An Explanation of the Bread, Wine, and Water Offering at the Proskomedia Service Before the Divine Liturgy
by St. Germanus of Constantinople
from his commentary On the Divine Liturgy, translated by Paul Meyendorff, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984, p. 71.
The bread of offering [offered by our prosfora bakers], which is purified, signifies the superabundant riches of the goodness of our God, because the Son of God became man and gave Himself as an offering and oblation in ransom and atonement for the life and salvation of the world He assumed the entirety of human nature, except for sin. He offered Himself as first-fruits and chosen whole burnt-offering to the God and Father on behalf of the human race, as is written: 'I am the bread which came down from heaven,” and 'He who eats this bread will live for ever' (Jn. 6:51). About this the Prophet Jeremiah says: 'Come, let us place a stake in his bread' (11:19 LXX), point to the wood of the cross nailed to His body.
The piece which is cut out [of the loaf] with the lance [by the priest] signifies that 'Like a sheep He is led to the slaughter, and like a lamb that before its shearer is dumb' (cf. Is. 54:7).
When our family came to Orthodoxy nearly seven years ago, we were often asked by worried Protestants whether or not we still believed in “the Trinity.” This always dumbfounded us, until we remembered that few, if any, of these questioners had ever attended an Orthodox liturgy. How could they know? How could they know that beginning with “Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Trinity is mentioned – and worshipped – more often in a single service than occurs in a month of Sundays elsewhere. We appreciated their concern, but assured them that our beliefs about God were most definitely still Trinitarian.
This past Super Bowl Sunday, however, caused me to reflect on the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in a new way. On that day, February 5, 2012, my son, John, was ordained a priest at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. During the Divine Liturgy, shortly after the Great Entrance, Father Steven Mathewes and Father Gregory Hogg led John in front of the altar and down into a kneeling position, presenting him as a candidate for ordination to the priesthood of the Holy Orthodox Church. Father Gregory Hogg: that would be my husband, and John’s biological father.
by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, April 1983
On the Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast, the Orthodox Church honors the memory of Our Righteous Mother, St. Mary of Egypt, the prototype of St. Mary Magdalena who repented of her sins and became a deeply dedicated ascetic, going into the Egyptian desert and living there the rest of her life in piety and in prayer, offering prayers of repentance to Christ and of intercession for the people of the world. She is commemorated by the Church as an example for all of us. The life that is exemplified by people like St. Mary of Egypt, while carried to the ultimate of asceticism and almost a super monasticism, should be kind of a pace setter for those of us of the Orthodox Faith who usually make exceptions of things.
For example, this morning I was admonishing a young man who was talking in Church, and he asked, “What’s the difference! It isn’t important!” This seems to permeate our attitude until finally nothing seems to make a difference. It doesn’t make a difference if we fast, if we pray, if we go to Church regularly; and what’s the difference if we go to the hospital to visit the sick or simply send a fifty cent get well card or ask the relatives of the sick person, how that person is getting along. What’s the difference? The life of St. Mary of Egypt as the lives of all the great ascetics say there is a difference because these people have been glorified by God. Their memories live. Mary of Egypt lived centuries ago. The events of her life have long since been absorbed into history and yet here we are hundreds of years later talking about her because the virtue of her asceticism, the beauty of her understanding that it does make a difference in our commitment and devotion to Christ that her memory has indeed become eternal.