Below the reader will find my translation of sermon 11 in the series of sermons by St. Seraphim on the Div. Liturgy. May his inspired words of explanation on the Div. Liturgy continue to stir up in us a deeper love for God and a greater zeal to worship Him. (All titles are my own for the purposes of my blog). Previous sermons may be found here.
Below the reader will find a beautiful excerpt from a sermon by St. Sebastian (Dabovich) For Holy Communion. The excerpt is from an old Orthodox Word. In our times, and I would suspect in any times too, it is of great benefit to remind ourselves of the manner in which the Saints speak about the Holy Mysteries and the area in which they are offered. Indeed, it is more than evident that the almighty grace of God sanctifies not only the gifts of the Eucharist but also the place, the temple, in which they are offered. This sanctification, according to St. Sebastian, is greater than what transpired with Moses at the burning bush on Sinai.
The second part of the Divine Liturgy bears the name, “The Liturgy of the Catechumens.” It is named thus because catechumens – those preparing to receive holy baptism – are permitted to be present while it is served. Besides catechumens, Jews and pagans [unbelievers] could be present at this portion also, if they desired to hear the service. In ancient times this whole section of the Liturgy took place in the middle of the church [the nave]. In those days, there were not yet set prayers because from the mouths of the faithful worshippers sprang forth fiery hymns and brief prayerful sighs, from which later our [current] songs and litanies were composed.
Below the reader will find a sermon by one of the few American-born Orthodox saints, Sebastian Dabovich (1863-1940). The sermon was originally printed in the 1966 September – October issue of the Orthodox Word, pp. 129-132. All end notes are from the original article.V
The Russian Orthodox Church requires anyone who desires to receive Holy Communion to have prepared themselves with confession, the pre-communion prayers, and having abstained from food or drink from midnight on. Most of the world’s Local Orthodox Churches hold to this standard, recognizing that the clergy, as guardians of the Mysteries, must make sure anyone who approaches the chalice is Orthodox, and properly prepared. The requirement that one be a member of the Orthodox Church before approaching the chalice relates to the fact that communion is the outward expression of having all things in common, in faith and worship. Receiving Holy Communion is the fruit of unity.
My friends, if you are asked, “Who are you?” How would you answer? Answer in this way – a Christian! Yes – Christian – what an honorable name. For this name the first Christians did not spare even their own lives; for this name the martyrs received terrible sufferings, even unto death. What delineates a person with the title of Christian from everything else? [Communion in] the Life-creating Chalice. A Christian – out of all the peoples of the world – is one who receives of the Divine nature of Christ the Savior.((Cf. 2 Peter 1:4)) A Christian partakes of Communion at the Divine Liturgy – this is why he must treasure the Liturgy beyond measure. I tell you again, count the day as lost in which you were not able to be present at the Divine Service. For it is the Divine Lampada, lit by Christ the Savior Himself; it is the diamond purchased with His very Blood.
Our laziness and misplaced priorities regarding the Sunday and holy day services, keep us from our obligations to God, and endanger the soul, for in keeping ourselves away from God’s temple, we remain afar from the cure that comes from participating in the Divine Mysteries. Saint Gregory Palamas tells us that we “may remain uncured, suffering from unbelief in your soul because of deeds or words, and failing to approach Christ’s surgery to receive… holy healing”.
– O Lord, I am no one. Just a blind beggar in the outer court. I have no eyes to see, I have no wealth by which to live. I am forgotten and despised by men. Have mercy on me. Illumine my eyes, O never setting Light of the world.
Restore in me the inner eye of the soul, which I have lost through sin and death.
And the hand of God took earth and mixed it with His saliva and made clay. He breathed into it His Life and anointed me with earth and the moisture of His Grace. Go and wash in the waters of Life, the waters of the Him who was sent into the world by the Father, the Light of the world, the Living Water, the Great Siloam.