Musings from a Grateful Convert by Roger Hunt — What’s So Divine About The Divine Liturgy? — Part 3: The Journey Begins

Oct 29, 2017 Comment(s) Tags: ,

[Blogger’s note: Unless otherwise indicated, items in quotation marks are from For the Life of the World by Fr. Alexander Schmemann]

“Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages!”

Amen.

How many of us are still thrilled at these opening words intoned by the Priest or Bishop? This opening phrase clearly states our destination—“the journey is to the Kingdom,” not symbolically, but in reality. The Kingdom is “the end of all our desires and interests, of our whole life, the supreme and ultimate value of all that exists.” It is the ultimate destination of all life.

The “Amen” above is the Church’s response in solemn response to the opening doxology. This is truly momentous: “for only in Him can we say Amen to God, or rather He Himself is our Amen to God and the Church is an Amen to Christ.” “Amen” shows that “the movement toward God has begun.”

In view of this doxology and response, it is incumbent on us to enter into this journey with fear and reverence, without carnal or temporal encumbrance. In the vernacular of the Old West, “Check your guns at the door.” (maybe a more appropriate phrase would be “Dispose of them in the dumpster outside”.) We will see that these earthly cares need to be laid aside when we get to the part of the Divine Liturgy known as the Great Entrance.

Let us remember that we are the ecclesia, the Church, “to whom the ultimate destination of life has been revealed and who have accepted it.”

Reality check: Have we accepted this destination, this Kingdom?

Therefore, the Divine Liturgy is truly litourgeia, literally from the Greek, the work of the people. This certainly builds the case that all should be part of the vocal response and not just the Choir.

Many of us converts come from traditions where congregational response is a given for the hymns, but there remains no further practice of the intoned “Amen” and other vocal responses, and these responses will be discussed in our next installment in this series, the Great Ektenia (Litany).

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