Liturgics


“The work of the salvation of our souls is the greatest and most wise work, and to learn this work, this art, it is necessary to have recourse to those to whom this work is known, who have completed it. This work of salvation, this work of repentance, is especially known to the Saints, since they have especially endeavored to concern them selves with it, and have carried it in a surpassing manner, one saving for their souls and pleasing to God. Indeed, the Saints have left this spiritual inheritance, this art of repentance and salvation, to the Orthodox Church, having laid up in Her, as in a secure treasure house, all their understanding, their instruction, their zeal, their art, their experiences Let us therefore learn repentance and salvation from Her. We all have come and do come to the church services for Sundays, holidays, ordinary days, and for the Great Fast. All these services teach us repentance and salvation. Have you heard the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete? Heard the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian? Heard the troparia and canons for the Great Fast? What a spirit of repentance is in them! What a compunction, what contrition for the sins of sinful mankind! What a thirst for salvation and pardon from God! What wails and tears of sinners repenting! Behold and learn repentance and propitiation of the Lord from the holy Church. Attend well, reflect, comprehend your sins, have contrition, repent, vaunt not yourselves, do the works of mercy: for the merciful shall obtain mercy.”

– St. John of Kronstadt

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“The serpent found a second Eve in the Egyptian woman
and plotted the fall of Joseph through words of flattery.
But, leaving behind his garment, Joseph fled from sin.
He was naked but unashamed, like Adam before the fall.
Through his prayers, O Christ, have mercy on us.”

Doxastikon of the Aposticha from Holy Monday Bridegroom Matins

“Withering under the shadow of pagan ignorance, like plants the Swedes strove toward the bright effulgence of knowledge divine; and to the Christian realm they dispatched emissaries, seeking a wise husbandman to graft them onto the Tree of Life. Wherefore, the fearless Ansgar set forth most eagerly to illumine them with the grace of God, and having braved perils and death during his journey, he revealed to them the path to immortality, baptizing them in the name of the All-holy Trinity, and making them steadfast in the one true Faith. And having attained unto the mansions of heavens, he watcheth over the peoples of Scandinavia with the eye of his lovingkindness, unceasingly entreating Christ God in their behalf.”

 – Doxasticon from Aposticha of Vespers, Tone III,  for St. Ansgar (Feb 3rd)

“The beginning of the nous’s darkening (once a sign of it is visible in the soul) is to be seen, first of all, in slothfulness with regard to the [church] services’ and prayer. For except the soul first fall away from these, she cannot be led in the way of error; but as soon as she is deprived of God’s help, she easily falls into the hands of her adversaries. And again, whenever the soul becomes heedless of virtue’s labours, she is inevitably drawn to what is opposed to them. A transition, from whichever side it occurs, is the beginning of what belongs to the opposite quarter. Practise the work of virtue in your soul and do not concern yourself with futile matters. Always lay bare your weakness before God, and you will never be put to the test by strangers when you are found alone, distant from your Helper.”

– St. Isaac the Syrian

“O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth.” (Psalm 25:7, LXX)

“Sanctify those who love the beauty of Thy House…” (Prayer before the Ambon, the Divine Liturgy)

“For a person to become a Christian he must have a poetic soul. He must become a poet. Christ does not wish insensitive souls in His company. A Christian, albeit only when he loves, is a poet and lives amid poetry. Poetic hearts embrace love and sense it deeply.” (Elder Porphyrios)

“Beauty will save the world.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) 

“Archimandrite Vasilieios of Iviron Monastery, in his book Hesychia and Beauty in Athonite Life (1996), explains that, in the Church, ‘beauty is not reckoned as a category of aesthetics, but rather as the divine grace and energy which holds together the universe’ (p. 10). It therefore behooves us to seek to recognize and become aware of ‘beauty,’ remembering that Lord ‘sanctifies those who love the beauty of His house’ (Cf. Divine Liturgy, Prayer before the Ambo). All beauty has its origin in the Source of beauty, which is Christ Himself.

In our modern culture we continue to experience a general decline in our ability to recognize and appreciate beauty within our utilitarian world. It is imperative for us to fight against the plague of ‘busyness’: to slow down, to remember to carefully and prayerfully read, learning how (and sometimes violently forcing ourselves) to appreciate the Psalms, liturgical texts, the Scriptures, the sacred poetry and music. Words in the modern world have lost their power due to their sheer and daunting number. We must recover a sensitivity and respect for the power of each word, lest the Church’s liturgical life, based on the Word of God, fall to shambles, unappreciated and mindlessly hurried through (as it is much of the time).

To seek and recognize beauty is to find a door to the divine, to see a reflection of another world; it is to call to remembrance the Lord and ‘see’ His reflection. The virtuous Christian soul is the pinnacle of all such beauty. Indeed, all of creation is called to be redeemed and to enter into the Church, and as Christ’s garments on Mount Tabor, to be transfigured through coming into contact with Christ’s Body, the Church. Thus, everything that is restored in Christ’s Church — including the music — ought to reflect this sanctifying beauty.

We must constantly seek to become sensitive to, to learn to appreciate, to seek to understand more about the Church’s canonical liturgical arts which are the precious flowering of the Gospel itself. To fail to appreciate the real beauty, in all its diverse forms, that is contained within the Church’s Tradition (in all local jurisdictions), is to fail to recognize the Lord Himself; it is to fail recognize His restored and grace-filled creation within the Church, which is our best tool for evangelizing and changing the world. This beauty is truly captivating, reaching deep into the heart of man and restoring the image of God — the original beauty within him, the glory and power and majesty of Christ God Himself — through the beauty of holiness. It is this divine and saving beauty which comes through the Church and Her sacraments that will restore man and his world, saving it for eternity in the world to come.”

— Abbot Sergius of St. Tikhon’s Monastery

“In the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, doctrine and worship are inseparable. Worship is, in a certain sense, doctrinal testimony, reference to the events of Revelation. Thus, ‘dogmas are not abstract ideas in and for themselves but revealed and saving truths and realities intended to bring mankind into communion with God.’ One could say without hesitation that, according to Orthodox understanding, the fullness of theological thought is found in the worship of the Church. This is why the term Orthodoxy is understood by many not as ‘right opinion,’ but as ‘right doxology,’ [that is,] ‘right worship.’”

– Archimandrite Zacharias, Ecclesial Being, pg. 88.

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