Author Topic: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?  (Read 1818 times)

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Offline littlepilgrim64

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I have yet to take an inquires class in Orthodoxy.  I am known by the priest at my local Orthodox church and have spoken with him about my spiritual life, currently coming from a Protestant background and earnestly seeking Orthodoxy.

I am trying to understand better where a non-Orthodox seeker can participate upon entering an Orthodox church.  I do not light a candle or kiss the icons (don't know if I am "allowed"), but just go in one of the side doors into the sanctuary.  I have attended Divine Liturgy in the past at this local church but yesterday was the first day I began to make the sign of the cross whenever the Trinity was mentioned as well as responded with the rest of the congregation as I was following along in the book.

During the Great Entrance through the end of the liturgy especially I am confused as to what is appropriate for me to participate in.  I didn't think it would be right for me to cross myself when Father passed by during the Great Entrance with the Holy Gifts, so I didn't (but no disrespect was intended).  As well, I did not recite the preparatory prayer before Communion, as I am not able to receive.  During Communion, I remain seated and someone is always kind and brings me a piece of blessed bread, and after liturgy I go in procession with everyone else to receive blessed bread also from Father.

I'm just trying to understand better my place within the liturgy and appreciate any guidance!
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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2014, 11:32:23 AM »
You can certainly cross yourself as often as you would like. Likewise, venerating icons and lighting candles are not restricted to those who are chrismated. If your congregation sit during the Eucharist, then it is ok to do so, in my parish, everyone stands throughout the partaking of the Mysteries out of respect for them, so unless your parish does things differently, I would probably stand. It certainly does no harm to imitate those who are around you as you begin you journey.  Obviously you cannot partake of the Mysteries, but other than that, learning the activities of the Church are encouraged.  :)

Just don't follow the priest behind the iconostasis. That would be one imitation that would be a no no.  ;)  :laugh:
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Offline elephant

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2014, 11:56:37 AM »
Dear Littlelittlepilgrim,

Welcome to the forum! 

You can participate at whatever level you feel comfortable. 
The only restriction  would  be on receiving Sacraments.  You would not approach to receive  Holy Communion.
Personally, I see no reason you could not recite the prayers before Communion.  God willing you would be preparing for the future!

Love, elephant

Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2014, 11:58:35 AM »
Dear Littlelittlepilgrim,

Welcome to the forum! 

You can participate at whatever level you feel comfortable. 
The only restriction  would  be on receiving Sacraments.  You would not approach to receive  Holy Communion.
Personally, I see no reason you could not recite the prayers before Communion.  God willing you would be preparing for the future!

Love, elephant

I did just this....and now I already know the prayers...

However I merely didn't say the 'Accept me Today, as a communicant' line...since that is specific rather than the 'make me worthy (with no time frame)....'


Offline icecreamsandwich

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2014, 12:06:53 PM »
As TheTrisagion says you're fine so long as you don't go to take Communion, or behind the altar. Be sure to ask your priest for any other big (or small) no-nos but those should be two of the biggest ones.

Really, sitting back and observing the service will help you to understand it more and more (pay attention to the hymns that are sung and check the church calendar before/after the service, and things will fall into place faster but this still takes weeks), and don't be afraid to ask about things you don't know or understand. There's nothing wrong with lighting candles or venerating the icons though, so don't worry there. Indeed when I was a catechumen I'd wander around the church after the service and take time to look at the icons and read about the lives of the saints once I got home.

Same with crossing yourself (oh this is a good one to learn - the whens of it). As an example, at our parish people usually cross themselves at the "Glory to the Father...", at each line of the Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us), after the Lord's Prayer, whenever Alleluia is said thrice ("Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, glory to thee o Lord"), and at some prayers to the Theotokos. Usually we bow when the preist blesses the entire congregation, and also when the deacon faces us whilst censing. Oh also, when he says "Oh Lord, save the pious / And hear us". The other thing you could do is take note of and find out some of the customs that are done at your parish and learn those (and I imagine speaking to parishioners about things you take note of would be very helpful here). This kind of stuff can take a while to learn though.

Also, perhaps some books focusing on the Liturgy might help to "acclimate" you. Your parish should have some (or at least the text of the Liturgy itself) but if not you could look at Meditations on the Divine Liturgy, by Nikolai Gogol, which has each portion of the Liturgy and a short explanation of it immediately afterwards. Such texts could be really helpful.

Best wishes, wherever your path may lead. 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2014, 12:17:17 PM by icecreamsandwich »
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2014, 12:15:06 PM »

Welcome to the Forum, littlepilgrim64!

I agree with what everyone has said above.

Just relax and absorb what you see around you.

You most definitely can light candles, kiss icons, etc.

May these be your first steps to finding your way Home!

Once again, welcome!!!
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Offline genesisone

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2014, 12:21:27 PM »
Dear Littlelittlepilgrim,

Welcome to the forum! 

You can participate at whatever level you feel comfortable. 
The only restriction  would  be on receiving Sacraments.  You would not approach to receive  Holy Communion.
Personally, I see no reason you could not recite the prayers before Communion.  God willing you would be preparing for the future!

Love, elephant

I did just this....and now I already know the prayers...

However I merely didn't say the 'Accept me Today, as a communicant' line...since that is specific rather than the 'make me worthy (with no time frame)....'


This is what I did back in those days as well. I said, "Accept me one day as a communicant..."

Note to littlepilgrim64: Welcome! to the forum and to your journey in Orthodox Christianity. As others have said, follow the lead of other laypersons in the congregation. You'll fairly quickly recognize which ones can be relied on to be consistent and helpful. And it won't be long before you get into the same discussions with them that you're having here.

Offline littlepilgrim64

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2014, 05:48:20 PM »

If your congregation sit during the Eucharist, then it is ok to do so, in my parish, everyone stands throughout the partaking of the Mysteries out of respect for them, so unless your parish does things differently, I would probably stand. It certainly does no harm to imitate those who are around you as you begin you journey. 

Just don't follow the priest behind the iconostasis. That would be one imitation that would be a no no.  ;)  :laugh:

Actually everyone did remain standing during Eucharist and after returning to their seats (Greek Orthodox), so from now on I will just follow along with them . . .and keep my distance from the iconostasis  :)
"Blind of spiritual eyes, I come to You, O Christ, as did the man blind from his birth, and I cry to You in penitence: Have mercy on me O You who illumine with exceeding brightness those who are in darkness." (The Office of Holy Unction)

Offline littlepilgrim64

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2014, 06:06:24 PM »

Same with crossing yourself (oh this is a good one to learn - the whens of it). As an example, at our parish people usually cross themselves at the "Glory to the Father...", at each line of the Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us), after the Lord's Prayer, whenever Alleluia is said thrice ("Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, glory to thee o Lord"), and at some prayers to the Theotokos. Usually we bow when the preist blesses the entire congregation, and also when the deacon faces us whilst censing. Oh also, when he says "Oh Lord, save the pious / And hear us". The other thing you could do is take note of and find out some of the customs that are done at your parish and learn those (and I imagine speaking to parishioners about things you take note of would be very helpful here). This kind of stuff can take a while to learn though.

Also, perhaps some books focusing on the Liturgy might help to "acclimate" you. Your parish should have some (or at least the text of the Liturgy itself) but if not you could look at Meditations on the Divine Liturgy, by Nikolai Gogol, which has each portion of the Liturgy and a short explanation of it immediately afterwards. Such texts could be really helpful.

Wow . . .that helps a lot. I'm sure that the more I attend, the more I will understand.  I'll look into the book you suggested as well; I enjoy reading.
"Blind of spiritual eyes, I come to You, O Christ, as did the man blind from his birth, and I cry to You in penitence: Have mercy on me O You who illumine with exceeding brightness those who are in darkness." (The Office of Holy Unction)

Offline TheMathematician

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2014, 06:15:18 PM »
Dear Littlelittlepilgrim,

Welcome to the forum!  

You can participate at whatever level you feel comfortable.  
The only restriction  would  be on receiving Sacraments.  You would not approach to receive  Holy Communion.
Personally, I see no reason you could not recite the prayers before Communion.  God willing you would be preparing for the future!

Love, elephant

I did just this....and now I already know the prayers...

However I merely didn't say the 'Accept me Today, as a communicant' line...since that is specific rather than the 'make me worthy (with no time frame)....'




Even today, when I'm not recieving communion for one reason or the other, I leave out those lines when they are being said.

Also my favourite prayer we have, on a random note.

and to the OP, to the point of not recieving Communion nor the Sacraments, you can participate like anyone else.

EDIT: fixed my quotes
« Last Edit: June 09, 2014, 06:15:52 PM by TheMathematician »

Offline littlepilgrim64

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2014, 06:27:18 PM »
DeniseDenise and Genesisone - I like your modifications to the communicant line ("make me worthy" and "accept me one day").  I think that prayer is so beautiful!
 
I appreciate everyones insights and warm welcome.  Looking forward to being a part of this forum and sharing  :)
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Offline Punch

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2014, 06:48:28 PM »
Every Church that I have attended will allow you to get blessed by the Chalice and partake of the blessed bread. I have seen this done (and had it done) in the Antiochian, ROCOR, Serbian and Coptic Churches. You could check with the Priest at your Church and see if he allows this.
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2014, 06:57:02 PM »
Every Church that I have attended will allow you to get blessed by the Chalice and partake of the blessed bread. I have seen this done (and had it done) in the Antiochian, ROCOR, Serbian and Coptic Churches. You could check with the Priest at your Church and see if he allows this.

You've seen people blessed by the chalice at Coptic churches, or do you mean receiving the blessed bread?

Offline Punch

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2014, 07:09:52 PM »
Every Church that I have attended will allow you to get blessed by the Chalice and partake of the blessed bread. I have seen this done (and had it done) in the Antiochian, ROCOR, Serbian and Coptic Churches. You could check with the Priest at your Church and see if he allows this.

You've seen people blessed by the chalice at Coptic churches, or do you mean receiving the blessed bread?

Allowed to venerate. My guess is since the Coptic commune with both bread and wine separately, I confused them as much as they confused me. I was the only non-Egyptian in that service.  They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome. I never went back because I could tell that it was difficult for them, and I had my own Church to attend.
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Offline WPM

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2014, 07:19:01 PM »
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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2014, 09:18:01 PM »
Everyone's already given good answers, but I was just going to add ...

We had a new catechumen who was Chrismated a few weeks ago, so he was able to receive the Eucharist. His girlfriend went up as well, and of course she is not able to receive sacraments.

Father did not make a big deal out of it at all. He merely blessed her when she came up, let her have antidoron, and she returned to sit with her newly-chrismated boyfriend.

Some priests possibly would make a fuss over it, and I'm sure some of our ushers (?) would, but our priest is very kind and never wants to embarrass anyone.
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Offline Sam G

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2014, 10:54:48 PM »
When I first started attending services I had already established a relationship with the rector (head priest) of the parish and he knew that my intentions were serious.  He told me to participate to the point where I felt comfortable.  For me, it meant doing everything save the sacraments and venerating the gospel during Matins.  I only started lighting candles and venerating the icons about a month before I was officially received, but I was never told that I couldn't do them before that time.
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Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2014, 02:41:29 AM »
Haha.

At my parish, merely wait and the blessed bread will be delivered to you! 

Possibly more pieces than you actually wish. :)

The running joke a the last month as people handed me fewer and fewer pieces was 'soon you will get none!'  Or 'last week for this!'

And sure enough, I must now collect my own after the Eucharist. ;)

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2014, 02:55:37 AM »
At my parish, merely wait and the blessed bread will be delivered to you! 

Possibly more pieces than you actually wish. :)

Haha, oh yes. I remember once practically trying to force myself to eat it all since my mouth was drying out.

Offline littlepilgrim64

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2014, 08:48:07 AM »
Yes, that's been my experience . . .someone will always come up to me and give me a piece.  But, if I ever get overly blessed by those around me and are given more, I can wrap it up and take it home with me right?
"Blind of spiritual eyes, I come to You, O Christ, as did the man blind from his birth, and I cry to You in penitence: Have mercy on me O You who illumine with exceeding brightness those who are in darkness." (The Office of Holy Unction)

Offline LBK

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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2014, 09:04:04 AM »
Yes, that's been my experience . . .someone will always come up to me and give me a piece.  But, if I ever get overly blessed by those around me and are given more, I can wrap it up and take it home with me right?

Of course you can!  :)

It is a common custom for Orthodox people to take home any "spare" blessed bread, cut it into small pieces, and eat a piece (after crossing themselves) first thing in the morning before eating anything else.
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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2014, 03:13:25 PM »
At my parish, merely wait and the blessed bread will be delivered to you! 

Possibly more pieces than you actually wish. :)

Haha, oh yes. I remember once practically trying to force myself to eat it all since my mouth was drying out.

I think I have come close to choking a time or two; the bread can be very dry and I am usually very thirsty! I learned to chew it very slowly and very thoroughly.
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Re: What portions of Divine Liturgy can an earnest seeker participate?
« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2014, 06:37:47 PM »
Everyone's already given good answers, but I was just going to add ...

We had a new catechumen who was Chrismated a few weeks ago, so he was able to receive the Eucharist. His girlfriend went up as well, and of course she is not able to receive sacraments.

Father did not make a big deal out of it at all. He merely blessed her when she came up, let her have antidoron, and she returned to sit with her newly-chrismated boyfriend.

Some priests possibly would make a fuss over it, and I'm sure some of our ushers (?) would, but our priest is very kind and never wants to embarrass anyone.

I do not think that there is anything wrong with this. In fact, I was going up one time and caught myself at the last second: I had had a verbal fight with somebody and had not asked for his/her forgiveness but had forgotten all about it. When I remember I was next in line (yes, that close!). I asked for the blessing and got it.