1. The use of Ripidia during communion. Two servers will hold the Ripidia behind the priest will communion is being distributed. Some long-timers to our parish don't recall this practice. While this seems new to most/all it doesn't seem to "harm" anything yet I have a feeling this practice was added as a novelty. Has anyone seen this practice at any time in their own parish?
I surmise that such usages are customs either having been established in a parish or brought in by a priest based on his experiences and taste. I suspect some usages are based on an accepted Typikon penned by an accepted authority.
My comments that follow are based on the Ruthenian Recension and its application in the BCC. The sense from the fundamental liturgical books, the Liturgikon and Archieratikon, is that the ripidion is proper to the deacon alone. It is formally presented to him, as is orar (orarion, stole) and kadilnitsa (censer) at ordination along with a proclamation of Axios (ἄξιος). The ordination to the diaconate takes place at this point in the liturgy after the priestly prayers thus (BCC redacted text circa 2003):People:
It is truly proper ...
And may the mercies of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, be with all of you.
And with your spirit.
...The bishop imposes his hands on the head of the candidate saying:
...The bishop hands him the ripidion and says:
...The newly ordained deacon then kisses the bishop on the hand and stands briefly at the altar guarding the holy gifts
He is then directed (BCC) to wave it over the gifts (see Diaconal Ordination
at 1:38:30) But unlike the orarion and censer, the deacon typically does not use the ripidion on a regular basis thereafter. Ripidia are used in a hierarchical liturgy at the great entrance with four deacons: one with the diskos, one with the censer, one each with a ripidion over the bread/diskos and wine/cup (see Archieratikon, Ruthenian Recension, p 66).
I have used the ripidion as specified in the liturgicon but it is far from a common a practice and I’m hesitant that it may be deemed unwarranted or unwelcome by the priest. From the liturgicon at the Anaphora:The deacon ... takes the ripidion and waves it over the Holy Things. If there is no ripidion, he does the same with one of the veils.The priest intones
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,...
: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Sabaoth...Taking the ripidion in his hands the deacon waves it gently over the Holy Gifts with attention and reverence, lest any flies or the like settle upon them.
[at the epiklesis]The deacon lays the ripidion (or the veil) aside and comes close to the priest. They both bow three times before the Holy Table.Deacon:
Master, bless the Holy Bread.
2. The same lead server is asking all servers to dress in cassock only and carry their dalmatic in to the sanctuary for father to bless before they put it on (in the sanctuary). I am only able to find information about blessing vestments but nothing about this on a weekly basis.
It’s not a dalmatic per se (as worn by Roman deacons) but a sticharion. It is analogous to the Roman alb but more ornate. It is the robe of glory, the baptismal garment (For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27); in this sense it is proper (in theology) to all the baptized, to the order of the laity. In the BCC it is (formally) bestowed by the bishop after tonsure and ordination (cheirothesia) to the order of Reader/Lector. It then continues to be worn as the common liturgical garment: an (ornate) outer vestment by subdeacons and those in Holy Orders (cheirotonia): deacons as the outer vestment and then by priests, i.e. presbyters and bishops, under the phelonion or sakkos.
The liturgicon, written for priest and deacon, specifies that the vestments be blessed at each service of the Divine Liturgy. I don’t recall specific directives for other servers but by extension a blessing seems not improper for those serving since the deacon is directed to ask for a blessing thus:Then the deacon, holding the sticharion with the orarion in his right hand, approaches the priest, and, bowing his head to him, says:Deacon:
Master, bless the sticharion with the orarion.And the priest blesses them, saying:Priest:
Blessed is our God, always, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.Deacon:
(The priest blesses his own vestments. At the Presanctified Liturgy: The priest does not say the usual vesting prayers; the deacon [receives a blessing from the priest (?) and] does likewise; the Ordo Celebrationis
says: § 221. Near the end of the Typica, the priest and deacon clothe themselves in the sacred vestments as usual, but they say nothing except: Let us pray to the Lord
over each of the vestments. Cf. Sluzhebnik, pp 401-404.)
In actual practice there are many extended uses of the sticharion and the ripidion and various customs. As I said above, I suspect that some venerable Typikon by an acknowledged authority (e.g. Mikita’s, for the Ruthenians, 1901) has dictated these and other possible usages. Such customs should be honored and also evaluated for our own times. I question the ritual impoverishment of services (lead by a deacon for instance when a priest is not available) because of adherence to 19th century norms and sensibilities that excessively categorized aspects and prayers as reserved to the priest.
An illustration: A very knowledgeable priest that I very much respect, a by-the-book guy but adaptable, followed a rule (maybe still does) that ripidia were used at the reading of the Gospel if done by a priest but not by a deacon. All things considered, however, for me it is the Gospel that is honored and it is the deacon in particular who is admonished to proclaim it “with great power.” Since, as indicated by the liturgikon, the DL is offered by priest, deacon and people, the one who proclaims the Gospel, properly by the rubrics, is the deacon. So it is when the norm obtains (liturgy with deacon) that the ritual is, as I characterized it “impoverished,” in disallowing the ripidia.