Αrchimandrite Ephrem Filotheos
At the Holy Liturgy it is fulfilled this elevate and frightening Sacrament.
The Holy Table is like Golgotha where Christ was crucified and gave His spirit. Giving His spirit to God, His Father, in accordance with the human nature, He immediately destroyed the wall between God and man. The wall which separated man from God because of the sin of the forefathers fell down and what had been separated was reunited. Thus the Holy Trinity fulfilled this great sacrament, the reconciliation of the man with God. Look now at the amazing love and mercifulness of God for man! Look at God’s descent!
Each crumble which falls in the Holy Chalice is a soul that is mentioned before at Proscomidy and afterwards at the Holy Trinity. And when the deacon prepares the Holies, he places the Holy Body in the Holy Chalice and then arranges the crumbles which are put in the Chalice saying: `Wash, Lord, with Your Precious Blood the sins of those who were mentioned here.` Meaning that He erased completely the sins of those souls which were mentioned here through the holy mirids (crumbles) put by the priest in the Holy Chalice. Thus, this soul which is dropped in the Holy Chalice, in the Blood of Christ, is washed of his sins.
And when the Church mentions at the Holy Liturgy and prays for Theotokos and for the Saints and takes out a crumble for each one of them, does this mean that the Holy Mother of God and the Saints need the same thing as the ordinary men?
No, the crumbles which are taken out and dropped in the blood of Christ in the Holy Chalice in the honor and for the remembrance of the Most blessed, most honored, forever Virgin Mary, in the honor of John the Baptist, of the Holy Hierarchs, of the Saints celebrated on that day and of all the Saints, all these Saints come to commune from the boundless richness of God by the intercession of the Church. And if it is added more glory to the Saint and he approaches God more closely and feels more intensely His presence, the greater will be the aid given to the sinner when he is mentioned and it is taken out a crumble for his name and he receives forgiveness and comfort!
Long time ago in the Holy Mountain was a very famous hermit and confessor called Hilarion. He had a disciple called Sava. Because the starets was old and thought he was to leave this life soon, he decided to leave his disciple, monk Sava as his inheritor and leave the grace of priesthood and confession to him.
He descended to the monastery to which he belonged, received the blessing of the Synaxis of that Monastery for priesthood and he called the hierarch to fulfill the ordination. And after the ordination he could even leave Athos. Because every new priest has the duty to serve the Liturgy for 40 days the hierarch said to the starets:
`Abba, I’ll give you some names to be mentioned by father Sava as long as he serves the 40 Liturgies.`
`Of course, your holiness, bring the names.`
After the bishop gave to the Elder those names, he told to his disciple, Sava:
`My son, Sava, take these names from the abbot and mention them among the others.`
Father Sava took them and mentioned them. One night when he was about to serve the Holy Liturgy, he went out of his cell, read his prayers and went to the chapel where he was waited by his starets to take the blessing for bowing before the holy icons before the Holy Liturgy.
While he was waiting in the pew he had a vision and when he came back to his senses, he said to the starets:
`Geronda, I saw something.`
`What did you see, my son?`
`It was like I was serving the Holy Liturgy: I was at the blessing of the Holy Gifts and before taking the Holy Eucharist I asked the sexton to give me the names from the bishop. And after I took the names, I put them near the Holy Chalice and took Holy Blood with the teaspoon and sprinkled over each name a drop which erased that name. And in this way all the names from that paper were erased. And when all of them were erased you came and I woke up. What could this mean, geronda?`
`It’s what we believe. Don’t we believe that the Blood of Christ forgives the souls of those who are mentioned at the Holy Liturgy? For every name we mention at the Holy Proscomidy and for the crumble which is put in the Holy Chalice the sins of those souls are erased. This is what happened here. God showed it to you to believe it and to give you the chance to mention more names, so that the souls may be helped in the afterworld
And from that moment on father Sava began to mention a lot of names for long hours at every Liturgy.
Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvationto be published by Evanghelismos.