Potluck Dinner follows the Liturgy in the Parish Hall, all are welcome. Please bring a Lenten dish to share if you are able and enjoy dinner together during these Wednesdays of Great Lent. The life of Saint Mary of Egypt will be read during dinner this evening.
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is an evening service to help sustain the faithful in their Lenten effort by participation in Holy Communion. It is the solemn Lenten Vespers with the administration of Holy Communion added to it, however, there is no consecration of the eucharistic gifts at the presanctified liturgy. Holy Communion is given from the eucharistic gifts sanctified on the previous Sunday at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, hence its name of “presanctified.”
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served on Wednesday and Friday evenings, although some churches may celebrate it only on one of these days. It comes in the evening after a day of spiritual preparation and total abstinence. The faithful who are unable to make the effort of total fasting because of weakness or work, however, normally eat a light lenten meal in the early morning.
During the psalms of Vespers, the presanctified gifts are prepared for communion. They are transferred from the altar table where they have been reserved since the Divine Liturgy, and are placed on the table of oblation. After the evening hymn, the Old Testamental scriptures of Genesis and Proverbs are read, between which the celebrant blesses the kneeling congregation with a lighted candle and the words: “The Light of Christ illumines all,” indicating that all wisdom is given by Christ in the Church through the scriptures and sacraments. This blessing was originally directed primarily to the catechumens—those preparing to be baptized on Easter—who attended the service only to the time of the communion of the faithful.
After the readings, the evening Psalm 141 is solemnly sung once again with the offering of incense. Then, after the litanies of intercession and those at which the catechumens were dismissed in former days, the presanctified eucharistic gifts are brought to the altar in a solemn, silent procession. The song of the entrance calls the faithful to communion:
"Now the heavenly powers do minister invisibly with us. For behold the King of Glory enters. Behold the mystical sacrifice, all fulfilled, is ushered in. Let us with faith and love draw near that we may be partakers of everlasting life. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia."
After the litany and prayers, the Our Father is sung and the faithful receive Holy Communion to the chanting of the verse from Psalm 34: “0 taste and see how good is the Lord. Alleluia.” The post-communion hymns are sung and the faithful depart with a prayer to God who “has brought us to these all-holy days for the cleansing of passions,” that he will bless us “to fight the good fight, to accomplish the course of the fast, and to attain unto and to adore the holy resurrection” of Christ.