Byzantine Rite Church

Hello,

I plan on attending my first celebration of the Divine Liturgy ( I hope I expressed that properly) this Sunday. I am a little bit nervous as I have never attended. Any hints on how not to stand out like a sore thumb?

What should I wear (male)?
Should I expect any MAJOR differences from a Novus Ordo Mass?
Do they have a Missal to follow?
Do they have a collection?

Any hints would be appreciated.

[quote=iamrefreshed]Hello,

I plan on attending my first celebration of the Divine Liturgy ( I hope I expressed that properly) this Sunday. I am a little bit nervous as I have never attended. Any hints on how not to stand out like a sore thumb?

What should I wear (male)?
Should I expect any MAJOR differences from a Novus Ordo Mass?
Do they have a Missal to follow?
Do they have a collection?

Any hints would be appreciated.
[/quote]

In general many Byzantine parishes find the men dressed in coat and tie, but here in California the temperature suggests sport shirt and slacks. I’ve even seen people in T-shirts and jeans (not recommended).

Major differences? No, the structure of the liturgy is the same: a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist. What you will see is that every time the Trinity is named people sign themselves (you can use the Western form or, if you want to try it, the Eastern form: thumb, index and middle finger together, ring and little finger held in, forehead, lower chest, RIGHT shoulder, LEFT shoulder). It is normal to kiss the icon of Christ and of the Theotokos when entering the church. DO NOT GENUFLECT when entering a pew. The correct position for the Lord’s Prayer is the “orans” position – hands held as if saying to God “pick me up, daddy” but at shoulder height.

When the deacon/priest incenses you the correct practice is to bow and sign yourself. This will happen at the beginning of liturgy, at the Alleluia before the Gospel, and at the time before communion when the people sing the Cherubic Hymn (“We who mystically represent the cherubim…”).

At communion when you go to the priest or deacon say your first name and open your mouth. If this is a Ruthenian, Ukrainian, or Russian parish they will give you communion on a spoon – do not close your mouth on the spoon. Arms should be crossed on your chest (the posture that seems to be common in Latin churches when people only want a blessing). Do not respond to the communion formula (which is, usually, “The servant/handmaid of God N. receives the precious and holy body and blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, for the remission of his (her) sins and for eternal life.”)

After the liturgy it is customary to go to the priest and kiss his hand cross and his right hand. If he is holding an icon one kisses the icon and the right hand.

While most parishes have “pew books” I suggest that you not try to follow along. Rather, simply experience the liturgy.

In Eastern theology we don’t “celebrate” the Liturgy. Rather, Christ celebrates and we serve the Liturgy.

Deacon Ed

Wow! Thank you Deacon Ed. I’m more nervous now than I was before!:slight_smile:

I will try and remember your advice!

One more thing - at least in the Ruthenian Rite (I don’t know about others). Unlike the Roman Rite, where the gifts are brought up from the back by laity after the offering, the gifts are already on the altar. The priest, deacon, altar servers, etc. will bring them down, process them around the congregation, and back up the aisle to the altar. You are supposed to always face them, so you end up turning in a full circle in the pew as you face them while the procession takes place. At some parishes they don’t face the procession, though. They just face the front. Just keep an eye on what everyone else is doing.

[quote=Tamelyne]You are supposed to always face them, so you end up turning in a full circle in the pew as you face them while the procession takes place.QUOTE]

This is something I’ve never seen done in my diocese or in Pittsburgh or in Cleveland or in Europe.:nope:

I’ve always been taught that you bow from the waist when the Royal Gifts are brought in…:hmmm:
[/quote]

Dont forget to tell us what you think!

If you want to watch on the internet first I recommend this site:
byzantines.net/realaudio/index.htm

You are referring to the Great Entrance.

Also, when entering bow and make the sign of the cross, don’t genuflect.
Make the sign of the cross at any mention of Father Son and Holy Spirit, or Holy God Holy all Mighty.

When you get Communion, tell the Priest/Deacon your name before you get communion. He will say your name during the prayer. Kiss the icon on the tetrapod if you want.
Before leaving, go up to the tetrapod, bow, make sign of the cross and kiss the icon.
Depending on the church you may also be able to light a small taper candle before liturgy. Sing, We like to sing. If you are at an Eastern Liturgy you may experience ethnic languages, don’t be intimidated. I’m Rusyn, third generation and I’m just catching up with the Ukrainian at our Liturgy.
It is Heaven on Earth.
Don’t be afraid or nervous.

Hi, iamrefreshed!

Good advice from all! I can tell you this: the Byzantine Churches in America are very used to receiving visitors who may not be familiar with the “protocols” of our worship… have no fears of sticking out like a sore thumb - the regulars, I’m sure, will be delighted to show you the ropes!

Have you ever been in a Byzantine Catholic Church? You’ll find some striking differences from what you may be used to. The most notable departure from a Latin church will undoubtedly be the iconastas. This is a three-doored screen that separates the Holy Table, or altar, from the nave of the church. Much of the Divine Liturgy occurs with the priest at the altar, facing the same way as the congregation (rather than facing toward the congregation, as you’re no doubt used to with the N.O. Mass). This posture reinforces the fact that the priest is joining with the congregation and leading us in our collective worship of God - all are focused in the same, unified direction, toward the Almighty. The Royal Door (the centermost of the three doors in the screen), however, will be open so you can observe what’s going on.

As was pointed out, the offertory Gifts are prepared by the priest behind the iconastas, prior to the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word. These gifts are processed through the entire church at the appropriate point in the Liturgy, being brought out from behind the screen through one of the side doors and returned to the Holy Table through the Royal Door. The congregation does not participate in "bringing up the gifts, as they do in the N.O. Mass.

A number of our churches are, slowly but surely, returning to the ancient tradition of worship without pews. Depending upon which parish you attend, you may find seating very limited. Even if pews do remain in the church you visit, you’ll likely find no kneelers - no need for them, as the proper posture for reverent prayer in the East is standing.

(continued)

The Divine Liturgy is considerably more “participatory” in nature than the N.O. Mass. As was pointed out, you’ll encounter numerous occasions where the congregation will bow and sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross (most notably at every mention of the Trinity) - just follow the others and have no fears of crossing yourself the “wrong” way. By all means I would encourage you to at least try the Byzantine right-to-left method, but remember that you are a Catholic in a Catholic Church, and the left-to-right Sign of the Cross that you may reflexively fall into out of habit is by no means unacceptable - no one will “look at you funny” if you do so. Same thing with genuflecting; although it is not a Byzantine sign of reverence, it is by no means “wrong.” I’d encourage you, however, to at least try it our way - a bow at the waist followed by a Sign of the Cross - after all, you are seeking the full “Byzantine Experience’” right? BTW - I personally continue to bow before entering my pew whenever I worship in a Latin Church (old habits, you know…) - trust me that I probably get more “looks” from the congregation than you would were you to genuflect in a Byzantine Church! As I said before, the Byzantines are far more used to cross-ritual visitors than the Latins.

You’ll experience much chanting back and forth between the priest, the deacon and the congregation (during the entire Liturgy, in fact). As Father Deacon Ed pointed out, don’t worry about trying to follow along during your first visit - the more you attend, the more the tones and chants will become second nature to you - no one will be expecting you to know them during this your first visit. You may want to try joining in the responses, however, during one of the many litanies with their repetative chanted response of “Lord, have mercy!” I guarantee you’ll pick up on this particular chanted response very quickly, and you’ll have many opportunities throughout the Liturgy to practice your newly learned skills in prostopinije (plain chant)!

You asked if there would be a collection - of course! This is, after all, a Catholic Church! :smiley: There may be yet another opportunity in which to make a financial offering. Often times there will be a blessing at the conclusion of the Liturgy known as mirovanije, wherein the congregation processes up to Father to be anointed with holy oil on the forehead and to receive a piece of antidoron, the same bread used for the Eucharist but, in this case, blessed but not consecrated. Typically, there’ll be a basket next to the antidoron tray in which you may drop a small offering - I mention this merely as a “heads up,” to help you prepare for your experience and not feel so out of place.

Some other Byzantine terms that other posters mentioned that you may or may not know:

Tetrapod - a small, four-legged table (tetra = four; pod = foot) at the front of the church, directly in front of the iconastas, upon which are placed holy icons for veneration. You’ll see the Byzantine faithful, upon entering church, walk up to the tetrapod, bow before it, cross themselves and kiss the icon that’s on it before going to their pew or the area in which they wish to stand during the Liturgy. Many will also repeat this veneration as they pass the tetrapod on their way to receive the Eucharist. Please feel free to do so.

Theotokos - our name for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

The Divine Liturgy should last somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and a quarter - a bit longer if there’s mirovanije afterwards. Also, please be aware that Byzantine Catholics do not recite the filioque ("…and the Son") during the Nicene Creed when referencing the procession of the Holy Spirit. Since the Creed is typically chanted, chances are that since you’ll be unfamiliar with the chant you most likely won’t be chanting along. Just in case, however, I’d hate for you to blurt out “…and the Son” when no one else will be. I gather from your post that you’re a bit anxious about your visit as it is… no need to add the potential embarrassment of being the “lone cantor!” :wink:

Above all, my friend, don’t let fear of the unknown stand in the way of your soaking in the entire Byzantine Catholic experience. Remember that you are a Catholic worshipping with fellow Catholics who are very proud of their unique liturgical traditions, to the point that they will undoubtedly be both extremely understanding of any faux pas you may commit (trust me - they’ve seen visitors before :slight_smile: ) as well as be delighted to help you out to ensure your liturgical experience will be meaningful!

Please let us know how it goes!

[quote=Deacon Ed] In Eastern theology we don’t “celebrate” the Liturgy. Rather, Christ celebrates and we serve the Liturgy.

Deacon Ed
[/quote]

It would be wonderful and long overdue if we in the West would understand this too!

APilgrim,

Thank you for taking the time to post such a detailed reply. I am certainly less nervous than before.:slight_smile:

I am attending the Ukranian Catholic rite for the Theophany on Tuesday, January 6, 2009.

I attended the Sunday liturgy yesterday and found that the liturgy includes a number of “Lord have mercy” responses.

Does the Byzantine tradition include striking the breast at any time during the liturgy?

Finally, what is a good missal for the liturgies of St John Chrysostom?

Thanks very much!

Harold

Please also respond to to ensure I get your responses.
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I’m not aware of a striking the breast tradition. I’ve not seen it in the Ruthenian Catholic, Antiochian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, nor Coptic Orthodox liturgies I’ve been to.

You’ll want the liturgy as used by the particular church you are attending; the Ukrainian differs slightly from the Ruthenian, Georgian, Romanian, Russian, Melkite, Italo-albanian, etc…

While the general flow is the same for all, each particular church uses different translations to the vernacular and different amounts of other liturgical languages.

Best bet: buy whatever edition their own parish shop sells. Go talk to one of the Fathers (in byzantine use, the term Father includes deacons).

For Ukrainian usage, the best prayer book with Divine Liturgy material is the The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship. It is well worth the price and is available from a variety of sources, including the Eparchy of St. Josaphat bookstore stjosaphateparchy.org/Store.html or Byzantine Church Supplies in Philadelphia, ukrcathedral.com/church_supplies.html

When reciting the Prayer Before Communion, during the phrases:

Remember me, O Lord, when you come into Your Kingdom.
Remember me, O Master, when you come into Your Kingdom,
Remember me, O Holy One, when you come into Your Kingdom

and

O God, be merciful to me a sinner!
O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me!
O Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number!

It was customary to strike one’s breast.

In this country, at least, this has been replaced with making the sign of the Cross. You will sometimes see older members of the parish community still striking their breast at this time.

In Europe, the custom of striking one’s breast is still practiced.

Hope this helps…

**When reciting the Prayer Before Communion, during the phrases:

Remember me, O Lord, when you come into Your Kingdom.
Remember me, O Master, when you come into Your Kingdom,
Remember me, O Holy One, when you come into Your Kingdom

and

O God, be merciful to me a sinner!
O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me!
O Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number!

It was customary to strike one’s breast.

In this country, at least, this has been replaced with making the sign of the Cross. You will sometimes see older members of the parish community still striking their breast at this time.**

I think this was one of those bad habits picked up by the Synod of Zamosc to turn the Divine Liturgy into something looking like Mass in the Byzantine Rite.

I’ve often seen the assertion made that striking one’s breast during the communion prayer is some sort of Latinization. But I’ve not yet seen documentation.

On the other hand, it is clear that this gesture parallels Luke 18:13. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

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