Volume II - Worship

The Divine Liturgy

Thanksgiving

After the communion of the people, the celebrant blesses them with the words: 0 Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. The people sing in response:

We have seen the True Light! We have received the Heavenly Spirit! We have found the True Faith! Worshiping the Undivided Trinity, Who has saved us.

The celebrant then blesses the faithful with the eucharistic chalice in which the gifts not received are still present, as he takes them to the table of oblation where the youngest member of the clergy consumes them. During the removal of the consecrated gifts the people sing:

Let our mouths be filled with Thy praise O Lord, that we may sing of Thy glory; for Thou hast made us worthy to partake of Thy Holy, Divine, Immortal and Life-creating Mysteries. Keep us in Thy holiness, that all the day we may meditate upon Thy righteousness. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

A litany of thanksgiving is then sung to the Lord with prayers of gratitude that he has blessed his people with participation in the “heavenly and immortal mysteries.” The prayers also ask God to keep the whole day “perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless;” that through the reception of Holy Communion, God would “make straight our path, strengthen us all in Thy fear; guard our lives, make firm our steps. ...”

The songs and prayers following Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy, as all parts of the holy service, presuppose that the members of the Church are partaking in the eucharistic mysteries and are receiving the gifts of Christ’s Body and Blood. The offertory, the anaphora, the epiklesis, the remembrances, the Our Father, and the communion itself all affirm the active participation of the faithful.

Thus it is obvious from the text of the Divine Liturgy as it is always served in the Orthodox Church that the reception of Holy Communion on the part of the people is a regular and normal part of the liturgy and the life of Christians. It is not to be reserved for special days or seasons, but is to he done prayerfully and carefully at all times when the Divine Liturgy is celebrated.

It may happen that all members of the Church are not prepared to receive Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy. It is even reasonable to expect that this will often be the case, given the present conditions of life and the great number of people who are just nomally Christians. However, be that it may be, it must be very forcefully affirmed, without any reservations or doubts, that the prayers, hymns and actions of the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church presuppose the regular and normal participation of all of the people in Holy Communion; and that the failure on the part of the faithful to receive the Holy Mysteries of Christ is to deprive the Divine Liturgy of its essential meaning and purpose.