On Wednesday evening of the Second Week of Great and Holy Lent, in an atmosphere of Lenten solemnity, His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea officiated at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at the Church of Sts Constantine and Helene in Perth WA. The service was conducted entirely in the English language and well attended by the faithful.
The Presanctified Liturgy is a vesperal liturgy conducted only on weekdays during the Lenten period. The service is called a “Presanctified Liturgy” because the Eucharistic gifts are consecrated during the Divine Liturgy on the previous Sunday. Dark colours adorn the Church and dark vestments are worn by the clergy during the service.
In his sermon at the end of the service, His Grace Bishop Elpidios discussed four points about the Presanctified Liturgy. Firstly, His Grace discussed the fact that the Presanctified Liturgy first appeared in the canons of the Church in the 7th century. However, we know that it was in fact celebrated long before this time as a means of the faithful being able to partake in Holy Communion during the weekdays in Lent when the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated.
Secondly, he highlighted to the faithful the way in which the priest chants aloud during the service, “Wisdom. Arise. The Light of Christ enlightens all.” This is chanted in-between the two Old Testament passages from Genesis and Proverbs respectively which are read during the service. This reminds us of the way in which God reveals Himself to human beings through the scriptures and how the faithful receive enlightenment from the Word of God.
Thirdly, His Grace discussed briefly the communion hymn which is chanted during the service, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” This reminds us about the crucial role played by our senses during the liturgical worship services, including our sense of taste which is engaged through the partaking of the Holy Eucharist.
Finally, His Grace followed on from this point to demonstrate how all five of our senses are engaged during the divine services. Our sense of sight through the icons in the Church; our sense of hearing through the chanting; our sense of smell from the burning of incense; our sense of touch through the veneration of relics, icons and the hand of the priest; and our sense of taste through Holy Communion.
His Grace concluded by thanking the faithful for their attendance and wished everyone a blessed Lenten journey reminding all that this journey commenced on Clean Monday and will lead us into Great and Holy Week.