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agios_chrysostomosThe Divine Liturgy is not a matter of texts and editions, but a living tradition. The service is not learned from books, but from [empirical] experience, from serving with one’s fathers and preceptors in the Faith […] As Orthodox clergy become more removed from established centers of piety, especially those in diaspora from traditional homelands, the need for guidance from detailed liturgical texts becomes the more important, both for the instruction of the newly ordained and for the continued guidance of those already familiar with the divine services. This is especially true of English translations which guide those who may have little familiarity with texts in the original languages. […] It is hazardous to take older and more recent editions and to draw conclusions about modifications and changes in practice. It would be wrong to take such an array of variations and to assemble one’s own technique of serving, though one might quote precedents and give convincing arguments for each variation. It is necessary to understand these variations lest we become adamant about practices which have undergone change. It is important to study and to understand the history of liturgies that we might the better distinguish a variation from an innovation which is theologically incorrect, that we might avoid some of the changes one finds in recent editions which seem generated by nothing more than a striving after originality.

Hieromonk Justin Agiosi­naïtes

Ordering of the Divine Liturgy

Librarian at St. Katherine’s Orthodox Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt