Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gorgotina
The best and the holiest thing happening on earth, my Christian brothers, is the DIVINE LITURGY. The Son of God incarnated himself as man in the womb of Theotokos in order to give us the Divine Liturgy.
One night – oh, God what a blessed night was that one – on the night of Great Thursday, when Christ was having the Last Supper with his disciples He taught us the Divine Liturgy
The Divine Liturgy is a Mystery of the Church. This Mystery contains all the greatness of our faith. What the Church means, my brothers, we experience and feel in the Divine Liturgy. Here in the Divine Liturgy we find and taste our God. If someone asks you what you have seen and received at the Divine Liturgy, tell him that nice troparion sung by the psalter as a final sealing of the Divine Liturgy:
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.
And indeed we receive the divine grace we need so much for being able to go forward and enhance spiritually at the Divine Liturgy. This is the `true light` and the `heavenly spirit` mentioned in that troparion. It is the grace of the Holy Spirit.
In the same time in the Divine Liturgy we find and experience the holy faith of our Fathers. That is why the troparion says: We have found the True Faith! What faith? The faith in our God, in the Holy Trinity, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God. That is why the troparion says : worshipping the Undivided Trinity. You see? The Divine Liturgy begins with:
`Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit`, words that are uttered by the priest and it ends again with the Holy Trinity, with the troparion sung by the psalter: worshipping the Undivided Trinity
A miracle takes places during the Divine Liturgy, my Christian brothers.
Today people ask for miracles to believe but they forget that the Divine Liturgy is the greatest miracle. Listen! In order to officiate the Divine Liturgy we need some leavened bread we call prosphora and some liturgical wine. You bring both these. Speaking about prosphoras, you, pious women take care that the flour you use for kneading the dough for prosphoras is made in such a way that the prosphora does not crumble. Because if it crumbles, when the priest puts the part of the Holy Body in the Holy Chalice it mixes so much with the Holy Blood that you cannot distinguish them anymore. Therefore try to find good flour for making the prosphoras.
But let us go back to our subject. So for the Divine Liturgy we need the prosphoras and the liturgical wine. Then in a moment, when the priest says: Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all, and for all at his prayer the great miracle takes place: the bread turns into the Body of Christ and the wine from the Holy Chalice turns into the blood of Christ. They still look like bread and wine but in reality they are the Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit comes at the prayer of the priest upon the two elements. He performs this great miracle: He changes the bread and the wine in the Body and the Blood of Christ. But listen to something else, my beloved Christian brothers: The priest prays to God to send first the Holy Spirit upon all the believers who are attending the Divine Liturgy and then to come upon the Holy Gifts, at the bread and wine and change them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Because the priest prays to God: Send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts set forth.
Pay attention to these `upon us`. To us. And just as it is true – and it is true indeed – that the Holy Spirit comes upon the bread and wine and changes them into the Body and Blood of Christ, it is also true that the Holy Spirit comes to the entire Synaxis of the Christian believers and fill them of Grace. Of course this happens in accordance with the openness of each soul. As the sunlight and the air come into a room depending on how much we open the windows.
But the most important thing at the Divine Liturgy, my brothers, is the fact that we participate at the Supper of God and partake of the most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The whole liturgy is done so that the priest says in the end:
With fear of God, and with faith and love, draw nigh.
And the Christians come and take the Holy Eucharist but as the priest said: with fear of God, with the faith that they partake indeed with the Body and Blood of Christ – and not with bread and wine as some uncatechized people say – and they take the Holy Eucharist with love for all and not with enmity.
As long as the Liturgy is so great, so holy and divine, you ought not to be deprived of it. Some might say that in their village or parish there is no priest and the Divine Liturgy is not officiated. This is a painful truth because many villages are without a priest. Pray to Theotokos to send priests in your villages, to make the bells toll and to sanctify yourselves.
But even if in your village there is no priest, do not remain at home, go in the next village or to the closest monastery for the Divine Liturgy.
Do not remain at home without the Divine Liturgy, I beg you! The Divine Liturgy is so important and nonparticipation does such a great harm and deficiency that if it were officiated a Divine Liturgy at Patra (at a distance of 200 km) it would deserve to walk till there to take part at it and receive the grace of God.
If we were told that in Veria (at 770 km) appeared Theotokos we would walk till there to worship Her and receive Her blessing. But this thing happens at each Divine Liturgy.
Theotokos shows herself because the Divine Liturgy is offered to all, but especially for our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, as you hear when the priest officiates the divine service.
Therefore, my beloved Christian brothers, when the bell tolls in your village for the Holy Liturgy you should feel as if Theotokos herself called you and waited to see you all there gathered in the Church. That no one be missing!
With many blessings,
† Jeremiah, Metropolitan of Gortina and Megalopa