How do I pray during the Liturgy, if not accustomed or familiar with the Liturgy? So far, I have been trying to "absord" what I can in mindful manner and participate outwardly by crossing myself when I am sure it is pretty much the practice, reciting the Lord's Prayer and saying the Creed.
We have a midweek Vespers service and it is by my "favorite" service, because of the degree I have been able to pick up on what is happening if in albeit superficial way.
Any suggestions on resources I can use get a better grasp of the Great Liturgy, readingwise? So far, I pretty much remain overwhelmed.
Orthonorm, there is a short book entitled Living the Liturgy
by Stanley S. Harakas (published by Light & Life), that seeks to assist those that are relatively new to attending Liturgy or simply not engaging it fully. The book is not without flaws, as frankly, the 140 pages probably could have been condensed to 75, but it does present some very helpful suggestions.
The book explains what the Liturgy is intended to be, i.e. its purpose, how the liturgy is organized, and how the laity may participate more fully. Providing a summation, it instructs us to view the Divine Liturgy as a series of mystical enactments of worship. In order to fully participate, we must recognize the meaning and importance of each movement. For example, the reading of the Gospel is not just a priest reading from a book, but the actual words of Christ being delivered to us. So, Harakas charges that we essentially change our mindset and view these portions in their mystical sense. If Christ is delivering his word directly to us, that should fundamentally alter the way in which we receive that message.
Regarding prayer, Harakas focuses on the various versions of the Shorter Litany spoken by the priest. Many of these are, in fact, instructing the laity to pray. For instance, when the priest says, "For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the Holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord," we are supposed to give relevant prayer. This can be quite challenging, as sometimes there is not ample time to provide a thorough prayer. In this case, he refers back to the frequent choir response of "Lord, have mercy" which is very succinct, and if said contemplatively, is still entirely meaningful.
Once again, while this book is not perfect, I did find it useful in better preparing me to participate in the Liturgy. I hope this suggestion helps you.