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June 28, 2022

Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy - The Sacred Temple (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy

The Sacred Church

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

During the Great Litany, as the prayer to God is called at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, after the petition for peace, we also pray for the Sacred Temple in which the Divine Eucharist is celebrated. "For this holy house and those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord", that is, let us pray for this Holy Temple and for those who entered it with faith, reverence and fear of God.

The Sacred Temple is the place where the members of the Church gather to pray to God and to perform the Sacred Mysteries, especially the great Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. It is called a Temple because God dwells there, in the sense that in this space the energy of God is manifested.

For the establishment of the Sacred Temple, the consecration ceremony takes place, during which the Sacred Altar is sanctified and the whole area of the Sacred Temple is blessed. The prayers that the Bishop recites during the consecration ceremony are very expressive, because they show the value and importance of the Sacred Temple. However, the Sacred Temple is a spiritual harbor for those who are tormented in the sea of life, it is a spiritual place of healing for those who have been wounded by sin, it is a sacred place where one accepts the gift of God.

We pray for the Sacred Temple, because it is indeed a blessing that there is this sacred space, which is open that we may pray to God, to calm our soul, which is shaken by various temptations. And we understand this when we think that the first Christians, during the period of persecution, went down under the earth, to the Catacombs, in order to find a quiet place to pray freely to God, or they traveled and still travel today to find after days and hours an Orthodox church to attend church and receive its benefits.

Then, with this prayer, we pray for those who enter the Sacred Temple and who do so in the proper way and with the necessary respect. In as much as the Temple is Sacred, this means that we must enter with due respect. This prayer that we are interpreting shows us the proper way in which we must enter the Temple, and that is with faith, reverence and the fear of God.

"With faith" shows that we must enter the Temple with absolute faith that it is the House of the living God. It is not a common house, it is not a common place, but a sacred place. Faith also refers to the Orthodox Church, since the worship and the Divine Liturgy are performed in the Orthodox way, according to the doctrines of the Church.

"With reverence" means that we enter and stay in the Temple with reverence, order, silence. We do not talk, we do not converse, we do not shout, we do not move aimlessly, we do not let the children run in the Sacred Temple, as if it were a stadium or a "playground", we do not have mobile phones open, which when activated sometimes makes noise, and with their calls modern music is heard, at the time when the Divine Liturgy takes place!

"With the fear of God" shows all the above, that is, we must have the fear of God to have absolute respect that this place is dedicated to God. We must respect this space more than we respect majestic and rich dining rooms or palaces of power, because in this space the presence of God is evident.

It is indeed a blessing that our ancestors built and bequeathed to us beautiful Temples and that is why we have an obligation to preserve these amazing cultural monuments. We must have a good disposition to build and maintain Sacred Temples, where God will be glorified. Above all, we should love the Sacred Temples and go to church every Sunday and Great Feast "with faith, reverence and fear of God".

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.