Dear Fr. Christopher,
According to the Slavic tradition, on Sundays the Gospel (of
Resurrection) after being read, is conducted to the middle of the
church, where it is revered, but the Feasts, despite being read in the
middle of the Church, after the reading is reappointed to the altar
without veneration. Next Sunday, we will celebrate the Dormition of the
Most Holy Virgin Mary, but the Gospel read is of the Feast. In this case
should it be venerated in the middle of the Church like on Sundays, or
returned to the Altar as is the use in the Feasts?
Answer to Question 103.
Dear Fr. B,
Christ is in our midst!
The Sunday Morning Resurrection Gospel read during the Matins service is
read at the right side of the Holy Altar. This is symbolic of the angel
mentioned by the Evangelist Mark in the Second Resurrection Gospel which
we read at the beginning of the Paschal Service who announced to the
Myrrh-bearers the Good tidings of the Resurrection: "And entering into
the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed
in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto
them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified:
he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him".
After the Gospel reading, during the singing of the 50th Psalm at the
verse "Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts" the Priest exits
the Sanctuary by the Royal Doors holding the Holy Gospel and stands in
the middle of the Church where the faithful come and venerate the Gospel
Book. Here the Gospel Book represents Christ in person and represents
the appearing of Christ after his resurrection to the Myrrh-bearers and
Apostles who on seeing him resurrected worshipped him. After the
veneration of the Gospel Book it is returned to the Altar, but in some
churches, if they have an extra Gospel Book, they place it on a stand in
the centre of the church for veneration by the people who come later.
Only the Sunday Morning Resurrection Gospels follow this procedure and
all other Gospel readings are read by the Priest at the Royal Doors. You
mention that you read the Gospel in the middle of the church, but this
is only done during the Liturgy Gospel by the Deacon if there is no
Pulpit or Bishop's throne. As you say that you do not have Deacons then
the Gospel should always be read at the Royal Doors.
Our Feast of the Dormition fell on a Monday, but as you follow the
Julian calendar your feast of the Dormition falls on this Sunday. When a
Great Feast of the Lord falls on a Sunday then the Resurrection service
is placed aside and only the service of the Feast is sung, but when a
feast of the Mother of God falls on Sunday then both the Resurrection
and the service of the feast are sung side by side. In the case of the
Dormition, the Resurrection service takes precedence followed by the
Service for the Dormition. The only exception is the Morning Gospel
reading. Instead of the Resurrection Gospel, the Gospel for the feast is
read. This will be read at the Royal Doors and then placed on the Holy
Altar. The reader will not read the Resurrection prayer "We have seen
the Resurrection of Christ..." and the 50th Psalm is read and not sung
and because there was no Resurrection Gospel, the Gospel will not be
taken out for veneration.
With love in Christ