And now the third section of the Divine Liturgy, which forms the climax of our worship, the Liturgy of the Faithful.
After the dismissal of the catechumens, the faithful continue in prayer toward the high point at which the mystical sacrifice will be accomplished. When we say, “mystical sacrifice,” we mean the timeless sharing in the once and for all sacrifice of Christ Himself. He is the one high priest; “there is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.” This priesthood of Christ is mystically visible in the presidency of the bishop or priest at the Holy Table. That is why we adorn him with very decorative vestments, to obscure his human personality and to show forth his divine ordination to serve as the very hands of Christ.
After a series of litanies in which petitions are offered “for all men…with uplifted hands” (I Timothy 2), the solemn offering is made. The bread and wine, prepared earlier, now are taken up and placed on the Holy Table. With very great compunction of heart, the faithful join with the celebrant in remembering the saving life, death and resurrection of the Lord, including His command to “Take, eat” and to “Drink.” The celebrant calls down the Holy Spirit upon the “people here present” and upon the gifts, remembering the saints and all the faithful. The faithful then join in saying the Lord’s Prayer together, and with other prayers all make ready the chamber of the heart and body to receive Holy Communion. After the Precious Gifts are distributed to all, with concluding prayers the dismissal is said and all “depart in peace.”
Thus, we have presented an overview of the entirety of the Divine Liturgy, the highest, noblest, most sublime act of worship ever practiced by mankind. The Liturgy is the product of divine revelation and has remained stable and deeply rooted among the faithful for 2,000 years. As we now look more carefully into its details, let us resolve to learn it, to be formed by it, and to pray it all the days of our lives, until we lay down our body at the end. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”