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Guidelines for Members

Attendance

Orthodox Christians should attend Liturgy every Sunday and on all major feast days of the year. Since attendance is considered a privilege, every effort should be made to be present when the Liturgy begins with the words, "Blessed is the Kingdom." These words call the worshippers to experience the reality of the communion between God and all the faithful who are members of the Militant Church on earth and the Triumphant one in Heaven. The Divine Liturgy embodies the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, attendance is so vital that Canon 80, Council of Trullo 692 AD states, "..if a layman staying in a town without coming to divine services for three Sundays...he should be denied Communion."

Holy Communion

For Orthodox Christians, partaking of Holy Communion (Holy Eucharist) is the most sacred of all acts. Receiving the very body and very blood of Jesus Christ is the highest privilege granted by the Lord to His Church. It is the sign that the recipients have formally accepted the Orthodox Faith through Baptism and/or Holy Chrismation (confirmation). In addition Orthodox Christians prepare to receive Holy Communion by following established periods of fasting throughout the year and by partaking in the sacrament of Confession. It is for these reasons that only Orthodox Christians may receive Holy Communion ...and they do not participate in any sacraments of other Christian bodies. At the Saint Luke parish, those who wish to partake of Holy Communion must fast from all food and drink from midnight the night before. They are also are encouraged to partake of Confession frequently but not less than once a year. For those who receive Communion each Sunday, communal Confession is offered four times a year during the four fasting periods. Visitors who are in good standing of another Orthodox parish are welcome to receive Holy Communion. However, it is a courtesy to inform the priest before the Divine Liturgy.

A Candle Offering

Upon entering the church, Orthodox Christians light a candle before an icon as a reminder of Christ's words from the Sermon on the Mount. "You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 5: 14, 16) Candles are also burned as a prayer offering and for the commemoration of the departed who are with Christ. (The donation for the candle is an amount determined by the person.) The faithful venerate the icon of the season, say private prayers, and join the congregation in worship. They stand, sit, or kneel and cross themselves as the moment requires.

External Expressions

At this point, it should be made clear that gestures and attitudes in the Church are the expressions of personal feelings. For this reason individual expressions remain with the individual and are not firmly regulated for each and every case. Orthodox Christians may cross themselves, kneel, venerate an icon, or stand depending upon their personal feelings during the Liturgy. With regards to kneeling, Church history and Orthodox tradition teach that at the beginning of Christianity, everyone participated in the Divine Liturgy daily, not just on Sundays. Since they knelt during the daily Liturgies, they did not kneel on Sundays. The First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD decreed that Sunday is the great day dedicated to the Resurrection of Our Lord, and Christians should pray standing and not kneeling. Over the centuries, as Orthodox Christians could not attend daily Divine Liturgies, the general practice was for participants to kneel at least during the consecration of the Holy Gifts, when the choir sings, "We praise You..." and during the Lord's Prayer. The Church especially prohibits kneeling from Easter to Pentecost, since this is a season of great joy and happiness.

Singing

The Orthodox Liturgy is always sung. The responses are given by specially trained cantors, choir directors, choirs, and by the entire congregation. The ancient practice of the Church was that the entire congregation sang the responses. Singing in an Orthodox Church is considered prayer transformed into poetry and music. For this reason the Holy Fathers and Church Canons condemned the use of elaborate music or instrumental music in the Liturgy. At Saint Luke there is no musical accompaniment.

Baptism

Who
Any adult who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and has undergone an examination of conscience by the priest can be baptized. Children are baptized and confirmed as full members of the Church under the sponsorship of Godparents who pledge to nurture the child in the faith. Children are encouraged to receive Holy Communion regularly. Mark 10:14 (RSV) states, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belong the Kingdom of God."

When
Baptisms are usually performed on Sunday, but anytime is possible. In case of newborns the baptism should be scheduled before the 40th day after birth.

Name
Choosing the name is the right of the parents or, in the case of an adult, by the adult... with the consultation of the priest. On the eight day after birth, the priest gives the name at a special prayer service. The name must be that of an Orthodox Christian Saint, not one chosen at random. Children should be taught about their patron Saints as guides for their lives. Since each baptized Christian chooses one patron Saint, only one name is given at the Baptism - not two. The name should match the patron Saint's name in English and not be altered. Altering the Saint's name violates the Orthodox practice of honoring and venerating the Saints. (Example: using William instead of Basil). Saints By Day Click to go to Saints By Day and select the appropriate date for information on the saints for a certain date.

Preparation
The priest should be contacted to arrange for the following: (1) Naming of the child on the eighth day, (2) Churching of the mother and child prior to the Baptism and (3) Date of the Baptism.

Items
The following items should be supplied for the Baptism: (1) An Orthodox style Cross with chain or ribbon, (2) All white baptismal outfit including white undershirt, diaper, socks and shoes, (3) White blanket, (4) One large (bath size) white towel, (5) One small white hand size towel, (6) One white crib-size flat sheet, (7) Baptismal candles - available in the church bookstore, (8) One small (8.5 oz) bottle of olive oil and (9) one bar of hand soap ( unnecessary in some traditions).

Godparents:
One sponsor is required for the ceremony and he/she must be an Orthodox Christian who is in good standing in his/her parish.

Fees/Donations
There are no sacramental fees for pledging members. For membership enrollment, please contact Father regarding membership. Quite often, a question arises regarding honorariums for the clergy or cantor and/ or donations to the church. There are various customs and traditions. These tokens of appreciation are not obligatory and are left to the individual.

Marriage

Who
Marriage is permitted for a man and a woman of legal age who are not related. Since Holy Matrimony is a sacrament, both bride and groom must be baptized Christians and one must be an Orthodox Christian. (Members of non-Christian faiths and certain cults cannot be wed in an Orthodox Christian ceremony.) If one of the parties has been divorced, permission from the bishop is necessary. To be wed at Saint Luke, the couple must become pledging members of the parish.

When:
The priest should be contacted a year prior to the wedding but not less then 6 months. Marriages take place on Sundays during non-Lenten periods (consult the Church calendar). Under special circumstances permission for a Saturday wedding or during Lent could be obtained from the Bishop.

Where
Marriages take place in a Church with a consecrated Orthodox altar. Weddings in hotels or gardens are not permitted.

Preparation
Pre-marital counseling is required. It consists of three to four individual sessions. There is a $50 fee for materials. On the Sunday before the wedding, Confession and Holy Communion are required for the Orthodox Christian.

Witnesses:
Two witnesses are necessary but one should be an Orthodox Christian: It is a tradition that the best man becomes the Godfather of the first child. Accordingly he must be an Orthodox Christian.

Items
The following are necessary for the ceremony: (1) Two rings to be placed on the third finger of the right hand, (2) Two wedding candles (can be purchased in the bookstore), (3) Common Cup, (4) Wedding crowns (Unnecessary in some traditions because they are supplied by the church) and (5) Man's large handkerchief.

Fees/donations:
See Baptism

Canons:
Orthodox Christians who marry outside the Orthodox Church. forfeits his membership in the church and may no longer receive Holy Communion. - (from Marriage, Documents of the Orthodox Church in America, Pg 11)

Funeral

Who
Anyone who is a Christian and has not committed suicide, is being cremated or having his/her body donated to science. (Donation of body parts for life saving is allowed).

When
Upon the death of a loved one, the priest should be informed before the funeral director is contacted. The first day memorial can be celebrated at the bedside. Funerals are celebrated on any day of the week. The services consist of a memorial vigil on the eve, a Divine Liturgy in the church, and interment service at the cemetery. Memorial services are arraigned on the ninth day, fortieth day and the first year. Memorial services are normally held 15 minutes before the Divine Liturgy. Boiled wheat (koliva) is suggested but not required.

Where
Memorial services can be celebrated in the home, at a funeral home or at the cemetery. Orthodox Christians who are pledging members of Saint Luke may be viewed in church where the Liturgy and funeral service will take place.

Interment
St. Luke has purchased a section of Fairmont Willow Hills Cemetery located at 95th & 104th Ave. in Willow Springs. Lots may be purchased in advance for $650. Contact Roslyn Stevens atroslyn_stevens@merck.com

House Blessing

When
Houses are blessed year around but especially during the Theophany Season beginning on January 6th.

Preparation
Make an appointment with Father. Set the following items on a table: (1) Family icon, (2) Small bowl with holy water - if unavailable Father will provide, (3) Lighted candle in a holder, (4) List of all living and departed members of the family. (The whole house is normally blessed, but Father will bless only those areas in which he is escorted.)

Hospital Calls

Protocol
The priest is to be informed when a parishioner is admitted to a hospital or is scheduled to be admitted. In preparation the person should receive the sacraments of Holy Unction and Holy Communion. The priest will administer the healing sacraments at the hospital for those unable to receive prior to hospital admission. The person's name will be given to the Prayer Ministry for continued prayers of healing. Upon discharge the priest should also be notified.

Miscellaneous

Other Occasions
The Orthodox Church is richly flowing with prayers for all occasions. Please contact the priest for blessings for Thanksgiving, travel, new vehicles of travel, new house, illness, cemetery graves, Paschal food and baskets, fruits and vegetables during Transfiguration season, St. Basil's bread, Saints days (Slava), religious objects such as icons or crosses, etc.