Some Notes on the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Noah and the ArkIn the early Church, it was thought that the solemnity with which the Church celebrated the Holy Forty Days Fast did not mesh so well with the incredibly joyful and triumphant nature of the Eucharistic Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy. So at the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364) the celebration of the full Divine Liturgy was restricted to the Saturdays and Sundays of the Great Fast. To enable the faithful to communicate the Divine Eucharist on weekdays the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts developed. Customarily, the faithful would fast from all food during the daylight hours and then, near the end of the day, join together to pray Vespers. Following Vespers the Eucharist – which had been consecrated the previous Sunday – was distributed. In some places the Presanctified Eucharist was distributed daily, but over time the custom arose of celebrating the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts only on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent (plus a few other special days).

The Scripture readings at the Presanctified are from Genesis and Proverbs. From Genesis each year we learn all over again about the creation of the world, the fall of man, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, God’s covenant with Abram, Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham being put to the test, and then about Joseph and his brothers. From Proverbs we are taught the practical wisdom for living the moral life. While always profitable for the Believer these lessons date to the time when those preparing to be enlightened in Baptism attended the Vespers part of this liturgy. During the second half of Lent there are special petitions for those “ready for enlightenment”.

In current practice many of the melodies used to sing the texts of the Presanctified are set in a minor key, and this makes the service notably different from the festal celebrations of the Divine Liturgy on Saturdays and Sundays.

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First Prayer of the Faithful at Presanctified

O God, great and worthy to be praised, Who through the life-giving death of Your Christ has transferred us from corruption to incorruption: Deliver all our senses from deadly passions, setting over them our inner being as a sure guide. Let our eyes be blind to every evil sight; let our ears be deaf to idle chatter; and let our tongue be cleansed of unbecoming speech. Purify our lips which praise You, O Lord. Make our hands abstain from evil deeds and do only those things which are pleasing in Your sight. By Your grace strengthen our bodies and our minds. For to You belongs all glory, honor and worship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.


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Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Scripture

May 20, 2018
Pentecost - Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
- Vespers: Numbers 11:16,17,24-29, Joel 2:23-32, Ezekiel 36:24-28
- Matins: John 20:19-23
- Liturgy: Acts 2:1-11, John 7:37-52; 8:12

First Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Feast of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:8b-19, Matthew 18:10-20
- Tuesday: Romans 1:1-7,13-17, Mathew 4:25-5:13
- Wednesday: Romans 1:18-27, Matthew 5:20-26
- Thursday: Romans 1:28-2:9, Matthew 5:27-32
- Friday: Romans 2:14-29, Matthew 5:33-41
- Saturday: Romans 1:7-12, Matthew 5:42-48

May 27, 2018
First Sunday After Pentecost: Sunday of All Saints
- Vespers: Isaiah 43:9-14, Wisdom 3:1-9, Wisdom 5:15-6:3
- Matins: Matthew 28:16-20 (Gospel 1)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 11:323-12:2a; Matthew 10:32;33,37,38;19:27-30

Second Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Romans 2:28-3:18, Matthew 6:31-34; 7:9-11
- Tuesday: Romans 4:4-12, Matthew 7:15-21
- Wednesday: Romans 4:13-25, Matthew 7:21-23
- Thursday: Romans 5:10-16, Matthew 8:23-27
- Friday: Romans 5:17-6:2, Matthew 9:14-17
- Saturday: Romans 3:19-26, Matthew 7:1-8

June 3, 2018
Second Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: Mark 16:1-8 (Gospel 2)
- Liturgy: Romans 2:10-16, Matthew 4:18-23

Feasts & Fasts

May
3 - National Day of Prayer
6 - Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Man Born Blind)
10 - Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
13 - Seventh Sunday of Pascha (Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council)
19 - Fifth All-Souls Saturday
20 - Pentecost - Descent of the Holy Spirit
21 - Feast of the Holy Trinity, Victoria Day (Canada)
27 - All Saints Sunday

May 28 - June 28 - The Apostles' Fast

28- Memorial Day (USA)

June
24 - Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
29 - The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter & Paul

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

As long as the flesh is in full health, let us observe abstinence at all times and in every place. When it has been tamed (which I do not suppose is possible this side of the grave), then let us hide our accomplishment.

St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent,
STEP 14: On That Clamorous Mistress, the Stomach