Chinese Orthodox Catechetical Prayer Book: Preface (May 5, 1948)
English translation by Liubov Afonina
The prayer book is meant to be a collection of daily prayers for home and personal prayer. Our Lord is all merciful, and at all times in everything we look for His help and protection. We pray to God, as the Lord is omnipotent, as everything in this world was created by God. We should praise God, as all whether pleasant or not is given by the Lord, we should thank God for everything. The Holy Church compiles texts of prayers in accordance with texts of Holy Books for believers to use it, to prevent undue requests during the prayer. If we sincerely seek that which is above, the body and soul will benefit. This book is intended for daily individual and family use, easy to read that is the prayer book.
Time for daily prayer at home:
We say prayers in the early morning, starting and ending any work, before and after meals. At the start of the day, prior to any work and breakfast, we pray to God, that in all matters and in all we eat would be peaceful and profitable. At the end of the day, after work and supper, prior to bed, we also say prayers as expression of gratitude to God for the completion of the whole day, in peace and tranquility.
Ceremony of saying prayers explained in brief:
Prayers can be classified as contemplative and chanted prayer invisible form of praying, and kneeling (prostration) and bowing (metania) visible form of praying. Praying with reverence in front of a holy icon, striving for meeting God, then receiving God's favor, one can experience the effectiveness of prayer.
The meaning of kneeling and bowing:
Kneeling and bowing is sort of acknowledgment of God's greatness, who protects all life-beings, rules our world. So bows mean our humility and respect.
Sign of the cross:
The three fingers together represent our faith to the coessential and inseparable Holy Trinity. Ring finger and little finger in the palm represent the dual nature of Christ - divine and human. Placing the cross on oneself we touch our forehead as a request for a blessing our mind from God, then down to the sternum for blessing our internal sensations. From our belly, we bring our hand up to our right shoulder, then to our left shoulder, touching it to support our life forces. The cross is the sign of the Passions of our God for salvation of humanity. He bore His Cross, He survived on His way of the Cross, He coped and He confronted enemy forces. So the sign of the cross is the sign of God's favoured people. After placing the cross we bow or kneel.
Orthodox believers hang icons at home and in churches for worship. During saying prayers we rest all our hopes on mercifulness and kindness of God and the Mother of God. All our reverence and heartiness we send up to get a hearing. We pray, bow, venerate icons, put candles and light oil lamps in front of the icons, burn incense not for paying obeisance to a board with picture on it, but to express our gratitude to God, Mother of God and all saints who are depicted on icons.
This book contains prayer book and liturgical texts. It is in two parts. All prayers given here are the canonical texts of prayers. The first part is home praying manual, that establish the procedure of private worship. At the same time the book gives the explanation to the meaning of the Cross, icons. It begins from prayers, ends with Ten Commandments. The prayers are accompanied with simple comments, for easier understanding, for the avoidance of their blind reading without understanding. The second part is for communal church prayer, at the divine service, that is also rigidly regimented. Every implement, color of clerical vestments everything has its profound meaning. All the numerous implements used in the church are the reminder of the happened events that call for awe, honor, it helps to approach God. Hymns are composed from Old and New Testaments; we sing the song of praise to God's heroic act of people Salvation. Modern people blind use ceremony and utensils, that were established by ancient saint people, it's not too good. One should find his way of salvation, to learn what the true happiness is. The text of the liturgy is canonical, for understanding the processes during the liturgy you can learn the canonical rules set by the Church. So one can be inside of a church understanding nothing. It's the same as to be outside. That is for whom this preface was written.
preface by Priest Nikolai Li Sunyi
May 5, in the 37th year of the Great Republic of China