The Divine Liturgy (Vol IV, Ch 3, pp.155-174)

From Michael Ruse:

John Bell will present the next part on the Divine Liturgy. Previously we covered the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Now we will read about the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the longer of the two liturgies. 

 There are two major topics: the Eucharistic Canon in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and the Change of the Holy Gifts. The prayers of the eucharistic canon are one of the main texts we study, and we start from the ancient belief of the Church that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. 

 We find in the prayers the Trinity’s good will toward us and the many helpful actions done for us such as the giving of the Law, the prophets, holy men and women, and finally Christ himself. All of human history seems encapsulated for us in an offering prayer. We find the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We find mercy and salvation. God who is outside of time and “without beginning” comes to us in time during the liturgy. Naturally, theologians begin to ask when that change happens exactly. Metropolitan Hilarion describes the evolution of that kind of thinking through Western and Eastern theologians like Thomas Aquinas, St. John of Damascus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Nicholas of Cabasilas. In the East, the teaching is that the change happens after the epiclesis, and eastern theologians have taught that trying to find an exact explanation is futile. We should be content to live in the mystery. 

A key point is that no matter which liturgy that is being celebrated today (Roman, the Apostle Mark, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, the Apostle James, St. Gregory the Enlightener of Armenia), they all pray for the change of the holy gifts into the body and blood of Christ. Join us all this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and taste some of the goodness of God in the study of the liturgical prayers of St. Basil the Great.