On the Liturgical Texts

St. Peter Damascene ca. 11th-12th cent.

The troparia to be found in the liturgical books are intended to assist us in understanding these books as well as other texts. In addition, as St John Klimakos says, they stimulate compunction in people whose intellect is still weak. For the melody, says St Basil the Great, draws the mind where it will, whether to grief or longing, to remorse or joy. Moreover, we should search the Scriptures in accordance with the Lord’s commandment, so that we may find eternal life in them (cf. John 5:39); and we should pay attention to the meaning of the psalms and troparia, becoming in this way totally aware of our ignorance. For if one does not taste of knowledge, says St Basil the Great, one does not know how much one lacks. To promote this experience and knowledge I have described the origins of the virtues and the passions; for thereby others may come to recognize them, and so struggle to acquire what engenders the virtues and to expel by retaliatory action that which produces the passions. (A Treasury of Divine Knowledge Bk. 1)

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