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The Divine liturgy, A commentary in the light of the Fathers

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Hieromonk Gregorios

The Divine liturgy, A commentary in the light of the Fathers

An in-depth commentary on the Divine Liturgy based on the writings of the holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church including St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Nicholaos Cabasilas and many others.


Paperback

Size: 21 x 16
Pages: 370
ISBN: 978-960-89067-9-2



The Divine Liturgy is Christ

When Christ first spoke about the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist,* He called Himself the 'Bread of life', which came down from heaven to be offered for the life and salvation of the world:1. I am the bread of life...which comes down from heaven... I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever. And the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6: 48-51).

Christ is the 'Bread of life' which came down from heaven through the power of the Holy Spirit. It came down on the day of the Annunciation into the most blessed Virgin, and the Virgin became the 'good earth and blessed' which brought forth the Bread of life.2

Christ is the 'Bread of life' which comes down from heaven continually through the power of the Holy Spirit. It comes down at the moment of the eucharistic annunciation into the virgin Church, and the holy Church becomes the 'good earth and blessed' which brings forth the Bread fo life. It is this reality of Christ's descent and His presence within the Church that we experience in the Divine Liturgy. For the Liturgy is Christ in our midst: And lo, I am with you always, until the end of all time (Matt. 28: 20).

Because the Divine Liturgy is Christ with us, any commentary on the Liturgy is in reality a homily about Christ. The holy Evangelists and the God-bearing Fathers spoke to us of Christ as they experienced Him when He was with them, as they experienced Him as a living reality in the Divine Liturgy: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard. which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the World of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you eternal life (1 John 1: 1-2).

Some may say that a contemporary commentary on the Divine Liturgy should reflect how a contemporary Christian sees, hears and touches Christ, but on account of the present author's spiritual blindness, deafness and insensibility he has turned to theose who have seen the true Light, who have heard the Word and 'touched the immaculate head of the Master',3 and who are eternally contemporary. And so this book is compiled from the eucharistic experiences of the saints and presents the Divine Liturgy as it was actually lived by them, and as it is still lived within the Church. For even today, in these difficult times, there are hearts that burn with His love (cf. Luke 24: 32) and experience His presence at the Altar and people who during the Divine Liturgy convelebrate with the angels and saints, and truly live in the blessed Kingdom of the Triune God.

It could be that someone reading about these experiences of the saints will be helped to come close to them, which is to come close to Christ. There in the Kingdom of God, I ask such readers to pray with all the saints (Eph. 3: 18) for the present author who has gathered from the honeycombs of these holy men the spiritual honey which sweetens and nourishes all humankind.4

January, 1982

Hieromonk Gregorios

 

___________________

1 Service of Preparation of the Eucharistic Gifts, see p. 76 below.
2 Service of Preparation for Holy Communion, Canon, *ode* 1.
3 Royal Hours* for the feast of Theophany; idiomelon* at the Ninth Hour.
4 Cf. Prov. 24: 13-4: My son, eat honey, for the honeycomb is good, that your throat may be sweetend. Thus you shall discern wisdom for your soul.

  Note on the English translation xiii
  Abbreviations xv
  Foreword to the first Greek edition xvii
  Foreword to the fourth Greek edition xix
 
INTRODUCTION
 
1. The Last Supper and the early Christian Liturgy 3
2. The earliest liturgical prayers 5
3. The first written texts of the Divine Liturgy 8
4. St John Chrysostom and the Divine Liturgy 9
5. What is the Divine Liturgy? 15
6. The fruits of the Divine Liturgy 23
 
I. THE PREPARATION FOR THE LITURGY
 

1.

THE RITE OF THE KAIROS
 
  The preparation of the celebrant 28
  My heart is ready, O God 30
  The day without evening 33
  The Theotokos: the gate that faces east 36
  The Cross: the glory of Christ 37
  Glorify God in your body 38
  Through the icons, we see the Lord and the saints 40
  Priesthood: a ministry of service 42
  The celebrand enters heaven 45
  The workshop of the gifts of the Holy Spirit 46
     
2. THE VESTING OF THE CELEBRANTS  
  The vestments are holy and transmit holiness 48
  Christ: the vestmen from heaven 50
  The epitrachelion, symbol of Grace 51
  The symbolism of the girdle 53
  The priest acts as thw hand of Christ 54
  Gird on Your sword, O Mighty One 56
  Priests, clothe yourselves in righteousness, in Christ 57
  The deacon, minister of the Mysteries of Jesus Christ 59
  I will wash my hands in innocency 60
     
3. THE SERVICE OF PREPARATION OF THE EUCHARISTIC GIFTS  
  The Chalice and the Paten 63
  'Make ready, O Bethlehem' 65
  You have redeemed us from the curse of the law 66
  The offering of bread and wine 67
  Bread and wine, symbols of unity 69
  Celebrating the remembrance of Christ 71
  A narrative of the Passion in actions 73
  The Lamb of God is sacrificed 76
  There came forth blood and water 78
  Sober inebriation 79
  The Queen stood at Your right hand 81
  Holy angels assist the priest 84
  The assembly of the saints 87
  Remember, O Master, Lover of mankind 90
  God in the midst of gods 92
  When the soul becomes a censer 93
  The Lord is King, He is clothed with majesty 95
  Your virtue, O Christ, has covered the heavens 96
  The blessing of God and the blessing of man 97
  From the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit 100
  The entire church is censed 101
  Time for the Lord to act 103
 
II. THE DIVINE LITURGY
 
     
1. THE LITANY OF PEACE AND THE ANTIPHONS  
  The Liturgy transforms earth into heaven 106
  The Cross is the symbol of the Kingdom 107
  The faithful conclude with the Amen 109
  The Mystery of the peace of God 110
  Christ is our peace 112
  The peace of the whole world 114
  One who seeks peace is searching for Christ 116
  The church is heaven on earth 117
  Man is a Christ-bearing temple 119
  He who presides in the place of God 121
  Christians sustain the world 123
  Let creation rejoice 125
  Those who are weary and heavy laden 128
  For our deliverance from affliction 129
  That we may be delivered from wrath 132
  That we may be delivered from danger 133
  That we may be delivered from constraint 133
  Let not your hearts be troubled 134
  Let us entrust ourselves to Christ our God 135
  God's love for mankind beyond all telling 136
  The soul is a consummate musician 138
  Behold the Lamb of God 140
  Again and again let us pray to the Lord 141
  To share in the inheritance of the saints 142
  The God who is not proud 144
  Common and united prayers 145
     
2. THE ENTRANCE WITH THE GOSPEL BOOK AND THE SACRED READINGS  
  Angels and humans intermingle 149
  A festival shared by heaven and earth 152
  The throne on high 154
  The foretelling of Christ's coming 155
  We beheld His glory 156
  Praise God 157
  The light of divine knowledge 159
  Let us approach the Bridegroom bearing lamps 161
  We see and hear Christ 163
  Let us raise our minds above earthly things 165
  My peace I give to you 166
  The good news of the Kingdom 168
     
3. THE LITANY AND THE GREAT ENTRANCE  
  Christ is the abyss of mercy 171
  Lord, have mercy 173
  The catehumens 175
  The dismissal of the catechumens 177
  Make us worthy 179
  Make radiant the garment of my soul 182
  The Cherubic Hymn 184
  Lord, You offer and are offered 187
  For we are about to receive the King of all 189
  The transfer of the precious Gifts 192
  Taking your most pure Body down from the Tree 194
  The Holy Spirit concelebrates 196
     
4. THE LITANY OF THE PROSKOMIDE AND THE CREED  
  Perfection without end 199
  A guardian angel 201
  Things profitable for our souls 203
  Death: the beginning of a better life 204
  Sins and acts of ignorance 207
  Peace prepares the way for love 208
  The kiss of love 209
  The doors, the doors! 212
  Enumerating the gifts of God 214
     
5. THE HOLY ANAPHORA  
  Let us stand with fear 215
  A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise 216
  A trinitarian gift 218
  The miracle of the liturgical transfiguration 220
  Let us give thanks to the Lord 223
  It is meet and right 224
  For all these things we give thanks tou You 225
  The Triumphal Hymn 229
  Angels and men give glory together 231
  God so loved the world 234
  The sacrifice of Christ is accomplished 235
  The Last Supper and the Divine Eucharist 237
  Remembrance of Christ 239
  Remembrance of Christ's Kingdom
241
  We offer to You Your own of Your own 242
  The descent of the Paraclete 245
  It is truly meet to call you blessed, Theotokos 247
  Provider and nourisher of the faithful 248
     
6. DIPTYCHS* AND PRAYERS  
  In memory of the saints 251
  Visit us, O God 253
  An offering for the world 253
  With one voice and one heart 255
  As a sweet-scented spiritual fragrance 256
  The unity of the faith 259
  For communion of the Holy Spirit 262
  Boldness before God 263
  Now are we children of God 264
  The Table of peace 266
  The bowing of heads 268
     
7. HOLY COMMUNION  
  Above I have you, and below I intermingle with you 270
  The Holy Things for the holy 272
  One is Holy, one is Lord: Jesus Christ 273
  The Lamb of God is broken 275
  Christ is one 277
  The fervour of the Holy Spirit 278
  Communion prayers 281
  Employ a mother's boldness, All-pure Lady 282
  This has touched my lips 286
  We can always be celebrating Easter 289
  Preparing to draw near 290
  With faith, fear of God and love 291
  He calls His sheep by name 295
  We and Christ are one 296
  Christ nourishes us in both worlds 298
  We have seen the true Light 300
  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens 303
  I have no words, my Saviour 305
     
8. DISMISSAL  
  Let us go forth in peace 309
  The fullness of the Church 310
  Blessed be the name of the Lord 312
  The blessing of the Lord and His mercy 314
 
III. THANKSGIVING AFTER HOLY COMMUNION
 
  I give thanks to You, O Lord 321
     
  EPILOGUE 323
  The Catechetical Homily of St John Chrysostom 325
     
  Glossary 329
  List of main Patristic Texts concerning the Divine Liturgy 345
  Index of scriptural references 347
  Index of subjects and names 351




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