Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What is the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts?

Each Wednesday (and sometimes on Friday) during Great Lent the Church prescribes a special sort of Liturgy known as the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts. This special Liturgy technically “began” this past Sunday when the Priest consecrated an “extra” Lamb before Holy Communion. During Great Lent, since it is a time the Church refers to penitence, the full Divine Liturgy with it celebratory character and consecration of the Holy Eucharist is considered out of character with the weekdays of Great Lent. Saturdays and Sundays during Great Lent are the days when a full Divine Liturgy can be celebrated. There is just one exception allowed for the Feast of Annunciation which is always celebrated with a full Divine Liturgy.

Although the celebration of a full Divine Liturgy is not in the character of the weekdays, the Church also knows (better than we do if we accept it) that we NEED the Eucharist more during Great Lent than during other times of the year since we are engaged in an intense spiritual warfare during Great Lent. Therefore the Church anticipates our need for Holy Communion and actually prepares Holy Communion in advance during the Sunday Divine Liturgy. This “Presanctified” Holy Communion is placed in a special and dedicated container or covered paten, and reserved for Wednesday.

The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is mostly the Lenten Vespers with the “core” elements of Holy Communion inserted into the service. The Church is normally dark and the music and prayers are soft and subdued to encourage the penitent character of the service. It is a very moving Liturgy that I would encourage all faithful to attend, whether or not you plan to receive Holy Communion. The more time you spend in Church during Great Lent, the more spiritual growth you will experience.

If you plan to receive Holy Communion during the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, you should consult your spiritual father about establishing a fasting rule for you to be properly prepared. For those who do not have a spiritual father, I have outlined what I suggest, and offer here if it is a blessing to you.

No comments: