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St. Garabed Armenian Church of Louisiana

The Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy


  • Origin and Development of the Divine Liturgy
  • Analysis of the Divine Liturgy
  • Church Etiquette During the Divine Liturgy
  • Children During Church

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The Armenian Church of Louisiana has the following DIVINE LITURGY downloads available:

The Origin and Development of the Armenian Rite of the Liturgy

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.

Analysis of the Diving Liturgy

by Abp. TIRAN Nersoyan

      1. Vesting performed in the Vestry privately, is indicative of the fact that the assumption of a sacred function by a sinful man representing the people in the church, is a mystery. The Priest covers his sinful individuality and performs the Liturgy as the functionary of Christ, clad in glorious vestments befitting the children of light and the royal presence of the Lord.
      2. While the Priest is being vested, the faithful should be mindful of their privileges as Christians and the children of light in the Church, and they should pray God to vest them with the glorious spiritual garments of Christian virtues.
      1. The washing of the hands by the Priest effects ritual purity and signifies the necessity of purifying the soul of all uncleanliness before approaching the saving mystery of the Divine Liturgy. The act is symbolic and not utilitarian.
      2. During the Purification the faithful should be mindful of their sinfulness and should pray for the remittance of their sins.
      1. In accession the Priest enters into divine presence to perform his duty, which begins with the preparation of the elements of the divine mystery. While Vesting and Purification were the necessary preparations to qualify the Priest personally for the performance of the mystery, in Accession he enters upon his function, glorifying God with gladness and with humility of heart and mind.
      2. During Accession the faithful should be mindful of God's presence, and of His readiness to receive them as His children when they approach him with humble and joyful confidence.
      1. In the Prothesis the Priest does two things. First he receives in the name of God the offerings of the faithful, which consist of bread and wine brought to him by the Deacon and then he sets them on the Table of the Prothesis, presenting them to god the Father in remembrance of the offering by Christ of His Body and Blood during His passion and on Calvary.
      2. The veil is drawn during the Prothesis to indicate that Christ took flesh from the Virgin under the veil of mystery of the Incarnation. He made that flesh His Body and gave it to the world as life-giving food. In the same manner the church, the mystical body of Christ, offers herself in the bread and wine to the Father, who will presently take them and make them Christ's Body and Blood through the Holy Spirit, so that they who partake of them shall be renewed and shall have immortal life.
      3. During the Prothesis the faithful should renew and deepen their sense of dedication to God. They should make an act of submission to the will of God and should commit themselves into the hand of God. They should pray God to accept their offering, both material and spiritual, and make them worthy of His divine mercy.
      1. Incense is an "offering' for atonement of sins. Its smoke, rising up, symbolizes acceptable prayer. Censing is also an act of honor, when performed before pictures of saints, before the altar, or before dignitaries of the Church and demonstrates the belief that they are all united to Christ in His Kingdom which is made manifest by the Holy Spirit in the Liturgical gathering of the faithful.
      2. The coming of the Priest down into the congregation and walking among them in procession signifies the period of the teaching ministry of Christ, when He came down from heaven, and doing honor to the human nature, assumed manhood, motivated by God's love for man.
      3. As the incense burns and sends up its fragrance, so the Christian should, burning with the love of God, and dedicating itself to Him, should send its ardent prayers to the heavenly Father, in order to receive the spiritual gifts and the graces of the Holy Spirit from on high.
      1. Enarxis is the beginning of the Synaxis, and its central theme is that Christians in assembly, coming together in the name of Christ constitute and form one body in the fullness of the Church, which is the depository of divine truth.
      2. The Blessing of the Enarxis proclaims the fact that the Church is the Kingdom of God. It makes us recall the Baptism of Christ, during which the blessed Trinity was revealed and glorified and which marked the beginning of the ministry of Our Lord and of the Kingdom.
      3. The Monogenes or Only-Begotten . . . together with the Introit, point to the facts which inaugurated God's Kingdom.
      4. During the Enarxis the members of the congregation should try to realize that they are subjects in God's Kingdom, and members of the Body of Christ that they are united in one sacred purpose, which is the service of God; that they are to learn the laws of the Kingdom through the church and that their minds will be enlightened with the Word of God, proclaimed and taught through the Church.
      1. After the emphasis on the solidarity of members of the church in the Kingdom of God, the point is made in the Lesser Entrance that the faithful have solidarity with the angels also, and with themselves. Consequently, men have been given the right to approach and to enter into the presence of the heavenly light of truth revealed in the word of God. Prayers are said asking god to make the faithful worthy of the reception of the Word, by cleansing their souls and their minds.
      2. The Trisagion, which is addressed to the Second Person of the Trinity, is a glorification of the Word of God, and the elevation of the gospels-book is the sacramentalization of this glorification.
      3. The Litany enumerates the various orders of the faithful in the Church, for which prayers are said.
      4. During the Lesser Entrance the faithful should meditate on the glory and holiness of the heavenly light, which will dawn upon their souls through the Word of God, speaking in the Holy Gospels. Inwardly they should approach Christ in order to receive the eternal truths into their minds and souls, cleansed of sins and made ready by penitence.
      1. The Lections from the Old and New Testaments have been appointed by the Church according to the proper of each day, in conformity with the annual cycle of feasts set out in the Calendar-Book. So each Lection has some direct or indirect bearing upon the significance of the day in the annual cycle, which covers all the important points of the Christian message, proclaimed by the Old and New Testaments.
      2. The faithful should listen attentively to the readings from the Holy Scriptures, trying to understand them with a non-critical attitude of mind. The time of the Divine Liturgy is not the time for a scholarly study of the Scriptures, but rather it is a time for a humble and devout attitude of passivity in order to receive light from on high through God's Word.
    5. THE CREED
      1. The Creed is the proclamation of the essentials of the Christian faith of which the church is the depository. It is recited after the Lections in the Synaxis in order to put the minds of the faithful right on the truths contained in the Scriptures.
      2. The faithful, joining in the recitation of the Creed, should renew their act of faith in the teaching of the Church, humbly submitting themselves to the requirements of that faith, with all its implications. They should endeavor also to renew and strengthen their resolve to act upon that faith with an enlightened mind.
      1. The Prayers after the Lections are the concluding prayers of the synaxis. The first of these two prayers refers to the sufferings of Christ, implying that the faithful have to endure sufferings in the world, in order to remain steadfast in the faith. Then the gifts of the Holy Spirit are requested in order to strengthen the faithful in the struggle against the world. The second prayer is a request for peace.
      2. While the Litany and the Prayers after the Lections are said, the faithful should compose themselves and feel prepared for the great mystery of the Eucharist.
      1. The Eucharist of "The Holy Sacrifice" is the "showing of the Lord's death." It is communion with Jesus as a friend, and with Christ the Son as with God. It is an act of the Church whereby Christians dedicate themselves to the Lord and become aware of His special presence in their midst, in accordance with His word: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
      2. He offering of the Church in the Eucharist is an act closely bound with that of Christ in heaven. The Church "always bears in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in one body."
      3. The words of institution are recited in the Liturgy after recalling Christ's passion. This means that the mere saying of the words does not by itself constitute the "doing" bidden by Christ to His disciples at the Last Supper. The saying of the words gives the reason why and the authority by which the Priest does what Christ did on Calvary. The Church identifies the bread and the cup with the Body and Blood of Christ because Christ Himself identified them by saying what He said at the Last Supper and by thus establishing the "symbolism."
      4. The Holy Sacrifice is the development of the four elements in the action of Christ in instituting the mystery as recorded in the Gospels. Thus Christ:
        1. "took bread",
        2. "gave thanks",
        3. "brake", and
        4. "gave to his Disciples."
      5. The following correspons to these four acts of Christ:
        1. Offertory,
        2. the Intinction and
        3. Fraction, and
        4. Communion.
      1. Overview
        1. The Offertory is when the "Gifts" are brought to the Altar as the offerings of the church.
        2. An individual layman, in making an offering of bread and wine for the Eucharist, offers himself as a priest for himself. When these individual offerings (or their substitutes in any form of donation) are gathered together, the Priest offers them corporately, because in the person of the Priest the Church acts as a priest to herself, offering herself to God the Father as a body.
        3. Then God accepts this offering "in the beloved," i.e., in Christ the Son, and makes it the body of His Son. At the culmination of this acceptance the congregation cries "Abba, Father' by singing the Lord's Prayer at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.
        4. Thus the Eucharistic action requires three agents. The believer makes his own offering, his gifts, for himself. The Deacon brings these individual offerings together and makes them into a corporate offering of the Church. Then the Bishop or Priest makes the corporate offering inside the sanctuary to God the Father, on behalf of the congregation.
      2. The Great Entrance
        1. The Great Entrance refers to the entrance of the "Gifts" by the Deacon into God's presence on the Altar. It represents also Christ's entry upon His redemptive work by His passion, crucifixion and death, "together with them that are His". It shows the going of Christ up to the Cross, which was the Altar of His sacrifice.
        2. xThis being the heart of the mystery of salvation, only the initiated can partake in it. Hence the exclusion of "catechumens" and others who are not initiated, or baptized, as well as those who have temporarily forfeited their birthright acquired at Baptism, i.e., the penitents.
        3. During the Great Entrance the faithful should inwardly accompany Christ to His Cross, resolving to suffer with Him, to die and to conquer with Him.
      3. The Laying of the Gifts
        1. This symbolizes the laying of Christ on the Cross and in the tomb, as upon the Altar of sacrifice. After laying the "Gifts" on the Altar the Priest censes them, in remembrance of the incense, which the women brought to the sepulcher of the Lord.
        2. During the Laying of the Gifts, the faithful should make acts of faith, hope and charity or love. The Litany of the Offertory is a short paraphrase on these three great virtues. The faithful should also ask God to accept their spiritual offerings in Christ, and should make a renewed resolution to dedicate their lives to God.
      4. The Kiss of Peace or The Greeting
        1. The Kiss of Peace, which is a sign of reconciliation, is the symbol of fellowship of the faithful in the Holy Spirit, and of the unity of the Church in the love of God. When the "Gifts" are laid upon the Altar, and thus the one body of Christ, the church with its members, is mystically laid upon the heavenly Altar, God is thereby reconciled with His creatures.
        2. When the faithful receive and give the greeting, they should endeavor to realize their inward reconciliation with God and with each one of their fellow Christians. They should try to purge themselves of pride, hatred, envy, malice, and such other vices as create discord and disturb the harmony of the Body of Christ, the Church.
        3. While giving the Greeting, the person giving it says: "Christ among us has been revealed," and the person receiving the Greeting responds: "Blessed is the revelation of Christ."
      1. Overview
        1. The Eucharistia, or the Anaphora, which is the word used in the "Apostolic Constitutions" of the fourth century, is the Eucharistic Prayer, which constitutes the core of the Divine Liturgy. Eucharistia means "thanksgiving" and Anaphora means "to offer sacrifices". It begins with the Prologue and ends with the Doxology.
        2. During the Eucharistia, the faithful, while following step by step the process indicated by the Eucharistic Prayer, should make an intense spiritual effort to feel and realize his unity with Christ and as such the fact that he is a child of God, and being in God.
      2. The Prologue
        1. The Prologue corresponds with the second action of Christ at the institution, described by His words: "He gave thanks." Thanksgiving therefore is the main theme of the Prologue. In fact, the name Eucharist for the Holy Sacrifice is derived from this opening theme of the Prayer.
        2. At the Prologue the faithful should consider God's infinite mercy to themselves and to mankind, and should give Him "thanks with the whole heart" which is not only meet and proper, but also right and just.
      3. The Anamnese
        1. In the Anamnesis are recounted all the gifts and blessings of God and all the fruits of His infinite mercy; the mercies shown in the old dispensation, and especially those in the new by the Incarnation of the son. Then the mandate of the Lord at the Last Supper is remembered and recounted. This mandate is then linked in the same sentence to the crucifixion, indicating that the "doing" bidden at the Last Supper was a "mystery" sacramentally pre-enacting the sacrifice on Calvary, and thus showing the way in which the faithful could benefit by the passion and death and the resurrection of the Lord.
        2. During the Anamnesis the faithful should recapitulate in their minds and meditate upon the events of the life and passion and death of Christ. Then they should endeavor to realize the fact that they are "in Christ" and as such they try to re-live Christ's life on earth with Him. And they should make an inward, spiritual offering of themselves to God, together with Christ being offered on the Altar.
      4. The Epiclesis
        1. The Epiclesis corresponds to the moment when Christ's body in the tomb was changed into living, glorified body. The Gifts up to now represented the figures or symbols, "the mysteries," of the earthly body of Christ. At the Epiclesis, when the Holy Spirit descends and infuses the Gifts, they become the "mysteries" the "symbols" of the living, glorified Body of Christ. In the same manner did the Lord's body in the tomb become living through the Holy Spirit and rose from the dead.
        2. During the Epiclesis the faithful, while praying with the priest so that God may send the Holy Spirit upon the Gifts, would also pray their heavenly Father to send the same Holy Spirit into their soul, so that they may be one with Christ and His church, and may thus be transfigured and raised together with Christ, after the remission of their sins.
      5. The Diptychs
        1. The Diptychs signify and emphasize the fact that the should of the dead are part of the living body of Christ and that they also rise with Christ.
        2. When the General Intercessions are made during the Diptychs, the faithful should remember and pray for the faithful of the past ages, who lived and died in Christ and who carried forward and handed down the faith to the succeeding generations. The members of the congregations would recall and realize the fact that they belong to the same spiritual family under the fatherhood of God, and that the souls of the dead in Christ speak and work in and through them.
        3. During the Special Intercessions the faithful should remember and pray for their own dead, belonging to the immediate circle of their family, relatives, friends and acquaintances. They should also especially remember and pray for them for whom the prayers of the congregation have been requested.
      6. The Dominical Prayer
        1. After the acceptance of the Sacrifice by God, when the union of the faithful in the Church with Christ is once more assured, when the faithful have "received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry: Abba, Father," when the Spirit bears witness "that we are the children of God...and joint heirs with Christ," then the congregation exultantly bursts into singing the Lord's Prayer. Thus the singing of the Lord's Prayer is the climax of what went before in the Divine Liturgy.
        2. While the Litany is being recited and the Lord's Prayer is being sung, the faithful should follow their meaning with earnest attention, and they should rejoice and be exceedingly glad for their privilege of being the children of the heavenly Father. They should further resolve that they shall be worthy of such an infinitely great and wonderful status.
      7. The Inclination and Elevation
        1. The Christian, after realizing his lofty status of being the Son of God and joint heir with Christ, can only be "kept whole" by virtue of his humility, as the Prayer of Inclination suggests. The Inclination signifies the profound truth of the paradox that we can only have the right to be proud by being humble, just as Christ went through the uttermost degree of humility before He rose and ascended into heaven. Humility, the greatest of virtues, is the condition of the possession of our patrimony. The Prayer of Inclination is addressed to the Holy Spirit because He is the source of all virtues.
        2. The Elevation brings to mind the Ascension of Christ, whereby He went up to heaven, up to His holiness, and "sat with the Father," as the wording of the Prayer of Elevation indicates. It shows the highest point of the upward progress of the life of the soul.
        3. During the Inclination and Elevation the faithful should first bow down and pray for the virtue of humility, for the health and wholeness of their souls. Then, rising, they should raise their inward eyes up to heaven and to the throne of God, and should pray the Lord for holiness and for the life of the Spirit from on high.
      8. The Doxology
        1. The Doxology is the concluding finale of the Eucharistic Prayer, after reaching the point in the Elevation, which indicates the sitting of Christ in glory on His heavenly throne at the right hand of the Father.
        2. While the Doxology is being sung, the faithful should join the priest and clerks in giving glory and blessings to the Holy Trinity with a heart full of thankfulness and joy.
    1. By the immersion of the sacramental Body of Christ in the sacramental Blood, salvation by Christ's Blood is signified. The spiritual baptism of the believers by the spirit and His fire, through communion with the living, life-giving and glorified Body of Christ and through the washing by His Blood, is indicated by the act of Intinction in the Eucharist.
    2. Fraction is symbolic of the unity of the body of Christ in the multiplicity of the individual members of the Church. Thus one loaf is broken and distributed among the people. Fraction following the Eucharistia corresponds with the action by the Lord when He "broke the bread" after "giving thanks," and said it should be distributed among many.
    3. During the Intinction and Fraction, the faithful should recall their baptism of the water and of the spirit, by which they were cleansed of their sins and received spiritual power from God. They should renew their realization that they are saved by Christ's Blood, and that they share this salvation with their fellow Christians, with whom they are one.
      1. Communion is the final act of the Holy Sacrifice. It is the sacramental union of the believer with the Lord Christ. It's effect is remission of the sins of the communicant, his sanctification, and reception by him of the power of the Spirit and of eternal life, which was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ to them that would taste of His very Body and Blood.
      2. Communion is the act by which the believer "mystically" or sacramentally receives Christ through the Holy Spirit. For this reason it brings to mind the day of Pentecost when the Church and her members received the Holy Spirit sent by the Father through Christ. As Pentecost concluded the cycle of events connected with the work of Christ Incarnate, so also communion concludes the "mystical" theosis of the believer through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
      3. The faithful should approach communion with full consciousness of the importance of their act for the health and salvation of their souls. They should receive communion feeling "hungry and thirsty" for it, feeling the necessity for the cleansing of their souls, when they are repentant and humble, and when they are alright in their faith.
      4. Communion is the exclusive and great privilege for an Orthodox Christian, and he should be fully conscious of it.
      1. The Prayers before Communion are expressions of joy and gratitude at the privilege of being accounted worthy of communicating with Christ, and thereby being enlightened with divine light. They are also entreaties addressed to God to make the communicants worthy of the great mystery, in spite of their unworthiness, and endow them with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, cleansing them of their sins.
      2. When the Hymn of Praise is sung and the prayers are said, the faithful should ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to make them worthy of the Holy Communion, either on that particular day or in the proper time in the future. These gifts are humility, saintliness, joy and gratitude for being an orthodox Christian, fortitude to resist the spiritual enemy, etc.
    4. By partaking of the mystical Body and Blood of Christ, the spiritual and bodily life of a Christian are seen to be bound together, and their unity is sacramentally realized. By partaking the Christian will have Christ with him "always even unto the end of the world". Therefore the faithful, if they are spiritually prepared by repentance, confession, and penance - which they should endeavor always to be - should not fail to receive communion as often as possible. The more the soul is nourished, the healthier it will be.
    6. After the Partaking, the essential parts of the Holy Sacrifice come to an end. The Thanksgiving is a review of the benefits that the faithful have derived from Communion, as well as an expression of thanks for them. Also it contains prayers asking God to make those benefits abiding.
      1. The Prayers Amid the Church:
      2. The Prayer Amid the Church is a closing prayer, spreading, so to speak, the blessings of the Holy Sacrifice over the whole Church of Christ and the world. During the Prayer Amid the Church, the faithful should remember their brethren of the faith throughout the world, their country, the secular authorities, and all mankind.
      3. The Last Gospel:
      4. The Last Gospel gives the theological foundation of the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Holy Sacrifice according to the doctrine of the New Testament. "And the Word was made flesh" is the key phrase and the reception of the Word is paralleled with the reception of Christ through the Holy Sacrifice.Listening to the Last Gospel the faithful should realize that through communion the Word dwells among them.
      5. The Blessing and Dismissal:
      6. The last part of the Liturgy is an appropriate way of sending the faithful away. On leaving the Church the faithful should see that they take God's blessing with them into their daily life in the world.
Church Etiquette During the Divine Liturgy

What follows are instructional practices of the Armenian and other Orthodox Churches offered to the faithful.

ChaliceWhile 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

Basic Teachings for the Faithful While Attending the Divine Liturgy The Time to Arrive at Church and Entering Late

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.

Standing vs. Sitting

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:

  • When the Badarak begins, the Celebrant Priest enters, then ascends to the altar, to when the curtain is closed;
  • When the curtain is opened, the Priest descends into the sanctuary in procession to the time of the reading of the Prophetic Reading and Epistle;
  • During the Gospel reading, the Creed and following;
    • From the time of the Great Entrance to the conclusion of the distribution of Holy Communion;
    • The Dismissal.

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.

Crossing Your Legs

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.”

In and Out

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.

  • Parents take note: If your child is making child-like sounds by all means do not leave services with your children thinking they are disturbing the Liturgy. The normal sounds of infants and little toddlers indicate that there is new life within the community and as a baptized child of God; they are privileged to remain in the sanctuary, as is anyone else. Who knows: children may be speaking with God and He with them in their own understandable ways. But, if a child is being disruptive to where there is screaming or load crying, take them quietly out of church just long enough to settle them down then return to the Liturgy.
Idle Conversations During Badarak

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.

Cell Phones

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.

Sunday Dress

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:

  • Children:
    • Only young children (under 10) may 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. No one at any age should wear T-shirts with any kind of writing, pictures, or logos on them.
  • For Men:
    • Men should also dress modestly. While coat and tie are not mandatory, shirts should have collars and be buttoned. (the actual collar button may be left undone, but two or three buttons undone showing a bare chest is inappropriate). Trousers should be cleaned and pressed. Jeans of any color or shorts are inappropriate for church wear.
    • If you are to go somewhere after church where you wish to dress casually, bring a change of clothing with you and change after coffee hour. Remember use your best judgment and good taste when dressing for church.
  • For Women:
    • No tank shirts. Dresses should be modest in length, should have backs, and not be cut low in the front. If women wear pants to church, they should be dress pants (not jeans, leggings, etc.).
    • Shorts of any type are never appropriate for church.
    • Females if they wish may cover their heads when entering the church sanctuary. This instructional come to us from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. (11.2-16). The understanding at during the time of St. Paul, a woman’s hair was considered her crown jewel and glory. Covering her hair or head was a sign of humility during worship before God.
    • In many early cultures, a woman was shamed by having her head shaved, an outward sign of her disgrace. Such actions have little meaning today. If one feels that it is proper to cover their head then so be it.
  • Wearing Lipstick:
    • If you have ever seen a Gospel cover or hand cross of the Priest in just the right light at the end of Badarak, you may see lipstick prints all over it. Lipstick may look fine on lips, but it looks horrible on the Gospel, icons, crosses, and the Priest’s hand. Even though the cross and Gospel is cleaned after everyone venerates it, it is improper to impose your lipstick on them.
    • If you insist on wearing lipstick to church, blot your lips well before taking Holy Communion, or kissing the cross or the Priest’s hand.
    • Even better; wait until after church to put it on. After all, God is not impressed with how attractive you think you look externally — your makeup or clothing — but how attractive you are internally.
  • The most important item to wear to church is a cloak of humility and respect. Again, God indeed loves us no matter what we wear. Nevertheless, it is our duty (and privilege) to show Him how much we love Him by dressing respectfully and with dignity.
  • Choir Members and Altar Servers also need pay attention to the above as well, whether wearing a shabig (robe) or not during services.
On Crossing Oneself

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:

  • When the Celebrant Priest turns and makes the sign of the Cross upon you and offers the “peace” blessing - khaghaghoutiun amenetsoon;
  • You hear one of the variations of the phrase, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Hayr Soorp, Vorti Soorp, Hoki Soorp);
  • At the beginning and end of the liturgical service or your private prayers;
  • Entering or exiting the church, or when passing in front of the Holy Altar; before venerating an icon, a holy picture, the cross, or Gospel book.
Snacks for Children

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 Before The Dismissal

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 End of Divine Liturgy

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!”

Receiving Mahs

Symbol2At 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.

Click here to get this file as a PDF.

What Do Children Do During Church?

Children in ChurchTeaching 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.


Child PrayingWhen 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:

Jesus and ChildrenMatthew 19:13-15

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.

Mark 10:13-16

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.


PreschoolerA 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.


Adolescent in ChurchT 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:

Orhnya Der.
Bless, Lord.

He will reply:

Asdvadz orhneh.
May God bless you.

To the celibate Priest or Hayr Soorp, we greet him by saying:

Asdvadz ognagan.
May God help you.

He will reply:

Asdvadz bahaban.
May God keep or protect you.

To the Bishop, we can also greet him by saying:

Asdvadz ognagan.
May God help you.

He will reply:

Asdvadz bahaban.
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:

Asdvadz orhneh.
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 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).

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