Prosphora, particles, etc.

186059.bH/T: pravoslavie.ru via here

About the Particles Taken out During the Proskomedia

“And there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).

Since ancient Apostolic times the Liturgy was served with one Bread (and one Chalice) following Christ’s example. This tradition remained in the West. In the East, according to Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern), “The Byzantine Empire weaved a lot of theological and mystical patterns in the liturgical cloth”. In particular, the best bread was chosen as the lamb, while small particles were taken out from all the other breads and placed on the diskos near the lamb in memory of those who had brought those breads (such liturgical tradition exists since 11th century; before that time all the other breads were just raised with pronunciation of the names of people who brought them).

These small particles symbolize our gifts and sacrifices to God, and first of all the sacrifices of the holy martyrs, who fully sacrificed themselves to Christ. These particles are next to the most perfect Sacrifice and thus they become blessed, just like the sacrifices of saints are blessed by Christ, although they do not become the Body of Christ. The thing is, the saints’ sacrifices are not equal to the Sacrifice of Christ and are imperfect in comparison with His Sacrifice. Even the service of the Most Holy Theotokos, Who is more honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, cannot be compared with the sacrifice of Christ. Only Christ died willingly (and this is why His death is redemptive for us), while the Mother of God and the saints and martyrs died because of their nature. And the saints are glorified not because of their essence, but due to God’s grace. In fact, Christ is the only One, Who is God by His essence. This is why it is forbidden to partake of the Holy Communion with the particles taken out in honor of saints, because they are not equal to the Body of Christ. The rite reflects dogmatics and it has always been this way.

An opposite statement saying that these particles turn into the Body of Christ is officially confessed by the uniates since 1720. However, it is nothing more than the reflection of the catholic dogmatics, which denies the uncreated nature of the Divine energies, in accordance with Barlaam of Seminara, a scholar and academic. According to the catholic teachings, the saints united with God through the flesh, which means that no direct union with God occurs. Consequently, no salvation occurs as well. Otherwise, it is necessary to accept that the saints unite with God by their nature, which is an example of pagan polytheism. Paradoxically, however, the impossibility of direct union with God and the union with God by nature are the same things from the philosophical viewpoint. In fact, platonism, with its radical division between material and spirit (dualism) and their eternity, and neoplatonism combined with aristotelianism and its emanation of deity, are equal and accept the same substance of being. This substance is deity-cosmos-body, beginning with the thin heavenly level and ending with heavy terrestrial level (this leads to dissolving the border between the Creator and the creation, to depersonalization of God and to denying the fact of creation out of nothing).

Thus, there is only one choice: either to accept that these particles do not receive any blessing at all (why are they needed then? – actually, there are none in the Latin rite), or to accept that all these particles turn into the Body of Christ. Ancient pagan platonism – that is what is behind the unjust belief in transubstantiation of the proskomedia particles.

We partake of the Holy Communion from the single Sacrifice of Christ, not from the sacrifices of saints. We become of one blood and body with Christ and then we become one body – the Church of Christ, which is built on the blood of the holy martyrs, which emulates the Golgotha Sacrifice. Nevertheless, there is only one foundation, which is Jesus Christ Himself (Ref. 1 Corinthians 3:11). We cannot partake of the Holy Communion from the blood of saints. We can only ask them to pray for us before God. This is what the dogmatic teaching of the Church says about the communion with saints. The particles become blessed but they do not transubstantiate into the Body of Christ. It symbolizes that the sheep partake of the Holy Communion from the One Shepherd, but not from each other. “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

To provide an example we can mention the raising of prosphora blessed in the name of the Mother of God during the rite of Panhagia. The prosphora is blessed, but it does not transubstantiate neither into the Body of Christ, nor into the body of the Mother of God. Those who partake of it receive blessing by the prayers of the Mother of God, but of course this is not considered to be the Holy Communion.

So, the particles taken out during the proskomedia for all the members of the Church are placed on the diskos and are blessed during the Liturgy. Because of the power of the foretype, this blessing spreads on us all too, because the diskos and the particles on it are nothing else but the image of the whole Church. “But let us see, how can we see Jesus Christ Himself and His Holy Church in this Divine image and the actions of the holy proskomedia. He is in the center under the guise of bread. The Mother of God is at the light hand of Christ under the guise of a particle. The saints and angels are at His left hand. All the pious believers who have faith in Christ are placed below. There is a great mystery: God among people and God among gods, which received their divinity from God, Who incarnated by their nature for their sake. Here we can also see the Kingdom and how eternal life is organized: God is near us and He lets us be a part of Him…”

Not only the particles are blessed, but also the prosphoras from which these particles have been taken out. This is done so that faithful people partake of them and receive blessing as well. In ancient times, antidoron was taken by those people, who did not partake of the Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy.

The whole Divine Liturgy is full of deep theological symbolism and includes all the mysteries of the Divine economy of our salvation, so that the children of the Church receive the Divine knowledge in following Christ’s commandment to do this in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19).

An article by Archpriest Igor Belov

 

Translated from: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/73659.html

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Angel and blood

Taken from “The Jesus We Missed” by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon.

THE ANGEL AND THE BLOOD

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We come now to the gospel of Luke, from whom we gain the very term “agony” to describe Jesus’ ordeal in the garden (Luke 22:44). He is the only New Testament writer to use this word.

Luke omits the threefold form of Jesus’ prayer found in Mark and Matthew. His version, therefore, is shorter. It does contain, however, certain particulars not found in the other accounts of the drama in the garden.

[….]

These particulars about the bloody sweat and the comforting angel we know only from Luke. Let us consider them more closely.

First, the sweat of Jesus is a condition called hematidrosis. This pathology, which results  from an extreme dilation of the subcutaneous capillaries, causes them to burst through the sweat glands. This symptom, mentioned as early as Aristotle, is well-known to the history of medicine, which sometimes associates it with intense fear. It is not without interest, surely, that Luke, the only Evangelist to mention this phenomenon, was a physician.

Unlike Mark (14:34) and Matthew (26:38), Luke does not speak of Jesus’ sadness in the garden scene, but of an inner struggle, an agonia, in which the Savior “prayed more earnestly”.

The theological significance of this feature in Luke is that Jesus’ internal conflict causes the first bloodshed in the Passion. His complete obedience to the Father in his prayer immediately produces this initial libation of his redemptive blood, the blood of which he had proclaimed just shortly before, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

Prior to the appearance of his betrayer, then, Jesus already begins the shedding of his blood. He pours out in the struggle of obedience, before a single hand has been laid upon him. In Luke’s account the agony in the garden is not a prelude to the Passion but its very commencement, because Jesus’ stern determination to accomplish the Father’s will causes his blood to flow – already – as the price for man’s redemption.

Second, the angel is sent to strengthen Jesus during his trial. Luke, in his earlier temptation scene, had omitted the angelic ministry, of which Matthew (4:11) and Mark (1:13) spoke on that occasion. When Luke did describe that period of temptation, however, he remarked that the demon, having failed to bring about Jesus’ downfall, “departed from him ” (4:13, emphasis added). Now, in the garden, that time has come, and Jesus receives the ministry of an angel to strengthen him for the task.

In Luke’s literary structure, this ministering “angel of agony” stands parallel to Gabriel at the beginning of the gospel. In the earlier case an angel introduces the Incarnation; in the present case an angel introduces the Passion. Very shortly angels will introduce the Resurrection (Luke 24:4).

 

The battle of life

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Above: Monastery Rakovica located outside of Belgrade. The monastery church is dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.

Below is from a homily delivered by Protosindjel Siluan (Mrakic) on the Feast of St. Archangel Michael and the Bodiless Powers of Heaven;

“St. Archangel Michael commanded the army of the bodiless powers. He led the heavenly army against the fallen angel Lucifer in battle, a battle which was taken from the heavens to the earth. We fight this battle today with the help of the holy angels and all of God’s Saints. We know that the holy angels are beings that glorify God. Beings, intelligent and free, who are in close community with God and enjoy His grace.

We sinners know how wonderful it is when God’s grace touches our souls, and how sad and how much we despair when grace is far from us. In this world filled with temptations, we need to arm ourselves with prayers and send them to the holy angels of God and His Saints.

Together with the entire hierarchy of heavenly powers we need to boldly and fearlessly go to the battle of life, which begins in our hearts.  A great spaciousness lies in the heart in which abide dragons, serpents, lizards, scorpions and all filth but also God’s grace. May the Lord help us that we keep God’s truth and offer our holy prayers to Him through the prayers of all the heavenly protectors He has given us, that we glorify His name.”

Source: Here

I Venerate Christ’s Priesthood

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“After 1815, Milos was the ruler and king of Serbia. One Sunday morning he went to the palace’s chapel with his family.

That particular Sunday however, the regular priest was not the one to celebrate the Liturgy due to the fact that he was very old and ill; instead a thirty-year old newly-ordained priest was to celebrate. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Priest distributed the antidoron.

The king, who was old, was the first one to come forth. As the priest was distributing the antidoron he withdrew his hand so that the king would not kiss it.

Then the old king gave him an austere look and said: “Give me your hand, father and do not withdraw it next time since it is not your hand I am kissing but that of the Priesthood; I venerate and kiss Christ’s Priesthood which is greater than you and me.”

-Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos
Experiences During the Divine Liturgy

We must pray for one another

23621286_10213531294984095_6709605531863657032_nMy posts regarding the toll houses was intended for no other reason than to state the obvious: We’re all in the same boat!

We are sinners whether we like it or not, believe it or not, admit it or not…. We have to – must – pray for one another, “bear one another’s burdens” as St. Paul says to the Galatians (6:2). For this is the only way we can “fulfill the law of Christ”. The Law: you know, that thing we use to judge one another based on? God gave it to us that we might have harmony and peace and order. Instead, we point fingers and rejoice in revealing our neighbors’ flaws: I’m right, you’re wrong. The Pharisees couldn’t wait to catch Jesus breaking one of the Laws and it was so easy because He did everything to in order to save us (He even broke the laws of nature being born of a virgin). His law was the law of love, this is the law we are called to fulfill.

In reading St. Theodora’s aerial journey can any one of us be without sin, without fault? We need prayer, we need the Church, the church community, the body of Christ, we need to support one another. Remember that those who seek the faults of others are doing nothing but the work of the demons. Read the third torment: such people are regarded as Antichrists and we need to beware of them, but we must also say a prayer for them, light a candle for them. God is good and will visit them and soften their hearts and bless them.

God is the One who not only desires that all men “be saved and come to the knowledge” of truth (1 Tim. 2:4), but that it ultimately not just be God’s desire, but ours as well.