+Fr. Michael Condos, Three Hierarchs - Champaign, IL | June 1, 2020
Most of us have had the experience when traveling to a place we have previously visited or when returning home after an extended time away, to notice something quite beautiful that we had not seen in the past. As our parishes begin to welcome back our beloved faithful, we have the opportunity to “see” the Divine Liturgy with new eyes.
At the beginning of the Liturgy, as the priest or deacon intones the Great Litany, we will be invited to pray: “For the peace from above; the stability of the Holy Churches of God; and the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.” The meaning of this petition can pass by unnoticed as we have “seen it” many times, yet it is one we truly need in these difficult days that we live in. Now, more than ever, we can see this petition with new eyes!
We know that the word, “Liturgy”, is translated to mean the “work of the people.” There is work for each one of us. It has two dimensions. The vertical - reaching up towards God the Pantokrator; and the horizontal dimension – reaching towards our neighbors. In the petition we are seeing anew, we ask God for His peace with the understanding that we are sent from the Liturgy to go bring peace to others. We ask Him for the stability of the Holy Churches. We know we are the ones who have a unique vocation in our parishes to stabilize them using our loving care for the people who are worshipping alongside us. As we pray for the unity of all, which God alone can bring, each of us receives the invitation to become a peacemaker. We can become spiritual ambassadors of unity in all places where people are suffering and losing hope, and especially now!
This, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, will truly make our experience of the Divine Liturgy dynamic. It will inspire us not only inside our beautiful sanctuaries, but also as we bring God’s peace, stability and unity out into the “sanctuaries” of our communities. Without a doubt, the authors of the Divine Liturgy had this in mind when they composed these prayers.
As we await the gift of the Holy Spirit this coming Sunday, and as we see and experience the Divine Liturgy with new eyes, we ask the Lord’s blessing that we may be able to bring His peace, stability and unity to all. We turn to our Precious Jesus who said: “Behold I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5) We pray He will bring to our world a New Pentecost- a New Outpouring of His Holy Spirit! Many Years!