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Русская Древлеправославная Церковь

Practical Guide to a Christian

Practical Guide to a Christian

Practical Guide to a Christian

Ye are my friends, if ye dowhatsoever

I command you

A Guide to Orderly Staying in God’sChurch

Publication to celebrate the 100thanniversary of

the Saviour and Transfiguration Cathedral Temple

Moscow 2010


This booklet is a practical guideto orderly staying of an Orthodox Christian in Church of God. Canons and rules,existing traditions and customs of the Church of Christ were used to write thisbooklet. Some chapters are supplemented with quotes from works of the Church’sHoly Fathers.

Chapter 1

What is Our Purpose of Goingto the Church of God?

In the Gospel, the Saviour, talkingto His Disciples, gives them the promise about organization of the Church ofChrist in the world: «And I say also unto thee… and upon this rock I will build my church;and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16, 18). Later, before theAscension, God promises to everybody having faith in Him the Comforter – the Holy Spirit: „AndI will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he mayabide with you for ever” (John 14, 16). And truly, the Holy Spiritdescended unto the apostles on the Whit Sunday in the form of tongues of fire:“And there appeared unto them cloventongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2, 3-4). Thus,the True Church of Christ was born in the world, that is a meeting of peopleloyal to God in the Name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, united in the entire worldby profession of the faith and the Apostles’ teachings as parts of the body inthe single Body of Christ, under one head, our one God, Jesus Christ, andstaying in due obedience to Him. Further on, special buildings and premises werecreated which are called temples or churches where the Christians may meettogether for the communal (synodical) prayer to God. A building of the churchis constructed in a strict orientation to the parts of the world and is locatedas follows: the altar in the eastern part, theanterchurch and the bell tower in the western part.

Obviously, everybody knows how the church lookslike from the outside. The features that distinguish the church from anordinary building are: rounded or arrow-headed domes, large crosses above them,beautiful decorations. Churches have been built in this way since very ancienttimes. The major dome above a church is called the head. The eight-pointed cross is erected on it to glorify JesusChrist crucified on the Cross. Sometimes, several heads (domes) are built abovea church and all of them are decorated in a wonderful way.

Bell towers rise above some churches. The veryname means that they are designed to house bells. Sometimes, bell towers arebuilt separately in a church yard. Metal bells may have many different sizes: verylarge with a weight of several tons, middle and small ones. Each of them hasits own voice – its own pitch level. When a bell man starts to clang the bell,one hears the sound of incomparable beauty. The bell ringing summons theChristians for the prayer, the beautiful chiming glorifies festivities.

Inside, churches are always divided into thefollowing parts: the altar, the central part, and the anterchurch.People in the church are divided into theclergymen and the laymen. 

Thealtar isthe sacred and major part of the church. Only priests may stay there toperform certain liturgical rites. Women are strictly prohibited from enteringthe church altar. 

The altar is divided by a special partitionwhere holy icons are placed in rows from the bottom upwards. Such installationis called iconostasis. The iconostasis has three doors to enter thealtar and come out from it. The middle door has the shape of two-leaved gatesand is called the holy gates (doors).

In the central part of the church, across theholy gates, there is a small elevation called the ambo.A prieststeps on it for the sermon. Special places for readers and singers are locatedon each side of the ambo. They are called the right kliros and the left kliros.The congregation stay behind the kliros during the service to God. According tothe Orthodox tradition, during the service, men stand behind the right kliros.When one enters the church, he immediately finds himself in its first room – the anterchurch. In the ancient times there stood people who had not receivedbaptism yet. Nowadays, it is also built for those Christians who may notparticipate in the common prayer for various reasons.

After construction, the church building ishallowed under a special rite (rule), and after it the church acquires specialfeatures through the power and the act of the grace of the Holy Spirit andbecomes not just an ordinary house but, according to the Holy Fathers, theearthly heaven. The Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, the Holy Mother, holy angelsand archangels, and numerous holy saints reside mysteriously here. Here priestspray and perform liturgical sacraments for spiritual purification, teaching andhallowing of Orthodox Christians. The greatest liturgical Sacrament isperformed here: during the Divine Liturgy, through specially prepared prayersand rites, the bread and the wine are transformed in a way, unfathomable to ahuman being, into the true Body and Blood of Christ, the Saviour, i.e. the Mysteryof the Eucharist is performed. The sublime teaching of our Lord Christ, holyprophets, apostles and holy fathers who spoke under the prompting of the HolySpirit sounds from the church ambo in the words of the pastoral sermon. Thesewords and teachings open up to us the true wisdom and the light – both in thistemporary life and in the future eternal life. That is why, every church alsohas a school where people learn major sciences – the right faith given by Godand the Christian devoutness. Summing up, one may justly name a church thesource of our life; for, according to the words of God, Jesus Christ: „Man shall not live by bread alone, but byevery word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4, 4). Wecome to the church with a faith in Jesus Christ, hope for salvation and theeternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven through love of God, the Saviour of theworld, upon the grace of the God, to us, His children. That is why, we shouldremember two Evangelic truths: “Verily,verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sentme, hath everlasting life ” (John 5, 24)and»He that eateth my flesh, dwelleth in me, andI in him… he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (John 6,57-58). The one who does not do so shall not inherit the Kingdom of God,according to the Saviour: "But whosoevershall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is inheaven.”(Matthew 10, 33).

Almost the same may be said about a person whovisits the holy church without feelings, mechanically, by a habit, without dueattention to sacraments, singing and reading performed in the church. Whilebeing in the church such people receive no benefit. We all should remember theSaviour’s words: «This people drawethnigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but theirheart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrinesthe commandments of men.” (Matthew 15, 8-9). But we by observing theEvangelic truth: »Whosoever thereforeshall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shallbe called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teachthem, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5,19) hope that this guide will help those who make just the first steps to Godin a church and those who have long been in the Church of Christ but feels ashortage of knowledge of the rules of discipline to be able receive the requiredbenefits.

Chapter 2

How to Prepare Oneself for the Visitto a Church of God, and May Everyone Enter There?

The church is a special place of invisiblepresence of God and, subsequently, when going to the church, a man comes tomeet God Himself, the Creator and the Master of the entire world, visible andinvisible, thus, he should prepare himself to this meeting: «We face with fear the powerful King of theearth, here we stand without fear seeing the Master of all” (Canon to HolyEucharist, voice 2).

All ancient guides to behaviour in the churchare unanimous: before going to the church, first of all, one should collectone’s thoughts, „multiply one’s conscience”. One should remember committed sinsand give the answer to oneself: may I (am I worthy?) come to God today?

Spiritual and bodily impurity impedes stayingin a church and touching its sacred items. Spiritual impurity is unacknowledgedsins, especially such sins as pride, condemnation of neighbours, non-forgivenessof insults. These and other spiritual illnesses should be treated withforgiveness from the entire heart of neighbours and even enemies, alms, self-admonishmentand sincere confession.

Besides, in certain cases, the rules of theHoly Church prohibit a man from visit to the temple and touching of its holythings. There are few such moments; we shall name them all here:

1) non-baptised or baptised outside the RussianAncient Orthodox Church, but, remembering the words of the Psalmist: “And call upon me in the day of trouble: Iwill deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalms 50, 15), uponpermission of a priest or another clergyman replacing him, they, too, may stayin the church if they come there to study the Orthodox faith or to look for thetrue Church, but only to stand without visible expression of a prayer, i.e. withoutbows and signs of the cross near the entrance (in the anterchurch, in the porch).If a non-baptised or a non-Ancient Orthodox Christian wishes to put a candle,he should ask anyone of the parish to put it up through the wish of the visitorfor the sake of his or her spiritual weakness and not to push him or her awayfrom the true faith;

2) A woman before expiry of forty days afterthe birth of her child. It is known that natural impurity occurs during thechildbirth from which, according to the holy fathers’ teaching, a woman is beingpurified for forty days. She is allowed in the church only after reading by apriest of special purification prayers. „A woman after the childbirth” is notallowed to enter the church without such prayers even after forty days afterthe childbirth;

3)Personsof female gender during “themonthlies”;

4) Christians in a legal wedlock in the daywhen they have copulated: „One shouldwithhold from spouses’ acts before making prayers” (Saint Basil theGreat);

     5) ThoseChristians who have committed heavy sins and have been excommunicated for them.There are such circumstances when staying outside the church, without theDivine service, does not correct, but, on the contrary, plunges sinners intoeven heavier trespasses. In this case, “seeing his conscience”, a man who hascommitted a heavy sin may stay in the church and pray, but, like a non-baptisedone or an unorthodox one, he should stay by the doors and not come to kiss theholy icons, the Holy Cross and other sacred items, and, with humbleness andwholehearted repentance, mourn over his fall „just like Adam before Heaven’sgates”.

“Only then you shall duly glorify God when you shall imprint in your soulthrough virtues His Likeness” (the Venerable Father Evagrius).

»...One should honour God not withfumes and stench, but with kind life, not bodily, but spiritual. Pagan demonsdo not act like that – they even demand sacrifices” (Saint John Chrysostom).

«Let us learn to be pious andhonour Christ as He Himself wants it. That honour is most pleasant to thehonoured which he wants himself and not the one that we acknowledge as the best…So you shall honour Him with that honour that He Himself commanded, i.e. youshall spend your treasure on the poor. God needs not golden vessels but goldensouls.”(SaintJohn Chrysostom)

Chapter 3

Is It Necessary to Put on SpecialClothes when Visiting the Temple?

The Orthodox Christians keep an ancient andpious tradition of coming to the church to pray wearing special clothes: aRussian gaberdine or a shirt worn either non-tucked or tucked under the beltfor men and a sarafan for women. A woman should cover her head with a headscarf.A headscarf should be made of non-transparent cloth, should be neither toobright nor too colourful, rather, it should be modest and proper for a prayerand staying in the church. A woman should cover her head so as to hide her hair.The size of a headscarf should be enough to cover the shoulders and the breasts.

When coming to the church we look for a spiritualunion with God, so a human beauty which is perishable by its nature and isgiven by God’s will should not distract us from this: „Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting thehair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart,in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3, 3-4), i.e. let usdecorate the soul with Christian virtues and remember that “the true beauty is recognised not by theoutward appearance but by the habits and decent behaviour” (SaintJohn Chrysostom).

It is customary to wear headscarves of whiteand other light colours on Sundays and days of festivities, whereas on fast days(including such festive days as the Elevation of the Life-Creating Cross onSeptember 14, and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist on August 29) it iscustomary to wear headscarves of dark colours. A married woman should also wearunder a headscarf a „povoinik” (headdress of a married Russian peasant woman) –a special cap which is blessed by a priest for a woman during a weddingceremony. If there are problems with special clothes for a prayer, for example,material ones, one may wear usual clothes but they should be modest, accurate,not closely fitting parts of the body, not bright in colour, with long sleeves;whatever clothes we wear they should not be unbuttoned. It is inadmissible forwomen to appear in the church without a headscarf, it is also inadmissible towear trousers and extremely provoking clothes (mini-skirt, V-cut blouse,transparent clothes, with short sleeves, etc.). A dress (a skirt) should belong, well below the knees, without any cuts and other “fashionabledecorations” of the outer world. Let us remember the Apostle’s council that »the friendship of the world is enmity withGod” (James 4, 4). It is also considered to be indecent for women to cometo the church in high heel shoes as such shoes make loud and sharp sounds whilewalking, which distracts from a prayer; besides, it is difficult to makedown-to-earth bows and stay in the church until the service is over.

Many of these councils are obligatory for mentoo. Also, they should not enter God’s temple with a tie, in sportswear or injeans, or in a shirt tucked under the trousers.

Since ancient times the Church has kept a pioustradition of wearing belts. The basis for this tradition was laid in the OldTestament: "Gird up now thy loins like aman” (Job 38, 3), "He was an hairyman, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins” (2 Kings 1, 8). GodHimself demands from His disciples in the New Testament: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (Luke 12,35), that is, live an active life, do not live in darkness and without thinking.

The belt’s symbolic meaning: chastity,moderation, and self-limitation.

The tradition of wearing a belt has also beenkept in the Mystery of Baptism: a belt is put on every one of us together withthe cross which are never taken off as they are the belongings of the HolyBaptism.

Men should put the belt above the shirt andwomen should put the belt under the sarafan.

"The oneend of the dress is that it should be a sufficient covering alike in winter andsummer. As for colour, avoid brightness; in material, the soft and delicate. Toaim at bright colours in dress is like women's beautifying when they colourcheeks and hair with hues other than their own.” (Saint Basil the Great); "...Themore exquisite are your clothes, the more repulsive you make yourself andfarther yourself away from God” (Saint John Chrysostom) 

«Love poor clothes to humiliate the intentions which are born insideyou, i.e. a pride heart. He who loves splendour may not have humble thoughts asthe heart is imprinted internally in accordance with outer images ” (the Venerable Isaac the Syrian).

Chapter 4

What a Prayer Rope Is Needed for?

The first mentioning about the prototype of theprayer rope is referred to the IV century. Monasteries founded by Holy Basilthe Great used the prayer rope – a small loop rope with 103 knots on it – toperform a daily prayer rule by illiterate monks. They used to say the JesusPrayer: „Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,have mercy on me, a sinner”, they were to read six thousands of suchprayers for the entire Book of Psalms, six hundred for the Midnight Service,one thousand five hundred for the Matins and so on. If you want to learn moreabout the number of prayers for a specific service, please, read, for example,the book “Small Home Canon”. Later, the prayer rope was used by all monks, bothliterate and illiterate, and also by pious laymen, and not only to count thenumber of prayers but also for calling up God’s name in the Jesus Prayer whichbecame an integral part of the Christian life. Having adopted this pioustradition with the Orthodox faith after the Baptism of Russia, the RussianChurch has somewhat changed the Byzantine prayer rope.

In accordance with the Canon on the prayer rope:»Every Christian, before prayer to God,for every day should have seven rosaries to remember seven Church Mysterieswhich incorporate the Christian law.

The prayer rope has four triangles whichsymbolise four Evangelists. Embroidery near triangles symbolise the Evangelicteaching. Between these triangles there are seven moving parts which symboliseseven Church Mysteries. Where the prayer rope is tied up, three steps from eachside, and the more in the prayer rope totalling nine symbolizing nine angelichosts, and carrying for nine months of the Divine Child in the Holy Mother’swomb. A simple place – the earth – comes from the knot. Further, there aretwelve knots – bobochkas – symbolising twelve apostles who walked on the earthwith God. Thirty nine bobochkas are thirty nine weeks and two days during whichthe Holy Mother carried Christ in her womb. Thirty three bobochkas are thirtythree years when God walked on the earth, and seventeen bobochkas are seventeenprophesies about Christ. When you start praying in front of God’s icon sayingoral and tacit prayers, do so and say: Lord Jesus Christ, Sonof God, have mercy on me, a sinner (your name). Then, pray for your parents and a sovereign king, for their healthand wellbeing, and for the deceased, and your holy father, and for all OrthodoxChristians. Make bows as many as you can, every day: at vespers, at matins, atcanonical hours, and at the Divine Liturgy, and may you be saved. Amen.”  

As it has been said above, the prayer rope isused for incessant prayers; all pious Christians need it every day.

The prayer rope should be kept in the left hand,going through its steps from «the earth” and saying the Jesus Prayer at eachstep to keep the mind and the thoughts focused on the Divine one, according tothe Apostle: »Pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5, 17). While doing so, keep the fingers of the left hand crossedin the same way as the fingers of the right hand like it is done for making thesign of the cross.

The prayer rope in our hands is a reminder ofascension to God via a prayer as if one walks up the ladder, from the earth tothe heaven: «behold a ladder set up onthe earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of Godascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28, 12).

During the service the entire congregationshould try to listen to what is read and sung in the church and only the deafand the hard-of-hearing and those who stay in those parts of the church wherethey can hardly hear the readers, they should repeat the Jesus Prayers usingthe prayer rope.

»For as the more the rain pours down upon the earth, the more it softensthe earth; so too the holy Name of Christ, when it is invoked by us withoutthoughts, the more constantly we call upon it, the more it softens the earth ofour heart, and fills it with joy and delight” (the Reverend Hesychius of Jerusalem).

Chapter 5

Do We Enter the Church in the RightWay?

"Oneshould forget about spouses’ actions to start the prayer; forget about caresand wants of wealth and earthly glory,about enjoyment of pleasures, about envy and any evil acts against ourneighbours, so that, once your soul is quite and is not disturbed by anypassion, God’s enlightenment is reflected in it clearly, without shadows, likein a mirror” (Saint Basil the Great).

Yet being at home, one should start preparingone’s soul for communication with God. Prepare all the necessary things you mayneed in the church, so that noting distracts you from the liturgical service;so that you do not make fuss during the Divine Service distracting attention ofand interfering with the congregation.

A pious tradition has been kept: before leavingthe house, make bows in front of icons. Do the same having returned from thechurch service. It is recommended to say the Jesus Prayer on the way from yourhouse to the church, thus, preparing your heart for the prayer in the temple. Andon the way back from the temple, one should say the same prayer not to lose thereceived God’s grace in the earthly fuss. The Holy Scriptures teach us so: "Before thou prayest, prepare thyself; and benot as one that tempteth the Lord ” (Sirach 18, 23). Remembering the wordsof the Saviour: "Leave there thy giftbefore the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and thencome and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5, 24), let us leave behind the church’sgates diabolic confusions, dreams and temptations, any sinful impurity, antagonism,anger, in a word, reconcile your conscience with God.

There is an icon, of the Saviour, of the HolyMother, of a saint or of the Holy Cross, above the entrance gate of any church.Having approached to the cross, one should make three down-to-waist bows withthe sign of the cross and the prayer: «God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (bow);»God, my Creator, be merciful to me.”(bow); "God, pardon me and have mercy onme for I sinned innumerably” (bow). Then, quietly, without banging thedoor, enter the anterchurch and say the same prayers here. Having entered thechurch and looking at the iconostasis or any conveniently visible holy iconmake, again, three down-to-waist bows and say the above mentioned prayer. Ifyou come to the church before the start of the service, make bows with thecongregation and a priest or any other person, senior in the service. If youenter the church after the start of the service, make bows by yourself becauseno prayer is said without them in accordance with the Church Canon.

An exception to this rule is the Litia for thereposed when it is performed separately from any other service (only threedown-to-waist bows are required before it starts) and any other prayer beforeor after the meals, that is the dinner and the supper. Any Christian shouldknow by heart these entry prayers. One may find the words of «The Entry Prayers”,for example, in the book „Matins and Vespers” and in the annual “AncientOrthodox Calendars”.

The exit bows are made in the same way as theentry bows at the end of every service. All entry bows are down-to-earth bowsduring the daily service of the Great Lent.

»He thatturneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall beabomination.” (Proverbs 28, 9), that is why, without extreme necessity,never leave the church before the service is finished and the sermon is said – an integral part of the service which is offered to ourattention by the Church Canon, for the sake of our spiritual benefit. Goingaway from the service is a heavy sin to God which should be repented at theConfession.  

«When thinking about the God, be pious, non-envious, kind, virtuous, meek,generous as much as you can, sociable, not prone to disputes and the like, forit is the richness of the soul that cannot be stolen that is so pleasing toGod; also, judge nobody, do not speak about anybody that he is allegedly bad,sinful, rather look for your bad actions and think how pleasing to God is yourlife” (theReverend Anthony the Great).

»… Careless and reckless, without zeal for pleasing God, if he falls throughthe devil’s temptations, he takes no heed of the sin committed by him becausehis heart is hard as a stone, and he is like a mule, tamed and reined, on whichanybody may sit without his resistance. With such people, the devil does allhis carnalities and the entire defilement and may lead anyone of them whereverhe wants, while his lies are completed and he shall die with moaning and crying”(the ReverendAnthony the Great).

Chapter 6

How One Should Behave in the Churchduring the Service and How to Put Candles?

"Whenlooking at us people learn from us and glorify God, then, we are worthy of Hisbig benevolence” (Saint John the Chrysostom). That is why, during theservice in the church we should behave in the most pious way, i.e. with respectto the clergymen, the congregation, the temple and its holy items. Usually,people who have frequented the church use to stand at particular places whichwere shown to them some time before or which they chose themselves. If you cometo the church for the first time, try to choose a place convenient for prayingand try to keep it during further visits. Having performed the initial «sevenbows” rule, do not walk around the church any more, only in case of necessity.

Welcome those who stand nearby with adown-to-waist bow and quiet words: „Have mercy on me, fathers and brothers”. Oneshould welcome the hierarchy and the clergymen with a down-to-earth bow and thewords: “Have mercy on me, holy grace (or honourable father), bless me and prayfor me, a sinner”.

During the prayer, one should stand uprightwith the feet placed together and not apart, but the front ends of the feet (forconvenience) may be placed somewhat apart. Place your hands horizontally on thebreast, the right hand above the left one. In accordance with one patristiccomment, such position of the hands of those who pray is similar to the foldingof wings of the fleshless holy Heavenly Host standing towards the great Throneof the Glorious God. Remember that: „During… the prayer, may our words and prayers beunited with piety, quietness, and modesty. Let us remember that we face God andour position of the body and the sound of the voice should pleasing to God’seyes” (priestly martyr Cyprian of Carthage).

In the past, when the number of menchurch-goers was greater than now, they usually stood in the central part ofthe church, while women stood behind them. Nowadays, men usually stand behindthe right kliros.

Women should stand separately from men.

At certain moments of the service any walkingaround is prohibited by the Church Canon. No walking, let alone talking, isallowed in the following cases:

1) At the beginning of any service, i.e. fromthe initial exclamation of a priest or a senior choir signer to the prayer “Comeand bow” inclusively;

2) During reading at the beginning of thematins of the six psalms starting with the words „Greater Doxology; Gloria in Excelsis(six penitential psalms).These psalms have special prayer words and spiritual importance, that is why,when they are read, not only walking is disallowed, but one should stand withhis head bent to the breast, “to symbolise meekness and repentance”;

3) When the Apostle and the Gospels are read.Just as during reading of penitential psalms, the congregation should stand withthe head bent to the breast listening to God’s words with meekness;

4) When the Orthodox Creed is read: „Ibelieve in one God...

5) When prayers from the “Trisagion” to the „OurFather” are read, irrespective of the moment when such prayers are read, andalso when “Our Father” is either sung or read separately (during the Liturgy orthe canonical hours);

6) During all prayers when heads are to be bent;

7) During singing of the Great Doxology atfestive matins, and, too, during the regular service when the Great Doxology isread;

8) When the senior in the service (the person performingthe service) reads the dismissal (which usually starts with the words „May Christ, our True God...”, or “May Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of...”);

9) At the Divine Liturgy, during singing (orduring reading at canonical hours) „TheOnly Begotten Son...

10) During singing of the “Cherubic Hymn” (»We who mystically represent the Cherubim...”) and carrying of the Eucharisticbread and wine; during singing of "We whomystically represent the Cherubim...”,before and after carrying, the congregation should stand with their heads bentwith a feeling of humility and repentance. That part of the Liturgy whichfollows «The Cherubic Hymn” is also very important spiritually because of itscontents. At this very time, between „Wewho mystically represent the Cherubim...”(after the Great Entrance) and “It is truly meet...”, the SacramentalChange of bread and wine into the true Body and true Blood of Our Lord, JesusChrist, occurs, thus, walking around the church at these moments is disallowed.Also, it is not customary to walk during singing by the kliros of the „communionverse”, of the verse from the Book of Psalms indicated by the Canon, and whileit is sung (after the exclamation “Holyof Holies”) the clergymen receive communion in the altar and prepare the HolySacraments for communion of the congregation;

11) During reading of the Holy Mother Acathistus,lengthy prayer address to the Queen of Heaven consisting of 12 parts (kontakionsand ikoses) which finish, in turns, with the words „Rejoice, unwedded Bride” and “Hallelujah”.The Acathistus is read in the church at fasts during the „regular canons”, afterthe total “start” of the Confession, and, also, under a special canon, atmatins on the Fifth Saturday of the Great Lent during glorification of the HolyMother (in the modern practice — in the Fifth Friday of the Lent, at vespers).

If you happen to come to the church during anyof the above events, having entered, make the sign of the cross and stand atthe entrance (and during reading of the Apostle, the Gospel, the sixpenitential psalms, head-bent prayers and singing of the „Cherubic Hymn” youshould bend your head); and, upon completion of the said reading, come to yourplace or any other empty place.

One should not talk with each other, moreover,with those who come late, during the service. Those who have the obedience tokeep the church in order should also follow the same rules and be an example ofbehaviour to the congregation; they should also make remarks to those whoviolate the quietness or the order. However, the remarks should be made in thekind and soft voice; that is, admonish, but do not get angry. Do not drive awaythe unorthodox; just show them to their place. Remember: if you deter even onesoul from the true faith, your soul is perished.

Children should be taught the behaviour in the churchat home so that when they come to the church they already know how to behave. Inthe church, just whisper to prompt them to act. Do not talk to the childrenaloud, do not urge or reprimand them during the service. Teach them everythingin advance.

Children should follow the same rules as thegrown-ups should: do not talk, do not walk or run around the church. See to itthat they behave modestly, teach the children to listen to the prayer, inspirethe fear of God with them for their misbehaviour. Do not allow a child to eatin the church. If a baby falls into tears in the church, carry it outside rightaway.

It is allowed to lead children around thechurch by keeping their hands only if they are barely able to walk themselves.Teach the children to make the sign of the cross without hurry, piously, for wecall upon God to be merciful and graceful to us through the prayer. If the childrenburst into tears before the Confession and turn away from the Communion Cup, theirparents should strongly consider their spiritual life and try to behave properlyto be worthy of the name of the Christian.

While being in the church, do not judgeinvoluntary mistakes of the clergymen and the congregation, it is more usefulto grieve over and fathom own sins, drawbacks and ask God to pardon us. If,during the service, somebody interferes with your prayer, try to overcome thistemptation without irritation or change your place, because “The prayer without concordance between thecongregation is often powerless, and God promised „For where two or three aregathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (see Matthew 18, 20)” (SaintBasil the Great).

If during the service you urgently need toleave the church (only not during the above mentioned cases of special blessing),you should say the prayer: «God,merciful…”, make 3 down-to-waist bows and leave quietly and modestly.Coming back, pause by the doors and listen to what is read or sung, also make 3down-to-waist bows and say the prayer: «God,merciful…”. If it is impossible to return to your place immediately, waitby the doors, then go to your place and listen to the communal prayer.

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same myname shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall beoffered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among theheathen, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1, 11). The service in ancientIsrael in the Temple of Jerusalem was accompanied by burning incense as a symbolof the prayer to God in special metal vessels with chains (thuribles) kept in the hands of theclergymen at certain moments. This tradition has been inherited by theChristian Church – during the service in the church one may quite often see a priestburning incense. While burning incense he very quietly says the 50thPsalm (»Have mercy upon me, O God...”), and burning incenseagainst people he says: "May Holy Spiritcome upon you and may the power of God descend on you”. After every fullswaying of the censer, the congregation make down-to-waist bow without makingthe sign of the cross and quietly answer: "Thygood Spirit shall lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalm 142, 13). Accordingto the patristic interpretation the censer incense seems to depict theinvisible grace of the Holy Spirit staying the Church.

Another type of the liturgical offering to Godis wax candles: "He shall order the lampsupon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually” (Leviticus 24, 4). Theirburning in candlesticks in front of holy icons expresses our internal prayerfulburning to God Himself, His Holy Mother and the saints, that is why, one shouldput a candle with a prayer. Such prayer should refer to the icon in front ofwhich it is put. Thus, while putting a candle to the Saviour icon, make thesign of the cross and say the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. Suchprayers may be said to any other icon. Accordingly, in front of the Holy Mothericon say this prayer: "Holy Mother, saveus”, in front of the Christ’s Cross: "Weworship Thy Cross, O Christ”, and in front of icons of the saints sayprayers to them (for example, to Nicholas: "HolyNicholas, pray unto the God for us”). The candle should be put upright, withoutinclination to any side; having put up the candle, make the sign of the crossagain and 3 down-to-waist bows with the appropriate prayer. In some churches,it is traditional to bow three times «before and after the candle” and make thesign of the cross without a bow while putting the candle. It is admissibleoutside the service; before or after it, but it is disallowed during theservice, distracting yourself and others from the prayer because such behaviouris a violation of the church discipline.

It is worth adding that the laymen should notstep upon the solea (the elevation before the iconostasis) without a specialblessing. If you wish to put a candle to an icon in the iconostasis one shouldpass it to the laymen admitted to the kliros and ask them to put it.

The necessity to put candles or remove candleends from the candlestick is not a reasonable excuse for walking around thechurch when it is prohibited by the Church Canon. Our sacrifice is pleasant andacceptable to God when it is made without violation of the obligatory churchdiscipline during the Christian service.

In the Old Testament a sacrifice to God shouldnot have any drawback: „Your lamb shallbe without blemish” (Exodus 12, 5), that is why,frankincense, oil, wax should be pure, i.e. natural, without any additive, inthe Christ’s Church. Any monetary gifts should be made from righteous earnings. 

Remember that the sacrifice which is mostpleasing to God is “A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, God will not despise a brokenand a humble heart” (Psalm 50, 19).

Chapter 7

Who and How May One Take Prosphora?

Originally, it was a tradition in the Church toperform the Divine Liturgy every day, where the congregation were: „And they, continuing daily with one accordin the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat withgladness and singleness of heart, praising God” (Acts 2, 46-47). The breadwhich everybody brought to the church was called the gift or the prosphora.Nowadays, it is a round kvass bread of a small size baked from the best wheatflour and water with addition of ferments. The ferment is made only out offlour, water, and salt. The prosphora is baked with special cleanliness byspecially blessed people. A seal with the image of the eight-sided Christ’sCross and the signature: “Behold the Lambof God, which taketh away the sin of the world” is put on the upper part ofthe prosphora. During reading of the Hours the Preface is performed on sevenprosphoras (on special occasions set in the Canon, the Preface is performed atvespers). Seven prosphoras are the Lamb; the Holy Mother’s prosphora; the prosphorafor Heavenly Hosts, the Prophets, the Apostles and the Evangelists, holyfathers, martyrs, venerable ones, wonderworkers, holy wives; prosphora for theChurch hierarchs; prosphora for the country, the military and the caring aboutthe country; prosphora to the health of the Orthodox Christians; prosphora forthe reposed Orthodox Christians.

At the end of the Liturgy prosphoras from whichparts were removed are given to the faithful for eating (sometimes, in bigparishes, prosphoras are given away cut in pieces).

When Taking the prosphora one should rememberthat it is not a simple bread but one of the Church Sacraments, thus, those whoare not worthy of it through their sins should not come to take it: „As the clergymen do not know all sinners andpeople unworthy of the Communion to the Holy Mysteries, God often… punishes these people as Judah waspunished and puts them to the Satan. At the times of illnesses, slander,troubles and misfortunes and other disasters – they originate from this reason”(Saint John the Chrysostom).Thosewho are worthy of the sacred item should treat the prosphora with piety andfear of God.

It has been a tradition in Russia since ancienttimes to eat prosphora with all due care, having laid down a clean sheet ofcloth and eat it standing and not seating; either over the table or oversomething clean least any prosphora crumbs drop down and be stamped upon forthis bread is sacred. One should perform the entire daily round of the service,i.e. pray at vespers, small vespers, midnight service, matins, Hours and theLiturgy to be worthy of eating the prosphora duly. The one who has failed tocome to the church the day before due to illness or being far away from thechurch and has failed to pray at vespers, small vespers, matins but who wouldwant to eat the sacrament should pray these services at home.

Prosphora should not be eaten on the run, butquietly, without hurriedly gulping it down and always in silence. Having eatenit, one should thank God with a prayer and make three bows with the sign of thecross, the first two ones – down to the waist, and the third one – down to theearth. While doing so, say the prayer: “Lord,remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (bow). „Master, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (bow). “Holy Father, remember me when thou comestinto thy kingdom” (down-to-earth bow).

Chapter 8

When and What Bows Are Made During theService?

All bows, down-to-waist and down-to-earth ones,should be made by the congregation at the same time according to the rules ofthe Church Canon and not when one thinks it is proper. Bows should be made in adue and dignified manner, without excessive haste or delay in movements. If theCanon commands to make the bow with the sign of the cross, one should make thesign of the cross first by expressly touching with the hand’s fingers ofcertain parts of the body and then make either a down-to-waist or down-to-earthbows bearing in mind the specific moment of the service. Down-to-earth bows aremade on the small prayer rug, a specially woven rug to keep the hands clean.While making down-to-earth bows one should place the prayer rug in front ofhimself first, then make the sign of the cross and the bow: put the spreadpalms of both hands on the prayer rug, both palms next to each other, and, atthe same time, bend legs in knees and bow the head to the earth so that theforehead touches the hands placed on the prayer rug. The following types ofbows are made during the prayer in the church: tossing bows, that isdown-to-earth bow without making the sign of the cross; down-to-waist bows;down-to-earth bows. In some cases, for example, during the „O, Heavenly King” prayerone should make the sign of the cross without making a bow. Once in a year,during the Holy Trinity festivity, after the Liturgy, at Vespers, a priest sayskneeling prayers while standing on the knees.

Now we shall quote the complete Bow Canon accordingto the patristic canon traditions.

During the prayer to the Holy Spirit, “O,Heavenly King”, when it is read (or sung) at the beginning of any access, weshould make the sign of the cross without making a bow and, during the GreatLent, at the end of it, we should make the down-to-earth bow and the sign ofthe cross.

At the Trisagion: „Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us” (threetimes), three bows. Only when this prayer is sung at the end of the GreatDoxology after the Night Service and during the Liturgy before reading of theApostle’s prayer (or, sometimes, according to the Canon it should be sung) oneshould not make bows.

At the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father” we make the sign of the cross, then, down-to-earth bowat the end of it when it is sung at the Liturgy or before the dinner.

At „Ocome, let us adore”, make three bows. Besides, when the following words areread in psalms, sticherons and troparions: “I make bow”, „I bow”, “we make bows”, „we bow”, “let us make bow”,etc., we always make down-to-waist bows. At „Hallelujah”, when it follows “Gloria”in any psalm, for example: „Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Glory to Ya, God”,three times, three down-to-waist bows, except for “Hallelujah” among „sixpsalms”, bows are not made.

At prayers “MayGod help us keep away from sin this night” at Vespers and „Gloria inExcelsis”, in the beginning, at Small Vespers and the Matins – threedown-to-waist bows.

When a priest or a deacon says the Litany ofFervent Supplication, at one of the suffrages ending with the words “lets usall say”, one should make three down-to-waist bows, at the beginning of thesinging „God, have mercy upon us”,12 times; in other instances – it may be 40, 30 or 50 times; but when theservice is served without a priest, instead of the Litany of FerventSupplication we should sing forty times “God, have mercy upon us”, and alsoinstead of „earnest litanies” at the Litia (proceeding to the antechurch afterthe Night Services, the Sunday and some other services) the same prayer is sung40, 30 or 50 times. In all such instances three bows are made, just as at thebeginning of singing of “God, have mercyupon us”. At the requiem litany during the Liturgy, after the Gospel, andat the requiem litia during signing of the Litany of Fervent Supplication „God, have mercy upon us”, we reply tothe intonement “Lets us pray to God” withsinging „God, have mercy upon us” 40 times;at the beginning of the singing we should make a down-to-waist bow.

Before the dismissal prayer, at Matins and Vespers,and at the Prayer Service starting with “Morehonourable than the Cherubim” and at the Liturgy and at the Short Mass — with»It is truly meet”, "Glory”, "And now”, "God, have mercy upon us” two times, "God, bless us”, always four bows; at Matins, Vespers and the PayerService all bows are down-to-waist, and at the Liturgy and at the Short Massthe first bow is always a down-to-earth bow.

At "Morehonourable than the Cherubim” when this prayer is in the middle of any access(for examples, during the supper prayer) we always make a down-to-waist bow.

At the beginning of the Midnight Services, atthe prayer "Glory to Thee, our God, gloryto Thee for All Things” we make the sign of the cross without a bow onetime, and at the prayer "O Lord, washaway my sins” after it, we make three down-to-waist bows. After the firstand the last glorification to the festivity, during the festivity of Matins, wealways make down-to-earth bows.

A special procedure is designed for kissingfestivity icons after glorification, the Gospel at the Sunday Matins and the Crossat Its festivities.

All kissing is made against the order of theclergy and according to the seniority. First are the clergymen; senior ones followedby junior ones. After the priest senior in the order of the clergy (bishop orpriest) kisses an icon, or the Gospel, or the Cross he makes down-to-waist bowto the congregation. And all those who are in the church also make down-to-waistbow to him, without making the sign of the cross. Then, junior priests come tokiss in pairs (priests, deacons and readers, if any), then, the congregation: monksfollowed by the laity – first men followed by virgins and women. The procedureof kissing is as follows: coming to an icon two laymen make two down-to-earthbows with the sign of the cross saying a prayer appropriate with the festivity,usually, introduction to the festivity canon, for example, during festivitiesof the Holy Mother: "The Most Holy Mother of God, save us”.Then, the Jesus Prayer with the sign of the cross and, according to the ChurchTradition, bringing the fingers of both hands as if for making the sign of thecross, and putting the hands in the cross-like manner on the chest (fingers –two fingers – should touch the shoulders), with the right hand above the leftone, and kiss an icon. Usually, in such cases someone of the clergymen standsby an icon and shows the place which is to be kissed. A layman standing on theright is the first to kiss an icon, usually, he is senior. After kissing,again, those who pray in the church make the down-to-earth bow with the sign ofthe cross and say the above said prayer, and then, without making the sign ofthe cross, they make down-to-earth bow and say: "Honourable Father, forgive me for Christ’s sake” or "Holy Master”to a priest or a bishop standing to the right of an icon. Then, again withoutmaking the sign of the cross, they make down-to-earth bows to each other so asto stand by the right hand to each other. The one who stands to the right (thefirst to kiss an icon), says: "Christ is withus” and the one to the left replies: "Is and shall be”. In betweenthe Easter Sunday and leave-taking of a feast of the Holy Pascha instead of theabove mentioned «welcome — reply” we say the paschal welcome: „Christ is risen!” — “He is risen indeed!” This rule is alsoapplicable to the clergymen.

The same procedure is observed for the kissingof the Holy Gospel when, after the Night Service on Saturday night afterreading it, the Gospel is brought to the middle of the church for obeisance. However,there are some differences here. When a bishop or a priest brings the Gospelthrough Holy Doors we should make the sign of the cross and make thedown-to-waist bows saying: „God, Glory toYour Cross and Resurrection”. Those who come to kiss the Holy Book, duringthe first down-to-earth bow, say the prayer: “With fear and love I come to You, Christ, and believe in Your Words”.During the second bow: „With fear becauseof sin, with love because of salvation”.Then, having made the sign of the cross, we kiss the image of the crucifiedSaviour at His legs on the Gospel saying the Jesus Prayer. Then, again, we makethe down-to-earth bow and say: “God, Ibelieve in Your Holy Gospel, Christ Almighty, help me and save me”. Then, followthe above mentioned tradition. When the entire congregation has kissed theGospel, a priest carries it away to the altar through the Holy Doors, and,facing the church from there, he makes the sign of the cross with the Gospel oneverybody in the church saying: „Our Lord,save us with the power and the protection of Your Holy Gospel”. At thismoment everybody in the church makes down-to-waist bow with the sign of thecross and says the prayer:  “God, Glory to Your Cross and Resurrection”.At this moment the canon reader should interrupt the reading and say the prayerwith a bow together with the congregation.

During kissing of the Holy Cross at Matins thefollowing prayer is said during all bows „God,Glory to Your Cross”, then, they kiss the image of the Saviour on theCross, just as they do when they kiss the Gospel. 

While singing “Glory to You, Our Lord” before and after reading the Gospel we makea down-to-waist bow each time.

At the first introduction to the first andninth songs, in all canons, we always make a down-to-waist bow each time.

After the eight catabasia of the canon song atMatins we make a down-to-waist bow.

At litanies, after each song, at each catabasiawe make a down-to-waist bow each time and three times „God, have mercy upon us” which happens after the catabasia –three bows, also down-to-waist.

At the Hymn of the Mother of God “Mysouldoth magnify the Lord” which is sung at the Matins before the ninth song ofthe canon, for every chorus „Morehonourable than the Cherubim”, — a down-to-waist bow, and for the last,sixth, chorus – a down-to-earth bow.

In all instances when the Hymn of the Mother ofGod “Mysoul doth magnify the Lord” is not sung according to the canonwe make down-to-waist bows only during heirmoses of the ninth song of thefestivity canon.

After the prayer to the Holy Mother „It istruly meet” of a song replacing it we always make the down-to-earth bow.

During the Lent, at daily services, practicallyall above mentioned bows are down-to-earth bows. An exception to this rule isonly the beginning of the Vespers (before “MayGod help us keep away from sin this night...”)and at Small Vespers (before „Gloria in Excelsis...”) on Sundays duringthe Lent at nights, and at daily Matins (before the first “glory” at cathismas),in all such instances we make down-to-waist bows. During the Lent there areparticular, additional bows. First of all, they are seventeen down-to-earthbows during the prayer of Holy Ephraim the Syrian „O Lord and Master of my life...”to be made during the Lent at the end of each church access. But, at SundayVespers (for Monday) and at festivity (Polyeleos) services during the Lent thisprayer is shortened to four down-to-earth bows, and at the end of the festivityquadragesimal Matins – to three down-to-earth bows.

During the Lent, at Great Small Vespers in thechurch, after reading the Creed (“Ibelieve in one God”) choruses are sung twice at kliros: „O, Holy Merciful Mother, pray to God aboutus, sinners” and others, with down-to-earth bows. Having sung the chorus, thekliros, together with the congregation at the right or the left parts of thechurch, make a down-to-earth bow. At this time, the other kliros and thecongregation on the other part do not bow. At polyeleos services during theLent and when the festive Night Service starts with the Great Small Vespers (onthe eve of these festivities: the Nativity of Christ, the Epiphany and theAnnunciation) all these bows are down-to-waist bows but their sequence,described here, retains. After choruses “O,Holy Mother...” during therite of the Great Small Vespers the Trisagion follows, during which three bowsare made, all of them are down-to-waist bows.

Also, according to the canon, all bows made atMidnight Service on Monday of the first week of the Lent are down-to-waistbows, just as bows at Saturday and Monday services during the Lent. Startingfrom Vespers on Friday, all down-to-earth bows are not made except for specialones which occur invariably through the entire year and those which are listedabove.

During the Lent, the Liturgy of thePresanctified Gifts is served on Wednesdays, Fridays, and on some festivitiesoccurring during the Lent in the middle of a week. Then, this prayer is sung: „Let my prayer be set forth before Thee asincense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice”. When thisverse from the Book of Psalms is sung for the first time, the entirecongregation makes a down-to-earth bow without making thesign of the cross, and both the kliros and the congregation during the entiresinging “lie with their face down andpray”. The further rule for making bows is similar to the tradition whichhas already been described for the Great Small Vespers, at these choruses „O, Holy Merciful Mother...” When the leading klirossings after the introduction “Let myprayer be set forth”, all that part of the church stands up and says theprayer standing. Then, the next verse is sung, and the other kliros sings again»Let my prayer be set forth”. At thistime, together with the singers, one part of the congregat

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