Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
We find the God our soul longs for and delight in Him in the Holy Liturgy celebrated in our holy churches. In the Holy Liturgy we, the baptized Christians, understand the mystery called Church and for it we call in the same way the place where we celebrate the Holy Liturgy.
Do not neglect my brothers to go to the church every Sunday. And if your village doesn’t have Holy Liturgy on Sundays because many of our villages don’t have priest, go for the Holy Liturgy in your neighboring village. Don’t miss the grace of the Holy Liturgy.
When you get in the church, make the sign of the Cross properly. Unfortunately we are in so much ignorance in what regards the divine things that we don’t even know how to make the sign of the Cross properly. Long time ago the children learnt in the first year a poem for making the sign of the Cross properly: To the forehead, to the stomach, to the right and to the left. We should make the sign of the Cross like this: with the three fingers of the right hand kept together (by them expressing our faith in the Holy Trinity) we should touch the forehead, expressing by this that there, above us is Christ, our Lord. From there He descended and was incarnated in the womb of the Theotokos and we show this by taking our hand down from the forehead to the stomach. And Christ will come again at His Second Coming. He will come and find an amalgamated mankind and He will do as the shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on the right and on the left He will put the goats. When we put our hand on our right then on our left shoulder we express His Second Coming and our desire to be with Him, on the right, in His Kingdom.
After we get in the church, we make the sign of the Cross, as we said and we light a candle and kiss the icons. If we think that before us many other Christians passed by them and kissed them we can consider this as kissing each other. Thus after we kiss the holy icons we go in a place, the men on the right and the women on the left and we attend carefully the Holy Liturgy. We take heed at what we see and what we hear. And all those which are said and done during the Holy Liturgy are so beautiful and pleasant.
Of course at the Holy Liturgy we pray as we want, we tell to God what we have in our hearts, but during the holy service we must pray with what is said and sung even if we don’t understand them. The words of the priest and of the psalter comprise all our faith. Our faith, my brothers has become psalmody and chant, has become holy representations and symbols.
The most important thing in the Holy Liturgy is the Holy Communion. In the Holy Liturgy everything is done for hearing in the end: With fear of God, and with faith and love, draw nigh.
With the fear of God born from the faith that what we commune is indeed the Body and Blood of Christ, that Body and Blood the Son of God took from the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God Maria when He incarnated in her holy womb. That’s why Theotokos is called `giver of the holy Body`. Yes, in reality Theotokos is the One who gives us the Eucharist. Thus we must commune with fear of God but with love as well. Love for all, even for our enemy who harmed us. Cause he didn’t want it and if he wanted it the tempter made him do it, the tempter who urges us as well to do so many wrong things. And in the same way we ask from God to forgive us for all our misdeeds done against His holy will, we should also forgive those done to us by the others. This means `with love` words said by the priest to those who come to commune. So my brothers, we must ask for forgiveness and forgive all before communing.
When you approach the Holy Eucharist make the sign of the Cross then take the napkin and put it under the chin and open your mouth widely. Only after you commune and the priest takes the spoon out of your mouth you can wpe your lips with the napkin but no sooner. After you commune make the sign of the Cross again and let the others do the same.
With such a good preparation for the Holy Communion, my Christian brothers, Christ comes indeed in our hearts and we become `hristoforos` as saint Ignatius Theoforos says. With the grace of Christ within ourselves our life will be beautiful because we won’t live anymore with the wickedness which uglifies our life and makes a hell from it. The Holy Liturgy is heaven because at the Holy Liturgy we say: I saw the True Light. I received the heavenly Spirit.
With many blessings,
† Jeremiah Metropolitan of Gortina and Megalopolis
 The holy icons of the Savior of the Theotokos or of the saints are kissed by touching the hands or feet with the lips – if the icon is big. By no means should be kissed their faces because this shows a lack of piety towards the divine persons.