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 Communion has been given, the priest blesses the people, and prays for those who have just received, asking God to grant them salvation and blessing: “Save, O God, Your people, and bless Your inheritance.”
This blessing from Psalm 28:9 stresses the fact that we have been given the title of heir. As Christians, we stand to inherit all from the Creator of all. Paul tells us that, since God is our Father, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”222 James, the brother of the Lord, says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”223
Inheritance is based upon a familial relationship, usually between a parent and a child. The family relationship is a far closer relationship than the one between a Creator and His creature. The Fathers of the early Church had a favorite maxim to describe this mystery: The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God. The Father, by adopting us through Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten of the Father, has thus entered into a profoundly intimate relationship with us.
The priest then brings the Chalice to the Royal Doors and makes the sign of the cross with it, blessing the people. He then takes the consecrated gifts to the Prothesis while the people sing the troparion of the solemn Vespers of Pentecost: “We have seen the true light; we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true Faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us.”
Returning to the Holy Table, the priest transfers the consecrated portions representing the Mother of God and the saints into the holy Chalice. Then he does the same for those of the living and the dead, saying: “Wash away, Lord, by Your holy Blood, the sins of all those here commemorated, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and all Your saints. Amen.”
As he proclaims that God is exalted above the heavens, the priest lifts the holy Chalice and says: “Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.”
The congregation then intones a hymn taken from the writings of the Psalmist: “Let our mouths be filled with Your praise, O Lord, that we may sing of Your glory. You have made us worthy to partake of Your holy Mysteries. Keep us in Your holiness, that all the day long we may meditate on Your righteousness. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”
This hymn was inspired by Psalm 71:8, “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.” It was introduced into the Liturgy by Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople in 624, though in precisely what form is not exactly certain. The hymn in its present form was in the Liturgy celebrated in Constantinople by the ninth century. An eighth century Armenian version of the Liturgy of John Chrysostom has a different rendition of the hymn: “We have been filled with Your good things, O Lord, tasting Your Body and Blood. Glory on high to You, who has fed us. You who continually feeds us, send down upon us Your spiritual blessing. Glory be on high to You who has fed us.”224
Even though we are not worthy to offer God a hymn of praise for the benefits we have received, we beseech God to grant us this privilege as well, filling our mouths with adoration. God gives the grace of prayer to those who ask for it, so now we entreat the Lord to give our lips the power to render proper praise. Then we ask that the sanctification which we have received in the Eucharist may remain with us to help us continue to meditate on God and His righteousness. Righteousness here encompasses the wisdom of God and His love, which we have witnessed in the holy Mystery of the Eucharist.
The offerings have been consecrated, sanctified, and consumed. The priest and the Faithful now end the Liturgy with thanksgiving and praise to God. There is a short litany which exhorts us, who have been made worthy of the Mysteries just received, to render thanks to the Lord. We ask that God keep us in His grace and that our day may be holy, peaceful and sinless, and then we commend each other and our whole lives to Christ our God.
The priest, meanwhile, has been saying a silent prayer asking God to make straight our paths, to keep us steadfast in God’s fear, to guard our lives and to make safe our steps. Then the priest says aloud the following doxology which finishes the thanksgiving of the people: “For You are our sanctification, and to You we give glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.”
222 Galatians 4:7.
223 James 2:5. 224 Cf. Kucharek, The Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, 720.
Page created: 24-12-2012.
Last update: 24-12-2012.