Written By: Father Paul Zuniga
October 21, 2019
The Formation Program for Servers and Chanters is designed and presented for the formation and development of boys who assist the priest and for chanters at Orthodox Christian liturgical services.
Students receive proper formation which includes: instruction on the Divine Liturgy and its parts and their meaning; the various objects used in liturgical services (their names and use); and the various functions of the server during the liturgical services. Students also receive appropriate guidance on maintaining proper decorum and attire when serving.
The desired outcome of the Formation Program is the preparation of effective altar servers and chanters who can prayerfully and respectfully assist the priest and the faithful during liturgical services.
The Formation Program consists of hands-on experience for both experienced and new servers and chanters. It includes short 30-minute presentations and time for practical experience related to knowledge of religious items used in Divine Services, procedures for serving the Divine Liturgy, movements and postures during services and a familiarity with the Eight-Tone hymnody. Follow-up individualized training with practice is the goal.
Funeral Service Individualized Training and Practicum
The principal learning objectives of the Practicum is a proper understanding of cremation. Cremation does violence to the body, which is regarded as an image of Christ because the body is the temple for the Holy Spirit, where the living God dwells (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The practice of cremation, derived from Buddhism and Hinduism which teach that the body is a corrupt prison for the soul, is unacceptable for Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity regards death as the separation of the soul from the body, but the idea of total depravity of the flesh is unknown in Orthodox theology. Instead, it is the goal of this experience to teach the Orthodox Christian doctrine that the whole person is made up of soul and body. Transmission of the apostolic teaching that when Christ returns in glory, the body will be resurrected and reunited with the soul–just as it was meant to be–becomes experienced-based learning.
Thus, by participating in Orthodox funeral services, students begin to see that the Church does not merely pray for the deceased’s soul, but that great care and attention is given to the burial of the body of the deceased Christian.
Altar servers and chanters are expected to assist and serve the priest with dignity and reverence. Nowhere is this more important than at a funeral, where emotions are at their highest and mourners need to feel a sense of peace. The deceased Christian’s body lies in an open casket during the entire Orthodox funeral service. This proximity teaches students to feel at ease, to accept death as sacrament of the Church, and to show proper respect for our deceased Christian brethren.
Only the heuristic experience of serving Orthodox funerals provides students the means to understand firsthand that: the body is a gift from God Who breathed His Holy Spirit into us through baptism and chrismation; Man knows God in Trinity through his experience in the body including in death; Christ God put on a body in the Incarnation, even with all its weaknesses, and He glorified the body.
Ultimately, students learn in the context of Christian worship that our bodies are the focal point of and play an integral part in the final restoration of all creation at Christ’s glorious second coming.