Gregorian Rite Missal
according to the Holy Orthodox Church American Jurisdiction
Part 1 - Preface, Introduction, Prothesis
Printed Edition is Copyright © 1981 by The Basilian Press.
Electronic Edition Copyright © 1996 by The Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil.

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Table of Contents - Preface

  1. Preface
  2. Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
  3. The Prothesis

Preface

The celebration of the Divine Liturgy is the supernatural re-enactment of the mystery of the Incarnation of God in time and space which in its human phase was the historical Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man. The recollection of these events continues and climaxes with the Epiklesis, wherein the Holy Ghost is called upon to work sacramentally in the present what first occurred historically at the beginning of the Christian era. The Incarnation is continued, and time and eternity become mystically coincident. We join with the angelic host and are united with all Christians, both living and dead, in praise and glorification of God, standing united about His Throne.

The only way in which humans can approach God, and know Him as Father and not as Judge is by the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the only way we can avail ourselves of His righteousness is through His Blood, shed for us. How do we do this? When we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we are reminding God of the sacrifice of His Son, and we are pleading the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to cover our sins. And it is by our partaking of the Body and Blood of our Lord in Communion that we appropriate His sacrifice for our need, in that way we apply His Blood to our sins.

In the Eucharist we are also offering ourselves to God, and He, in return, gives the Resurrection Life and Health of Jesus Christ to us in Jesus' Body and Blood. Thus we are made actual parts of the Body of Christ not only mentally and spiritually, but also physically, for Jesus Christ ministers to the whole person, not merely to the spiritual. 

Introduction to the Divine Liturgy

The Church's most solemn office is the service of the Eucharist, or as it is usually known, the Mass. It unites the community in praise and prayer and so joined one to another, the worshippers are made one in God when, at its climax, each receives the Body and Blood of Christ under the earthly forms of bread and wine.

The Western Liturgy which is set forth here in its approved version for the use of Orthodox Catholics is the product of a long, gradual evolution. Its present arrangement was recently standardized but its contents, drawn from scriptures and tradition, are ancient.

A major division after the Creed separates the non-sacramental service of praise, prayer and instruction, or "Mass of the Catechumens," from the sacramental part known as the "Mass of the Faithful."

The first of these major divisions developed from the worship of the Synagogue and came to the Church by inheritance, for it was there that the first Christians worshipped.

During the latter part of the service, the bread and wine are offered, consecrated and received in communion. Thus, the Church commemorates, as it has for two thousand years, the ordinances of her founder according to the words "Take and eat ye all of this, for this is my body.... He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in him."

And so also does the Church perpetuate that sacrifice made on the cross of Calvary; for the sacrament of the altar is not a religious entertainment but medicine for souls which are unable by innate pride to make the complete submission, the sacrifice of all self or "kenosis" which alone can have worth to the source of complete life and being and value. This is what Christian means when they speak of the 'merits' of Christ. In the hope of their own glorious resurrection to a life of conscious, eternal, blissful knowledge of the Almighty, they put their trust in the sacrifice made by the Son of God in true human nature, now perpetuated for us in the Eucharist, a supreme sacrifice because of him who made it; an eternal prize beyond man's deserving.

These several functions make the liturgy a complete expression of the Christian life. In it man`s mind is instructed, his emotions are purified and inspired, his soul is reclaimed and at its climax, his body is made one with the physical body of God himself.

The elements of the Liturgy follow a logical pattern. It begins with an act of purification including a confession of sins, from which it moves to the psalm of beginning, or Introit. Then come the alternate hymns of supplication (The Kyrie) and praise (The Gloria). These are followed by the lessons, first an Epistle, or citation from the Old Testament and second, the Gospel in which the words of Christ are read. After the sermon, when it is delivered, the Creed is said or sung, summarizing the articles of Christian faith.

The Mass of the Faithful begins with the Offertory, reminding the participant that their relations with God are reciprocal. In the Offertory, man makes his sacrifice according to his means and devotion to God who will presently reenact in time and space the timeless and eternal sacrifice declared in the Crucifixion. Originally, this Offertory was of a more truly liturgical character, since the faithful offered the bread and wine which was used in the Mass itself. Today it is an offering of money which is simultaneous with the offering by the Priest of the bread and wine, which represent, for the moment, our offerings. The incensing of the elements and the washing of the Priest`s hands are ceremonies of obvious significance.

The Preface and Sanctus introduce the sacramental service proper, and are the universal preliminaries to the sacred prayers which follow. Although varying in form, they are liturgical elements which are found in every ancient, historic, Christian church. It is during the Canon, the next long prayer, that the bread and wine are transformed into the true Body and Blood of Christ. This prayer includes intercessions for the living and the dead, for Christian believers, for those who take part in the service, for the officers of the Church and the state. The words "which offering, we beseech thee, O Lord, to bless, approve, ratify" are followed by a reference to the institution of the sacrament containing the solemn words "This is my Body; This is my Blood". And the recollection continues with the subsequent events, the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, culminating in the descent at Pentecost of the Holy Spirit who is now invoked to work that miracle which God alone can perform: the offering of himself in material form to man.

The Lord's Prayer follows the Canon, as does the ceremony of breaking the bread and its commixture with the sacred Blood in the chalice. The Agnus Dei, "O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world" is a hymn originally sung in the seventh century while the large loaves of bread were being broken into particles for distribution to the communicants.

A prayer for peace is followed at High Mass by a ceremonial greeting known as the Kiss of Peace -- one of many acts occurring throughout the rites, the purpose of which is to unite the faithful in closer bonds of Christian charity. "The peace of the Lord be always with you" says the celebrant in giving it to the deacon, who then carries it to the others. Two prayers for worthy reception precede communion.

The service concludes with the Communion psalm verse, the final prayer, or Post-Communion and blessing.

Certain sections omitted in Requiems are set apart by bold rules. The liturgy varies considerably on greater vigils and during Holy Week. It is impossible to even suggest these modifications which affect the normal form, given here.

Directions for standing and kneeling follow usual practice although subject to custom. General participation in the service is pre-supposed. Those parts marked R or "All" are to be said or sung by all, while those reserved to the clergy or cantors are marked otherwise. 

THE PROTHESIS

  • At an appropriate time, immediately before the processional, the celebrant or designated priest shall proceed to the Altar of Prothesis, vested in amice, alb, cincture and stole.

  • The Altar of Prothesis shall have been prepared ahead with the altar bread (host), a cruet of water, a cruet of wine, paten, and star cover, chalice, veils and aer.
  • The celebrant shall say aloud:
V. The Lord be with you,
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Let us pray.
  • The celebrant shall take the altar bread placing it on the paten and lifting slightly the paten saying:
Accept, O holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, this unspotted host which, I, unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my innumerable sins, offenses, and negligences, and also for those here present and for all faithful Christians, both living and dead, that it may avail me and them unto life everlasting. Amen.
  • The celebrant shall pour the wine into the chalice and bless the water, mixing three drops of water in the chalice of wine as he is saying:
O God, who in creating human nature hast wonderfully dignified it and still more wonderfully reformed it, grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may become partakers of His Divine Nature, Who deigned to partake of our human nature, Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, throughout all ages of ages. Amen.
  • The celebrant shall lift the chalice slightly as he is saying:
We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, beseeching Thy mercy, that it may ascend before Thy Divine Majesty as a sweet odour for our salvation and that of the whole world. Amen.

Accept us, O Lord, in the spirit of humility and contrition of heart; and grant that the Sacrifice we offer this day in Thy sight may be pleasing to Thee, O Lord God.

Come, O almighty and eternal God the Sanctifier, bless this Sacrifice prepared for the glory of Thy Holy Name.

  • The Preparation of the Gifts having been completed, the celebrant shall return to the sacristy and prepare for the processional.


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