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Divine Liturgy (Greek: Θεία Λειτουργία, Georgian: საღმრთო ლიტურგია, Bulgarian: Божествена литургия, Russian: Божественная литургия, Armenian: Սուրբ Պատարագ, Serbian: Света Литургија, Romanian: Sfânta Liturghie) is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term. Some Oriental Orthodox employ the term "holy offering" (Syriac: qurbana qadisha, Armenian: surb patarag) for their Eucharistic liturgies instead. The term is sometimes applied also to Latin Rite Eucharistic liturgies, though the term Mass is more commonly used there.
In Eastern traditions, those of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Divine Liturgy is seen as transcending time, and the world. All believers are believed to be united in worship in the Kingdom of God along with departed Saints and the celestial Angels. To this end, everything in the Liturgy is seen as symbolic, yet also not just merely symbolic, but making the unseen reality manifest. According to Eastern tradition and belief, the Liturgy's roots go back to Jewish worship and the adaptation of Jewish worship by Early Christians. This can be seen in the first parts of the Liturgy that is termed, the "Liturgy of the Word" that includes reading of scriptures and the Sermon/Homily. The latter half was believed to be added based on the Last Supper and the first Eucharistic celebrations by Early Christians. Eastern Christians participating in the Liturgy also traditionally believe that the Eucharist is the central part of the service, as they believe it truly becomes the real Body and Blood of Christ, and through their partaking of it, they see themselves as together becoming the Body of Christ (that is, the Church). Each Liturgy has its differences from others, but most are very similar to each other with adaptations based on tradition, purpose, culture and theology.
There are three Divine Liturgies in the Byzantine Rite that are in common use in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Byzantine Catholic churches:
- The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (5th century A.D.), used on most days of the year, and as a vesperal liturgy on the Annunciation.
- The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (4th century A.D.), used on the 5 Sundays of Great Lent, and on Saint Basil's feast day (January 1). On the eves of the Nativity and Theophany, and on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, it is celebrated as a vesperal liturgy. In some traditions, Saint Basil's Liturgy is also celebrated on the Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross on September 14. All together, St. Basil's liturgy is celebrated 10 times out of the liturgical year.
- The Divine Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem (1st century A.D.), celebrated once a year in Jerusalem (and a few other churches) on the feast day of St. James, brother of the Lord and first bishop of Jerusalem, to whom this Liturgy is traditionally attributed.
- The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (6th century A.D.), is used during Great Lent on Wednesdays, Fridays, and a handful of other occasions, and also on the first three days of Holy Week. Nowadays it is always celebrated as a vesperal liturgy; the Liturgy of the Faithful has no Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer), the Holy Gifts having been consecrated and reserved ("presanctified") at a previous divine liturgy. It is traditionally attributed to St. Gregory the Dialogist.
- The Divine Liturgy of St. Mark was also observed in the Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Patriarchate of Alexandria on at least that Saint's day until fairly recent times.
The Hierarchical Liturgy. As numbers in a diocese increased dramatically the bishop as presiding over the Eucharistic assembly appointed presbyters as celebrant in the local community (the parish). Still, the Church is understood in Eastern Orthodoxy not in terms of the presbyter, but the diocesan bishop. When the latter is present, he is chief celebrant. Phrases and hymns are also added. The hierarch commemorates his hierarch demonstrating unity with the greater Orthodox community.
- Note: Psalms are numbered according to the Greek Septuagint. For the Hebrew Masoretic numbering that is more familiar in the West, usually add '1'. (See the main Psalms article for an exact correspondence table.)
The format of Divine Liturgy is fixed, although the specific readings and hymns vary with season and feast.
While arrangements may vary from liturgy to liturgy, the Divine Liturgy always consists of three interrelated parts:
- the Liturgy of Preparation, which includes the entry and vesting prayers of the priests and deacons and the Prothesis;
- the Liturgy of the Catechumens, so called because traditionally this is the only part catechumens may attend;
- and the Liturgy of the Faithful, so called because in ancient times only faithful members in good standing were allowed to participate. In modern times, this restriction applies only to Holy Communion — reception of the sacrament of holy communion.
A typical celebration of the Byzantine Liturgy consists of:
Liturgy of Preparation
This part of the Liturgy is private, said only by the priest and deacon. It symbolizes the hidden years of Christ's earthly life.
- Entrance and vesting prayers°—the sacred servers (priests and deacons) enter the church, venerate the icons and put on their vestments.
- Liturgy of Preparation—the priest and deacon prepare the bread and wine for the Eucharist (see prosphora) at the Table of Oblation (Prothesis)
- Kairos — a preliminary dialog between the priest and the deacon
Liturgy of the Catechumens
This is the public part of the Liturgy, where both catechumens and baptized faithful would be in the nave:
- Opening blessing by the priest°
- Great Litany, beginning "In Peace, let us pray to the Lord"
- First Antiphon° (Psalm 102)
- Little Litany
- Second Antiphon (Psalm 145)
- In the Greek rubrics (excl. Mt. Athos), Psalm 92 with the Refrain on Sundays:
"Save us O Son of God who art Risen from the dead, Save us who sing unto you, Alleluia" and on Weekdays: "Save us O son of God who art Wondrous in your Saints..."°
- "Only Begotten Son"
- Little Litany
- Third Antiphon°
- Small Entrance—procession with the Gospel Book
- Troparia° and Kontakia°
- Hymns commemorating specific saints and Scriptural events, as appropriate to the liturgical calendar and local custom
- Trisagion°—the "Thrice-Holy" hymn
- Epistle Reading°
- Gospel Reading°
- Homilies may also be preached while Communion is being prepared for distribution to the people, and before, or after the Dismissal
- Litany of Fervent Supplication—"Let us all say with our whole soul and with our whole mind…"
- Litany for the Departed—this is not said on Sundays, Great Feasts or during the Paschal season
- Litany of the Catechumens, and Dismissal of the Catechumens
Liturgy of the Faithful
In the early Church, only baptised members who could receive Holy Communion were allowed to attend this portion of the Liturgy. In common contemporary practice, with very few local exceptions (e.g., Mount Athos), all may stay. However, in most places, catechumens are formally dismissed for further study.
- First Litany of the Faithful
- Second Litany of the Faithful
- Cherubic Hymn°—chanted by the Choir as spiritual representatives (or icons) of the angels
- Great Entrance—procession taking the chalice and diskos (paten) from the Table of Oblation to the altar
- Litany of Fervent Supplication—"Let us complete our prayer to the Lord"
- The Kiss of Peace
- Symbol of Faith—the Nicene Creed
- Sursum Corda
- ("Let us lift up our hearts..." (Greek: "Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας"), followed by the Sanctus ("Holy, Holy, Holy…")
- Calling down the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Gifts (bread and wine) to change them into the Body and Blood of Christ
- Commemoration of Saints and Theotokion (hymn to the Theotokos)°
- Commemoration of bishop and civil authorities—"Remember, O Lord…"
- Litany of Supplication—"Having called to remembrance all the saints…"
- Lord's Prayer
- Bowing of Heads
- "Holy Things are for the Holy"
- Communion Hymn
- Holy Communion
- "We have seen the true light"°
- "Let our mouths be filled with Thy praise, O Lord…"°
- Litany of Thanksgiving
- Prayer behind the Ambon
- Psalm 33
Parts marked ° indicate portions that can change according to the day or liturgical season of the year. Some parts change at every Divine Liturgy, some parts only change at Pascha (Easter).
Note that almost all texts are chanted throughout the Divine Liturgy, not only hymns but litanies, prayers, creed confession and even readings from the Bible depending on tradition. In ancient rubrics, and contemporary Greek practice, the sermon, Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer are spoken/read, rather than chanted. Slavic traditions will chant or sing everything except for the sermon.
Gallery of parts of the liturgy
- Image of the priest making the Little Entrance with the Gospel Book.
- Image of reading the Gospel lesson.
- Litany of the Catechumens. The antimens is opened three-quarters of the way; the final portion will be unfolded at the petition: "That He (God) will reveal unto them (the catechumens) the Word of Truth."
- Image of Orthodox priest making the Great Entrance while subdeacon holds censer.
- Image of the priest standing at the Holy Table (altar) after the Great Entrance.
- Image of the faithful preparing to receive Holy Communion. In the foreground are wine and antidoron which the communicants will partake of after receiving the Body and Blood of Christ (this is known as zapivka).
- Image of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful.
- Image of the priest (in this photo, a bishop) makes the Sign of the Cross with the Gospel Book over the antimension after the latter has been folded.
- Image of priest giving the Dismissal with the blessing cross.
The Oriental Orthodox Churches use the term "Divine Liturgy" for their Eucharistic services, even if also other names such as Holy Qurbana and Badarak are usual in some Oriental Orthodox traditions. Oriental Orthodoxy owns a richness of different liturgies, which are named after the anaphora included.
At present, the Coptic Orthodox Church has three Divine Liturgies:
- The Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil (4th century AD)
- The Liturgy of St. Mark the Apostle, this liturgy is also known as the Liturgy of St. Cyril
- The Liturgy of St Gregory the Theologian
The Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated on most Sundays and contains the shortest anaphora. The Liturgy of St. Gregory is usually used during the feasts of the Church but not exclusively. In addition the clergy performing the Liturgy can combine extracts of The Liturgies of St. Cyril and St. Gregory to the more frequently used St. Basil at the discretion of the Priest or Bishop.
The Syriac Orthodox Church uses a version of the Divine Liturgy of St. James which differs substantially from its Byzantine Rite counterpart, most notably in being substantially shorter (it can be completed in under two hours, whereas the historic form of the Byzantine Rite liturgy prior to the revisions of St. Basil and St. John Chrysosotom took more than four hours), and in that it can be used with more than eighty different anaphoras; the most commonly used are those of Mar Bar Salibi (which is the shortest), and that of St. James, which resembles that of the Byzantine Rite liturgy, and is mandated on certain occasions, such as major feasts, the consecration of churches, and the first liturgies offered by newly ordained priests.
- Western Diocese | Home
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- "OCA Q&A on the Divine Liturgy". Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in North America: Worship". Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Krivoshein, Basil (2). "Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance". Holy Trinity Cathedral. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Divine Liturgy.|
Eastern Orthodox Christian
- The liturgy of St John Chrysostom[dead link] - as used in a parish in Great Britain
- The Divine Liturgies Music Project Byzantine music in English for the Liturgies of St. John, St. Basil, St. James and the Presanctified
- The Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church in English/Church Slavonic, including music (midi, mp3)
- Photos of Divine Liturgy from Russia
- The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostomus of the Greek Eastern Orthodox Church - In Hellenistic New Testament Greek (Koine) and Modern Demotic Greek
- Textos litúrgicos ortodoxos (Serbian Patriarchate)
Oriental Orthodox Christian
- The Divine Liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox Church
- Download Coptic/Arabic Holy Liturgies in mp3 format from St-Takla.org
- Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil Full text with explanations and commentary
- Coptic Liturgy of St. Mark (also known as the Liturgy of St. Cyril) Full text
- Coptic Liturgy of St. Gregory Full text with footnotes
- Ethiopian Divine Liturgy
- Armenian Divine
- The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (Ruthenian)
- The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great (Ruthenian)
- The Divine Liturgy of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
- "In Remembrance of the Lord Commentary
Liturgy (Badarak)] Text