Saturday, May 05, 2007

Preparation for Communion, East and West

One of my modest projects ("modest" because of my modest time and talents) is to demonstrate the overarching similarities of the Eastern and Western Rites. Along these lines, we've examined Holy Week devotions, Propers for the Nativity of the BVM/Theotokos, Prayers of Thanksgiving, depictions of the Christ Child and the Last Judgment, and even fasting. Today, we examine the prayers of preparation for Holy Communion. (I'm posting this on a Saturday by design.)

The priest and/or the people pray:

In the Latin tradition:In the Byzantine tradition:
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who, by the will of the Father and cooperation of the Holy Ghost hast, by Thy death, given life to the world, deliver me, I beseech Thee, by this Thy most holy Body and Blood, from all iniquities and from every evil. Make me ever obedient to Thy commandments, and suffer me not to be ever separated from Thee, Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the same Spirit, God, throughout all ages of ages. Amen.I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen.
Let not the participation of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, albeit unworthy, presume to receive, be to me for judgment and condemnation; but by Thy goodness may it be a safeguard and remedy both to soul and body, Who, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen....Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.

P (Elevating the Host). Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him that takest away the sins of the world.

All. Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

P (Elevating the Lamb).
Holy Things are for the holy.

All. One is Holy. One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. (occurs earlier in Liturgy.)

This is an overview; in both rites, the priest and people pray additional prayers (both during the liturgy and even the day before), which are in some cases more similar than these. However, these are the immediate, parallel prayers of preparation for communion in each of the Eucharistic liturgies. Due to my modest time (and talents), we focused on these to compare apples with apples and see...they're both apples!

One aside
: In the Antiochian Liturgy of St. Gregory, the priest prays these prayers (e.g., "Let not the partaking of Thy Body, Lord Jesus Christ"), then later the people pray the Byzantine variants next to them. (e.g., "Not unto judgment"). Given the high overlap, one wonders if it would not be more appropriate for the people to instead pray the historical, Western collect, at least in the second case — as the Western version is actually longer. :)

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