In the ”Litany of Peace” of the Divine Liturgy, there follows in the third prayer a specific reference to peace, which is our main subject for today. In it, the Deacon proclaims: ”For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.”

After the doxology: "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", with which the Divine Liturgy begins, the Deacon (if there is no Priest) addresses the congregation with a series of short prayers urging them to pray.  As St. Paul says, "we do not know what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26), so the Church teaches us the way of prayer.  She teaches us to not use many words, like the Pharisees, who “think that they will be heard” in this way, and whom the Lord condemned (see Matthew 6:7).   We are also not to just repeat things mechanically, not paying attention to their meaning.  The Deacon guides us into the right way to pray, and he is the one to direct the celebration of the Divine Liturgy “in peace” (with the blessing of the Bishop or Priest).

The Divine Liturgy begins with the Priest chanting: "Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...", while raising the Holy Gospel above the Holy Altar and making with it the sign of the Cross.

Why does the Divine Liturgy begin with this particular doxology, which praises the "Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," and not God Himself? Let us take a brief look at what the Holy Fathers of the Church have said about this, as they have been deeply immersed in the interpretation of the Divine Liturgy since the 2nd century.

Every Sunday morning in Orthodox Countries (and elsewhere in the world where the law does not forbid it), the church bells solemnly ring to invite the faithful to come together as one family of God--in the Holy House of their Father. Everyone goes to the church for this Great Encounter, where hearts are moved by God’s mercy which is always present, even when we fall. It is also where we forgive those who have hurt us, because if we do not forgive them, then God will not forgive us. The priests and deacons also prepare, with a special short Service, so that their souls can worthily serve the Mystery of the Eucharist. They also ask forgiveness from everyone around them, and once vested according to their rank, prepare to offer the Divine Liturgy.

In our series of Sermons on the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, we have tried in simple terms to explain the Lord’s words and actions at the Last Supper, when He delivered this Great Mystery to the Disciples before His arrest. We have focused only on the relevant words of the Lord, as quoted by the Holy Gospels and the Apostle Paul. I hope that all of our listeners have understood that out of great love for His Disciples, the Lord established the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, so that He is not only in communion with the faithful, but also totally united with them. A union enacted through the very Holy Body and Blood of Christ!


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