Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


11 Entries

1. What grandeur is the Divine Liturgy! When God looks upon His humble minister, how much does he feel the majesty of the Liturgy; how much do those who are commemorated profit! How much does God honor man, to descend with the angelic orders in every Liturgy and to nourish man with His all-holy Body and Blood! REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

3. Immense is the benefit of the Divine Liturgy, of commemorations, etc.; full of sure benefit for those who repented, who had a little yeast of the virtues, but who by reason of negligence, indolence, and occasional procrastination did not arrive on time to knead the bread of virtues; for these people, the prayers of the Church and their own prayers, charity, philanthropy, etc., fill up their lack, through the multitude of God's mercies!

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says, concerning all Liturgies, that all who are commemorated, for the sake of whom intercession is made, receive the greatest benefit. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

O, how indispensable must and ought we in all ways to approach this heavenly communal feast, which grants us this lofty mystery of the Holy Table!

The angels are present invisibly; in great reverence the priests, who in this moment of mystery are honored above the angels, sacrifice the blameless Lamb.

The angels minister and faithful approach to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ: "receive the Body of Christ, taste the fountain of immortality," in order thus to live in Christ and not die through sin. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

6. With fear and with reverence may you stand in church, for our Christ is present invisibly with the holy angels. The attentive and reverent He fills to the full with grace and blessing; the heedless He censures as unworthy. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

8. Unworthily do I serve Liturgy to my God. The office is holy and fearful. Every day I offer the sacrifice pleasing to God, the Lamb of God, the blameless One to the blameless Father and God, in order that He be merciful to us who grieve the most good God, Who for us sacrificed His Son. O, my God, Your beloved Son for us! And who are we, that it was worth such a supreme sacrifice for us! "While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Apostle Paul, Rom. 5:10). REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

The Passion on the Cross and the life-bearing Resurrection of this our Jesus, our sweetest deliverance, the light of our darkened souls, is reproduced in every Liturgy, through which every sinful soul is purged from guilt. And if in the old law, in the shadow of things, the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer cleansed those who participate, how much more the all-holy Blood of Christ, which is received in the holy altars of the holy churches of God, cleanse us from every sin and warm our souls in the divine Eros of our sweetest Jesus! REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

...the Priest cries aloud, 'Lift up your hearts.' For truly we ought in that...hour [i.e. the Divine Liturgy] to have our hearts on high with God, and not below, thinking of earth and earthly things. In effect therefore the Priest bids all in that hour to dismiss all cares of this life, or household anxieties, and to have their heart in heaven with the merciful God. Then you answer, 'We lift up our hearts unto the Lord:' assenting to it, by your avowal. But let no one come here, who could say with his mouth, 'We lift up our hearts unto the Lord,' but in his thoughts have his mind concerned with the cares of this life. At all times, rather, God should be in our memory; but if this is impossible by reason of human infirmity, in that hour above all this should be our earnest endeavor. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 23 no. 4)

And when he served the Liturgy, his face became like an angel's and was penetrated with such light that it was not possible to look freely at him .... His mind was bright, clearly beholding the truth of God. He loved these truths with all the fullness of his heart. Therefore, when he would give a talk his words went from heart to heart and were always effective and fruit-bearing. the life of St. Symeon the New Theologian in The Sin of Adam, Seven Homilies by St. Symeon; Platina CA

Anyone who wishes to show his love for the deceased and to give them real help can best do this through prayer for them, especially in commemorating them at the Liturgy, when the particles removed [from the prosphora during the proskomedia – ed.] for the living and the dead are placed into the Blood of Christ with the words “Remit, O Lord, the sins of those commemorated here through Thy Precious Blood and the prayers of Thy saints.” We can do nothing better or greater for the reposed than to pray for them, commemorating them at the Liturgy. This is always essential for them, especially throughout the forty days in which the soul of the reposed is on its way to its eternal home. The body then feels nothing. It does not see those gathered together around it, does not smell the flowers, does not hear the speeches made at the coffin. But the soul feels the prayers offered for it, and is spiritually close to them.

O relatives and friends of the reposed! Do for them that which they need and that which is in your power to do. Spend your money not on external decorations for the coffin and grave, but instead on what will help those in need, in memory of your deceased relatives; on the church, where prayers are offered up for them. Be merciful to those fallen asleep; care for their souls. That same path lies before you, and how we will then want others to remember us in prayer! Let us, ourselves, be merciful to those who have reposed. Holy Hierarch St. John Maximovitch

“(At the conclusion of the Kairon) the priest prostrated in the middle of the church before the holy icons, entered the holy place to don the sacred vestments and wash his hands. Then, as he drew near to the prothesis, the emperor saw the priest’s face begin to brighten! It became brighter than the sun! It was like the face of an angel! Know ye that this is the appearance of all Christ’s priests when they perform the divine services.

Then the emperor saw a great multitude of angels arrayed in white robes, also with bright faces, descending from above. And in their midst was a Wonderful Child, whose beauty was beyond all heavenly and earthly beauties, and the radiance of His face brightened even more the faces of the angels surrounding Him …

The emperor could not believe his eyes, for he now saw that a great multitude of people had filled the church. They were so numerous that they even filled the holy place, surrounding the priest! The people reverently looked at the priest and they all began to pray. What the emperor was seeing was the countless number of people for whom the priest was praying, saints and sinner, living and departed.

The emperor saw the All-holy Virgin clothed in a robe of gold, adorned in varied colors, come and stand at the right hand of her Wonderful Child. He saw St John the Forerunner, severe and thin, clothed in a robe of camel’s hair and girded about with a leather belt. He saw the glorious prophets, the holy apostles of Jesus Christ the Wonderful Child, and all the wonder-working saints, the right-victorious martyrs and the venerable and righteous men and women.

Their faces were luminous and shining brightly, though some of them had wounds and mangled bodies, while others were very thin and gaunt because of their ascetic labors. All of them had joyfully offered their lives to Christ, the Wonderful Child whom they now surrounded to worship and adore.” “The Revelation of the Holy Liturgy to the Unbelieving Emperor”

For God's grace to come during the Liturgy you must be concentrated and untroubled. Elder Amphilochios Makris -

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