The Divine Liturgy is the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern-Rite Catholic eucharistic service. It consists of three interrelated parts:
- Prayers of Preparation;
- the Liturgy of the Catechumens, so called because in ancient times catechumens were allowed to attend, also called the Liturgy of the Word;
- and the Liturgy of the Faithful, so called because in ancient times only faithful members in good standing were allowed to participate. In modern times, this restriction applies only to communication — reception of the sacrament of holy communion.
There are three Divine Liturgies that are in common use in the Eastern Orthodox Church:
The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is a shortened form of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. Both are based on the earlier Divine Liturgy of St. James of Jerusalem, which is traditionally attributed to the first bishop of Jerusalem, James the Just (not to be confused with James, brother of Saint John the Evangelist), and which is celebrated once a year on his feast day. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is essentially the office of vespers with a communion service added, the Holy Gifts having been consecrated and set aside the previous Sunday. It is traditionally attributed to St. Gregory the Dialogist. The Latin Rite of Western Catholicism has an analogue in the form of the Mass of the Presanctified, traditionally celebrated on Good Friday.
The format of Divine Liturgy is fixed, although the specific readings and hymns vary with season and feast.
- Preparatory. "In Peace let us pray to the Lord"
- Lesser Entrance. Entrance of the procession, the Holy Angels, and the Gospel.
- Troparia and Kontakia hymns (commemorations of specific saints and Scriptural events, as appropriate to the liturgical calendar and local custom).
- Trisagion hymn. (thrice-Holy)
- Epistle Reading.
- Gospel Reading.
- Homily (may be given after Holy Communion instead)
- Litany of Fervent Supplication. "Let us say ..."
- Litany of the Catechumens.
- Two short Litanies of the Faithful.
- Greater Entrance. Procession of the bread and wine from the proskemedia (side table) to the altar. Choir chants invocation as participants become spiritual representatives (or icons) of the Holy Angels.
- Petitions. "Let us complete our prayer to the Lord"
- Symbol of Faith: the Nicene Creed.
- Thanksgiving -- The Eucharistic Canon
- Pentecostal Invocation. Calling down the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Gifts (bread and wine).
- Commemoration of Saints and Theotokos.
- Commendations (Remember O Lord).
- Lord's Prayer.
- Holy Communion. Request for Sanctification, Ceremony of sanctification and preparation, communion.
- Exit. "We have seen the true light."