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.


Teachings of Christ

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica