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Third Hour is at 9:45 a.m.
Divine Liturgy is celebrated at 10:00 a.m.
What to Expect When Visiting Saint Basil's
You'll find St. Basil's to be full of friendly people, lively and reverent worship, lots of singing, lots of children, and has a fellowship hour afterwards which you shouldn't miss. We look forward to meeting you!
Our Liturgy typically lasts around an hour and fifteen to twenty minutes. In that time, there is much standing and singing. You will notice people lighting candles and saying prayers. Some will be reverencing the icons. You'll notice the smell of incense. (If you have previously had problems with incense irritating you, it was most likely the poor quality of incense used. Ours is not likely to cause you irritation.) You'll hear the bells attached to the censor. You'll see our iconography, our iconostas, and the priest's vestments. You will notice that people of all ages, from infant to elderly, worship together at the same Liturgy. You will hear all our voices rise up in song to praise the Lord. These sights and sounds are likely to be new and different. Many visitors prefer to take all this in on the first visit and do not attempt to follow along in the pew book. If you would like, you can stand with one of our Liturgy Guides who can explain the Liturgy to you. The average parishioner dresses in slacks and a nice shirt for the men and a skirt with blouse, a dress, or slacks and a dress shirt being average for the women. As we have fasted before receiving the Eucharist, we are happy to have refreshments in the Hall immediately after Liturgy. You are invited to share the food and drink, as well as your impressions, with us.
The Long Answer:
Upon Arrival: You should expect to be greeted, sometimes by several people, when you walk in. They will help you collect the liturgical books and offer to sit with you to explain what is happening during the Liturgy if you wish. If you would prefer to be on your own, simply say so. If no one greets you immediately, just wait a moment or two. We are a very friendly parish and it won't be long before someone says hello.
If you arrive a little early, you might think you are late because we are already praying. What you are seeing and hearing is Third Hour, a prayer service for the 9 o'clock hour in remembrance of the the descent of the Holy Spirit which Acts 2:15 says was at that time. This service is sung every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Feel free to enter and pray with us or pray in preparation for the Liturgy. If you are early and you hear bells, that is Father incensing during the Proskomedia or preparation. Take the opportunity to pray with any of the ikons in the church, light a candle, watch what is going on, open the Liturgical books to the front and to pray any of the prayers before Communion or simply experience the preparation for the Liturgy.
The Beginning of Liturgy: Once Liturgy starts expect a great deal of singing. There is only one prayer in the entire Liturgy that is spoken instead of chanted. The books provide the musical notations if you want to follow along; but visitors often prefer to keep the book closed and to join in when they catch on. "Lord have mercy," and, "Grant this, O Lord." are two places you will likely catch on very quickly and be able to join in if you wish.
Our temple is arranged in a traditional Byzantine style, with iconography encircling the nave, an icon screen (or iconostas) separating the nave from the altar (or sanctuary), and a tetrapod in the front center with an icon for veneration. You'll see people go up and make the Sign of the Cross and kiss the icon when they enter the temple. When they enter their pew, people will also bow from the waist toward the Holy Table. You are welcome to do so this as well. Incense is used throughout the Liturgy. Our incense is of excellent quality and has a beautiful bouquet. It very rarely causes irritation to any parishioner or guest. The priest's censer has 12 bells on it, one for each of the apostles which you will frequently hear. One bell is silent and represents Judas Iscariot. Many people are moved by the sights, sounds, scents, and bells of the church. If you find this to be the case, consider yourself in good company. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, when Vladimir the Grand-Prince of Kiev sent scouts out to determine the true faith, they returned to him after attending Divine Liturgy saying they did not know whether they were in Heaven or on Earth.
The Processions: There are several times that the priest leaves the altar. Two of these are for processions. First is the Little Entrance, in which the priest carries the Gospels to the people. Parishioners give various signs of reverence and respect to the Word made present among us. You will see people bowing or crossing themselves when the Gospels pass by them. The second procession, or Great Entrance, is when the priest brings the gifts of bread and wine through the people to the altar. This is in remembrance of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem as he was preparing for His sacrifice. You'll notice people reaching out and touching the hem of Father's phelonion (the cape that he wears) to attach their prayers to the prayers he is carrying forward to the altar. You and your children are welcome to do so as well.
The Bible Readings: We have two Bible readings each Sunday, one usually being from the New Testament and one from the Gospel. A parishioner chants the first reading and Father or a visiting Deacon always chants the Gospel. During the Gospel reading, all the children go forward to stand with Jesus in the Gospel. It helps them to pay attention and brings them closer to Christ through the Word. If you have children, they are welcome to go up as well. Don't worry if they are a little late. We don't mind and you aren't bothering anyone to send them up there to hear about the Lord. At the end of the Gospel reading, Father lets all the children (and any adults with them who wish to) kiss the Gospel as a sign of respect for the Word of God.
The Children and Youth: You might notice that our church is full of children and youth; and they all are present throughout Liturgy. There are several reasons for this. First, the Lord himself told us to let the little children come to Him and that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Second, the Lord told us that we are all to become like little children if we wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Third, we believe that all of creation has a role to play in worshiping the Lord. This includes little babies and the fidgety toddlers. Fourth, we commune all children which would be difficult to do if they were in a nursery. Fifth, we find that the children are generally well behaved and like to participate in the worship. With an active liturgy full of singing and movement, their fidgetiness is not lessened and they have an outlet for their desire to express themselves and participate. If your children aren't accustomed to it yet, feel free to take them to the Narthex and to watch and listen from there.
Communion: Another thing you'll notice is the two times the people process forward to the front of the temple. The first time is during the Eucharist. All Catholics and Orthodox who are in good standing may receive; and all others may bow their heads for a blessing. [Orthodox Christians are urged to respect the norms of their churches.] Children who are not yet communed or adults who are non-Catholics sometimes go forward for this blessing and sometimes stay standing in their pews. You may do either. If you see Father bending over, he's probably blessing a child in the womb or communing a child. You'll notice that we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord together on a golden spoon. This is the Byzantine tradition. You'll see that all the people cross their arms over their chest, right over left, in an X for Xhristos: Christ. They'll open their mouths, tilt their heads back, keep their tongues in, and won't say anything. What Father will say is, "The Servant of God [name] receives the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and for life everlasting." To young children he will say, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
The Antidoran and Veneration of the Cross: The second time we all process toward the front of the church is at the end of Liturgy. The server has a bowl of bread called antidoran. The communion Lamb was cut out of this same loaf, so this is a bread of fellowship that we can all share. It is especially there for anyone who did not receive the Eucharist, like our visitors, so that we can break bread and eat from the same loaf together. Father is standing behind the server with a cross in his hand. He gives a Christian greeting, usually, "Glory to Jesus Christ!" You'll see us all kissing the cross out of respect, many people will then kiss Father's hand out of respect for the Lord who comes to them by the priest's hand, and they'll respond to the greeting with, "Glory to Him forever!" Sometimes visitors are a little taken aback, never having seen this before. Your options are 1) to not go forward and to not receive the bread of fellowship, 2) to go forward to receive the bread of fellowship and to then turn out of the line before going forward to Father, 3) to receive the bread and to say "Good morning," to Father or even to respond with the proper greeting but to refrain from kissing the cross, or 4) to receive the bread and kiss the cross and say the greeting and be proud of yourself for getting it all down on the first try. If you choose options 1, 2, or 3, that just means you need to visit again to work your way up to option 4.
Coffee Hour: After Liturgy, you should expect to visit the Parish Hall. We have snacks and drinks provided to break the fast, the Byzantine Shop, and always lots of activity. A couple of parishioners give tours of the temple after Litugy to visitors who express an interest in having one, and they explain the ikonography, church architecture, liturgy, and so on. The children usually make their way to the playground out back when the weather is nice. The guys often join them and play horse shoes. Feel free to join in!A Last Word: There are bound to be any number of other things you will notice on your first, second, and third visits. Most people keep noticing things, such as the prolific use of Biblical quotes and allusions throughout the Liturgy, for months and even years after their first visit. All you need to know is that you are welcome to worship with us, that you don't need to know or do anything but to come, and that we look forward to meeting you. You'll find St. Basil's to be full of friendly people, lively and reverent worship, lots of singing, lots of children, and to have a fellowship hour afterwards which you shouldn't miss.
“A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”
--St. Basil the Great --
Our Young Adult Group for 18 to 20-somethings and more meets the second Sunday of each month after services.
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Fr. Joseph Wargacki
1118 East Union Bower Road, Irving, Texas 75061
Saint Basil the Great
Byzantine Catholic Church
Please see Fr. Joseph for opportunities to serve the parish.