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email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

ANSWERS TO

LITURGICAL QUERIES

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When Priests and Deacons are ordained, they are usually taught how to serve Vespers, Mattins, the Divine Liturgy and the other Sacraments either by older Priests or by attending a Priest's seminary school. Being then assigned to a parish, they come across many unforeseen liturgical and parochial questions. They see that in practice, local traditions and customs play an important part in many services and not everyone performs the services exactly as they were taught. In Greece and Cyprus we see a great diversity in the way the Divine Liturgy is performed as well as the Sacraments of Marriage and Baptism. These differences cannot be found in the liturgical books which only deal with the basic rubrics of the service. The service for Baptism for example is very confusing as the order in modern-day baptisms is not followed according to the service found in the book either for an infant or an adult. Rubrics in Priest's handbooks (Ieratikon) again vary from one publication to another, some giving the common practices used in monasteries whiles others giving the modern practices of parishes in the Country of origin. In villages we see many customs that are not kept in town parishes. Some are superstitious customs, but a great many are pious practices, which although not found in any written form, were Orthodox practices in centuries past and have survived in these small, but pious communities. Of course the Priest should be able to discern which customs are not of Orthodox origin and educate his flock accordingly. All this diversity can be very confusing to many clergy. With the establishment of Orthodox Churches and the ordination of Priests and Deacons in the English speaking west, one cannot expect them to be familiar with the many traditions and customs found in Orthodox countries.  If many practices are confusing for clergy in Orthodox countries then how much more are these practices strange and confusing to a British of American born Orthodox Priest? There is a need for uniformity, but at the same time this uniformity should respect the personality of each priest and not turn us into robots where we are programmed to say, move and act in a set manner.

The late Blessed Ioannis Fountoulis,  a Professor of the Theological faculty at Thessalonica University published 5 books containing 600 questions from priests on liturgical matters. His answers were always very detailed and studied and is considered by many as "The Authority" on liturgical queries. Some of the questions he answered are set below.  I have no intention of translating his work or to give a complete copy of his answers. With a few exceptions, most of the answers are based on his answers, but without the studied details and adapted for the English reader. These answers can be a basis for uniformity, but one must always allow for "Economia" when trying to divert from established customs. A newly ordained Priest serving under older Priests should not even try to change things, but just be obedient to the practices he has found in the parish until he himself is established and receives a parish of his own.

 

QUESTION 1

Can we give Holy Communion at whatever time of the night to the sick?
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QUESTION

2

What is the difference between martyr, hieromartyr, ascetic-martyr etc. and how should they be commemorated. 

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QUESTION

3

In the Priest's handbook there are three different types of Vespers and two for Great Lent. When are Small Vespers and the Daily Vespers without entrance used and how? The Typikon (Rubrics) do not mention when Small Vespers should be used instead of the usual Great Vespers. 

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QUESTION

4

Is it wrong for the Priest to offer incense during the Great Doxology and if it is, then why?

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QUESTION

5

I am a Theologian and during this period I am occupied with the writing of a book concerning the liturgical worship of monasteries. So that I can avoid a possible mistake, I would like one piece of information which I imagine you know and are in a position to give me. I would like therefore to ask if the introductory prayer of the daily (day-night) service read everyday is also read during Bright (Renewal) Week or is it replaced or omitted.

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QUESTION

6

If requested, is the Small Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God sung during Bright Week in homes of the faithful?
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QUESTION

7

I am a chanter from Rhodes and found your address from your wonderful website on the internet. I would like to put a question to you concerning a matter of liturgical order. If, during the singing of Daily Mattins (and not the usual Mattins for a feast), one of the faithful brings Kolyva for the commemoration of a lesser known saint who is not officially celebrated, at which part of the service should the Priest bless the Kolyva: after the small doxology or just before the end before the dismissal? I don’t mention the possibility of the blessing being done during the Divine Liturgy because of the possibility of the Liturgy not being served.

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QUESTION

8

I received your answer and thank you. I would like to ask something for clarity. In the village where I chant, the Priest does not have a permanent post but comes from the neighbouring village. As a result, Vespers is rarely sung. We have already said that it is not correct to bless the Kolyva after the Divine Liturgy therefore the only solution is to bless them at the end of Mattins.
During the feast of a saint who at Mattins does not have a Great Doxology, when do we bless them? We have already mentioned that this is done before the dismissal. But if the Divine Liturgy follows Mattins, the petitions and dismissal are said silently by the Priest and the last part of Mattins that is heard audible by the people are the Apolytikia. When therefore will the blessing of the Kolyva take place: after the Apolytikion of Mattins whereby immediately after the prayer of the Kolyva we shall say “Blessed is the Kingdom…. or before the Apolytikion whereby after the prayer we sing the Apolytikia hymns and then begins the Divine Liturgy?

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QUESTION

9

On Soul Saturdays and on Thomas Sunday, the Greeks in our parish ask me to go to the cemetery to sing the Trisagion over the loved ones graves. I have been singing the complete Trisagion prayers of Mercy over ever grave, sometimes over a couple of dozen. I almost lose my voice! Would it be proper to sing the Trisagion once upon arrival at the cemetery and saying an individual prayer over each grave? If so, what prayer? How do you do this?

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QUESTION

10

In our archdiocese, for many years we have used English translations of Russian liturgical books. I believe this is because most of our seminarians go to Saint Vladmir's seminary which is the Russian-Orthodox Church in America seminary. Our bishops are trying to encourage us to follow "Byzantine-Greek" practice when this differs from the Russian practice (i.e. funeral and memorial practices, Divine Liturgy rubrics etc) Since we don't have our own proper Euchologion, besides the Russian English books, we use English translations from the Greek archdiocese (and I tend to use yours as it has better English!) Anyways, one of the big differences I have found between the Russia and Greek Euchologions (or Trebnik's ) is that the Russian books have all sorts of blessings for: Icons, vestments, liturgical items, chalices gravestones, graveyards to name a few.
So, my question is this, in the Greek books (our bilingual books are abridged) in the Greek pratice, do we bless Icons, vestments, gravestones and liturgical items? I have been told that in Byzantine practice these items are "blessed" by their use and the Russian practice of formal blessings is "Latin". We do "church" icons in our parish but is it proper Greek practice to "bless icons"? I hope my questions make sense.

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QUESTION

11

Our Greek-English Small Euchologion states that, in the case of an emergency baptism "...if no priest is available and the infant is dying, he may be baptized by an Orthodox layperson, or even a doctor or nurse, anyone nearby, preferable Christian, who may conduct a 'Baptism by Air.' How can a Muslim, pagan or even non-Orthodox Christian baptize someone into the Orthodox faith, and does not Baptism require, beside the invocation of the Holy Trinity, water?

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QUESTION

12

During the Catechism before Baptism, can the Symbol of Faith be said only once or must it be said three times as mentioned in the Euchologion?

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QUESTION

13

In the Greek Orthodox churches here in Australia, during the Divine Liturgy, when the priest announes «Πρόσχωμεν τα Άγια τοις Αγίοις», the Curtain or Royal Doors are closed. I have seen on television broadcasts of the Divine Liturgy from other countries. Yet, when the above line is said in those Liturgies, the Curtain/Royal Doors are not closed. Now I know during the Easter period the Curtain/Royal Doors are left open, but my viewings of the Divine Liturgy on television were not during that festive period. So my question is:
Is it required that the Curtain/Royal Doors are closed during the Divine Liturgy when «Πρόσχωμεν τα Άγια τοις Αγίοις» is said? Or is this tradition fading away and optional?
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QUESTION

14

I recently read a theologian’s commentary on the wedding prayers of our Church. Among other points, he claims that the Church must compose a new service for people who choose to get married at an older age (or at least partially alter the text of the existing prayers) so that references to younger ages, childbirth etc. are avoided. According to him, getting married in mature years is a frequently-made choice nowadays, which needs to be liturgically addressed. What is your own view on this?
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QUESTION

15

I would like to ask you a follow-up question to my inquiry a while ago about "Baptism in the Air." What is the practice of the Church of Cyprus regarding the burial of Stillborn or unbaptized babies/children? Attached you will find the guidelines as practiced in the North American "Orthodox Church of America (OCA)" who's Russian based "Great Book of Needs" is used. Bascially, it says, we do not do a funeral, but I know of funeral services having been done (though I have not seen them). Some priests use the Funeral Service for Infants (as found in the Euchologion) saying the intention of the parents was to baptize the still born or young child that died and, since we would also serve a funeral for a Catechumen who had to yet been Baptized and Chrismated, the same pastoral consideration should be given to the infant. Others simply say the Trisagion prayers (not the Memorial Trisagion, but the simple Trisagion we use before any service) and add some Psalms. What is done in Cyprus?

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QUESTION

16

From attending the Divine Liturgy (and other Holy Services), I have come to understand that the clerical hat (καλλυμαύκι) is to be worn at certain parts. I have seen that it is worn, for example, when: the deacon says the Great Litany at the start of the Divine Liturgy, or when the priest censes, preaches or ends the Divine Liturgy (Απόλυσης), or when any clergy stand before the bishop on his throne during the Divine Liturgy.
Yet I have also seen that some clergy do not wear their clerical hat at all during the Divine Liturgy.
Therefore, I must ask: When is it required for a clergymen (whether deacon, priest or bishop) to wear his clerical hat during any of the Holy Services of our Church? Is it required at all? Also, what is the purpose behind the clerical hat and what does it symbolise?

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QUESTION

17

The holy light of Jerusalem does not reach every church of the Orthodox world. What is the origin of the light which is distributed by the priests who have not received the holy light and how can it be considered as consecrated?
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QUESTION

18

When I baptize Greek children, the "tradition" that the Greeks request is one where the Godparents cover the child with oil after the priest has anointed the child. They speak of having "baptized the child." (even though it is the priest himself that immerses the child). I do not see this practice stated in the rubrics in your euchologion, but it is found in the bilingual "Priest's Service Book" (Mikron Euchologion) printed in Greek and English by Fr Evagoras Constantinides. The whole body anointing by the Godparents is not found in Antiochian, Romanian or Russian practice. So, my questions are as follows: Do you do this in the Church of Cyprus? What is the significance/meaning of this? Is it not theologically incorrect for a layperson to say "he/she baptized so and so" (I do realize they can do this in an emergency)? Do you know when and where this practice first started?

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QUESTION

19

We know even from the ancient document found at Saint Catherine’s in the late 1800's, bound at the end of a Bible in Greek, Διδαχή των Αποστόλων - the "Didache" that baptism was to be performed in “LIVING WATER”, which naturally includes a river or stream, but also a lake such as the “Sea of Galilee”. A layman from Russia has objected to baptism in the Mediterranean “because it contains salt” [his words]. Please let me know if in Cyprus there have been instances of baptism in the sea. If not, do you know of any “Canon” which bans baptizing in the sea since the seas are all “salt water bodies”, unlike a lake.

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QUESTION

20

 

Is it “forbidden” by any canon or “custom” to baptize a second infant or adult in the SAME water in the baptismal tank in the church immediately after an infant has been baptized and there are families expecting to have their infants baptized? It is true that one must EMPTY out the water, and put in FRESH WATER, and bless it, for a second baptism? I have never encountered such objections until a fellow from Russia told me that a priest is not allowed to baptize a SECOND person in the SAME water, but must perform such a “second” baptism on the following day!
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QUESTION

21

 

Why is it that in the Divine Liturgy, the Orthodox Church uses leavened bread for Holy Communion. The Roman Catholics state that they use unleavened bread in their ‘Eucharist’ because Jesus used this type of bread at the Last Supper (as did the Jews of Moses's time during Pesar) as it was the only permitted form of bread during Passover. Why is it then that our Church uses leavened bread in the Eucharist?

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QUESTION

22

 

Our local Churches here often conduct memorial services (μνημόσυνα) during the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. To be more specific, these memorial services are conducted after the singing of  "Blessed is the Name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore" and before the Dismissal. I have heard of the memorial services being conducted after the Gospel reading in the local Antiochian Churches. Also, I have noticed that memorial services do not seem to be conducted on Sundays in Cathedrals like those of the Annunciation in Athens and of St George in the Phanar.
I am a little confused with the different practices.Therefore I ask, when should memorial services be conducted on a Sunday? As the Divine Liturgy is about life, Christ's conquering of death, should a memorial service be conducted after the "By the prayers of our holy fathers…" and begin immediately next with the  "Blessed is our God…"? What is the local custom of the Churches in Limassol?

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QUESTION

23

I have a question about the praxis in the orthodox church. Is the Talk -Omilía a part of the Divine Liturgy, or it is not regular component of it?
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QUESTION

24

Why do Deacons rearrange their orarion (like that of a subdeacon) when they commune the honourable Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy?
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QUESTION

25

During a συλλείτουργο (co-celebration) of priests, for example, does only the presiding priest perform the καιρός (i.e. "O Lord, send Thine hand from Thy holy habitation above..." )? And in the case of a Bishop presiding the Divine Liturgy, do the priests not perform the καιρός, leaving it to the Bishop to perform?
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QUESTION

26

During his ordination, as he processes around the holy Altar while Dance, Isaiah is sung, a cleric kisses the epigonation of the presiding bishop. What is the significance of the epigonation in this case?
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QUESTION

27

I would like some clarification regarding the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, conducted on the Sundays of Great Lent. Is the Behind the Pulpit Prayer of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil as follows: "O Lord, who dost bless them that bless Thee..."? According to the texts on Υour website, it is another prayer, but during the past two Sundays, the priests at our churches here in Melbourne, along with those conducting the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil in Athens (broadcast via ΕΡΤ), have been using "O Lord, who dost bless them that bless Thee...". Is this justified, or are they simply making a careless mistake?
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QUESTION

28

I am sorry to disturb you again with a question concerning the making of catechumens and baptism/myron-anointing. I will soon baptize a Greek baby. I usually follow the ritual according to the Russian typikon. A major difference is that we do not anoint the whole body before baptism, but only forehead, ears, breast, hands/feet, and we proceed to baptize.
On your website you have published the complete text, to be found in official euchologia. However, I have looked at many videos of baptisms performed by Greek priests, and noticed that the ritual was consistently shortened, and many prayers were skipped. For example: after the baptism, chrismation and tonsure followed immediately, without any prayer (or ablutions, before tonsure) in between. What is the general practice ? Which prayers are usually skipped in Greece or Cyprus? I feel that the complete service is long and it may be very tiresome for the baby and for the family. Plus, they are Greeks, and may be expecting a service "à la Grecque" !
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QUESTION

29

What is the symbolism, if any, of elevating the αέρας above the officiating high priest as the Creed is recited during the Divine Liturgy?

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QUESTION

30

Last Sunday I attended the Divine Liturgy at one of the two churches I regularly visit. The parish priest was away on holiday overseas, and so we had a substitute, an elderly priest just ordained to the priesthood at the start of the year.
I assisted him during the administration of Holy Communion, by holding the red cloth, and must say that it was agonising, as he was hasty and careless.
A two- or three-year-old boy approached the chalice in his mother's arms. The boy was restless, moving his head constantly. Nonetheless, the priest proceeded. Of course, the boy moved his head and some of the precious Blood of Christ had clearly fallen onto his shirt.
I told the priest, in the hope that he would then consume the precious Blood, but he claimed that nothing had fallen, having not even bothered to take a closer look at the boy's shirt. 'It's fine,' he told me, while the boy's mother smiled it off as if there was no problem (obviously the Holy Gifts were nothing but 'bread and wine' to her).
Therefore, my question is:
What should a priest do in situations when the most precious Body and Blood of Christ is, in my opinion, misused? Is he not obliged to consume anything that has fallen off the spoon, even onto the floor? And when the Blood of Christ falls onto the red cloth, what becomes of the cloth? Is it washed in some specific way considering that it may contain the precious Blood of Christ?

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QUESTION

31

Is it possible that the Divine Liturgy may be served twice on the same day, in the same temple, and on the same altar, but by different priests?
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QUESTION

32

When it is appropriate to do concelebration in vespers. When is it acceptable to upgrade a service to include an entrance, even if it isn't originally called for. Sometimes it is very easy to include an entrance, like a Friday evening, because the dogmatic theotokion gives plenty of time to do one, even if it isn't supposed to happen. Is it appropriate for a group of priests to get together and make an entrance? Must we upgrade to entrance if there are many priests, or do we instruct them not to participate on certain days? On what days is it permissible, and on what days is it not permissible?

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