In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

Last week we began speaking about the Liturgy with the opening exclamation – “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.” This week we’ll continue forward by looking at the Great Litany. Elder Sophrony said that even though most of us may never attain to pure and perfect prayer, that the prayer of the Liturgy is truly hypostatic prayer. The prayer of the Liturgy is prayer for salvation of the whole world. We see this demonstrated very clearly in the Great Litany. Looking at the Litany also offers us the perfect opportunity to explore a little bit the concept that we spoke of on the first Saturday of our talks about the Liturgy – praying with the Liturgy.

“In peace let us pray to the Lord.” We desire to pray to God in peace, interiorly at peace with ourselves, and with others and with God – when we’re truly at peace we have only one thought at any given moment, and our one thought during the Liturgy is to pray to the Lord. We begin by praying for peace, and not only our own peace, but we continue in the second petition: “For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.” We could say enormous amounts about any of the petitions, an entire homily on each, but during the course of these homilies we’ll just touch on a few ideas, and you can continue to explore the meanings on your own. These opening petitions bring to our mind not only a prayer for worldly peace, but also our Lord’s words that we should have no quarrel with our brothers when we come to offer our worship to God. As the priest intones these petitions, it offers us the chance to pray for anyone that we might have struggles with, and many people also pray for various difficult situations throughout the world (Egypt, Iraq, etc). We also pray here for our salvation, a prayer that we’ll repeat constantly in the Liturgy – a pray that we be united to Christ.

“For the peace of the whole world, for the good estate of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all men, let us pray to the Lord.” We continue here very much in the same vein as the first two petitions, praying for the peace of our world and for the union of all men. As our Lord prays to the Father, all of mankind is to be one – we’re to love our brother as ourself, to carry the burden of the other, to exist in harmony and in unity. “I pray Thee that they be one as We are One.” Again, the perfect place to continue remembering the people in our lives. We also pray for the holy churches of God, the churches throughout the world, that they exist in peace and remain firm in the faith. This offers us the opportunity to remember those people and those places where Christians are persecuted today.

“For this holy house, and for those who with faith, reverence and fear of God enter herein, let us pray to the Lord.” We move then to pray for our parish specifically, and for all of those people who come here to worship God. We ask God’s special blessing on those who come with faith in Him, with reverence, and with the proper fear of God. We come here to worship, not to fulfill a duty or an obligation, and not as simply part of a weekly routine. We come to the Church to offer our lives to God, and praise Him in all things. Again, this offers us a place to remember in our hearts those people we love, especially people who are part of our community here at Holy Resurrection.

One final litany for today – “For our (enter bishops’ names here), for the honorable presbytery, the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.” We go from praying very specifically for our parish to a more general prayer, still a prayer for the Church. We pray for the leaders of the Church in the world, and actually for our bishop particularly. In the OCA we pray for the Metropolitan, and we pray for the bishop of our diocese. If you happen to be in a service where a bishop is serving, he also prays for his brother bishops. At this particular time in the life of our OCA, this offers us all a chance to lift up a prayer to God for a bishop for a godly bishop for our diocese, and to fill the Metropolitan see as well. We then move on to pray for the clergy of the Church – for the priests and the deacons specifically, and also for “all the clergy and the people.” We really are praying again for everyone. As we mention the clergy in the litany, you might notice that the clergy in the altar acknowledge each other at this time, and all of us can bring to mind our parish priest and remember him before God in prayer.

Next week we’ll continue with the Great Litany.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson