Author Topic: getting more from Liturgy  (Read 3451 times)

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Offline Mandy

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getting more from Liturgy
« on: January 17, 2009, 04:45:44 AM »
Hello all, I am new to the Orthodox faith and have had trouble understanding the liturgies. I'm wondering if there are any particular books that might help me understand?

Offline nicholas1870

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2009, 07:09:31 AM »
Hi there and welcome!

Does your parish have a book store? Sometimes they stock small items like "Liturgy and Life: Lectures and essays on Christian development through liturgical experience" by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, which is a nice little introduction to the Liturgy.

When you say you are having trouble understanding, do you mean that the Liturgy is not in English, or do you mean that you'd like to understand more about the Liturgy itself?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 07:12:44 AM by nicholas1870 »

Offline Mandy

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2009, 02:31:35 PM »
I haven't been to the parish in a long time. I think they do have some books, I'm not sure which ones though. I visited for the first time last March and April only a couple of times. I am a convert from protestantism and was very hostile and prideful for a long time towards the orthodox faith. Finally for the last few months, God has opened my eyes towards the faith. I have been to my hometown parish for a couple of times recently over thanksgiving and Christmas, but I will be going to the one nearest me this Sunday for the first time in a long time. (I am in college)

Sorry, let me get to what you really asked. I mean that it is a Greek Orthodox parish, so I suppose I am having trouble understanding those parts as well as having trouble understanding more about the liturgy itself. I just mean that I found the liturgy kind of, dry, originally. Forgive me, it is only in my own pride and ignorance I feel, but nonetheless, I want to have an illuminated heart towards the liturgy.

I need to recalibrate my entire view of worship, I know. In protestantism the sermon is very individual focused, and it's all about what the individual can get in a 30 minute sermon to change their moral behavior, as opposed to moral behavior being a byproduct of being a part of communion with the body of Christ. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  :)

Offline ignatius

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2009, 02:53:34 PM »
I haven't been to the parish in a long time. I think they do have some books, I'm not sure which ones though. I visited for the first time last March and April only a couple of times. I am a convert from protestantism and was very hostile and prideful for a long time towards the orthodox faith. Finally for the last few months, God has opened my eyes towards the faith. I have been to my hometown parish for a couple of times recently over thanksgiving and Christmas, but I will be going to the one nearest me this Sunday for the first time in a long time. (I am in college)

Sorry, let me get to what you really asked. I mean that it is a Greek Orthodox parish, so I suppose I am having trouble understanding those parts as well as having trouble understanding more about the liturgy itself. I just mean that I found the liturgy kind of, dry, originally. Forgive me, it is only in my own pride and ignorance I feel, but nonetheless, I want to have an illuminated heart towards the liturgy.

I need to recalibrate my entire view of worship, I know. In protestantism the sermon is very individual focused, and it's all about what the individual can get in a 30 minute sermon to change their moral behavior, as opposed to moral behavior being a byproduct of being a part of communion with the body of Christ. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  :)

Grace and Peace Mandy,

I'm sure others here who are far more knowledgeable of the Orthodox Faith can address your question with greater clarity but I just thought I'd say that it has been my experience that the Divine Liturgy doesn't attempt to make an appeal to one's intellect (in the western sense of the term). What I mean is that the Divine Liturgy isn't attempting to appeal to that particular consciousness which we tend to attribute as ourselves. Instead, it has been my experience, that the Divine Liturgy nourishes that deeper part of ourselves which we so often tend to forget makes up the greater portion of the whole which is ourselves. This is the genius of the Liturgy and perhaps the error of the modern sermon which attempts to make an appeal to only our cognitive self or mind. When one simply makes a appeal to our cognitive self we forget that unless our deeper subconscious self is also nourished and ordered we will have a very difficult time actually executing what has been appealed for us to do. Cognitive conviction is one thing that often leads to repression or suppression of our disordered appetites. This is why so many church-goers fail to live the Christian Life. It has been my experience that the Divine Liturgy and the whole life of the Orthodox Church engages and nourishes the whole self to prepare and fulfill the Christian LIfe within us. I would encourage you to enter into Orthodoxy with simple and humble participation. Sing, pray, prostrate, kiss, bow and you will be filled. God Bless.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 02:54:58 PM by ignatius »
St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”

Offline Mandy

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2009, 05:02:20 PM »
I haven't been to the parish in a long time. I think they do have some books, I'm not sure which ones though. I visited for the first time last March and April only a couple of times. I am a convert from protestantism and was very hostile and prideful for a long time towards the orthodox faith. Finally for the last few months, God has opened my eyes towards the faith. I have been to my hometown parish for a couple of times recently over thanksgiving and Christmas, but I will be going to the one nearest me this Sunday for the first time in a long time. (I am in college)

Sorry, let me get to what you really asked. I mean that it is a Greek Orthodox parish, so I suppose I am having trouble understanding those parts as well as having trouble understanding more about the liturgy itself. I just mean that I found the liturgy kind of, dry, originally. Forgive me, it is only in my own pride and ignorance I feel, but nonetheless, I want to have an illuminated heart towards the liturgy.

I need to recalibrate my entire view of worship, I know. In protestantism the sermon is very individual focused, and it's all about what the individual can get in a 30 minute sermon to change their moral behavior, as opposed to moral behavior being a byproduct of being a part of communion with the body of Christ. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  :)

Grace and Peace Mandy,

I'm sure others here who are far more knowledgeable of the Orthodox Faith can address your question with greater clarity but I just thought I'd say that it has been my experience that the Divine Liturgy doesn't attempt to make an appeal to one's intellect (in the western sense of the term). What I mean is that the Divine Liturgy isn't attempting to appeal to that particular consciousness which we tend to attribute as ourselves. Instead, it has been my experience, that the Divine Liturgy nourishes that deeper part of ourselves which we so often tend to forget makes up the greater portion of the whole which is ourselves. This is the genius of the Liturgy and perhaps the error of the modern sermon which attempts to make an appeal to only our cognitive self or mind. When one simply makes a appeal to our cognitive self we forget that unless our deeper subconscious self is also nourished and ordered we will have a very difficult time actually executing what has been appealed for us to do. Cognitive conviction is one thing that often leads to repression or suppression of our disordered appetites. This is why so many church-goers fail to live the Christian Life. It has been my experience that the Divine Liturgy and the whole life of the Orthodox Church engages and nourishes the whole self to prepare and fulfill the Christian LIfe within us. I would encourage you to enter into Orthodoxy with simple and humble participation. Sing, pray, prostrate, kiss, bow and you will be filled. God Bless.
Grace and Peace to you! Thank you for your advice. I am still not clear on the ways to bow and prostrate and things of this nature? What am I allowed to do as an inquirer? Can I make the sign of the trinity? How do I do this? Thanks for your help.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 05:03:55 PM by Mandy »

Offline HandmaidenofGod

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2009, 06:26:10 PM »
Grace and Peace to you! Thank you for your advice. I am still not clear on the ways to bow and prostrate and things of this nature? What am I allowed to do as an inquirer? Can I make the sign of the trinity? How do I do this? Thanks for your help.

Hi Mandy!

First, I would like to assure you that you are not alone in your confusion and your period of adjustment. The Orthodox Liturgy is very foreign in comparison to Protestant worship services, and many converts have gone through periods of transition such as the one you are currently experiencing.

Having said that, have you introduced yourself to the priest of the parish you are attending? If you have not, I would suggest you do so the next time you attend. Try to schedule a time where you can sit down one on one so he can answer some of your questions as an inquiror.

In regards to expressions of piety (crossing oneself, bowing, etc.) rather than trying to be a completely active participant, just sit back and watch everything that is going on around you at this point. Try to take it all in. Then as you go to more services it will all become more familiar to you, and you will feel more comfortable participating.

If and when you do want to cross yourself, this is how you do so:

First, take your right hand and pinch together your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. This represents our belief in the Trinity. Then, press down your pinky and ring finger to your palm. This represents our belief in the dual natures of Christ.

Now that you have your hand in the correct posture, take your hand and cross yourself in this order, forehead, chest, right shoulder, left shoulder. As you do this, say "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

We cross ourselves when ever the Trinity is invoked "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit", before we venerate an icon, and at the beginning and end of our personal prayers. You will see others cross themselves at different points in the Liturgy, and this is usually a personal form of piety.

Here is a website that can help you with some of the "Do's" and "Do not's" in the Orthodox Church:

http://3saints.com/rules.html

You may want to pick up a prayer book with a copy of the Divine Litrurgy in it, as this will help you to follow along. As you're going to a Greek Orthodox parish, I would recommend the below copy from Holy Cross Press:

http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/917651170.html

I hope this helps!

In XC,

Maureen
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11

Offline Thomas

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009, 09:56:44 AM »
Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum Mandy, I hope you will find this a place to get answers that are simple and direct to your needs. The information given already is excellent. When I first converted I noted a real similarity with what I was observing in respect to what I had read about worship in heaven as described in the Revelation of St John. Once I saw that connection I began to sense the mystical component of the Mystical Supper as seen through the Divine Liturgy.

Once again,welcome to our Forum!

Thomas
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Offline Mandy

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2009, 12:05:58 AM »
Thanks everyone! I went to the liturgy this past Sunday in the church nearest where I live, and I was able to participate in the singing. The liturgy is in primarily English because it is mostly converts to the faith. The parish at my home town is all in Greek, so that was the primary reason I could not really get into it.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2009, 05:03:28 AM »
Now that you have your hand in the correct posture, take your hand and cross yourself in this order, forehead, chest, right shoulder, left shoulder.

I'm going to have to disagree here.  I believe the fully reverent way is forehead, belly, right shoulder, left shoulder.  This pattern makes the actual shape of the cross!

Offline LBK

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2009, 05:35:01 AM »
Alveus, you are indeed correct, but you'll find that most Greeks tend to place the lowermost point of the cross at the chest. Handmaiden has simply described what she's seen.
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 10:41:43 AM »
Mandy,

Welcome!

Keep attending the Orthodox church that is local to where you currently are.  In time you will grasp the deeper meaning of the Liturgy.  It's filled with symbolism and it's the most fulfilling 2 hours of the week!
 :laugh:

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...on making the Sign of the Cross

Taken from   The Law of God.
                  By Seraphim Slobodskoy


This is why, in order to express our faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour, we wear a Cross on our body, and during prayer we form the Cross over ourselves with our right hand, or make the sign of the Cross.

For the sign of the Cross we put the fingers of our right hand together as follows. We bring the tips of the first three fingers together (the thumb, index and middle ones), and bend the last two (the "ring" and little fingers) against the palm.

The first three fingers together express our faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, as the Trinity one in essence and indivisible, and the two fingers bent show how the Son of God, when He came down from Heaven, being God, became man; that is, they signify His two natures — divine and human.

In order to make the sign of the Cross, with our fingers in this position, we touch our forehead, for the blessing of our mind, our stomach, for the blessing of our internal feelings, then our right and left shoulders, for the blessing of our bodily strength.

The sign of the Cross gives us great strength to repel and conquer evil and to do good, but we must remember to make the sign of the Cross correctly and without haste, otherwise it will not be the sign of the Cross, but just waving our hand around, which only gladdens the demons. By making the sign of the Cross carelessly we show a lack of reverence for God. This is a sin. This sin is called sacrilege.

We make the sign of the Cross, or "cross ourselves," at the beginning of prayer, during prayer, at the end of prayer, and when we draw near to anything holy: when we enter the church, when we reverence the Cross or an icon. We should cross ourselves at every important moment in our life: in danger, in sorrow, in joy, and so on.

When we cross ourselves, mentally we say, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Thus we express our faith in the All-holy Trinity and our desire to live and labor for the glory of God.



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Offline Heorhij

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2009, 11:17:34 AM »
Hi Mandy, and welcome to the forum!

Here's a link to the full text of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostomos in English, I thought maybe it will help some:

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/liturgy/liturgy.html

Here's an introduction into the Divine Liturgy:

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=liturgy+of+st.+john+chrysostom&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=10&ct=title#

Here are some videos and soundtracks of the actual Liturgy::

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=liturgy+of+st.+john+chrysostom&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=10&ct=title#

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=liturgy+of+st.+john+chrysostom&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=10&ct=title#

Understanding the Divine Liturgy actually means participating in it. The more you do it, the more it "clicks" in your mind and comforts you.


Best wishes to you in your search of the Truth!

George
Love never fails.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2009, 02:19:58 PM »
The book Living the Liturgy: A Practical Guide for Participating in the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church is a solid resource for understanding the structure of the liturgy and also some of the deeper layers of meaning behind the progression of events in the liturgy:

http://www.amazon.com/Living-liturgy-practical-participating-Orthodox/dp/B0007AHVPK

Also, for help with the Sign of the Cross, here's a picture that shows what others have described in their posts concerning the positioning of your fingers:


Offline Mandy

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Re: getting more from Liturgy
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 01:51:07 AM »
Wow, thanks everyone for all of the responses! The pictures and websites are surely helpful. Peace be with you!