The Dismissal (Greek: απόλυσις; Slavonic: otpust) is the final blessing said by a Christian priest or minister at the end of a religious service. In liturgical churches the dismissal will often take the form of ritualized words and gestures, such as raising the minister's hands over the congregation, or blessing with the sign of the cross. The use of a final blessing at the end of a liturgical service may be based upon the Priestly Blessing prescribed for the kohanim in the Torah (Numbers 6:23–27).
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, blessings by the priest will occur at both the beginning and the end of each service, and there may be other benedictions during the course of the service. The final benediction is the dismissal, and will often entail mention of the feast day or saint being commemorated that day.
The priest will bless with his right hand, and the bishop will bless with both hands. In both cases, the hand is held so that the fingers form the initials IC XC (the abbreviation for "Jesus Christ" in Greek), and at the concluding words he traces the Sign of the Cross in the air with his hand. If a bishop is holding his paterissa (crozier) while making the dismissal, he will raise both his right and left hands and trace the Sign of the Cross with both his crozier and right hand, crossing the one in front of the other, then blessing again with the Dikirion and Trikion, as the choir chants, Eis pollá etē, Déspota ("Many years, O Master"). More solemn benedictions, such as that which comes at the end of the Divine Liturgy, will be made with a blessing cross rather than the hand.
Dismissals are of two types: the Greater Dismissal and the Lesser Dismissal. The Greater Dismissal is used at the end of the Divine Liturgy, Vespers and Matins.
The general form of the Greater Dismissal is as follows:
* At the Great Dismissal, the priest will insert a special phrase according to the day of the week:
On Sundays and from Pascha until its apodosis (leavetaking), it comes at the very beginning:
On Wednesdays and Fridays, it is inserted after mentioning the Mother of God:
On the other days of the week it is inserted before mentioning the patron saint:
The Lesser Dismissal is used services at which the Greater Dismissal is not called for, such as the Little Hours and Typica, Compline, Midnight Office, etc. It does not mention the commemoration of the day of the week (except on Sundays), the patron saint of the church or the saint of the day.
The Lesser Dismissal is as follows:
On Sundays and from Pascha until its apodosis, the phrase, May He Who rose from the dead... is inserted at the beginning of the Lesser Dismissal; however, none of the other weekday phrases are used.
When used at the end of the Liturgy of Preparation and Prayers of Thanksgiving after Communion the saint who composed the Liturgy is inserted after mention of the Mother of God (see next section).
At the dismissals used at the Divine Liturgy—whether Greater or Lesser—after commemorating the apostles, the priest adds the name of the saint who is credited with writing the Liturgy:
On Sundays, at each of the Great Feasts of the Lord—from the day of the feast until its apodosis (leavetaking)--on each day of Holy Week, and throughout Bright Week there are special phrases which are added at the beginning of the dismissals. These are used at both the Lesser and the Greater Dismissals, and are inserted before the words: Christ our true God....
The phrases used on the Great Feasts of the Lord (excluding Palm Sunday and Pascha) are not said on Sundays, but are replaced with the normal Sunday phrase: May He Who rose from the dead... Furthermore, on the Great Feasts of the Lord, and from Palm Sunday through Thomas Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) neither the patron saint of the church nor the saint of the day are mentioned in the dismissal.