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Author Topic: My first Liturgy  (Read 1649 times) Average Rating: 0
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William
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« on: April 17, 2011, 02:19:22 PM »

My mother has agreed to take me to the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy and Great Saturday. It will be my first Orthodox service.  Smiley

What should I expect? What is a 'Vesperal' Divine Liturgy, anyway?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 02:20:56 PM by Apples » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2011, 02:24:04 PM »

In my case, what happened was a very pleasant surprise. From the sights to the sounds, it was beautiful. Pretty much everything is chanted or sung. You may find the service books of help. (They helped me get through the language difference.)

I hope you enjoy it!   angel
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2011, 03:33:41 PM »

Well, my take is that you shouldn't expect anything. Just relax, go the service and see for yourself what it's like. At least, that's what I did. I had read about Orthodoxy for a couple of years and I didn't come entirely unprepared, but when I first attended the Holy Liturgy on Sunday morning, it was still nothing like I had imagined it to be. Believe me, it was much, much better! You don't really know Orthodoxy until you've seen and witnessed it and have taken part in it.

If like me, you're not used to liturgical worship, you'll probably feel very awkward at first, but don't let that bother you. For instance, I saw people bowing, prostrating themselves, venerating the icons, crossing themselves during the services. I heard people reciting prayers in foreign languages from a prayer book, and virtually everything being sung.

Basically, just watch and learn. Try to concentrate on the words being sung or spoken. The Holy Liturgy is really profound, in my opinion. The vespers are basically evening prayers. Expect lots of psalms.

You'll probably have a stiff neck and painful feet the first couple of times, but I guarantee it's definitely worth it! Smiley
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 03:34:43 PM by quester » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2011, 06:53:00 PM »

Just throwing this out there. You may want to check if there's a "dress" code if you're a lady. (sorry, I couldn't tell from your username). Regardless, I would suggest bringing a scarf if you're a female. And if you're going to venerate icons/prostrate (many don't the first few times), wear looser pants/skirt.

Also, if you're asthmatic/have allergies you might want to take some allergy medication before hand/bring your inhaler. Some people react to the incense. (believe me, finding out the hard way is not fun.)
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2011, 06:58:40 PM »

Wear comfortable shoes (I don't know how some of the women can wear heels) and perhaps sit in back of the church? You can observe and it will give you a longer reaction time to see what is going on.
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2011, 07:58:07 PM »

By vesperal divine liturgy in this instance, I am assuming you mean the service of the resurrection that begins somewhere close to midnight on holy saturday and which is followed by the divine liturgy, ending somewhere near two in the morning.

The service begins with all the lights in the church put out as the choir chants. Everyone in the church holds a single unlit candle. At some point, the celebrant will emerge from the sanctuary with a lit candle and intone the hymn "devte lavete fos" / "come receive the light", which is repeated many times as the flame from the celebrant's candle is spread from candle to candle within the church until the whole church is lit by candlelight. Eventually the hymn "tin anastasi sou" / "of thy resurrection" is sung and then the gospel is read. The reading is Mark's account of the women finding the tomb empty. After the celebrant concludes the gospel reading, he sings the hymn "Christos anesti" / "Christ is risen", which is repeated many times triumphantly by the congregation, interspersed by certain "verses". After that, the liturgy begins! The liturgy has its own structure which might be a bit confusing if you're not used to liturgical worship.

If you are unlucky enough to be attending a Greek parish, please try not to be distracted by the rowdy and less than appropriate behaviour of the crowds! (I say this not in judgment but as a caution!)
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2011, 08:27:09 PM »

I think she's refering to the vesperal liturgy on the morning of Holy Saturday
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2011, 08:30:57 PM »

Oooh, that makes more sense.

I'm always confused by the whole "celebrated in anticipation" thing.
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2011, 08:35:23 PM »

Just to clarify, I'm a male.
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2011, 08:36:54 PM »

Just to clarify, I'm a male.

Hey, Apples!

While you're here, could you also clarify what time you're attending liturgy on holy saturday?
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2011, 08:39:20 PM »

9:00 AM - 11:30 AM.
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2011, 08:46:50 PM »

From what I remember this liturgy commemorates crhists hallowing of hell I can't really recall specifics
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2011, 09:42:29 PM »

Just to clarify, I'm a male.

Then the advice to avoid heels is even better.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2011, 02:14:56 AM »

Someone please correct me because I'm not certain, but  I believe that Liturgy in the morning of Holy Saturday is called vesperal because all through Holy Week we celebrate vespers (night prayers) in the morning and matins (morning prayers) in the evening to show how mixed up/corrupt our current world is.
This page: http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=75  might be more confusing than helpful on that exactly but it does give a good idea of how services progress from Good Friday through Pascha.
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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2011, 03:31:28 AM »

Holy Saturday will definitely have a tone of mourning. The parish and parish priest will be emotionally and physically exhausted from what is the toughest and most beautiful week of the year. If people are kind of quiet and less than social, please don't take offense.

It's just the somber mood of the day.

Also, they will have been exhausted from balancing work/family/church and cooking every moment in between. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2011, 08:56:49 AM »

You can read that:
http://www.antiochian.org/node/16963
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2011, 09:27:25 AM »

Dear Apples,
The Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning is one of my favorite experiences of Holy Week and the entire year.  We are celebrating the descent of our Lord into Hades. Since the vesperal prayers are for Pascha, we begin to hear about the coming joy of the Resurrection.  After the Apostle is read the hymn "Arise, O Lord and judge thou the earth" is sung while the Priest enthusiatically tosses laurel leaves (traditionally) or flower petals all through the church.  At the same time, the bells are ringing.  It's enough to wake the dead!  Which is what is actually going on!
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2011, 09:35:08 AM »

The Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning is one of my favorite experiences of Holy Week and the entire year.  We are celebrating the descent of our Lord into Hades. Since the vesperal prayers are for Pascha, we begin to hear about the coming joy of the Resurrection.  After the Apostle is read the hymn "Arise, O Lord and judge thou the earth" is sung while the Priest enthusiatically tosses laurel leaves (traditionally) or flower petals all through the church.  At the same time, the bells are ringing.  It's enough to wake the dead!  Which is what is actually going on!

I love this service, and I love singing "Arise, O Lord..."!!!!
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2011, 09:43:20 AM »

Quote from: Apples
What should I expect?

Expect to be a little lost, at least during the first 10 minutes or so. Orthodox liturgy isn't as hard to follow as some people put on, but it's juuuuuust different enough that you might feel like your brain is processing things about 10 seconds slow. Even if you're used to listening to Orthodox music or Psalter reading, hearing it in person is different. Of course, it could be that I'm just a dummy and this was not the case with anyone else.

Don't be discouraged if you feel this way. Your ears adjust quickly.

« Last Edit: April 18, 2011, 09:43:38 AM by Agabus » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2011, 09:36:08 PM »

I loved it. I liked the smell of burning candles and incense, the icons, the chanting, etc. But my mom hated it. Sad

Good news is that it turns out my next door neighbor is actually Orthodox and I may be able to carpool with her from now on to Divine Liturgy. Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2011, 06:51:23 PM »

I loved it. I liked the smell of burning candles and incense, the icons, the chanting, etc. But my mom hated it. Sad

Good news is that it turns out my next door neighbor is actually Orthodox and I may be able to carpool with her from now on to Divine Liturgy. Smiley

Were you sitting on the back right?  I'm not stalking you- I swear!  I just see a lot from the choir loft.   Cheesy
I'm glad you enjoyed it- and don't worry too much about your mom.  It says a lot that she not only brought you but was willing to come with you.  It takes some people longer to accept things and come around to the fact that their kids may want to do something they don't necessarily approve of.  My own parents still aren't that enthusiastic about me being Orthodox and I'm in my thirties.  Be patient- and welcome!
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William
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« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2011, 07:05:04 PM »

I loved it. I liked the smell of burning candles and incense, the icons, the chanting, etc. But my mom hated it. Sad

Good news is that it turns out my next door neighbor is actually Orthodox and I may be able to carpool with her from now on to Divine Liturgy. Smiley

Were you sitting on the back right?
Yes.
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I'm not stalking you- I swear!  I just see a lot from the choir loft.   Cheesy
I'm glad you enjoyed it- and don't worry too much about your mom.  It says a lot that she not only brought you but was willing to come with you.  It takes some people longer to accept things and come around to the fact that their kids may want to do something they don't necessarily approve of.  My own parents still aren't that enthusiastic about me being Orthodox and I'm in my thirties.  Be patient- and welcome!
Thank you. Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2011, 01:56:30 PM »

I hope she will bring you back or let your neighbor bring you to Church. I'll pray for you and your mom.
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William
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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2011, 05:00:12 PM »

Thank you for the kind words. My dad thinks it is inappropriate for me to attend a non-Roman Catholic Church without being accompanied by a parent so I don't think I'll be able to carpool with my neighbor. And both of my parents have made it quite clear that they do not want to attend with me.  Sad

Anyway, I had some questions:

1. When the priests processed around the Church, were those presanctified gifts?
2. Why was there no homily?
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« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2011, 05:09:11 PM »

1. I suppose you mean the Great Entrance when the bread and wine are carried from the sacrificial table to the altar to be transformed into the Body and Blood.
2. In some Parishes there are no homilies in the midweek services.
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