Friday, 19 October 2012

How should we attend the Divine liturgy?

When we come to the Divine Liturgy we should come like the tax collector and the sinful woman who has been the topic of hymnology in the Church particularly in the hymns referring to the Passion that of Holy and Great Tuesday night(in fact Saint Kassiani has dedicated the hymn of praise."The woman who had fallen into many sins,perceiving Thy divinity,O Lord fulfilled the part of myrrh -bearer...).What was it that the sinful woman offered?The most precious thing she could,the most precious thing she had in her possession,myrrh.

What about us,what are we to offer our ALL-HOLY GOD?What are we to bring when we come to Church?This is what we ought to bring:Repentance,devoutness,sorrow,mourning,
and the hidden tears of our souls with which we will cleanse the person of our soul and at the same time soaking our cheeks,our clothes, as well as the place where we are standing.This is when our whole being glows in His Grace.That is why we say that this cleansing of the soul and preparation are evident.God can see all of it;man can either barely see anything or nothing at all.In any case,no one can hide from God.
First and foremost,we need to have repentance,sorrow and awareness of our sinfulness.We will not attend the Divine Liturgy like the Pharisee.We will not say I am not "as other men,extortioners,unjust,adulterers..."We will not say:I follow the commandments,"I fast twice a week,I give tithes of all that I possess",I pray day and night,I also give money or help people who are poor,sick,and in well as other things that could be stated by each and every one of us.Nevertheless,we shall come"as the publican".We will be saying:God be merciful to me a sinner".And in spirit(in a noetic way),within us,we shall beat our chests.We need not beat our chest in the exterior,for we are in public and in common Divine Worship.Thus,we shall not pay attention to the person standing next to us,in terms of what they are wearing,how they are behaving,not even if they are crying,sighing,kneeling,making the sigh of the Cross ten or fifty times.We shall only pay attention to what we are doing.Precisely like the sinful woman", who offered the myrrh,but unlike the traitor who offered the kiss.The sinful woman on the one hand,gained Paradise,while the other one,the Disciple,lost it.

In this way,during the Divine liturgy we shall live all of the events of our Lord on earth as well as the Mystery of His Divine Dispensation,that which begins from the creation of the world,with the proemial psalm which is chanted during Vespers,the one that precedes and continues on not only to the Second Coming of our Lord,not only to His fearful Judgment and the separation of the sheep from the goats,but also to the eternal glory of the future of those whose souls have been elected.All these are experienced by humans,Orthodox Christians,during the Divine Liturgy,especially when they receive Holy Communion.So,they also live the Resurrection.

During the time when we partake of the Most Holy Body and the Most Precious Blood of Christ from the Holy Spoon which touches our lips,it is that moment when our mouth resembles Mount Sinai,which was shaking as the 'Dekalogue'(Ten Commandments)was handed over on the stones of the law.If there was an earthquake and Moses was captivated by fear and terror,what are we,who are not receiving the stones of the Law but in fact,God Himself,His Body and Blood,to say?What kind of earthquake should we experience within our being?What transformation of the soul and compunction should we have?

Taken from the book "Experiences During The Divine Liturgy" by Protopresbyter Stephanos K.Anagnostopoulos

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