In thy Name, O Lord God of truth, and in the Name of thine Only-begotten Son, and of thy Holy Spirit, I lay my hand upon thy servant, David, who hath been found worthy to flee unto thy Holy Name, and to take refuge under the shelter of the thy wings. Remove far from him his former delusion and fill him with the faith, hope and love which are in thee; that he may know that thou art the only true God with thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and thy Holy Spirit. Enable him to walk in all thy commandments, and to fulfill those things which are well pleasing unto thee; for if a man do those things, he shall find life in them. Inscribe him in thy Book of Life, and unite him to the flock of thine inheritance. And may thy Holy Name be glorified in him, together with that of thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of thy life-giving Spirit. Let thine eyes ever regard him with mercy, and let thine ears attend unto the voice of his supplication. Make him to rejoice in the works of his hands, and in all his generation; that he may render praise unto thee, may sing worship and glorify thy great and exalted Name always, all the days of his life. For all the Powers of Heaven sing praises unto thee, and thine is the Glory; of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages.I'm officially a catechumen (one preparing for memebrship) in the Orthodox Church!
Update: I was not at church the Sunday after this, but apparently my priest also put an explanation of the prayer into the bulletin that week. Here it is:
Last Sunday we 'made' a catechumen during the Divine Liturgy. A catechumen is someone who is undergoing a program of instruction in the Orthodox faith with the intention of being received into the Orthodox Church. The prayer is called the Prayer of Reception into the Catechumenate. We do this at St Mary's from time to time, especially if the catechumen is taking a course, and if he or she does not mind standing up in front of all the congregation! Not everyone who converts to Orthodoxy is formally and publicly enrolled in this manner, although they will be in any event as part of the rite of reception, but when we do it in this public way it serves as a good reminder of important aspects of what we are about in the Church: dedication to study, spiritual growth, and evangelisation.
The prayer begins with an affirmation of the truth and power of the Most Holy Trinity. It states that having a right relationship with God, in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the sure foundation and shelter for our lives. We ask for the catechumen that all things that ought to be set aside from his or her past - sins, failings, errors and mistakes, sorrows, delusions - be set aside, and in their place that the catechumen be filled with authentic Christian faith, hope, and love. It is the moral transformation of the catechumen that is critically important, certainly more important that any detailed 'head' knowledge of the faith, which - after all - we all have a lifetime to study. The call is to a living faith, that is to live in light of the mortal vision of the Church. Therefore we pray: Enable him to walk in all thy commandments, and to fulfill those things which are well pleasing unto thee; for if a man do those things, he shall find life in them. Although obviously deeply and profoundly personal, the life of faith is not something solitary and private. We are members of the Body of Christ, members of one another, a community, a family, the household of God. We pray that the catechumen will be united to 'the flock of thine inheritance', to live in and to be upheld and nurtured by the community of faith, and ultimately to share in the mutual responsibility and accountability that is part of our vision of the life of the Church. God is to be glorified in the way we live and through the example we offer. This is a struggle, of course (and as we all know), the struggle for Christian virtue, and therefore we ask: Let thine eyes ever regard him with mercy, and let thine ears attend unto the voice of his supplication.
What is perhaps most wonderful is the way in which the Orthodox Christian life into which the catechumen is entering is meant to be joyful and full of glory and praise. Just as the Divine Liturgy is understood to be a participation in heavenly worship, so too more generally a life ordered toward God unites us to the mystical doxology that lies at the heart of all things and is revealed in the biblical visions of heavenly worship. There is an end or goal for which we strive, and that end is glorification in the Kingdom: Make him to rejoice in the works of his hands, and in all his generation; that he may render praise unto thee, may sing worship and glorify thy great and exalted Name always, all the days of his life. For all the Powers of Heaven sing praises unto thee, and thine is the Glory; of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages.- Fr Andrew