The Divine Liturgy (Vol IV, Ch 3, Overview)

From Michael Ruse:

Join us all, both laity and clergy, to participate in an ancient practice of the Church, catechetical instruction given specifically by our very own parishioners at 4:00 p.m., and come to see Vespers at 5:30. 

This chapter will end Part Two. There will be a handful of catechetical presenters in order: Dn. Michael Coleman, Rebekah Galloway, Michael Ruse, John Bell, Polly Thurston, and Seth Hart. We will break down the in-depth content of this chapter page by page. The first group of pages goes from pp.101-129. The major sections include: the Divine Liturgy (its order, form, and meaning), the Proskomedia or Offering and the Prosphora, the Beginning of the Liturgy of the Catechumens, the Little Entrance and the Thrice-Holy Hymn (the “hierarchical liturgy” is explained), and the Liturgy of the Word

The content and layout is incredibly useful for unchurched, catechumens, serious inquirers, as well as Orthodox Christians who grew up in the Church because it reliably outlines with the essential and sanctifying details of the different parts of the liturgy that will be sure to help guide our encounter with Christ in a fuller way at the divine liturgy. 

We will be able to recognize the essential prayers and what they signify, the roles of each participant (priest/bishop, deacon, the people/choir), and some symbolic understanding of what is happening, whether noticed or unnoticed. Metropolitan Hilarion mentions the danger of the liturgy becoming symbolic-reductionism or a dramatic reenactment. Although symbolism is important for understanding some aspects of the divine liturgy, it should recede as we focus more on the reality of the kingdom of heaven and peaceful prayer to God, the Father and Christ, our true celebrant of every divine liturgy. Several particular themes that stand out in relation to the Orthodox divine liturgy are: 1) the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this earth 2) remembering who we should remember, Christ and His life 3) peace because the word “peace” occurs in the liturgy many times, and St. John Chrysostom calls peace itself, “the mother of all good things.”