His Grace Bishop Nicholas ordained me a deacon of the Eastern American Diocese (ROCOR) on March 6th of this year, which happened to fall on Meatfare Sunday. I had no vacation days to spend at my job, and there was not much of a chance of me going up to Jordanville for an extended period of time (the best way to learn is serving liturgy there for forty days). So, I had to make do on my own. Here’s what I did:
- Consult with more experienced clergy, whether through communicating with them through email or Facebook, or serving with them when I had the chance. Deliberate practice is the best way to learn, and that requires feedback from more experienced people.
- Watch YouTube videos. I’m a visual learner, which means that I learn best through watching an actual demonstration. I put together a slowly-growing playlist of videos depicting practical liturgics. The most valuable set of videos is a set of three from a Russian seminary showing the actions of the priest and deacon at liturgy. The videos are in Russian, but if you know the flow of the liturgy you can figure out what is going on. Of course, the issue with this is that liturgics differs according to jurisdiction and region.
- Find books online. The most useful book I found online is this handbook for deacons. It has lists of things to cense (again, this differs according to local custom; consult your local professional) and fancy diagrams. The only problem is that it is written in Russian. The closest equivalent in English is the late Fr. Gregory Woolfenden’s Practical Handbook for Divine Services.
There are many other resources out there, especially Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur’s site. Digging around a bit (and knowing a little Russian) will yield good results. Of course, if you are not in the Russian Church you may need different resources.
I am just starting out, but what helps is to study, to practice, and of course, to pray.