The following prayer is recited by the faithful at Divine Liturgy (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; Liturgy of St. Basil the Great) prior to reception of Holy Communion (Eucharist).
As you carefully read the words, you will see this prayer is a profound declaration of our belief in Jesus Christ and His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
It is also a prayer of humility and repentance before God, expressed with contrite petitions for forgiveness and mercy.
O Lord, I believe and profess that you are truly Christ,
The Son of the living God, who came into the world
To save sinners of whom I am the first.
Accept me today as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God,
For I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies,
Nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas,
But like the thief I profess to you:
Remember me, O Lord, when you come in your kingdom.
Remember me, O Master, when you come in your kingdom.
Remember me, O Holy One, when you come in your kingdom.
May the partaking of your Holy mysteries, O Lord,
Be not for my judgment or condemnation,
But for the healing of my soul and body.
O Lord, I also believe and profess, that this,
Which I am about to receive,
Is truly your most precious Body, and your life-giving Blood,
Which, I pray, make me worthy to receive
For the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
O Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number.
After receiving Holy Communion we affirm our faith once more in singing these words:
We have seen the true light
We have received the heavenly Spirit
We have found the true faith
and we worship the undivided Trinity
for the Trinity has saved us.
Preparation of bread and wine for Holy Communion in the Byzantine Catholic Church
The priest prepares the holy gifts of bread and wine on the Table of Preparation or Oblation, a side altar to the left of the main altar behind the icon screen. This very special part of the liturgy is called the Liturgy of Preparation (or also Proskomedia). It happens before the main part of the Divine Liturgy.
The priest prepares the bread (prosphora) for Holy Communion. It is a small round leavened loaf stamped on the top with a square seal: a cross surrounded by the Greek letters IC XC NI KA. The letters stand for Jesus Christ conquers. The priest cuts the square portion of seal using a symbolic liturgical spear. This cut portion is called the Lamb. In addition to saying prayers based on Scripture during this entire initial part of the liturgy, the priest prepares other portions of the prosphora that are cut and arranged symbolically in a specific pattern on a diskos (liturgical plate). These include: a small triangular portion in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Theotokos); nine particles in honor of the heavenly hosts and other particles commemorating members of the church and faithful, both living and dead. The Lamb together with all the particles represent the Universal Church and Kingdom of God. The liturgical wine is also prepared with a small amount of water added to symbolize the blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ on the cross when he was pierced by a soldier. The diskos and chalice are covered with liturgical cloths. During the part of the Divine Liturgy called the Great Entrance the gifts are blessed again with incense and in procession with the deacon and altar servers, brought to the main altar by the priest.
The prepared gifts are consecrated during the part of the Divine Liturgy called the anaphora (note: this link takes you to the website of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute, Pittsburgh). The priest says the words of Institution that Christ spoke during the last supper with his apostles (“…do this in remembrance of Me”). In the Byzantine Catholic church, the transubstantiation is completed during the epiclesis, the prayer in which the priest invokes the Holy Spirit to change the elements of bread and wine to the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is the most solemn and holy part of the Divine Liturgy.
For more details on the parts of the Divine Liturgy CLICK HERE to see a full description on the website of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.
† Image of chalice above: portion of stained glass window present in St Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Swoyersville; credit: 1974, Baut Studios, Swoyersville, Pa.