The doors! The doors!

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We worship thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify thy holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, we call upon thy name. O come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy hath come into all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we praise his Resurrection, for He hath endured the Cross for us, and by death He hath destroyed our death.

Shine! Shine! O new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon Thee; dance, now, and be glad, O Sion. Do Thou be radiant, O pure Mother of God, in the Resurrection of thy Son.

O how divine, how loving, how sweet is thy voice! For Thou hast truly promised to be with us unto the end of the age, O Christ; having this foundation of hope, we, the faithful, rejoice.

O great and most holy Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom and Word and Power of God! Grant us more fully to partake of Thee in the unwaning day of thy Kingdom.

Above are the Resurrection hymns said by the deacon at the Divine Liturgy after the communion of the people. I got to thinking about them after a conversation with a friend last evening who was asking about some parts of our Byzantine Liturgy. The doors open at communion as the Holy Things are presented to the people. They approach to receive and from that point forward, the doors remain wide open, symbolising the Kingdom, which is as fully open to them as is possible during our earthly sojourn.

My parish priest was trained to serve the Liturgy alone, without a deacon, without subdeacons, and without servers. In the missions in Britain, this sort of training is very sensible, in my opinion. I have seen clergy who are accustomed to all of the bells and whistles of a fully-staffed parish struggle when having to "slum it" with no servers, taking for ever to manage multiple tasks at once because they are so accustomed to having help.

Anyway, this training means that he is programmed to turn around at the appropriate points to open and close the veil and Royal Doors at the appointed moments during the Liturgy. This is actually one of the roles of the subdeacon. In fact, part of the ordination prayer asks
'that he may love the beauty of thy house, and stand before the doors of thy holy temple, and kindle the lamps in the tabernacle of thy glory'.
Now that I am a subdeacon, we have been slowly trying to wean my parish priest off operating the doors so that I can do it and he can get on with the business of praying and leading the people in prayer undistracted. We usually end up colliding with each other. It's difficult when somebody has been doing something for over 13 years. Anyway, as I do this more and more the symbolism of the doors and their various openings and closings once again has meaning for me. This is an important part of the drama of our services into which we are supposed to enter with all of our being and I think that it is too easy to take this for granted when standing in the congregation. The benefit of the doors and veil in my participation in the services is one of the things that I miss most being in the altar most of the time, and at Vespers, when I am usually on the kliros, my head is usually buried too deeply in the books for me to notice the doors. It is only now that I once again have an active part in their use in the services that I realise just how much I missed the doors and I'm very pleased to have some part in their use again.

Of course, the other thing for which I'm grateful is that I don't have to work the doors at Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

1 responses:

Jon Marc said...

I'm not sure I've ever met a priest used to have a deacon about, much less subdeacons :-). I think most of our parish priests in the USA are used to 'slumming it' (lol). It's nice to have fuller services when it's possible though!

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