The Liturgical Heritage of the Church Abroad

Handbook of Liturgical Practice

As part of our more extensive resources on liturgical matters, the Diocese is pleased to provide this on-line handbook of liturgical practice, which takes the form of a structured ‘Questions-and-Answers’ area for common liturgical queries. Whether serving as a Priest or Deacon, or as a Subdeacon, Reader or other server of the Holy Altar, and whether being in such a role for two months or twenty years, there are always practical questions that arise as to liturgical practices and customs for specific situations.

Within our Diocesan life, we are deeply committed to maintaining the distinctive liturgical customs of our forefathers in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. While in the majority of ways these are common with the whole of the Russian and even broader Slavic Orthodox worlds, there is a distinctive ‘flavour’ to the liturgical life of the ROCOR that comes from our diligent adherence to the traditions of our forebears. These are in most ways pre-revolutionary, Imperial forms of the Divine Service, some of which are no longer in use elsewhere. Some of these are well known (for example, that in the ROCOR we continue the pre-revolutionary tradition of using white as the colour of Holy Pascha, where in some other places red is used); but other, finer points of liturgical practice are less well known.

We provide this area as a resource for maintaining and strengthening our ROCOR liturgical traditions, providing answers to the most commonly-asked questions about our liturgical life — as well as the means for you to submit questions for answers from the Hierarchy.


This Handbook is structured by thematic sections, each of which groups together a selection of questions and answers in as concise yet thorough a manner as possible.

This Handbook is specifically intended to convey the full liturgical ritual and practice of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in its inherited Synodal form. While some notes are given as to how this practice differs from variations that are seen routinely elsewhere, its main purpose is not to compare various styles of service but carefully to articulate the unique liturgical heritage of our Church Abroad.


(18 May 2019): Added several new entries: Under the Hierarchical Services section, ‘How does the Greeting of the Bishop take place?’; ‘How is the Bishop’s service book held for him during the Divine Services, and what are the responsibilities of the book-bearer?’; ‘At the Little Entrance of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, in what manner do the clergy re-enter the Holy Altar?’ Under the Readers, Reading and Texts section: ‘When multiple readings of the Apostle or Gospel are appointed (or when a single reading is repeated in a second language), how are the second and subsequent readings introduced?’; ‘When reading the Apostle or Gospel, how are the sainted authors to be named?’; and ‘What editions / translations of the Divine Services are to be used?’

(Bright Week 2019): Added a new Handbook section, ‘Readers and Reading in the Church’, with two initial entries.

Please select a category below to continue.

Clergy Vesting and Entrance Prayers

This section contains entries relating to the Clergy’s entrance into the Temple at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy (entrance prayers, etc.), as well as practices relating to the donning of vestments, which vestments are worn at which times, etc.



The Proskomedia

This section contains instruction on all matters relating the the performance of the Proskomedia (service of preparation prior to the Divine Liturgy).


The Divine Liturgy

This section contains instruction and guidance on all practices relating to the celebrations of the Divine Liturgies of St John Chrysostom and St Basil the Great (for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, see the separate Lenten Services section of this Handbook).


Hierarchical Services

This section contains rubrics, notes and practical guidance relating to Hierarchical Services (at which one or more Bishops preside), and also contains more general instruction on comportment of Services when a Bishop is present (even when not serving).


Concelebrations of Multiple Priests

This section contains guidance on the peculiarities and variations to the Divine Services when they are concelebrated together by more than one Priest.


Diaconal Rubrics and Services

This section contains guidance for Deacons, and for Priests at services where a Deacon is serving. It also contains more general guidance for Diaconal practices.


Lenten Services

Liturgical peculiarities related to the Divine Services of the Great Fast (and additional lenten periods), includings its special services and rites.


General Comportment in the Altar

This section contains general guidance on how Clergy and servers are to comport themsevles in the Altar, as well as instructions on more general activities therein that are not specific to any one Divine Service.


Prostrations, Bows and Kneeling

This section contains specific guidance regarding the practice of making prostrations, as well as kneeling, during the Divine Services and at other times within the Temple.


Readers, Reading in the Church, and Texts and Translations

This section contains guidance for tonsured Readers, as well as all (whether tonsured or lay) who are blessed to read during the Divine Services.


Monastics and Monasteries

This section contains instructions relevant to monastics during the Divine Services, as well as to all others serving together with monastics or in monasteries.


ROCOR Liturgics

More Resources

Liturgical Handbook

Liturgical Practice

A central handbook for liturgical service in the unique Imperial heritage of the Russian Church Abroad. An ever-expanding resource for all clergy and servers.


Altar Servers

Liturgical Spirituality

Information on the nature of service within the Holy Altar, and how the unique role of Altar Servers (whether tonsured or not) plays a central role in the liturgical offering of the Church.


Ask a Question

Liturgical Education

Do you have a liturgical question that isn't yet answered in our Liturgical Handbook? Submit your question on-line, and the reply may form the core of a new entry for all.