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Author Topic: Candles/Lamps during the reading of the Gospel  (Read 1998 times) Average Rating: 0
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Thomas
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« on: August 04, 2004, 03:53:12 PM »

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, Our senior Sub-deacon had only two altar boys on the Altar.  When It came time for the Altar Boys to go out for the Gospel Reading he had them take the Fans instead of the Lamps/Candles. When I later asked about this he sent me an e-mail that noted:

"Regarding the processional fans, my limited research indicated that fans seem to be used in all of the entrances, and at the Gospel, they are prominent.  That would indicate to me that if we only have two acolytes, then the fans should be taken out instead of the lamps.  If you have any written sources to the contrary, I would be interested in reviewing them to see if we should revise my instructions."

I have always been taught that there should always be at a minimum ofa lit lamp or Candle when the Gospel is being read, even if it is from a candle stand and held by the sole layperson present.  Does anyone have any research to support this or am I incorrect and the fans alone should be used?  Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Resource documentation would greatly be appreciated.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2004, 04:15:50 PM »

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, Our senior Sub-deacon had only two altar boys on the Altar.  When It came time for the Altar Boys to go out for the Gospel Reading he had them take the Fans instead of the Lamps/Candles. When I later asked about this he sent me an e-mail that noted:

"Regarding the processional fans, my limited research indicated that fans seem to be used in all of the entrances, and at the Gospel, they are prominent.  That would indicate to me that if we only have two acolytes, then the fans should be taken out instead of the lamps.  If you have any written sources to the contrary, I would be interested in reviewing them to see if we should revise my instructions."

I have always been taught that there should always be at a minimum ofa lit lamp or Candle when the Gospel is being read, even if it is from a candle stand and held by the sole layperson present.  Does anyone have any research to support this or am I incorrect and the fans alone should be used?  Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Resource documentation would greatly be appreciated.

In Christ,
Thomas

In our Chapel during a week day Liturgy where there may only be one or two Altar Boys the candles are used.  If there are four or more both candles and fans are used.

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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2004, 05:03:02 PM »

Funny, serving as acolyte when I was in HS in my Antiochian parish, fans were never used during readings - only processions (little and especially great entrances and such) and then fans were low on the totem pole to candles/lamps and the cross.  AFAIK, fans are more ceremonial now as they only served to fan the flies away from the Eucharist before it was served.  I'd like to know what source(s) this subdeacon is looking at.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2004, 05:09:10 PM »

My Church (Indian Orthodox Church) uses the Syrian rite, and so what I have to say does not directly relate to Byzantine practice, but perhaps a parallel might help.  On a normal Sunday in my parish, there are about ten to fifteen acolytes serving.  During the proclamation of the Gospel, two of them hold candles, while another two bring out the fans (and since our fans have little bells on the edges, they are "rattled").  At a weekday Liturgy, if there are enough acolytes, the fans will be brought out, and two will hold the candles.  If the number of acolytes is low, then one will ring a bell (I've never seen a Liturgy served without the ringing of a bell), while two hold candles during the Gospel, but there will be no fans.  From this, I think I can safely conclude that it is not the fans that are important, but the candles, at least in our practice.  Even in circumstances where there is only the priest and one acolyte, two candles are lit and are left standing on the lectern from which the priest proclaims the Gospel.
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2004, 08:05:23 PM »

In my experience candles always come first.  The Liturgikon at all entrances indicates the priest and deacon are preceded by candlebearers not fanbearers.  The lighted candle is a symbol of Christ the Lightgiver, who enlightens every man who comes into the world.  This symbolism is especially drawn out at Presanctified when the lighted candle is placed on top of the Gospel Book for the readings and the people are blessed with the candle.  The fan is a symbol of the angels.

Also, the blessing of candlebearer includes the giving of the candle and servers are standins for blessed candlebearers so it seems logical they should be bearing the candles at the entrances and holding them for the Gospel and Communion if that is the custom.  

I would be curious to know what documents led the subdeacon to the conclusion that fans are more prominent than the candles as the only mention of the fans in the Liturgikon is about the deacon using it to fan the Holy Gifts and they are not even required the veils maybe used in their stead.

In any case the OCA and AOA (and I believe the GOA) publish servers guides and these should be the determining factor as to how things are done not a subdeacon's research, limited or extensive.

Fr. Deacon Lance
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2004, 01:15:41 AM »

I did some research on this matter a while ago, there is a tremendous amount of symbolism in the lighting of candles. It's a beautiful tradition and subject matter.

Fr. Deacon Lance is correct about the importance of the candles and about the fans, some often have images of angles, six winged etc.  It is traditional for the candles to come first.  I would not be to hard on the sub-deacon now or in the future when you communicate any information to him.

Thomas you wrote "When It came time for the Altar Boys to go out for the Gospel Reading he had them take the Fans instead of the Lamps/Candles."

I don't know the hearts of the two Acolytes or the Sub-Deacon but here is a writng from the Orthodox Fathers.

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thought. What else can I do? Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'

Here is some information from the following link: http://www.orthodoxworld.ru/english/hram/6/

The Fathers of the Church also witnessed to the spiritual significance of candles. In the 2nd Century, Tertullian wrote: "We never hold a service without candles, yet we use them not just to dispel night's gloom - we also hold our services in daylight - but in order to represent by this Christ, the Uncreated Light, without Whom we would in broad daylight wander as if lost in darkness". The Blessed Jerome wrote in the 4th Century that "In all the Eastern Churches, candles are lit even in the daytime when one is to read the Gospels, in truth not to dispel the darkness, but as a sign of joy...in order under that factual light to feel that Light of which we read in the Psalms (119:105): Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path".
St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, wrote in the 7th Century: "Lampadas and candles represent the Eternal Light, and also the light which shines from the righteous". The Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council decreed that in the Orthodox Church, the holy Icons and relics, the Cross of Christ, and the Holy gospel were to be honored by censing and the lighting of candles; and the Blessed Simeon of Thessalonica (15th Century) wrote that "candles are also lit before the Icons of the Saints, for the sake of their good deeds that shine in this world".

Metropolitan Vitaly wrote this a while ago.

"Candles appeared in all Orthodox churches in the first centuries of our era. Eusebius of Caesaria records that during the paschal vigil such a quantity of candles were lit by the faithful that the night itself became as day. There were wax candles the sizes of which made them look like actual pillars. In answer to the accusations of the schismatic Vigilantius, who berated the Orthodox for lighting candles in their churches during daylight also, St. Jerome (342-420) says "in all Eastern churches candles are lit during the reading of the Gospel not only so as to shed light and dispel the gloom but also to proclaim one's joy."

Over the centuries, the Orthodox candle has burnt gently and humbly and is now, as it was then, imbued with profound meaning, inalienable from our Orthodox divine services and Orthodox piety. Apart from the fact that the small sacrifice, the mite given by each Christian for the candle he lights, benefits the Church in real terms, by lighting a candle, each Christian enters into closer contact with the church and the service, participating in it more actively and invisibly warming his soul by the visible light of the candle. We must understand that man's immortal soul dwells in man's mortal body.

The immortal soul cannot be indifferent to pious deeds committed by the body which is its home. AS the body bows, so does the soul bow with it and grows obedient. We are human; we need to see, to feel, to smell and to hear. And in the church, candles burn with the divine light; the ringing of bells sanctifies the air; incense reminds us of the fragrance of prayers; and from each icon the Saviour Himself, the Mother of God and all the saints mysteriously look at us and we look at Their holy images as two worlds come face to face: the dwellers of the Kingdom of God and we, the sinners.

Pious Orthodox people will preserve throughout the year the candles they light during the readings of the Passion Gospels on Holy Thursday. They make a sign of the cross with these candles over the doors to their homes. They light them during difficult moments of their lives. On Easter night, the candles bor., by the faithful transform their faces into living icons on which plays the light of God's grace ...

But the candle has yet another profound meaning. The burning candle represents the entire life of the faithful, from birth to death. It stands for the inner flame of love for and devotion to God. A Christian should burn like a candle before God, and his whole being should gradually be consumed by this divine flame thus marking the end of his earthly life."

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

« Last Edit: August 05, 2004, 01:18:32 AM by MatthewPanchisin » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2004, 01:43:44 AM »

Also consider that some of the "extra" liturgical items developed out of necesity.  Seeing sevices at Saint Anthony's (i.e Orthros starting around 4 am) is a reminder of that, as there would not be enough light to read the Gospel without a candle.  So from the standpoint of practicality it would seem a candle is more important.
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2004, 10:20:10 AM »

All I know is that my church often has a very low number of boys serving, sometimes one. And candles are always used first. When it is a Heirarchical Service, naturally fans and all are used. Though I have found that the fans are mostly just used in blessing of Holy Water. I can't remember a normal sunday service using fans even with a large number of altar boys.

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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2004, 06:34:34 PM »

One more thing to add about the fans... They are associated with the Deaconate. At the Ordination of a Deacon it is traditional for a fan to be presented to the new new deacon and he then fans the gifts until it is time for communion.  The candles are part of the prayers when one is made a subdeacon. Hopes this info helps in understading.
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