Introduction to the Divine Liturgy

                      by: Father George Papadeas

Reproduced by Permission

Downloads for private use only.

 

As a Priest of the Church approaching on four decades, I long have

believed, that the underlying true reason that many Orthodox do not

regularly and conscientiously participate in the Divine Liturgy is, because

of the fact that they never took time to really acquaint themselves with

this Supreme Service instituted by the Lord Himself.  Consequently, each of

these tends to justify his or her absence from the Sunday Pew; and most of

the excuses center around the lack of knowledge of the Greek used in the

Divine Liturgy.

 

We really deprive ourselves of the greatest spiritual comfort we could

possibly receive, by not participating in the Divine Liturgy faithfully,

regularly and with true knowledge of its content.

 

For this reason, aside from publishing the Liturgy bilingually, which has

been done by many, I attempted to give a commentary of the Liturgy in

laymen's language.  It is important for your spiritual growth to become

familiar with the Divine Liturgy in its every expression, to live it and to

be uplifted by it.

 

The Divine Liturgy concerns itself with all that has to do with our true

life upon this Earth, as well as all the hopes we base in our future life

in Heaven.

 

We must never forget that in every Divine Liturgy Christ is truly present.

He is the One that offers and is offered.  The Liturgy is founded on the

Scriptures and in all the prayers it quotes directly from the Bible.

Consequently the Liturgy teaches us the fundamentals of our Faith; (i.e.,

the dogma regarding the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Lord and His

work and Sacrifice for our Salvation, His glorious Resurrection, His

Ascension and His place on the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and His

glorious second Coming to judge the living and the dead.)

 

The Divine Liturgy is the most eloquent Sermon that could be preached, and

brings us into complete unity with God through the Sacrament of the Holy

Eucharist, in which the Faithful receive the very Body and Blood of Christ.

 

For this reason it is of no benefit if we leave home Sunday morning to go

to Church simply to hear the Divine Liturgy and witness the proceedings.

The Divine Liturgy is not a performance.  It does not want spectators.  It

requests participants, as was the most ancient tradition.  Our forefathers

regularly brought the Oblation loaves, the wine, the water, the incense,

the candles, the olive oil as a token of their true participation.  More

important than these, was the participation of the Faithful in the

responses and hymns of the Divine Liturgy.

 

To this life-giving and most inspiring tradition we must return, to

recapture the ageless beauty of the Liturgy.

 

Learn the meaning of all parts of the Liturgy from the commentary of the

following pages.  Participate in the singing and without fail loudly

confess your faith with the Priest during the recitation of the Creed.

Unite yourself in prayer again loudly with the "Our Father, Who art in

Heaven...", and above all prepare through prayer, fasting and confession to

receive Holy Communion, as an act of supreme devotion, perhaps on the first

Sunday of every month.  Only then will you truly feel uplifted.  Our

churching must be absolved from the routine, to which we have condemned it.

 

For your greater participation seek out the Hymns of the particular Sunday,

the Epistle reading and the Gospel Lesson.  In a separate section of this

book, I have included the responses and the Hymns set to music by the

renowned composer John Sakellarides, professor of Byzantine Music.  While

other music may be used in your Parish, it is well to learn the hymns which

include phonetics.  Chant them with your family at home during the hour of

devotions.

 

I pray that these thoughts find fertile land in the hearts of all our

constituents.

 

                                           Father George Papadeas

 

 

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"One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father,

Amen."

 

 

                A COMMENTARY ON THE DIVINE LITURGY

 

The Divine Liturgy is divided into three parts:

 

   1.  The "Proskomidi", or preparation of the Holy Gifts.

               (Not visible to the Faithful).

 

   2.  The "Liturgy of the Catechumens",

               (the students, or learners of the Faith).

 

   3.  The "Liturgy of the Faithful",

               (Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.)

 

Before we offer explanations of these three (3) parts, the "Proskomidi",

the "Liturgy of the Catechumens" and the "Liturgy of the Faithful", let us

see upon what style a Church is built, how it is divided and what is

contained therein.

 

The usual shape of a Church is rectangular, in the form of a ship.  The

symbolism of the ship is, that the Christians are aboard, with our Lord

Jesus at the helm, ultimately heading for the port of salvation.  This

rectangular shape is called a Basilica, whose main feature is the long rows

of columns, supporting porches.  This architecture is the most ancient in

the Christian Church.  The Church traditionally faced East, because:

 

     1.  light comes from the East,

     2.  the Garden of Eden was located in the East,

     3.  the source of our Christian Faith is from the East.

 

 

Justinian the Great in 532 A.D. brings to light another type of

architecture with the construction of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in

Constantinople.  This Cathedral became the prototype of the Eastern

Christian Churches and of many in the West.  This style came to be known as

Byzantine and is characteristicly Greek Orthodox.

 

The Byzantine Church edifice is built in the form of an equilateral cross,

with a dome crowning in the center.  The symbolism of the cross is that the

Christians are saved through the Blood of our Lord Jesus, who was crucified

for our salvation upon the Cross, and the dome typifies the infinity of

Heaven.

 

The Church is divided into three main parts:

 

    1.  The Narthex or Vestibule.

 

    2.  The Church proper, or Nave (from the Greek word "Naus", meaning

ship.)

 

    3.  The Sanctuary.

 

 

In each of these parts belonged one of three classes:

 

    1.  The Catechumens' (learners of the Christian Faith not baptized)

place was in the Narthex, as it was also for those Christians going through

Penance.

 

    2.  The Faithful Christians occupied the Church proper.

 

    3.  The Clergy were the only ones permitted in the Sanctuary.

 

The Church proper is separated from the Sanctuary by the Iconostasion,

which has a large central Door, and two smaller doors on either side.  The

Iconostasion is adorned with Holy Icons.  Facing the Holy Altar we see to

the right of the Central Door, the Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ; beside

our Lord is St. John the Baptist and to the right of St. John is the

Archangel Gabriel.

 

To the left of the central Door we see the Icon of the Virgin Mary holding

the Christ Child; next, on the left, is the Icon of the Patron Saint of the

particular Church; (by recognizing the Saint or Saints in this position we

establish the name of the Church, without having to be told.  In our Church

in Atlanta, is the Annunciation Icon.)  On the left side of this Icon is

the Icon of the Archangel Michael.  To the right or the left of these six

Icons, which are standard in the Orthodox Church, we add other Icons by

choice, if there is room.

 

The open space between the Pews and the Iconostasion is called Soleas,

which usually is elevated.  In this space all the litanies and processions

and Sacraments are performed.

 

In the Church proper, or Nave, we notice:

 

   1.  Candle and offering tables.

 

   2.  Proskynetarion (shrine with Icon which we kiss after lighting our

candle and before going to our pew.)

 

   3.  Pews for the faithful.

 

   4.  Pulpit, from which the Deacon reads the Gospel, and the Sermon is

preached.

 

   5.  Cleros.  The place on the right where the Chanters and Readers

stand.

 

   6.  The Bishop's Throne, used by the Hierarchy.

 

 

The Sanctuary, as we mentioned, is separated from the Church proper by the

Iconostasion, or Altar Screen.  No layman is permitted inside the Sanctuary

unless he has a special office given to him by the Bishop, such as Acolytes

or Readers.

 

In the Sanctuary we have in the center the Altar Table upon which we

notice:

 

   1.  The "Artoforion", or Tabernacle, in which is contained the Blessed

Sacrament or Host.  This Host is prepared once annually during the Day of

the institution of the Sacrament, Holy Thursday.  The Host, which is Holy

Communion is deposited in the Artoforion for all emergencies, for people to

receive when there is no time to celebrate the complete Liturgy.  Because

the Lord is fully present in the Tabernacle we must always bless ourselves

and bow every time we cross the middle aisle.

 

   2.  The Golden Book of the Gospels, from which the Deacon or Priest

reads the Gospel Lesson of the day.

 

   3.  The Antiminsion, or imprinted Cloth depicting the Burial of the Lord

and in which are contained Relics of a Saint.  This Antiminsion is unfolded

at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful and without it the Liturgy

cannot be celebrated.

 

   4.  The Blessing Cross, which the Priest uses for blessing the

Congregation.

 

   5.  The Prayer Book, from which the Priest reads the Prayers of the

Divine Liturgy.

 

   6.  The Eternal Vigil Light or lamp, which burns olive oil and is always

lit in front of or on top of the Artoforion.

 

   7.  The Candle Sticks which are used for adornment of the Altar Table.

 

 

To the left of the Altar Table, and against, or built into the wall we

notice the PROTHESIS, or OBLATION table, where the Holy Utensils are kept

for preparation of every Liturgy.  They are:

 

   1.  The Holy Chalice.

   2.  The Holy Diskarion, or Paten.

   3.  The Communion spoon.

   4.  The Lance used to cut the parts of the PROSFORON (oblation bread).

        (The lance reminds us of the spear, with which the soldier pierced

         our Lord's side.)

   5.  The Cruets, or small bottles containing wine and water.

   6.  The Communion cloth.

   7.  The 2 Veils for the Chalice and Paten, as well as the Cover for

       both, called "Aera."

 

Back of the Altar Table we see the large Crucifix which is used on the day

of the Passion.

 

Also we see the "Hexapteryga" or fans representing the six-winged Angels,

which surround the Glory of God.  These with the matching Cross are used by

the Altar Boys in processions.

 

The Narthex, which in days of old had a specific function, now is no more

than a vestibule which prepares us for pious entry into the Church.  For

practical reasons in many Churches we see the candle-stands and the

offering plates as well as the "proskynetarion" or icon-veneration stand in

the Narthex.

 

                  PREPARATION OF THE CELEBRANT PRIEST

 

Before the "Orthros" or Matins (morning prayer), the Priest prepares

himself for the Divine Liturgy by special prayers recited outside the

Iconostasion (Altar Screen) before the Royal Doors.  After paying his

respects by kissing the Holy Icons of the Iconostasion, he enters the

Sanctuary through the North Door saying:

 

   "I will enter Thy House, and in Thy fear, I will worship toward Thy Holy

    Temple."

 

                            HOLY VESTMENTS

 

Having entered the Sanctuary, the Priest wears his Vestments.  For each of

the five (5) pieces he recites a special prayer as follows:

 

1.  STICHARION: (The Sticharion is the inner garment, reaching to the

floor.  It signifies the purity of heart, that should be inseparable from

the Priestly Office.)

 

   "My soul shall exalt in the Lord, for He has endued me with the robe of

    salvation, and with the garment of joy has He clothed me.  He has set a

    crown on my head like a bridegroom, and like a bride He has adorned me

    with comeliness."  (Isaiah Chapter 61, Verse 10)

 

2.  EPITRACHELION:  (The Epitrachelion (stole: meaning "on the neck")

signifies the outpouring of Grace from Above on the Priest.  It also

symbolizes the Cross carried by our Lord upon His shoulders.)

 

   "Blessed is God, Who pours His grace on His Priests, like the balm on

    the head, that ran down the beard, even Aaron's beard, down to the

    skirts of his garment."  (Psalm 133, Verse 2)

 

3.  ZONI: (Belt)  The Zoni is worn over the Sticharion and Epitrachelion.

This girding shows a Priest's readiness for service and the strength he

receives from the Holy Spirit to succeed in his mission.

 

   "Blessed is God Who girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect."

    (Psalm 133, Verse 2)

 

4.  EPIMANIKA: (2 Pieces - Cuffs)  The Epimanika symbolize the creativeness

and omnipotence of God.

 

                   (Wearing first Epimanika - right cuff)

 

   "Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength.  Thy right hand, O

    Lord, hast shattered the enemy, and through the multitude of Thy glory

    Thou hast crushed Thine adversaries."  (Exodus Chapter 15, Verses 6-7)

 

                   (Wearing second Epimanika - left cuff)

 

   "Thy hands have made me and moulded me; given me understanding, and I

    will learn Thy Commandments."  (Psalm 119, Verse 73)

 

5.  PHELONION: (Chasuble - The outer vestment in form of cape)  The

Phelonion signifies the crimson Robe, which our Lord Jesus wore.

 

   "Let Thy Priest be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy Saints shout

    for joy, always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen"

    (Psalm 132, Verse 9)

 

Preparing to wear each of these parts of his Vestments, the Priest blesses

them with the sign of the cross and kisses them.  He then washes his hands

to signify his cleanliness, reciting:

 

   "I will wash my hands among the innocent, and so will I go round Thine

    Altar, O Lord."  (Psalm 26, Verse 6)

 

 

Thus he is prepared for the Divine Liturgy.

 

 

                                Part I.

 

                 The PROSKOMIDI, or OFFICE of the OBLATION

 

The Priest, fully vested proceeds to the Table of Preparation called

"PROTHESIS" or "PROSKOMIDI."  The Prothesis Table is always located inside

the Sanctuary and usually on the wall to the left of the Altar Table.  The

PROSKOMIDI is the preparation of the Holy Gifts, the Bread and Wine for the

Divine Liturgy.  (The Prothesis depicts the birthplace of our Lord Jesus.)

The Priest, using a Lance (signifying the lance used by the guard to pierce

our Lord's side when on the Cross), cuts the center square of the PROSFORON

(bread) or Oblation Loaf, and recites the Prophet Isaiah's words:

 

   "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.  And as a lamb before the

    shearer is dumb, He opens not his mouth.  In his humiliation justice

    was denied Him.  Who shall declare His generation?  For His life is

    raised from the earth."  (Isaiah, Chapter 53, Verses 7-8)

 

   [The Priest elevates the "Prosforon" or Oblation Loaf to commence the

   "Proskomidi".  In his right hand he holds the Lance.]

 

Placing the square, face down on the DISKARION (Paten, Dish), the Priest

carves crosswise without cutting the segments through and says:

 

   "Sacrified is the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, Who takes away the

    sin of the world for the life of the world and for its salvation."

    (John, Chapter 1, Verse 29;  I John, Chapter 2, Verse 2)

 

As a reminder of how a soldier pierced His side, the Priest thrusts the

lance into the face of the square of bread reciting:

 

   "And one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately

    there came out blood and water.  And he who saw it (Saint John) bore

    witness and his witness is true."  (John, Chapter 19, Verses 34-35)

 

Saying this, the Priest pours into the Holy Chalice wine and water, since

the Bible states that blood and water ran down His side when He was pierced

by the spear of a soldier.  The Priest blesses the Chalice and recites:

 

   "Blessed is the union of the Holy, now and for ever, and from all Ages

    to all Ages."

 

A triangular form of bread, is then carved from the left side to the

square, and placed on the left of the "AMNOS" OR Host on the DISKARION

(Paten).  This is in honor and memory of the blessed Mother of God, and

ever-Virgin Mary.  The prophetic words recited are:

 

   "On Thy right hand stood the Queen, arrayed in gold in wrought with many

    colors."  (Psalm 45, Verse 9)

 

From the right to the opening of the center of the Bread 9 pieces are

removed and placed on the right of the Host on the DISKARION.  Those are in

honor and memory of:

 

    1)  the Archangels and Bodiless Powers,

    2)  Saint John the Baptist and the Prophets,

    3)  the Apostles,

    4)  the Holy Fathers and Prelates,

    5)  the Holy Martyrs,

    6)  the Holy, God-bearing Fathers and Mothers,

    7)  the wonder-working and unmercenary Doctors (Anargyroi),

    8)  Saints Joachim and Anna,

    9)  Saint John the Chrysostom or Saint Basil the Great,

 

depending on whose Liturgy is being celebrated on the particular day.

 

Cutting other smaller particles of bread, the Priest prays for and

commemorates the Orthodox Patriarchs Bishops and Rulers, and all names of

the living, given to the Priest by the faithful.

 

Then he prays for the departed rulers and clergy and any names of our

beloved submitted to him.

 

Lastly, he removes a small piece for himself, begging for the forgiveness

of his sins.  All these particles are placed below the Host on the

Diskarion.

 

The Priest then uses the Censer saying:

 

   "To Thee, O Lord, we offer incense as a scent of spiritual fragrance;

    accept it at Thy Heavenly Altar and send down upon us in return, the

    Grace of the Holy Spirit."

 

Taking the ASTERISK, shaped in a cross, which will protect the pieces of

bread from the veil used to cover the Diskarion, the Priest places it on

the Diskarion saying:

 

   "And the star came and stood over the place where the young child was."

    (Matthew, Chapter 2, Verse 9)

 

                 (The Asterisk symbolizes the star.)

 

Placing the veil (Kalymma) over the DISKARION on top of the ASTERISK, the

Priest says:

 

   "The Lord hath reigned, He hath clothed Himself with majesty; the Lord

    hath clothed Himself with might, and hath girded Himself."

    (Psalm 93, Verse 1)

 

Placing the second veil over the Chalice, he says:

 

   "Thy virtue hath covered the Heavens, O Christ, and the earth is full of

    Thy praise."

 

After this, the Priest takes the large veil called "AERA" and places it

over both the DISKARION and CHALICE and recites:

 

   "Shelter us in the shelter of Thy wings; drive away from us every enemy

    and foe; make our life peaceful; O Lord, have mercy on us and on Thy

    world, and save our souls, for Thou art good and lovest mankind."

 

The Priest continues with the Prayer:

 

   "Blessed is our God, Who has thus willed, now and for ever, and from all

    Ages to all Ages."

 

   "For this Holy Oblation let us pray to the Lord.  Lord have mercy."

 

                          PRAYER OF THE PROTHESIS

 

   "O God our God, Who has sent the Heavenly Bread, the Food of the whole

    world, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, as our Saviour, Redeemer and

    Benefactor to bless and sanctify us, bless Thou this offering and

    accept it on Thy Heavenly Altar.  Remember those who have offered it,

    and those for whom it is offered, as Thou art good and the lover of

    all, and keep us uncondemned in the celebration of Thy Divine

    Mysteries; for sanctified and glorified is Thy most honourable and

    majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit;

    now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

                       CLOSING PRAYER OF THE PROTHESIS

 

   "Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our Hope, Glory to Thee.  May He,

    Who was born in a cave and lay in a manger for our salvation, Christ

    our true God, through the intercessions of His all-immaculate and

    all-blameless Mother and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save

    us, for as much as He is good and loveth mankind."

 

   "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ, our God,

    have mercy on us and save us.  Amen."

 

                     ----  Here ends the PROTHESIS  ----

 

The PROTHESIS or preparation, although not seen by the Faithful, is the

FIRST part of the Divine Liturgy.  The visible part of the Liturgy

commences with the "Liturgy of the Catechumens" as we shall see.

 

 

                               Part II.

 

                     The Liturgy of the Catechumens

 

The Priest fully vested and having prepared the Proskomidi comes before the

Holy Altar and during the Great Doxology he recites certain preparatory

prayers before commencing the Divine Liturgy.

 

When the Doxology has been sung, the Priest blesses himself, and bows very

deeply repeating three times:

 

   "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men."

 

and twice he says:

 

   "O Lord, open Thou our lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Thy praise."

 

Then taking the Golden Book of the Gospels he raises it and making with it

the sign of the cross he chants the opening words of the Divine Liturgy:

 

   "Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy

    Spirit, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

The Choir responds readily,  "Amen."  Yes, so be it,  -- may God truly

reign over us to all eternity.

 

After the Divine Liturgy has commenced with the glorification of the Holy

Trinity, the Deacon, and in his absence the Priest, chants 9 petitions,

each a separate beautiful and meaningful prayer.

 

In answer to all these petitions, the Faithful, represented by the Choir,

respond with the "Kyrie Eleison", meaning "Lord, have mercy."

 

Before the first petition, the Priest calls the people to pray by saying:

 

   "In peace, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Peace is an absolute pre-requisite for the full and complete appreciation

of the Divine Liturgy.  Without peace of mind and heart we are not worthy

to stand before the Altar of God, to beg forgiveness and offer our thanks.

 

As we know, our Lord, after His resurrection, appeared before His Apostles,

saying: "Peace be unto you." (John, Chapter 20, Verse 21)

 

In the fifth (5th) Chapter of Matthew, Verses 23-24, our Lord commands,

that if we come before the Altar to offer our gift and remember that we are

not at peace with someone, we should leave the gift at the Altar, return

and make our peace with our fellow man, then come to the Altar, present the

gift, and only then will it be acceptable and beneficial to us.

 

Thus, with a complete serenity of heart and mind we must attend the Divine

Liturgy; only then do our prayers have meaning.  With this peace the Priest

recites the first petition

 

   1. "For the Peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us

       beseech the Lord."

 

Realizing that:

 

   a.) no prayer is acceptable without peace,

   b.) our Lord came to establish peace and reunite man with God,

   c.) every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:19),

 

we pray for "Peace from above," and after having received this peace, we

pray for "the salvation of our souls."

 

   2. "For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Holy

       Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us beseech the

       Lord."

 

We pray:

 

   a.) For the peace of the world so troubled with strife and wars; for God

       to grant the leaders of nations a true sense of justice and love.

 

   b.) For the stability of the Church, to stand fast on the pure faith as

       interpreted by the seven Ecumenical Councils.

 

   c.) For the union of all Churches and peoples, which would establish a

       Kingdom of God on earth and become as our Lord prophesied:

 

               "One fold, with One Shepherd." (John, Chapter 10, Verse 16)

 

 

   3. "For this Holy Temple, and for those who enter it with faith,

       reverence and the fear of God, let us beseech the Lord."

 

God can be worshipped anywhere, but His presence is felt more in His House,

the Church, which He established, where all of us united in true

brotherhood gather to partake in the table of love.  We pray then, that God

preserves this Church and all Churches, as well as protect and guide all

those that enter the Church with faith, REVERENCE, love and respect of God.

 

 

   4. "For our Archbishop (name which today is: Iakovos), for the venerable

       Priesthood of the Diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the

       laity, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Saint Paul in the Epistle to Hebrews, Chapter 13, Verse 17, states:

 

   "Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they

    watch for your souls, as they that must give account; that they may do

    it with joy, and not with grief."

 

The faithful are enjoined to pray for the welfare of our Archbishop, of all

the Priests and Deacons; in short for all the Clergy and the Christians,

who adhere to the teachings of the Church.  In this petition we recognize

the existing ranks in the Clergy:

 

   a.) the Bishop,

   b.) the Priest,

   c.) the Deacon.

 

 

   5. "For the President of our Country, for those in Civil Authority, for

       Our Armed Forces, and for all the American Nation, let us beseech

       the Lord."

 

Our great Country was founded on the moral precepts of our Lord; our

President is a God-fearing man praying to God for guidance and aid in his

difficult tasks;  For these then, we pray to God, and for all the people

under their jurisdiction.

 

 

   6. "For this city and for every city and country, and for the faithful

       who dwell therein, let us beseech the Lord."

 

We pray not only for the welfare of our city, but on a general scale, based

on our love for all mankind, we pray for all the cities and lands and for

the faithful people that dwell in them.

 

 

   7. "For seasonable weather, for the abundance of the fruits of the

       earth, and for peaceful times, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Man is composed of Body and Soul.  We pray for our spiritual welfare which

is most important, but we also ask our Lord to grant us many bountiful

gifts to feed and clothe our body.  Our Lord in His prayer, which sets the

pattern for prayers, states: "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD."  We pray

then that the weather will be seasonable, in order that the cultivated

earth may give forth rich fruits.  For all these and peaceful times we pray

to the Lord.

 

 

   8. "For those at sea, and those who travel by land or by air, for the

       sick and suffering, for captives and for their salvation, let us

       beseech the Lord."

 

In this most meaningful petition we truthfully express our unselfishness

and brotherhood.  We Pray:

 

   a.) That those sailing on the seas will not be endangered by stormy

seas.

   b.) That those who travel on land or in the air will safely reach their

destination.

   c.) That those being tried by various illnesses will recover and regain

their health.

   d.) That those who toil and are burdened will duly be relieved.

   e.) That those who are captives and enslaved to hostile nations will

soon be free to return to their country.

   f.) For all these and the salvation of their souls, we pray to the Lord.

 

 

   9. "For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and

       necessity, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Life is full of trials and tribulations, dangers and needs.  These,

oftentimes are permitted by God and put us to the test.  Other times they

are the results of our sins and misdemeanors; so we pray to God to please

exempt us from all these afflictions.

 

In answer to all these petitions the people respond, as we said, with Kyrie

Eleison (Lord have mercy.)  Let us then get into the habit, in a low

whisper, to follow the choir and repeat the Kyrie Eleison.  Only through

acquiring this habit will we be able to be more alert during the Divine

Liturgy.  Let us become conscientious Christians, followers, and

participants of the Divine Service.

 

After the nine Petitions, through which we pray for various things

entreating the Lord in PEACE, and having the Faithful, represented by the

choir, respond with the KYRIE ELEISON (LORD HAVE MERCY), the Priest prays:

 

    "Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy

     Grace."

 

Everything we have received, or is given, or will be given to us by God,

comes through His Grace, as a gift to the faithful.  This Grace comes from

God's infinite Goodness and from the supreme sacrifice of our Lord made

upon the Cross; through His Blood our sins are washed away.

 

With this Grace, then, we pray to God to receive us as His true Children,

to save us, to have mercy on our souls, and to guard us physically and

spiritually against all dangers.

 

The Prayer which we hear many times throughout the Divine Liturgy follows:

 

    "Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed and glorified Lady, Mother

     of God and Ever Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend

     ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God."

 

We are reminded in this prayer of the noble attributes of Saint Mary, the

Mother of God.  She is accorded the following adjectives.

 

   1.  Panagia: meaning All-Holy; possessing every virtue and holiness.

 

   2.  Immaculate: she was pure and undefiled, cleansed of all sin.

 

   3.  Most-Blessed: of all the mortals she was most blessed because she

       was chosen by God to become the vessel through which the Word of God

       would receive human flesh.

 

   4.  Glorious: because she gave birth to the Saviour, the glorious Lord.

 

   5.  Despina, Lady: because she is our Lady and mother.

 

   6.  Theotokos: because she did not give birth to a common man, but

       supernaturally gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

   7.  Ever-Virgin: because even though she gave birth, she was still a

       virgin until the end of her earthly life.

 

The Virgin Mary then, is a prime example for her many virtues: for her

patience, enduring the sufferings of her innocent Son; for her love and

devotion to God.  We are mindful of all this, as we are of the innumerable

Saints, who again gave us so many noble and life-giving examples, who shed

their blood to nourish the roots of the tree of Christianity.  The

Theotokos and the Saints being closer to God pray for us when we ask them

to, in our prayers.

 

Just as the Theotokos and the Saints devoted their being and their lives to

God, in similar manner, we are reminded in this prayer, that:

 

    "We and all others should devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Christ our

     God."

 

In answer to this beautiful prayer, the Choir responds:

 

    "To Thee, O Lord."

 

To you, O Lord, we commend ourselves; we pledge ourselves to become sincere

and conscientious Christians; to follow and give noble examples; to

practice all the teachings You have given us.  We will glorify You in words

as well as in deeds.

 

The Petitions which we offer in Peace, the remembrance of the Theotokos and

the Saints and pledging ourselves to our Lord, end with the glorification

of the Holy Trinity, as follows:

 

    "For to Thee belong all glory, honour, and worship, to the Father, and

     to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and from all

     Ages to all Ages."

 

We hereby ascribe, as it is our duty, all glory, honor and worship to the

Father, Who created Heaven and Earth, all things visible and invisible; to

the Son, Who became Incarnate, sacrificed Himself for our sins and

instituted the Christian Religion; and to the Holy Spirit, Who is the

overseer of the Church and guides it to render it infallible.

 

The Choir responds to this with "Amen."  So be it.  (Again we repeat the

importance that:  in a whispering tone the people should answer in concert

with the Choir.  Only then can we become part of the proceedings and

appreciate what is transpiring.)

 

We then hear the Antiphons.  These hymns are called Antiphons, because in

the Ancient Church there were two Choirs, one on the right and the other on

the left in the Nave.  The first would sing the hymn, which would then be

repeated by the second Choir.

 

     (Editor's Note:  I feel that the Antiphonal Choirs ought to become a

part of the Church again, on the strength that it adds to the beauty and

sanctity of the Divine Liturgy.)

 

1st ANTIPHON:

 

    "By the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Saviour, save us."

 

We all feel that many times we are not worthy to amply lift up our heads

and pray to God.  Therefore we ask the Mother Mary to intercede for us and

pray for us, because She, being close to her Son and God, would speak in

our behalf.  This is the meaning of the first Antiphon; that through her

intercessions we may be saved.

 

During the singing of this Antiphon, which is sung 3 times, the Priest

within the Altar recites the following prayer:

 

    "O Lord our God, whose dominion is inconceivable, and whose glory is

     incomprehensible; whose mercy is infinite, and whose love toward

     mankind is ineffable, do Thou Thyself, O Master, in Thy tender

     compassion look upon us, and upon this Holy Temple, and grant us and

     those who pray with us, Thine abundant mercies and compassions."

 

Note:  This silent prayer is actually the beginning of and should precede

the prayer for the glorification of the Holy Trinity.  It should be recited

when the Petitions are being said by the Deacon.  If there is no Deacon

serving, the Priest says the Petitions and consequently with the free time

he has during the singing of the Antiphons he recites this prayer.

 

After the 1st Antiphon the Priest intones:

 

    "Again and again, in peace, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

    "Lord, have mercy."

 

The Priest repeats the prayers said before the 1st Antiphon:

 

    "Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy

     Grace."

 

    "Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed and glorified Lady, Mother

     of God and Ever Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend

     ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God."

 

Choir:

 

    "To Thee, O Lord."

 

PRAYER OF 2nd ANTIPHON

 

    "O Master, Lord our God, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance;

     protect the whole body of Thy Church, and sanctify those, who love

     the beauty of Thy Temple.  Do Thou endow them with Thy Divine Power,

     and forsake not us, who have set our hope in Thee."

 

    "(Audibly)  For Thine is the dominion, and Thine is the Kingdom and the

     power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy

     Spirit, now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen"

 

2nd ANTIPHON:

 

    "O Son of God, who didst rise from the dead, save us, who sing unto

     Thee:  Alleluia."

 

Having all our hopes in the Grace of our Lord, who was risen from the dead,

that He will save us, we sing in His praise Alleluia.  "Alleluia" is a

Hebrew word, which the Christian Church adopted, and which means:

 

    "Praise be unto God."

 

The second Antiphon having been sung twice, the Choir immediately sings:

 

3rd ANTIPHON:

 

    "O Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, Who being immortal yet didst

     deign for our salvation to be incarnate through the most

     Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and without change didst

     become Man; and was crucified, O Christ our God, trampling

     down death by death; Thou, Who art One of the Holy Trinity, and

     art glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us."

 

This poetic masterpiece is said to have been composed about fourteen

hundred (1,400) years ago by the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who

also built the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople.  This 3rd Antiphon

in theological terms explains the supernatural Birth of our Lord, defines

His two distinct Natures and declares that He is the second person of the

Holy Trinity.  This hymn then tells us:

 

    1.  That Jesus is the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God.

 

    2.  That He is immortal.

 

    3.  That He came for the salvation of the human race.

 

    4.  That He pre-existed with the Father.

 

    5.  That He is immortal.

 

    6.  That He received His complete Human Nature from our Holy Lady the

        Ever-Virgin Mary.

 

    7.  That His Divine Nature did not change in the least after having

        received the human flesh.  In one person as human eyes saw Him, He

        was perfect God and He was perfect man; two distinct Natures.

 

    8.  That He was crucified and shed His Blood to cleanse our sins.

 

    9.  Through His death and resurrection, death was trampled, and

        defeated.

 

   10.  That He is glorified together with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

 

Having all this in mind, we pray that He save us.

 

The prayer which the Priest says within the Altar at this time is:

 

    "Thou, Who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make

     our common supplications unto Thee and dost promise that when

     two or three are gathered together in Thy Name, Thou wilt grant their

     petitions, fulfill now, O Lord, the petitions of Thy servants, as may

     be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of

     Thy Truth, and in the world to come life everlasting."

 

The prayer above is based on the promise of our Lord who said, "that where

two or three are gathered in my name, I am there amongst them, too".  (Open

your Bible to Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 20.)

 

After this Hymn the Priest and the Choir respectively chant:

 

    "Again and again, in peace let us beseech the Lord."

 

    "Lord, have mercy."

 

    "Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy

     Grace."

 

    "Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed and glorified Lady, Mother

     of God and Ever Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend

     ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God."

 

Choir:

 

    "To Thee, O Lord."

 

    "For Thou, O God, art good and lovest mankind, and to Thee we ascribe

     glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and

     for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Up to now there has been no movement on the part of the Priest.  He has

chanted and recited his prayers standing in front of the Holy Altar of God,

without moving from his position.

 

In the ancient Christian Churches there was a separate room or vault, which

contained all the valuables that were to be used in the Church during the

Services.  Amongst these valuables, of course, was the Book of the Gospels

"Evangelion."  This room or vault, was known as the "Skevofilakion", a

composite Greek word meaning the guarding-pace of the implements or

articles.

 

After the singing of the Antiphons, the time is rapidly approaching when

the Gospel will be read.  Therefore in the ancient Church, the Priest, the

Deacon and the Altar Boys would go to the "Skevofilakion", and the Deacon

(in his absence the Priest) would take the Evangelion, and holding it at

head-height, preceded by the Altar Boys, brought it into the Church.  He

would pause in the space before the Sanctuary (Soleas), chant a hymn (as we

shall see), proceed up the Sanctuary Steps, and place the Evangelion upon

the Holy Altar.

 

Today we do not have a separate "Skevofilakion."  Consequently the

Evangelion is always on the Altar.  In order that the Church may preserve

all these historic and symbolic meanings the procession still takes place,

from the Sanctuary, outside the Sanctuary and back into the Sanctuary.

This procession is known as:

 

                    THE LITTLE ENTRANCE

 

The Little Entrance brings to mind our Lord's coming to the Earth, and

being amongst His people, to whom He preached the message of salvation.

 

Having then no "Skevofilakion", the Priest kissing the Book of the Gospels,

takes it from the Altar Table, proceeds around, and preceded by the Altar

Boys exits from the Northern door, comes to the center of the Soleas and

pauses, having recited the following prayer:

 

    "O Master, Lord our God, Who hast appointed in Heaven legions and Hosts

     of Angels and Archangels for the service of Thy Glory, grant that with

     our entrance there may be an entrance of Holy Angels serving with us

     and glorifying Thy goodness; for to Thee are due all glory, honour,

     and worship; to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

     now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Facing the Sanctuary, the Priest blesses and says:

 

    "Blessed is the Entrance of Thy Saints: always, now and for ever and

     from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Slightly raising the Evangelion, he chants:

 

    "Wisdom!  Stand and attend!

 

The Golden Book of the Gospels contains the Wisdom of God and all His

Divine Truths.  Let us all then stand in attention to receive the Lord.

 

The Hymn of the Little Entrance is chanted by the Priest:

 

    "Come, let us worship and bow down before Christ.  O Son of God, Who

     didst rise from the dead; save us, who sing to Thee: Alleluia."

 

The Priest then enters the Sanctuary, places the Holy Book (Evangelion) on

the Altar, and taking the Censer, he censes the Altar, the Holy Icons and

the faithful, to fill the Church with the fragrance of the incense and

remind us that our prayers should rise up into Heaven, just as the smoke

does from the incense.

 

During this time the Priest and the Choir chant:

 

   1.  The Hymn of the Day (Apolytikion)

   2.  The Hymn of the Church

   3.  The Kontakion (Hymn)

 

After the Little Entrance the Priest chants:

 

    "Let us beseech the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

    "Lord, have mercy."

 

 

Priest:

 

    "For Thou our God art Holy, and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the

     Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and

     from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Choir:

 

    "Amen."

 

Within the Sanctuary and in front of the Altar the Priest says the

following prayer:

 

Priest:

 

    "O Holy God, Who restest among Thy Saints and art glorified by the

     Cherubim and praised by the Seraphim with Thrice-holy Voice, and

     worshipped by all the Host of Heaven; Thou Who hast brought all

     things out of nothingness into being; Thou Who hast created man

     in Thine Image and Likeness, and hast adorned him with all Thy

     favours; Thou Who givest to the suppliant wisdom and prudence and

     dost not neglect the sinner, but hast set forth the way of

     repentance unto salvation; Thou Who has accounted us, Thy humble

     and unworthy servants, worthy to stand at this time before the

     glory of Thy Holy Altar and to bring to Thee meet adoration and

     praise; do Thou, Master, accept, even from the mouth of us sinners,

     the Thrice-holy Hymn and visit us in Thy Righteousness; forgive us

     all our transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, sanctify our

     souls and bodies and grant that we may worship Thee in holiness

     all the days of our life; through the intercessions of Thy

     Holy Mother and all the Saints, who from the beginning of time

     have pleased Thee; for Thou, our God, art Holy and to Thee we

     ascribe glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,

     now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Choir:

 

    "Amen."

 

The Choir chants the TRISAGION HYMN, Trisagion meaning thrice-Holy:

 

Choir:

 

    "Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon

     us. (Thrice)."

 

    "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.

     Both now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

    "Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us."

 

 

With this prayer of the Trisagion we are reminded:

 

   1.  Of God's Holiness, Glory, Omnipotence and infinite Goodness.

   2.  That God lives in the hearts of the faithful.

 

     a.)  "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love

           him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

           (John, Chapter 14, Verse 23)

 

     b.)  "Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will

           dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and

           they shall be my people." (II Corinthians, Chapter 6, Verse 16)

 

   3.  That God is glorified and His praises are sung incessantly by the

       Holy Angels, the Seraphim and the Cherubim, and all the Angelic and

       Heavenly Powers.

 

   4.  That God with His infinite Power and Wisdom has created everything

       out of nothing.

 

   5.  That God created man in His own image, with all the power to become

       a likeness of Him.

 

   6.  That God grants wisdom to those who ask Him for it.

 

   7.  That God does not shun the sinners, but asks them to repent and

       return to salvation.

 

The Priest, recognizing that God has permitted him and the faithful to

stand before His Holy Altar and ascribe to Him the worship and glory that

is due Him, prays:

 

   1.  That from the mouths of us sinners, God will receive the Hymn of the

       Trisagion.

 

   2.  That in His benevolence He will visit us and grant us His many

       gifts.

 

   3.  That God will remit all our sins, whether voluntarily or

       involuntarily committed.

 

   4.  That God will purify and sanctify our soul and body.

 

   5.  That He will enable us to worship Him with pure hearts all the days

       of our life.

 

All these requests are made to God, through the prayers and intercessions

of the Theotokos and all the Saints, who through the ages have pleased God.

After this prayer, the Priest leaves the front of the Altar Table and moves

toward the left, directly facing the "Prothesis."  He repeats the words of

praise that the Jews sang upon the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem.

 

Priest:

 

    "Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord."

 

Just as our Lord Jesus was glorified by the people of Jerusalem and a

little later was crucified upon the Cross and shed His blood for us, the

Priest repeats these words of praise, because a little later in the Divine

Liturgy the great sacrifice upon the Cross will take place again for our

benefit.

 

Our Lord though was not only crucified, but also arose in glory from the

dead and ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father.  The

Priest bowing before the invisible throne of God says:

 

    "Blessed art Thou on the throne of glory in Thy Kingdom, Who sittest

     upon the Cherubim, always, now and for ever, and unto the ages of

     ages.  Amen."

 

The Priest returns to the front of the Altar Table and prepares to ask the

people to focus all their attention on the reading of the Holy Scriptures,

first the Epistle lesson, and then the Gospel excerpt from one of the four

Gospels.

 

Priest:

    "Louder."

 

Choir:

 

    "Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us."

 

The Liturgy of the Catechumens at this point is well under way.  We have

sung the praises of our God and have glorified Him with various Hymns.

Now, after the singing of the "Trisagion" (Thrice-Holy) we arrive at the

point to hear excerpts from the New Testament.

 

The reading from the New Testament is most important.  It is the most

ancient practice in the Church.  It transmits to us the Holy Word of God,

and reminds us of our obligation to read and search the Scriptures and

practice its commandments.

 

After the "Trisagion" the Priest stands outside the Royal Doors, and facing

the people, he reminds them that the hour has arrived for the Epistle and

Gospel reading; he requests their attention by saying:

 

Priest:

 

    "Let us attend."

 

Priest:

 

    "Wisdom."

 

Reader:

 

    "The Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (or, from Paul's

     Epistle to...or, from the other Epistle to...)."

 

Priest:

    "Let us attend."

 

The Reader reads the specific Reading of the Day.  During this reading,

in some churches, the Priest censes the Holy Table crosswise, and the

Sanctuary.  At the end of the reading, the Priest faces the people and

says:

 

Priest:

 

   "Peace be to thee, thou that readest."

 

The Choir singing the praises of God for the wonderful wisdom He has given

us through His words, sings:

 

Choir:

 

   "Alleluia." (3 Times)

 

We now prepare to hear the Gospel lesson.  While the Choir is singing the

"ALLELUIA" the Priest beseeches God to send His light to illuminate our

hearts.  The prayer is inaudible and reads thus:

 

   "Shine in our hearts, O Master, Who lovest mankind, the pure light of

    Thy Divine Knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the

    understanding of Thy Gospel teachings; implant in us also the fear of

    Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all desires of the flesh,

    we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing

    the things which are well-pleasing unto Thee; for Thou art the

    illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee

    we ascribe glory, together with Thine Eternal Father, and Thine

    All-Holy, Good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and from all

    Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

The Priest, after the Epistle lesson, exits from the Sanctuary and facing

the congregation says:

 

   "Wisdom!  Rise!  Let us hear the Holy Gospel.  Peace be with you."

 

The word of God cannot do any good to minds and hearts that are troubled

and weighted down with sins unforgiven; therefore the Priest prays that

peace will come to the hearts of the faithful Christians and blesses them

saying:  "Peace be with you."  The Choir, representing the faithful,

responds and expresses its wish that peace should also come to the Priest's

heart, and answers:

 

   "And with Thy Spirit."

 

When the Priest says:

 

   "The reading from the Holy Gospel according to (Matthew, or Mark, or

    Luke, or John.)  Let us attend.

 

the Choir at this time and after the reading resounds with:

 

   "Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee."

 

The proper thing, if we are to follow the practice of the ancient Church,

is to have the sermon follow the reading of the Holy Gospel, because it is

usually based on the Gospel lesson.  The people having just heard the

Gospel, have it fresh in their minds whereby the sermon would have a fuller

meaning.  But today, in most of our Churches, for various practical reasons

it is heard at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

 

Thus, we now come to the close of the 2nd Part of the Divine Liturgy, known

as the "Liturgy of the Catechumens")

 

 

 

                            []

                        IC  []  XC

                            []

                     [][][][][][][][]

                            []

                        NI  []  KA

                            []

 

 

                                Part III.

 

                        LITURGY OF THE FAITHFUL

 

In Part I, we have learned of the preparation of the Holy Gifts to be

presented and transubstantiated into the real Body and Blood of our

Saviour in the last part of the Liturgy.

 

Part II, commencing with the words, "Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father,

and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and from all Ages

to all Ages.  Amen.", called the Liturgy of the Catechumens, ends as we

have seen with the reading of the Holy Gospel.  At this point, the

unbaptized or Catechumens (learners of the Faith) were compelled to exit

from the Church and only the baptized Faithful Christians remained until

the end of the Divine Liturgy as we know it today.

 

The Liturgy of the Faithful, the third and last part of the Divine Liturgy,

commences with the "Great Entrance", while the Choir chants the "Cherubic

Hymn."

 

In our Liturgy today, after the reading of the Holy Gospel, we do not

usually hear the many petitions that belong to the Liturgy of the

Catechumens, and the prayers of dismissal of these persons from the

Service.  These have been long ago omitted in many cases, because today we

do not normally have Catechumens, all persons having been baptized in their

infancy.

 

[editor's note:  We will have a special supplement to this preface, which

will contain a commentary on the full Liturgy of the Catechumens which the

editor feels is absolutely necessary to the Evangelistic efforts of the

Orthodox Church in the process of transforming lost souls to their

salvation.]

 

                         THE GREAT ENTRANCE

 

This title is given to the second procession commencing from the sanctuary,

to distinguish it from the Little Entrance, during which the Priest brought

out the Golden Book of the Gospels before the people, signifying in this

maner the coming of our Lord to this Earth, ministering and teaching the

people the new life.

 

During the "Great Entrance" we prepare ourselves to receive the "King of

all", our Lord Jesus Christ.  His work having been finished upon this

earth, He now prepares to offer Himself "a ransom for all" (I Timothy,

Chapter 2, Verse 6).  He will soon make the supreme sacrifice in order that

His Precious Blood will wash away the sins of mankind.  This Great

Sacrifice is the crowning point of the "Liturgy of the Faithful."

 

During the Great Entrance the Priest exits from the Northern Door of the

Sanctuary holding the "Diskarion" (Paten), upon which is the Lamb, the cube

of Bread as we have seen in the Proskomidi, and the Chalice, which contains

the wine mixed with water.  These elements during the latter part of the

Liturgy are changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord and are offered to

the Faithful, to unite themselves in a real way with our God and Saviour.

 

The Cherubic Hymn which the Choir sings during the Great Entrance and the

prayer which the Priest says within the Altar impress upon the Faithful,

Clergy and Laity, that the moment is approaching  --  we must cast aside

every earthly desire and uplift our souls to receive the King of All.

 

After the reading of the Gospel, which, as we said, concludes the Liturgy

of the Catechumens, we hear the Priest chanting:

 

    "Grant, that being ever protected by Thy power, to Thee we may ascribe

     glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and

     for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

The Choir responds with:

 

    "Amen."

 

The Priest then unfolds the "Antiminsion" (meaning: "instead of the

table").  On this Antiminsion we see imprinted the pious Nicodemus and

Joseph of Arimathea taking down the Body of Jesus from the Cross.  The

Antiminsion usually contains the relics of some Saint.  The Antiminsion,

meaning "instead of the table", brings us back to the days of the early

persecutions, during which the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in various and

remote places, catacombs and so forth, not having one designated Place and

Table, as we have today.  And so it is today, that even though we do have

established places of worship, we still use the "Antiminsion" as a reminder

that the Church of Christ is not confined to any certain place or section,

but is like a ship, borne upon the waves that does not anchor anywhere,

except in Heaven.

 

                     THE CHERUBIC HYMN

 

    "We, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the

     Thrice-holy Hymn to the life-giving Trinity, let us put away all

     worldly care, that we may receive the King of All."

 

During the singing of this Hymn, the Priest recites a most profound prayer,

beseeching the Lord to qualify him to perform this Great Mystery.

 

    "No one who is bound with the desires and pleasures of the flesh is

     worthy to approach, or draw near, or to serve Thee, O King of Glory;

     for to serve Thee is great and awesome, even to the Heavenly Powers.

     Yet, through Thine ineffable and boundless love toward mankind, Thou

     didst unchangeably and immutably become Man, and served as our High

     Priest, and as Lord of All, hast committed to us the celebration of

     this liturgical and bloodles sacrifice.

 

     For Thou alone, O Lord our God, rulest over all things in Heaven and

     Earth, Who art borne on the Throne of the Cherubim, Who art the Lord

     of the Seraphim and King of Israel, Who alone art Holy and resteth

     amongst Thy Saints.

 

     Wherefore, I implore Thee, Who alone art good, and ready to listen:

     Look down upon me, Thy sinful and unprofitable servant, and cleanse my

     soul and my heart from an evil conscience; and enable me by the power

     of Thy Holy Spirit, vested with the Grace of the Priesthood, to stand

     before this, Thy Holy Altar, and consecrate Thy Holy and Immaculate

     Body and Precious Blood.  For to Thee I come, having bowed my head,

     and beseech Thee:  Turn not Thy face away from me, nor reject me from

     among Thy Children; but make me worthy, Thy sinful and inworthy

     servant, to offer these Gifts unto Thee.

 

     For Thou art the Offerer and the Offered, Who accepts and is

     distributed, O Christ our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory, together

     with Thine Eternal Father, and Thine All-Holy, Good, and Life-giving

     Spirit; now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

The Priest, having finished this prayer, recites the Cherubic Hymn thrice,

takes the Censer and censes the Altar and the Faithful to show that as the

smoke rises and is fragrant, in like manner our prayer should be uplifted

and warm to our God.  During the censing, the Priest recites the 50th

Psalm.  After this, he kisses the Altar Table and bows to the people,

asking them to forgive him in order that he may be purer during the

celebration of the Liturgy.  He then proceeds to the Preparation Table, the

"Prothesis", and with his head bowed he says:

 

    "O God, be gracious unto me a sinner, and have mercy upon me."

 

He then takes the top cover or Kalymma called the "Aera" and places it upon

his shoulders saying:

 

    "In peace lift up thy hands to the Holy, and bless ye the Lord."

 

                         THE GREAT ENTRANCE

 

The Hymn is interrupted.  The Great Entrance takes place.  The Priest

holding the Chalice and the Diskarion preceded by the Altar Boys carrying

the processional Cross, Hexapteryga and Candlesticks, reverently exits from

the Northern Door and slowly walks to the center of the "Soleas" and pauses

while chanting:

 

    "May the Lord our God remember us all in His Kingdom, always, now and

     for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

These words are based on the confession of the thief upon the cross when he

said to Jesus: "Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom."

(This phrase should be memorized and repeated by the Faithful every time

the Priest performs the Great Entrance.  Only in this and like manner can

we become conscious of our participation in the Divine Liturgy.)

 

After offering prayers for the living and departed, the Priest re-enters

the Sanctuary and places the Diskarion and the Chalice upon the

Antiminsion, covers them with the Aera, censes them, reciting the last

verses of the 50th Psalm.  (51st Psalm in English translations.)

 

After a thorough study of the above, we are able to better appreciate the

deep significance of the Great Entrance.

 

When the Priest enters the Sanctuary the Choir completes the Cherubic Hymn

as follows:

 

    "The King of All Who comes invisibly attended by the Angelic Hosts.

     Alleluia."

 

Here we realize the importance of all the Faithful.  They are elevated and

compared with the Angelic Hosts, the Cherubim.  Just as the legions of the

Angels are constantly about God's Throne singing the Thrice-Holy Hymn, in

like manner the Faithful represent the Cherubim upon this earth, and gather

around the Holy Altar in spirit to sing God's glory.  We not only sing His

glory, but we take God within us through Holy Communion, thereby setting up

a Throne of God within our hearts.  That is why the Cherubic Hymn implores

us to put away all earthly and worldly cares.

 

The "Great Entrance" has taken place.  The Holy Gifts, later to be

transubstantiated into the real Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, have been

brought from the "Prothesis" (Preparation Table) in a Procession and placed

upon the Holy Altar Table.  The Priest resuming his place before the Altar

Table commences the "Petitions" as follows:

 

    "Let us complete our prayer and supplication to the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

    "Kyrie Eleison. (Lord, have mercy.)"

 

In other words, he tells the faithful that even though we have expressed

our prayers, it is time now to make those prayers more complete because the

Great Moment is soon at hand.

 

    "For the Precious Gifts here presented, let us beseech the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

    "Kyrie Eleison."

 

We entreat, we beseech the Lord to receive, to accept these Gifts, which we

are offering and which in turn will grant us a new spirit.

 

    "For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and necessity,

     let us beseech the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

    "Kyrie Eleison."

 

Then we hear a grouping of six more petitions, to which the Choir,

representing the faithful chants "Grant this, O Lord."

 

   1.  "For this whole day, that it may be perfect, holy, peaceful, and

        sinless, let us ask of the Lord."

 

All Christians should strive to live perfect days; days which are blessed

with Christian acts.  But since many of us so easily drift from the

prescribed course, at this moment of the Liturgy we beseech our Lord to

grant us a peaceful day with all that surround us and more so a blameless

one - to aid us avoid any possible sin.

 

   2.  "For an Angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls

        and bodies, let us ask of the Lord."

 

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we read where our Lord appoints

guardian Angels to protect and guide those who really are His.  For

instance:

 

     a.)  "For he shall give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in

           all thy ways.

 

         They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot

         against a stone."  (Psalm 91, Verses 11-12)

 

     b.)  "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I

           say unto you, That in Heaven their Angels do always behold the

         face of of my Father, which is in Heaven."

         (Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 10)

 

We all then should entreat our Lord to grant us one of His Angels to act as

the guard of our body but mostly for our soul to avoid sinning.

 

   3.  "For the forgiveness and remission of our sins and transgressions,

        let us ask of the Lord."

 

We pray to our Lord to forgive us from our sins, but also from every

transgression, which we so often commit.  By remitting our sins we are

re-instated in His Grace and become candidates of His Kingdom in Heaven.

 

   4.  "For all things that are good and profitable unto our souls, and for

        the peace in the world, let us ask of the Lord."

 

Saint Paul tells us in his first (1st) Epistle to the Corinthians that

"everything is permitted to us, but not everything is to our advantage."

We therefore must distinguish between what is good and what is bad for our

life.  In this petition we pray that God grants us those things which are

profitable to our soul and surely will ultimately be profitable to our

body.

 

In this fourth petition we also pray for peace in the world as we also

prayed during the beginning of the Holy Liturgy.

 

   5.  "That we may complete the remainder of our lives in peace and

        penitence, let us ask of the Lord."

 

In the first petition we asked the Lord to safeguard us from sin for the

whole day.  Now through this petition we beseech the Lord to grant us the

remainder of our days, peace of mind and heart, and also to aid us to

recognize our sins for which we must truly repent, to ultimately save our

souls.

 

   6.  "That the end of our lives may be Christian, without pain,

        blameless, and peaceful, and for a good account before the fearful

      judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord."

 

All of our lives should be lived according to the Christian principles,

unto the very end.  For this we ask the Lord to help us to our very last

day, to live without torment of various ailments and sicknesses, to  live

without being ashamed of any of our acts, to live in peace with all, but

more so to enable us to give a good account, a good defense when we shall

come face to face with our God Jesus, on the day of the Last Judgment.

 

After the six petitions we again commemorate the ever blessed Virgin Mary

and we are reminded of her pure life and that of the Saints.  (Previously

explained.)

 

During these petitions, inside the Altar the Priest recites a very

significant prayer:

 

    "O Lord, God Almighty, Who alone art Holy; Who dost receive the

     sacrifice of praise from those, who call upon Thee with all their

     heart, receive also the supplication of us sinners, and accept it at

     Thy Holy Altar, and enable us to offer to Thee Gifts and spiritual

     sacrifices, for our sins and for the omissions of the people; and make

     us worthy to find grace in Thy Sight, that our sacrifice may be well

     pleasing unto Thee, and that the good Spirit of Thy grace may dwell

     upon us, and upon these Gifts presented here, and upon all Thy

     people."

 

The ending of this beautiful prayer is heard aloud by the faithful as

follows:

 

Priest:

 

    "Through the mercies of Thine Only-Begotten Son, with Whom Thou art

     blessed, together with Thine All-Holy and good and lifegiving Spirit,

     now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

Choir:

 

    "Amen."

 

With this prayer the Priest entreats the Lord to accept the Gifts, which

are being offered in God's praise, through which Gifts, the Priest and the

Faithful shall receive the Divine and saving Grace of our Lord.  We ask

that these gifts be accepted because we have learned of the benevolence of

God, of His goodness and His compassion for the human race.  This love and

compassion was the reason the Father sent His only begotten Son, in order

that mankind could be cleansed and saved.

 

                THE CONFESSION OF THE FAITH

 

The time of the Great Sacrifice is approaching.  The Sanctuary now becomes

the Upper Room where our Lord held the Last Supper.  The faithful represent

the Disciples of Jesus, who sat and partook at the Table.

 

The Priest from the beginning of the Liturgy has offered prayers and

petitions for himself and the faithful.  All these prayers, of course, are

offered with peace of soul and mind.  Only then are they acceptable to God.

 

At this point of the Liturgy the Priest turns and facing the congregation

he greets and blesses, as the Lord did after His Resurrection:

 

    "Peace be with you."

 

The congregation through the Choir returns the greeting and sings:

 

    "And with thy Spirit."

 

In other words, may peace also be in your heart and soul.

 

Without peace of mind and heart there can be no love.  Therefore, the

Priest implores his people to love one another as our Lord commanded us.

With this love we can rightfully stand before God and confess our faith to

Him.  The Priest admonishes:

 

    "Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess."

 

 

Saint John tells us, "God is love" (1 John, Chapter 4, Verse 16).  Saint

Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verse 1, states:

 

    "Though I speak the tongues of men and of Angels and do not have love,

     I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."

 

To confess our faith and have it acceptable to God it is necessary that we

extricate every animosity from our heart and fill it with love.  What are

we about to confess?

 

The Choir chants:

 

    "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in essence and

     undivided."

 

While the Choir sings, the Priest, making the sign of the cross, bows and

kisses the veiled Chalice and Paten (Diskarion) saying:

 

    "I shall love Thee O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my support and my

     refuge, and my Savior."

 

In the ancient Christian Church at this point the Christians not only were

prepared to confess their faith, but also to manifest it.  They embraced

each other and gave the kiss of Christian love.  Today our Church has

preserved only a remnant of this tradition.  We witness it only when a

Bishop celebrates the Liturgy with the Priest, or when two Priests serve at

the Altar.  They embrace each other from right to left and then kiss each

other's hands to show their love and humility.

 

During this embrace they repeat:

 

    "Christ is in our midst; He is, and will be, from all Ages to all

     Ages."

 

We then hear the Priest aloud:

 

    "The doors, the doors; in wisdom, let us attend."

 

As we have learned, the Catechumens were compelled to exit at the beginning

of the Liturgy of the Faithful.  At this moment the celebrant Priest would

chant aloud, "The doors, the doors. . .", in order that the guards at the

doors would not permit any unbaptized person to enter, not only because the

Liturgy of the Faithful was in progress, but the Holy Gifts were unveiled

for the first time and were being prepared for the Sacrifice.

 

Today, we cannot attach the same meaning to "the doors."  However, it is a

good reminder for the faithful to close the doors of their minds and hearts

in order that no impure thoughts can enter.  By guarding the door of their

hearts filled with love, the faithful are in a better position to sit and

partake with, and of the Lord at the Last Supper.  Guarding the doors, let

us then listen to the wisdom which we shall hear with the recitation of the

Creed.

 

The Creed we hear, pray, and confess every Sunday during the Divine Liturgy

is popularly called the Nicene Creed.  It contains the twelve articles of

our Faith.  The first seven articles were composed by the Holy Fathers of

the undivided Church in the year 325 A.D. during the first Ecumenical

Council in Nicea, Asia Minor.  The last five articles to complete it as we

recite and know it in its present form, were composed in the second

Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in the year 381 A.D.

 

The main reason for the convening of these Councils was the various

heresies that threatened the purity of the Faith; heresies that attacked

the Divinity of our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 

These Ecumenical Councils, of which we have seven (7), represented the

totality of the Christian Church.  They defined and defended the Faith and

are infallible because the Holy Spirit guided and illuminated the hearts

and minds of the Fathers of the Church.  This promise of the sending of the

Holy Spirit was made by our Lord Jesus:

 

    "And I pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that

     he may abide with you forever." (John, Chapter 14, Verse 16).

 

Concisely, the Creed teaches us of the existence of the Holy Trinity: of

God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth; of God the Son, who became

incarnate, completed His earthly mission, was crucified, buried,

resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand

of the Father, and that He will come again in glory to judge the living and

the dead; and of God the Holy Spirit, the protector of the Church, the

Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, and together with the Father

and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and we are told that the Holy

Spirit is the one who spoke through the Prophets.  The Creed also teaches

us of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of the one baptism for

the remission of sins, of the resurrection of the dead and of life

everlasting.

 

During the recitation of the Creed the Priest picks up the "Aera", the veil

covering the Gifts, and waves it over the Chalice and the Diskarion.  This

practice is a relic of the first Liturgies, some held outdoors and some in

chapels with no windows.  For fear that any insect might fall into the

unveiled Chalice, two deacons or acolytes held large fans on either side of

the Holy Altar.  In place of this fanning the Priest waves the "Aera" (the

veil).

 

However, the Church has also given a symbolism to the waving of the Aera.

Just as in all contests or wars, ultimately the victor raises his flag,

also in this case, the Faith has triumphed over all heresies, over all

worldly bodies and now waves victoriously over all.  The Aera is lowered

during the 6th Article of the Creed which states that Christ ascended into

Heaven.  Here now we recite the Nicene Creed:

 

Listed below for our convenience are the twelve (12) articles of the

Nicene Creed or the Symbol of Faith.

 

        1.  I believe in one (1) God, Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and

   Earth and of everything visible and invisable.

 

        2.  And in one (1) Lord Jesus Christ, the only-be-gotten Son of God,

   begotten of the Father before all Ages.  Light of Light, True God of True

   God, begotten not made, co-substantial with the Father, through Whom all

   things were made.

 

        3.  Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and

   was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became Man.

 

        4.  Crucified for our salvation under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and

   was buried.

 

        5.  And was resurrected on the third day according to the Scriptures.

 

        6.  And ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father;

 

        7.  And He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead;

   Whose reign will have no end.

 

        8.  And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who

   proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son, is

   worshipped and glorified; Who spoke through the Prophets.

 

        9.  I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

 

       10.  I acknowledge One Baptism for the remission of sins.

 

       11.  I await for the resurrection of the dead.

 

       12.  And the life of the Ages to come.   Amen.

 

 

Amen. Amen. Amen.  We have now finished the Confession of the Faith and are

presently embarking on the Great Moment, which we shall know as the Holy

Eucharist.

 

 

                   THE HOLY EUCHARIST

We have confessed our faith.  We are now approaching the most important and

holiest part of the Divine Liturgy.  For this reason the Priest after the

Creed reminds us of how we should prepare ourselves before approaching the

Holy Sacraments.  He says:

 

     "Let us stand aright; Let us stand with awe.  Let us attend, that we

      may present the Holy offering in peace."

 

   1.  We must use our best posture, and be most attentive.

 

   2.  We must stand before the Altar with fear of God.  Not fear as we

       commonly understand it, which, of course, creates psychological

       reactions, but a total respect for God.

 

        [A friend once said:  One should never be afraid of electricity,

         bit one should approach it with respect and knowledge of its

         power.  Do not FOOL AROUND with ELECTRICITY, if you DON'T KNOW

         ANYTHING ABOUT IT.  ELECTRICITY CAN KILL!!!!!]

 

   3.  We must attend to the fullest measure of our mind and heart; we must

       be completely absorbed in what is to take place very shortly.

 

 

All this we must have in mind in order that we may offer the Holy Sacrifice

with peace; the peace about which we repeatedly spoke and which is most

necessary for acceptable prayers.

 

The Choir completes the thought with the words:

 

     "A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise."

 

The Supreme Sacrifice of our Lord, which takes place every time a Divine

Liturgy is celebrated, was and is an act of great benevolence, one of great

mercy in behalf of God for the human race.  This mercy is what brought

peace between God and Man, and made it possible for man to live within the

sphere of God's Grace.

 

The Holy Eucharist is also a sacrifice of praise.  Our Lord Jesus glorified

God the Father, having been obedient even unto death.

 

Saint Paul at the close of his second Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter

13, verse 14, gives his apostolic greetings to the Christians of Corinth.

This greeting or blessing is one of the most beautiful and most re-assuring

verses in the Bible.  The Holy Orthodox Church using the Holy Bible as its

guide in her every step uses this Apostolic greeting word for word exactly

at this point of the Divine Liturgy.  The Priest exits from the Royal Gate

and facing the congregation blesses the faithful and says:

 

     "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father,

      and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

 

Here again we note the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, all with a

separate mission, pouring out their love and grace and communion for the

faithful.

 

Our Lord Jesus' Supreme Sacrifice, that is His innocent blood shed upon the

Cross constitutes the Divine Grace, which we receive through the Sacraments

and absolves us from sin making us citizens of Heaven.

 

God the Father showed His immeasurable love when He sent His "only begotten

Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting

life."  (John, Chapter 3, Verse 16)

 

The Holy Spirit is the comforter; our Lord promised that He would send the

Holy Spirit to guide and sanctify our souls and to be the Overseer in the

Church thereby rendering it infallible.

 

To this apostolic blessing the faithful, represented by the Choir, respond:

 

     "And with thy spirit."

 

In other words, may the apostolic greeting be in your heart also.

 

After receiving the greeting, the Priest raising his hands upwards and

looking up implores the faithful, saying:

 

     "Let us lift up our hearts."

 

We are going to perform the great sacrifice here before the Altar of God,

which at the present time is the table at the Last Supper.  Let us then

forget all worldly things and lift up our hearts straight to Heaven.  The

Choir gives the re-assurance:

 

     "We have lifted them up unto the Lord."

 

Yes, our hearts are uplifted and are in complete unity with the Lord.

 

The Lord at the Last Supper had offered thanks before sitting to eat, a

practice that must be applied in our private and family life.  Even a

silent prayer through the sign of the Cross is a blessing before sitting

down to eat.  Now before the great Sacrifice the Priest offers thanks,

saying:

 

     "Let us give thanks unto the Lord."

 

The Choir responds with:

 

     "It is proper and right."

 

Of course, it is right.  It is our filial obligation (filial: our attitude

or relation towards our Loving God, the Holy Trinity) to thank the Lord for

His endless benefits and kindness to us humans.

 

According to the Scriptures, our Lord at the Last Supper before breaking

and offering the Bread and Wine, which to all eternity were to be the types

for Holy Communion, offered His thanks to God the Father.  That is why the

Great Sacrament or Mystery is called the Holy Eucharist.  (Eucharist is the

Greek word "Efcharistia", meaning "THANKS".)

 

The Priest, having re-entered the Sanctuary, silently offers the prayer of

thanks as follows:

 

     "It is proper and right to praise Thee, to glorify Thee, to bless

      Thee, to thank Thee, to worship Thee, in all places of Thy Dominion;

      for Thou art God ineffable, incomprehensible, invisible,

      inconceivable, existing always, as Thou dost exist; Thou and Thine

      Only-begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit.  Thou hast brought us from

      nothingness into being, and when we fell away didst raise us up

      again, and Thou ceaseth not, until Thou hast done everything to bring

      us to Heaven, and grant us Thy Kingdom to come.  For all these things

      we thank Thee, and Thine Only-begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit; for

      all the things we know and do not know; for the visible and invisible

      bounties, which have been bestowed upon us.  We thank Thee also for

      this Liturgy, which Thou dost deign to receive from our hands, even

      though Thou art surrounded by thousands of Archangels, and myriads of

      Angels, by the Cherubim and six-winged Seraphim, which are many-eyed,

      and soar aloft on their wings."

 

The Priest continues the prayer which now is heard by the congregation as

follows:

 

     "Singing, exclaiming, proclaiming the triumphal Hymn and saying":

 

The Choir continues the prayer, which takes on the form of an individual

hymn,

 

     "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabaoth, Heaven and earth are full of Thy

      Glory.

 

      Hosanna in the Highest.  Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the

      Lord.  Hosanna in the Highest."

 

The first part of this triumphal Hymn (Holy, Holy, Holy) is the hymn of the

Seraphim, which is sung around the Throne of God.  They sing the praises of

the Lord Sabaoth, Who is Lord and Master of the Universe, of everything

visible and invisible.

 

The second part of the Hymn is the praises with which the Israelites

received our Lord Jesus upon His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  This

they did thinking that Jesus had come to free them from the Romans and

re-establish the Kingdom of David.

 

We, the faithful, now sing God's praises and are prepared to receive Him in

our hearts during the Divine Liturgy when He will once again through the

Priest offer Himself as a Sacrifice for the human race.

 

While the Choir sings, the Priest prays silently within the Sanctuary:

 

     "With these blessed powers, O Master, who lovest mankind, we also cry

     and say: Holy art Thou and all-Holy; Thou, and Thine only-begotten

     Son, and Thy Holy Spirit.  Holy art Thou, and all-Holy and magnificent

     is Thy Glory.  Who, didst so love Thy world, as to give Thine

     only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,

     but have eternal life; Who, having come, and having fulfilled all the

     dispensation for us, in the night that He was betrayed, or rather,

     surrendered Himself for the life of the world, having taken bread in

     His holy, and immaculate, and blameless hands, and having thanked,

     blessed, and sanctified and broken it, He gave to His Holy Disciples

     and Apostles saying:"

 

The Priest continues aloud (the Lord's exact words):

 

    "Take ye, eat:  This is My Body which for you is broken unto remission

     of sins."

 

The Angels, as we have seen, are constantly about the throne of God singing

His praises.  With the last prayer which the Priest repeats silently in the

Sanctuary, while the Choir is singing "Holy, Holy, Holy", we place

ourselves at the side of these legions of Angels to sing with them the

triumphant Hymn of God.  At the close of this very same prayer the Priest

reminds us that on the night our Lord was betrayed, or rather He

surrendered Himself to be crucified for our sins, He took and blessed and

broke the bread before His Apostles during the Last Supper and said:

 

    "Take ye, eat:  This is My Body which for you is broken unto remission

     of sins."

 

The institution of this Mystery or Sacrament of Holy Communion we see in

the Scriptures.  (Matthew, Chapter 26, verses 26 to 28; Mark, Chapter 14,

verses 22 to 24; Luke, Chapter 22, verses 17 to 20.  Other references,

John, Chapter 6, verse 51, 53, and 56; and I Corinthians, Chapter 11,

verses 23 to 25.)

 

With these words we see our Lord Jesus performing an act which was to

perpetuate to all ages His presence with us.  By receiving Holy Communion

we take within us the very Body and Blood of our Lord.  This transforming

(Metousiosis) or transubstantiation, as it is termed, takes place a few

seconds later when the Priest invokes the power of the Holy Spirit to make

the transformation, and even though we have the visible forms of bread and

wine before us they have been changed through the Holy Spirit into the real

Body and Blood of our Saviour, to sanctify the believers.

 

To this presentation, "Take, eat.  This is My Body. . .", the Choir

responds with the "Amen", meaning: Yes, truly this is Your Body, which is

being offered for our sins.

 

The Priest silently continues:

 

     "Likewise (He took) also the Chalice after the Supper saying":

 

Priest aloud:

 

     "Drink from it ye all; This is My Blood of the New Testament

      (Covenant), which for you and for many is shed unto remission of

      sins."

 

Just as the bread becomes His Body, in like manner His Blood, under the

form of wine, is given also for the remission of sins.

 

The Choir, again representing the faithful, chants: "Amen", while the

Priest continues his prayers.

 

(The Priest silently):

 

     "Therefore, remembering this command of our Savior, and all that He

     endured for us, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third

     day, the Ascension into Heaven, the sitting at the Right Hand, the

     second and glorious Coming again,"

 

                    THE ELEVATION

 

At this point of the Service the Elevation takes place.  The Holy Altar is

no more the Upper Room where the Last Supper was held.  It is now the place

of Crucifixion, Golgotha, where His Holy Blood was shed for us.

 

 

(The Priest continues aloud):

 

     "Thy Gifts of what is Thine, we offer to Thee, in behalf of all, and

      for all."

 

We make this offer to God, not from things that we own or things that we

have produced.  We offer those things that God in His infinite Goodness has

given to us.

 

Saying these words the Priest ELEVATES the DISKARION and the Holy Chalice

with crossed hands, to make the sign of the Cross.

 

The Choir sings one of the most beautiful Hymns of our Church:

 

     "We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and

      we entreat Thee, our God."

 

This is the most crucial and the most sacred moment of the Divine Liturgy.

What we offer as a sacrifice to our God, is the very Sacrifice our Lord

made upon the Cross for us people.  Is there any reason then, why we all

should not kneel during the Consecration?

 

                 THE INVOCATION OR "EPIKLESIS"

 

Up to now the bread and wine were only symbols of our Lord's Body and

Blood.  Now, through the invocation to God, the Holy Spirit will descend

and transubstantiate the elements into the real Body and Blood of Jesus.

 

The celebrant Priest kneels before the Holy Altar and with all his piety

and power of concentration prays:

 

     "Again we offer to Thee this rational and bloodless Worship, and we

      beseech Thee, and pray, and supplicate Thee: send down Thy

      Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these Gifts here presented.

 

      May God have mercy upon me, a sinner.

      May God have mercy upon me, a sinner.

      May God have mercy upon me, a sinner."

 

(This is known as the prayer of consecration.)

 

The Priest rises and making the sign of the Cross over the bread he says:

 

     "And make this bread the precious Body of Thy Christ",

 

The Priest making the sign of the Cross again over the Chalice he says:

 

     "And that which is in this cup, the precious Blood of Thy Christ",

 

Then making the sign of the Cross over both Gifts he says:

 

     "Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit.  Amen, Amen, Amen."

 

Kneeling once more the Priest continues praying:

 

     "So that They may be to those who receive Them, for the purification

      of the soul, for the remission of sins, for the fellowship of Thy

      Holy Spirit, for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven, and for

      the boldness to approach Thee, neither unto judgment nor unto

      condemnation."

 

                 (The SACRAMENT is COMPLETE.)

      Again we offer unto Thee this reasonable Worship for those who have

      fallen asleep in the Faith: Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs,

      Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors,

      Ascetics, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith."

 

After the Consecration of the Holy Gifts, transforming them into the real

Body and Blood of our Saviour, we have, as we have seen before, various

inspired prayers commemorating the Saints and Martyrs, the governing heads,

in order that by their peace we may live in tranquility, etc.  Parts of

these prayers are audible while the greatest parts are inaudible.

 

At this point of the silent prayer of commemoration, after the Hymn "We

praise Thee, we bless Thee . . ." and the Consecration having been

completed, we hear the Priest aloud in continuation:

 

     "Especially for our most holy, pure, most blessed, glorious Lady,

      Theotokos, and ever-Virgin Mary."

 

In response to the appeal of the Priest to especially commemorate our Holy

Virgin Mary the Choir sings the Hymn "AXION ESTI."

 

     "Truly it is worthy to bless Thee, the Theotokos, ever blessed and

      pure, and the Mother of our God.  Thee, who art more honorable than

      the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim; who

      incorruptibly didst bear God, the Word, verily the Theotokos we

      magnify."

 

(Silently, while the Choir chants the Hymn "AXION ESTI," the Priest

continues the prayer):

 

     "For the holy Prophet and Forerunner, John the Baptist, for the holy,

      glorious and most lauded Apostles, for Saint (of the day) whose

      memory we celebrate, and for all Thy Saints, by whose supplications

      do Thou, O God, visit us.  Remember also, O Lord, those who have

      fallen asleep in the hope of a resurrection to life Eternal.

 

      (The Priest at this point commemorates, whom he wills.)

 

      Give them rest, O God, where the light of Thy countenance shineth.

      Further, we entreat Thee:  Remember, O Lord, the Orthodox Episcopate,

      who rightly teach the word of Thy Truth, all the Priests of the

      diaconate in Christ, and all Priestly and monastic orders.  Further,

      we offer to Thee this reasonable Worship for the World, for the Holy,

      Catholic and Apostolic Church, for those living in purity and

      temperance, for our faithful Civil Authorities.  Grant them, O Lord,

      peaceful government, that we in their tranquility may live a serene

      life in all piety and temperance."

 

During the singing of this most magnificent description of our Lady

Theotokos, an altar boy hands the Priest the tray or basket containing the

pieces of Bread (Antidoron) to be blessed and distributed to the Faithful

after the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.

 

In ancient times the Christians lived and practiced their Faith much more

than the best today.  All the congregation in those days proceeded to the

Altar at the proper time to receive the most Holy Gift, Holy Communion.

Unfortunately there was a drifting from this life-giving practice.

[editor's note: Let us reverse this trend and partake of the most Holy

Gift, Holy Communion at every possible opportunity!]  Our Church, wanting

to still keep those people close to the idea of Communion, gives them the

"Antidoron", a composite Greek word meaning "instead of the Gift."  These

pieces are cut from the bread from which the Priest, in the preparation of

the Gifts, extracted the proper pieces, as we saw in the beginning, for the

consecration later.

 

There is, however, another symbolism which we might tie in at the present

time.  We all know of the first common tables calles "Agapes."  At these

tables all Christians, rich and poor, sat and partook of the same food

after the Divine Liturgy.  This, of course, is highly impractical today.

Therefore, through the "Antidoron" we virtually still partake of the same

table of Agape or love.

 

After the singing of the virtues of the Theotokos, the commemorations

continue aloud.

 

   Priest:

 

     "Above all, remember O Lord, our Archbishop [Bishop; (name): Iakovos];

      whom grant unto Thy Holy Churches in peace, safety, honor, health,

      and length of days, to teach aright the word of Thy Truth.

 

      And all those, whom each of us has in mind."

 

   The Choir responds:

 

     "And all mankind."

 

(The Priest continues praying as follows):

 

     "Remember, O Lord, this city in which we dwell, and every city and

      land, and the faithful living in them.  Remember, O Lord, those that

      travel by land, by sea and by air; the sick, the suffering, the

      captives, and their salvation.  Remember, O Lord, those who remember

      the poor; and upon all of us, send forth Thy Mercies."

 

   Priest (Continues aloud):

 

     "And grant us with one mouth and one heart to glorify and praise Thine

      all-honourable and majestic Name: of the Father, and of the Son, and

      of the Holy Spirit; now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

   Choir:

 

     "Amen."

 

   Priest (aloud). (Blessing the congregation.)

 

     "And the mercies of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be

      with you all."

 

   The Choir responds:

 

     "And with thy spirit."

 

With this blessing all the prayers of the consecration are complete.

 

The consecration being completed, we now enter into a different phase of

the Liturgy.  The Holy Gifts, Holy Communion, will be taken by the Clergy

first, then given to the people who have prepared themselves.

 

The Petitions which are to follow, ending with the Lord's Prayer, are all

part of the last minute preparation of the Priest and the faithful to

receive Holy Communion.

 

   Priest:

 

   1.  "Having commemorated all the Saints, again and again, in peace, let

      us beseech the Lord."

 

   2.  "For the precious Gifts which have been offered and sanctified, let

      us beseech the Lord."

 

   3.  "That our merciful God, who hath received them on His Holy and

        Celestial and Invisible Altar unto a scent of spiritual fragrance,

      may send down upon us Divine Grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit,

      let us beseech the Lord."

 

   4.  "For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and

        necessity, let us beseech the Lord."

 

       (To all these Petitions the Choir responds: "Lord, have mercy."

       [Kyrie Eleison.])

 

   Priest:

         (These six Petitions are identical to the ones heard after the

       singing of the Cherubic Hymn.  Often times they are omitted.)

 

   1.  "For this whole day, that it may be perfect, holy, peaceful, and

        sinless, let us ask of the Lord."

 

   2.  "For an Angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls

        and bodies, let us ask of the Lord."

 

   3.  "For the forgiveness and remission of our sins and transgressions,

        let us ask of the Lord."

 

   4.  "For all things that are good and profitable unto our souls, and for

        the peace in the world, let us ask of the Lord."

 

   5.  "That we may complete the remainder of our lives in peace and

        penitence, let us ask of the Lord."

 

   6.  "That the end of our lives may be Christian, without pain,

        blameless, and peaceful, and for a good account before the fearful

      judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord."

 

       (To all these Petitions the Choir responds: "Grant this, O Lord."

       [Paraschou Kyrie.])

 

   Priest:

 

     "Having asked for the unity of the Faith, and the communion of the

      Holy Spirit, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole

      life to Christ our God."

 

   Choir:

 

     "To Thee, O Lord."

 

   Priest (inaudibly):

 

     "To Thee we commend all our life and our hope, O Master who lovest

      mankind; and we beseech Thee, and pray Thee, and supplicate Thee:

      make us worthy to partake of Thy Heavenly and awesome Mysteries, of

      this sacred and spiritual Table, with a pure conscience, unto

      remission of sins, unto forgiveness of transgressions, unto communion

      of the Holy Spirit, unto inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, unto

      boldness towards Thee, but not unto judgment nor unto condemnation."

 

   Priest (aloud):

 

     "And deem us worthy, O Master, that we may boldly and without

      condemnation dare to call upon Thee, the Heavenly God, as Father, and

      to say:"

 

                            THE LORD'S PRAYER

           

            The whole congregation together:

 

     "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hollowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom

      come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this

      day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive

      those, who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but

      deliver us from evil."

 

   Priest (aloud):

 

     "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the

      Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and

      from all Ages to all Ages."

 

   Choir:

 

     "Amen."

 

Very briefly, in our Lord's Prayer as it is contained in Matthew Chapter 6,

verse 9 and Luke Chapter 11, verse 2, we pray to our Father, who is in

Heaven:

 

    1.  That His name be blessed by the faith of His believers,

 

    2.  That His Kingdom may come and reign in the hearts of men,

 

    3.  That just as His will is executed in Heaven, it may be adhered to

        and executed by all of us as well on earth,

 

    4.  That He grant us our daily necessities and grant us the Bread of

        Life (Holy Communion),

 

    5.  That He forgive us as we forgive all others,

 

    6.  That He may not lead us into temptation; but give us the power to

        overcome temptation, and to save us from all evil.

 

    7.  That we proclaim that the ownership of the Kingdom of Heaven

      belongs to the Holy Trinity; the power and the glory of God, the

      Holy Trinity is forever and unto the Ages of Ages.

 

 

All this because our God in Holy Trinity reigns and has the power and the

glory.

 

After the Lord's Prayer, the Priest continues to pray for himself and the

Faithful before approaching to receive from the Holy Chalice.  Wanting to

keep our minds and hearts directly focused on the great moment, he turns

and blesses the congregation saying:

 

     "Peace be unto all."

 

To which the Choir responds:

 

     "And with thy spirit."

 

Priest:

 

     "Let us bow our heads unto the Lord."

          (The Faithful all bow)

 

Choir:

 

     "To Thee, O Lord"  (We, the Faithful, commend our lives to Christ, our

                   God.)

 

Priest (inaudibly):

 

     "We thank Thee, O King Invisible, Who by Thine Infinite Power hast

      created all things, and by the fulness of Thy Mercy hast brought

      forth all things out of nothing into being; do Thou Thyself, O

      Master, look down from Heaven upon those, who have bowed their heads

      before Thee; for they have not bowed before flesh and blood but

      before Thee, our Almighty God.  Do Thou, therefore, O Master,

      administer these Offerings to all of us for the good, according to

      the special need of each of us; sail with those at sea; accompany

      those who travel; and do Thou, Who art the Physician of our souls and

      bodies, heal the sick."

 

Then aloud we hear the completion of this Prayer by the Priest:

 

     "Through the grace and mercy and love for mankind, Thine only Begotten

      Son, with Whom Thou art blessed, together with Thine all-Holy, and

      good, and life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and from all Ages to

      all Ages.  Amen."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen"

 

To this prayer another one is added, and repeated silently by the Priest as

follows:

 

     "Hearken, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, from Thy Holy dwelling-place,

      and from the Throne of glory of Thy Kingdom, and come to sanctify us;

      Thou Who sittest above with the Father, yet art here invisibly

      present with us; do Thou also deign by Thy mighty Hand to give to us

      of Thy Sacred Body, and of Thy Precious Blood, and through us to all

      the people."

 

Beseeching God to come amongst us and sanctify us through Holy Communion,

the Priest blessing himself prays:

 

     "O God, have mercy upon me, a sinner." (three times, inaudibly)

 

He then takes the Bread, which now is the Body of our Lord, raises it after

having called the people's attention by saying "LET US ATTEND", and with

the Bread elevated exclaims:

 

     "The Holy Gifts, unto the Holy."

 

The Holy, of course, are the Faithful who are to receive Holy Communion and

are blessed and sanctified after receiving through preparation.  But even

though in this instance the Faithful are called Holy or Saints, the Choir

voices the sentiments and the humility of the people and sings:

 

     "One is Holy, one is Lord; Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God the

      Father.  Amen."

 

                THE COMMUNION OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY

 

Directly after the singing of the above hymn, the Priest commences the

Communion Prayers, while the Choir sings the Communion Hymn of the day.

This hymn varies on most Holidays, but usually every Sunday we hear the

Choir singing:

 

     "Praise ye the Lord from the Heavens.  Praise Him in the Highest.

      Alleluia."

 

We have seen from the Preparation or Prothesis that the center part of the

Prosforon, which is cut and placed on the Diskarion has the following

letters:

 

                              |

                        IC    |    XC

                     ---------------------

                        NI    |    KA

                              |     

 

Interpreted these letters mean:

 

          IC     = contraction for Jesus (Greek)

          XC     = contraction for Christ

          NIKA   =    conquers

 

              "Jesus Christ conquers"

 

The Priest takes this cube of Holy Bread, which has been carved in the form

of the Cross, but not broken, and breaks it into the four parts, saying

inaudibly:

 

     "Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God; broken but not divided;

     always eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those who partake."

 

The four pieces from the oblation are arranged on the Diskarion thus:

 

                                 IC

 

                             NI      KA

 

                                 XC

 

              forming the shape of the Cross.

 

Taking the piece marked IC, and making the sign of the Cross over the Holy

Chalice, he drops it in saying quietly:

 

     "The fulness of the Cup of the Faith, of the Holy Spirit.  Amen."

 

How significant!  The Lamb of God is divided and distributed, yet not

disunited; it is forever consumed by the Faithful, but never used up and

always sanctifies those who partake thereof.  Now the piece which is placed

into the Chalice containing the Blood of our Lord is the completion of the

Mystery, the fulness of the Cup, which when received faithfully grants to

the partakers the full power and Grace of the Holy Spirit.

 

An Altar Boy then brings the "ZEON", the heated water which is blessed and

poured into the Holy Chalice to give the contents the temperature of the

blood.  The warm water signifies the warmth of our faith.  The Priest

blesses the water saying:

 

     "Blessed is the fervour of Thy Saints, always: now and forever, and

      from all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Pouring the water into the Chalice he repeats:

 

     "The ferver of Faith, full of the Holy Spirit.  Amen."

 

Then reverently and full of faith the Priest recites the prayers before

receiving Holy Communion as follows:

 

     1.  "I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that Thou art verily the

          Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who didst come into the world

          to save sinners, of whom I am the first.  Also I believe, that

          This is Thy Sacred Body, and This Thy Precious Blood.  Therefore

          I pray Thee; have mercy upon me and pardon my transgressions,

          voluntary and involuntary, in word and in deed, both known and

          unknown, and make me worthy to partake of Thy Sacred Mysteries,

          unto the remission of sins and unto Life Eternal.  Amen."

 

     2.  "Behold, I approach for Holy Communion, O Creator, burn me not as

          I partake; For Thou art Fire, which burns the unworthy,

          Wherefore, do Thou cleanse me from every stain."

 

     3.  "Receive me today, O Son of God, as a partaker of Thy Mystical

          Feast for I will not speak of the Mystery to Thine enemies; I

          will not kiss Thee as did Judas, but as the Thief, I will confess

          Thee:  Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom."

 

     4.  "Tremble, O mortal, beholding the Divine Blood.  For it is as a

          lighted coal burning the unworthy.  It is God's Body which

          deifieth and nourisheth me:  It deifieth my soul, and wondrously

          nourisheth my mind."

 

     5.  "Thou hast smitten me with yearning, O Christ, and with Thy Divine

          love Thou hast changed me; but do Thou burn away with spiritual

          fire my sins, and make me worthy to be filled with the joy of

          Thee; that rejoicing in Thy goodness, I may magnify Thy two

          Presences."

 

     6.  "Into the magnificence of Thy Saints, how shall I, your unworthy

          and unprofitable servant enter?  For should I also dare to enter

          the Festal Chamber, my robe betrays me, for it is not a festal

          garment, and I shall be bound and cast out by the Angels.

          Cleanse my soul, O Lord, from pollution, and by Thy compassion

          save me."

 

     7.  "O merciful Master, Lord Jesus Christ my God, let not these Holy

          Gifts be unto me for judgment through my unworthiness, but

          rather for the purification and sanctification of my soul and

          body, and as an earnest of the Life and Kingdom to come.  For it

          is good for me to cleave unto God and to place in the Lord the

          hope of my salvation."

 

         "Receive me today, O Son of God, as a partaker of Thy Mystical

          Feast for I will not speak of the Mystery to Thine enemies; I

          will not kiss Thee as did Judas, but as the Thief, I will confess

          Thee:  Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom."

 

Prayer number 3 is repeated at this time and the Priest prepares to receive

by saying:

 

     "Behold, I draw near to Christ, our immortal King and God."

 

Taking the piece marked 'XC' and before consuming it he says quietly:

 

     "To me (name), the unworthy Priest, is given the most Holy and

      Precious Body of our Lord, and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, unto the

      remission of my sins, and unto Eternal Life."

 

Taking the sponge he wipes his fingers carefully in order that even the

tiniest particle of Holy Bread is off and into the Chalice.  He then picks

up the Holy Chalice and before drinking from it he repeats:

 

     "The most Holy and Precious Blood of our Lord, and God and Saviour

      Jesus Christ is given to me (name), the unworthy Priest, unto the

      remission of my sins, and unto Eternal Life."

 

Wiping his lips with the communion cloth, he kisses the Chalice and says:

 

     "This hath touched my lips and my iniquities shall be taken away, and

      my sins cleansed." (Isaiah, Chapter 6, Verse 7)

 

Then taking the portions marked NI and KA, he places them into the Holy

Chalice, from which the Faithful will shortly receive.  In doing this, he

recites an exultant praise of the Resurrection, as follows:

 

     "Having beheld the ressurection of Christ, let us adore the Holy Lord

      Jesus, the only sinless One.  We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy

      Holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we

      know no other than Thee; we call on The Name.  O come all ye faithful,

      let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection.  For behold, through the

      Cross joy has come to all the world.  Ever blessing the Lord, we

      praise His Resurrection.  By enduring the Cross for us He destroyed

      death by death.

 

      Shine, shine, New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon

      thee.  Now, dance and be glad, O Zion!  And thou, pure Mother of God,

      rejoice in the rising of thy Child.

 

      O great and holiest Passover, Christ!  O Wisdom, Word of God and

      strength!  Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee, in the

      unwaning Day of Thy Kingdom."

 

The Chalice and the Diskarion are then covered with the veils as the Priest

recites the Prayer of Thanksgiving:

 

     "We thank Thee, O Merciful Master and Benefactor of our souls, that

      Thou hast this day vouchsafed to give us Thy Heavenly and Immortal

      Mysteries; Direct us into the right way; strengthen all of us in Thy

      fear; watch over our life; make safe our endeavors, through the

      prayers and supplications of the glorious Theotokos, and Ever-Virgin

      Mary, and of all Thy Saints."

 

 

                   HOLY COMMUNION OF THE FAITHFUL

 

 

After having received Holy Communion and reciting the various prayers of

Thanksgiving, the Priest holding the Holy Chalice covered with the veil

turns toward the congregation and elevating the Chalice invites the

Faithful to come and receive by saying:

 

     "With the fear of God, faith, and love draw near."

 

With fear of God, meaning love and respect for our God the Father; faith in

the fact that He sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself for us,

faith that at this moment we are to receive His real Body and Blood as He

taught us in Saint John's Gospel, Chapter 6, and other references; and love

of God with all our hearts and minds and souls and, of course, love of our

feelow-man -- with all these virtues let us approach to receive Him within

us.

 

Those who are to receive approach reverently forming a line, making the

sign of the Cross and repeating to themselves: "Lord, have mercy upon me"

or "Lord, remember me in Thy Kingdom" or better yet pray the prayers that

the Priest has said earlier, before he received.  In the early Church all

the congregation received at this time -- in fact, one of the ancient

canons prescribed that those coming to the Liturgy and not receiving would

be penalized.  Gradually down through the centuries we drifted so far as to

hear some people say that it is not permitted to receive more than four

times annually.  This is not only grossly erroneous but almost blasphemous.

To become better Christians, we must worthily receive very often.  Not only

four times a year, but at least once a month, or better yet every Sunday.

It would be ideal if every first Sunday of every month we received Holy

Communion after proper preparation.  After all, who of us would turn down

one or more opportunities to receive Him within us.

 

While administering Holy Communion to the Faithful the Priest repeats:

 

     "The servant of God (name) partakes of the precious and All-Holy Body

      and Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ unto the

      remission of sins and unto Life everlasting."

 

After all have received, the Priest covers the Chalice with the veil and

raising it again says:

 

     "O God, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance."

 

He then enters the Sanctuary and places the Chalice on the Altar.  The

Choir sings:

 

     "We have seen the True Light; we have received the Heavenly Spirit; we

      have found the True Faith by worshipping the undivided Trinity;

      because the Trinity hath saved us."

 

The Priest, continuing his glorification of God, once again takes the Holy

Gifts in his hands saying silently:

 

     "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the Heavens and Thy glory above all the

      earth."

 

     "Blessed is our God."

 

and with the Holy Gifts he turns and facing the congregation, chants aloud

the continuation:

 

     "Always, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen."

               (yes, truly our God is glorified)

 

At this point the Priest takes the Holy Chalice and the Diskarion back to

the "Prothesis" preparation table, where they are kept to be re-used during

the next Divine Liturgy.  It is understood, of course, that all the

contents are consumed at the very end of the Divine Liturgy by the Priest

and not one particle may remain unconsumed because it is the very Body and

Blood of our Lord.  Having then placed the articles on the Prothesis, the

Priest returns to his position before the Altar Table and exclaims:

 

     "Let us rise.  Having partaken of the divine, holy, pure, and

      immortal, heavenly, life-giving, and awesome Mysteries of Christ,

      worthily let us give thanks unto the Lord."

 

      (a true praise of thanksgiving on our behalf).

 

     "Help us, save us; have mercy upon us; and keep us, O God, by Thy

      Grace.

 

      Having asked the Lord that this whole day may be perfect, holy,

      peaceful and sinless, let us commend ourselves and one another, and

      our whole life to Christ, our God."

 

Choir:

 

     "To Thee, O Lord."

 

                (to Thee we put all our trust, dear God)

 

With this prayer of total submission to the will of God, the Priest folds

the "Antiminsion", which was unfolded at the beginning of the Liturgy of

the Faithful, i.e., during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn; then with the

Golden Book of the Gospels he makes the sign of the Cross with it over the

Antiminsion and places it directly upon it chanting:

 

     "For Thou art our sanctification, and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the

      Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and

      from all Ages to all Ages."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen."

 

The Priest after the "Amen" exits from the Sanctuary saying:

 

     "Let us depart in peace; let us pray to the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

     "Kyrie Eleison. (Lord, have mercy.)"  (Three times)

 

     "Holy Father, give the blessing."

 

The Priest proceeding off the Sanctuary steps and turning to face the Holy

Icon of Christ prays aloud the "Prayer behind the Amvon (Pulpit)" as

follows:

 

     "O Lord, Who blessest those who bless Thee, and sanctifiest those who

      put their trust in Thee, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance;

      preseve the whole Body of Thy Church and sanctify those, who love the

      beauty of Thy Temple.  Do Thou glorify them by Thy Divine power, and

      forsake us not, who set our hope in Thee.  Grant peace to Thy world,

      to Thy Churches, to the Priests, to our Civil Authorities, to the

      Armed Forces and to all Thy people.  For all good giving and every

      perfect Gift is from Above, coming down from Thee, the Father of

      Lights; and to Thee we ascribe glory, thanksgiving, and worship, to

      the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever,

      and from all Ages to all Ages."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen."

     "Blessed be the Name of the Lord, from this time forth, and for ever

      more." (three times)

 

The Priest re-enters the Sanctuary and proceeding to the "Prothesis" prays

inaudibly:

 

     "O Christ, our God, Who art Thyself the fulfillment of the Law and the

      Prophets, and hast fulfilled all the dispensation of the Father, fill

      our hearts with joy and gladness always, now and for ever, and from

      all Ages to all Ages.  Amen."

 

Then aloud:

 

     "Let us beseech the Lord."

 

Choir:

 

     "Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy.)"

 

                         THE DISMISSAL

 

Exiting from the Royal Doors the Priest blesses and gives the benediction

facing the people and saying:

 

     "May the blessing of the Lord and His mercy come upon you, through His

      Divine Grace and Love for mankind; always, now and for ever, and from

      all Ages to all Ages."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen."

 

Priest:

 

     "Glory to Thee, O Christ, our God and our hope, glory to Thee."

 

     "May Christ, our true God Who rose from the dead, through the

      intercessions of His most pure and holy Mother; by the power of the

      precious and life-giving Cross; the protection of the sublime

      Bodiless Powers of Heaven; the supplication of the honourable,

      glorious Prophet, and Forerunner, John the Baptist; of the holy,

      glorious, and all-laudable Apostles; of the holy, glorious and

      victorious Martyrs; of our venerable and God-bearing Fathers; of the

      holy and righteous ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna; of Saint(s)

      (name or mames of Saint(s) of day), whose memory we celebrate, and of

      all the Saints, -- have mercy on us and save us, because He is

      gracious and loveth mankind."

 

                       CLOSING PRAYER

 

Priest:

 

     "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ our

      God, have mercy on us and save us."

 

Choir:

 

     "Amen."

 

The Priest then gives an added blessing by saying:

 

     "May the Holy Trinity bless you and protect you."

 

The Priest descending to the lower step of the Sanctuary distrubutes to the

Congregation a piece of "Antidoron" saying to each:

 

     "May the blessing of the Lord and His mercy be upon you."

 

After the congregation has left, the Priest goes to the Prothesis and

consumes the contents of the Holy Chalice, and removes his vestments; for

both these acts he recites appropriate prayers.

 

 

                  -- GLORY BE TO GOD! --

 

 

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