10 STEPS TOWARDS LITURGICAL REVIVAL
 

1
Attention during worship
Meaning
The attention of the whole church gathering must be focused around prayer and worship: it is important not to neglect the essential. Kissing of icons, lighting up of candles, confession, unnecessary conversations and all else must not take place during worship. This can be done either before or after it. Moreover, the exclamations of the worship and their meaning must be related to responsibly: nothing must be said in vain or merely "symbolically", "contingently", "according to tradition", but rather everything to the last word must be one way or another understood, perceived and comprehended. For example, the words "Let us bow our heads to the Lord" convey an exhortation for everybody gathered to bow their heads. Similarly, the same words directed to the "catechumens" are directed only to those undergoing catechesis, while the following calling "catechumens depart / the doors, the doors" is a command for those who have just bowed their heads to leave the church, etc.

2
Reinstitution of the central role of the Gospel and the homily that follows it
Meaning
It is necessary to reestablish the central place of the Holy Scripture in our worship. This means that proclamation and understanding of the Word of God through the reading of the Scriptures must become the dominant part of worship, understood as such by all who are present. This applies to most services and primarily to the Divine Liturgy, where such a relationship with the Word of God is necessary to prepare for the visible joining with Him through communion with His Body and Blood. This relationship with the Word is only possible when it is understood and actualised in the given gathering. Therefore, it is important to read the Scriptures in a language understandable to everybody, facing the people, followed by a homily. At the same time the homily is meant to be not just the thoughts of the one who preaches and not a repetition of the Gospel commentaries, but the revealing of what God wants to say here and now to the given church gathering. Without such a homily the gathering as a whole is may not be edified and the Word of God may be left unperceived. It is possible for the homily to be said not just by a priest or a deacon, but by any member of the gathering who is blessed to do so (According to the decision of 1917-1918 Local council of the Orthodox Church in Russia).

3
Audible and clear reading and singing
Meaning
It is necessary to follow not merely the letter, but primarily the spirit of the worship rubrics – to highlight what is essential and what is secondary within it, to prioritise not the quantity, but the quality of whole, clear and articulate reading and understanding (of psalms, hymns and prayers). "Mechanical reading" – is a sign of a magical attitude to prayer, haste – of worldly bustling, and excessive attention to the beauty of the external form at the expense of understanding of the meaning – of "aestheticism" that is foreign to the Church.

4
Reinstatement of the reading of "secret prayers" aloud
Meaning
The majority of worship prayers, including the so called "secret" prayers and those belonging to the eucharistic canon, matins, vespers, etc, must be prayed by the priest not just "on behalf" of the gathering, but also with its complete prayerful participation. With the minds and hearts of everybody united by the words of the joint prayer, solemnly uttered by the priest or reader. The texts of the prayers are composed from the perspective of the people, therefore they must be heard by them. Only in this way will the true prayer with "one voice and one heart" ever be possible. Otherwise, the members of the church gathering are separated from the fullness of graceful unity in Christ, by not having an opportunity to perceive the main prayers of worship. Moreover, it is desirable that reading of prayers does not take place simultaneously with the singing of the choir, as in this case there may be diminished perception of the prayers themselves as well as the singing.

5
Reinstitution of communal singing and liturgical responses by the people (especially the "amen")
Meaning
During worship, it is not only the celebrant who is called to participate fully, but also the gathered people who concelebrate together with him. However, historically it occurred that the professional choir took on itself all the opportunities of the people to that participation, while they became "an audience", almost as if in a theatre. Meanwhile of note is the fact that the Greek χορός, found in service books, means not only "choir" as a group of singers, but also "gathering, multitude", which implies a unified, common invocation of God. Therefore the active participation of all the people in the church during worship "with one voice and one heart" is necessary: with singing and especially common responses ("Amen", "Lord, have mercy", "It is meet and right..." and others).

6
Introduction of national languages (primarily the Russian language), especially during the reading of the Eucharistic canon
Meaning
Language must not be an obstacle to comprehension of the words of worship and true prayer "with one voice and one heart": archaic languages might be adequately understood by some but certainly not by the whole church gathering. On the contrary, the use of native, commonly understood language in prayer and worship is the original tradition of the Church, which valued the understanding of meaning as the utmost important orient (see Cor. 14:19 "yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue"). Similarly, the texts of the New Testament, as well as those of liturgy, prayers and hymns were initially composed in the Greek that was widely understood during the times of those writing them.

7
The return to common and frequent communion
Meaning
Communion is not merely an act of private piety and sanctification. First and foremost, communion is an act of becoming a part of the Church as a counciliary union in Christ, in Christ's Body, the renewed People of God and in life of Christ in it (John 15:4). Weekly common participation in the Eucharist, that is Thanksgiving, must become the norm of the parish life. The communion of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist is meant to be the spiritual union not only with God but also with the Church as the gathering, and this communion is ought to be the only necessity for the faithful Christian. The artificial and formalistic obstacles to it should be, if possible, abolished. For example, the mandatory personal confession of every member before every communion, excessive demands for thoughtless readings of the canons, following of special fasts, and others (which are the customs exclusively of the Russian church of the latest centuries).

8
Serving the daily cycle of services at the appropriate time
Meaning
The majority of the church services, not including the sacraments (or mysteries), are part of the daily cycle and thus they all have their own particular time that uncovers their meaning. In this way, matins are to be served in the morning, while vespers – in the evening (the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is a form of vespers with Communion). This is highlighted by contents of the prayers of these services, which are meant to sanctify certain periods of the day, connecting prayer with the life of people and rhythms of nature. "All Night Vigil" must not be nominal but real, that is it must be served for the duration of the whole night. If this is not possible, then there is no need to pretend as if it is. For the purposes of a pre-feastal service in a normal parish, a Great Vespers followed by Compline and reading of a canon might prove a suitable alternative.

9
The return to openness of the altar space
Meaning
The unity in prayer and holy actions of the clergy and the people (in their standing before the altar, Lord's Supper, and before God in common spiritual effort) requires their visible unity in space. For this it is important not to close the royal doors for the duration of the whole service, and to refrain from using the curtain, despite the more recent custom and instruction. When new churches are built it is important to introduce "open" iconostases or altar walls. Reverence towards the sanctuary cannot be conditioned by its closeness and appearance of inaccessibility, as it contradicts the meaning of the New Testament. With the Crucifixion of Christ the veil of the temple was torn in two, thereby opening to all the faithful the access to the sanctuary, to Heaven and into the Holy of Holies. Therefore the reinstatement of this is a return to the Old Testament. Eucharist, as well as the Lord's Supper, from the very beginning is a meal at the common table, where no curtains or divisions could possibly exist. In the same way, an Orthodox temple is blessed in its wholeness as it is a common holy space for the Church's gathering, and thus the "royal doors" were initially the entrance into the temple and not the altar.

10
The reinstitution of the kiss of peace among all faithful
Meaning
The offering of bloodless sacrifice of praise and love requires the witness of the gathering's unity, its peace and mutual love of all towards all, as the love for God cannot be separated from the love for our neighbour. This is why the call to "love one another" is a call to action. It is one of the holy actions of the liturgy, which all faithful can personally and actively participate in with due reverence (the kiss of peace or, for example, a handshake with the words "Christ is in our midsts" and the answer "He is and ever shall be"; or "Christ is Risen" – "Truly He is risen"). This form of sacramental expression of love calls Christians to a life, at the foundation of which lies the actualisation of this image as its main principle – life in love, which Christ revealed while washing the feet of his disciples. Prayers "before kissing of the people", which uncover the meaning of it, were part of almost all known rubrics of the liturgy.
Feedback
Your E-mail
Name
Your comment