Monday, November 14, 2011

The Epistle and Gospel- series on the Divine Liturgy

some quick thoughts on the 'reading' portion of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy
  • The Old Testament is not read during the Divine Liturgy- that portion is used during vespers, matins, etc.
  • The readings are always sung- usually. They might be read during a non-Sunday or feast day Liturgy, but I experience this very rarely.
  • You will notice that the priest intones 'Be attentive!' before the epistle and Gospel are sung. This is another example of the Bible being an extremely important part of our faith- and that some people might need reminding of that truth.
  • In most U.S. Byzantine churches, the homily is given directly after the Gospel. Some do it at the end of the Divine Liturgy after people have received the Eucharist. I suppose one argument for hearing the homily after receiving the Eucharist would be that the people would be disposed to hearing truth after they have physically received truth in the Body and Blood of Christ. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to people coming to Liturgy just at the end to hear the homily because they weren't going to receive the Eucharist. This is especially true for the Orthodox Church in the old country where people don't tend to receive the Eucharist frequently. 
  • Depending on the priest, he might invite the children to stand in front of the gold-covered Gospel book while he is singing the reading. They will then kiss the Gospel book before they sit down to listen to the homily
  • Depending on the priest, 'silent' prayers might not be very silent
PRIEST (silently): Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed are You on the throne of the glory of Your kingdom, enthroned upon the Cherubim, always, now and ever, and forever.

PRIEST: Be attentive! Peace be to all. Wisdom, be attentive.

PEOPLE: (Say the Prokemen proper to the day.)

PRIEST: Wisdom!

READER: The reading of the Epistle of N . . .

PRIEST: Let us be attentive!

READER: Brethren . . .

When the Epistle is finished the priest intones:

PRIEST: Peace be with you. Wisdom! Be attentive

PEOPLE: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

PRIEST (silently): 0 Gracious Master, pour forth into our hearts the spotless light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the teachings of Your Gospel. Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, so that, having curbed all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing everything that pleases You. For You, O Christ, our God, are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, and to You we render glory, together with Your eternal Father, and with Your all holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.

PRIEST: Wisdom, let us stand upright and listen to the Holy Gospel. Peace be with you.

PEOPLE: And with your spirit.

PRIEST: The reading of the Holy Gospel according to N. . .

PEOPLE: Glory be to You, O Lord, glory be to You.

PRIEST: Let us be attentive.

The Priest reads the Gospel

After the reading of the Gospel, the priest kisses the closed Gospel Book and places it in the middle of the Altar. The people say:

PEOPLE: Glory be to You, O Lord, glory be to You.

The Priest now gives a sermon.

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