We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget the beauty..."
Report from Prince Vladimir of Kiev's emissaries to the Prince upon witnessing the Divine Liturgy in the Hagia Sophia for the first time

Services

Matins

The Matins service of the Church unites the elements of morning psalmody and prayer with meditation on the Biblical canticles, the Gospel reading, and the particular theme of the day in the given verses and hymns. The themes of God’s revelation and light are also always central to the morning service of the Church.

 

The Matins service of the Church unites the elements of morning psalmody and prayer with meditation on the Biblical canticles, the Gospel reading, and the particular theme of the day in the given verses and hymns. The themes of God’s revelation and light are also always central to the morning service of the Church.

 

On special feast days, the blessing of bread, wheat, wine, and oil is added to the Vespers. The faithful partake of the blessed food and are anointed with the oil as a sign of God’s mercy and grace.

Divine Liturgy

"The transformation of wine, water and bread into the Divine Body and Blood of Christ; for the sanctification of the faithful, who receive remission of their sins and the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven." 

St.Cabasilas

 

It is the coming together of the heavenly Kingdom with earthly life. The Church of heaven, the Church triumphant, and the church here on earth, the Church Militant, join in this grand celebration to glorify God and to be in union with Him.

 

We come to this service to be transformed through the partaking of Holy Communion. This is the same as saying we partake of Jesus Christ's Flesh and Divinity. Holy Communion and the Divine Liturgy cannot be separated. This the greatest of all mysteries. All should come prepared to be partakers of the Divine gift.

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” (Gen 1:5).

The Vesper service in the Church always begins with the chanting of the evening psalm: “...the sun knows it’s time for setting, Thou makest darkness and it is night….” (Psalm 104: 19-20) This psalm, which glorifies God’s creation of the world, is man’s very first act of worship, for man first of all meets God as Creator.

 

The service of Vespers takes us through creation, sin, and salvation in Christ. It leads us to the meditation of God’s word and the glorification of his love for men. It instructs us and allows us to praise God for the particular events or persons whose memory is celebrated and made present to us in the Church. It prepares us for the sleep of the night and the dawn of the new day to come. On the eves of the Divine Liturgy, it begins our movement into the most perfect communion with God in the sacramental mysteries.

© 2016 by Holy Archangels Orthodox Parish. Authored by Fr. Benedict Simpson