Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Eucharist as an Anticipation of the Last Things

According to St. Maximus the Confessor, the eschatological character of the Divine Liturgy is demonstrated right from the beginning, at the opening of the Liturgy when the bishop and presbyters go up to the synthronon [the raised seats behind the altar], an action which images the enthronement of the Lord at the Father’s right hand, bringing human nature with him. After that, the Gospel reading ‘indicates the end of the world’. The dismissal of the catechumens images the future judgement. The beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful images in advance the entry of those who are worthy into the bridal chamber of Christ. The kiss of peace ‘prefigures and portrays the concord and unanimity and identity of mind that all will leave with each other in faith and love at the time when the ineffable good things are revealed, through which those who are worthy receive intimate familiarity with the Word of God'. The Offering of the Eucharist is performed as an expression of the gratitude of the just for the divine gifts they enjoy in the Kingdom of God. The triumphal hymn ‘indicates that union and equality of honor with the bodiless and intelligible powers which will be manifest in the future'. The Lord's Prayer ‘is the symbol of the real and living adoption which will be given by the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit’. Finally, the reception of Holy Communion ‘indicates the adoption which through the goodness of our God will come about in every way upon all who are worthy, the union and intimacy and divine likeness and deification’.