10 Questions about Lenten Services - Volume 1

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ANSWER 1

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).

ANSWER 2

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..

ANSWER 3

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.

ANSWER 4

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).

ANSWER 5

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

ANSWER 6

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.

ANSWER 7

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.

ANSWER 8

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.

ANSWER 9

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

ANSWER 10

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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