In the upcoming weeks we will be turning our attention to the Divine Liturgy. In the bulletin we will be excerpting articles which help explain this central liturgical event.
The articles come from the magazine KANA (Dec., 2016) and offer us various perspectives. If you have your own questions about the Divine Liturgy, please send an email to Fr. Myroslaw and we will try and answer them in an upcoming bulletin.
So what is going on in the Divine Liturgy?
Sometimes you’ll come to Church and there are so many people there; the priest is singing his parts and the choir theirs. Some people are murmuring, others are silent. To my right, an older woman is praying the rosary. Near the confessional, some are arguing about who is last in line and the priest has been trying the last half hour to deliver his homily.
Yes, there is something going on here – but what? I want something to happen, but all I see is down-turned heads. What am I doing here? If you have experienced some of this, you are not alone.
That’s why we had a conversation with Maksym Tymo, a liturgist, theologian and lecturer at UCU, about why should we be at this Divine Liturgy and what happens here.
Perhaps we can begin by having you just generally explain what the Divine Liturgy is.
Talk about the Divine Liturgy usually centres on the idea that it’s important and we need to participate.
Supposedly its meaning is obvious. I hear this all the time: in theological circles and in churches.However, we don’t usually consider the meaning of what is central to us, as people. For example a lot is said about love, we sing about love, but we have a problem when we try to define the nature of love.
It is similar when it comes to the Liturgy. In our UGCC, and perhaps in Christianity generally, many people attend services, but how many of us understand the Liturgy?
First, before we can bring about change, we need to shift the Divine Liturgy out of the category of obligation. We must revive the early Christian understanding of the Liturgy, as the source of our lives.
I am not saying that there was a time when the Liturgy was ideal and now it is problematic. But it is a historical fact that from the 4th century, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, something very serious changes in the understanding of the Liturgy: it moves from being an essential element of life to an obligation. And I would say this continues today.
Of course, the Church, in making it an obligation, wanted to help. It wanted the baptised to participate in something that is essential for life. But by making Liturgy an obligation much became deformed.
If I were to describe the Liturgy in one word, I would say that the Liturgy is a “celebration”. A celebration of what is most important for the Christian: their life in God; a celebration of salvation given by Christ; all that we have and have received as gift. And there must be some ritual to assist us in coming to recognize this and to regularly experience it anew.