Author Archives: Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli

About Dr. Christine Cheryl Kerxhalli

Through the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North America House of Studies, Dr. Kerxhalli holds a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in the Eastern Christian context; a Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree in Applied Orthodox Theology from the University of Balamand, St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology; and, is a graduate of the St. Stephens Program in Applied Orthodox Theology.

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.

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 below images are representative of a set of Byzantine style vestments used in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Christian traditions.  Vestment styling can vary according to a particular Christian jurisdiction tradition.

Although there are many interpretations of what each vestment piece represents in the different Christian jurisdictions, according to the Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Tradition and the prayers said by the Priest within the Greek Orthodox jurisdiction during his vesting, the following is a simplified and easy to understand explanation of the Priest’s Vestment pieces.

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

About the Vestments of the Priest in the Orthodox Byzantine tradition

Copyright 2002-2018, Christine Kerxhalli, http://www.Churchtailor.com. All Rights Reserved.

  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.

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.

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 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.

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.
 
 
 
 

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
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.