Wednesday, 2 September 2015

True Prayer



When such feelings are present, our prayer is prayer. When they are absent, it is not yet prayer."
St. Theophan the recluse: The Path to Prayer

Although the above was written by an Eastern Orthodox priest in the nineteenth century (hence the reference to prostration) his words apply to every one who prays. Because what he is doing is exposing prayer that lacks heart and therefore lacks life. And everybody recognises that type of praying either in others or, God willing, in themselves.

The Gospel reading for last Sunday in the old calendar of the Church in Wales is from Luke 18:9-14. Here Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. In it the Pharisee, without emotion, reels off a list of the kind of things he has done for God. First he compares himself to others. He is not like them - "extortioners, unjust, adulterers or...tax-collectors". We all come off well when we compare ourselves with the worst. And second, he lists his religious practices which he sees as trophies of his (self)-righteousness: "I fast twice a week (and) give tithes of all that I get." His rather emotionless prayer which recounts his achievements means - as Jesus points out - that he is not really praying at all. In fact Jesus refers to it as praying ..."with himself".

By contrast we feel the emotion of the tax-collector in the few words he utters as he beats his breast over and over while exclaiming "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" He is praying from the heart and God hears his prayer because it is true and honest. And so he is the one who "went down to his house justified."

Here then is an illustration of what St. Theophan is talking about. True prayer is prayer which touches the deepest part of us - our hearts - and as the Bible tells us, that is the seat of our emotions. So when we truly express who we really are before God, then is it hard not to be emotional in our prayers. Not necessarily with weeping or wailing or stuff like that, but with a real sense of connecting and owning the words we say rather than just saying them because we either think that they are what God wants to hear or what we think we should be saying.

So next time you pray, don't just say the words, but own them. Do they really express who and what you are? Or are they the words that you think God wants to hear. In other words pray as you and not as someone else.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Prayer - from The Way of the Ascetics

Started re-reading Tito Colliander's wonderful book - and Orthodox classic - The Way of the Ascetics. Don't let the title bother you as this is not about great feats of self-denial that we see in the lives of the great Saints of the desert but something every ordinary Christian or saint can attain to.

It is written - so the dust cover tells us - "for lay persons living fully in the world" by an Eastern Orthodox layman Tito Colliander who lived most of his life in Helsinki, Finland. Here is some of his advice on prayer:

"A person who resolves to begin regular morning exercises usually does so not because he already has physical fitness but in order to get something he does not have. Once one has something he can be anxious to keep it; previous to that, he is anxious to get it.

Therefore, begin your practice without expecting anything of yourself. If you are fortunate enough to sleep in a room by yourself, you can quite literally and without trouble, follow the instructions of the prayer book:

"When you awake, before you begin the day, stand with reverence before the All Seeing God. Make the sign of the Cross and say:

"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Having invoked the Holy Trinity, keep silence for a while. So that your thoughts and feelings ,at be freed from worldy cares. Then recite the following prayers without haste, and with your whole heart.

"God be merciful to me, a sinner..."

Thereafter follow the other prayers (see the Orthodox Prayer Book) with the prayer to the Holy Spirit first, then to the Holy Trinity, and not the Our Father, which precedes the whole list of morning prayers. It is better to read a few of them quietly than all of them impatiently. They rest upon the gathered experience of the Church; through them you enter a great fellowship of praying folk. You are not alone; you are a cell in the body of the Church - that is, of Christ. Through them you learn the patience that is necessary not only for the body but also for the heart and mind, for the building up of your faith."
(Way of the Ascetics page 63-64).

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Sacraments and personal salvation

The tradition of the Church and the Bible are absolutely insistent on the necessity of the Sacraments for life in the Church and the salvation of individual persons. In His dialogue with Nikodemos, Jesus pointedly said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). When the Apostle Philip explained the Christian faith to the Ethiopian government official, the immediate response was Baptism. The Bible tells us that Philip "told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?' And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:35-38).

So also, the Eucharist is essential for salvation. Jesus declared "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:53-56).

The sacramental way is at the heart of our appropriation of Christ's saving work for ourselves, according to the Bible. But, it is not magic. Personal response in faith, practice, trust, and belief are also necessary. What Protestants call "accepting Christ, and making a personal commitment" is what Orthodox call "repentance." Orthodox Christians know that they must continuously repent, because when we become members of the household of God, which is the Church, at whatever age, we still must grow in faith and obedience for the rest of our lives. Repentance is not a once in a life-time, or once in a while behavior. It is the permanent essential stance of the Christian. In the Orthodox Divine Liturgy and every service of worship, Orthodox Christians hear, "...let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God."

While Protestants focus primarily on the individual, the Orthodox Church recognizes that we are never alone and by ourselves as Christians. We live our Christian lives as members of the Body of Christ, the Church: "let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God."

Orthodox "Fullness" and Protestant "Minimalism" Evangelical Protestants, from the Orthodox perspective tend to reduce the meaning of salvation to one thing, the stating in words that one "Accepts Jesus Christ as Personal Saviour." From what has been said above, in the Orthodox perspective, there is, indeed, the essential need to believe in Christ and His saving work personally. But this is not the only thing that is needed. Focused exclusively on a juridical (forensic) reading of Romans, it is too legalistic and somewhat formalistic. What we hear is "Say these specific words and you are saved. If you don't say the words, you aren't saved." The Orthodox holds to a much broader view of salvation, based on the whole of the Bible.

The Orthodox Church teaches that God the Father, through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit saved humanity from sin, evil and death. No Orthodox Christian teacher ever taught that we alone save ourselves. Salvation is from God as a gift to humankind (grace, " charis "). Once that is made real through Baptism through which we share in the death and resurrection of Christ, we enter into the new life as Christians. St. Paul said "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

From that point, the Bible tells us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12). Salvation is not an instant thing; it is a process.

The point of all this is to affirm the richness and multi-dimensional aspects of salvation. We have been saved by Christ's work of salvation; once baptized and sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, we are in the process of being saved; when the Kingdom comes in its fullness, we shall be saved. In Orthodoxy the fullness of the Christian Faith is maintained.
(See Stanley Harakas at http://www.stlukeorthodox.com/html/innews/whybeorthodox.htm)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Salvation

In the Orthodox Church's teaching, the whole life and work of Jesus Christ was for the salvation of all of humankind. Central to the saving work of Jesus Christ was His Incarnation. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son, was sent into the world to take on human nature (body and soul). He became thus, through His Birth of the Virgin Mary one divine/human person (in Greek "Theanthropos"). His saving work was fulfilled by means of His teaching, healing, guidance, suffering, death on the Cross and His Resurrection from the dead. All this, He did for all of humanity of all ages.

This salvation is made available to every person through the Church which Christ brought to fullness by sending the Holy Spirit upon His disciples at Pentecost. Belief in the Christ and His work and trust in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is essential for each of us to appropriate for ourselves the saving work of Jesus Christ. This brings us into the household of God, the Church. It is there that the fullness of the faith (Orthodoxy as true belief), and the fullness of true worship (Orthodoxy as true worship) and the fullness of true Christian living (Orthodoxy as Orthopraxia) are to be found in their wholeness.
(See: Rev Dr Stanley Harakas at http://www.stlukeorthodox.com/html/innews/whybeorthodox.htm)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Scripture and the Church

Often the Orthodox Church is charged with not being "Scriptural enough." That is a false charge, since every worship service of the Church is permeated through and through with the Bible. So are the writings of the Church Fathers and the Canons of the Church. The Bible is inextricably bound up with the life and tradition of the Church. I would agree, however, that Orthodox Christians need to read the Bible much more. The important thing is that the Bible be read in harmony with the Church's mind set and tradition which guarantees the fullness of the truth with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible itself speaks of "the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Conversely, the Bible is a constant guide to the Church: " All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The point is, that the Church and Scripture are inextricably interconnected.
(Stanley Harakas - see last bloo)

Scripture and Tradition

The following is an excerpt from an article on the website of St. Luke the Evangelist, Illinois by Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas - Professor of Orthodox Theology, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. It is in turn taken from the Hellenic Chronicle March 6th, 1997. It deals with Scripture and Tradition:

Like Protestants, the Orthodox Church also rejects "the traditions of men." These are teachings and practices which violate the true Christian teaching and life. But how do we know what is true Christian teaching and life? We look at Holy Tradition, that is the experience, life and ethos of the whole Church in its fullness. Included in Holy Tradition, and in a place of privilege is Holy Scripture. Consequently, treating Holy Tradition as different than, or worse, contrary to Scripture is incomprehensible to the Orthodox. For Protestants to do that is to create and knock down a straw man.

Holy Tradition includes elements as far ranging as the content of missionary preaching, hymns, worship content and practices, the writings of Church Fathers, the decisions of Church Councils, practices of spiritual and moral discipline. Historically, it is impossible to extricate Holy Tradition from Scripture and Scripture from Holy Tradition.

Thousands of Christians, believed in Christ, became members of his body, the Church, lived Christian lives and often witnessed to their faith by dying for it, long before there was anything like the New Testament that we read today. Scholars know that in the first few centuries after Christ local churches usually had only a few of the twenty seven books of what we now call the New Testament. Yet, they were believers who lived the whole Christian faith. Even the New Testament witnesses to this: St. Paul wrote to already existing Churches in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, and so on.

The striking truth is that it was Holy Tradition that created the New Testament; not the other way around. When Protestants reject or minimize Holy Tradition, the consequence is that they lose the ground and historical source out of which the New Testament came into being. The tragic result, from the Orthodox perspective, is that they thus also lose the witness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church as a guide to understanding the Scripture itself.

The end of this is the doctrine of the private interpretation of the Scriptures, supposedly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, staunchly held by all Protestants. Yet, in Orthodox perspective, this doctrine does not seem to lead to truth, but to conflicting private and ecclesial division. Since the Reformation in the 16th century, church body after church body has come into existence. Today, there exist hundreds of Protestant sects, bodies, churches and movements, all proclaiming to preach the truth, with multitudes of conflicting doctrines, church orders and structures, worship traditions and ethical teachings. This can hardly constitute the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

From an Orthodox perspective, this is precisely the result of the separation by Protestants of Scripture from Holy Tradition. It is, one might say, the fundamental error of Protestantism. For, as we shall see next week, what Protestants and all Christians identify as the New Testament, is precisely the creation of the Church, not the other way around

The important point to remember about the Bible and the New Testament in particular, is that it is a product of the Church, not the other way around. In the first years of Christianity, many writings about Jesus appeared and circulated. Often attributed to Apostolic writers, these books not only were falsely titled, but they also contained false teachings. The authentic scriptural writings were recognized as such in the Church, and they alone were used in the Church's worship, preaching and teaching. Eventually, there came a need to define which were authentic and which were not. This led to the formation of the "Canon," or the list of books which were, in fact, inspired Scripture in the experience and life of the Church "Canon" is a Greek word meaning originally, a "measuring rod" or "ruler." It later took on the meaning of an "approved list or catalogue." Between 170 A.D. and 220 A.D. the four Gospels the Acts of the Apostles, the thirteen letters attributed to St. Paul were formally acknowledged as "canonical," by the Church. Within a century after that, the New Testament as we know it today was formally acknowledged as the canonical text. But it should be noted that what made the books canonical was their inspiration by the Holy Spirit and their use in the life of the Church as "inspired texts." It was the Church that acknowledged and certified them as such. Thus, the Church is the author of the New Testament Scriptures and it is Holy Tradition that is the guarantor of the Scriptures. Otherwise, what books are actually Scripture would be determined by subjective opinion.

Taking a closer look - 2

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible."

On the face of it there appears to be no real difference between what Anglicans and Orthodox believe here. But it all depends which wing of the Anglican Church you belong to. Personally I am an Evangelical which immediately raises the whole question of a belief in the substitutionary theory of atonement so beloved of that wing of the church and this portrays God as a judge who is full of wrath against sinful humanity and seeks to punish it for its waywardness. In steps Jesus and substitutes himself for us, taking on himself the punishment that makes us whole. The "wrath of God is satisfied" - according to a well known evangelical hymn ("In Christ Alone") - and we are free to follow Jesus and serve God.

The opening line of the Creed gives no hint of that however and introduces God as "Father" and "creator". No mention of wrath or anger only, one assumes, a love that is creative and caring. Does he get angry - yes - but at sin and the destruction it visits upon us his people and the world he lovingly created. He is angry at evil and the way it twists and deforms. His anger arises out of his love and not at odds with it. This becomes more clear later when we look at Jesus and his death on the cross.

As St. John Chrysostom reminds us:

"God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we are able to love ourselves."

Taking a closer look 1

As an Anglican - currently - I am used to reciting the Nicene Creed every week in church (the Orthodox version without the offending filioque phrase). And yet I know that there are significant differences between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. What are they? To consider them I am going to look at the Nicene Creed in an attempt to identify the places where Anglicanism and Orthodoxy diverge. But first, the Creed:

 I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, 
Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages.
Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made;
of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried.
And the third day He arose again, according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead;
Whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
Who proceeds from the Father;
Who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified; Who spoke by the prophets.

I believe i
n one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Learning about Orthodoxy

The following is a three year distance learning course on the Eastern Orthodox Church. You don't have to sign up to use it (apparently) but you can listen to some of the lectures:

http://www.equip-orthodox.com/

You are three - Part 2

You are three - Part 1

The Pearl of Great Price

The Purpose of the Christian Life

Fr. John Musther is an Orthodox Englishman and serves in the Orthodox missionary parish of Sts. Bega, Mungo and Herbert in Keswick, Cumbria, North West England. Talking about his conversion to Orthodoxy he writes:

"I met Fr. Sophrony (Sakharov). I was a student at University College London reading for a law degree. It was early 1961 if I remember correctly. At any rate Fr. Sophrony had only recently arrived at the Old Rectory at Tolleshunt Knights, Essex. I knew just a little about Christianity through the Church of England but nothing about Orthodoxy. On Sunday afternoon after the Ninth Hour he invited me into his study while the tea was being made and asked me: what was the purpose of the Christian life? He spoke so gently and when I said that I didn’t know, he simply said, ‘the purpose of the Christian life is to ask the Lord Jesus to send the Holy Spirit into our hearts that he may cleanse us and make us more like Christ’.

I sat there dumbfounded. My hair stood on end. I had never heard of such a thing. I had no questions. I knew that what he had told me was the truth of his own heart. The only response was to be still and receive the precious gift he was giving me.

His statement was a complete summary of the Scriptures. It was the Word of God to me. It changed the direction of my life. The power of that word still urges me on."

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