In our Byzantine journey this week, Henry was actually out of town for a cross country invitational, so it was just Anne and I heading to Divine Liturgy. As we settled into our pew, I reflected again that my favorite part of this whole journey East is the language of the liturgy itself. I also love the beeswax candles, the iconography and all of the new saints and traditions I'm learning about, but the liturgy has my heart. One of my very favorite moments in the liturgy is the Prayer before Holy Communion:
I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.
Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not tell Your Mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief, I confess to You:
† Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.
† Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom.
† Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your kingdom.
May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be unto me not for judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body.
† God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
† God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
† I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.
And after we return from receiving Our Lord, the first words spoken are:
Priest: Save Your people, O God, and bless Your inheritance.
Choir: We have seen the true light. We have received the heavenly Spirit. We have found the true faith. We worship the undivided Trinity for having saved us.
I noticed this past week that at one point, one of the pages in my little Eastern missal stuck to another one, and as I flipped to the "next" page, I immediately recognized that what I was looking at could not possibly be the words we were to speak next. We were missing important material! Then I saw that a ripped page in my missal had caused the snag, and it all made sense. I'm actually starting to memorize portions of the liturgy, and it's feeling more and more comfortable to participate in it. It's a lovely feeling.