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Services on Special Occasions

The situations in which people turn to God for help are so numerous that the Orthodox Church has introduced a whole range of prayers for the living, for the departed, for the blessing of things and food. Those prayers were called church rites for special occasions ó as they are served by the request of a believer.

A fervent prayer for the living is called "a molieben" (prayer service). Moliebens can be common or private (ordered). Ordered moliebens are served by a priest as requested by the parishioners, while common ones are read every day after the Liturgy.

Moliebens for the dead include requiem and funereal office. They can be served only over baptized Christians. No requiems can be served for those who committed suicide, drunkards, non-Orthodox, dead as a result of an abortion, killed in a fight and those who had openly rejected God and Church throughout their lives. However, we should (and must) pray for such people in our private prayers. A good thing would be to get a blessing for prayer for suicides.

Through those special prayer services the church sanctifies the whole domain of human life including the things used and the food eaten. Blessing of the food takes place on definite days, for example, Easter bread and eggs are blessed on the eve of Easter, while apples and other fruits are blessed on the Holy Transfiguration day.

There is a special prayer for blessing of houses and cars. One has to arrange personally with a priest about an appropriate time for those sermons. Military people would benefit from blessing their weaponry.

Every day after the morning services Orthodox priests perform prayer services for special occasions. One of the most widespread services is Prayerful singing (molieben).

What is a molieben? It is a short, but diligent prayer about oneís everyday needs. During the Divine Liturgy we hear a prayer for daily cares, but often we do not pay due attention to them because we are concentrated on the deeply mystical content of the Liturgy. The need to pray for something "small" (the way Ambrosius of the Optina desert taught us), "with a short, but fervent prayer" ó is fulfilled by us through a molieben.

If we are sick, we will serve a molieben for the sick. If we start an important enterprise, we will ask Godís help through a molieben. If we are about to go on a journey, we will listen to blessing for the road. If it is the day of the saint after whom we were named, and we want to pray especially ardently to that saint, we will order a molieben devoted to him or her. In the beginning of the school year when it is time for our children to go to school, we would order a molieben for blessing the youth to study. When we want to praise the Lord for hearing our prayers, we will order a molieben of thanksgiving.

Besides private moliebens there are common molieben prayers. The Church has many of those moliebens: for blessing of waters and New Year, for relief from bad weather and drought, for those obsessed by evil spirits and alcoholics, solemn moliebens on the first Sunday of the Great Lent (the triumph of Orthodoxy) and on Christmas (in memory of the victory of 1812)...

When singing moliebens, we turn to Jesus Christ, His Holy Mother and the saints. The moliebens of gratitude are addressed to the Lord. When ordering a molieben at the candle table we submit a petition with the names of those for whom or from whom the molieben is ordered. Sometimes the person who ordered a molieben, leaves the church before the molieben is performed, just leaving the petition there. The Lord accepts any sacrifice, but it is much better to pray together with the priest than to leave the latter to entreat God for us.

Occasionally the moliebens are accompanied by akathists and canons. Often a priest anoints the faithful with blessed oil and sprinkles blessed water over them.

The Lord grants us help according to our faith and very soon after the molieben. That is why we should not overuse this sacred procedure ordering several moliebens on the same subject (with the exception of moliebens for the sick and on vows).

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OFFSITE: Beginning Orthodoxy, Part I - The original, unaltered article.
OFFSITE: Photography of Fr. Dionisy