Monday, November 28, 2011

The Litany of Supplication & the Cherubimic Hymn

continuing the series on the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom:

After the Sermon, the priest begins the litany:
PRIEST: Let us all say with our whole soul, and with our whole mind, let us say:
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST: Lord Almighty, God of our fathers, we pray You, hear us and have mercy.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST: Have mercy on us, O God, according to Your great mercy; we pray You, hear us and have mercy.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times).

PRIEST (silently): Accept, O Lord our God, this fervent prayer from Your servants and have mercy on us according to Your great mercy, and send down Your benefits upon us and upon all Your people, who expect from You abundant mercies

PRIEST: Again we pray for His Holiness, our universal Pontiff N . . . Pope of Rome, and for our most reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan N . . . , for our God-loving Bishop N . . ., for those who serve and have served in this holy church, for our spiritual fathers, and for all our brethren in Christ.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

PRIEST: We also pray for our civil authorities and for all the armed forces.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

Special intentions may be added here.

PRIEST: We also pray for the people here present who await Your great and abundant mercy, for those who showed us charity, and for all Christians of the true faith.

PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy. (3 times)

PRIEST: For You are a merciful and gracious God, and we render glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

PRIEST: All we faithful, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

Priest (silently): We thank You, O Lord God of Powers, for having deemed us worthy to stand, at this time, before Your holy Altar, and to prostrate ourselves before Your mercy, for our sins and for the people's misgivings. Accept our prayer, O God, and make us worthy to offer to You prayers and supplications, and unbloody sacrifices for all Your people, and enable us, whom You have placed in this Your ministry through the power of Your Holy Spirit, to call upon You at all times and in all places, without condemnation and offense, with a pure testimony of our conscience, that hearing us, You may be merciful to us according to the magnitude of Your goodness.

Priest (silently): Again, as so many times before, we fall down before You and entreat You, O gracious Lover of mankind, that You may regard our supplication, cleanse our souls and bodies from every defilement of flesh and spirit, and grant that we may stand blameless and without condemnation before Your Holy Altar. Grant also, O God, to those who are praying with us, betterment of life, faith, and spiritual understanding. Grant that they may serve You always with fear and love, that they may blamelessly and without condemnation partake of Your Holy Mysteries, and become worthy of Your heavenly kingdom.

PRIEST: That being ever protected by Your power, we may render glory to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

Priest (silently): No one who is bound by carnal desires and pleasures is worthy to come to You, to approach You, or to minister to You, the King of glory, for to minister to You is great and awesome, even to the heavenly powers themselves. Yet, because of Your ineffable and boundless love for mankind, though in nature unchanged and unchangeable, You became man and were made our high priest and, as Master of all, gave Into our keeping the holy office of this liturgical and unbloody sacrifice. For You alone, O Lord our God, rule over all things in heaven and on earth, and are borne on the cherubic throne, and are the Lord of the Seraphim and King of Israel, Who alone are holy and dwell in the saints. Therefore, I beseech You, Who alone are gracious and ready to hear me; look favorably upon me, Your sinful and unprofitable servant, and cleanse my heart and soul of an evil conscience, and by power of Your Holy Spirit, enable me, clothed with the grace of the priesthood, to stand before this Your holy altar, and offer the sacrifice of Your sacred and most pure body and precious blood. With bowed head, I approach You and implore You, turn not Your face away from me, nor exclude me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant; for it is You, O Christ, our God, Who offer and are offered, who receive and are received, and to You we render glory, with Your eternal Father, and Your all holy, gracious and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and for ever. Amen.

Priest raises up his hands and silently says the Cherubimic Hymn 3 times.


PEOPLE: Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now set aside every earthly cares...

The Cherubimic Hymn is what prepares us for the portion of the Liturgy dedicated to the consecration of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. We sing the hymn to remind ourselves to set aside all worldly cares because we are about to witness an act that is other-worldly. Like the 'Holy, Mighty and Immortal' hymn earlier in the Liturgy, this is also a time when most of the people will sing. But what does it mean?

We "represent the cherubim"?  Aren't we only human? Isn't it too much to say that we believers are acting the role of the Cherubim during the Liturgy? What are cherubim anyway? As angels, they were created to praise God; specifically, cherubim were the guardians. So, if we "represent the cherubim" we are to praise God during the Liturgy and always and also stand guard or stand witness. This can be a very tall order when the little ones are wiggling by this point, but this is the goal. 

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