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Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
by Fr. Thomas Hopko

The word liturgy means common work or common action. The Divine Liturgy is the common work of the Orthodox Church. It is the official action of the Church formally gathered together as the chosen People of God. The word church, as we remember, means a gathering or assembly of people specifically chosen and called apart to perform a particular task.

The Divine Liturgy is the common action of Orthodox Christians officially gathered to constitute the Orthodox Church. It is the action of the Church assembled by God in order to be together in one community to worship, to pray, to sing, to hear God's Word, to be instructed in God's commandments, to offer itself with thanksgiving in Christ to God the Father, and to have the living experience of God's eternal kingdom through communion with the same Christ Who is present in his people by the Holy Spirit. more


“Sneak Previews” of the Heavenly Kingdom
by Fr. Steven Salaris

One of my favorite things about going to a movie or renting a movie is the “sneak previews.” By giving us a foretaste or foreshadowing of the upcoming movie, the preview allows us to decide whether or not we are going to be interested in the fullness of that motion picture event. Wouldn’t it be great if the Orthodox Church offered sneak previews? Wouldn’t it be great if we could get just a peek at some of the things in our future, such as the second coming of Christ, the kingdom of Heaven, or, even more scary, the horrors of Hell? The fact is that, during the Divine Liturgies of the Church, we do get a foretaste of all of these things — yes, including Hell. To develop my thesis, I need to present some important data, much like the pieces of a puzzle. At the end, we will put all of the pieces together and we, hopefully, will understand my thesis completely. Let’s begin. more


Truth. Beauty. Christ. (Why we Worship as we do)
Adapted from The Pentecostarion

Orthodox Christianity teaches that a clear distinction exists between the uncreated God and the created world. God is good, and because God created the world, the world is good; but it is also fallen, and as a result we face additional distinctions: between old and new, death and life, profane and sacred, all the degrees of shadow and the very Light Itself. Salvation may be understood as the growth of the human person from the former categories to the latter – from the old, the dead, the profane, and the shadows, to the new, the life, the sacred, and the light. This journey of salvation is presented to us in profound ways in the style and forms of ancient Christian worship. more


The Orthodox Priest: an Icon of Christ
by Fr. Alister Anderson

The first reason for a male priesthood has to do with the foundation and tradition of the Christian religion. When Christ was living in human flesh, He deliberately selected twelve men to be His Apostles. These men were the beginning of a priesthood of men who were prepared to follow Him as the ordained leaders of His Church down through the centuries to this moment. The Christian churches that chose to remain within the apostolic and catholic tradition have therefore only ordained men to be bishops, priests and deacons. more

The Five Cycles in Orthodox Worship
by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon Seminary Press

The life of an Orthodox Christian can be seen as being composed of five cycles. There is, first of all, the great cycle of life, which embraces the whole life of a man from birth to death, and which consists in liturgical actions which are not repeated, occurring only once in a person’s lifetime. These are Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation, and the Burial Service. In addition, there also belongs in this great cycle the Sacraments or Sacramental Blessings which bestow special grace for a particular office or vocation with the community. These are Holy Matrimony, the Monastic Tonsure and Holy Orders.

Another major cycle which involves the entire life of an Orthodox Christian is the daily cycle of prayers and praises offered by the Church, once every twenty-four hours. These services express our remembrance of events which happened at certain hours and contain petitions relevant to these memories. more


Holy Icons
by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon Seminary Press

One of the first things that strikes a non-Orthodox visitor to an Orthodox church is the prominent place assigned to the Holy Icons. The Iconostasis (Icon-screen) dividing the Altar from the rest of the church is covered with them, while others are placed in prominent places throughout the church building. Sometimes even the walls and ceiling are covered with them in fresco or mosaic form. The Orthodox faithful prostrate themselves before them, kiss them, and burn candles before them. They are censed by the Priest and carried in processions. Considering the obvious importance of the Holy Icons, then, questions may certainly be raised concerning them: What do these gestures and actions mean? What is the significance of these Icons? Are they not idols or the like, prohibited by the Old Testament? more

Do Icons Really Matter?
by Fr. Peter Gillquist

The icons enliven our imaginations, bringing this celestial company visibly into our churches and our homes, reminding us that all of this is really taking place around us. It is as though we’re “walking onto the set” of God’s eternal promise, participating with heaven in the majesty of His divine drama. more



Candles and Lights
by Fr. Theodore Ziton

 Candles are lit as an offering back to God of what He has already given us; done so in prayerful manner. Each candle is a unique jewel, crowned with a little tongue of fire, like the Saints on the day of Pentecost with their crowns of Spirit Fire... Each candle having its fire as a flame tipped sword pointing straight to heaven. Thus, the burning taper must signify Christian self-sacrifice. As the burning candle consumes itself, so, too, the Christian should burn up his energies in serving God... living the burning prayer! more



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