The Divine Services (Part I)

Icon of the Mother of God of Yakhrom

Icon of the Mother of God of Yakhrom

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

THE DIVINE SERVICES
The Consecration of the Gifts

The act of the Holy Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Communion comprises the main portion of the Divine Liturgy. It begins with the words of the priest, "Let us give thanks unto the Lord." The faithful express their gratitude to the Lord for His mercy by bowing to Him, while the choir chants, "It is meet and right to worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in essence and indivisible." Praying silently, the priest offers a Eucharistic prayer (one of thanksgiving), glorifying the infinite perfection of God, giving thanks to the Lord for the creation and redemption of mankind and for His mercy, in forms both known and unknown, and for the fact that He deems us worthy to offer Him this bloodless sacrifice, although the higher beings, the Archangels, Angels, Cherubim and Seraphim stand before Him "singing the triumphal hymn, shouting, crying aloud, and saying." These last words of the priest are aloud as the Cantor/s proceeds with the described hymn by singing the Angelic hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabbath, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory." Then the Cantor/s adds to this hymn, which is called the "Seraphic Hymn," the exclamation with which the people greeted the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, "Hosanna (a Hebrew expression of good will save, or help, O God!) in the highest, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest!" The words, "singing the triumphal hymn," are taken from the visions of the Prophet Ezekiel (1:4-24) and the Apostle John the Theologian (Revelation 4:6-8). In both their visions they beheld the throne of God surrounded by Angels in the form of an eagle (singing), a bull (shouting), a lion (crying out) and a man (saying) who continually were exclaiming, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts."

The priest privately continues the Eucharistic prayer which glorifies the benevolence and the infinite love of God, which was manifest in the coming upon the earth of the Son of God. In remembrance of the Mystical (Last) Supper, when the Lord established the Holy Mystery of Communion, he pronounces aloud the words of the Savior which He spoke upon instituting the Holy Mystery, "Take, eat; this is My Body, which is broken for you, for the remission of sins." and "Drink of it, all of you: this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins." The priest then inaudibly recalls the Commandment of the Savior to perform this Mystery (Sacrament), glorifies His Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and His Second Coming, and then aloud says, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all," for all members of the Orthodox Church and for the mercy of God.

The Cantor/s slowly, "We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we given thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and we pray unto Thee, O our God," while the priest in private prayer asks the Lord to send down the Holy Spirit upon the people present and the Gifts being offered and that He might sanctify them. In a subdued voice he reads the troparion (hymn) from the Third Hour, "O Lord, Who didst send down Thy Most Holy Spirit upon Thine Apostles at the third hour, take him not from us, O Good One, but renew Him in us who pray unto Thee." The Deacon pronounces the twelfth verse from the Fiftieth Psalm, "Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Then the priest again reads the troparion (hymn) from the Third Hour, and the Deacon pronounces the next verse from the same psalm, "Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." The priest reads the troparion for the third time. Blessing the Lamb on the Diskos, he says, "And make this bread the precious Body of Thy Christ." Blessing the wine in the Chalice, he says, "And that which is in this cup, the precious Blood of Thy Christ." After each blessing the Deacon says, "Amen." Finally, blessing the bread and wine together the priest says, "Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit." Again the Deacon says, "Amen, Amen, Amen" At this great and sacred moment the bread and wine are changed into the True Body and True Blood of Christ. The priest then makes a full prostration to the ground before the Holy Gifts as to the Very King and God Himself. This is the most important and solemn moment of the Divine Liturgy.

After the sanctification of the Holy Gifts the priest in private prayer asks the Lord that, for those who partake the Holy Gifts, it might serve "unto sobriety of soul" (that is, that they may be strengthened in every good deed), "unto remission of sins, unto the communion of the Holy Spirit, unto the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven, unto boldness toward Thee; not unto Judgment or condemnation." He then remembers those for whom the Sacrifice is offered, for the Holy Gifts are offered for the Lord God as a Sacrifice of Thanksgiving for all the saints. Then the priest gives special remembrance of the Most-Holy Virgin Mary and says aloud, "Especially for our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed, Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary," to which the faithful respond with the laudatory hymn in honor of the Mother of God. "It is truly meet..." (Axion Esti...) (During Holy Pascha and all the Twelve Great Feasts, until their giving up, instead of "it is truly meet..." a special hymn is chanted, which is the ninth irmos of the festal canon from Orthros (Matins) with its appropriate refrains.) The priest at this time privately prays for the reposed, and in beginning the prayer for the living says aloud, "Among the first, remember, O Lord, our Archbishop or Metropolitan...", that is, the most holy Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs and the ruling hierarchy. The faithful respond, "And each and every one." The prayer for the living ends with the exclamation of the priest, "And grant unto us that with one mouth and one heart we may glorify and hymn Thy most honorable and majestic name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. After this he gives his blessing to all those present, "And may the mercy of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, be with you all." (Source: The Law of God)

(To be continued. Next: The Preparation of the Faithful for Holy Communion)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George