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The Byzantine Liturgy


The Byzantine liturgy takes its name from Byzantium, the little Greek colony on the Bosphorus which Constantine made his capital in the year 230. Today the Byzantine (Greek) rite is the most widely used of all the liturgies after the Roman rite. The vast majority of Eastern Catholics are members of this ancient rite, as are most Eastern Catholics in America.

The most common form of the Byzantine liturgy is that of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (d. 407) and Doctor of the Church. Apart from this usage, there is the liturgy of St. Basil the Great (d. 379), offered generally ten times a year, and the liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-594), used twice during Lent, a solemn Communion service like our Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday.

Points in Following the Liturgy

Preparation: Bread and wine for Mass are prepared at left side altar; the priest incenses the main altar and people.

Mass of the Catechumens

  1. The priest begins Mass by uplifting the Gospel book and singing “Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father,” etc. The choir answers “Amen.”
  2. Then follow supplications or short prayers to which the choir answers “Hospodee Pomelou” (Kyrie eleison).
  3. Antiphon
  4. Incaration hymn
  5. Procession with Gospel book around the altar
  6. Collect is sung and then follows the Thrice Holy Hymn, Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
  7. Epistle sung by cantor; alleluia; priest incenses altar and people.
  8. Priest sings Gospel facing the people.

Mass of the Faithful

  1. After sermon, the priest prays aloud for the Pope, hierarchy, congregation and benefactors; the choir sings “Hospodee Pomelou” three times.
  2. The priest prays and then incenses the altar while the choir sings.
  3. The bread and wine are brought to the altar.
  4. The Nicene Creed
  5. Preface, Svyat (Sanctus)
  6. Words of Consecration said aloud and elevation of Sacred Body and Blood
  7. The choir sings, “We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we thank Thee, O Lord, and we pray to Thee our God.”
  8. The choir sings the hymn to the Blessed Virgin
  9. Supplication as before; the choir sings “Podai Hospodee” (Grant it, O Lord).
  10. The Our Father (Otche Nansh) is sung by the choir.
  11. Washing of hands
  12. The priest elevates the Sacred Species and breaks the Sacred Host into four parts. The choir sings, “One Only is Holy, One Only is the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the glory of the Father.”
  13. Communion hymn
  14. The priest having communed himself, he blesses the people with the chalice containing the Blessed Sacrament and carries it to the side altar. Ablutions follow.
  15. Prayer of dismissal and final blessing.

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