The Presanctified Liturgy, also called the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is a special service that is most often performed during Lent. In this service, the gifts are sanctified in advance. The point of the service is so that the people can partake of these gifts without creating the need for the priest to consecrate them during the service. Here’s more information.
During a special portion of the Divine Liturgy, the bread and wine are mystically changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In other words, they are sanctified or consecrated. Both “sanctify” and “consecrate” can be used interchangeable. In fact, according to Webster’s dictionary, sanctify means, “set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.” The two words are synonyms.
The Sunday before the Presanctified Liturgy is to occur, the priest consecrates additional gifts so that the faithful can receive them during the special liturgical service during the week. He then sets them aside and stores them in a safe location for later use. Often, churches will have a special Pyx, or the communion chalice, that is only used for the reserved portion.
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is most often performed on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. However, it can be performed at other times, usually on feast days. Churches, however, aren’t required to hold this service both days. It is perfectly okay to only do it once a week during Great Lent. Check with your local Greek church for the specifics of when they do this service.
During Great Lent, Orthodox Christians are focused on preparing their bodies and minds for Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a somber and reflective period of fasting and repentance with the ultimate goal of spiritual renewal. Since the Divine Liturgy is viewed as a celebration, the church restricts it to Sundays through the duration of Great Lent. Other times throughout the year, however, it is acceptable to have a Divine Liturgy service during the week. The Prasanctified Liturgy offers us a way to receive Holy Communion during the week without engaging in the celebratory Divine Liturgy service.
The Presanctified Liturgy is a unique and beautiful service that makes full use of the church’s cantors. The basic structure is that it contains the daily vespers, special prayers, and Holy Communion. There are also several Bible reads, most of which come from the Old Testament. The daily vespers usually include a reading from Psalms, as well as special hymns and prayers.
The process for preparing for Holy Communion during a Presanctified Liturgy is exactly the same as when you receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. However, since most of us engage in a period of fasting and prayer, we’ve already prepared our body to receive the gifts. Outside of Great Lent, we usually need to make a conscious effort to prepare for Holy Communion.