Thursday, August 14, 2014

St. Nephon's Visions of the Divine Liturgy

Christ and the Holy Angels in the Divine Liturgy (source)
St. Nephon, Bishop of Constantia (4th Century), was made worthy to see many divine visions, with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, through the eyes of his soul.

Once, in a Divine Liturgy, as soon as the liturgist said: “Blessed is the Kingdom..”, the Saint saw fire descending from heaven and cover the Holy Altar, without the priest understanding anything.

Later, when the Trisagion Hymn was begun by the people, four angels descended and chanted together with them.

During the Epistle, the blessed Apostle Paul appeared to direct the reader.

During the “Alleluia” after the Epistle, the voices of the people ascended united towards heaven, like a fiery and tightly-braided rope.

And at the Gospel, every word came out like flames from the mouth of the priest, and ascended to the heavens.

A short time before the entrance of the precious Gifts, the Venerable One straightaway saw heaven open, and an unspeakable aroma surpassing the world pour forth. Angels descended from on high, chanting hymns and doxologies to the Lamb, to Christ and the Son of God!

Then there appeared a totally pure and thrice-blessed Infant!

He was held by the arms of the Angels, who brought Him and placed Him on the Holy Paten, where the Precious Gifts were found. Around Him was gathered a multitude of totally radiant youths dressed in white, who approached His divine beauty with wonder and fervor.

The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world (source)
It was the time of the Great Entrance.

The liturgist approached to take in his hands the Holy Paten and the Holy Chalice, and raised them up above his head, lifting together with them, the Infant.

When the Holy Gifts exited, while the people chanted compunctionately, he saw the venerable angels flying over the liturgist in circles.

Two Cherubim and two Seraphim went before him, and a multitude of other Angels followed behind, chanting unspeakable hymns with rejoicing.

When the priest reached the Holy Altar and placed the Precious Gifts, the Angels covered them with their wings. The two Cherubim stood on the right of the liturgist, and the two Seraphim on his left, without [the priest] seeing them.

The divine mystagogy continued.

They said the Creed, and reached the consecration of the Precious Gifts.

The liturgist blessed them and said: “...changing them by Your Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. Amen.” Then again, the Righteous One saw an Angel take a sword and pierce the Infant, pouring His Blood into the Holy Chalice, while His Body was cut up and placed on the Holy Paten.

Later, [the Angel] returned to his place again, and stood chastely with reverence.

When the liturgist lifted up the Holy [Lamb], crying out: “The Holy Things are for the Holy people of God”, while the people chanted: “One is holy, one is Lord...” one of the faithful approached the Saint and asked him: “Why, O Father, does the priest say: 'The Holy Things are for the Holy people of God'?”

The Saint replied: “He says this for all of us, my child, and it means: to the Holy Members of Christ, may those who are holy approach!”

“And what is holiness, O Father?” the man asked him again, who was very simple.

“If one is dissolute, let him not dare to partake of this great Mystery. If you have made an enemy of anyone, do not approach. If you have made a laughing stock of, or angered, or judged your fellow man, stay far away from Holy Communion. First test yourself, to see if you are virtuous enough to approach, and if you are not, [stay back].”

In the interim, the liturgist cried out: “With fear of God, and faith and love, draw near.”

The Saint then followed all those who communed. Some of their faces turned black as soon as they partook of the Divine Mysteries, while others shone like the sun.

The Angels stood there nearby and followed the Communion with reverence. After every faithful person communed, they placed a crown upon his head.

However, when a sinner approached, they turned their faces in aversion. Then, the spotless Mysteries appeared to disappear from the holy [spoon], so that the sinner might not take within him the Body and Blood of Christ. And the sinner left utterly black...with the disapproval of the Lord spread over his face.

When the liturgy was finished, and the priest consumed the Gifts, then, the Infant appeared whole again above in the arms of the Holy Angels!

Straightaway the roof of the church appeared to split in two. From there the Angels lifted up the Child to the heavens with hymns and doxologies, just like they had brought Him down, and an unspeakable fragrance again filled the whole area.”
(amateur translation of text from source)
Jesus Christ depicted as an Infant on the Paten, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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