Bible Study – The Historical Books. An Eastern Orthodox Christian Perspective.

Bible Study – The Historical Books. An Eastern Orthodox Christian Perspective.  This Bible Study video series is conducted from an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.  Please keep in mind that the Eastern Orthodox Church today continues to use the Septuagint (LXX) as their Old Testament.

Where there are naming differences in the books of this Bible study, those differences will be noted accordingly.

For spiritual guidance or clarification, please consult with your Priest or spiritual advisor.

Within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, the Pentateuch (also known as:  The Torah; The 5 Books of Moses; and The Law)  is included in the the Historical Books:

 

Bible Study – The Writings: Wisdom and Poetry. An Eastern Orthodox Christian Perspective.

Bible Study – The Writings: Wisdom and Poetry. An Eastern Orthodox Christian Perspective.   Please keep in mind that the Eastern Orthodox Church today continues to use the Septuagint (LXX) as their Old Testament.

Where there are naming differences in the books of this Bible study, those differences will be noted accordingly.

For spiritual guidance or clarification, please consult with your Priest or spiritual advisor.

Psalms:  https://youtu.be/G_lfqbp6nSk

Proverbs:  https://youtu.be/YfZtJNPsAns

Ecclesiastes:  https://youtu.be/O5kCIsKnvjE

Jobhttps://youtu.be/ZksmKeSC1Ro

Tobit:  https://youtu.be/sIbEaNb8AcQ

Song of Songs:  https://youtu.be/6XC7Lg6mUvk

The Wisdom of Solomon:  https://youtu.be/nUbdR0SWhGg

The Wisdom of Sirach:  https://youtu.be/IrqPhA-Q2TM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study – the Pentateuch, an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.

Bible Study – the Pentateuch, an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.  This Bible Study video series focuses on the Old Testament Pentateuch (5 Books of Moses) and is conducted from an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective. Please keep in mind that the Eastern Orthodox Church today continues to use the Septuagint (LXX) as their Old Testament.

Where there are naming differences in the books of this Bible study, those differences will be noted accordingly.

For spiritual guidance or clarification, please consult with your Priest or spiritual advisor.

Please take the time to read each book on your own. For spiritual guidance or clarification, please consult with your Priest or spiritual advisor.

The Pentateuch (5 Books of Moses, the Law), An Overviewhttps://youtu.be/4qS5Vy_uL3g

Genesis:   https://youtu.be/PyYDYnnO0F8

Exodus:  https://youtu.be/s_Ix9JCY5YY

Leviticus:  https://youtu.be/aOob64RQ8Yk

Numbers (Ἀριθμοί Arithmoi):  https://youtu.be/3O-OkHQf958

Deuteronomy:  https://youtu.be/uZG2MOdNhbw

Mary, The Mother of God (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ), an Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.

A video series exploring the Old Testament prefiguring of the Theotokos (Mother of God) and the hymnody used by the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church to venerate her.

This series of videos were one of my Doctoral projects that were given “live” in my parish in 2011 with the blessings of my parish priest. The classes are recreated in the video format for your use.  The Teen/Adult age group is an appropriate audience.   In general the first 2 images of each video lesson were handouts for the participants, then there was a 20 minute lecture. After the lecture, the remainder of the class time was spent in discussion with the participants.

It is my hope you will find these video lessons useful and edifying.

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Introduction:  https://youtu.be/isX1M9FdZHU

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Lesson 1:  https://youtu.be/w19duBjJKUM

  • Overview
  • Terminology used for the Virgin Mary in the Church
  • What is known about the Virgin Mary through canonical scripture
  • What is known about the Virgin Mary through sacred Tradition
  • Feast Days in the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary
  • Why the Orthodox Church Venerates the Virgin Mary
  • Canonical Scripture and hymnody that venerates the Virgin Mary

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Lesson 2:  https://youtu.be/jBU5TOAURFI

  • The Mother of God is the culmination of the Israelite history of God’s people.
  • What the Holy Fathers of the Church write about the Mother of God’s humanity.
  • Some hymnody of the Church that addresses the Virgin Mary’s humanity.

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Lesson 3:  https://youtu.be/e9mOUERwHLg

  • Old Testament Imagery used in the hymnody of the Church for the Mary, the Mother of God.
  • Old Testament types of the Virgin Mary

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Lesson 4:  https://youtu.be/BokSJ0SsO9w

  • Biblical historical perspective of God’s Covenant with His people.
  • Identifying Mary, the Mother of God’s role in God’s Covenant with His people.
  • The Virgin Mary’s identification with the community.
  • Mary, the Mother of God, identified with the Ark and the Temple.

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Lesson 5:  https://youtu.be/uh7mI92AoqY

  • Understanding how the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is part of God’s Divine plan for mankind’s salvation.

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Lesson 6:  https://youtu.be/Ovmn8xSQCoU

  • Mary, Mother of God, (Theotokos), as Intercessor – Mediator

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Lesson 7:  https://youtu.be/5um70td8i1M

  • Summary.

 

 

 

Vacation Bible School

This link provides a suggested 3-day Orthodox Christian Vacation Bible School program for children in grades 1 through teen.  This was the first Bible School program implemented at my Parish in 2013 with the Parish Priest’s blessings.   It is a simple program providing spiritual enrichment and Orthodox centered youth discussions and activities.

This program was implemented in a Greek Orthodox Church, so various references and hymns are rendered in Greek and refer to Greek Orthodox youth groups, HOPE,JOY and GOYA.  These can be easily changed to accommodate your jurisdiction.

Sacred Space: The Architecture and Space of a Byzantine Church

Within the narrative of faith itself, everything within the Byzantine temple is designed with biblical and theologically centered meaning to define a sacred space where a person may have an experience of being in the presence of God.

This video explores the history of the early Christian communities, Byzantine Church Architecture, Iconography, and the use of icons within the Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.

 

The Old Testament Priesthood as compared to the New Testament Priesthood

In my earlier post, we explored the women mentioned in Jesus Christ’s Genealogy from Matthew 1:1.  We explored the lineage of the Virgin Mary as given in the first five chapters of the Protoevangelium of James and discovered that she carried both the bloodline of the Tribe of Judah (King David) from her Father; and, the bloodline of the Tribe of Levi through her Mother Anna who was of the daughters of Aaron.

In ancient Israel, one tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel was set aside to perform priestly functions.  This was the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3).  Specifically, within the Levi Tribe, the sons of Aaron were further set aside to be the Liturgical Priests.  The Levites taught the people about the Hebrew faith and therefore lived within the other 11 tribes.  They did not inherit property from their father Jacob (later called Israel),  their sole responsibility was to live within the other tribes and teach the faith (Joshua 13:33).

Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 speak of this priesthood.  The Old Testament priesthood was one of progeny.  To clarify, just Aaron was the first anointed Priest within the tribe of Levi and was known as Christos (the anointed one).  His sons were then acknowledged by a sprinkling.  Whenever the anointed priest died, his next eldest son became priest and so forth.

Jesus Christ, carries both the bloodline of the tribe of Judah (as foretold in the Old Testament) and the tribe of Levi (the tribe of the Priestly class) as discussed in the previous post.  Jesus Christ’s relative, John the Baptist (Luke 1:36)  (Son of Priest Zachariah (of the sons of Aaron) and Elizabeth (of the daughters of Aaron) were relatives to the Virgin Mary through her mother, Anna, who was of the daughters of Aaron.  Therefore, Zachariah and Elizabeth were of the Levi tribe and the sons and daughters of Aaron.  John the Baptist is referred to as the Forerunner, because he was approximately 4 months older than Jesus Christ, and he went before the Messiah to prepare them for Jesus Christ’s Ministry when Jesus became of age according to God’s plan.

In the Old Testament, it was prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel that the Lord God would come as a shepherd to His flock (Isaiah 40:11) (Ezekiel 34:12, 34:23) which is something the Old Testament priesthood was not – they did not go forth to evangelize and bring all into the faith.  The Old Testament priesthood promoted good works and proper teachings. and although the New Testament priesthood is all that, it is also now a shepherding task to bring  the flock back to God the Father – the salvation of mankind.

In John 10:7-16, Jesus Christ declares himself as the Shepherd and Jesus Christ’s ministry is precisely that, not only good works and proper teachings but also the shepherding of the people, the body of the Church – it is a priesthood of evangelism that reaches out to all people.   The New Testament priesthood is also a sacrificial priesthood in that the Shepherd lays down his own life for the salvation of his flock.   Jesus Christ is the New Testament High Priest (Heb 9:11).  Not one of progeny as the Old Testament Priesthood was, but one of the New Testament Priesthood, as High Priest and Shepherd so that God’s people may obtain salvation and inherit the Kingdom of God:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. ….. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 …….. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.    John 10:7-16

  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 NKJV

Related blog post :  The veneration of the Mother of God in the Orthodox Christian Church

Sources:  NKJV Holy Bible; The Ministry of the Church, Image of Pastoral Care by Joseph Allen, Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture; The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co; Protoevangelium of James from Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations: Ante Nicene Christian Library translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to AD 325 Part 16. Reverend Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson

 

Women in Jesus Christ’s Genealogy

Women are mentioned throughout the Old and New Testament, but the only New Testament scripture which mentions women in Jesus’ Genealogy is the Book of Matthew 1:1.

At that time in the world, only the males were listed in the genealogy of children, but Matthew took the time to include some of the women even though he is writing his Gospel for the ancient Israelites who were a strict paternally focused society.    Because women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, many biblical scholars believe that the genealogy in Matthew 1:1 is that of the Virgin Mary.  Since Jesus took his humanity from his mother’s lineage, then, it may be assumed that this is the direct bloodline of Jesus’ humanity.

Theologians also believe the inclusion of some women in Jesus’ genealogy implicates the important role women would play in God’s plan for mankind’s salvation and the Virgin Mary’s special place in that plan. They also say that the inclusion of women who were not Jewish or considered sinners by the societal norms of the times, foreshadows the forgiveness and inclusiveness of the Christian Church.

Women mentioned in Jesus’ Christ’s Genealogy:

Tamar.  Tamar was the wife of Judah’s eldest son who was killed.   Judah had given her to his second son, but the second son did not want to conceive a child with her, so Judah promised Tamar to his youngest son as a wife to raise up children for the dead son, but this did not come to pass. Because societal norms at that time deemed that this was Tamar’s right, she disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah thereby conceiving (Genesis 38) twin boys Perez and Zerah.  Perez is listed in the Old Testament Book of Ruth as an ancestor to King David (Ruth 4:18-22)

Rahad.  Rahab saved three spies of Israel who entered Jericho and as a result, she and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho.  She gave birth to Boaz who is listed in Jesus’ genealogy.

Ruth was united with Boaz and gave birth to Obed.  Obed gave birth to Jesse and Jesse gave birth to David the King.

Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) and King David.  Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and Nathan.  Theologians believe that it is through the line of Nathan (David and Bathsheba’s 3rd son) that Jesus’ lineage proceeds.  There is evidence that Solomon’s and Nathan’s line converge down the line to the lineage of the Virgin Mary through her father, Joachim.

Virgin Mary.  In the book of Matthew, Joseph is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy because Old Testament marriage laws bestowed hereditary rights on both adopted and biological sons.

Although the Virgin Mary’s mother (Anna) and father (Joachim) are not mentioned in the Holy Bible, the Virgin Mary is also of the lineage of King David on her father, Joachim’s, side as written in the Protoevangelium of James. Interestingly, the Virgin Mary’s mother Anna is of the daughters of Aaron which indicates the mother was from the tribe of Levi, the Priest tribe.  This is discovered in the Bible when the Virgin Mary visits her cousin on the mother’s side, Elizabeth, who was of the daughters of Aaron and married to Zachariah the priest – the Levite tribe!

Although not generally practiced in ancient Israelite society, the tribes did sometime intermarry and the visit to Elizabeth indicates a merge in the Virgin Mary of the Tribe of Judah/King David line (through her father Joachim as foretold by the Old Testament prophets) and the Tribe of Levi (through her mother).  So, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, the Virgin Mary contained both blood lines:  the line of Judah/King David and the line of Levi, the Priest Tribe – this is Jesus’ humanity bloodline.

Although much of the Protoevangelium of James is disregarded in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the first five chapters are generally accepted concerning Joachim and Anna’s conception of the Virgin Mary.  The hymnody in the Eastern Orthodox Church reflects this acceptance in the Hymns chanted in Church during the Feast days of the Virgin Mary and Joachim and Anna.

 

Sources:

Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture, New Testament Ia, Matthew 1-13;  The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co;  Holy Bible, NKJV.

Sunday School Advent/Christmas program for Orthodox Christian Youth.

This is a Sunday School Advent/Christmas program that effectively includes all children in the Catechism program of the church, First Grade through Teens.
The purpose of the program is to create anticipation and preparation in awaiting the birth of our Savior during the 40-day Christmas Lenten period. “The Services of Christmas in the Orthodox Church” by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann in the book The Services of Christmas: The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by David Anderson and John Erickson; together with the book, Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, by Rev. Fr. Anthony Coniaris, inspired the design of this Sunday School program.
Using Fr. Coniaris’ idea of an Advent Wreath in his book, “Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home” and applying appropriate adaptations to his suggestions to turn it into a program for all children to present to the adults of the parish during Advent, the program that was developed was entitled “PREPARING FOR HIS COMING”

Click the following link to view the program detail:  Christmas Advent Program for Orthodox Youth.  

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

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

An Explanation 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!

The Orthodox Tradition of a Prayer Rope (Komboskini, Chotki) for The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer is:  “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”. Some will even revise this prayer to be, “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me THE sinner”.

The prayer rope (komboskini, chotki) originated in the monastic world as a tool that could be used in the prayer rule of male and female monks. It had no particular design originally. It was simply a method to keep track of the number of prayers asking for the Lord’s Mercy that the spiritual elder had given to his or her spiritual child as an obedience to perform each day.  The purpose of this monastic exercise was to train the spiritual child’s mind to pray without ceasing in response to the commandment given by the Apostle Paul in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 which is further supported in the New Testament (NKJV): Matthew 9:27, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 17:15, Matthew 20:30, Matthew 20:31, Mark 10:47, Mark 10:48, Luke 16:24, Luke 17:13, Luke 18:38, Luke 18:39, Romans 9:15, Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, 1Corinthians 7:25, Philippians 2:27, 1Peter 2:10. The New Testament writings, as a fulfillment of the Old Testament, have their foundation in the Old Testament scripture where petitioning the Lord to have mercy on a person or group of people occurs repeatedly through scripture.

The training of the mind was the important reason for the Prayer Rope and the Prayer Rope rule given to the monks. The mind was to become so conditioned through this daily spiritual exercise, that no matter what the person was doing, the body would learn to automatically and without conscious thinking, pray for the Lord’s mercy continually in waking hours when engaged in activities as well as subconsciously in sleeping hours.

The Jesus prayer and the prayer rope developed during the first 1000 years of Christianity into a practice not just done by the monastic community but also by lay people who wanted to lead a life that would bring them closer to God in the hope of salvation for their souls.  The Prayer Rope is the precursor to the modern day Rosary that the Roman Catholic Church implemented as a prayer rule for their Roman Catholic faithful after the Great Schism between the Church of the East and the Church of the West in 1054 AD.

The modern day prayer rope can be any length of knots, although the knots should be tied in a particular way that weaves 7 crosses together in each knot. The most traditional lengths are 33 knots, 50 knots, 100 knots and 300 knots. The Cross that is tied can be tied with or without a tassel. The tassel has its basis as being something to wipe away the tears of the penitent as he/she prays the Jesus Prayer or other short prayers which have been assigned to them by their spiritual elder.

Although many materials are used to tie a prayer rope in recent times – elastic rope, waxed rope,  synthetic yarns, etc., it was and still is tied of Lamb’s wool yarn by tradition to remind the penitent that Jesus is the Lamb of God and the 33 knots version represented the Lord’s time on earth.  The Prayer Rope was plain and not decorated to reflect the contrition of the person and to be humble before the Lord in their petition for mercy.  It was also black to reflect the monastic view of being dead to the secular world and for the mourning of the sinful tendencies of the person.

Lay people can either incorporate the Jesus Prayer and prayer rope rule into their daily lives, or in the more modern sense, simply wear the prayer rope on the wrist as a constant reminder to pray without ceasing.  The colors lay people often use are generally black and also the church’s ecclesiastical colors.  So Lay people will often prefer the church Feast day colors such as:  Black, White/Gold/Ivory, Purple, Green, Light Blue, and a dark shade of Red — Although, merchants are now marketing many other colors as well.

Whether a person uses the Jesus Prayer alone or with a Prayer Rope as a prayer rule or carry a prayer rope as a prayer reminder, praying to the Lord for Mercy is the spiritual food for the soul that can help the person to recognize and work at their shortcomings, thereby helping them to become a little bit better each day with the help of the Lord for the salvation of their soul.

 
 
 
 

Orthodox Christian Youth Craft for Christmas Lent – Christmas (Advent) Wreath

For Orthodox Christians, the fast period for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ begins on November 15 and extends through December 25. Orthodox Christians often refer to this time as the Christmas Fast or Christmas Lent. This is a spiritual period of moderate fasting, prayer, scripture reading and reflection on the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the USA, other Christian traditions often use what is called an Advent Wreath to enrich the spirituality of the Christmas Lenten season as they await the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. According to those Christian traditions, a candle is lit every Sunday during the Christmas Advent (Lent) season marking the passing of time until the Nativity of the Lord. This craft project borrows that Advent Wreath Christian tradition and adapts it for use in the Orthodox Christian home during the forty-day (40 day) Christmas Lenten fast period while providing appropriate scriptural readings for each lighting.

Click this link for detailed information: A SAFETY Orthodox Christian Advent Wreath.

Orthodox Christian Safety Advent Wreath Orthodox Christian Safety Advent Wreath

 
 

Lord’s Prayer in Greek, Phonetics, and English

It is a common fact in English speaking countries that English Translations of the Lord’s Prayer used in the Orthodox Church deviates considerably from one text to another.  They all say essentially the same thing but use different, sometimes complex, English words in the translation.  What absolutely never changes is the original text in the original language in which it was written.   Below, under the original Greek Text, is a phonetic interpretation for those of you who may not read Greek but would like to learn to say the Lord’s Prayer in the original Greek language.  Even the phonetics can be challenging to read, so following the phonetics is a video with a voice saying the Lord’s Prayer very slowly in Greek so you can follow along.

Click here if you would like to have a printout with the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, Phonetics and English.

GREEK:
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ἁγιασθήτω τό ὄνομά σου, ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τό θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καί ἐπί τῆς γῆς. Τόν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τόν ἐπιούσιον δός ἡμῖν σήμερον καί ἄφες ἡμῖν τά ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καί ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν καί μή εἰσενέγκης ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλά ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπό τοῦ πoνηροῦ.

GREEK USING PHONETICS:
Páter imón o en tis ouranís, agiasthíto to ónomá Sou; elthéto I Vasilía Sou; genithíto to thélimá Sou, os en ouranó ke epi tis ghis. Ton árton imón ton epioúsion dos imín símeron; ke áfes imín ta ofelímata imón os ke imís afíemen tis ofilétes imón; ke mi isenégis imás is pirasmón, ala ríse imás apó tou poniroú.

Official Translation of the Lord’s Prayer as adopted by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2004
Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

References:  Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/lords_prayer

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 Nicene Creed of Faith in Greek, Phonetics, and English

It is a common fact in English speaking countries that English Translations of the Nicene Creed of Faith used in the Greek Orthodox Church deviates considerably from one text to another.  They all say essentially the same thing but use different, sometimes complex, English words in the translation.  What absolutely never changes is the original Greek language in which it was written.   Below is an English phonetic interpretation for those of you who may not read the Greek alphabet but would like to learn to say the Nicene Creed of Faith in the original Greek language.  Since English phonetics can be challenging to read as well, a video is provided with my voice saying the Nicene Creed of Faith very slowly in Greek so you can easily follow the phonetics along.

Click Here For a printable Nicene Creed in Greek, English Phonetics, and English

GREEK:
Πιστεύω είς ενα Θεόν, Πατέρα, παντοκράτορα, ποιητήν ουρανού καί γής, ορατών τε πάντων καί αοράτων. Καί είς ενα Κύριον, Ίησούν Χριστόν, τόν Υιόν του Θεού τόν μονογενή, τόν εκ του Πατρός γεννηθέντα πρό πάντων τών αιώνων. Φώς εκ φωτός, Θεόν αληθινόν εκ Θεού αληθινού γεννηθέντα, ού ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τώ Πατρί, δι’ ού τά πάντα εγένετο. Τόν δι’ ημάς τούς ανθρώπους καί διά τήν ημετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα εκ τών ουρανών καί σαρκωθέντα εκ Πνεύματος ‘Αγίου καί Μαρίας τής Παρθένου καί ενανθρωπήσαντα. Σταυρωθέντα τε υπέρ ημών επί Ποντίου Πιλάτου καί παθόντα καί ταφέντα. Καί αναστάντα τή τρίτη ημέρα κατά τάς Γραφάς. Καί ανελθόντα είς τούς ουρανούς καί καθεζόμενον εκ δεξιών τού Πατρός. Καί πάλιν ερχόμενον μετά δόξης κρίναι ζώντας καί νεκρούς, ού τής βασιλείας ουκ εσται τέλος. Καί είς τό Πνεύμα τό ¨Αγιον, τό Κύριον, τό ζωοποιόν, τό εκ τού Πατρός εκπορευόμενον, τό σύν Πατρί καί Υιώ συμπροσκυνούμενον καί συνδοξαζόμενον, τό λαλήσαν διά τών Προφητών. Είς μίαν, αγίαν, καθολικήν καί αποστολικήν Έκκλησίαν. ‘Ομολογώ εν βάπτισμα είς άφεσιν αμαρτιών. Προσδοκώ ανάστασιν νεκρών. Καί ζωήν τού μέλλοντος αιώνος. Άμήν.

GREEK USING PHONETICS:

Pistévo is éna Théon, Patéra Pantokrátora, Piitín ouranoú ke ghis, oratón te pánton ke aoráton. Ke is éna Kyrion Iisoún Christón ton Ión tou Theoú, ton monoghení, ton ek tou Patrós gennithénta pró pánton ton eónon.  Fós ek Fotós, Theón alithinón ek Theoú alithinoú, gennithénta ou piithénta, omooúsion to Patrí, di ou ta Pánta egéneto. Ton di imás tous anthrópous ke diá tin imetéran sotirían, kathelthónta ek ton ouranón ke sarkothénta ek Pnévmatos Aghíou ke Marías tis Parthénou ke enathropísanta. Stavrothénta te ipér imón epí Pontíou Pilátou, ke pathónta ke tafénta. Ke anastánta ti tríti iméra katá tas Grafás.  Ke anelthónta is tous ouranoús, ke Kathezómenon ek dexión tou Patrós. Ke pálin erhómenon metá dóxis kríne zóntas ke nekroús; ou tis Vasilías ouk éste télos.  Ke is to Pnévma to Ághion, to Kyrion, to Zoopión, to ek tou Patrós ekporevómenon, to sin Patrí ke Ió sinproskinoúmenon ke sindoxazómenon, to lalísan diá ton Profitón.  Is Mían, Agían, Katholikín ke Apostolikín Ekklisían.   Omologó en Váptisma is áfesin amartión. Prosdokó anástasin nekrón. Ke zoín tou méllontos eónos. Amin.

Official English Translation of the Creed of Faith as adopted by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2004
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.

References:  Greek Orthodox Archdiocese http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/creed