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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. We just had a baby.
  2. Tell me about Books of Rememberance.
  3. When should one go to Confession (and how often)?
  4. Should I attend Vigils?
  5. What is proper attire in Church?
  6. Should I celebrate my birthday or my namesday or both and how?
  7. Is it necessary to attend weekday services, or is Sunday morning sufficient?
  8. Please tell me about cell phone usage at St. Vladimir's during the Divine Services.
  9. Please tell me the rule for Confession and Communion at St. Vladimir Church
  10. I am an adult and would like to be baptized at St. Vladimir Church.
  1. We just had a baby.

    1. Contact the priest as soon as possible. There are special prayers that the priest reads on the day of the birth, and thus he will come visit the new mother and child in the hospital. If the child is not healthy the priest should be informed about this as well. If the prognosis is poor the child may be baptized in the hospital. In an extreme emergency the child may be baptized by one of his parents. The priest should be consulted in such a situation if at all possible. Prenatal care is key here. If it is known that the child will be born in poor health these sorts of things (baptism in the hospital, etc.) can be planned for.
    2. The priest should again be invited to the home on the 8th day (remember, when counting days since birth, the day OF THE BIRTH is 1, the day after the birth is 2, etc.). On this day the child is given its Christian name. Yes, it is true, you had to put a name on the birth certificate, but the child doesnt really receive its name until these prayers are read. The prayers are short. The priest doesnt expect a clean house or a meal, but it is very important that these prayers be read. In Russia before the Revolution the priest often chose the name of the child rather than the parents. The child needs to have a name on the 8th day. If you havent chosen a name by that time (this is unusual, but not unheard of) the priest will help you (or will name the child himself).
    3. When should the child be baptized? Certainly not later than about the 40th day after birth. The mother comes to the Church for the first time after the birth on the 40th day and prayers are read especially for her on this day. If possible, assuming good health of the baby, the baptism would ideally be done about this time.
    4. The choosing of Godparents if very important. The Godparents should be chosen with this in mind: that at the untimely death of the parents one of the Godparents would raise the child. Also, Godparents should participate in the spiritual upbringing of the child by making sure that the parents bring the child to Church regularly. Someone may be your good friend, but at the same time not make a good Godparent. The Godparents should be of an upstanding moral character, regular churchgoers, and not living in violation of the Churchs canons. The Godparent must be an Orthodox Christian. One Godparent of the same gender as the child is mandatory, a second (of the opposite gender) is optional. The two Godparents cannot be married to each other at the time of the baptism or in the future, as the spiritual bond of the Godparent with the child being baptized supercedes any possible bond between the two Godparents.

  2. Tell me about Books of Rememberance.

    Books of Remembrance are available at St. Vladimir's. Commemorating your Orthodox loved ones - both the living and the reposed - at the Divine Liturgy is the BEST way to prayerfully help them. These books can be purchased and left in the altar for commemoration at EVERY Divine Liturgy at St. Vladimir's - even those you aren't able to attend yourself. Please see Fr. Gregory with questions.

    To read more about the importance of commemorating your Orthodox friends and loved ones at the Divine Liturgy, please read this short article by Fr. Seraphim Rose:

    How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re- vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: "I thank you for laboring me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents"and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria).** "How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God's mercy?" the priest-monk asked. "Yes, that is true," replied St. Theodosius, "but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer."

    Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer a home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church, prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition "for those in hell."

    St. Gregory the Great, in answering in his Dialogues the question, "Is there anything at all that can possibly benefit souls after death?" teaches: "The Holy Sacrifice of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come. For this reason the souls of the dead sometimes beg to have Liturgies offered for them ... The safer course, naturally, is to do for ourselves during life what we hope others will do for us after death. It is better to make one's exit a free man than to seek liberty after one is in chains. We should, therefore, despise this world with all our hearts as though its glory were already spent, and offer our sacrifice of tears to God each day as we immolate His sacred Flesh and Blood. This Sacrifice alone has the power of saving the soul from eternal death, for it presents to us mystically the death of the Only-begotten Son" (Dialogues IV: 57, 60, pp. 266, 272-3).

    St. Gregory gives several examples of the dead appearing to the living and asking for or thanking them for the celebration of the Liturgy for their repose; once, also, a captive whom his wife believed dead and for whom she had the Liturgy celebrated on certain days, returned from captivity and told her how he had been released from his chains on some daysthe very days when the Liturgy had been offered for him. (Dialogues IV: 57, 59, pp. 267, 270).

    Protestant theologians find the Church's prayer for the dead to be somehow incompatible with the necessity of finding salvation first of all in this life: "If you can be saved by the Church after death, then why bother to struggle or find faith in this Life? Let us eat, drink, and be merry..." Of course, no one holding such a philosophy has ever attained salvation by the Church's prayers, and it is evident that such an argument is quite artificial and even hypocritical. The Church's prayer cannot save anyone who does not wish salvation, or who never offered any struggle for it himself during his lifetime. In a sense, one might say that the prayer of the Church or of individual Christians for a dead person is but another result of that person's life: he would not be prayed for unless he had done something during his lifetime to inspire such prayer after his death.

    St. Mark of Ephesus also discusses this question of the Church's prayer for the dead and the improvement it brings in their state, citing the example of the prayer of St. Gregory the Dialogist for the Roman Emperor Trajana prayer inspired by a good deed of this pagan Emperor.

    *From The Soul after Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose.
    **These names had been unknown before this vision. Several years after the canonization, St. Theodosius' own Book of Commemoration was found in the monastery where he had once been abbot, which confirmed these names and corroborated the vision. See the Life of Elder Alexis in Pravoslavny Blagovestnik, San Francisco, 1967, No. I (in Russian).

  3. When should one go to Confession (and how often)?

    It is GOOD that many people want to go to confession. However, if one lives in the Ann Arbor area and is an adult, one should be going to confession on Saturday evening. Attending the Vigil is an expected part of preparing for Confession and Communion. Further, a benefit of confessing on Saturday evening is that Confession need not be rushed. Those who live very far away, or those who are children or very aged may not be able to attend Vigils, and thus would need to confess on Sunday morning. If we follow these guidelines, and come to confess at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings (rather than 9:30 or 9:45), we will be able to begin services on time. Please DO continue to come to Confession and Communion, but please also be courteous to your fellow parishioners.

  4. Should I attend Vigils?

    St. Vladimir's holds Vigil services each Saturday night and on the eve of all feast days. Not only is the Vigil a beautiful service, it is also very edifying. At the Vigil we hear IN DETAIL about the saint of event being commemorated, and on Saturday nights, about the Resurrection of our Lord. The Orthodox Church's services are outlined in a book called the Typikon.

    Approximately 1% of the Typikon is devoted to Sunday morning Divine Liturgies. Thus, if we only attend services on Sunday mornings we are missing out on 99% of the Church Divine services! The newly-glorified St. Theophan the Recluse has this to say about the Church's Divine Services:

    "God's grace has chosen the churches of God and Church rubrics for His activity. You too should go to church, and patiently, attentively and reverently listen to the services; for the church and its structure, the order of services, the singing and reading - all of this can have an effect. It is not surprising that though you enter the church idly, you will leave it having conceived the spirit of salvation." (From The Path to Salvation - A Manual of Spiritual Transformation, p. 144) Perhaps this is the year that you decide to attend Vigil? However, if this is the case please be careful, as this beautiful service may attract you to such an extent that coming just once won't be enough, and you'll never want to miss a Vigil again! Please see Fr. Gregory with any questions.

  5. What is proper attire in Church?

    Please remember that despite the temptations of the weather (cold in winter and heat in summer) it is expected that Orthodox Christians will dress appropriately in the Church. Appropriate attire for men means at least casual dress (dress shirt, slacks, no jeans, T-shirts, or shorts). For women casual dress is also expected (skirt or dress, blouse, etc.). According to St. Paul (I Corinthians 11), women are to cover their heads during prayer, while men are not. Following these guidelines helps to avoid distraction of others at prayer, while reflecting the desire for piety. Please be loving and understanding towards those who are just beginning to come to Church and may not be aware of these guidelines.

    Please see our parish flyer regarding proper attire in church by clicking here.

  6. Should I celebrate my birthday or my namesday or both and how?

    The question often is asked: "Should we celebrate our birthdays or our namesdays?" The answer is: yes. We should celebrate both of these important days in our spiritual lives, but in slightly different ways. On our birthdays we thank God for His mercy in allowing us to be born (and thus giving us the opportunity for eternal life with Him), for giving us parents to guide us in a loving, safe Orthodox home, and for other such things. Arranging a Thanksgiving Moleben on this day in the parish church or at home would be very appropriate. On namesdays we honor our heavenly protector, that is, the saint for whom we are named. This we do by going to the parish church and partaking of the Mysteries of Confession and Communion, or if there is no service in our parish on that particular day, arranging for a Moleben to be served for our saint in the church on that day and Confessing and Communing on the nearest day possible to our namesday. It is also a pious tradition to invite our friends to our homes on our namesdays for a reception in honor of the saint for which we are named, to sing the saint's troparion, and to read the life of the saint. It is also very important to have an icon of our patron saint in our home icon corner. Some who read this may not know in honor of which saint they are named. For instance, there are at least 23 different saints with the name "John" on the Orthodox calendar. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is VERY important to learn about your heavenly patron, to make that saint a focus of daily prayer, and to keep that saint's commemoration (your namesday) in a pious manner. If you are not sure for whom you are named, and your parents also are not sure (this should be part of the baptismal record at the parish where you were baptized), please see Fr. Gregory. Although it is not a shame to not know your heavenly patron, it is a shame to not take the time to find out about your saint or to choose a saint with your name as your heavenly patron if indeed this information cannot be otherwise ascertained.

    In the church on Sundays we do not sing "Many Years" for those who have celebrated birthdays during the previous week, but we do for those having celebrated namesdays. This is simply because the namesday is spiritually more significant than the birthday. This is not to say that the birthday is not important, but that the namesday is MORE important. Why is this? Everyone born on earth has a birthday, but not everyone has a namesday. That is, many people are born on this earth, but not all of them have the honor of being named after one of God's saints. Also, one does not entreat one's day of birth to intercede at the heavenly throne of God, but one DOES entreat one's saint in such a way. Finally, the Holy Church appoints a special service and prayers to be read for an infant on the day on which his name is given (the 8th day after birth). There are no such prayers for the infant on his birthday (the prayers on the day of the birth of a child specifically mention only the mother). This is not to say that birthdays are without spiritual significance. As mentioned above, they are indeed spiritually significant and services of thanksgiving should be arranged on the birthday, but as we can see, namesdays are even more spiritually significant than birthdays, and thus we should be even more zealous to celebrate our namesdays than our birthdays.

    Serbs celebrate a Slava rather than a namesday.

  7. Is it necessary to attend weekday services, or is Sunday morning sufficient?

    This is a difficult subject. Our society and media often present Christianity as a Sunday morning exploit. It is unclear, based on this popular understanding of Christianity, what it is that Christians do during the rest of the week. Despite this popular misinterpretation of Christianity (that is, that it is sort of a Sunday morning club), Orthodox Christianity does not fit this popular myth. Orthodoxy is not a Sunday morning venture, but rather a way of life, a worldview, something that we ideally reflect in our every day lives, not just something we do on Sunday mornings. We have touched here in the past on the necessity of attending Saturday evening services. At St. Vladimirs we also often have services during the week. It is hard to know exactly how people view these services, but certainly optional is a word that comes to mind. I am often asked about the necessity of attending these services, and this happened again just this week. Thus, I wanted to spend just a few minutes discussing this issue here. Just as during the discussion of the Saturday evening services and the widespread feeling that these too are optional I pointed the finger at myself as falling short in conveying the importance of these services, so too here I must point the finger at myself for not being clear about the importance of weekday services. These services are extremely important for us as Orthodox Christians. Attending these services helps us to live within the cycle of the Church year they help to keep us grounded in the Faith. This does not mean that everyone must attend every Moleben scheduled at the parish. If one can attend these services one should. They are in the evenings and rarely conflict with work responsibilities. However, what I have in mind are specifically the Great Feasts of the Church. We always have Vigil and Divine Liturgy at St. Vladimirs for these feasts (with the exception of the Dormition of the Mother God, which we celebrate at the Dormition Cathedral in Detroit). Although we dont have days of obligatory church attendance in the Orthodox Church per se, we certainly should look at the Great Feasts as just as obligatory as Sundays. That is, just as we would not consider regularly missing Sunday services (although for all of us this understandably happens occasionally for various reasons), so too we should make every effort to attend Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the Great Feasts. Sometimes this means taking a vacation day (or a half-day) from work. Sometimes we just cant do that and we have to miss the services. However, this should be the EXCEPTION and not the rule. I realize that for most of us this concept is not part of our work/church paradigm. As Christians, though, we have the responsibility to put holy things first, to value the things of God above the things of this world. And thus, may I suggest that as we begin the new Church Year on September 14th perhaps we should embrace this concept as a spiritual New Years Resolution? No one is going to tell you that you will be condemned to everlasting punishment for missing divine services on a Great Feast or on a Saturday night. However, as Orthodox Christians attending these services is something we should WANT to do, something we should want to share with God, something we should feel a desire and a pleasure in taking part in. And taking part in these services, being mystically present at the events commemorated as we stand in the parish church, is something that is good for us spiritually. I would like to leave you with this thought: we would never consider missing Christmas services no matter which day of the week January 7th falls on. This feast is a very important part of our spiritual lives. If we didnt attend Christmas services we would feel like we missed something very important. Christmas is one of the 12 Great Feasts. If we can just get ourselves to feel the same way about the other 11 Great Feasts of the year we will have accomplished a wonderful thing: we will have understood the spiritual importance of the Great Feasts, and we will have drawn nearer to God through participation in these services. May God grant this understanding to all of us!

    The 12 Great Feasts (Civil Calendar Dates):

    • The Nativity of the Mother of God September 21
    • The Exaltation of the Cross September 27
    • Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple December 4
    • Nativity of the Lord January 7
    • Theophany (Baptism of the Lord) January 19
    • Meeting of the Lord February 15
    • Annunciation of the Mother of God April 7
    • Palm Sunday Sunday before Pascha
    • Ascension of the Lord 40 days after Pascha
    • Pentecost Sunday 8th Sunday after Pascha
    • Transfiguration of the Lord August 19
    • Dormition of the Mother of God August 28

  8. Please tell me about cell phone usage at St. Vladimir's during the Divine Services.

    Cell phones should be turned to vibrate or turned off during Divine Services. If you do receive a call that you absolutely must take please step outside of the sanctuary to have your discussion.

  9. Please tell me the rule for Confession and Communion at St. Vladimir Church

    Click here to view a page dedicated to the answer to this question.

  10. I am an adult and would like to be baptized at St. Vladimir Church. Please tell me how I go about arranging this.

    First, we commend your pious desire. Baptism is the most common way that we enter the Orthodox Church. At St. Vladimir Church we do not have structured catechism courses per se, but there most definitely is a period of preparation/catechism that includes regular attendance at the Divine Services and regular meetings with Fr. Gregory or an appointed catechist. Questions in this regard should be directed to Fr. Gregory. If you are catechized at another parish but are seeking baptism at St. Vladimir Church you will need to provide a letter from the priest who catechized you attesting to your readiness for baptism.