Liturgical Awe

Today I thought I’d give you an experience of the Divine Liturgy — the holy Eucharist — as it is celebrated in the Byzantine Rite. It captures the ambiance of beauty, mystery, awe and power characteristic of Eastern forms of worship. In my experience of those traditions, the line of demarcation between heaven and earth seems to dissolve and nearly collapse into the shore-less ocean of divine mystery that is fully revealed in the Age to Come. This 5 minute excerpt includes the Consecration of the bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood. Below this video is a rough sketch of the text being prayed in the video as best I could make it out. No need to read it, as the main effect I am looking to offer you is the audio/visual experience. Enjoy:

[just before video starts] PRIEST: With these blessed Powers we also, O Master who lovest mankind, cry aloud 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 hast so loved thy world as to give thine Only-begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life; Who when he had come and had fulfilled all the dispensation for us, in the night in which he was betrayed,– or rather, gave himself up for the life of the world,–took bread in his holy and pure and blameless hands; and when he had given thanks and blessed it, and hallowed it and broken it, he gave it to his holy Disciples and Apostles, saying:

[starts here] PRIEST: Take, eat: this is my Body which is broken for you, for the remission of sins.

CHOIR: Amen.

PRIEST: Likewise, after supper, he took the cup, saying:

Drink ye all of this: this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for any, for the remission of sins.

CHOIR: Amen.

PRIEST: Having in remembrance, therefore, this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious Coming:

(The Deacons take up the Diskarion and the Chalice and elevates them over the Antimins [which is the cloth placed under the Eucharist]; they makes the sign of the Cross with them over the Antimins and as they hold them the Priest says:)

Thine own of thine own we offer unto thee, in behalf of all, and for all.

CHOIR: We praise thee, we bless thee, we give thanks unto thee, O Lord, and we pray unto thee, O our God.

(The Priest and Deacons make a low bow before the Altar, and continues with the Prayer of Consecration)

PRIEST: Because of this, O all-holy Master, we also, thy sinful and unworthy servants, whom thou hast made worthy to minister at thy holy Altar, not through our own righteousness, for we have done nothing good upon the earth, but because of thy mercies and compassion, which thou hast richly poured out upon us, dare to draw nigh to thy holy Altar, and, presenting unto thee the antitypes of the holy Body and Blood of thy Christ, we pray thee and call upon thee, 0 Holy of Holies, by the favor of thy goodness, that thy Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon these Gifts here set forth, and bless them and hallow them, and show.

And the deacon and priest draw near the holy table praying within themselves, O God, cleanse thou me a sinner, and saying:

O Lord, who at the third hour didst send down thine all-holy Spirit upon thine Apostles, take not the same from us, O Good One, but renew Him in us who pray unto thee.

A clean heart create in me, 0 God, and a right spirit renew in my inmost parts.

O Lord, who at the third hour. . .

Then bowing his head and pointing to the holy Bread with his orarion, the deacon says:

Bless, Master, the holy Bread.
And the priest then signing the holy Bread says:
This Bread to be itself the precious Body of our Lord, and God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Deacon: Amen.
And again the deacon:
Bless, Master, the holy cup.
And the priest blessing, says:
And this Cup to be itself the precious Blood of our Lord, and God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Deacon: Amen.

Priest: Shed for the life of the world.
Deacon: Amen.

And again the deacon, showing both the holy Things, says:

Bless, Master, both.
The priest, blessing both the holy Things, says:

Changing them by thy Holy Spirit.
Deacon: Amen. Amen. Amen.
All bow low.

The priest breaks/cuts the Body of Christ.

The priest prays:
And as for us all, partakers of the one Bread and of the Cup, do thou unite to one another unto communion of the one Holy Spirit, and make none of us to partake of the holy Body and Blood of thy Christ unto judgment or unto condemnation, but that we may find mercy and grace with all the Saints who- have ever been well-pleasing unto thee: Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Teachers, and with every righteous spirit in faith made perfect…

This entry was posted in Liturgy.

3 comments on “Liturgical Awe

  1. nos. says:

    Partakers of the one bread and of the cup. Oh FATHER that we may be made worthy. How beautiful Thomas.

  2. nos. says:

    On a side note. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who promises to pass legislation to bring back the incandescent light bulb.

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