St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Priest Musings

Why we should be present when the Divine Liturgy Begins?
by Fr Roberto Ubertino

I understand that for families with young children getting to church can be a big challenge and I do not want to add more stress to parents’ lives. For families with children a certain “economy” is permitted. However, I have noticed in many parishes, and ours is no exception, that even people without children come late and then proceed to receive Holy Communion. This is happening not because people do not love the Liturgy or are just lazy. We have accepted this “innovation” because we have lost the sense of the priesthood of all believers. We see the Divine Liturgy as basically a clergy “thing”.


Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh addressed this question in the best way. Please take a few minutes to reflect on his words.


“The Liturgy is celebrated by the whole body not by the ministers alone. And this is why I have said more than once that no-one should come and receive Holy Communion who has not been present from the beginning of the of the service – unless of course a major impediment intervenes. Because otherwise he is not making the Liturgy. If someone arrives half-way through the Liturgy and claims to have Communion, he is treating the Liturgy as though it were a restaurant in which various cooks are preparing the meal: he comes when he has time and claims his portion.


This is very important: we must recover the notion that the laity includes the clergy. And in that case the different members of the ordained ministry will have their own proper place in the building of the Church.”


“The Living Body of Christ” (pp 127/8) Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh


In the original usage of the Church in Constantinople the people would already be gathered in the church waiting for the entry of the clergy. We need to grow in this understanding that it is the whole church that celebrates the Divine Liturgy and that includes each and all of us.

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