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Father Oleg Molenko Answers Questions




Aleksey, Novosibirsk, Russia

Greetings, Father Oleg.

Is it correct that the morning and the evening prayer should be read (if possible) and not spoken by memory? And while praying aloud, one should not apply “expression” to the prayer by emphasizing individual words by intonation.

  Father Oleg's Answer

Greetings, Aleksey.

The Holy Fathers (for example, Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov) recommends reciting memorized prayers. This very much helps to concentrate while saying those prayers and makes them as if your own. Reading prayers by a book is inevitably distracting but is necessary in the beginning.
Another mistake made by beginners converted is the absence of expression of their emotions during a home (reclusory) prayer. This doesn’t imply hypocrisy or theatricality, but truly experienced emotions instead. This mistake stems from watching ecclesial prayers where any expression of emotion by the reader, singers or the minister is prohibited. This prohibition is in place not because the expression of emotions is evil in itself but because those praying in church are different and are in different conditions. For this reason it’s forbidden to impose upon them the emotions experienced by the reader at the moment. That’s why ecclesial prayers are read in recitative, which doesn’t express specific emotions and is fit for all present at the prayer.

A home secluded prayer is quite another matter. By all means, it must be accompanied by an extreme expression of one’s feelings, mainly of repentance, reverence and humility. Those kinds of emotions are prohibited (including intonation) so that others would not be confused and also not to advertise one’s emotions and not to impose them on others and to avoid self-exaltation. For example, someone came to a temple to express their joy and thankfulness to God for His mercy or for preserving their life and there’s someone else who came to make a confession of their sins. It’s clear that it’s impossible for the reader to express both of those emotions. That is why he just reads the canvas of a prayer, distinctly conveying it to hearers while both he and others praying must experience different emotions internally (not showing them externally), according to their actual state and need. Being at home, however, it’s appropriate and desired to express all of one’s feelings and emotions freely through voice, intonation, reverent posture, humble gestures, bows, crossing one’s arms as do prisoners, beating of one’s breast, sorrowful waggling of one's head and similar, whatever corresponds with our repentance, humility and other spiritual feelings and emotions.







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Fr. Oleg Molenko