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14. The Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts


The Eucharistic Divine Liturgy is not celebrated in the Orthodox Church on Lenten weekdays.

In order for the faithful to sustain their Lenten effort by participation in Holy Communion, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served. The service is an ancient one in the Orthodox Church. We officially hear about it in the canons of the seventh century, which obviously indicates its development at a much earlier date.


The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is an evening service. It is the solemn Lenten Vespers with the administration of Holy Communion added to it. There is no consecration of the eucharistic gifts at the presanctified liturgy.


Holy Communion is given from the eucharistic gifts sanctified on the previous Sunday at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, unless, of course, the feast of the Annunciation should intervene; hence its name of "presanctified".


The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served on Wednesday and Friday evening (or on Wednesday evening and Friday morning), although some churches may celebrate it only on one of these days. It comes in the evening after a day of spiritual preparation and total abstinence.


The faithful who are unable to make the effort of total fasting because of weakness or work, however, normally eat a light Lenten meal in the early morning.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is traditionally considered to be the work of the sixth-century pope, Saint Gregory of Rome. The present service, however, is obviously the inspired liturgical creation of Christian Byzantium.



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Page created: 19-3-2013.

Last update: 19-3-2013.