Just as we prepare for weddings, graduations, or any other special occasion, the domestic church can prepare for the Divine Liturgy. One way is by growing in awareness of the significance of the Liturgy in the life of the entire Church. Two basic books about participation meaningfully in the Liturgy are Living the Liturgy and The Melody of Payer, both by Father Stanley Harakas. In addition to understanding the Liturgy, you will want to prepare your heart for participation on Sundays or feast days. There are several ways that this is accomplished:
Attending Vespers: The Church begins its feast day celebrations with Vespers on the eve of the feast. Even if it isn’t always possible for every family member to begin a feast this way, it is always possible to include some of the hymns and readings in your family evening prayers.
Preparing for Communion: Our Church has a number of prayers, hymns, and canons intended to be said for sharing in the Eucharistic mysteries. Today, even though most people receive communion regularly, this doesn’t excuse us from preparing for the climactic experience of the Christian life. The Publicans Prayer Book, published by Sophia Press, contains several of these prayers which may be prayed individually or as a family. Even with young children, preparation should perhaps be briefer but not removed entirely.
Confession: We need to be attentive to our inner selves if we are to approach the Lord’s table. While the Church doesn’t insist on Confession prior to each Communion today, St Paul’s admonition to receive worthily still applies. Whenever we approach the holy table we should take stock of our lives, examining ourselves to see if there are any ways we feel we have seriously wronged God or one another. It is a good practice in the domestic church to ask forgiveness of family members the evening before liturgy. Participating in the life of the Church mindfully and with a clear conscience is essential to Christian worship.
Also, St George would like to wish all fathers, both of physical and spiritual families, a happy Fathers Day!