Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Epistle

In the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, after the Trisagion Hymn comes the chanting of the prokeimenon and of the epistle. In many places the prokeimenon now has practically no purpose or significance, and looks like a verbal tag chanted in haste by the reader to introduce the epistle which follows it, for the people either make no congregational response to the chanting of the prokeimenon or a distinctly minimal one. Originally of course…

Book Review: The Departure of the Soul

Lately a new book has become available, The Departure of the Soul, published by St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Arizona. Its full title is, The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church; a Patristric anthology, and this about sums it up. It deals with the Scriptural material as interpreted by the Fathers, and goes on to examine the teaching as found in the liturgical services of…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Trisagion

In the Divine Liturgy, after the antiphons, comes the Trisagion Hymn, prefaced by a prayer in which the celebrant prays that the God who is hymned by the seraphim, the cherubim, and by every angelic power in heaven, may also deign to accept the hymn we now sing to Him on earth. In many churches this beautiful prayer is said silently, so that the faithful hear only the final clause of the…

Unquenchable Fire

One can often tell how far a heresy has spread and how much it needs the antidote of refutation by the amount of ink it gets in blog columns. I remember one young priest writing in a church magazine a piece summarizing the Church’s traditional teaching on gender and opining that the heresy of theological feminism had become widespread. As if to prove his point, the editor was immediately deluged with indignant…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Antiphons

In the Divine Liturgy, after the Great Litany, come the three antiphons and their litanies/ prayers. These antiphons exist in several forms. The original Greek practice is to use psalms for the antiphons, interspersing the verses of the psalms with repeated refrains. For the first antiphonal psalm the refrain is, “Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Saviour, save us!” The refrain for the second antiphonal psalm is the refrain, “O Son…

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Great Litany

In the Divine Liturgy, after the initial doxology in which the celebrant blesses the Kingdom of God and blesses with the sign of the Cross the altar table and its antimension before using it, the assembled Church next prays the Great Litany. This represents the intercessory prayers of the royal priesthood, wherein the Church prays for the whole world in the Name of Jesus, standing in the gap and lifting up the…