The Hours of the Orthodox Church

Hours of the Orthodox Church:
  1. Vespers Since ancient times, Vespers was scheduled close to the time of the setting sun and has a two-fold purpose:  to end the current day with thanksgiving to God and, to begin the next day with the lighting of the lamps of evening.  It is a service thanking God for His abundant blessing that He has granted to us and His whole creation during the day.  With the setting of the Sun, everything is led to rest.  Psalms 104 and 141 are dedicated to this hour.  
  2. Compline.  After the evening meal and before going to sleep, this service gives glory to our Creator and we thank Him again for His blessings and ask His forgiveness of our sins.  In Greek, the word for sin actually means “to miss the mark”.  We then entrust ourselves to Him and sleep in peace with the knowledge that we are under His protection.
  3. Midnight Service Typically only done in Monasteries or on special feasts of the Orthodox Church.  It is referred to in the New Testament (ACTS 16:25) when in the jail of Philippi where the Apostles Paul and Silas hymned God at midnight.   This hour of prayer has a particular grace, for while everything is silent and at rest, the soul which loves God rises from sleep and together with the heavenly hosts offers praises and thanksgivings to the Lord.
  4. Matins (Orthros) — Fully after Sunrise — it is the prayer of Sunrise.     In this service we offer praises, thanksgivings and petitions to God for the coming of the new day and seek His blessing for the new day.  it is in this service where we hear about the Feasts and/or saints commemorated that day -.  Almost all of the teaching occurs in the Matins service.
  5. First Hour.  For millennia, the hours of the day were reckoned from sunrise.   We would say now that the first hour after sunrise occurs around 7:00 am.  During this hour, we pray and ask God to bless the day at this hour. and to guard us from everything that could harm us in body or soul.  We seek spiritual awakening through the material light through Jesus Christ which is the true light enlightening every man who comes into the world
  6. Third Hour.  This hour corresponds to about 9:00 am.  ACTS 2:16 –It is at the 3rd hour when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (Pentecost) and all those present illuminating and enlightening them so they could go forward into the world and teach about Christianity.   The Holy Spirit has remained in the Church ever since, guiding and sanctifying it. At this hour we thank God and ask Him to never deprive us of the fruits and graces of the Spirit.
  7. Sixth Hour.  This hour corresponds to 12:00 noon which is when our Lord’s sacrifice began — at Golgotha “the place of the skull”.  Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44. Yes, this is a terrible image, but rejoicing in the infinite love of God, prayers give Him grateful thanks because it was by this that He brought our salvation to us.
  8. Ninth Hour.  This hour corresponds to about 3:00 in the afternoon …Mark 15:34, 37 it is the hour when our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross ends and He gives up His spirit to the Heavenly Father.

The Divine Liturgy is not considered to be one of the “Hours”.  The Divine Liturgy is when Holy Communion is offered to the faithful.

Today the Divine Liturgy is also called, “The Eucharist” or “Thanksgiving”.  It is the continual celebration of the Last Supper and the re-living of the saving events of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

The Great Entrance marks the beginning of this part of the Liturgy.  The spiritual meaning of the Great Entrance is Christ’s coming into the world to offer Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to save His people from death and the Priest stands as an icon of the Bishop who stands as an icon of the Lord offering Himself for His people.

This is followed with a Litany, the kiss of peace, and the reading of the Creed of Faith.  The Holy Offering (Anaphora) and the Great Eucharistic Prayer  then takes place and are followed with the Litany, Lord’s Prayer and Holy Communion.

The Divine Liturgy then concludes with hymns, prayers and the dismissal.

 

Akathist Hymn Prayers to the Mother of God (Theotokos) and our Lord – intoned byzantine style in English and Greek

The following videos features the intoned Prayers in Byzantine Style to the Mother of God (Theotokos) and our Lord Jesus Christ as heard during Great Lent in the services for Great Compline and the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos according to Greek Orthodox usage. The first video is intoned in English. The second video is intoned in Greek

A source for an English Translation is available at  https://www.goarch.org/-/the-akathist-hymn-and-small-compline

Greek Text with Phonetics is available at this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/txftqjv0mwq63mv/Prayers%20to%20Mother%20of%20God%20and%20The%20Lord_Greek_Phonetics.pdf?dl=0

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

The Christian Symbol of the Fish

The Christian Symbol of the Fish.  The Ichthys

Explanation of the Christian Symbol of the Fish with the Greek lettering inside the image.

In the earliest of Christian times, when Christians were heavily persecuted, the fish symbol came to represent Christianity long before the Cross symbol was in use.   The symbol of the fish was used to identify oneself as a Christian to others, mark burial places of the saints and martyrs and would also indicate the location of where a prayer meeting was held.

There are many different interpretations as to why or how the fish symbol originated, some of which can be traced back to a time long before Jesus Christ came into the world – as far back as the third and fourth century BC with the stories of the mythical Orpheus of Thrace that was described as a fisher of men.  Many other ancient cultures and religions used the symbol of the fish as well to denote various observances.  But, in the case of Christianity, the fish symbol was most likely adopted from the writings of the Apostles which speak of the miracles that Jesus preformed in feeding the multitudes and the calling of the first Apostles, Simon Peter, James and John (Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20) who were referred to as the “reputed pillars” of the Jewish Christian community in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal. 2:1-10).  Most Orthodox Christian theologians also think that the great catch of fish in Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, fulfills the prophesy in the Old Testament of Jeremiah 16:16, “…says the Lord….behold ….I will send many fishermen, and they will fish them.”.

The Christian Fish symbol is also aligned with Jesus’ Resurrection and the story of Jonah and the Whale of the Old Testament (Jonah 1:17- 2:10) through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 15:1-58; and, the Gospels of Matthew (12:38-40) and Luke (11:29-30) (KJV).

IΧΘΥΣ is an acronym for Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ – phonetically pronounced: Isous Christos, Theou Yios, Soter – in English: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.  Some believe the acronym inside the fish started to become popular in the 1970s.  But I believe the existence of the acronym inside the fish was in use long before that time; and, although I cannot find a reference now, I remember as a child seeing the Fish symbol  with the IΧΘΥΣ written inside in documents that dated well before the 1970s, perhaps even as early as the 1950s or before.  At some point, modern culture converted the Greek acronym IΧΘΥΣ written inside the first symbol to simply the English word Jesus and other variations also exist in contemporary society today.

 

References:  Lawrence Farley, The Gospel of Luke, Good News for the Poor, Conciliar Press; Walter Liefeld, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 8; Zondervan; Paul Tarazi, Luke and Acts, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, KJV.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

 

 

 

 

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross

This is a helpful pictorial aid for religious education and home schools that explains how an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the Cross.

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross

How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand to make the sign of the Cross

How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the cross.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

 

Guide to creating a didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy in your Home School or Parish.

The following is a link to a helpful guide for establishing an Eastern Orthodox Christian  Didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy in your Home School or Parish:  Didactic (teaching) Divine Liturgy Guide.

The following is also a link to a template that can be used as a handout in your parishes when the teaching Liturgy is conducted:  Template for Didactic Liturgy Handout

Some helpful hints for stylizing the Didactic Divine Liturgy Guide and creating your own document for handout in your Home School or Parish are:

  1. Use the actual Divine Liturgy book your parish has in the pews and insert page numbers and the titles of the Hymns your pew edition uses so the people can readily refer to the page number and hymn names during the teaching Liturgy.
  2. Take pictures of your own Priest during the Liturgy and insert those pictures in the document to be used as a handout.
  3. Take pictures of your own icons, church paraments, liturgical items on the Table of Oblation, etc. and insert those pictures in the document to be used as a handout.
  4. Almost all images and name references used in this document are what is typically used within the Greek Orthodox Christian jurisdictions.  Please feel free to change these images and name references according to your jurisdictional preferences.
All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

 

Eastern Orthodox Christian Timeline with Brief Explanation of the Seven Great Ecumenical Councils

This is a convenient Eastern Orthodox Christian Timeline that provides a very brief explanation of some of the decisions of the Seven Great Ecumenical Councils that were held during the first 1000 years of Christianity.

Orthodox Christian Timeline with brief explanation of Seven Great Ecumenical Councils

Orthodox Christian Timeline with brief explanation of Seven Great Ecumenical Councils

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.

The Meaning of a set of Priest Vestments in the Byzantine Tradition

The following video and images will provide a brief yet comprehensive explanation of each vestment piece according to the Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Tradition and the vesting prayers said by the Priest in the Greek Orthodox Christian tradition.

 

 

Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Priest Vestments

Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Priest Vestments. Copyright 2002-2019, Dr. Christine Kerxhalli. OrthodoxToday.wordpress.com

(There are numbers in each image below.  Match the numbers with the explanations that follow.)

  1. Sticharion (Στιχάριον, Undergarment):  This is the very first vestment piece that the Priest puts on.  The Vesting prayers in the Greek Orthodox Church say that the Lord clothes the priest with the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness —this garment represents the Baptismal Robe of the faithful.  As the Priest puts this vestment piece on, it not only reminds him of his own Baptism into the Christian faith, but it also reminds him that as priest, he is assuming the responsibility of leading those souls who have been baptized into the Christian faith toward God and their salvation.  He is taking on the role of a shepherd leading his assigned flock through their life toward their salvation through the Sacraments of the Church.
  2. The Epitrahelion (Έπιτραχήλιον, Stole):  The Epitrahelion (Έπιτραχήλιον, Stole) is the second garment the Priest puts on.  This is a long garment hanging from the neck down to almost the hem line as shown in the image.  As the Priest puts this garment on he says a prayer in the Greek Orthodox tradition that comes from Psalm 132 (133):2 which says that God pours His grace upon him as the priest and likens the motion of putting the Epitrahelion on over the head with the anointing of oil in the Old Testament that runs down the “beard of Aaron” (meaning those who were anointed to do a Sacred duty such as priests and kings in the Old Testament) to the hem of his garment.  This is why the Epitrahelion goes down to almost the hem of the garment.  This garment represents taking on the image of Christ, the image of The Great Shepherd, and all the priests (shepherds), “all who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ”.    On most Epitrahelions, there is fringe put on them to decorate them.  The fringe is more than just a decoration – it represents each soul in the priest’s flock that is entrusted to him.  In another sense, the Epitrahelion is rather like the breastplate of a warrior.  The priest is arming himself to stand between the faithful and the evil forces (wolves of the flock) and lead his flock safely to salvation through the Sacraments of the Church.
  3. The Zonin (Ζώνην, belt):  The belt around the waist is put on next.  The Priest “girds himself” according to the vesting prayers which come from Psalm 17 (18:32).  He Girds himself with strength and virtue.  Again very much like a warrior donning pieces of armor to fight “the good fight”.
  4. The Epimanikia (΄Επιμάνικια, Cuffs).  The Epimanikia (cuffs) are put on next, first the right hand with special prayers addressing the Lord’s strength and greatness to overthrow adversaries which comes from Exodus 15:6-7.  The cuffs are like pieces of armor that strengthen the wrists for battle, a battle against evil.  After the right cuff is fastened, the priest then fastens the left cuff.  The prayer for the left cuff in the Greek Orthodox tradition comes from Psalm 118 (119):73 which acknowledges that the Lord made him in His image and likeness and the priest prays that he will be enlightened to properly serve him. It is through the hands of the Priest that the Lord leads the faithful toward their Salvation through the Sacraments of the Church.
  5. The Epigonation (‘Επιγονάτιον, Shield, A Symbol of elevation).  If the Priest holds an ecclesiastical office and is entitled to wear the Epigonation, he puts this vestment piece on next.  According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, when he puts this piece on, he says a prayer that is based on Psalm 44(45):3-4 which speaks of girding the sword at your thigh, bowstrings prevailing in justice and righteousness.  This vestment piece is referred to as representing the Sword of the Holy Spirit.  Again, very much the image of a warrior, fighting the Good Fight, in the Church Militant (the Church in the world) that continually works at helping the faithful toward salvation.
  6. The Phelonion (Φελόνιον, Chasuble).  The Phelonion is the last vestment piece the priest puts on.  This is the beautiful, long flowing garment that covers all the other vestment pieces.  Likened to the the glory of the Kingdom of God, the glory of the Lord covering and protecting His flock from dangers through the Sacraments of the Church, the Priest says a prayer as he puts the Phelonion on that comes from Psalm 131(132):9 which acknowledges that the priest is clothed in the righteousness of the Lord and he (the priest) is joyfully thankful to be allowed to serve the Lord in this way.

All who have been Baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Alleluia!

Other Orthodox Vestments and Byzantine Vestments are Deacon Vestments, Altar Server Vestments, Cassocks, Baptism Robe, Prayer Ropes for the Jesus Prayer, Bible Covers, Gospel and Epistle Covers, Altar covers and icon stand covers.

All of the educational information and posts on this website are copyrighted by the Author, Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli.  You are free to use anything in your ministry that is posted on this site as long as a link is provided to this website and the author is given appropriate credit.