Participating in the Divine Liturgy

Participating in the Divine Liturgy


The Divine Liturgy is an experience that invites us to participate with every level of our being—not one that merely asks us to observe.

Indeed, the word “liturgy” literally means the common work, or common service, of the people. As Father Thomas Hopko wrote in his book, “The Orthodox Faith: Volume 2 Worship”, the Divine Liturgy is the joint activity of Orthodox Christians worshipping, praying, singing, hearing God’s Word, being instructed in God’s commandments, and knowing “the living experience of God’s eternal kingdom through communion with . . . Christ.”

As Father Hopko writes, we bring the entire community together—“Always everyone, always together”—and offer only one Divine Liturgy per day. It is never the priest alone. We are his “Amen.” As my own priest recently reminded Me, “It’s not the priest’s job to pray; it’s all of us. It’s not the choir’s job to sing; the entire congregation should join in. We all pray; we all sing; we all commune. Together, we are the Church, the People of God.”

Unlike football games or the Olympics, there is no sitting home and watching the athleticism of ascetic struggle from our couches. We are all enjoined to participate. In a common expression, I’ll admit I do not yet fully understand, “We are saved together, but damned alone.” Together: we have our godparents and our patron saints; we are surrounded by icons of the saints in our churches and hopefully our homes; our Guardian Angel watches beside us to protect and strengthen us.

Part of the gift of the Liturgy is that it is never a spectator sport or an individual sport, but instead it is a team sport, all of us together.


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About author

Cynthia Long

Cynthia Long is a librarian, folklorist, and writer with a focus in Celtic folklore, mythology, and history. She earned her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Penn., in May 2016. In August 2017 she presented at Doxacon, the Orthodox Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, on the topic of fairy tales and the famous C.S. Lewis quotation that says, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again." Cynthia was Chrismated in September 2012 and attends St. George Church in the Philadelphia suburbs, where she tends the parish library.