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What Our Children Are Learning about the Divine Liturgy + Part 3

3 On Entering into the Divine Liturgy With Prayers and Song
By Kristina Wenger, Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry

Part 1: On the Divine Liturgy
Part 2: On Preparing for the Divine Liturgy

This is the third in a series of blogs on the Divine Liturgy from the Orthodox Christian Parenting Facebook page and blog. Consider following these to learn from the articles and the daily posts that feature related quotes, ideas and resources. The intent of the series is to remind us parents of what our children are learning about the service. That way we can all better understand what is happening around us during the service, and then together as a family we can more fully enter into "the offering of the people for the whole world!" (Photos courtesy of Teaching Pics.)

In a prior blog, we studied the first part of the Divine Liturgy: the Preparation. The second part of the Divine Liturgy is The Liturgy of the Word. It "is much like the Jewish synagogue service, which consists of prayers, psalms and hymns, scripture readings, and a sermon. Catechumens [those preparing to enter the Body of Christ, the Church] were allowed to attend the Liturgy of the Word." (OFL, 27)

Our family has not yet mastered the art of arriving for Orthros. We aim for the end of Orthros, and try to be in church for the Great Doxology. However, more often than not, of late, we are not yet in the nave at that time. Therefore, it is often during the Liturgy of the Word when we are quietly scrambling into the church: my son to the altar, my daughter and me to the choir, and my husband to the pew. As a result, we are still in the process of stilling our minds and entering into worship and we are not fully aware of what is happening around us. So, what are our children learning about the Liturgy of the Word that would be helpful for me to review, so that this Sunday I am ready regardless of how early I enter the service? As I researched, I discovered that our children are learning a lot about the Liturgy of the Word.

They are learning that the Liturgy of the Word allows us to enter a different world, where we pray for ourselves, the church, and the world as a whole.

The Liturgy of the Catechumens begins with the words, 'Blessed is the kingdom of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' From then on we are in a different world, one in which God is our King and Father.
(Ashanin, Little Falcons #52 "Holy Liturgy").

Our prayer begins with a litany in which the priest offers petitions and the people respond to each with, 'Lord, have mercy.' We pray for all in the church, and those in the world as well. We recognize our dependence on God for all aspects of life and ask for His mercy.
(p. 152, The Way The Truth The Life)

In the Great Litany we pray for our country and our city for our leader, religious and secular, for abundance of the fruits of the earth - for all the things we need for our earthly life. Then we go on to pray for the things our spiritual life needs, for peace, forgiveness, remission of our sins, and for all things that are 'good and profitable for our souls.
(Ashanin, #52)

Our children are learning about the music of the church and that it is not just the choir's job to chant and sing that music. "Our prayers continue in hymns called antiphons, which praise God for His blessings to us. We also sing at least one troparion, a hymn which honors the saint or event commemorated that day...
(p. 152, The Way The Truth The Life, OCEC)

Everyone who can sing at all should use their voice to praise God because our ability to sing is a gift from Him. It has been said that 'He who sings, prays twice.' You can begin learning how to sing in church by singing those parts of the liturgy which in many churches are sung by everyone...
(Ashanin, Little Falcons #22 "Music")

Our children are learning that the Liturgy of the Word continues to remind us of Christ and His life on earth. "When the priest brings out the book of the Gospel from a side door in the altar, it is a reminder of the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, when He walked the roads of Palestine, teaching and healing
(Ashanin #52).

 

I hope that our family is able to arrive long before the Liturgy of the Word, this Sunday. But if it ends up being one of those "didn't quite make it before that" Sundays again, at least I know what I am entering into. And now I also know what I will have missed.

 


Resources

(OFL p. 27, "The Divine Liturgy: an Explanation for Parents & Children," Building an Orthodox Christian Family, from the bound archives of the Orthodox Family Life Journal) All archived issues can be found electronically at www.theologic.com/oflweb/archive.htm

All issues of Little Falcons can be found at www.littlefalcons.net/pdf/2014_Backissues.pdf.

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