I have notice that during Great Lent our churches pray the Liturgy of St. Basil yet it seems to me that the Liturgy is the same as that of St. John Chrysostom. What is/are the difference(s) between the two?
Bishop John’s Answer:
The difference between the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and that of St. Basil is mainly in the so-called “Secret Prayers”. These prayers are not really “secret”, They are just recited by the priest in a low voice – “secretly” or “mysteriously, if you wish. Now, in recent years, the priest has been saying these prayers aloud. This practice has been recommended by the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission since 1992.
The second major difference is in the Hirmos to Our Lady, the Theotokos, which comes toward the end of the Anaphora after the formal Epiclesis or the Prayer to the Holy Spirit. This beautiful Hymn, in the Liturgy of St. Basil, starts (in English) with the words, “In you, O Full of Grace, all creation rejoices…”. The equivalent Hymn for the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom starts with “It is fitting and right to call you blessed, O Theotokos…” There is also a slight difference in the Thanksgiving Prayers after Communion.
St. Basil Liturgy is used only ten times a year, namely: The vigils of Christmas and Theophany, the feast of St. Basil on January 1, the first five Sundays of Lent, Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. The prayers in the Liturgy of St. Basil, much longer than those of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, carry a wealth of Theology and spirituality very beneficial for our meditation during the period of the Holy and Sacred time of Fast.