Byzantine Prayer Before Holy Communion

I attended my first Byzantine Mass the other night and was struck by this beautiful prayer:

Prayer Before Holy Communion

O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.

Accept me today as a partaker of Your mystical Supper, O Son of God, for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief, I profess You.

Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom.

Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your Kingdom.

Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your Kingdom.

May the partaking of Your holy mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body.

O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your Most Precious Body and Your Life-Giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.

O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy of me.

Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number.

I would like to share my observations. We can see similarities with the Latin Rite prayers, with some interesting differences. I don’t think anyone can say the above “Prayer Before Holy Communion,” and receive Our Blessed Lord unworthily. This prayer effectively accomplishes 3 things:

  1. A profession of faith. This takes away any doubt about the Real Presence.

  2. Acknowledgment of one’s unworthiness and contrition for sins. This should hopefully prevent any sacrilege and prepare us to receive with proper humility.

  3. An appeal to God’s mercy and acceptance prior to the consummation of Holy Communion. This extends from the spirit of humility. We are asking for His agreement before entering into this most sacred union.

I was impressed with this Mass and would definitely like to go again. Does anyone have anything else to share on their experience of the Byzantine Mass?

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The Byzantine Divine Liturgy is probably the best of all the liturgies of the Church. I get amused when Latin traditionalists gush over the traditional Roman Mass as “Mass of Ages” (that’s an eye-roller for me), and “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.”

My retort to that is, no. As beautiful the Roman Extraordinary Form/traditional Mass is, “The most beautiful thing this side of heaven” is the Byzantine Divine Liturgy.

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You may be right, but I’m not comfortable taking sides. I’d like to see the beauty in all the rites. :grin:

Oh I am (“comfortable taking sides” on this question at least). Yes, I do see beauty in all the rites, and as a Latin myself, I have a deep appreciation for the inherent simplicity of the Roman Rite, traditional and modern. I am grateful for it, especially the availability of a modern Divine Office in the vernacular that’s very accessible to laity.

But there is also something objective about it, and sorry to say, for all the beauty of the Roman Rite properly celebrated, it does not beat the aesthetic quality and exuberance of the Byzantine Rite celebrated in a Byzantine church.

There is a reason Russia and Ukraine are Byzantine and not Roman.

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One can still be unworthy even after that prayer.

Also in the Divine Liturgy (Byzantine) is this prayer in the Anaphora:

Celebrant: Moreover, we offer to you this spiritual and unbloody sacrifice; and we implore, pray, and entreat you: send down your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts lying before us.

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*We did not know whether we were on earth or in heaven, for there is no such splendor to be found anywhere upon earth — describe it we cannot: we know only that it is there that God dwells among men."

Source: Raya, Abp. Joseph & de Vinck, Baron Jose. Byzantine Book of Prayer. 1976, Pittsburgh, PA: Byzantine Seminary Press in conjunction with Alleluia Press, p. 635.

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This is adapted from what the priest says in distributing Holy Communion:

“The servant of God (name) receives the Most Holy and and Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ for the remission of his (her) sins and life everlasting.”

Afaik, it is only in the Ruthenian version of the Divine Liturgy. The UGCC version does not have it.

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I think you are right. The Melkites don’t have it either.

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That is such a beautiful prayer.

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I wish we did. I love saying it when I visit a Ruthenian church.

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This prayer is so beautiful and so emotive that I’ve burst into tears reciting it during Divine Liturgy.

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I love this quote (every time I see it) and it really is how I (a Latin) feel about the Divine Liturgy.

Yes a beautiful prayer, I have been attending a Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church exclusively for the past couple of months, and one thing that I love, that this prayer in particular points out is the personal relationship one forms with their priest in a Byzantine Catholic Church, In the larger Latin Catholic Church’s (that I’ve attended) Ordinarily everyone does not form such a relationship (First name basis) with the priest.

I also love the traditional form of confession at Byzantine Catholic Churches, in front of an icon of Christ the teacher, It makes the experience so much more personal.

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I don’t mind doing the traditional form of confession as long as it’s just Father & me (obviously social distancing for now). When other people are around, I prefer going into the confessional. I don’t want anyone else hearing my sins.

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Oh yes I absolutely agree…

…the only way I have ever seen it done is one on one, Father and me (others were present in the church just at a great distance), that is not to say it hasn’t been done other ways elsewhere.

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I don’t see it in The Pontifical Sacred And Divine Liturgy of Our Holy Father John Chrysostom
for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, 2006

http://stbasilseminary.com/wa_files/Pontifical_20Divine_20Liturgy_20ENG.pdf

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I don’t see it in the Melkite Ad Experimentum version of The Divine and Holy Liturgy of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople, from the Eparchy of Newton, 2010.

https://melkite.org/faith/faith-worship/new-english-translation-of-the-divine-liturgy

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Weird - I’ve always heard at at Orthodox churches (Greek, Ukrainian, Russian, OCA)

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My priest says it and we’re UGCC.

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True, but afaik only in the Ruthenian version do the laity say that as part of the Prayer before Holy Communion.

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Certainly the priest says it, but in the official UGCC version of the Divine Liturgy, we don’t say it as part of the Prayer before Holy Communion while the Ruthenians do.

Here’s the Anthology:

Click on “Sample Pages”, scroll down to page 16 (page 251 in the Anthology), and you’ll see that it is not part of the Prayer before Holy Communion for the laity.

Now here’s the Ruthenian version as per the OP:

May the partaking of Your holy mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body.

O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your Most Precious Body and Your Life-Giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.

O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy of me.

Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number.

The Ruthenian version inserts that paragraph before the Prayer of the Publican “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” It’s not in the UGCC version.

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