by the Very Reverend Michel Najim & T.L. Frazier"UNDERSTANDING THE DIVINE LITURGY"(A Guide For Participating In The Divine Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom)
After this the priest prays in a low voice, invoking Christ to sanctify us from the throne of His glory, granting us His Body and Blood. After asking God to be gracious to him, a sinner, the priest elevates the sanctified gifts above the Diskos, saying: “Let us attend! Holy Gifts for the holy people.”
This invitation by the priest seems to derive from a very ancient tradition. As early as the second century we find something similar in a Syrian church manual known as the Didache (literally, “the Teaching”): “Hosannah to the God of David. If any one be holy, let him come! If any one be not, let him repent: Maranatha (Aramaic: “Come, O Lord!”), Amen.”212
This seems to echo the Book of Revelation (a book with a lot of liturgical imagery), which ends, “And the Spirit and the bride (i.e., the Church) say `Come!’ And let him who hears say, `Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely...He who testifies to these things says, `Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!”213
The “holy people” are not only those who have attained perfection, but those also who are truly repentant and who desire to be sanctified by the holy Mysteries. The whole Church is called holy, not because it is perfect, but because of the holy gifts Christ has given her and which she dispenses to the people. When we partake of the holy Mysteries, we receive sanctification, not in name only, but in reality. For no one has holiness of himself; it is not the consequence of human virtue, but comes to us exclusively from the Father, through Christ, and in the Holy Spirit.
Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the mid-fourth century, makes the following commentary upon this part of the Liturgy: “After this the priest says `Holy things to holy men.’ Holy are the gifts presented, since they have been visited by the Holy Spirit; holy are you also, having been vouchsafed the Holy Spirit; the holy things therefore correspond to the holy persons. Then you say, `One is holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ.’ For truly One is holy, by nature holy; we, too, are holy, but not by nature, only by participation, and discipline, and prayer.”214
So, when the priest says, “Holy Gifts are for the holy people,” the Faithful reply, as we learned from Cyril of Jerusalem: “One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen” The acclamation was inspired by what the Apostle wrote to the Philippians: “Therefore God also has highly exalted [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”215
212 Didache, 10:6.
213 Revelation 22:17, 20.214Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catecheses, 5:19.
215 Philippians 2:9-11.
Page created: 24-12-2012.
Last update: 24-12-2012.