SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS
What is Holy Communion, Deacon,
Holy Eucharist, Holy Icons, Litany and Divine Liturgy?
What is Holy Communion?
Communion – The Orthodox Church sees the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity, and not a means to it. Therefore, only Orthodox Christians who have properly prepared themselves are invited to receive of Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church.
What is a Deacon?
Deacon – Third Order of the clergy, and lowest of those in Holy Orders, they assist the Bishop, and therefore, the priest when the Bishop is not present, in their pastoral, charitable, and liturgical responsibilities. The Deacon leads the people in prayer and worship, teaches and preaches the Word of God, cares for their spiritual well being of the Bishop’s flock, assists the Bishop and the priests in whatever way he can. He acts as a bridge between the Church and the world, heaven and earth.
What is Holy Eucharist?
Eucharist – Greek for ‘Thanksgiving,’ since the earliest days of the Church, the word has come to stand for the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mystery of Holy Communion, made mystically present for us. See Lev 7:15; Amos 4:5; Ps 116:17; Mal1:10 for prophecies of the Eucharist as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
What are the Holy Icons?
Holy Icons – Icons form the “family portraits” of the house of God. The icons of Christ show that the Invisible God became visible flesh for our salvation, and thereby sanctified material creation. Not ‘holy pictures’, icons are images of the life transfigured in Christ, and therefore of the transfigured person. Just as most devout Christians have images of Jesus in their homes, so, too, do Orthodox Christians, but also in our Churches. These images of Christ cannot be personally interpreted by the artist any more than one could rewrite the Bible according to personal taste, but must conform to the strict likeness of the original, the same as a Biblical translation should.
What is a Litany?
Litany – A series of prayers, led by the Deacon, or in his absence, a Bishop, to which the people and the choir respond “Lord have mercy.”
What is Divine Liturgy?
Divine Liturgy – Liturgy means “The work of the people.” The principle worship service of the Orthodox Church, celebrating the Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension, Enthronement and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the standard Resurrection service of the Orthodox Church around the world.
The Divine Liturgy is divided into 3 distinct parts:
-Liturgy of Preparation (proskomedia) – This is the first one-third of the liturgy, where the bread and wine offered by the people are prepared for the Eucharistic service by the celebrant, and his deacon. It represents in a small way the Old Testament, in that is a preparation of the world for the coming of Christ.
-Liturgy of the Word – Containing the Great Litany, Antiphons, and the Epistle and Gospel lesson, this ends with the Bishop proclaiming and expounding upon the teachings of Christ, prayers for the departed, and catechumens. It presents the era of the New Testament, and the hearing of the Gospel of our Lord.
-Liturgy of the Faithful – This is the Eucharistic liturgy, containing the Anaphora, the Words of Institution and Epiclesis, the Lord’s Prayer, Communion, Thanksgiving and the Dismissal. This offers us a foretaste of the Second Coming of Christ, and the eternal union of Christ with His people.
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH