Prayer is the essence of Orthodox Christian life. The daily, weekly, and yearly cycles of the Church, complete with its feasts, fasts, services, and Biblical readings, incorporate us into the mystery and life of our Lord and Savior.
The Lord’s Day
At the heart of our worship is the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, celebrated not just annually at Pascha (Easter), but also every week on Sunday. To the Orthodox Christian, this is the “Lord’s Day,” the first and eighth day. The liturgical day begins at the setting of the sun (Gen. 1:5), so the evening prayer service of Vespers—which recapitulates the story of creation, sin, and salvation, and introduces the day’s themes—inaugurates our celebration. Confessions of the faithful are heard afterwards. (Vespers is also served on Wednesdays.)
Highlighted by its rich theological hymns and psalmody, Matins is chanted the next morning, connecting sunrise to the coming of the light of Christ and calling all to repentance.
The day culminates with the Divine Liturgy when we all assemble to perform the work of the Church. The Eucharist is our main action, as the faithful together become the Body of Christ by partaking of Him. Prior to Holy Communion, the congregation sings His teachings and listens to the Holy Scriptures. The Divine Liturgy is also celebrated on special festal days preceded by Vespers the night before.
Additional services mark our journey towards Christ. Blessings for New Mothers and Children are given on the first, eighth, and fortieth days following childbirth. Baptism unites us to Christ and allows us to join the Church as children or adults. Marriages mystically represent the relationship between Christ and His Church. Funerals grant an opportunity to pray for the souls of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and to console those who mourn.