St Anthony of the Desert

Orthodox Christian Mission

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Fr Gabriel

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Notes on the Prayer Book

Orthopraxis 5: Notes on the Prayer Book

We have a great resource in our prayer book.  Orthodoxy is a liturgical church, which means that we follow prescribed orders of worship.  This is not to discourage personal prayer; it is to unify the congregation and the whole church. Wherever you travel in Orthodoxy, you will find the same liturgies served, with minor variations from local tradition.

Often we cannot words to speak our prayers, so the church over centuries compiled texts that aid our journey.  The Ukrainian Church in America Prayer Book is not the only resource you can find or use; many are available. These notes will acquaint you with the resources in our book.

Here’s what we have in our book:

  • Daily Prayers – especially intended for lay use
    Morning Prayers
    Prayers during the Day – saying grace, beginning work, etc
    Evening Prayers
  • Preparation for Confession & Communion
    The Holy Mystery of Repentance – a must-read for parishioners, this section included extensive reflection on the 10 commandments and a brief examination of conscience
    Prayers and Instruction Regarding Confession
    Prayers of Preparation for Holy Communion – meant to be read by all
  • The All-Night Vigil
    Great Vespers – the principal evening worship of the church
    Great Matins – the principal morning worship of the church
  • The Divine Liturgy
    The Divine Liturgy 0f St John Chrysostom – the principal Sunday worship
    Anaphora of the Liturgy of St Basil the Great – we use St Basil’s Liturgy during Lent and on January 1st.
    Prayers following Holy Communion – meant to be read by all
  • Propers for the Eight Tones & Great Feasts
    Resurrectional Propers – when we note in our Sunday bulletin that this week is “Tone 6,” this means we use the proper prayers for that tone.
    Paschal Propers – the special prayers used at Easter
    Pentecostarion  – special prayers from Easter to Pentecost
    Propers for the Great Feasts –what the name implies:  Nativity, Ascension, Transfiguration, and so forth
  • Supplementary Material
    Memorial Litia – the service we use when we commemorate our departed
    Moleben – a simple prayer service; the one in our prayer book is organized either directed toward Christ or through the Theotokos to Christ
    The Small Catechism – a brief but rich resource for life in the church
    Religious Songs
    Paschalion – dates of Easter and its attendant days (Beginning of Lent, Holy Week, etc., from now until 2045.

We can discuss this fully over the course of time, but I urge you to use the prayer book.  If not ours, then obtain one of your choice.  Many Orthodox love the Jordanville Prayer Book (I can tell you how to obtain that).  The prayers overlap from one book to another, because many prayers are not of ethnic origin; they are universal Orthodox prayers (like the “usual beginning” about which I wrote several weeks back).  God bless you in your spiritual growth using these tools.  Fr G