Category Archives: Sunday Sermonettes

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 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.

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.

Creed of Faith in Greek, Phonetics, and English

It is a common fact in English speaking countries that English Translations of the Creed of Faith 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 Creed of Faith 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 Creed of Faith very slowly in Greek so you can follow along.

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.


Pis-té-vo is é-na Thé-on, Pa-té-ra Pan-to-krá-to-ra, Pi-i-tín ou-ra-noú ke ghis, o-ra-tón te pán-ton ke a-o-ráton. Ke is é-na Kí-ri-on I-i-soún Hri-stón ton I-ón tou The-oú, ton mo-no-ghe-ní, ton ek tou Pa-trós gen-ni-thén-ta pró pán-ton ton e-ó-non. Fós ek Fo-tós, The-ón a-li-thi-nón ek The-oú a-li-thi-noú, gen-ni-thén-ta ou pi-i-thén-ta, o-mo-oú-si-on to Pa-trí, di ou ta Pán-ta e-gé-ne-to.  Ton di i-más tous an-thró-pous ke di-á tin i-me-té-ran so-ti-rí-an, ka-thel-thón-ta ek ton ou-ra-nón ke sar-ko-thén-ta ek Pnév-ma-tos A-ghí-ou ke Ma-rí-as tis Par-thé-nou ke en-an-thro-pí-san-ta.  Stav-ro-thén-ta te i-pér i-món e-pí Pon-tí-ou Pi-lá-tou, ke pa-thón-ta ke ta-fén-ta. Ke a-nas-tán-ta ti trí-ti i-mér-a ka-tá tas Gra-fás. Ke a-nel-thón-ta is tous ou-ra-noús, ke Ka-the-zó-me-non ek dex-i-ón tou Pa-trós. Ke pá-lin er-hó-me-non me-tá dó-xis krí-ne zón-tas ke ne-kroús; ou tis Va-si-lí-as ouk és-te té-los. Ke is to Pnév-ma to Á-gh-ion, to Kí-ri-on, to Zo-o-pi-ón, to ek tou Pa-trós ek-po-re-vó-me-non, to sin Pa-trí ke I-ó sin-pro-ski-noú-me-non ke sin-do-xa-zó-me-non,  to la-lí-san di-á ton Pro-fi-tón. Is Mí-an, A-gí-an, Ka-tho-li-kín ke A-pos-to-li-kín Ek-kli-sí-an.   O-mo-lo-gó en Váp-tis-ma is á-fe-sin a-mar-ti-ón. Pros-do-kó A-nás-ta-sin ne-krón. Ke Zo-ín tou mél-lon-tos e-ó-nos. A-min.


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

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.