February 5, 2022

Homilies on the Divine Liturgy - The Beginning (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homilies on the Divine Liturgy

The Beginning of the Divine Liturgy

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

As you know, every year during the summer months of July and August we usually send short written sermons to all the Parishes of our Metropolis, to be read in the Sacred Temples during the Divine Liturgy. We are doing this again this year with the Grace of God.

The short sermons this year will refer to the Divine Liturgy and will try to show its great importance for our lives, as well as to interpret some points of the Divine Liturgy, so that when we go to church we know exactly what is happening.

First of all, of course, we must note that the word "liturgy" is also found in ancient Greece. This word consists of two other individual words, namely leios (λέϊος) and ergo (έργο), which means "work of the people". By adding the word "divine" to the Liturgy, it is declared that it is not a simple "work of the people", but it is an energy of God and a synergy of the people, that is, a response of the people who are baptized and live according to God's commandments, in God's love. There are liturgical rites with the name of various saints, such as St. John Chrysostom, which is celebrated every Sunday, St. Basil, which is celebrated ten times a year, St. James, etc.

The Divine Liturgy is also called the Divine Eucharist, because during it we thank God for all the gifts he has given us, both universal and personal. Universal is the incarnation of Christ, through whom death, sin and the devil were defeated. It is this work of the divine incarnation, of the divine economy, as it is commonly called in theological language, that the Divine Liturgy highlights for us and invites us to experience as well. And this is done both with the prayers and the chants, as well as with the symbols, such as, for example, the lamp, the candle, the small and great entrance, the blessing by hand, the lifting of the hands, etc.

The Divine Liturgy begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", because it is a doxology to the Triune God, who created the world and man, but also recreated him. Then, in the Divine Liturgy, when we are properly prepared and have acquired spiritual senses, we can feel the Grace of God, as well as seek reflections of the future life, the life that the righteous will live in the Kingdom of God. Because the Kingdom of God is nothing but the vision of God as light.

And immediately after invoking the Kingdom of God, we address our first prayers to God. If one pays close attention one will find that these prayers refer to three issues.

The first is the great good of peace. We pray that God will give us His own peace, which saves the soul, and of course with this peace we will participate in the Divine Eucharist, as well as that God will give His peace to the whole world and to the local Churches, which are the united Church of Christ. Without the peace of God neither mankind can have peace nor can the world have peace.

The second is that we pray for our whole ecclesiastical organization, which is hierarchical, that is, for the Bishops, the Presbyters, the Deacons and the people. And of course for the rulers. The Bishop is in the form and place of the presence of Christ and the Presbyters are in the form of the Apostles, who are sent by the Bishop to preach the Gospel to all the faithful of the Sacred Metropolis.

The third is that we pray for our various needs and for the people in need, such as those who travel, those who are sick, those who are possessed by demons. And of course, we entreat God through the intercessions of the Panagia and the Saints, and we entrust our whole life to Christ.

The Divine Liturgy, my beloved, is a whole way of life, a sea of divine love. May we be able to swim in this sea and be refreshed by the Grace of God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.