September 3, 2021

Homily Eight on the Interpretation of the Doxology: "The Holy God" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Interpretation of the Doxology:
The Holy God

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The verses of the Doxology, which is a prayer and consists of many verses from Holy Scripture, and which we analyzed in the eucharistic sermons of the Summer Sundays, are important and direct the thinking of Christians to the Triune God, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son and Word of God, but also the absolute faith that every Christian must have in the protection of God. Thus, the Doxology shows both the pinnacle of our faith, but also the way in which we must live, if we want to be true members of the Church of Christ.

The text of the Doxology, in another form, which does not deviate much from the one we analyzed, is also read during Compline and this shows its value and importance.

As we saw at the beginning of the Doxology, the Name of the Triune God is glorified, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit who gave the light. This refers to the beginning of creation. In the continuation of the Doxology, there is talk of the recreation of man by Christ and it ends with the hymn to the Triune God. Thus, the Doxology begins with the doxology in the Light and ends with the hymn to the Triune God, who created the light and the whole world.

Thus, at the end of the Doxology we chant:

"Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us."

According to tradition, this hymn was revealed to a child by an angel, during a procession which took place in Constantinople for the threat of an earthquake, and the child revealed it to Saint Proclus, Archbishop of Constantinople, and he established it to be chanted in the Church. Empress Pulcheria and her brother Theodosius ordered for this hymn to be chanted throughout the then known inhabited world. In fact, this hymn was chanted by the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon, as can be seen in the Minutes of this Synod.

This thrice-holy hymn reminds us of the hymn of the angels "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Sabaoth" and has great dogmatic meaning, because it refers to the Triune God who has one essence and three hypostaseis. The word "God" is described the Father, the word "Mighty" describes the Son, and the word "Immortal" describes the Holy Spirit. We find this in a doxastikon for Pentecost. All three persons have different hypostaseis-personhood, but they have a common essence and energy, that is why all three Persons are holy, and they send their mercy and Grace, and we do not say each of you have mercy on us, but have mercy on us, for the singularity of the divinity.

This hymn, in addition to its dogmatic significance, also has a salvific one. With this hymn it is like saying. "My God, you are holy and God, you are holy and mighty, you are holy and immortal. And we who are sinners, people, weak and mortal, ask you to have mercy on us."

As we know, we chant this thrice-holy hymn twice in the Divine Liturgy. First in the so-called Liturgy of the Catechumens, after the Small Entrance, and then in the Divine Liturgy of the Faithful, in the place of the anaphora, when we chant the "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."

I think, if we look more closely at the Doxology that we interpreted in these sermons of these two months, we will see that it begins with the creation of the world and ends with the life of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is, it begins with the glorification of the angels and the first man to God the giver of light, followed by the prayer of the people after the fall to seek the power of God to live according to His will, and ends with the hymn of the angels, but also of the righteous in Heaven, in the Kingdom of God. This means that the Doxology describes the creation, the fall and the resurrection and restoration of man and especially the eternal glory of those who will be connected with Christ.

May our life end with such a doxology and may we be found worthy to participate in the chorus, the choir of angels and saints to sing the tthrice-holy hymn to the glorified thrice-holy God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.