If you were to attend a hockey match, your appreciation of the contest would depend on the degree to which you understand the rules and strategy of the game. Likewise, as we understand the action of the Diving Liturgy, we will enhance our participation and come to understand that the nave (the inside of the church where the laity stand) is not filled with observers only. The laity do not simply watch with their spiritual eyes the priest rise to the heavens with the angels accompanying him; no, they go with him to be with the Lord Who is serving the Liturgy as the Great High Priest.
This is key, but it is not the end of the story. There are specific things the laity does to take part in the Liturgy, the first being preparation. One should speak with one’s priest about how to prepare before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. This is not a matter of reading a book about the Liturgy but includes some kind of prayerful preparation. If we fail on this aspect, we will be playing catch-up during the service and, similar to being at the hockey match, might miss the scoring of a goal.
During the Liturgy, there are various actions the laity can take part in. There are times when we cross ourselves out of reverence, to perhaps increase our attentiveness and promote inner sobriety. We thus place ourselves in a position of humility before the Almighty God Who has made this liturgical provision for us out of love and mercy. We can offer prayers for loved ones far or near. There are times to make a low bow if one is able out of humility. We should sing the responses with the choir; this should be done with reverence and listening, so as to follow the leader, so to speak, and not try to impress others near us with our beautiful voice or disrupt the beautiful flow of the service.
We can gradually learn the hymns by listening to the choir, singing softly with them so they can teach us. We recite certain parts of the Liturgy, such as the Trisagion Prayers, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. We read the pre-Communion Prayers with the chanter. Some use a prayer rope as a reminder to pay attention. The icons around the nave can also aid us in the same way.
Let us arrive on time, and hopefully for Orthros, out of respect for our Lord and Savior, Who at the perfect time allowed Himself to be crucified for us. Familiarity is very helpful. So regular attendance during all liturgical seasons should be our regimen. Reading the day’s Scripture readings, learning the hymns, and reciting the spoken parts as a community can be very enriching to our soul.
As we take part in the Diving Liturgy, we do just that. Each time, we move one Liturgy closer to eternity and take a nano-step toward becoming, by God’s grace, a restored image of the Creator.