

In the skevophylakion the Priest says:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, the one, simple and undivided Trinity, that unites and sanctifies us through itself, and brings peace to our lives, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Then, imploring the Deity on his own behalf, the priest says:

Defiled as I am by many sins, do not utterly reject me, Master, Lord, our God. For see, I draw near to this divine and heavenly mystery, not as though I were worthy, but, looking to your goodness, I raise my voice to you, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner. For I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am not worthy to lift up my eyes to this your sacred and spiritual Table, on which your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice by me, a sinner stained by every defilement. Therefore I bring you this supplication, that your Spirit, the Advocate, may be sent down to me, strengthening and preparing me for this ministry. And grant that without condemnation the word that has been declared by you may be proclaimed by me to the people in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom you are blessed, together with your all-holy, good, life-giving and consubstantial Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Before the Royal Doors, as the clergy are about to make the Entrance, the Priest says aloud:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, the triple and single light of the one Godhead, that exists singly in Trinity and is divided without division. For the one God is Trinity, whose glory the heavens declare, while earth proclaims his dominion, the sea his might and every physical and immaterial creature his greatness. For to him belongs all glory, honour, might, greatness and magnificence, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Then the Priest begins the prayers of the Enarxis (aloud).

Benefactor and King of the ages, and Fashioner of all creation, accept your Church, which approaches you through your Christ. Fulfil what is profitable for each, bring all to perfection, and make us worthy of the grace of your sanctification, gathering us together in your Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which you gained by the blood of your only-begotten Son, our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, with whom you are blessed and glorified, together with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages.

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Prayer of the Incense at the Entrance

Priest, aloud:

O God, who accepted the gifts of Abel, the sacrifices of Noë and Abraham, the incense of Aaron and Zachary, accept from the hands of us sinners this incense for a sweet fragrance and forgiveness of our sins and those of all your people. For you are blessed and to you belongs glory, to the Father with your only-begotten Son and your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

The Deacon censes and begins the Only-begotten Son, and the Singers chant the Troparion for the Entrance of the clergy with the holy Gospel.

The Singers: Only-begotten Son and Word of God, who, being immortal, accepted for our salvation to take flesh from the holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, and without change became man; you were crucified, Christ God, by death trampling on death, being one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit: save us!

When those making the entrance reach the middle of the church, where a vima [platform] has been set up, they place the holy Gospel on it, and go towards the sanctuary. The Priest, standing in front of the holy Doors, says, aloud:

Almighty God, Lord, whose name is great, who give us entrance to the Holy of Holies through the coming of your only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we entreat and implore your goodness. Since we are full of fear and trembling as we are about to stand before your holy altar, send forth your good grace upon us, sanctify our souls, bodies and spirits and change our thoughts to true devotion, so that, with a pure conscience, we may offer you gifts, presents, fruits, for the removal of our sins, for the forgiveness of all your people, by the grace and love for humankind of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, together with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

And the Priest enters the sanctuary.

Facing the People, the Deacon says:

In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

People (after each petition): Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from on high, God’s love for humankind, and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace of the whole world and the union of all the holy churches of God, let us pray to the Lord.

For the salvation and of our most holy Father and Archbishop N., all the clergy and Christ-loving people, let us pray to the Lord.

For the forgiveness of our sins and pardon of our offences, and for us to be delivered from all affliction, wrath, danger, constraint and assault of enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

Let us call to mind our most holy, pure, most glorious and blessed Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, of the holy, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, of the holy, godlike and all-praised Apostles, of the glorious Prophets and victorious Martyrs and all the holy and just, that by their prayers and intercessions we may all find mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy.

The Priest bows and says in a low voice

The Prayer of the Trisagion

Compassionate and merciful, long-suffering, most merciful and true Lord, look down from your holy dwelling-place, hearken to us, your, suppliants, and deliver us from every trial and temptation, both diabolic and human. Do not deprive us of your help, nor bring upon us heavier chastisement than we are able to bear. For we are not capable of conquering what opposes us, while you, Lord, have power to save us from all adversities. Save us, O God, from the difficulties of this world in accordance with your goodness, so that, having entered your holy altar with a pure conscience, we may, without condemnation, offer you with the heavenly Powers the blessed and thrice-holy hymn, and have accomplished the divine ministry that is well-pleasing to you, we may be found worthy of eternal life.

(aloud): For holy are you, Lord our God, and you dwell and take your rest in the holy place, and to you we offer glory and the thrice-holy hymn, to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Holy God, holy Strong, holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Holy God, holy Strong, holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Holy God, holy Strong, holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Deacon: Dynamis.

People: Holy God, holy Strong, holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

After this the Priest give a blessing, saying:

Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Wisdom.

The Reader declaims the Prokeimenon.

Deacon: Wisdom.

The Reader reads the title of the Apostle.

Deacon: Let us attend.

The Reader reads the Apostle.

At the completion of the Apostle, the Priest says:

Peace to you.

Reader: And to your spirit. Alleluia (x3).

While the Alleluia is being sung, the Deacon takes the censer, receives the Priest’s blessing, and comes out and censes the holy Gospel. The Priest in a low voice says

The Prayer of the Incense

To you, Lord our God, who are filled with all fragrance and joy, we offer you this incense from the things that you have given us. Let it then, we beg you, be taken up from our poor hands to your holy altar above the heavens for an odour of sweetness and forgiveness of our sins and those of all your people, by the grace and compassion and love for humankind of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, together with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Deacon says:

Let us all say, Lord, have mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy. And after each petition.

Almighty, heavenly Lord , the God of our fathers, we pray you, hear us.

For the peace of the whole world and union of all the holy churches, we pray you, hear us.

For the salvation and assistance of our most holy father and Archbishop N., all the clergy and the Christ-loving people, we pray you, hear us.

[For our sovereign Lady, Queen Elisabeth, the Royal family, her government and all in authority, we pray you, hear us.]

For this city, for every city, town and village, we pray you, hear us.

For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, constraint, captivity, bitter death, and our iniquities, we pray you, hear us.

For the people here present and who await your great and rich mercy, we implore you, have compassion and mercy.

O God, save your people and bless your inheritance. Visit your world with mercy and pity. Exalt the horn of Christians by the power of the precious and life-giving Cross, at the intercession of our all-pure and blessed Lady, Mother of God, of the Forerunner, your Apostles and all your Saints, we implore you, most merciful Lord, hear us as we pray, and have mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy. (x3).

Prayer before the holy Gospel

Priest (in a low voice): Master, Lover of humankind, make the pure light of your divine knowledge shine in our hearts and open the eyes of our mind to understand the message of your Gospel. Implant in us the fear of your blessed commandments, so that, having trampled down all carnal desires, we may change to a spiritual way of life, thinking and doing all things that are pleasing to you.

(Aloud): For you are the glad tidings, enlightenment, Saviour and guardian of our souls and bodies, O God, and to you we give glory, together with your only-begotten Son, and your all-holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: Stand upright. Let us listen to the holy Gospel.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: The reading is from the holy Gospel according to N.

People: Glory to you, Lord. Glory to you.

Priest: Let us attend.

And the deacon reads the appointed section of the holy Gospel. When the Gospel is finished, the Priest says:

Peace to you.

People: Glory to you, Lord. Glory to you.

Then the Preacher expounds the word of God.

Then the Deacon, standing in front of the holy Door, facing the People, says:

Let us be devoutly attentive.
In peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy. And after each petition.

For the peace of the whole world and the union of all the holy churches, let us pray to the Lord.

For the salvation and assistance of our most holy Archbishop N., of all the clergy and the Christ-loving people, let us pray to the Lord.

For forgiveness of our sins and pardon of our offences, and for our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and constraint, assault of enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

That the day that we pass through may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless, let us all ask of the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord. And after each petition.

An angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask of the Lord.

Pardon and forgiveness of our sins and offences, let us ask of the Lord.

Things good and profitable for our souls, and peace for the world, let us ask of the Lord.

That we may live out the rest of our days in peace and good health, let us ask of the Lord.

A Christian end to our life, painless, unashamed and peaceful, and a good defence before the fearsome and dread judgement seat of Christ, let us ask.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most glorious and blessed Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, of the holy, glorious, Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, of the godlike and all-praised Apostles, glorious Prophets and triumphant Martyrs with all the Holy and Just, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

Prayer after the holy Gospel

Priest (in a low voice):

You have made your divine and saving words resound for us, O God, enlighten the souls of us sinners to understand the things that have been read, so that we may be seen to be not only hearers of the spiritual songs, but also doers of good deeds, maintaining a faith without pretence, a life without blame, conduct without reproach,

(Aloud): In Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom you are blessed and glorified, together with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To you, O Lord.

The Priest, bowing, says

(in a low voice): Good Master, giver of life and bestower of good things, who give mortals the blessed hope of eternal life, our Lord Jesus Christ, count us worthy also to accomplish this ministry in holiness, for the enjoyment of the blessedness to come.

(Aloud): That being always guarded by your might, and guided to the light of truth, we may give glory and thanksgiving to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: Let us chant in the peace of Christ.

Deacon: Let none of the catechumens; none of the uninitiated; none of those who cannot pray with us. Recognize one another. The doors! Let all stand upright.

The Singers begin the hymn Let all mortal flesh keep silent, slowly and melodically.

Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for the King of kings and Lord of lords advances to be slain and given as food to the faithful. Before him go the choirs of Angels, with every rule and authority, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, veiling their sight and crying out the hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

After the holy Gifts have been placed on the holy Altar and before they are covered with the Cloud, the Priest says

The Prayer of the Prothesis

God, our God, who sent forth the heavenly Bread, the food of the whole world, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, as our Saviour, Redeemer and Benefactor, to bless and sanctify us; bless this Offering, and receive it on your altar above the heavens. In your goodness and love for humankind be mindful of those who have offered it, and those for whom they have offered it, and grant all their requests that are for their salvation; and as we celebrate your divine mysteries keep us without condemnation. For sanctified and glorified is your all-honoured and majestic name, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

He censes the holy Gifts, saying:

Master almighty, King of glory, the God who knows all things before they come to be, be present with us as we call upon you at this holy time, and redeem us from the shame of transgressions. Cleanse our mind and our thoughts from foul desires, worldly deception and every operation of the devil, and accept from the hand of us sinners this incense for an odour of sweet fragrance, as you accepted the offering of Abel and Noë, Aaron and Samuel and all your holy ones, delivering us from every evil deed, and keeping us safe to be always well pleasing to you, and to worship and glorify you, our Father, and your only-begotten Son and your all-holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Deacon: In God’s wisdom, let us attend.

The Priest covers the holy Gifts with the Cloud and begins the Creed, saying the first words I believe in one God.

People: I believe in one God, Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, through him all things were made. For our sake and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; he rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with Father and Son is worshipped and together glorified; who spoke through the Prophets. In one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Prayer of the Kiss

Priest, in a low voice: God and Master of all, lover of humankind, make us, unworthy though we are, worthy of this hour, so that, cleansed of all deceit and hypocrisy, we may be united to one another by the bond of peace and love, confirmed by the sanctification of your divine knowledge through your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom you are blessed, together with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand with awe. In peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest (aloud): For you are a God of peace, mercy, love, compassion and love for humankind, with your only-begotten Son and your all-holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us greet one another with a holy kiss.

After the Kiss has been given, the Deacon says:

Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To you, O Lord.

The Priest bows and says in a low voice:

O only Lord and merciful God, who dwell in the highest and look upon lowly things, send forth your good grace upon those who have bowed their necks before your holy altar, and seek the spiritual gifts that come from you, and bless us all with every spiritual that cannot be taken away.

(aloud): For your name, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is to be praised, worshipped and supremely glorified, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon, to the Priest: Sir, give the blessing.

The Priest prays for those present, saying:

The Lord will bless us all, serve with us and make us worthy of taking our stand at his holy altar and of the coming of his holy Spirit, now and always, and to the ages of ages.

The Priest signs the holy Gifts and says in a low voice:

Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, goodwill. (x3)

Lord, you will open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise. (x3)

Let my mouth be filled with your praise, that I may sing your glory, all day long your majesty. (x3)

Of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

And bowing to left and right, he says aloud and melodiously:

Magnify the Lord with me, and let us praise his name together.

And they chant in reply:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Priest: May the Lord remember you in the kingdom of heaven, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

Deacon: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy. And after every petition.

Save us, have mercy one us, have pity on us and keep us, O God, by your grace.

For the peace from on high, God’s love for humankind, and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace of the whole world and the union of all the holy churches, let us pray to the Lord.

For this holy monastery (this holy house), and for the Catholic and Apostolic Church, from the ends of the earth and to its furthest bounds, let us pray to the Lord.

For the safety and salvation and assistance of our most holy Father and Archbishop N., all the clergy and Christ-loving people, let us pray to the Lord.

[For our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family, her government, and all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.]

For this city, for every city, town and village, and for those who dwell in them with Orthodox faith and reverence for God, for their peace and security, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who bring offerings, those who care for the beauty of the holy churches of God, and who remember the poor, the widows and orphans, foreigners, strangers and those in need, and those who have asked us to remember them in our prayers, let us pray to the Lord.

For those in old age and incapacity, the sick, the suffering, those troubled by unclean spirits, and for their speedy healing from God and for their safety and salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who pass their lives in virginity, purity and asceticism, and in holy wedlock, and for our venerable fathers, mothers and brethren who struggle on mountains, in caves, and in the hollows of the earth, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who travel by land, air or water, for Christians who are far from home, for those our brethren in captivity and exile, in prisons and bitter slavery, and for the peaceful return of each one to their own home with joy, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who are present here and who pray with us at this holy time and at every moment, fathers, mothers and brethren, for their zeal, toil and readiness, let us pray to the Lord.

And for every Christian soul that is afflicted and distressed, and in need of God’s mercy and help; for the return of those who have been led astray, the health of the sick, the liberation of prisoners, and the repose of our fathers, mothers and brethren who have gone to their rest before us, let us pray to the Lord.

For the forgiveness of our sins and the pardon of our offences, for our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, anger and constraint, and from the assault of nations, let us pray to the Lord.

More intensely, for favourable weather, peaceful rains, good dews, abundant harvests, fair seasons, and for the crowning of the year, let us pray to the Lord.

For our prayer to be heard and to be acceptable before God, and that he send down to us his rich mercies and acts of compassion, and for us all to be found worthy of his kingdom, let us fervently pray.

Commemorating our all holy, pure, most glorious and blessed Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, of the holy and blessed John, the glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, of the holy Apostles, of Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr, of Moses, Aaron , Elias, Elissaios, Samuel, David, Daniel, the Prophets and of the Holy and Just, that by their prayers and intercessions we may all find mercy.

And for the precious and heavenly, ineffable, immaculate, glorious, fearsome, divine gifts, here set forth, and for the salvation of our honoured father and Priest, who presides and offers them, let us entreat the Lord our God.

People: Lord, have mercy. (x3)

The Priest bows and, in a low voice, says

The Prayer of Offering of St James

Master and Lord, who visit us in mercy and compassion and have granted us, humble sinners and your unworthy servants the grace to stand at your holy Altar and to offer to you this dread sacrifice without shedding of blood for our own sins and those committed in ignorance by the people, look on me, your unprofitable servant and wipe away my transgressions through your compassion and purify my lips and my heart from every defilement of flesh and spirit, and banish from me every base and unseemly thought, and enable me for this ministry by the power of your all-holy Spirit, and accept me through your goodness as I approach your holy altar, and be well pleased, Lord, for these gifts to be acceptable that are offered through our hands, being gracious to my weaknesses, and do not cast me away from your presence. Do not despise my unworthiness, but have mercy on me, O God, in accordance with your great mercy and according to the abundance of your compassion disregard my offences, so that, coming into the presence of your glory with condemnation, I may be found worthy of the protection of your only-begotten Son and the illumination of your all-holy Spirit, but as your servant may I find grace, mercy and forgiveness of sins both in this present age and in the age to come. Yes, Master almighty and all-powerful, listen to my supplication and grant me reprieve from my evil deeds, for it is you who work all in all, and in all things we seek from you your help and assistance and that of your only-begotten Son and your good, life-giving and consubstantial Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

And he adds a second

Prayer of Saint Denys the Areopagite

O God, who through your great and ineffable love for humankind sent out your only-begotten Son into the world that he might turn back the sheep that had gone astray, do not turn us sinners away as we undertake for you this dread sacrifice without shedding of blood, for we do not trust in our own righteousness but in your loving mercy, through which you acquire our race. And now too we implore and beseech your goodness that this mystery, which is performed through us for salvation, may not become a cause of condemnation for your people, but be for the wiping away of sins, renewal of souls and bodies, and for your good pleasure, God and Father, for you are a God who loves humankind and to you belongs glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Prayer of the Veil

We thank you, Lord our God, that you have given us the freedom of entry into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, inaugurating for us a new and living way through the veil of his flesh. Having therefore been counted worthy to enter the place where your glory dwells, and to be within the veil, and to look upon the Holy of Holies, we fall down before your goodness, Master. Have mercy on us, for we are filled with fear and trembling as we are about to stand at your holy altar and to offer to you this dread sacrifice without shedding of blood for our sins and those committed in ignorance by the people. Send forth your good grace upon us, O God, and sanctify our souls and bodies and spirits, and change our thoughts towards true religion, that with a pure conscience we may offer you mercy, peace, a sacrifice of praise. And having uncovered the veils of the mysteries that symbolically surround this sacred rite, show us clearly, and fill our spiritual vision with your boundless light; and having cleansed our poverty from all defilement of flesh and spirit, make it worthy of this dread and fearful presence.

(Aloud):By the mercy and compassion and love for humankind of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, together with all holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: And unveiling the coverings of the mysteries which in symbol surround this sacred rite, show them to us clearly and fill the eyes of our minds with your incomprehensible light, and purifying our poverty from every defilement of flesh and spirit, make it worthy of this dread and fearful presence, because you are a God of surpassing compassion and mercy, and to you we give glory and thanksgiving, Father, Son and holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us stand with awe. Let us stand devoutly. Let us stand with fear of God and with compunction. Let us attend, that we may offer the holy oblation to God in peace.

People: Mercy, peace, a sacrifice of praise.

Priest: The love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the communion and gift of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Let our mind and hearts be on high.

People: We have them with the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

People: It is right and fitting.

Priest, bowing, says in a low voice:

Truly it is right and fitting, proper and necessary, to praise you, to hymn you, to bless you, to worship you, to glorify you, to give thanks to you, Fashioner of every creature, visible and invisible, the Treasury of the eternal good things, the Source of life and immortality, the God and Master of all, whose praise is sung by the heavens and the heavens of heavens and all their powers, the sun and the moon and the whole choir of stars, earth, sea and all that they contain; the heavenly Jerusalem, festival of the chosen, church of the first-born, who are inscribed in heaven; spirits of the Just and of Prophets, souls of Martyrs and Apostles; Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Authorities and dread Powers, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, that with two wings cover their faces, with two their feet and with two they fly, as they cry out to one another with unceasing voices and with never silent hymns of glory,

(aloud): with radiant voices singing the triumphant hymn of your majestic glory, shouting, glorifying, crying aloud and saying.

People: Holy, holy, holy, Lord, Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who came and who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Priest (standing and signing the holy things) says in a low voice:

Holy are you, King of the ages, Lord and giver of all holiness. Holy too is your only-begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through whom you made all things. Holy too is your all-holy Spirit, who searches all things, and your depths, God and Father.

Bowing he continues:

Holy are you, all-powerful, fearsome, good, tender-hearted, compassionate to what you fashioned. You made humankind from earth, according to your image and likeness, granting it the enjoyment of Paradise. But when it transgressed your commandment and fell away, you do not forsake or abandon it, O Good One, but chastened it as a compassionate Father, called it through the Law, tutored it through the Prophets.

Finally you sent your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, forth into the world, to come and renew and raise up your image. He came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and Mary the holy Ever-Virgin and Mother of God, lived among mortals and disposed all things for the salvation of our race.

When he, the one without sin, was about to accept for us sinners his voluntary and life-giving death through a cross, on the night he was given up, or rather gave himself up, for the life and salvation of the world,

The Priest, taking the bread, signs it and says in a low voice:

taking bread in his holy, immaculate and unblemished and immortal hands, looking up heaven and showing it to you, his God and Father, giving thanks, blessing, sanctifying and breaking it, he shared it among his holy and blessed Disciples and Apostles, saying:

He replaces the bread, saying aloud:

Take, eat. This is my body which is broken and distributed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

He takes the cup, signs it and says, in a low voice:

Likewise after supper, taking the cup and mixing wine and water, gazing up to heaven and showing it to you, his God and Father, giving thanks, blessing, sanctifying, filling it with the Holy Spirit, he shared it among his holy and blessed Disciples and Apostles, saying:

He puts down the cup and says aloud:

Drink from this all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out and distributed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest, in a low voice: Do this in memory of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Son of Man, and confess his resurrection, until he comes.

Deacon: We believe and confess.

People: Your death, Lord, we proclaim, and your resurrection we confess.

The Priest signs the Gifts, bows and says:

Therefore, we sinners too, remembering his life-giving sufferings and the saving Cross, his death and burial, and resurrection from the dead on the third day, his ascension into heaven and sitting at your right hand, his God and Father, and his second, glorious and fearsome coming, when he comes in glory to judge the living and the dead, when he will render to each according to their works — Spare us, O Lord! (x3) —, or rather according to his compassion, offer to you, Master, this dread sacrifice without shedding of blood, asking that you do not act towards us according to our sins, but that, according to your kindness and ineffable love for humankind, setting aside and wiping out the record of the debt against us your suppliants, you would grant us your heavenly and eternal gifts, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered the human heart the things that you have prepared, O God, for those who love you. And do not reject your people because of me and because of my sins, O Lord who love humankind.

(aloud): Your people and your Church entreat you. (x3)

People: Have mercy on us, Lord God, the Father, the Almighty. (x3)

The Priest, in a low voice: Have mercy on us, Lord God, the Father, the Almighty. Have mercy on us, God our Saviour. Have mercy on us, O God, in accordance with your great mercy, and send forth upon these holy gifts, here set forth, your all-holy Spirit, (bowing) the Lord and giver of life, enthroned with you, God and Father, and your only-begotten Son, co-reigning, consubstantial and co-eternal, who spoke by the Law and the Prophets and by your New Covenant, who came down in the form of a dove upon our Lord Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, and rested upon him, who came down upon your holy Apostles in the form of fiery tongues in the upper room of holy and glorious Sion on the day of Pentecost. (Standing up) Your same all-holy Spirit, Lord, send down on us and on these gifts here set forth,

(aloud): that having come by his holy, good and glorious presence, he may sanctify this bread and make it the holy body of Christ,

People: Amen.

Priest: and this Cup the precious blood of Christ,

People: Amen.

The Priest signs the holy Gifts and says in a low voice: that they may become for all those who partake of them for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. For sanctification of souls and bodies. For a fruitful harvest of good works. For the strengthening of your holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which you founded on the rock of the faith, so that the gates of Hell might not prevail against it, delivering it from every heresy and from the scandals caused by those who work iniquity, and from the enemies who arise and attack it, until the consummation of the age.

The clergy alone answer: Amen.

Then the Priest signs the Gifts, bows and says:

We make this offering to you, Master, for your holy places also, which you glorified by the divine Epiphany of your Christ, and by the visitation of your all-holy Spirit, especially for the holy and glorious Sion, the mother of all the Churches; and for your holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the whole inhabited world. Richly bestow on it now too, Master, the gifts of your all-holy Spirit.

People (quietly, many times, as the Priest prays): Remember, Lord our God.

Remember, Lord, also our holy fathers and bishops in your Church, who throughout the inhabited world rightly proclaim the word of truth.

Especially our holy father, our most holy Archbishop N., all his clergy and priesthood, grant him an honoured old age, preserve him for many years, as he shepherds your people in all true religion and reverence.

Remember, Lord, the honourable order of presbyters here and everywhere, the diaconate in Christ, all the rest of the ministers, every order in the Church and our brotherhood in Christ and the whole Christ-loving people.

[Remember, Lord, the priests present with us at this holy time before your holy altar for the offering of the holy sacrifice without shedding of blood, and give to them and us a word by the opening of our mouth to the glory and praise of your all-holy name.]

Remember, Lord, also according to the multitude of your mercy and acts of compassion, me, your lowly, sinful and unworthy servant, and visit me with mercy and compassion. Deliver and free me from those who persecute me, Lord, Lord of Powers. And though sin has multiplied in me, your grace will abound even more.

Remember, Lord, the deacons who stand round your holy altar and them a life without reproach, preserve their diaconate unstained and grant them good standing.

Remember, Lord, the holy city of you our God, the queen of cities, every city, town and village, and those who with Orthodox faith and devotion dwell in them, and their peace and security.

[Remember, Lord, our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family, her government and all in authority, and all her household. Set in order her counsels, that we may live a quiet life in all piety and reverence.]

Remember, Lord, those who travel by land, sea and air, Christians who live far from home, those in bondage and prisons, those in captivity and exile, those in mines and in tortures and bitter slavery, our fathers, mothers and brethren, and a peaceful return for each of them to their own homes.

Remember, Lord, those in old age and incapacity, the sick, the suffering, those troubled by unclean spirits, and for their speedy healing from God and for their safety and salvation.

Remember, Lord, every Christian soul that is afflicted and distressed, and in need of God’s mercy and help, and the return of those who have been led astray.

Remember, Lord, those who pass their lives in virginity, purity and asceticism, and in holy wedlock, and for our venerable fathers, mothers and brethren who struggle on mountains, in caves, and in the hollows of the earth, and Orthodox communities in every place and for our community in Christ in this place.

Remember, Lord, our father, mothers and brethren who labour and serve for the sake of your holy Name.

Remember, Lord, all for their good. Have mercy on all, Master. Be reconciled with us all. Give peace to the multitudes of your people. Disperse scandals; put an end to wars; ends the schisms of the churches; speedily dissolve the uprisings of heresies; throw down the pride of the nations; exalt the horn of Christians; grant us your peace and your love, O God, our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth.

Remember, Lord, seasonable weather, gentle showers, fair dews, abundant harvests, perfect seasons and the crowning of the year with your goodness. For the eyes of all hope on you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and fill every living being with your good pleasure.

Remember, Lord, those who have brought and those who bring offerings in the holy Churches of God, those who remember the poor, and those who have asked us to remember them in our prayers.

Also be pleased to remember, Lord, those too who have brought offerings today for your holy altar, and those for whom each has brought them, or whom each one has in mind, and those whose names are now read to you.

And he commemorates those whom he wishes of the living.

Remember, Lord, our parents, friends, relatives and brethren NN.

All these Orthodox remember, Lord, those we have remembered and those we have not. Give them heavenly things in return for things earthly, incorruptible for corruptible, everlasting for temporary, in accordance with the promise of your Christ, for you have the authority of life and death.

Also be pleased to remember, Lord, those who have been well-pleasing to you from the beginning of time, generation by generation, holy Fathers, Mothers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Teachers, Ascetics, and every righteous spirit, made perfect in faith.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you gave birth to the Saviour of our souls.

Especially our all-holy and blessed, immaculate Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary,

People: Remember, Lord, our God.

The holy, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, the holy Apostles and Evangelists, the holy Prophets, Patriarchs and Righteous ones, the holy Martyrs and Confessors and all the Saints, not because we are worthy to commemorate their blessedness, but that they too, as they stand before your dread and terrible judgement seat, may in return remember our wretchedness.

And he remembers those departed Christians whom he wishes and continues.

Remember all these, O Lord, the God of spirits and all flesh, those Orthodox, we have remembered and those we have not. Give them rest in the land of the living, in your kingdom, in the delight of Paradise, in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our holy Fathers, whence pain, grief and sighing have fled away, where the light of your face watches and shines out for ever. And make the ending of our lives Christian, well-pleasing, sinless and in peace, Lord, gathering us under the feet of your chosen ones, when you wish and as you wish, only with shame and transgressions, through your only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for he is only one without sin who has appeared upon earth.

Deacon: And for the peace and stability of the whole world and of the holy Churches of God, and those for whom each has made offerings or whom they have in mind and for the people here present, and for all people.

Priest (aloud): Through whom for us and for them, for you Master are a good God and a Master who loves humankind:

People: Remit, forgive, pardon, O God, our transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in knowledge and in ignorance.

Priest (aloud): By the grace, compassion and love for humankind of your Christ, with whom you are blessed and glorified with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Again and again and at all times, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For the precious, heavenly, glorious, divine gifts here set forth and sanctified, to the Lord our God let us pray.

That the Lord our God, having accepted them on his holy and spiritual Altar above the heavens, as a savour of spiritual fragrance, may send down upon us in return his divine grace and the gift of the all-holy Holy Spirit, let us pray.

Having asked for the unity of the faith and the communion of the all-holy Spirit, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

The Priest, bowing, says in a low voice:

O God and Father of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord whose name is exalted, the blessed nature, the unstinted goodness, the God and Master of all things, the One who Exists, blessed to the ages of ages, enthroned upon the Cherubim, glorified by the Seraphim, before whom stand thousands and thousands, and tens of thousands of armies Angels and Archangels, accept as sweet fragrance the gifts, offerings and fruits here presented to you, by the grace of your Christ and the visitation of your all-holy Spirit. Sanctify also, Master, our souls and bodies and spirits. Touch our minds and search out our consciences. Cast out from us every evil thought, every impure idea, every base desire and memory, every unseemly word, all envy, pride and hypocrisy, every lie, every deceit, every worldly temptation, all greed, all vainglory, all wickedness, all wrath, all anger, all malice, all blasphemy, and all sloth, every movement of flesh and spirit that is alien to the will of your holiness.

(aloud): And count us worthy, Master, Lord who love humankind, with boldness and without condemnation, with a pure heart, enlightened soul, face unashamed, lips that are sanctified to dare to call upon you, the holy God in heaven, as Father, and to say:

People:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be hallowed, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Priest, in a low voice: And do not lead us into temptation that we cannot endure, Lord, Lord of powers, who know our weakness, but deliver us from the evil one and from his works, and from all his influence and guile, for the sake of your holy Name, that has been invoked upon our lowliness.

(aloud): For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest (bows, and in a low voice): We, your servants, Lord, have bowed our necks to you before your holy altar, awaiting rich mercies from you. Send forth to us now, Master, your rich grace and blessing, and sanctify our souls and bodies and spirits, that we may become worthy communicants and partakers of your holy mysteries for forgiveness and everlasting life.

(aloud): For you, our God, are to be worshipped and glorified, with your only-begotten Son and your all-holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest (aloud): And the grace and mercies of the holy, consubstantial, uncreated, indivisible and adored Trinity shall be with us all.

People: And with your spirit.

Deacon: Let us attend.

The Priest signs and raises the Bread, saying in a low voice:

Holy Lord, who rest in the holy place, make us holy by the word of your grace and the coming of your all-holy Spirit. For you said, Master , ‘Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy’.

God beyond understanding, Word, consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit, co-eternal and inseparable, accept from me, a sinner, with the Cherubim and Seraphim, this pure hymn among your holy sacrifices without shedding of blood, as I cry out and say:

(aloud): The Holy Things for the holy.

People: One is holy, one is Lord: Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, with the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory to the ages of ages.

Then the Priest breaks the bread and holds one half in his right hand and one in his left. He dips that in his right in the chalice, saying:

Union of the all-holy Body and precious Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

And he signs the part in his left hand and will change, holding the two parts. He signs the other part. Then joining the two parts and dipping the other two of the extremities in the chalice and signing the remaining breads, he says at each dipping the word of union and at once begins to divide and first of all he places one part in each single chalice, saying:

It has been united and sanctified and perfected, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then he makes double parts for each of the clergy and dips them in the chalice. After the completion of the Glory, the Deacon says:

In the peace of the Lord let us sing.

Communion: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Alleluia.

Deacon: Sir, bless.

Priest: God is blessed, who blesses and sanctifies you that divide in the fear of God, and all who are about to communicate in faith.

And the clergy reply: Amen.

And when he is about to communicate:

Master, Christ our God, the heavenly Bread, the food of the whole world, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am not worthy to partake of your holy and immaculate mysteries. But through goodness and ineffable longsuffering, make me worthy, without condemnation and shame, to partake of your all-holy Body and your precious Blood for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

Then he communicates and distributes to the clergy, and when the Deacon raises the chalice he says:

Sir, bless.

Priest: Glory to God, who has sanctified and sanctifies us all.

Priest and Deacon: Be exalted to the heavens, O God, and your glory into all the earth, and your kingdom abides to the ages of ages.

Priest: Blessed is the name of the Lord our God to the ages of ages.

Deacon: With fear of God and faith, draw near.

And signing the faithful, the Priest says, as he gives communion:

The holy Body of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ is distributed to the faithful for forgiveness and everlasting life.

Communion is traditionally given under the two kinds separately. As he gives the consecrated Bread, the Priest says: The Body of Christ.

The communicant answers: Amen.

For the Cup the Priest says: The Blood of Christ. The Cup of salvation.

The communicant answers: Amen.

People: Fill my mouth with your praise, O Lord, fill my lips with joy, that I may raise a hymn to your glory.

The Priest in a low voice says

The Prayer of Incense

and censes the Holy Things:

We thank you, Saviour, God of all things, for all the good things you have granted us, and for the communion of your holy and immaculate mysteries, and we offer you this incense, as we ask: Guard us under the shelter of your wings, and count us worthy even until our last breath to partake of your holy things, for the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and for inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, for you, O God, are our sanctification, and to you we give glory and thanksgiving, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Deacon: We thank you, Christ our God, that you have counted us worthy to partake of your Body and Blood for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Keep, we entreat, without condemnation, as you are good and love humankind.

Then the Priest says another

Prayer of the Incense

You have made us glad, O God, by union with you, and we offer you incense of gratitude, fruit of our lips, as we confess your grace. Let it ascend, O God, and not descend empty, but grant too the pure and lasting myron of the sweet fragrance of your all-holy Spirit. Fill our mouths with praise and our lips with gladness and our hearts with joy and delight in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom you are blessed with your all-holy Spirit, now and for ever and to the ages of ages.

Deacon: Again and again at all times, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

That the communion of his holy Gifts may become for us an averting of every evil thing, provision for the journey of eternal life, for the communion and gift of the Holy Spirit, let us pray.

Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most glorious and blessed Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints and Just, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest, in a low voice: O God, who through great and ineffable compassion, have condescended to the weakness of your servants, and counted us worthy to partake of this heavenly table, do not condemn us sinners for communicating of your immaculate mysteries, but preserve us, O Good One, in your sanctification, so that, becoming worthy of your all-holy Spirit, we may find a part and lot with all the Saints from the beginning, who have been well-pleasing to you, in the light of your face, through the compassion of your only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom you are blessed and glorified, with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

(aloud): For blessed and sanctified and glorified is your all-honoured and majestic holy Name, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To you, O Lord.

Priest, in a low voice:

O God great and wonderful, look upon your servants, for to you we have bent our necks, and stretch out your mighty hand, that is filled with blessings, and bless your people and preserve your inheritance, that we may always at every moment glorify you, our only living and true God, the holy and consubstantial Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(aloud): For to you belong and are due from us all, all glory, honour, worship and thanksgiving, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: In the peace of Christ, let us go forth.

People: In the name of the Lord. Sir, give the blessing.

Priest:

You have given us sanctification, Master, by the communion of the all-holy Body and precious Blood of your only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Give us too the grace of your good Spirit and keep us blameless in the faith and guide to perfect sonship and redemption and the everlasting enjoyment to come, for you and your only-begotten Son and your all-holy Spirit are our sanctification and enlightenment, O God, now and for ever and to the ages.

Advancing from power to power, and having completed in your church the whole divine ministry, we now ask you also, Lord our God, count us worthy of your perfect love for humankind. Make straight our way, root us in your fear, have mercy on us all, and declare us worthy of your heavenly kingdom in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom you are blessed and glorified, with your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

Deacon: May we be guarded in the peace of Christ.

Priest, aloud: Blessed is God, who blesses and sanctifies, protects and gives peace, and preserves the life of us all through the communion of his holy, immaculate and life-giving mysteries, which we have been counted worthy to receive, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.