January 22, 2012

The Repetition of the Divine Liturgy Is Not Boring

By Hieromonk Tikhon, Abbot of Stavronikita Monastery

All that happens within the Divine Liturgy are not ideas, but they are a reality, an experience. Once we offer everything to God, He, humbly and philanthropically, sends us the Grace of His All-Holy Spirit and transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of His Son, really and truly, which He in turn offers back to us to receive it and to be sanctified by it, to become sharers of His Body, to savor the Grace of the Resurrection, to begin to live from now eternal life, the enjoyment of heavenly things.

The Divine Liturgy is a work to restore God's will in our life, and this work is performed by the priest and the faithful. All the believers are actively involved in the Divine Liturgy by being involved in the acts and words of the Divine Liturgy, as represented by the priest and the sacred chanters, since practically it is not possible any other way. It is characteristic that the Orthodox priest never celebrates the Divine Liturgy alone, individually, but only in service to the Church, as a leader and representative of the congregation of believers. For this reason he proclaims: "Thine own of Thine own..." and "The Holy Things for the Holy Ones"; and we say: "We who mystically iconize the Cherubim...", that is, in the plural. We all iconize the Cherubim, offering everything while glorifying God, accepting the Holy Things which are foreseen for the Holy Ones. The Divine Liturgy is a creation of all of us. It is the greatest creation of man which allows for the eternal meaning and salvation of life. Whoever feels and participates even a little in this truth and lives it, then he loves the Divine Liturgy more than anything in the world. In this he finds himself, God, and his salvation. He encounters truly his fellow man, loves everybody, and learns what is the meaning of creation and what is creations true value. He is freed from the slavery and oppression of the passions and the devil and acquires the freedom of the children of God.

On Mount Athos the Divine Liturgy is celebrated every day in the Monasteries following Matins. And even though we follow the same Divine Liturgy every day, we do not feel burdened, nor are we bored, nor do we tire of it. When someone lives the Divine Liturgy, its sacred words become a door which open to a personal encounter with a personal God, personal Truth. All our life becomes a prepared offering to God, conscious of our participation in the Divine Liturgy. It is also a glorification to God, and an effort and a struggle to be aware and participate throughout our life our personal experience and participation in the Theanthropic Body of the Savior. We liturgize our life and our life becomes a perpetual Divine Liturgy, which begins with the sacred Mystery of the Divine Eucharist and ends and is completed again with this. With the Divine Liturgy we offer to God all our thoughts, our acts, our struggles and our agonies, our fears and our hopes, everything that is ours, in order for Him to transform them and save them. The Divine Liturgy leads us and introduces us to the Land of the Living, to communion with the Holy Spirit, to the blessed Kingdom of the Holy Trinity.

When we are bored with the Divine Liturgy and it seems monotonous and tiresome to go every Sunday to church, it is not the liturgical language or something else that is to blame, but rather it is our ignorance of this philanthropic Mystery. How different it would be if we consciously participated in the Divine Liturgy as if it were a personal event in our lives!

Source: «Ή χώρα των ζώντων» (Αγ. Ορος 1991). Translated by John Sanidopoulos.