WHERE TO SIT DURING CHURCH:
During service all male over age three are required to sit on the left side and the women sit on the right.
Facing the East, (the Altar/Ark of the Covenant).
When we pray we pray standing and “lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” Psalm 134: 2
GREETINGS THE ABBA OR PRIEST:
It is Ethiopian custom to greet friends by kissing on the cheek three or more times alternating. It signifies the Holy Trinity. Formal greeting is done with a bow to show respect, or a hand shake.
It is not the rule of the church that the members shake the hands of the Priest. Normally you would bow in a normal respectful fashion.
~> Note: A female should remove her head covering (Natala) when
she bows to a Abba or to kiss the Cross or Holy Bible.
† A high ranking Abba such as the Abuna, usually gets a lower bow or even three very low bows to show respect for his rank and knowledge.
† If he has his cross with him, he will extend it to
you to offer blessings, then you should respond by kissing the cross.
(He may touch the cross to each of your cheeks then towards your mouth; then you kiss it)
† If he does not hold the cross, he will extend his open hand to you; then kiss his hand and say . . .
“Rimit my sin.”
The Priest will respond:
“Let God remit your sin.”
DURING SERVICE AND PRAYERS
During the service when the Priest faces the congregation with his cross in his hands and blesses them, the congregation should make the sign of the cross upon themselves.
At the end of each prayer, when the Priest says “Amen” the congregation must also say “Amen”.
All members should know from memory “The Lords Prayer”, The Prayer of theVirgin Mariam. and the Creed, and say them in concert with the Priest during all services of the church.
~ If you don’t know it in Amaric, then say it in English silently. (When the deacon say “Besemayat” he signals to start the Lords Prayer)
During service when the deacon comes around with the Holy Book (Bible), we touch our forehead to it and then kiss it. ~ This is done once or three times in succession.
When the Priest comes around with the processional cross and presents it to each one to offer blessings, we also touch our forehead to it and then kiss it.
This is done once or three times in succession.
Note: At end of Service when Abba stands at front of altar holding the Processional Cross, you may also approach and touch your forehead to it and then kiss it.
Or the Priest may just offer his open hands because his hands touched the body and blood of Christ during Holy Communion. So the faithful will approach him and bow and he will touch your forehead and you will kiss his open palms.
(You are NOT kissing just the palms of a man but we believe you are kissing the HOST ~ Our Lord, because He dwelt briefly there in the hands of the Priest when he prepared the communion.)
Don’t be shy; He is offering you blessings for your day etc.
Take eat; this is my body. This is my blood, drink Ye all of it, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matt. 26: 26-28
Before Holy Communion, one shoud be fasting from 12AM (midnight) or 9 hours before if the tiime between midnight and communion is less than 9 hours; and not have taken any food or drink before.
To commune, one should prepare himself spiritually to receive, and if his sin is extremely grave, he should go to confession before and receive absolution from the Priest before coming to receive.
Note : If you are unable to fast due to illness or for other medical reasons you should make the Priest aware of this before taking Holy communion.
Women should not enter the church or partake of the Holy Communion when they are menstruating.
Only the faithful and baptized members shall receive communion as follows: This is according to Canon Law.
(1) First the Priests and Clergy, (2) After all clergy, then the babies and
children who are baptised,
(3) Then any Monks or Emahoys (Nuns) present will receive before the men
(4) Then the men, (5) Then the women.
When you receive the “Host” you should say the following, while the “Host” is still in your mouth :
Holy, Holy, Holy Trinity ineffable, Grant me to receive this body and this blood for life and not for condemnation. Grant me to bring forth fruit that shall be well pleasing unto thee, to the end that I may appear in thy glory and live unto thee doing thy will.
~ Then he shall eat what he has received.
~ While chewing, you should put your hand over your mouth.
~ You should chew in fear and trembling without sound until you finish.
Then you should say:
Fill my mouth with praise, my heart with joy and my soul with gladness, fill me who have received of this devine mystery,
O Thou who has become man for the salvation of man.
At the end of church service the Bishop or Priest who prepared the Holy Communion will stand in the front of the altar and all the people will go up to him to receive blessing from him. Even if you did not take communion.
He will extend his open palms to you at this point you bow and kiss his open palms. ~ Sometimes the Abba will walk around the church and offer his open palms to each and every one. (This is done in reverence to the fact that his hands did hold the Blood and the Body of Our Lord).
Everyone can go up to the front at the end of service to also receive small pieces of bread and Holy Water in cups.
All the faithful can go up and receive this, however if they did take Holy Communion, then you should not also take this bread because you have already received the actual body and blood of Our Lord.
WHAT ABBA’S DO TO PREPARE FOR THE HOLY CEREMONY
When the Abba first arrives at the sanctuary, before doing anything else, he will approach the altar and prostrate himself.
He will first recite the Prayer of Penitence and silently he recites: Psalms 25, 61, 102, 103, 113, 130 and 131.
Then the Prayers of Saint Basil and Saint Gregory. After this he will say St. John Chrysostom’s Prayer.
You should also read these at home so you may better understand what is taking place when you arrive.
The structure and practice of the Qidas has not changed since the 4th century.
The only change has been the translation from Ge’ez (ancient liturgical language which is still used in church) to Amharic
(modern official language of Ethiopia), and English for non Amharic speakers.
This was done by order of HIM Haile Selassie in the 1950’s. He is also responsible for having the liturgy printed in books, thereby making it accessible to every one to read and follow along.
Some church’s in USA now project the Liturgy on a screen in all three languages so the faithful is better able to follow along.
I pray that the info on this page has helped you to have a little better knowledge of what take place.
In the Orthodox Church, any member of the clergy, of whatever rank, will be vested when serving their particular function during the Divine Liturgy or other service. Usage is rooted in the early history of the church.
The various vestments serve several different functions.
~ The three forms of stole are marks of rank. The three outer garments serve to distinguish the clergy from the laity. Some are practical, holding the other vestments in place. Some are awards of distinction.
In addition to these functions, most vestments carry a symbolic meaning as well. These symbolic meanings are often indicated by the prayer that the priest says as he puts each item on.
These prayers are verses taken directly from the Old Testament, usually the Psalms. For example, the prayer for the Sticharion is from
My soul will rejoice in the Lord, for he has clothed me with a garment of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of gladness; he has placed a crown on my head as on a bridegroom, and adorned me with beauty as a bride.