"He took bread"
The loaf used for
the Liturgy is known as the Prosphora, which is Greek for ‘offering’.
The top is marked out with a ‘seal’, or sphragida, consisting of
various letters and symbols.
In the centre is
a square divided by a cross, with the letters IÓ
×Ó NI KA, which stand for the words JESUS CHRIST
CONQUERS. Above and below are two similar squares. To the
left of the central square is a triangle with the letters MÈ, which
stand for MOTHER
OF GOD (ÌÇÔÇÑ ÈÅÏÕ). To the right are nine small triangles in three rows
With the Lance
the priest cuts from the loaf a cube, with the central square marked
on it, and places it on the paten, or diskos. This is the Lamb,
which will be consecrated and distributed in Communion. He pierces
the right side of the Lamb, saying the words from the Gospel, ‘One
of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance, and immediately there
came out blood and water’. He then pours wine and water into the
cup, or chalice.
Next he cuts out
the triangle that represents the Mother of God and places it to the
left of the Lamb and then the nine small triangles, which he places
on the right. These represent various categories of Saint: Prophets,
Apostles, Martyrs, Ascetics, Unmercenary Saints, the Saint of the
day and the Saint of the Liturgy.
There are nine
triangles to represent the Nine Choirs of Angels. He then cuts a
triangle from the prosphora to commemorate the Bishop and places it
below the Lamb. Below this he places small pieces, also cut from the
prosphora, to commemorate all those people, living and dead, whom he
wants to remember, including himself and the Bishop who ordained him,
and those whose names he has been asked to remember by other people.
These names should be given to the priest as early as possible,
preferably during Matins, but at the latest before the Great
Entrance after the Gospel. This includes names for Memorial Services
and Feasts, Eortes.
The priest now
covers the paten and chalice with three veils, one for each of the
vessels and one large one, called the Aer, to cover the other two.
Before this, to keep the arrangement on the paten from being upset
by the veil, he places a metal ‘frame’, formed like a cross with
bent arms, called the Star, on the paten. Each of these objects is
blessed with incense before being set in place. Originally the Star
represented the vault of the sky above the round world, represented
by the paten. At the centre of the world stands Christ, the Lamb,
surrounded by all humankind, from the creation to the present day.
Every Liturgy is a cosmic event, celebrating the world’s salvation
through the death and resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour.
The priest now
censes the gifts and says a Prayer of Offering. The deacon, if there
is one, or the priest himself then censes the Holy Table, the whole
Sanctuary and the church. Everything is now ready for the Divine
Liturgy. With the Holy Doors open, the priest takes his place in
front of the Holy Table, says the prayer to the Holy Spirit,
‘Heavenly King’, the hymn of the Angels, ‘Glory to God in the
highest’ and, from King David’s psalm of repentance, ‘Lord, open my
lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise’. The Liturgy can now