Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Preparing for Illumination

If you are paying close attention during the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts this evening, you are going to notice something different. For the past few weeks, the Litany for the Catechumens included prayers for their continued learning and growth in the faith. Normally, the Litany for the Catechumens includes the following petitions:

  • Catechumens, pray to the Lord.
  •  Let us, the faithful, pray for the catechumens.
  •  That the Lord will have mercy on them.
  •  That He will teach them the word of truth.
  •  That He will reveal to them the gospel of righteousness.
  •  That He will unite them to His holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
  •  Save them, have mercy on them, help them, and protect them, O God, by Your grace.
  •  Catechumens, bow your heads to the Lord.

Beginning THIS week, the Church adds additional petitions.  As we approach Great and Holy Pascha, the day of baptism for the Catechumens, the Church includes ADDITIONAL petitions.

  • All catechumens depart. Catechumens depart. All who are ready for illumination come forward. Pray all of you who are preparing for illumination. Let us pray to the Lord.
  •  Let us the faithful pray to the Lord for our brethren who are preparing for holy illumination and for their salvation.
  •  That the Lord our God establish and strengthen them, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  That He illumine them with the light of knowledge and piety, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  That He may make them worthy in due time of the baptism of regeneration, the remissions of sins, and the robe of incorruption, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  That He may regenerate them with water and the Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  That He may grant them the perfection of faith, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  That He may number them among His holy and chosen flock, let us pray to the Lord.
  •  Those who are preparing for illumination, bow Your heads to the Lord.

It is a good reminder of that our Great Lenten Journey is about preparation for Pascha, and at least in the ancient Church, for Baptism. For those who are already Baptized, it is still more than just preparation for Pascha; it is a period of rededication and recommitment to Christ and His Church. It is for our continual illumination and unification with the Church of Christ. Let’s make the most of it. This week the Church begins to turn up the intensity of our spiritual struggle. Don’t give up, remember the Cross, and if you remain steadfast (see the past couple days) you will be prepared for illumination by Christ and your Pascha candle will shine for all eternity.

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