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The Armenian Church of Louisiana has the following DIVINE LITURGY downloads available:
There are five Armenian texts of the Liturgy now still in existence. These were probably texts evolved in different centers in Armenia, or in centers to the west and south of it. One of these five texts has later dominated the others and evetually put them out of use in the course of the fifth and following centuries.
Of these five Armenian Liturgies one was that of St. Basil of Caesarea. We have evidence from the first half of the fifth century that the Liturgy of St.Basil, as it was known and used in the great metropolis of Caesarea, was in common use in Armenia. We now have the text of this Liturgy, which can be called Caesarean Basil, because it is considerably different from the Liturgy known in the Greek Church as the Liturgy of St. Basil, which was subjected to changes much later than the time of St. Basil. This later form of St. Basil's Liturgy could conveniently be called Byzantine Basil.
Besides the Caesarean or Cappadocean Basil four other liturgies were used in the Armenian Church during and after the fifth century. These were probably all translations from Greek texts, which are now presumably lost. One of these four liturgies is the most complete. This is the one which, after undergoing certain modifications and changes, mainly consisting of additional hymns and litanies, has been in general use in the Armenian Church since the tenth century at the latest.
Although there are references to this Liturgy in the literature of the seventh and ninth centuries, the earliest complete text, which we have, does not go beyond the middle of the tenth century. Its language and its intrinsic evidence give us assurance to affirm that it was translated, and consequently used, in the fifth century.
Some of the features of the Armenian Liturgy reflect what is called the Jerusalem rite. This is due to the fact that in the fifth century, after 397 but before 431, the Jerusalem rite of the Liturgy of St. James was adopted by the church of Antioch, with which the Armenian Church has always been in close contact.
The few changes made in the Armenian Liturgy after the middle of the tenth century are almost all in the direction of the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which has been the most widely used liturgy in the Greek Orthodox Church. There are also in the Armenian Liturgy some minor indications of the influence of the Roman Liturgy, as a result of the contacts which Armenians had with the Crusaders.
The Armenian Liturgy, which is now used, took its final form and became the dominant Liturgy of the Armenian Church sometimes after the year 950 but before 1177, which is the date when Nerses of Lambron wrote his commentary on the Liturgy. The first printing of it in 1706 gave fixity to its minutest details.
by Abp. TIRAN Nersoyan
What follows are instructional practices of the Armenian and other Orthodox Churches offered to the faithful.
While we find at times that 21st C society feels entitled to project one's individual thoughts concerning every manner of daily living, the Armenian Church offers to her faithful the wisdom of the Church Fathers teachings that are intended to bring us all into a closer union with God. As with all such instructional information, it is the responsibility of the faithful – clergy and laity alike - to accept, learn, and to practice what is offered.
We realize North American society today is rather casual with a sense of individualism in its approach to life. However, this prevailing attitude should not be embraced or considered in concert with our Armenian Orthodox Christian piety.
Much of church etiquette is based on common sense and the offering of respect toward God and others. We are to remember that we are gathered as the Body of Jesus Christ – the Church - to worship God. The deacon says, “With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near.” Let this be the way we approach all of worship.
Parishioners are always encouraged and expected to participate fully in the Divine Liturgy by singing the songs, hymns, and sharagans of the Badarak in a prayerful and reverent manner.
Parishioners though are requested to refrain from reciting or chanting the prayers of the Celebrant Priest. Not only do other parishioners indicate this is distracting, but often the Priest, ordained through the Sacrament of the Ordination to the Holy Priesthood, is praying to God as the Shepherd or Pastor of the parish on behalf of the faithful.
Likewise, prayers are said when blessing the Holy Communion, as bread and wine are mysteriously transformed to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. These prayers are properly reserved for the Priest and Celebrant of the Badarak who has been ordained and given the right to bless the Holy Eucharist.
Our faithful should bear in mind that prior to receiving Holy Communion, you have just knelt before the Priest and before God, confessing your sins, asking God to make you worthy of forgiveness and of His Kingdom.
When you rise from confession, you should remain in a contemplative, self-reflective and prayerful spirit as you approach to receive the life-giving Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking with others waiting to receive Holy Communion is inappropriate and disturbing, especially to those who desire to maintain a prayerful mood of silence.
The thoughts of forgiveness of your sins, oneness with God, being filled with the presence of Jesus Christ, are to be on your mind as you approach to receive the Eucharist.
Likewise, to facilitate this sacred moment for communicants, parishioners who are not receiving Holy Communion are to refrain from any and all conversation.
It is appropriate for everyone to stand during the offering of Holy Communion, as this is the Sacrament of the Church and a time in self-reflection and prayer.
Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian
Dept. Creative Ministries
Diocese of the Armenian Church
For an unknown reason, it has become a custom and bad habit for parishioners, including some who serve at the altar or sing in the choir, to arrive at church after services have begun.
To benefit fully from the Divine Liturgy, one needs to be present for its entirety. More appropriately, the faithful should arrive before the service begins. Everyone – from the celebrant, to the altar servers, to the choir members, to the faithful, - needs time to settle in, withdraw from the outside world, to “come down” from the demands of every-day life, offer a personal prayer for themselves and loved ones, and to focus on their full participation in the Holy Badarak.
Of course, if there is a valid or rational reason in arriving late, enter the church quietly and observe what is happening.
If the choir is singing the Soorp Asdvadz and the Gospel is being carried in procession, or the Great Entrance (when the Deacon is bringing up the Chalice to the Celebrant) is taking place, wait until it is finished to then quickly find a seat.
If you arrive after the bringing up of the Chalice in the Great Procession, you are late to the point where you have entered during Sacrament of the Eucharist and after the proclamation of the Deacon that you should "not draw near to this mystery." (Pg. 23 of the pew book).
If the Celebrant is preaching the sermon, wait until he has concluded. This is simple etiquette and common courtesy.
The traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Armenian Church has been to stand. This instruction comes to us from Holy Scripture: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (Luke 18:11)
Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
In the Middle East, in Armenia, and in Western Historic Armenia, there usually are no pews found in churches. Chairs or benches are placed near the sidewalls usually reserved for the elderly and/or infirmed. In America, churches have been built with pews. Since we have them, we need consider when we may sit and when we should stand.
First of all, it is fully acceptable (even preferable) to stand for the entire service. If you prefer this, find a place closer to the back or side of the church so as not to block someone’s view.
You should definitely stand:
The Divine Liturgy pew books in our churches have suggested times when sitting is acceptable. Follow those instructions. It’s more advisable to do so than to follow what the people are doing in the first couple of rows. When in doubt, stand. It is never wrong to stand in church.
For those who for physical reasons cannot stand, sitting is excused.
In some cultures, crossing one’s legs is considered to be very disrespectful. In our North American culture, while there are no real taboos concerning crossing one’s legs, we tend to cross our legs to get comfortable while sitting.
Should we cross our legs in church? Basically no. Not because it is “wrong” to ever cross legs, but rather because it is too casual — a too relaxed posture for being in church. Just think about it, when you get settled in your favorite chair at home, you lean back, perhaps cross your legs, and then your mind can wander anywhere it wants to.
Remember that sitting in church is a concession, not the normative way of prayer. When you do sit in church, you should sit attentively - and not too comfortably. Be ready to stand giving your full attention to what is to take place when the Deacon chants "Orti" “Let us attend” or “Let us stand.”
There are no revolving doors at the entrance of our churches. Entering into the sanctuary, leaving, coming in again, should not be the traffic pattern.
To avoid any problems, use the restroom and get your drink of water before entering.
It is good to come to church to see your parish family. Social conversations however should be reserved for after church, during fellowship hour or outside the church sanctuary. Not only are comments or conversations at times inappropriate during services, but also, intentionally or unintentionally, disturbing and distracting those who are near you and worshipping. Talk to God through your prayers, hymns, and thanksgiving, while in church and to your friends at fellowship hour afterwards.
Simply put: shut off all communication devices before entering the sanctuary.
Ringing cell phones in church are unacceptable at all times, no exceptions. Also texting, showing others your cute family pictures, playing video games, all are deplorable and appalling behavior.
It goes without saying that God loves us no matter what clothing we wear. That said, though God accepts us however we are, we are to present ourselves to him in a humble, respectful, and dignified manner.
In some parts of the country, all too often dress in church has become overly casual. When attending Badarak, one should dress no less casual than when attending a wedding, a formal business meeting at work, or even a special dinner engagement with a spouse or loved one.
Here are some suggested guidelines to use:
On a Sunday morning you may notice that people cross themselves at different times and sometimes in different ways. To a certain extent, when to cross oneself is according to personal piety and not an issue of dogma. But there are times when it is specifically proper to cross yourself:
For young children (0-2 years old), snacks and a bottle or a Sippy-cup of fruit juice for children during church is fine. If there is some spillage, kindly clean up the area after services.
Children 3-4 years old should be able to make it through Badarak without eating anything.
By the time they reach seven or eight, they should begin fasting on Sunday morning as part of their preparation in receiving Holy Communion, or at least fasting by cutting back on the amount of breakfast they eat.
Leaving church before the Dismissal, besides being rude, deprives one of a blessing. Worship has a beginning (“Blessed is the Kingdom…”) and an end (“Let us depart in peace…”).
To leave immediately after receiving Holy Communion is to treat Badarak like a fast food restaurant.
We already live in a fast-paced world where we seem to be hurrying from place to place. But in God’s presence, we need to make every attempt to fight this pressure of moving on to the next thing on the day’s agenda.
We deprive ourselves of blessings by not being still and participating in God’s holiness for the entire service.
The faithful should collect their personal belongings after the singing of “Orhnehtzeetz us Der . . . ” I will bless the Lord at all times . . . It is a prayer of praise heralding that at all times we will praise God, and that words of praise will be on our lips! It is our promise to God that we shall do this and something that we should not take lightly.
When the final blessing from the Priest is pronounced – “Let us depart in peace, and may the Lord be with us all. Amen.” it is then that the Divine Liturgy ends.
Remain patient and wait the extra 30 seconds to conclude the Divine Liturgy as a family, receiving the blessings of God and proclaiming together as a church family as well as in our own lives that, “we will praise Him always!”
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, when you are leaving the sanctuary, you will be offered a piece of blessed bread called mahs that means portion.
While mahs is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread distributed after the Liturgy to those of the congregation who have not received Holy Communion. It is also customary to take mahs to members of one’s family who were unable to attend the Liturgy.
Receive your mahs and eat it carefully so that crumbs don’t fall away. If you want to take a piece to someone else, feel free to do so. Teach your children as they take their mahs, to eat it respectfully for it symbolizes the bond of love among the members of the church.
Teaching a child to be an Armenian Christian – and what that means everyday – takes a huge commitment and constant effort of the part of parents, godparents, grandparents, along with everyone else in the parish community. Yes! It does take a village to raise a child.
Somehow there is this idea that children in church are like the mixture of oil and water: unable to blend together properly.
The services of the Armenian Church are where we learn about God – The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We learn and participate in the living Tradition of the Church. We follow the teachings and example of the Apostles because they taught their "parish" families what Jesus and the Holy Spirit revealed to them, and those early Christians taught their children, and those taught their children, . . . to the present day. The Faith we Armenian Christians live is the Faith of the Apostles, "deposited" with us through the Church.
We all must realize and remember that the work of worship takes effort, and there are no shortcuts. The word "liturgy" itself means work! Everyone – men and women, and children – led by the priest and deacons, works together during Badarak to praise God and to ask for his mercy and help.
Before the birth of your children, set the stage for their introduction into the life of the Church. Choose godparents for your child from your family or home parish who attend the Divine Liturgy services regularly and participate with joy and knowledge, and who make a great effort to live their faith in their everyday lives.
Ultimately, your child's godparents should share the burden of teaching them about the faith of the Armenian Church.
When coming to church, parents should make every effort for their child to be able to see what is taking place. Without hesitation, sit with them in the front pews so that no adults are blocking their view. During Badarak, and at other appropriate times, let your children stand on the pew whenever you are to stand in your place. Present them to the priest, to kiss his cross and to receive his blessings during the procession; bring them to receive Holy Communion once they have been baptized; and at theend of Badarak, have them kiss the Gospel and receive the blessing of the celebrant priest.
Point out the censing by the deacon and the clouds of smoke, the flickering of the candles, the sounds of the music. Do not hesitate to carry on a whispering commentary about all that now surrounds you both.
At the conclusion of services when others have left, take your child around the sanctuary and point out perhaps the stained-glass windows or various pictures, the consecration crosses, and the burning candles. Explain to them what these represent in terms that they will be able to understand. Help them light a candle, teach them that together you will offer a prayer, and then offer a prayer especially for your child.
Always remember that if during the services a child begins to make childish goo-goo, gah-gah noises, don't rush to take them outside of the sanctuary. Such noises show that there is new life in the community. It also underscores the possibility - yes possibility - that perhaps the child is communicating with God in a way that only they understand. And adults who think it improper to allow children to remain at such a time should be reminded of the following scriptural passages:
Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Now none of the above means that if a child is screaming and yelling that they should be ignored. No, absolutely not! If such is taking place, leave the sanctuary until they have regained composure and then, once again, return to your place. Also toddlers, and especially older children should not be allowed to wonder around on their own, explore under the pews, or go into the chancel. It is not cute or proper behaviour. Children still need to show proper respect for the holy place where they are, the house of God. And parents, grandparents, and godparents need to be at their side to explain what they are doing is wrong, and illustrate both proper behaviour and attitude by example.
A t home teach your child the "Our Father," "Hayr mer. . . " the song "Holy God," "Soorp Asdvadz. . . " or the simple response to the Deacon's litany, "Der Voghormia", "Lord, have mercy". Encourage them to sing softly with you and the choir during the Badarak. Teach them how to make the sign of the cross and then remind them to make it when the priest bless them, or bow toward the altar when appropriate. Praise them when they do these things by themselves, but please no high-fives.
Also encourage them to pray and to speak with God. Let them know that God can hear them and see them during the services. Provide them with a copy of A Pictoral Guide to the Badarak or Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church for them to bring to Badarak. These should be available from your parish Sunday school or the bookstore at the Diocese.
It is also at this stage that children begin to ask those "deep, theological" questions: "Why is Der Hayr washing his hands?" "Why is he wearing that hat?" "Why is he holding that big cup?" "Why is there smoke at the altar?" For the parent, this is when the real work of teaching the Faith begins.
Always answer children's questions during the service. They may notice that this week Der Hayr is wearing a red vestment and last week he wore blue and ask "why?" Whenever a special service associated with a feast day is observed such as the Blessing of Grapes on the Feast of the Assumption, the Blessing of Water on the Nativity of Christ, the Antasdan service of Blessing of the Four Corners of the World -
explain to them the significance of each. If you need this information, don't hesitate to ask your priest.
Encourage your child to ask questions quietly during the services. If you don't know the answer, make a point to say, "I don't know. Let's ask Der Hayr after Badarak." Any true Pastor would be overjoyed to be approached with such a situation.
T here was a time when people put on their “Sunday best” to go to church. In fact, dress clothes were often referred to as "Sunday clothes". Today, this is far from common. In fact, all too often, attire in church has become too casual for both children and adults. When attending services dress wear for church should represent our best - our “Sunday best”, - not our common wear. We should dress modestly, not in a way that would bring attention to ourselves. Our dress should always be becoming of a Christian - especially at church. Here are some specific guidelines to use:
Only young children (under 10) should think it is OK to wear shorts to church - and then only dress shorts. Athletic shorts, cut-offs, or spandex shorts are never appropriate church wear for children or adults. Shoes or sandals should be clean and tied. Children may wear T-shirts but without any kind of writing, pictures, or having logos on them.
As your child gets older, teach them the various words that are used in Church such as: "Lord, have mercy" "Der, Voghormia", "Alleluia", and "Amen".
Teach them to say "Remember me before God" during the Procession when kissing the cross of the priest. Practice at home giving and receiving the Kiss of Peace with the words "Christ is present" "Kreesdos ee metch" and "Blessed is Jesus." "Orhnyal eh Asdvadz". As they get older teach them the full responses.
Holy Week is also a most important time to bring your children to church. When they are young, perhaps the Washing of Feet Service would get their attention, especially if they are familiar with one or more of the participants. Read to them from a Children's Bible the story from scripture beforehand reminding them of what Jesus did that night.
Now to teach these lessons presumes that parents are knowledgeable of such matters. If you are not, what a wonderful opportunity this is for you to learn with your children by doing a little research together to find such answers.
Teach your children that the Church's services are for worship, and that it is a holy and special time that we spend with God. This will be a gradual process, so don't give up. Having your child grow into a member of the worshipping community of the
Church is worth every bit of effort. After all, someday, God willing, they will need to teach their own children as well.
When making the sign of the Cross we hold our thumb and first two fingers together, placing them first to our forehead, then to the center of our chest, then to the left shoulder and then to the right shoulder
As we do this we say:
hAnnoon Hor, yev Vortvo, yev Hokvooyn Srpo.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We then place our open hand upon our chest and say AMEN.
When we greet the married Priest or Der Hayr we say:
He will reply:
May God bless you.
To the celibate Priest or Hayr Soorp, we greet him by saying:
May God help you.
He will reply:
May God keep or protect you.
To the Bishop, we can also greet him by saying:
May God help you.
He will reply:
May God keep or protect you.
Or we can ask for the blessings of the Hayr Soorp or Srapazan Hayr and say:
Orhnetzek Hayr Soorp (Priest). Orhnetzek Surpazan Hayr (Bishop).
Your blessings Holy Father/Your Grace.
He will reply:
May God bless you.
A variety of resource materials are available to parents who wish to teach the sacred faith and traditions of our Armenian Church to their children. Simply contact the Department of Youth and Education at the Diocese www.armenianchurch-ed.net or at 212-686-0710 for assistance.
This informational booklet was prepared by The Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian, Director, Department of Mission Parishes, Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern).