|Father Nektarios Serfes - Orthodox Spirituality||Last Modified March 17, 2003|
Compiled By Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Introduction by Father Nektarios Serfes:
Nothing is so spiritually uplifting, and so rewarding then
prayer before God in the Church. The Orthodox Church has a cycle
of services, and all of us should make every means to attend
these services. It’s not really how long are these
services, but what we put into them that is spiritually
When the Church calls us to prayer, we should rush with great
Christian love to go to these services, and give our Lord God due
honor and worship, at the same time we should think about our
spiritual relationship with our God, and our path to our
salvation. During these cycle of services we begin to realize how
much our Lord God loves us, and wants us to be a part of His
Kingdom. We can participate in His Kingdom in prayer, and we can
behold His great spiritual beauty as we gaze around the Church
and behold Him, as well as the opening arms of the Mother of God,
the saints, the prophets, the apostles, and the martyrs all
surrounding us with their prayers and intercession on our behalf,
what a blessing!
Then again preparations before the Divine Liturgy are
spiritually necessary, and that is if when we will go to Holy
Communion, we should consider speaking to our priest about going
to Holy Confession. We also should fast from certain foods
anticipation of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, i.e. at
the least, fast from meats on Wednesday and Friday, and all foods
and liquids the morning of the liturgy unless these are deemed
necessary for medical reasons.
We also have prayers to be read before taking Holy Communion,
they are called Prayers in Preparation for Holy Communion, or
prayers before Holy Communion, should speak to our parish priest
about these prayers. Some of the faithful begin reading these
prayers on Thursday, so that we do not have to wait to the last
minute. Then again we have prayers of Thanksgiving after Holy
Communion, eventually throughout the day we should read these
prayers of thanksgiving, some parishes read these prayers of
Thanksgiving at the end of the Divine Liturgy, as well as the
faithful who took Holy Communion remain in the church until these
prayers are finished.
Attend these services with your children, and rush with great
love to the Church and pray. Let us make every effort to go to
the Church in prayer, and let us realize when we come to late, we
miss many blessings, after we leave we shall be spiritually
Love to pray in the Temple of our Lord God His Church, and
when we pray, let us pray with all our heart, mind, and soul!
Well aware of the work at hand, we should attend services
prepared to labor as unique members of the body of Christ.
Ultimately, each of us, that is every man, woman, and child,
should be ready to “put aside all the cares of life, and
receive the King of all…”
I am humbly presenting to you the Cycle of Services that are
celebrated in the Orthodox Church, which by understanding these
services we begin to realize how important these services are in
our Church, and how rewarding spiritually they can be for us
May our Lord God bless you!
Humbly In Christ Our Lord,
The Cycle of Services in the Orthodox Church
The First Hour
The Third Hour
The Sixth Hour
The Ninth Hour
Small Compline & Great Compline
Small & Great Vespers: two types of Vespers - Small
Vespers celebrated during evening weekdays, and Great Vespers
celebrated Saturday evenings, and for Feast Days. Vespers are in
preparation for the next day Divine Liturgy.
Artokolasia Service celebrated on special occasions at the end
of Vespers, or at the end of Matins or even at the end of the
Matins (Gr. Orthros) In the Greek Orthodox tradition on a
parish level this service is celebrated in the morning proceeded
by the Doxology and the Divine Liturgy.
The Doxology: The Great Doxology and the Small Doxology.
The Hierarchal Divine Liturgy (Divine Liturgy celebrated by a
In the Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Syrian, and Bulgarian
Orthodox Church’s the tradition (on a parish level) Vespers
are held in the evenings, and during the morning hours Matins
followed by the Great Doxology, and the Divine Liturgy. In the
Russian Carpatho Russian, and Serbian Orthodox tradition (on a
parish level) both Vespers and Matins, and the Great Doxology are
normally held in the evenings, followed by the first hour, then
in the morning the third, sixth, and ninth hours are read,
followed by the Divine Liturgy.
In the monastic communities the cycle of services are
different then on a parish level. In the Greek Orthodox tradition
for example the following services are observed at St.
Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Arizona, which follows
the Athonite tradition of Mt. Athos the daily schedule of
services is as follows:
Authors of the Divine Liturgies celebrated in the Orthodox
Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: celebrated on most
Sundays and weekdays.
In Orthodox monasteries, monks maintain special services for
the hours of the day. The Royal Hours are also observed on a
parish level in the Orthodox Church for the Forefeast of our
Lord’s Holy Nativity and Holy Theophany. The Ninth Hour is
observed before the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy.
Each hour commemorates a special event, as follows:
1. First hour (6:00 A.M.): Thanksgiving for the new morning
The First Hour
The first hour (hour one after the rise of the sun or 7 a.m.,
has as its central theme the coming of light in the dawn of a new
day. The coming of the physical light remind the Christian of the
coming of Him Who is the Light of the World. The physical light
is but an icon or image of Christ. Thus, the Christian begins the
day by praising God for the dawn of the physical light as well as
the Light of the World which shines brightly in the face of
Jesus. We pray that His light may guide us and show us the way
for the day, blessing also the works of our hands, which begin
daily at this hour.
O Christ the true light, enlightening and
Sanctifying ever man who comes into
Let the light of Your countenance shine on
us, that in it we may behold the
Guide our footsteps aright in keeping Your
Through the intercessions of you’re all pure
Mother and of all the saints. Amen.
-From the Prayers of the First Hour
The Third Hour
The third hour (three hours after sunrise 9 a.m.), was the
exact time the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on the day
of Pentecost (Acts 2:15). This single theme dominates the third
hour. One of the three psalms that are read is the 51st which
contains petitions for the sending of the Holy Spirit:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right
spirit within me…take not Thy holy Spirit from
me…and upon me with Thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:
Special prayers are said to thank God for sending the Holy
Spirit on Pentecost, beseeching Him also to bestow the gift of
the Holy Spirit’s presence upon us for the works of that
day. The third hour is a daily reminder that the life of the
faithful Christian remains empty without the inner presence of
the Spirit. He is the One who provides inner peace and power. He
is the One “in Whom we live and move and have our
being” (Acts 17:28).
O Lord, You sent down Your Most Holy
Spirit upon Your apostles at the Third
Take Him not from us, O Good One, but
renew Him in us who pray to You.
-From the Prayers of the Third Hour
The Sixth Hour
The sixth hour (six hours following sunrise – noon),
reminds us of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44 and John
19:14). Each day at noon the Church tries to focus our attention
of this great event in the history of our salvation. We offer God
prayers of gratitude for so loving each one of us that He gave
his only begotten Son so that we who believe in Him may not
perish but have life everlasting (John 3:16). Our noontime
prayers (sixth hour) include petitions that He save us from the
sins and temptations of that day.
O Christ God, on the sixth day and hour,
You nailed to the Cross the sin which
rebellious Adam committed in paradise.
Tear asunder also the bond of our iniquities,
and save us!
You have wrought salvation in the midst of
the earth, O Christ God. You stretched
out Your all-pure hands upon the Cross;
You gathered together all the nations
that cry aloud to You: Glory to You,
-From the Prayers of the Sixth Hour
The Ninth Hour
The ninth hour, nine hours following sunrise (3 p.m.), is the
time when Jesus died on the cross. “And at about the ninth
hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama
sabacthani?” That is to say, “My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?”… When He cried again with a
loud voice (Jesus) yielded up the ghost” (Matthew 27:46,
50). At this time prayers of thanksgiving are offered to Him Who
by His death-destroyed death for each one of us. The prayers of
the ninth hour conclude with a petition that we put to death the
old sinful nature with us to enable us to live the new life in
Christ Jesus with Whom we were not only crucified but also
resurrected through baptism.
O Master, Lord Jesus Christ our God,
You have led us to the present hour,
in which as you hung upon the life-giving Tree,
You made a way into Paradise
for the penitent thief,
and by death destroyed death:
Cleanse us; you’re unworthy servants,
for we fall into sin continuously and
are not worthy to lift up our eyes and
look upon the heights of heaven.
Forgive us for departing from the path of righteousness
and following the desires of our own hearts.
-From the Prayers of the Ninth Hour
Small & Great Compline (Gr. Apodeipnon)
A worship service performed after dusk. It is often combined
with Vespers, to form an all-night vigil. There is a Great
Compline and its abridgement, known as Small Compline. Great
Compline is celebrated during Great Lent, whereas Little or also
known as Small Compline can be celebrated daily when it’s
not Great Lent.
Small & Great Vespers (Gr. Espermos)
Morning and evening were always considered to be proper times
for prayer. Worship services were held every morning and evening
in the Temple of Jerusalem and were continued by the early
Christians even after they separated themselves from the worship
of the Temple. The old Jewish forms are still used. The theme of
Vespers takes us through creation, sin and salvation in Christ.
It includes thanksgiving for the day now coming to an end and
God’s protection for the evening.
In the Orthodox Church the liturgical day begins in the
evening with the setting of the sun. One the great themes of
Vespers is the coming of Christ, the Light to dispel the
darkness. The coming of evening darkness reminds us of the
darkness of sin and death. In that darkness Jesus is praised as
“the gladsome light of the holy glory of the Immortal
Father” and “a light for revelation to the
Gentiles.” Vesper services are offered daily in monasteries
and usually only on Saturday evenings in some parishes. Orthodox
Christians daily may offer evening prayers in private by praying
the Psalter and the other Vesper prayers at home. It should be
noted in the Greek Orthodox tradition on a parish level Vespers
are held in the evenings, Matins-Orthros service held in the
mornings, followed by the Doxology and the Divine Liturgy.
O Gladsome Light
O Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the Immortal,
Heavenly, Holy Father: Blessed Jesus Christ!
Now that we have come to the setting of the sun,
and see the light of evening,
we praise God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For it is right at all times to worship you with voices of praise,
O Son of God and Giver of life.
Therefore all the world glorifies You!
-From the Prayers of Vespers
The artoklasia service held at the end of Vespers or at the
end of Matins, or even at the end of the Liturgy. Five round
loaves of bread are offered by individual faithful as a sign of
devotion for personal or family anniversaries such as name days
and other occasions bearing close connection with the experience
of the Orthodox. The five loaves are reminiscent of the five
loaves that Jesus Christ blessed in the desert by which five
thousand of His bearers were fed. The artoklasia also symbolizes
and brings into practice the Agape meals of the very early
Christian communities. Then, after the faithful received the Body
and Blood of Christ, they would gather in a common meal, thus
signifying the brotherly association established between them by
their common faith and by their receiving the same sacramental
Lord. Also, the Agape meals served a charitable purpose by
providing meals to the poorer from among them.
The significance behind the Orthodox artoklasia includes also
the fact that, among the Orthodox, bread continues to be highly
valued not only as a basic food but also as the supreme symbol of
the Body of Christ; for it is the bread which changed by
consecration in the Liturgy into the Body of Christ. Christ has
been repeatedly designated as the Bread of Life, and also as
‘the Bread which came from heaven.’ Bread does also
symbolize the Church of Christ, which has spread all over
“as the wheat on the mountains and which was gathered by
Christ into one body’. (see DIDACHE.) Thus, bread has been
given a mystical meaning according to which it constitutes the
essence of the spiritual life of the Christian.
The hour of midnight was designated as a time for prayer for
three reasons. First, the Jewish people were led out of Egypt at
midnight (Exodus 12:29). In remembrance of this even, the Messiah
at the time of Jesus was expected to come at midnight. This
expectation was fulfilled when Jesus was resurrected in the early
morning while it was still dark (Matthew 28:1). Midnight also
became associated in early Christian thought with the hour of the
Second Coming of Jesus (Mark 13:35). He was expected to come
“as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2,4).
See Matthew 25:6 and Mark 13:35. This hour of prayer is kept
today only in certain monasteries where monks rise at midnight,
as if from the grave of death, to meet the risen Lord in prayer.
The prayers offered at this hour remember those who have died in
Christ and also invoke God’s mercy upon us for the coming
judgment. Although we do not live in monasteries, we may use
midnight as an hour of prayer if we happen to waken during the
night. Instead of counting sheep, we can use the time to speak
and pray to the Shepherd of our souls.
O Lord our God, through your Holy Spirit
You gave us an example in David,
Inspiring him to sing psalms and
even at this hour of the night to say:
‘At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws’;
make us worthy to offer you from the bottom of our hearts
our grateful confession of faith;
in your goodness look with compassion on our wretched state
and at your dreadful day of judgment
let us too be like the faithful and wise servants;
we ask it through the mediation of the holy Mother of God and
all your saints –
From the Prayers of the Midnight Office
Matins (Gr. Orthros)
This is a morning service that can be heard by it self or be
followed by the Liturgy on Sundays and other feast days. It
begins with the reading of the well known Six-Psalms
(Exaspsalmos), includes the reading of a Matins Gospel and hymns
pertaining to the day, and ends with the small Doxology (if not
to be followed by the Liturgy), or by great Doxology if the
Liturgy is to follow. When Matins is celebrated on Sunday morning
hymns are sung for the Resurrection of our Lord.
The Doxology: The Great Doxology and the Small Doxology
The Theological Emphases of the Doxology
Both the Orthros (Matins) and the Vespers – which
comprise the two most important corporate prayer times in the
daily cycle of worship – are more than times of prayer.
They are a place of Theophany, where we glimpse and experience
the presence of the eternal Triune God.
At the core of this revelation are the four great theological
themes; creation, the fall, salvation, and eschaton. Special
emphasis is given to Christ and to his redemptive work and to the
Kingdom which He established and which is here now and yet to
come in fullness.
Light and Darkness
The theme of light and darkness as related to Christ is of
particular significance, forming the fundamental symbolism of the
It is recorded in many of their fixed prayers and hymns, as
well as in several liturgical actions that accompany these hymns
and prayers. For example, the lighting of the evening lamp while
the hymn O joyful Light, blessed Jesus Christ, is chanted at
Vespers. Or when the lamps or lights are lit at the beginning of
Orthros when we sing the Theos Kyrios – God is the Lord and
has revealed himself to us.
The Doxology is a glorious triumphant song of praise that
completes the Orthros. It is filled with references to light and
to the day, to Christ, the true Light and Lamb of God who takes
away the sins of the world, and to the Triune God – Father,
Son and Holy Spirit – who is the refuge, the salvation, the
source of life and revealer of the light to all who accept and
live by the divine precepts.
The Structure of the Doxology
The Doxology is comprised of three parts. Many of the fifteen
verses of the Doxology contain direct or indirect quotes from the
Psalms and other phrases of the Scripture. The Doxology is an
ancient prayer of the Church, whose composer(s) remain anonymous,
that has two forms, one that is sung (Great Doxology) and another
that is recited (Small Doxology).
The first part of the Doxology begins with the words of the
Hymn, which the Angels sang at the Nativity of Christ,
“Glory to God in the highest…” The second part
begins with the verse, “Every day I will bless you and will
praise your name…” The third section begins with the
words, "Let your mercy come upon us.” A part of the read
Doxology also comprises a fixed element in the Vesper service
(“Kataxioson Kyrie” – Grant Lord to keep us
The first part is a song of praise to the Holy Trinity and to
the Lord Christ, the Son and Lamb of God, who is entreated to
accept our prayers and to show mercy on us. The second section is
a prayer of praise for God, whose name is blessed and a prayer of
hope that the day will be completed without sin. In their third
section, God is blessed and recognized as the source of life and
light and the refuge of the just. He is implored to teach us his
precepts, by which we ought to live our lives, and to extend his
mercy upon those who know Him.
The sung Doxology, is “flanked,” at the beginning
with the verse “Glory to You who has shown us Your
light” and at the end with the repeated singing of
“Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on
The Introductory Verse
The introductory verse “Glory be to You who has shown us
Your light” is not based on any passage from the
Scriptures. It must be understood rather in relation to the
position of the Doxology in the Orthros. In the monastic
tradition, the end of the Orthros coincides with the sunrise,
which is greeted with the Doxology. The phrase “Doxa soi tw
deixanti to phos,” is related to the appearance of the
physical light, itself a part of God’s wondrous creation
– “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’
and there was light. God saw how good the light was” (Gen.
1:3). The phrase also has a metaphorical meaning and is related
to the appearance of the true Light, Jesus Christ.
The Great Doxology
(+ means to make the sign of the cross)
Glory to You who has shown us your light.
Part One: A Song of Praise to the Holy
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to
We praise You, we bless You, we worship You, we glorify You,
and we offer thanks to You for Your great glory.
Lord King, heavenly God: + Father almighty; Lord,
only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; and Holy Spirit.
Lord God, Lamb of God, the Son of the Father Who takes away
the sin of the world: have mercy on us You who take away the sins
of the world.
Accept our prayer, You Who sit at the right hand of the
Father, and have on us.
You only are holy; You only are Lord: Jesus Christ, to the
glory of God the Father. Amen.
Part Two: Prayer of Praise and Protection from
Every evening will I bless You, and praise Your name to the
ages, and to the ages of ages.
Lord, You are our refuge from generation to generation. I
said: “Lord have mercy on me; heal my soul, for I have
sinned against You.”
In You, Lord, I take refuge: teach me to do Your will, do You
are my God.
For in You is the fountain of life, in Your light shall we see
Extend Your mercy to those who know You.
Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept without sin this
Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and praised
and glorified is Your name to the ages. Amen.
Part Three: Prayer of Praise and Dependence upon
May Your mercy, Lord be upon us, as we have hoped in
+Blessed are You, Lord: teach me Your statutes.
+Blessed are You, Master: make me understand Your
+Blessed are You, Holy One: enlighten me with Your
Lord, Your mercy is to the ages; do not disregard the words of
Lord, I flee to You, teach me to Your will; for You are my
You are the fountain life, and in Your light we shall see
Extend Your mercy to them that know You.
Concluding Verses: The Trisagion
+Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us
+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us.
Prayers of entrance and Liturgical vesting of the
Before the priest serves the Divine Liturgy he arrives to
first say the prescribed prayers in the middle of the church
before entering the holy Altar. After the priest has finished
with the entrance prayers, he then puts on his Liturgical
vestments, and putting on each liturgical vestment he says
certain prayers. At the conclusion of vesting the priest washes
his hands and prepares the Proskomedia.
The Greek, Syrian, and Bulgarian, Orthodox traditions for a
bishop during Matins when the local diocesan bishop serves a
Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, he says entrance prayer in the middle
of the church, and before the Doxology begins the bishop is
vested in the altar and comes out of the altar goes to the bishop
throne, he remains until the Small Entrance. In the Russian and
Serbian Orthodox traditions the bishop also says his entrance
prayers, as he enters the Church, and vests in the middle of the
Church, and remains until the Small Entrance.
Proskomedia is the service of preparation of the bread and
wine for the Eucharist taking place during the Matins-Orthros at
the table (within the Holy Altar) known as the Prothesis. The
priest extracts from the seal of the Prosphora the lamb, the
portion of Theotokos, the portions of the nine orders of angels
and saints, and portions of living and dead and arranges them on
the diskarion as prescribed. Then, wine and water are
ceremoniously poured into the Chalice, diskarion and chalice is
both covered (with prayers), and both veiled with a larger
vestment called the Aer. After the end of the ceremony, the
prepared Gifts are conserved and prayer is said for these to be
accepted to God’s heavenly altar. The Proskomedia is
sometimes signified by the term Prothesis that, actually, is the
table, or conch, to the left of the altar on which Proskomedia
Liturgy also known as the Divine Liturgy
The term (Liturgy) originally signified a public duty of any
kind, including religious assignments. In the Septuagint
translation of the Old Testament, the term is used for the first
time to denote services in the Temple. In its Orthodox usage the
term denotes the Eucharist as the chief act of public Christian
worship. In a derived sense, the term also denotes the text
containing the words and order of the Eucharist. There are three
main Orthodox Liturgies; St. Chrysostom’ s, St.
Basil’s, and Presanctified. Another Liturgy, that of St.
James, the Brother of the Lord.
Liturgy of St. James
This is a very ancient Liturgy existing in a Greek and Syriac
form. It is traditionally ascribed to St. James, the Lord’s
brother and first bishop of Jerusalem. It bears many common
elements with the Liturgy known to St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem
who died about the year 386, and contains an apparent reference
to the discovery of the Cross of Christ in Jerusalem in the year
326. It was mostly used in the Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian
speaking provinces of the Church. The fact that the Syrian
Jacobites, separated from Orthodoxy in 451, as well as by the
Orthodox themselves, used it proves that the Liturgy cannot have
been composed later than the middle of the 5th century. It is
celebrated in the Orthodox Church on the anniversary of the death
of St. James (October 23) and at Jerusalem on Sunday after
Christmas. The Liturgy of St. James is important specimen of
liturgical antiquity reflecting the liturgical practices of the
4th century, if not earlier. There is little doubt that the rite
of St. Cyril of Jerusalem was describing in the famous
Catechetical Sermon was the Liturgy of St. James in the form of
that time. But around the 13th to 14th century this Liturgy was
faded out in favor of the Byzantine rite that included the other
three Liturgies-St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and the
Liturgy of St. Basil
The origin of the Liturgy of St. Basil is Antiochian,
specifically from Cappadocia where St. Basil was bishop. In all
probability, St. Basil was the celebrant, if not in its present
form, at least in its essentials. And through we have ancient
documents ascribing to St. Basil a specific liturgical formula in
the form of ‘Anaphora’, the liturgy in its present
form is obviously the collective work of many composers. But
still, most of the important prayers in it are the work of St.
Basil on the strength of style, vocabulary and ideas.
St. Basil’s Liturgy appears to be older than St.
Chrysostom’ s perhaps by two centuries. The Liturgy of St.
Basil is celebrated ten times a year, namely, the first five
Sundays of the Great Lent, before Pascha-Easter, on Thursday and
Saturday of Holy Week, the Nativity feast of our Lord, St.
Basil’s day (January 1) and Theophany-Epiphany Day (January
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
St. John Chrysostom Liturgy is well known and very common in
the Eastern Orthodox Church. It may be celebrated every day of
the year except the ones of St. Basil and those of the
Presanctified Gifts, and on Good Friday. It is shorter than that
of St. Basil and much reduced compared to St. James’. St.
Chrysostom Liturgy put an end to the free prayers and hymns in
the officiating of the Holy Eucharist. The Liturgy placed a seal
on the free forms of the re-enactment of the Mystic Supper of the
Lord, depicting it in its finest form with a destiny of enduring
far into the future. Despite the addition of hymns at later
times, the St. Chrysostom Liturgy remains the same majestic
religious masterpiece with grandeur and dramatic appeal matching
the human expression and the divine act. St. Chrysostom
(345-407A.D.) was an eloquent preacher, writer and one of the
Fathers of the Orthodox Church, whose writings have been
translated into many languages and have nourished the Christian
Church throughout the centuries.
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is in reality a
religious service composed of elements drawn from Hesperinos, the
Vespers service, and from the first part of the Divine Liturgy
beginning with ‘Blessed be the kingdom…’ and
ending just before the Cherubic hymn begins. It includes no
Consecration, but prepared believers can receive Communion from
the Consecrated Elements reserved from the Liturgy of the
previous Sunday. A service of the nature of the Presanctified can
be traced back to pre-Nicene times. St. Sophronios at Jerusalem
calls the Presanctified in 646 an ‘Apostolic’
institution. The Presanctified is attested as a Lenten substitute
for the Eucharist is Canon 52 of the Trullan Synod (Quinisext) in
692. One should bear in mind, however, that the Councils hardly
introduced anything new; either in faith or in the liturgical
practice of the Church; rather, they verified and vested with
universal authority teachings or practices that the conscience of
the Church had in sufficient measure already accepted. This means
that the Trullan canon in reality aimed at safeguarding an
established practice within the Church at large.
The Presanctified Liturgy is attributed to St. Gregory
Dialogos (540-604), but also to St. Epiphanios (315-403), St.
Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople (about 6634-733), and even
to St. James, St. Peter; and in Sinai it was ascribed to St.
Basil and St. Chrysostom. Obviously, the pre-Byzantine core of
the Presanctified goes deeply back into the beginnings and only a
little later than the ‘Synaxes’ of the primitive
Church. Its present Byzantine form appears to be the work of more
than one composer. Parts obviously added to the ancient core are
of different dates and different hands.
Service celebrated by a bishop.
When we gather as an Orthodox family for the celebration of
the Divine Liturgy we gather as unique individuals with unique
responsibilities in the life of the Church. Each of us, by the
virtue of our role in the Church, is a member of the Eucharistic
community. In this light, each of us is an invaluable steward to
the Church, offering much with his/her ministry.
Early in the history, each community had a presiding bishop
who was assisted in the services with the presbyters and deacons.
After the churches began to increase to meet the needs of growing
number of faithful within a particular diocese, the presbyter was
appointed by the bishop as the chief celebrant in a local
community, the parish. Even so the concept of the Church is
understood not in terms of the presbyter, but in terms of his
When the bishop is in our midst, celebrating the Divine
Liturgy it then becomes a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, he is the
chief celebrant of the assembly of the faithful. On account of
his presence we add seemingly unique phrases and hymns making the
In the hierarchal Divine Liturgy, we commemorate the hierarch
as celebrant. Additionally, the celebrating hierarch commemorates
his presiding bishop, demonstrating the local parishes unity to
the greater Orthodox community. And, ultimately as stewards with
unique ministries, the presbyter(s) and the laity under the
direction of the bishop, offer up glory to God.
Daily Vitamins for Spiritual Growth Vol. 1. Rev.
Anthony M. Coniaris., Light and Life Publishing Company.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1994.
A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy. Rev. Nicon D.
Patrianacos. Hellenic Heritage Publications, Pleasantville, N.Y.
Introduction to the Divine Liturgy. Rev. George
Mastrantonis. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website
Sources for The Doxology: Rev. Dr. Stantley S. Harakas,
The Hellenic Chronicle, Framingham, MA. Feb. 2, 2000. p.4
Glory Be To God For All Things!
Content written/compiled by Father Nektarios Serfes.
(c) Father Nektarios Serfes