Thursday, June 08, 2006

Melkite Rite of Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Following up on our discussion of Benediction and Eucharistic devotion, I am grateful to a friend who posted this text online: the service of Benediction for the Melkites. Although Benediction is a Western/Latin devotion, it is interesting to see an Antiochian-based Byzantine tradition adopt it with its own Eastern sensibility.

BENEDICTION OF THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT

The Eucharistic Sacrifice is an offering and a meal uniting man in a unique way with Christ the Saviour. This special union with Christ sets man in the only right direction, leading him out of himself far beyond the closed circle of his earthly life, and giving him back to his Creator. The holy and divine Liturgy celebrates our return to the Father through Jesus Christ: for the Son has become a way for man, the way of return, and not a stopping place. This dynamic movement is indeed unfolded in the mystery of the Eucharistic celebration in which the Christian is preeminently brought up and restored to the Father. The Eastern Church, particularly attached to the dynamic aspect of the work of redemption, has not always understood the Roman development of the cult of the Blessed Sacrament, that is, reverence for the static presence of Christ. Yet, the development of this devotion to the presence of Christ in the Consecrated Host is legitimate. It became popular with the Melkites in the days of Patriarch Maximos Hakeem in the 18th century.

The purpose of this devotional service is to express faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, to request his blessings, to offer Him reparation for the Sins of the world and to give thanks to Him for his favors and especially for the favor of his body and blood as food for our souls.

The priest, standing before the holy table, begins aloud:

BLESSED + is our God, at all times now and always and for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

While the priest incenses the Blessed Sacrament, the people say:

Let the Armies of heaven be present, and all the hosts of the holy angels. Let them stand with fear before their Creator and God, deeply worshiping Him who is most good, Jesus. He who is feared by the Cherubim is present now, in an invisible manner, hidden under the sensible species. We see Him, and we see Him not, for He is the visible and invisible God.

-Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory to You, O Lord!

The priest: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory to You, O Lord!R. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory to You, O Lord!Together: O our God and our Hope, glory to You!

Together: O our God and our Hope, glory to You!

While the people are chanting the last Alleluia, the priest incenses. At the end of the chanting, the priest blesses with the covered holy Host saying:

May God the Father bless you, + He who saved us through the Incarnation of his beloved Son.

R. Amen.

- May God the Son bless you, + He who gave us the admirable Sacrament of his love.

R. Amen.

- May God the Holy Spirit bless you, + He who sanctified us by his awe-inspiring descent.

R. Amen.

- Glory be to the holy, consubstantial, life-giving and indivisible Trinity, now and always and for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

The priest places the covered Host on the holy table and incenses it while the people say:

IT IS INDEED a tremendous miracle to see God taking flesh and becoming man, and a greater miracle still to see Him suspended on the cross. But the highest of all miracles, O Christ our God, is your ineffable presence under the mystic species. Truly You did institute, through this great Sacrament, a remembrance of all your marvels. How merciful of You, O God, to give Yourself as food to those who fear You! To recall your covenant forever, and to remember your passion and your death until the day of your glorious coming! Let us, O faithful, receive our food and our life, our King and our Saviour, and cry out: "Save, O Lord, those who worship your glorious and venerable presence."

The priest replaces the Host in the tabernacle, while the people recite the

HYMN TO CHRIST IN THE HOLY EUCHARIST

CHRIST, having loved his own, loved them until the end, and gave them his body and blood as food and drink. Therefore let us adore them with veneration and say with fear: "Glory to your presence, O Christ! Glory to your compassion, glory to your condescension, O You who alone are the Lover of Mankind!"

The priest: Glory to You, our God! Glory to You!

- O Christ, our true God, O You who gave us your body and your blood as food and drink for our salvation, through the intercession of your Mother all-pure and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us! Amen.

Together: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ, our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

From Byzantine Daily Worship, ed. Joseph Raya and Jose de Vinck. (Allendale, New Jersey: Alleluia Press, 1969), pp. 402-404.

(Hat tip: Dan at York Forum)

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