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ABOUT ORTHODOX WORSHIP

 ABOUT ORTHODOX WORSHIP


Orthodox Worship
        Worship, for the Orthodox Church, is nothing else than 'heaven on earth.' The Divine Liturgy is something that embraces two worlds at once; both in heaven and on earth the Liturgy is one and the same one altar, one sacrifice, one presence. In every place of worship, however humble its outward appearance,  as  the  faithful  gather  to  celebrate  the  Divine Liturgy,  they  are  taken  up  into  the
'heavenly places;' in every place of worship where the Holy Sacrifice is offered, not merely the local congregation are present,  but the Church universal - the saints,  the angels, the Mother of God, and Christ himself.

A Brief History
          Orthodox Christians are members of the Church founded by Christ. The Orthodox Church is ONE - with the unity of God Himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; HOLY - with the holiness of the Most Holy Trinity; CATHOLIC living the fullness of divine truth and embracing all faithful Christians of all times and places;  and  APOSTOLIC  tracing doctrine,  traditions and authority to the original Apostles.   Orthodox   Christians   belong  to  their  own  churches,   each  headed  by   patriarchs, archbishops  and  bishops.
         The Orthodox Church is a worldwide community of people who are called to worship Christ as  Lord and  Savior  through the  Liturgy,  Sacraments and Sacred Scripture and to serve and love others through good works and prayer, as Christ commanded. The history of the Orthodox Church begins with Pentecost,  when the  Descent of the  Holy Spirit  upon the  Apostles  gave  birth to the Church.  During the early period of Christianity,  
St. Paul spread  the gospel throughout the east.  In 313 A.D. Christianity  was  legalized by Roman emperor Constantine. In 330,  Constantine  moved
the capital of the  Roman empire to  
Constantinople. It has been the official center of Orthodoxy for over 17 centuries.
           In the ninth century, the Greek missionaries  St. Cyril and  St. Methodius,  who were natives
of  
Thessaloniki,  began converting the  Slavs  in  Moravia.  They  created  a  slovonic alphabet and translated  the  liturgical  books  and the  Bible into a language that was intelligible to the Moravians. Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia were converted to Christianity in the 9th and 10th centuries.  Gradually, East and West grew apart in matters of faith, dogma, church custom, politics and culture. Eventually the  Eastern  and  WesternChurches  divided over the authority of the Pope. (For more history see: The Orthodox Church: A Well-Kept Secret by Fr. George Nicozisin.)

Behavior During Divine Services
           Christians should stand in church with faith,  fear  of  God,  and attention.  They should force themselves as much as possible to pray without distraction and with feeling of heart. Also,Christians have the following duties: to go regularly to church, for whoever often  misses  the  services,  except
for  the  sick,   are  barred  from  the  Holy Mysteries;   to  be  reconciled  with  all  men and to ask forgiveness  of  anyone  they have hurt;  to  preserve  their purity  at  least two days before going to church and at least  one day after;  to come  early  to the  divine services  in  order  to have  time to venerate in peace and hear Matins.  Every Christian should offer some gift to the Lord according to his ability, even if it is very small, as a sacrifice from the work of his hands.  They should give names for commemoration, and ask the priest to take out parts(from the prosphora) for the living and dead members of their families. Christians should stand in church modestly and in good order, the men on the right and the women on the left. They should wear clean and modest clothes, and women should have scarves on their heads.  It is forbidden to talk during services without great need.  After Divine Liturgy starts,  everyone should remain in his place and not move about to venerate the icons.  They should follow the Liturgy with pious attention,  and listen to the prayers and singing of the choir,  the Epistle and Gospel readings, and the sermon. No one should leave the church before the end of the Liturgy without great need.  Those who have confessed and prepared for  Holy Communion should read the appropriate prayers before  Communion  in advance,  and before they approach the  Holy Gifts  they  should  ask  forgiveness  of   all  the  faithful.   After  the  Liturgy,   those  who  received
Communion  should read the prayers of thanksgiving, spending that day in spiritual joy and guarding themselves from all temptations.  Parents should bring their children to church regularly,  taking care that they receive communion of the  Body and Blood of Christ.  After the end of the divine services, Christians  should reverently  return to their homes,  spending  the  rest  of the  day  thinking  of holy
things, reading spiritual books,  and  visiting  the sick.  They  are also obligated to tell those at home who didnt come to church about what they heard and learned in church from the troparia,  readings, and the sermon.  These  are  the  most  important duties of  Christians  when  they  go to  church on Sundays  and  feast  days.

Characteristics of Orthodox Worship
Physical

       Because, as explained above, the Orthodox draw no distinction between the Body of Christ in heaven  and  those  on  earth  viewing  both  parts  of  the  Church as inseparable and in continuous worship together of  God.   Orthodox  worship therefore expresses this unity of earth and heaven in every possible way so that the earthly  worshippers are continually reminded through all their senses of the heavenly state of the Church. The particular methods for doing this are very far from arbitrary but  have  been  passed  down  from  the  earliest  periods  in   Christian  history  through  what  the
Orthodox call "Holy Tradition".
Sights
        Probably the most striking aspect of Orthodox worship are its visual characteristics. These are
many  and  varied  always  conveying  in  the  most  striking  colors and shapes possible the various
phases and moods of the Church both as they change throughout the year and in individual services.
Icons
        Icons are used to bring the worshippers into the presence of those who are in heaven,  that  is, Christ,  the Saints,  the  Theotokos  and the angels. The Orthodox believe these icons do more than visually remind the viewer of the fact that there are saints in heaven, they believe that these icons act as 'windows' into heaven through which we see those saints,  Christ and the Theotokos. It is for this reason that God the father is traditionally not represented in icons because He has never shown His form to man and  therefore  man  should not try to represent  His form in icons.  It is because of the connection which these sacred pictures have with their subjects that  Orthodox  Christians regularly venerate (but do not worship) them even as  Orthodox  still living  on earth greet one another with a kiss of peace, so do they venerate those who have passed on through their icons.


ARCHITECTURE
Eastern Orthodox Architecture

        Both the internal and external forms of  Orthodox churches are designed in imitation of heaven. The internal layout consists of three main parts: the narthex,  nave and altar. The Royal doors divide the Narthex from the  Nave and the Iconostasis  divides  the  Nave  from the Altar. The Narthex or porch is the  entrance  to  the church building and not yet the actual  'church'  proper, and  is a small open space  often  with some candles to buy  before  entering  the church itself.  Once  through  the  Royal Doors (a term often applied now to the doors  in the center of the Iconostasis  as well) there is the Nave, which is the main and largest  part of the  church  building.  Here  all the laity and choir stand (there are often few or no seats in the building)  during worship;  it  is  shaped rectangularly in the  back,  opening  into  two  wings forming  a  cross  towards the front.  Through  the  Iconostasis (always done through the 'Deacon's doors' on either side except during  processions  by the clergy) lies the Altar (or Sanctuary).  This  area  is  considered  the  most  holy  of  the  whole  church,  and laity other than church personnel are discouraged from entering. The Altar is square (completing the cross shape of the church building)  and  at  its  center  is  the  altar  table on which the  Eucharist  is celebrated and which only clergy may touch. There is no direct entrance to the outside of the church to the altar, only the deacons' doors and a door to the sacristy (which usually will lead outside). The main entrance from the nave to the sanctuary,  the "Beautiful Gate", cannot be used by deacons and laity, only by priests or bishops.


VESTMENTS
Vestment#Eastern Church vestments

        All  those  above  lay  status  (the  choir  is  considered  to  be  lay  as  it  sings  in place of the congregation) wear some form of vestment to distinguish their office.  There  are  many  offices  and each has  its own  distinctive vestment  and each set of vestments becomes increasingly elaborate as the rank of the wearer increases;  this  principle  also  holds  true for how weighty a service is being served. All these vestments are in the style of robes (or designed to go with robes) made of colored and decorated cloth.  The  colors of all the vestments change according to what feast the  Church is celebrating  (these  changes  occur  in  a  seasonal  fashion,  not  with  the  seasons  but on  a similar timescale).  For instance,  for  about two months after the celebration of the Resurrection, all church vestments are bright white and red whereas during the solemnity of Lent they are dark purples; thus, vestments serve to express the 'mood' of the Church.
Processions
        As  most actions in  Orthodox  worship,  processions  are  most  often used to commemorate events  and  also,  of course,  to  display  items of religious,  and particularly Orthodox, significance. Their most fundamental purpose  however is,  as  everything  in  Orthodox  worship,  to  aid  in  the edification and salvation of the worshippers by giving glory to God. Processions are always led by a number  of  altar servers bearing candles,  fans (ornamented discs with angelic visages represented), crosses,  banners  or  other processional implements relative to the occasion.  After  them come the sub deacons,  deacons  and  archdeacons  with  censers  (ornamental  containers of burning coal for burning incense), then priests and archpriests and so on up the clergical ranks. This is the very 'ideal' in processions, most do not contain all these elements because the occasion may not warrant it. The reasons for why various processions are done at various times vary greatly.
Candles
        Candles are used extensively throughout the church during services and after. They are viewed as  continual,  inanimate  prayers  offered  by  the candle's  'benefactor'  to  God or saints usually on
behalf of a third party,  although  they can be offered for any purpose.  Candle stands  are  placed in front of particularly  significant  icons throughout  Orthodox  churches,  these  always have a central candle burning on behalf of the church as a whole but have room for Orthodox to place candles.  In particular candle stands are placed in front of the four principle icons on the Iconostasis:  the icon of Christ, the Theotokos,  John the  Baptist and the temple's patron.  Candles are not restricted to this usage however, besides being used in processions a candle is kept burning above the  Royal Doors in the Iconostasis, candles in a seven-branched candelabrum are burned during services on the altar (following in the footsteps of the seven branched candle stand in the Old Testament) as well as other candles used at various times in the church year for special purposes. (see Dikri and Trikri)
Sounds
         The  Orthodox Church traditionally does not use any instruments in the liturgy, instead relying entirely  on  choral  music  and  chanting.   Essentially  all  the  words of Orthodox services,  except sermons  and  such,  are  either  chanted  or  sung  by  readers  and  choirs  and  when possible the congregations.
Chanting
         Nothing in Orthodox worship is simply said;  it  is  always  sung  or  chanted.  Chanting  in the Orthodox tradition can be described as being halfway between  talking and singing;  it is musical but not music.  One or two notes only are used in chanting,  and  the  chanter  reads the words to these notes at a steady rhythm. The notes and rhythms used vary according to what the  occasion  is,  but generally chanting is relatively low-toned and steadily rhythmic creating  a  calming sound.  Chanting  not  only is condusive to a calm and elevated state of mind but also allows chanters to read through large  portions  of  texts  (particularly Psalms)  more  clearly  and  quickly than possible with normal speech  while  also  conveying  the  poetry  in  the words.  That  is  the essential reason for chanting. Worship  at  its  heart  is  a  song and is beautiful; therefore the words of Orthodox worship cannot be  simply  said  but  must  be  melodiously chanted  to  express  the true nature and purpose of the words.
Singing
         Words  not  chanted in Orthodox worship are sung by a choir. Originally singing was done by the entire  congregation,  however  this  rapidly became  cumbersome  and a select group of singers was selected to represent the congretation.  Since  then  Orthodox church  music has expanded and become more elaborate.  The  Church  uses  eight 'tones' or 'modes,' which are broad categories of melodies. Within each of these tones are many small more precise melodies.  All  of these tones and their  melodies  rotate  weekly  so  that  during each week a particular tone is used for singing music. Singing naturally developed from chanting but, unlike in the west, Orthodox music developed from a Greek musical background. Even though Orthodoxy has spread and its music adapted to its various regions, still Orthodox music is distinctive from European music. Singing is used in place of chanting on  important  occasions  thus  some things which are  chanted at minor services  are  sung  at more important services.  Singing is as varied and multi-faceted in its forms as chanting  and vestments,  it  changes  with  the  Church  'seasons'  of  commemoration  thus  singing during Great Lent is always somber and during Holy Week nearly becomes a sorrowful durge while during Pascha (Easter) and the Paschal season the notes are  high and quick and  as joyful as they were sad  during  Lent.  The power  of  music  is  not  lost on the  Orthodox and it is used to its full effect to bring about spiritual renewal in the listeners.


BELLS


Russian Orthodox bell ringing

          In Russian Orthodox churches bells are often used.  The size  of  the bells can vary widely as  can  their  number  and  complexity  of  tone.  Generally  however  they  are  rung to announce  the
beginning and end of services or to proclaim especially significant moments in the services. They are not used as musical instruments in the strict sense,  that is,  they  are  not  used in conjunction with a choir and are not a part of the worship  itself and are  always positioned outside the church building.
Scents
          In Orthodox worship, even the sense of smell is used to enlighten the minds and hearts of the worshipers,  bringing them into closer communion with God.  This  is done primarily through the use
of incense,  but it is not uncommon  at certain times of the year to decorate the interior of Orthodox temples with aromatic flowers and herbs.


INCENSE
Incense and Thurible

         Incense in the Orthodox Church is burned at essentially every worship service usually multiple times.  This  is  always  done by burning  granulated  incense  on  a  hot  coal  inside  a  censer. The  censer is essentially two  metal  bowls suspended by chains and which  can  be raised and lowered to allow more or less smoke out.  Incense  is burned,  in  accordance  with Old Testament tradition, as an essential mode of worship to  God  and  is burned in token of reverence to objects of sanctity such as relics, bishops, icons, the congregation and many other besides.  During the course of every service, all objects of repute will be censed by the  deacon  or  priest. This  is done by swinging the censer  forward  and  bringing  it back sending a cloud of aromatic smoke towards the object being censed.
Other aromas
         Scented oils are also used,  sometimes  to anoint the feast day icon,  or added to the olive  oil which is blessed for anointing during the All-Night Vigil. Or the faithful may be blessed by the priest sprinkling them with rose water.There are also times when fragrant plants are used. For instance, on the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos there is a special "Blessing of Fragrant Herbage" which takes place after the Divine Liturgy. On the Great Feast of Pentecost it is customary to fill the church with greenery,  sometimes  fresh hay or grass will be  spread about the floor,  and the faithful often stand holding flowers during the services on this day,  especially at the  Vespers service on the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday.
Actions
         The Orthodox Churchis fully conscious of the importance of the physical in general and of the human body in particular.  As a result,  Orthodox worship does not neglect to incorporate the body into its worship and to enlighten the worshippers through it as through any other medium.
The Sign of the Cross
         The sign of the cross  (three fingers imprinted on the forehead, torso, right then left shoulders)
is the most fundamental religious action of the Orthodox Church and is performed very frequently in Orthodox worship. This action is,  of course,  done in remembrance and invocation of the Cross of Christ.  This  can  be  meant  for  protection  from adverse powers,  in  reverence  for something or someone,  in  cumpunction  or  love or for a multitude of other reasons not nearly  so  specific.  The Orthodox  view  it  as a way of purifying the  body  and soul and the Orthodox oral tradition is very strong in viewing it as a weapon against demons and their activities.
Standing and Kneeling
         To  express  the  respect  and  fear  of  God  which  is  congruent  with  the  worship  of Him,
Orthodox stand while in worship as if  they were in the presence  of a king.  Originally women were designated to stand  on one half of the  church  in  front of the icon of the  Mother of God  while the
men stood on the  right side  of the church in front of the icon of Christ,  now  however this is rarely done and  worshippers simply  stand  in  any  open  space in the  Nave facing  the altar and praying silently or singing as they stand.  Kneeling is done in expression of penitence and deep cumpunction and is done almost exclusively during Lenten services. For instance, during the Presanctified Liturgy (done only in Lent) when the Lord's Prayer is said all people,  clergy and laity,  in the Church kneel. In contrast, no kneeling is ever done during the celebratory Paschal season.


BOWING AND PROSTRATING
Poklon

         A  bow  in the  Orthodox Church  consists  of a person making the sign of the cross and then bowing  from  the  waist  and  touching  the  floor with their fingers.  This  action is done extensively throughout  all  Orthodox  services  and  is  a  fundamental  way  that  the  Orthodox  express  their reverence and subservience to God. For instance, at the culminating point of the consecration of the Eucharist all the Orthodox make a bow while saying  "Amen".  Bows  are  used more extensively in Lent than at any other time.  Three  bows  are done when entering an Orthodox church and a series of bows are performed when venerating the central icons in the Nave.A prostration in the Orthodox tradition is the action in which a person makes the sign of the cross and,  going  to his knees,  touch the floor with his head.  Prostrations  express  to an even greater degree the reverence evinced by a bow and both are used as tools to train the mind in reverence of  God  through the obeisance of the body.  A  prostration  is always done upon entering the Altar  (Sanctuary)  on weekdays.  They are
used in the most profusion during Lent.
Greetings and Blessings
         Even  as  Orthodox  venerate  and  do  reverence  to  icons  and the church building as being physical  objects  filled  with divine grace so too  they  greet one  another.  Traditionally this is done whenever or wherever Orthodox meet one  another  but  in common usage  the traditional greetings between lay people are usually done in ritual contexts (during services or such activities). Orthodox greetings are,  just like the veneration of icons,  expressions  of  love  and  reverence for the person being greeted.  Greetings  between  lay  people  of equal  rank are done by the parties grasping one another's right hand  and then  kissing  each other on  both cheeks,  the right first,  then left and right again.  Between clergy of equal rank the same is done but at the end the parties kiss one another on the hand. Orthodox of lower ranks (lay people, altar servers and deacons) when meeting Orthodox priests (or higher ranks) receive a blessing by folding their hands(right over left)palm upwards while he of the priestly office makes the sign of the cross  in the air with his hand over the folded hands of the lay person  and then places  that hand on  the  folded hands of he  of lower  rank for him to kiss.
This  is  done  because the  Orthodox  view the priestly  office as the one through which Christ lives with  his  people and  thus the blessing is the essential bestowing of  Christ's  love and grace through His priest to the Orthodox person being blessed.  Blessings like this are also used during services to signify the approval of Christ and the Church for some action a lower order person is going to do.
Tastes
         Orthodox worship, in keeping with the earliest traditions of Christian worship,  involves eating as part of services probably  more than any other denomination.  Besides  the bread and wine in the Eucharist, bread, wine, wheat, fruits and other foods are eaten at a number of special services.  The kinds of foods used vary widely from culture to culture.


BREAD

Prosphora and Artos

         Bread is by far the most  common Orthodox repast in  worship and is always levened.  Bread is viewed  theologically  as the quintissential food,  the symbol  of sustenance and life.  As such,  it is also  considered to be the  central component  of  communal  meals and a mainstay of  brotherhood. Although its use for Prosphora and in the Eucharist are ancient and universal, the various other kinds of ecclesial  breads and their  purposes vary widely from  country to  country as do their associated services. These services usually are associated with seasonal prayers, such as the harvest. The most common  non-Eucharistic  bread  is  the  artos.  This is in two forms:  five  smaller  loaves which are blessed during a  portion  of the  All-Night Vigil  known  as  the  Artoklassia  (literally, "breaking of bread");  and a single,  large loaf which  is  blessed  during the  Paschal Vigil and then remains in the church  during  Bright  Week  (Easter Week).  This  Artos  (capitalized  because  it  symbolizes  the Resurrected Jesus)  is  venerated  by the faithful when they enter  or  leave the church during  Bright Week.  Then,  on Bright Saturday,  the  priest  says a prayer over the Artos and it is broken up and distributed among the faithful as an evlogia (blessing).
Wine
        The  continual  companion  of  bread  in  the  Church  is  wine  which  is also seen with it in the Eucharist and Prosphora.Wine is viewed theologically as the symbol of the joy and happiness which God gives to man. Thus it is also thought of as the essential component of meals and the community, to  'drink of the same cup'  is  a  theological  allegory  to  intimate spiritual union.  In its various local usages,  wine is always taken with the bread,  usually  poured  over  it  or  used  for dipping as with Prosphora.
Wheat
        As the corollary to bread, wheat is very frequently seen in Orthodox services as well.  Though it does not hold nearly as central a place theologically or in use,it is seen as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth because  a  grain of wheat must be buried in the earth, 'die' and then be 'born again' with new growth and life.  Because  of  this it  is often seen  in  prayers  for the dead;  in  the  Greek and Russian  tradition Koliva  is a boiled wheat dish eaten at the end of a service for a deceased person.
Water
As wheat is to bread, so water is to wine or even more so because it holds a much more prominent position and use and theology. Wine in the Orthodox Church, as in early Christian history, is always mixed with water.  It  is  associated  with cleansing of the soul and thus the Holy Spirit and Baptism. Besides its use in Baptism, holy water,  water specially blessed by a priest,  is  used  extensively for many sanctification purposes and is usually sprinked on objects.  At certain services,  particularly at Theophany, holy water is partaken of in service by the congregation each in turn.
 

                                 THE CHURCH YEAR
        Remembering  the  admonition to  "pray without ceasing"  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  the  Church Fathers  established  different  Services.  They  are  used throughout the Ecclesiastical Year and are divided into three cycles: the daily cycle, the weekly cycle and the yearly cycle.In the daily cycle we begin  with  Vespers  which is a service traditionally  held  at sundown to thank  God for His mercy during the day and to ask for his blessing for the coming night. Second is Compline,  a  service read before going to sleep.  Psalms  and  petitions  are  recited during the Compline as well as prayers to God  asking  for  forgiveness  and  prayers  to  Christ  through the The otokos asking for protection. Monasteries even have another prayer service  held at midnight.  The theme of this service urges the believer to 'watch and pray' for their spiritual welfare and for their communion with Christ,  who will come unexpectedly to judge the world. The  Matins  or  Orthros  service  is read and chanted in the morning prior to the Divine Liturgy. It consists of psalms,  petitions and  specific hymns pertaining to the celebration of the day.  The daily  prayer cycle  is  further sub-divided with the inclusion of other services called  "Hours" or "Ores"  in Greek.  They are held at sunrise,  9:00 am, 12 noon, and 3:00 pm, which are the third,  sixth and ninth hours,  respectively.  These  times were designated because they represent the times when: Christ was brought to the Crucifixion; the time of the Crucifixion; and the time when Christ died and gave up His spirit.  The Hours  also consist of psalms,  prayers and a  special hymn on the meaning of each hour.

        Each  day  of  the  week  has its own significance and special prayers and hymns. Prayers and hymns  are recited and chanted pertaining to the commemoration of each day.  The weekly cycle of worship is as follows: Sunday is the recurring Paschal celebration of the Resurrection;  On Monday we commemorate the Angels;  On Tuesday,  St. John the Baptist and Forerunner;  On Wednesday, the  Cross  and  the Theotokos;  On Thursday,  the  Holy Apostles  and  St. Nicholas  and the Last Supper; On Friday, the day of preparation, the Cross and the Theotokos; and on Saturday, the day of rest, we commemorate the Martyrs and the Dead.  The  Yearly Cycle  is most commonly known as the  Ecclesiastical Year  and begins on September 1.  It  consists  of  the fixed feast days such as Christmas and the moveable holidays such as PalmSunday, Pascha,Ascension and Pentecost.There are twelve major feast days in the calendar year honoring our Lord and the Theotokos, they are:


   September 8 The Nativity of the Theotokos
   September 14 The Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
   November 21 The Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple
   December 25 The Nativity of Christ
   January 6 Epiphany: The Baptism of Christ
   Febuary 2 The Presentation of Christ to the Temple
   March 25 The Annunciation of the Theotokos
   August 6 The Transfiguration of Christ
   August 15 The Dormition of the Theotokos
   Palm Sunday* The Entry into Jerusalem
   Ascension* The Ascension of Christ - 40 days after Easter
   Pentecost* The Descent of the Holy Spirit - 50 days after Easter
   * Moveable Feast days


   Pascha - Christ's Resurrection is not included in the twelve major feast days because it is    considered the Highest of all Holidays.
         Although Orthodox Services can often be very elaborate, lengthy and solemn, they express a deep  and  pervasive  sense  of inner joy and spirituality.  These  services are not limited to prayers, hymns  and  scriptural readings,  there is action required of  both the celebrant and the worshippers. The  corporate aspect  of  worship  and  of  community  does  not undermine the personal faith and commitment of each believer.  There is an essential duality in Christian existence. Christianity stands by  personal  faith  and  commitment,  and  yet  Christian  existence  is  intrinsically corporate: to be Christian means to be in the Community, in the Church and of the Church.

The Daily Cycle of Prayer
          The daily non-sacramental worship of the Orthodox Church consists of :

The Evening Service of Vespers
        In the Orthodox Church the liturgical day begins in the evening with the setting of the sun. This practice  follows  the  biblical  account of creation,  "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:5).  The  service  celebrated  with  the setting of the sun is Vespers. It takes us through creation, sin, and salvation in Christ.  The  service  also contains a variety of festal elements that concentrate on particular moments in sacred history, and/or commemorate the lives of saints or memorable events in the life of the Church.

The Morning Service of Matins (Orthros)
         Like the Vespers Service,  the  Orthros  Service is centered in thanksgiving for the coming of the  true light of Christ and  calls all to repentance  by uniting the elements of morning psalmody and prayer with mediation on Biblical canticles,  the Gospel reading, and the particular theme of the day in  the  given  verses  and  hymns.   The  service  also  contains  a  variety of  festal  elements  which concentrate  on  particular  moments  in  sacred  history,  and/or commemorate the lives of saints or memorable events in the life of the Church.

The Four Services of the Hours
       The central prayer of each hour is the Lord's Prayer. In addition each hour has a set of psalms, hymns,  and a distinctive prayer for that Hour.  Each Hour has a particular theme based upon some aspect of the  Christ-event and salvation history.  The general themes of  the Hours are : the coming of the true light (First);  the  descent  of  the  Holy  Spirit  on  Pentecost (Third);  the crucifixion and passion  of  the  Lord  (Sixth);  and  the  death  and burial of our Lord (Ninth). Each of the Hours is numbered with intervals of the day : the first (our sunrise);  the Second (our midmorning, 9:00 AM); the Third (noonday, 12:00 PM) and; the Fourth (midday, 3:00 PM).

The Compline Service
        It  is  a  service of psalms  and prayers to read following the evening meal before one retires to sleep. It focuses on three things: thanksgiving for the day that has passed; protection for the ensuing night; and forgiveness of wrongs committed during the day.

The Midnight service
        This service consists of psalms and prayers that are said in the middle of the night. This service focuses on the significant "middle" of the  night events that are found in Scripture, the resurrection of our Lord and His Second Coming.
The Weekly Cycle of Prayer
        As the liturgical life of the Church developed and expanded, days of the week took on special meaning.  Gradually the Orthodox East developed its weekly cycle,  which succinctly celebrates the entire yearly cycle.

     Sunday - the Lord's Day,  a weekly Pascha. As the first day of the week it serves as a witness to the risen Lord.

   Monday - the second day of the week is dedicated to the angels.

   Tuesday - the third day of the week honors St. John the Baptist and through him all the prophets.

   Wednesday- *

   Thursday - the  fifth  day  of  the week is  dedicated  to the Holy Apostles and  St. Nicholas  who stands as a model for all the great hierarchs,  the  successors to the Apostles and the teachers of the Church.

Friday-*

   Saturday - the sixth day of the week the Church commemorates the martyrs. The ascetics, and all those who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection.

   * These  days  of the week bring into  focus the combined mystery of the cross and the person of the Theotokos. Both days proclaim two things.

Contact Details
St.Stephen's Orthodox Church
Kattanam,Pallickal P O
Alappuzha Dist.
Kerala,India-690 503
Email:
info@kattanamvaliyapally.org
kattanamvaliyapally@gmail.com
Phone: 0479 2332095