Reading the Service Books While Traveling or at Home
This article is over fifteen years old. You will want to check out Fr. John Whiteford’s Liturgical Texts and Resources Site for more recommendations on current liturgical materials available in English. Nevertheless, this article is still timely due to current world events that could easily result in many Orthodox Christians being cut off from their parish churches, if not openly persecuted. It behooves all those who love Christ and His Holy Church to know, and to have the materials to do, the Divine Services so that they may be carried on regardless of one’s ability to attend church.
This article is admittedly out-of-date. A plethora of service books has appeared since this was first published, especially from St. John of Kronstadt Press. I do not have time to research what changes should be made to this article. I am asking that those more knowledgeable about these things than I please email me any corrections they think should be made to this compilation. Also, any changes resulting from variations in Greek practice are also welcome. I will update the article and announce the major changes, as a service to all. Thank you.
When Orthodox people have no opportunity to attend Orthodox divine services, especially in non-Orthodox countries, then the Church allows and encourages individuals and groups of Orthodox to read the service books privately, for the preservation of their faith. Such readings have long been customary in monastic establishments, hospitals, schools, on shipboard and, in recent times, by Orthodox in theUSSRand in the diaspora.Readingprayer books or service books may, at least to some extent, replace church services.
Besides preserving our Orthodox faith, reading services is beneficial because:
1. It teaches us, even in non-Orthodox lands, to remember and honor Orthodox feasts and saints’ days.
2. It acquaints us with the order of church services and with the profound content of our service books.
3. It safeguards us from the danger of sectarian and heterodox influence.
4. It helps parents and teachers raise their children and young adults in the spirit of Orthodoxy.
5. It unites dispersed Orthodox people in our faith and love for the Orthodox Church.