Revista Studii Teologice


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Semnificaţia pomenirilor şi a rugăciunilor de mijlocire din cadrul Sfintei Liturghii

The significance of remembrance and intercession prayers during the Holy Liturgy


The Holy Liturgy is the mystery of God’s presence among people, it is the sole and full Theophany, heaven on earth, the jubilation of creatures due to their Creator, the transfiguration of the entire cosmos through man, the foretaste of the afterlife and the icon of the Kingdom of Heaven. Every moment of the Holy Liturgy, this Mystery of God’s dwelling within and among people, is accessible to humanity thro-ugh this material world, through acts, gestures, words that gradually reveal to those attending the Liturgy, the presence of Christ among his new chosen people. Thus, patristic Tradition emphasizes that the Church uses a number of visible, symbolic means, in order to initiate and introduce the human person into the sacramental mystery, taking man from the mere physical sight to spiritual contemplation, to the ineffable experience of Christ’s presence in Church worship. Among the visible litur-gical acts involving the worshippers directly in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacri-fice, a very important one is the remembrance of names during the Holy Liturgy. Byzantine theology views the liturgical memorial firstly as God’s „remembering” people due to His Son’s sacrifice, and this divine „remembrance” performed in the Liturgy in worshippers’ liturgical acts, constitutes the substance of Christian faith and the new life imparted to the Church. In their worship Christians remember God’s wonders and providential intervention in the history, as a response to the divine „remembrance”, attention, care and presence, which are revealed in all ecclesial acts.
Thus the memorial worship act is simultaneously commemoration, presence, and anticipation. According to the divine commandment, it commemorates the salvi-fic, redemptive, revelatory work of the living, personal God, engaging the threefold dimension of history: past, present and future. Remembrance brings both past and future to the present, hence the explicit commandment the Saviour at the Mystical Supper: «This do for my remembrance» (Luke 22, 19). This anamnesis in which the liturgical memorial is thus rooted, must be interpreted in a Palestinian rather than Hellenistic sense: «τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν» means not «so that you remember Me», but most likely: «so that God may remember me» – that is, Christ and His disciples. The anamnesis is not to be seen as an exhortation to the disciples to remember Jesus, but as an eschatologically-oriented command addressed to the dis-ciples who were requested to continue to observe the Eucharistic ritual as a new community of love, thus beseeching God through the sacrifice of His Son to fulfill His redeeming economy in the Church. This significance of the anamnesis is also revea-led by the Byzantine Eucharistic Anaphora, addressing Father in the name of the Son through the Holy Spirit, for God «remembers» the crucified, resurrected and ascended Christ, since He perpetually sends the Holy Spirit, to make Him pneumati-cally present until His second coming.
Church worship enables man to participate in all the events of Lord Jesus Christ’s life, by sharing everything He his deified humanity experienced, through the Holy Mysteries. This is possible only by virtue of sacramental as well as ascetical in-corporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, the Church. In the living Person of the Saviour, all the events of His earthly life are contained and ever-present, and through the descent of the Holy Spirit they become present and actual for all those who remember and celebrate them during every Holy Liturgy. In their present act of worship the faithful reach communion with Christ through chanting and prayer, becoming His contemporaries along His way on earth, or rather, He becomes their contemporary along His way. This journey where Christ accompanies us in Church worship is a mysterious reality brings to the hearts of all Church members the joy of every feast during the church year.
The Holy Liturgy is a mystical exchange of gifts between God and man. It is not only God who remembers His people and bestows His great mercy through Christ’s pure sacrifice, but Christians also remember God extolling Him, thanking Him for every act in the economy of salvation, for His coming, presence and activity within the Church. This loving dialogue between man and God encompasses the entire cosmos, the entire humankind. Thus during the Holy Liturgy all saints and Christians, both living and dead, are remembered by name. The named received on the Baptism makes Christians aware of their personal responsibility and the need to be constantly engaged in a loving dialogue with other persons. The name belongs to the person, who is called and aspires towards communion with both God and the fellow people. The name is not only a concentrated expression of one’s qualities, but also an expression of one’s uniqueness, and to utter a person’s name is to touch its very concrete uniqueness. A person’s name is power, it is energy through which peo-ple can communicate, it is a bridge across any temporal or local distance. This is why when the Church addresses God through its visible servants, He is certain to res-pond, for names’ remembrance triggers a circuit of loving communion. Thus during the Holy Liturgy, as prayer of the entire Church for the entire Church, remembrance of names is greatly significant.
The ritual of the Proskomedia, complete by the 11th century, expresses Church awareness that the sacrifice of every faithful is personally assumed by Christ in His own sacrifice and thus brought before the Father. By rememering names and placing the particles next to the Lamb, personhood is preserved in the offering which maintains a distinct, personal character. On the holy Diskos, during the Proskome-dia, the entire Church – the triumphant one in heaven and the militant one on earth – gathers around the sacrificed Lamb, Who conveys and imparts His own sacrificial state and thus brings the Church to the Father as an extension and the fruit of his offering. Christ’s sacrificed Body carries the sacrifice of the Church as well, bringing it to the Father in a personal manner, at the same time united to His sacrifice and distinct from it. The particles placed on the Holy Diskos do not become the Saviour’s Body and Blood, for they represent those Church members who are remembered by name during the Proskomedia, to show that all those gathered around the Lamb partake of the gifts of His Sacrifice. The saints are now in heaven, attending the Liturgy of eternal trinitarian love, and perpetually offer themselves together with Christ to the Father, as they did during their earthly lifetime. On the other hand the living faithful, who are still bound to their bodies in this world, can also take part in this eternal offering brought by Christ to the Father, by joining their own offering to that of the heavenly Lamb through the visible liturgical ritual, by which Christ des-cends and offers His sacrificed Body and Blood and thus brings to the Father all those who believe in Him, as pure sacrifice. Thus the particles cut out for the saints represent their mystical commending to God, to whom they dedicate all their spiritual victories as fruits of His sacrifice; other particles are cut out for the living and the dead, in order to enable those still on their way to the Kingdom of Heaven to know, taste and share in the dynamics of perfect, selfless love of the Holy Trinity.
According to Romanian Hieratikon, names’ remembrance performed during the Proskomedia, which accompanies the faithful’s offering, is prepared by two inter-cessory prayers, one on behalf of the living and the other on behalf of the dead. The prayer for the living, borrowed from the Litya litany, begins with an intercession formula for «the remission of sins committed by all our brethren in Christ», going on to list a number of needs of the community and various categories of believers: the travellers, the sick and suffering, those who do good works, etc., which express the purpose for which name are remembered. The prayer for the departed, based on the canon for the dead, sung on the days of general remembrance, intercedes «for the remembrance and remission of sins of those reposed in the Orthodox faith». They are remembered into categories, in a particular order, from our kins and relatives to church founders, benefactors, donors, celebrants and supporters of the holy place of worship, church hierarchy and heads reposed in the Lord. Remembrance by name of the departed concludes with an intercessory prayer for all the faithful who died a Christian death, having prepared themselves by receiving the Eucharist.
During the Holy Liturgy, Church intercession started at the Proskomedia culminates in the Holy Sacrifice. The special supplications (ektenias or litanies), which are dialogical prayers, the Church continues to express in detail the final purpose of the offering that accompanies our supplications. Our offering makes part of Christ’s one, and we are represented by His side through the particles cut out for us, and bring all our needs before our Saviour. To express concern with community as well as individuals, the Church also makes special petitions for «various necessities in life», ordered according to the structure of the Holy Liturgy and included in the final part of the Hieratikon. For every need in particular (e.g.: drought, excessive rain, jour-neys, disease, etc.) a special petition is uttered during the Proskomedia as well as the Great Litany and the Litany of Fervent Supplication.
The Church concludes and crowns the names’ remembrance with a supplicati-on for general intercession, during the Anaphora, known as the prayer of diptychs. It includes two distinct elements: on the one hand, a number of petitions following the Eucharistic epiclesis, and on the other hand, the diptychs proper, that is, the remembrance of the names of both living and dead, an element inserted in this prayer of petition that follows the transubstantiation of gifts. It is not known when and how this remembrance of names was added to the Eucharistic Anaphora, but the history of the Holy Liturgy indicates that after the Proskomedia was placed at the beginning of the Eucharistic synaxis (5th-6th centuries) the remembrance of names uttered aloud, during this ritual, continued to be placed in some liturgical traditions (such as the East-Syrian and the Maronite one) before the Anaphora, that is, in the place originally held by the Proskomedia, while in other traditions (the Byzantine, Antiochian and Jerusalemite ones) they were introduced into the Eucharistic canon, in the prayer after the epiclesis, being „attached” to the petitions for the needs of various categories of worshippers, uttered after the transubstantiation of gifts.
Remembrance of names is a central element of Orthodox worship. The Church thus asserts that the person, as well as interpersonal communion, are fun-damental to the Christian faith. It is only as a person that one can experience com-munion with God and one’s fellow people, and it is only as a person and in communi-on with other persons, that one can partake of Christ’s sacrifice at the supper of Heavenly Kingdom.

Pagini: 13-26