Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gathering spiritual strength for the Lenten journey

The Divine Liturgy – centered on the consecration and reception of Holy Communion, is a joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Not being compatible with the penitential mood of the weekdays of Great Lent, the Liturgies of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom were in 363 AD forbidden by the Church to be served during Lent, except on weekends and on the Feast of the Annunciation.

On weekdays, the faithful were no longer able to receive Holy Communion, which had previously given them spiritual strength to rise up to the Lenten challenges of fasting and intensified prayer.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (compiled in the 6th century) was developed to provide the faithful with the opportunity to receive the Holy Mysteries on weekdays. It consists of Vespers, additional hymns and litanies, but no consecration of bread and wine, thus no celebration of the resurrection. The Eucharist offered is consecrated in advance on the previous Sunday and reserved for these weekday liturgies.

Today, this ancient and beautiful Liturgy, with its unique hymns and melodies, is usually served during the Great Fast on Wednesday and Friday evenings and on Monday-Wednesday during Holy Week. The faithful, at the end of a day of fasting, are able to receive Holy Communion.  Spiritually strengthened for the continued Lenten journey, they are also reminded that being in communion with Christ demands prayer and sacrifice.

"Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God's sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God."   --  Thomas a Kempis

No comments:

Post a Comment