Archive for November, 2009

The Great Litany – The Litany of Peace. A Short Introduction.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The Great Litany

The Litany of Peace

 

A Deacon (Andrei Ryabushkin, 1888) andrei-ryabushkin-a-deacon-1888.jpg taken from http://02varvara.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/a-priest-forever-after-the-order-of-melchisadek/

An Orthodox deacon extending his orarion at the end of a petition of a litany.

(A Deacon, Andrei Ryabushkin, 1888)

 

The Great Litany is said as the first litany of Divine Liturgy and Vespers, after the Six Psalms in Matins and at the beginning of the Betrothal and Baptismal services. In all these cases, the exclamation “For unto Thee is due all glory, honor, and worship…“ is said by the priest at the end of the litany.

 

It is also used in the Great Blessing of the Waters, with a long prayer intoned at the end in lieu of an exclamation. 

 

Any Great Litany may have special petitions appropriate to the occasion inserted at the usual place.

 

Any service for a special purpose (such at the Betrothal, Baptismal and Great Blessing of the Waters) has many special petitions.

 

Services of the “Daily Cycle” (Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy) may also have special petitions for the sick, or travelers, or some other concern inserted in the Great Litany, but this is usually not done, and these petitions are instead inserted in the Fervent Ectenia said later in each of these services. 

 

The Great Litanies of Divine Liturgy and the Great Blessing of the Waters also have a “private prayer” said by the priest (usually) before the ending exclamation.

 

The Great Litany is also known as the Litany of Peace, since it begins with three petitions concerning peace. This is theologically very significant, and we will discuss this at length later.

 

Without additional petitions, there are twelve petitions. The idea of 12 petitions is biblically rooted and is found in the pre Christian morning service of the synagogue. (see Taft, Mateos and

others)

 

Litanies consist of petitions intoned by the deacon or priest, with the people answering with a short sung prayer, such as “Lord have mercy”, “Grant this O Lord”, and others. Traditionally we stand and face East, and make the sign of the cross at each petition.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-04_the-great-litany+the-litany-of-peace.html

&

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-04_the-great-litany+the-litany-of-peace.html

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

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Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

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That we may be delivered from all tribulation, wrath, and necessity…

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

That we may be delivered from all tribulation, wrath, and necessity…

Thoughts on a petition in the Great Ectenia, the Litany of Peace

Oct 21/Nov 3 2009 22nd Tuesday after Pentecost. Monk Hilarion the Great.

 

 

That we may be delivered from all tribulation, wrath, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord. 

10th petition of the Great Ectenia.

 

A passion which we allow to grow active within us through our own choice afterwards forces itself upon us against our will[1]. Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

 

 

We pray this petition many times, since it is in the Great Ectenia or “Litany of Peace” (which is said at the beginning of Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy). More than any other petition, it sums up the totality of the Christian life, and describes the effect of the incarnation upon the human soul. We should tremble with joy, fear and great expectation every time we hear it.

 

This is a prayer that is hearkening to two times. One time is right now, our present life, and the other time is the next life.

 

Regarding the next life, we are asking to be delivered from tribulation and wrath – these things will occur in the dread judgment. We are not asking to be delivered from difficulties in this life, or to be relived from the troubles of daily life.

 

Asking to be delivered from necessity is completely about our current life.

 

Why did Christ become “a little lower than the angels” (become incarnate) for our sakes? The answer to this question is not to be found in theological books or preaching. It must be found within the soul which thirsts for light, and yet still is aware that it contains darkness.

 

The true Christian knows that the purpose of His life is to become all light, to be perfect, with no sin or darkness in him at all. The only way to know God, Who is all light, and all perfection, with no sin or darkness, is to emulate Him, and become perfect. We are commanded to do this very thing[2], and God does not give any command that is impossible (just difficult).

 

It is possible to be perfect, because of the incarnation. Our Lord taught us how to live by word and example, took great care that His teaching was understood and would be passed on, and then accomplished in His human flesh everything He requires of our flesh, and in so doing, changed our flesh so that it would be capable of becoming perfected.

 

Only the soul which understands this, and also looks within himself the darkness of the “law of sin”[3], working in his members, can cry out with compunction “deliver me from necessity”.

 

When something is necessary, it must be done. If you are a slave and your master tells you to do something that is arduous or difficult, you must do it, whether you want to or not,. or you will be punished. If we are slaves of sin, then there are things that we are going to do even though we don’t want to do them. That is necessity.

 

St Paul talks about it quite eloquently in Romans.

 

14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom 7:14-24)

 

If you are sold, your life is not your own. He is speaking of necessity! We desire to be good, and yet we are not always good. We desire to not be angry, and yet we get angry! We desire to say our prayers, and yet we end up not saying them. We desire to be pure in our thoughts, and yet there are lustful thoughts in our heart, or angry thoughts against someone who has wronged us, and remembrance of wrongs, despite our best efforts.

 

Necessity is active in us because our weak will. Christ came to strengthen our will. In this petition, we are begging the Lord to help us with our weakness. It is similar in spirit to the prayer of the man whose child had a demon:

 

"Lord I believe; help my Thou my  unbelief"[4]: we cry "Lord my will is to follow Thee, help Thou my weak will!"

 

Every Christian should feel this prayer acutely, painfully, fervently, with great longing in their heart. Is there anyone who does not feel  that there are things that they do not have the strength to accomplish? Is there anyone who realistically  believes that they will never get angry again, never remember wrongs, always be at peace? We want to, but we cannot, because of our weakness.

 

We pray to be delivered from necessity, our own carnality, our own sinfulness, which sometimes forces us to sin.

 

What is the solution?

 

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

 

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:1-4)

 

Delivery from necessity is to walk  in the way of Christ, with God helping us, and enabling us. Christ  has shown us this way, and we are to walk this way, and this is the only way to free ourselves from compulsion and to be able to be "free indeed"[5] as Christ promised us that we should be and would be.

 

11  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. `

 

 

This petition is discussed at length in a Catechetical Discussion about the Great Ectenia, Part Two (http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/prayers-of-the-church_2007-12-04+the-great-ectenia+part-two.mp3). The discussion begins at 19:10, and continues almost to the end. Some of this article is a modified transcription of this talk.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-03_that-we-may-be-delivered-from-all-tribulation-wrath-and-necessity+great-ectenia.html

&

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-03_that-we-may-be-delivered-from-all-tribulation-wrath-and-necessity+great-ectenia.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

Redeeming the Time BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[2] Matthew 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

[3] Rom 7:23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

[4] Mar 9:23-24 KJV  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  (24)  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

[5] John 8:36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

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Parable of the sower. Having ears to hear is only possible if there is good ground. Audio homily 2009.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

LISTEN NOW

Luke 8:5-15 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.



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