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Author Topic: Could use some guidance with Liturgical terminology  (Read 879 times) Average Rating: 0
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leap of faith
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« on: October 09, 2011, 10:57:49 PM »

When I first requested a meeting with our "local" Orthodox priest (It's 100 miles to the nearest parish), I had been studying and reading about Orthodoxy off and on for several years.  He very, very wisely encouraged me to come to Liturgy to experience Orthodoxy.  All I can say is, "Wow!!"  I'm now a Catechumen and he continues to be a source of wisdom and encouragement whose shoulder I tap upon often for further understanding.  I do hesitate to become a bother, so perhaps I can ask someone here to help me with this one.  I really...I mean, REALLY...struggle with all of the liturgical terminologies.  Matins, Orthros, Vespers, Compline and then the countless terms for the various parts of the Divine Liturgy.  Is there some sort of "cheat sheet" for all of these?  A book?  ANYTHING!!  I'm desperate.  Our parish is Greek, but my family is spread around the country so I will routinely be visiting non-Greek parishes.  
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 11:20:26 PM »

How about you post the ones you have questions on as the questions pop up? There's just so many  Grin

The Orthodox wiki is always a good resource.

For what you've posted so far-

Matins/Orthros- the same service, just one's a "Latin" name (Matins) and one's Greek. The first service of the day in a parish setting, usually celebrated right before the Divine Liturgy (though parishes in the Russian tradition might celebrate it as part of a Vigil- the celebration of Vespers and Matins together)

Vespers- the evening service, usually around sunset. Also the start of the new liturgical day, when the saints and feasts of the following morning are commemorated.

Compline- Comes in Great and Small varieties. Usually an after dinner or before bed service. Greek tradition used to be to pray Small Compline as the evening prayer in the home.

Hours (you didn't ask, but it goes along with these)- First, Third, Sixth, Ninth, Midnight corresponding to ancient tracking of the hours of the day, First is around seven am, Third around nine, Sixth around noon, Ninth around three, midnight around midnight (Midnight prayers were often the home morning prayers in the older Greek tradition, and are reflected in most of the Morning Prayers found in prayer books).

Regarding the Divine Liturgy- Don't want to cause information overload, so we'll start with some basics-

Liturgy of the Catechumen- The part leading up to the Gospel reading (and possibly homily following). In some parishes it ends with the Litany for the Catechumens after which you might hear "All catechumens depart". This is a hold over from the days of persecution and catechumens are usually not expected to depart.

The Small Entrance happens during the Liturgy of the Catechumens and is when the priest circles the altar, walks into the middle of the church with the Gospel, and goes through the Royal Doors (those doors right in front of the altar).

Liturgy of the Faithful- the latter part of the service. Cherubic Hymn (Let us who mystically...) through Epiclesis (end of the communion prayers, when the Holy Spirit is called upon to effect the change).

The Great Entrance- Middle of the Liturgy of the Faithful, when the priest walks around the Church with the bread and wine which are to become the Body and Blood.

Anaphora- prayers over the Bread/Wine Body/Blood.

Eucharist- communion

Dismissal- about 15 minutes left in the service.
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2011, 11:57:33 PM »

Thank you!  That was very helpful.  The Matins/Orthros question is now cleared up.  I didn't realize they were the same thing, and kept scratching my head when I read references here to Matins, yet never saw them on our Church schedule.  Orthros!  Love it!!  Thanks also for reminding me of my confusion regarding hours and touching on that.  These are the times of day for certain prayers, right?  Tones confuse me.  Unless I am mistaken, I've not seen tone 2 utilized...and don't even know what a tone is, really. My mind immediately goes to a musical pitch. I will definitely check Orthodoxwiki.  I've utilized that site many times, but failed to think of it for this sort of info.  

Our priest is refreshing the memories by reviewing various points of the Liturgy in his homilies.  I'd take notes if I didn't believe that would be absolutely improper!  He spoke of the preparation of the Eucharistic Sacraments.  Many foreign-to-me words there!  Of course, I was so in awe of the inspired depth of the preparation of the bread and that stamp, etc. that I can't even begin to guess what the words were.  "P"...I remember several of them began with "P."  Yep...I'm real helpful, aren't I?  He encourages me to experience more and think a little less...and he's right, of course!  But I know how my brain works.  Once I'm comfortable with the terms, I'll relax and move on.

Dismissal- about 15 minutes left in the service.   Grin  True story!
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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2011, 12:14:43 AM »

Thank you!  That was very helpful.  The Matins/Orthros question is now cleared up.  I didn't realize they were the same thing, and kept scratching my head when I read references here to Matins, yet never saw them on our Church schedule.  Orthros!  Love it!!  Thanks also for reminding me of my confusion regarding hours and touching on that.  These are the times of day for certain prayers, right?  Tones confuse me.  Unless I am mistaken, I've not seen tone 2 utilized...and don't even know what a tone is, really. My mind immediately goes to a musical pitch. I will definitely check Orthodoxwiki.  I've utilized that site many times, but failed to think of it for this sort of info.  

Our priest is refreshing the memories by reviewing various points of the Liturgy in his homilies.  I'd take notes if I didn't believe that would be absolutely improper!  He spoke of the preparation of the Eucharistic Sacraments.  Many foreign-to-me words there!  Of course, I was so in awe of the inspired depth of the preparation of the bread and that stamp, etc. that I can't even begin to guess what the words were.  "P"...I remember several of them began with "P."  Yep...I'm real helpful, aren't I?  He encourages me to experience more and think a little less...and he's right, of course!  But I know how my brain works.  Once I'm comfortable with the terms, I'll relax and move on.

Dismissal- about 15 minutes left in the service.   Grin  True story!
Tones are also known as "modes" and are related to the various musical modes such as Ionic and Doric. Basically just different ways of ascending a scale.

Each week starting with Pasha (Easter) has a certain tone assigned to it, starting with tone 1assigned and working up numerically. You may also see the word "plagal" following the number 1-4and which basically means add 4 (so plagal 1 is tone 5 and plagal 3 is tone 7). There are 8 tones in all.

For examples of tones in Greek tradition goarch.org has a learn to chant section. For something more in depth ancient faith radio has a podcast titled "Glory to Thee".
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« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2011, 06:10:00 AM »

When I first requested a meeting with our "local" Orthodox priest (It's 100 miles to the nearest parish), I had been studying and reading about Orthodoxy off and on for several years.  He very, very wisely encouraged me to come to Liturgy to experience Orthodoxy.  All I can say is, "Wow!!"  I'm now a Catechumen and he continues to be a source of wisdom and encouragement whose shoulder I tap upon often for further understanding.  I do hesitate to become a bother, so perhaps I can ask someone here to help me with this one.  I really...I mean, REALLY...struggle with all of the liturgical terminologies.  Matins, Orthros, Vespers, Compline and then the countless terms for the various parts of the Divine Liturgy.  Is there some sort of "cheat sheet" for all of these?  A book?  ANYTHING!!  I'm desperate.  Our parish is Greek, but my family is spread around the country so I will routinely be visiting non-Greek parishes.  

There's also a very helpful book which explains the Liturgy.  It's called "Let Us Attend: A Journey Through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy" by Fr. Lawrence Farley. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2011, 08:32:08 AM »

Thank you, both, for the information and guidance.  I promise that I will take ACTION on your suggestions for learning and I appreciate the leg up!!  I had focused my time on investigating the claim of the Orthodox Church as being the One True Church and understanding what She teaches us.  I fully embrace those.  Now this former protestant woman needs to embrace the language.  I'll get there!! I much appreciate the bump in the right direction.
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2011, 08:58:45 AM »


Our priest is refreshing the memories by reviewing various points of the Liturgy in his homilies.  I'd take notes if I didn't believe that would be absolutely improper!  He spoke of the preparation of the Eucharistic Sacraments.  Many foreign-to-me words there!  Of course, I was so in awe of the inspired depth of the preparation of the bread and that stamp, etc. that I can't even begin to guess what the words were.  "P"...I remember several of them began with "P."  Yep...I'm real helpful, aren't I?  He encourages me to experience more and think a little less...and he's right, of course!  But I know how my brain works.  Once I'm comfortable with the terms, I'll relax and move on.

Dismissal- about 15 minutes left in the service.   Grin  True story!
If your priest is "refreshing the memories", doesn't that suggest that even life-long Orthodox may not have all the terminology down pat? Don't fret too much about those things. I think you'll find that if you really need to know the terminology because of your own responsibilities you will learn them. (Unless you're like many of us here on OC dot net who just have to know everything - and  Wink Wink prove it  Smiley)

Why would it be improper to take notes? I did that at first. Again, don't make a big deal of it. Perhaps you can set yourself a goal of noticing one new term, or take notice of one action in the DL to focus on in each service.

Your enthusiasm is commendable. Just don't overdo it  Smiley.
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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2011, 11:01:46 AM »

Our priest is refreshing the memories by reviewing various points of the Liturgy in his homilies.  I'd take notes if I didn't believe that would be absolutely improper!  He spoke of the preparation of the Eucharistic Sacraments.  Many foreign-to-me words there!  Of course, I was so in awe of the inspired depth of the preparation of the bread and that stamp, etc. that I can't even begin to guess what the words were.  "P"...I remember several of them began with "P."  Yep...I'm real helpful, aren't I?  He encourages me to experience more and think a little less...and he's right, of course!  But I know how my brain works.  Once I'm comfortable with the terms, I'll relax and move on.

As stated above, your enthusiasm is quite commendable! I'm very glad to see that. However, I've also seen burn out, so do be careful.

Now, as for the Liturgy of Preparation, it's often called the Proskomedia (Slavonic, "offering") or the Prothesis (Greek, "setting forth") and it is performed on an altar table to the left of the Holy Table (the "high altar" if you will) that is also called the Prothesis. The bread is called Prosphoron (Greek, lit. "offering"), a large piece of bread that is stamped with a prosphoron seal. The seal contains images utilized in the specific way the bread is cut up during the service, including the cube-shaped "lamb" cut from the center which reads "IC XC NIKA", a Greek abbreviation for "Jesus Christ Conquers." The lamb will be consecrated as the Eucharistic Body of Christ. In the Slavic tradition, this bread is known as prosphora, and five smaller loaves are utilized instead.

There is always left-over bread once the preparation is done. This left over prosphora is blessed and cut up into smaller pieces and given to the faithful after they have communed (along with some blessed wine) to make sure all of the Eucharist got down. It is also given as a blessing to the faithful that aren't communing as a blessing. The bread is now called antidoron, (Greek, lit. "instead of the gift," meaning the Eucharistic gift). In many parishes in the US, non-Orthodox may also partake of the antidoron and blessed wine (called zapivka, lit. "washing down" in the Russian tradition).

So, indeed...a lot of p's! I hope that was helpful. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2011, 11:17:57 AM »

All replies...and advice...are, indeed, very helpful.  genesisone, you are right regarding why our priest is reviewing for all.  I had not thought of it in that light!  I've been trying to be mindful of not entering into "convertitis," so I'll relax while I learn.  After all, it took me three years, following 47 yrs. of protestantcy, to get where I am today and exhausting the opportunities for learning and growth is impossible, so I might as well settle in.  I'll still utilize the resources suggested, but I'll enjoy myself while doing so!  As BtR showed, at least I got the "P" right!  It's a beginning!!  ha!  ...shaking my head in awe of the simplicity and depth that harmoniously reside in Orthodoxy...
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