The Divine Liturgies used in the Orthodox Church

As it is celebrated today, the Divine Liturgy is a product of historical development. The fundamental core of the Liturgy dates from the time of Christ and the Apostles. To this, prayers, hymns, and gestures have been added throughout the centuries. The Liturgy achieved it's final basic framework by the ninth century.

There are three forms of the Eucharist presently in the Orthodox Church:

  1. The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, which is the most frequently celebrated.
  2. The Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great, celebrated 10 times per year.
  3. The Divine Liturgy of St James, brother of the Lord, celebrated on the Feast of St James (Oct 23).

While the above Saints did not compose the entire Liturgy which bears their names, it is probable that they did author many of the prayers. The structure and basic elements of of the three Liturgies are similar, although there are differences in some hymns and prayers.

In addition to these Liturgies, there is also the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. This is not truly an Eucharistic Liturgy but rather an evening Vesper service followed by the distribution of Holy Communion reserved from the previous Sunday. This Liturgy is celebrated only on weekdays in Great Lent, and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, when the full Eucharist is not permitted because of its Resurrection spirit.

To the Orthodox Christian, the Eucharist expresses the deep joy which is so central to the Gospel.

from The Sacraments of the Orthodox Church,
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

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