The Holy [Things] and "The Holy"

St. George of Georgia

St. George of Georgia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

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THE HOLY [THINGS] FOR "THE HOLY"
(Source: The Heavenly Banquet)

Litany, The Lord's Prayer and Invitation

Deacon: Let us be attentive.

Priest: The Holy [Things] for the holy.

As the priest "elevates" the Holy Gifts he "invites" the faithful. "The Holy Things for the holy." What an awesome and fearful invitation! Although we are here for this reason, and this reason only, i.e., to partake of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), nevertheless when the moment comes we feel totally inadequate, unworthy and unprepared (can we ever be adequately prepared?) to step forth. The priest's cry checks us, cuts us through, dissects us and proves us wanting:

Ta Hagia, the Holy [Things], neuter plural, refers to the consecrated Gifts, corresponding to ta Sa, Your [Gifts]. What we offered to God belongs to Him in the first place. Now that they have been accepted and consecrated they are offered to the faithful.

Obviously the Holy Gifts are not for everyone. The Church has always applied the words of the Lord, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (St. Matthew 7:6), to the Holy Eucharist.

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MINI STUDY: "THE HOLY [THINGS]" AND "THE HOLY"

The "Holy [Things]" are not consecrated elements, made holy because they have been dedicated to God, as the Holy Table is, as the holy temple is, and as the holy utensils, used for the holy services, are. The "Holy [Things]" are the Body and Blood of the Lord. During the consecration (in an exchange we have omitted from our text) the deacon points to the Holy Gifts and says to the priest: "Bless, Master, both of the Hagia" (the Holy [Things]). What else are these "Hagia" but Christ Himself? It is very clear that what we receive is not simply some "gifts," but the Giver Himself. "For," as Saint Nicholas Cavasilas says, "we partake not of His, but of Him."

Now, for whom are the "Holy [Things]? They are for tois hagiois, yet difficult expression to render. Saint John Chrysostom gives it a strict, literal interpretation:

"The priest cries with a loud voice, with arm outstretched. The Holy [Things] to the holy....pushing and casting out some, while [he] brings in and readies others, (...) He does not bring any accusers, but makes everyone his own accuser. For he does not say, is anyone accusing himself? By saying, "The Holy [Things] to the holy," it is as if he meant whoever is not holy let him not come."

This has been the understanding of the author of one of the earliest Christian documents, The Didache: "If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent." As we see then, Holy Communion is not "open" to all. Surely it is not meant only for those who are sinless--or else no one could ever approach. It rather means those who have dedicated themselves to God, those who have set themselves apart, those who have been consecrated to God, in the sense Saint Paul applied it to himself: "set apart" (see Romans 1:1). In baptism, we were consecrated to god, to His service, to His army. We could then render the meaning of this invitation by saying, "God's things to God's people." We are His, we belong to Christ, we are Christians.

 Saint Nicholas Cavasilas, on the other hand, offers a different interpretation as to why the faithful are called holy: "Those whom the priest calls holy are not only those who have attained perfection, but those also who are striving for it without having yet obtained it" Protopresbyter Kallinikos agrees with this view: "Even though complete holiness does not adorn our nature, even though our soul is bruised, let there be abundant our effort, that we may overcome evil and approach the only Holy One, from Whom we will draw new strength." Therefore those who have dedicated themselves to God, who have set themselves apart, consecrated themselves in the sense applied by Saint Paul, many approach, always with fear of God, without presumption and arrogance, because God is a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

As the priest calls out "The Holy [Things] for the holy," he elevates the consecrated Bread over the Paten (Discarion). This action is not visible to the faithful, since the priest's body covers the Sacred Elements, unless he lifts them up high, over his head.  What is the meaning of his action?  Sould the priest elevate the consecrated Bread over his head in order that it will be visible by the people? Certainly not. This would be a misunderstanding of the motion, in imitation of the Roman Catholic elevation of the hostia. The practice may have risen out of more practical considerations. The priest at this point takes the portion bearing the initial IC (Jesus), raises it, and places it into the Chalice. (By Father Emmanuel Hatzidakis - Orthodox Witness)

(To be continued)

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

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George