Intro to Orthodoxy: Cycles of Worship

Worship Cycles:  Redeeming the Time

Ephesians 5:14b-16.  Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

The challenge: deepening our experience of life and developing the mind of the Church.

The Worship Cycles of Life:

  • The prayers of initiation to include the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation
  • Confessions and Communions
  • Weddings (if not ours, others!); more baptisms and chrismations
  • Ordinations and monastic tonsurings (rarely ours, but others!)
  • Funeral and memorial services (not just ours, but others)

The Daily Cycle (Horologion)

  • Morning and Evening Prayers; prayers at the table
  • The regular cycle (separate or combined in different ways):
    • Vespers: creation
    • Compline: look back at the day; prepare for rest and death
    • Nocturne (more than just Pascha): Gethsemane
    • Matins: death, glory (varies)
    • Hours:
      • First (6AM): bringing Christ before Pilate
      • Third (9AM): Pilate’s judgment of Christ, scourging/mocking; Pentecost
      • Sixth (Noon): Golgotha and the darkness
      • Ninth (3PM): Christ’s passion and death

The Weekly Cycle

  • Sunday: the Resurrection
  • Monday: the Angels and Archangels
  • Tuesday: St. John the Baptist and the Prophets
  • Wednesday: the Cross and Judas’ betrayal (fasting)
  • Thursday: Holy Apostles and Hierarchs; St. Nicholas of Myra
  • Friday: the Cross and Passion (fasting)
  • Saturday: All Saints, the Mother of God; Memorial

The Yearly Cycle (Menaion) – starts on September 1

  • The Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos (Sept. 8)
  • The Universal Exaltation (or Elevation) of the Life-creating Cross (Sept. 14)
  • The Entrance (or Presentation) of the Theotokos into the Temple (Nov. 21)
  • The Nativity of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (Dec. 25)
  • The Theophany (or Epiphany) of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (Jan. 6)
  • The Meeting of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (Feb. 2)
  • The Annunciation to the Most-Holy Theotokos (Mar. 25)
  • The Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (Aug. 6)
  • The Falling-Asleep (or Dormition) of the Most-Holy Theotokos (Aug. 15)

The Yearly Cycle (Paschal)

  • The Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem (Sunday before Pascha)
  • The Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (40 days after Pascha)
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Holy Pentecost 50 days after Pascha)

The Octoechos

  • Cycle of Eight weeks, each with its own melodies and hymnography

Fasting Periods

  • Days of Fasting
    • Wednesday (Betrayal), Friday (Passion), midnight on for Divine Liturgy
    • Eve of Theophany  (January 5)
    • Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29)
    • Elevation of the Holy Cross (September 14)
  • Fasting Seasons
    • Great Lent and its warm up
    • Nativity Fast (November 15 – December 25)
    • Apostles’ Fast (Monday after All Saints – June 29)
    • Dormition Fast (August 1 – 15)

Fast Free Periods

  • Christmas to Eve of Theophany
  • Week following the Sunday of Publican and Pharisee
    • Fast-free,
    • Then Meatfare Week (Carnival- usual fasting)
    • Then Cheesefare week
  • Bright Week (week after Pascha)
  • Trinity Week (week after Pentecost)

Why bother?  We need rhythms.  We need story.  Whose story?  There are some remnants of this outside Orthodoxy, but is it enough?