07 March 2018
Prostrations at Liturgy
PROSTRATIONS AT THE LITURGY
We make prostrations on 3 Sundays only, and only before the Cross.
1. Veneration of the Cross, 3rd Sunday of Lent
2. Exaltation of the Holy Cross (if it falls on a Sunday, November 14/27)
3. Procession of the Cross (if it falls on a Sunday, August 1/13)
At these Sunday liturgies we first venerate the Cross with 3 prostrations when we enter the church, and then the rest of the saints (icons) we venerate with the usual bows from the waist.
We also prostrate during the liturgy 4x during the chanting of, "Before Thy Cross, we bow..." which is sung instead of the Trisagion ("Holy God, Holy Mighty...")
We make prostrations at these times on weekdays.
1. At the Anaphora, the priest or bishop says, “Let us give thanks unto the Lord.”
2. At the end of the hymn: “We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord; and we pray unto Thee, O our God.” For those in the Altar who are able to hear it, this should be done when the priest or bishop says, “Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit.” That prayer is traditionally said in a low voice, while the hymn is being sung, and so the people usually do not hear it said. People then prostrate at the end of the hymn after the singing has stopped (not during the last words).
3. At the end of the hymn to the Theotokos at the Anaphora: “It is truly meet,” or its substitute (Zadostoinik—the irmos of the ninth ode in the canon to the feast).
4. When the chalice is brought out by the deacon or priest, and he says, “With the fear of God and with faith, draw nigh.” (The clergy do not prostrate at this time, because they do this earlier in the Altar, before they commune.)
5. When the chalice is shown to the people for the last time, and the priest or bishop says “Always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” Those who have received communion do not make a full prostration, rather a bow from the waist.
It is also a common practice in some local traditions to make a prostration when we sing the “Our Father.” However, according to Archbishop Peter, St. John of Shanghai taught that this was incorrect, because, as we say just before we sing this prayer at the Liturgy, we are asking that God would enable us “with boldness and without condemnation to dare to call upon Him, the heavenly God as Father...” And a son does not prostrate himself before his father, when he has such boldness and is not under condemnation. A bow from the waist is not inappropriate. (See Son of the Church, p. 18-19)
We also do not make prostrations on feasts of the Lord (except for the veneration of Cross), regardless of what day they fall on.
We make prostrations on great feasts of the Theotokos, unless they fall on a Sunday.
During the Church Year, we stop making prostrations after the Presanctified Liturgy on Holy Wednesday, with the only exception being the veneration of the Burial Shroud of the Lord at Holy Friday Vespers, and Holy Saturday Matins.
Even though the Burial Shroud remains out until just before Paschal Matins (in Russian practice), prostrations are not supposed to be done when venerating it after the Matins of Holy Saturday (which is actually served Friday evening).
We do not make prostrations again until the Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost.