10 Questions about Lenten Services – Volume 1

Also at:

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/lenten_services_1.html

 

 


QUESTION 1

What service begins Great Lent, when is it served, and what distinctive rite is observed which is done only once a year?


 

Forgiveness vespers

, which marks the beginning of Great Lent, is served in the evening (in some parish usage, the early afternoon, a short time after Divine liturgy) of Forgiveness Sunday, which is also called

Cheesefare Sunday

, being the last day that Orthodox eat cheese, any other milk product, and eggs and fish.

The previous Sunday (The Sunday of the Last Judgment, or Meatfare Sunday) was the last in which meat was eaten. At the end of the forgiveness vespers is the "rite of forgiveness". The pastor preaches a short homily about forgiveness, asks forgiveness of everyone with a prostration, and everyone in turn approaches the pastor and they exchange mutual forgiveness. A receiving line is formed, so that all the faithful exchange forgiveness with each other, individually. In this way, we begin Lent having no bitterness towards anyone (if we do in our heart what we perform externally in the ceremony).

 


QUESTION 2

What distinctive penitential prayer is said in almost every service during the Lenten season? Give the full text. You should know it by heart!


 

The

prayer of St. Ephrem

is said in most services of Great Lent, and pious Orthodox include it in their morning and evening prayers. It has three parts as follows:

O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, idle talking give me not.
But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow up me Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of amen..

 


QUESTION 3

Give the two ways in which this prayer is said in the services.


 

Usually, the prayer of St. Ephrem is said with 4 prostrations and 12 bows as follows:

O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, idle talking give me not. Full Prostration

But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow up me Thy servant. Full Prostration

 

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of amen.. Full Prostration

Then twelve "reverences" (bows from the waist with the sign of the Cross). With each one say: God, cleanse me a sinner..

Then say the entire prayer all at once, and make a full prostration.

There are some times that the prayer is said once, with a prostration after each sentence.

 


QUESTION 4

Name ALL the services it is said, and ALL the services it is not said (paying particular attention to what day it is).


 

The prayer of St. Ephrem is said in almost every weekday (Monday – Friday) Lenten service.

For The weekday Services:
Twice, with 4 prostrations and 12 bows.
Vespers: (Monday – Thursday night)
Great Compline (if appointed)
Midnight Office: (Mon – Fri morning)
Matins (Mon – Fri morning)
The Hours (1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th)
The Typica

Once, with 3 prostrations.
Vespers: (Sunday night)
The Presanctified Liturgy (There are two times the prayer is said this way).

The prayer is not said in Small Compline.

It is also not said in the Hours following the Great Canon service (matins on the 5th Thursday of Great Lent), because of the length of this service.

On weekends, it is not said on Saturday at all, or on Sunday, until after the entrance at vespers (which marks the "beginning" of the new day, Monday).

 


QUESTION 5

Name the last time this prayer is said during before Pascha.


 

After the presanctified liturgy on Holy Wednesday, the prayer is said after the dismissal. It is not said again in church.

 


QUESTION 6

Name the times outside of Great that the prayer is also appointed.


 

The prayer is said the first three days of Holy Week, at vespers and matins.

It is also said Thursday Vespers and Friday Matins and Vespers, of Cheesefare Week

There are typicons which appoint the prayer on the first day of the Apostles Fast, and of the Nativity Fast, if they fall on a weekday.

 


QUESTION 7

What distinctive, long penitential hymn is chanted 5 times in Great Lent. Name the days, and the services it is chanted in. What else is read in the last service?


 

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is chanted in four parts on the first four evenings of Great Lent, as part of the Great Compline service (Clean Monday – Thursday), and the entire long and compuncionate hymn is chanted as part of matins on the Sixth Thursday of Great Lent (the Thursday before the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt). In this latter service, which is usually served on Wednesday evening, the entire life of St. Mary of Egypt, by St. Sophronius, is read in two parts.

 


QUESTION 8

There is a service which is sung 5 times in the Lenten period, as well as several other times throughout the year . Name this service, and mention the other days outside of Great Lent that it is chanted (hint: there are usually 4 other times). There are two ways in which this service is served. Name them.


 

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is served on all the Sundays of Great Lent. It is also served on, St. Basil’s day (January 1st),. These services appear to be just like the usual liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, except that the Megalynarion hymn to the Theotokos is different, and the priest’s private prayers are longer.

It is also served on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday and is usually served on the prefestivals of Nativity and Theophany. These services are "Vespral Divine Liturgies", where the service begins as a vespers, and switches to St. Basil’s liturgy after the Old Testament readings. These are the ONLY times when a vespral divine liturgy is appointed, except when the Vespral Divine liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is served for the Feast of the Annunciation when it falls on a weekday in Great Lent. On all other feasts of the Lord and the Theotokos, the vigil service is served the eve of the feast and the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is served in the morning.

In all, St. Basil’s liturgy is usually celebrated 10 times in the church year.

 


QUESTION 9

Divine liturgy is not served every day during Great Lent. What service is chanted so that the faithful can partake of the holy mysteries? Who is the author?


 

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts was written by St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome. This service is very similar to vespers.

 


QUESTION 10

When is the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom celebrated during the Lenten period?


 

On Saturday and Sunday the Lenten fast is relaxed a bit, and the services are more festive, on account of the celebration of the resurrection. The services are celebrated very similar to times outside of Great Lent. The liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated on every Saturday morning (but not on Sunday, which is reserved for St. Basil’s liturgy). It is also usually celebrated on the Annunciation, and is always celebrated on Great feasts of the Lord, such as Palm Sunday.

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