Today we will talk about the most central, holy and mysterious part of the Divine Liturgy, during which the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist will take place. Christ offers Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation and the gifts we offered at the Holy Table will be changed into the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This part of the Divine Liturgy is called "THE ANAPHORA".
The Anaphora can be said to constitute a single great prayer, which the celebrant does not complete as usual from the beginning till the end, but hymns are inserted in between it, such as: ”Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. After these the celebrant recites the founding words of the Mystery "Take and eat..." and then he consecrates the Gifts, the bread and the wine. The Prayer of the Anaphora ends with a solemn commemoration of the Saints and "Especially for our most holy, pure… ever-virgin Mary...". Now, let’s have a look at all this in more detail.
After the answer of the people: "it is proper and right", the celebrant thanks the Lord with his hands raised and begins to recite the Prayer of the Anaphora. Just as the Lord at the Last Supper began His Prayer with thanksgiving, so the the the Prayer of the Anaphora begins with thanksgiving and praise. The celebrant says on behalf of all the faithful the following Prayer:
It is proper and right to hymn You, to bless You, to praise You, to give thanks to You, and to worship You in every place of Your dominion. For You, O God, are ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever, forever the same, You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us out of nothing into being, and when we had fallen away, You raised us up again. You left nothing undone until you had led us up to heaven and granted us Your Kingdom, which is to come. For all these things, we thank You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit: for all things we know and do not know, for blessings manifest and hidden that have been bestowed on us. We thank You also for this Liturgy, which You have deigned to receive from our hands, even though thousands of archangels and tens of thousands of angels stand around You, the Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft upon their wings. And then he exclaims: Singing the triumphal hymn, exclaiming, proclaiming, and saying…
God could have ordered the divine Eucharist to be celebrated worthily by the pure and holy heavenly Host of the holy Angels. Yet he demands of us humans to perform this exalted work and acknowledges the sacrifice of our humble and sinful hands, and with extreme humility and love he honors us.
During those sacred moments of the Anaphora, the Lord sends even his holy Angels to co-serve with and to intercede on behalf of the priest and the congregation. After all, the Lord with His sacrifice united Angels and human beings into one flock. For this reason, after the first part of the Prayer of the Anaphora and the recitation of the Priest "Singing the triumphal hymn...", the chanters immediately sing the Angelic hymn: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory...". This angelic hymn, heard by
the Prophet Isaiah, is complemented by the hymn of the people, with which the children welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem: "Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord" (John 12:13).
Following this hymn the celebrant continues with the Prayer of the Anaphora:
Together with these blessed powers, Master, Who loves mankind, we also exclaim and say: Holy are You and most holy, You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. Holy are You and most holy, and sublime is Your glory. You so loved Your world that You gave Your only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
As we see, with this prayer the celebrant united his voice with the voices of the Angels and glorify the holiness and the inconceivable love of God towards man. Continuing the prayer he now refers to the tradition of the Mystery of the Eucharist, which was passed by our Lord Jesus Christ to His Disciples and to the Church during the Last Supper:
When He had come and fulfilled for our sake the entire plan of salvation, on the night in which He was delivered up, or rather when He delivered Himself up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy, pure, and blameless hands, and, giving thanks and blessing, He hallowed and broke it, and gave it to His holy disciples and apostles, saying: "Take, eat, this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins."
The people answer with: "Amen". And the celebrant continues:
Likewise, after partaking of the supper, He took the cup, blessed it and turned the wine in it into His Blood and said: "Drink of this, all of you; this is My Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins".
ο Κύριος, στο τέλος του Δείπνου, έλαβε στα άγια χέρια Του το Ποτήριο με τον οίνον, ευχαρίστησε και πάλι τον Θεό Πατέρα, ευλόγησε το Ποτήριο, μετέβαλε τον οίνον σε Άγιον Αίμα Του και το έδωσε στους αγίους Μαθητές Του λέγοντας: "Πιείτε από αυτό όλοι, γιατί αυτό είναι το αίμα μου, που επισφραγίζει τη νέα Διαθήκη, και χύνεται για χάρη όλων, για να τους συγχωρηθούν οι αμαρτίες"(Ser Matt. 26,27-28).
With what sacred awe and fear of God the Holy Apostles would share the Holy Body and Blood, which their own Divine Master, with His own purr hands offered them for the first time!
Thus was founded by our Lord the Holy Mystery of the divine Eucharist and as we will see in the next Speech it was handed over to the Holy Apostles and their successors, to be performed until the end of the world for our salvation. Amen.
The Holy Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist was founded by our Lord and as we will see in our next Homily, it was handed over to the Holy Apostles and their successors, to be performed until the end of the world for our salvation. Amen.