Your blessing, Father Christopher.
I hope you had a blessed and joyous Christmas.
Is it possible that the Divine Liturgy may be served twice on the same
day, in the same temple, and on the same altar, but by different
I wish you a happy and fruitful 2013.
Answer to Question 31.
Christ is born!
In many places a second Liturgy in performed on the same day in the same
Church and this is totally acceptable provided certain requirements are
observed. In our parish of St. Andrew we also serve a second Liturgy on
Sundays. The first begins at 6.30am with matins followed by the Divine
Liturgy and ends at 9-9.30am and the second begins at 11am with only the
Divine Liturgy and ends at 12.15am. The reason we have a second Liturgy
is to cater for the many people who cannot attend the first which begins
very early as do all Liturgies in Cyprus. In the past, this early start
was acceptable because people's lifestyles were different: they rose
early from bed, but also went to their beds very early because there was
nothing else to do. Lifestyles have changed considerably. Young people,
especially on Saturdays, stay up with friends till the early hours and
many others work shifts into the night, like doctors, nurses, police,
and many other occupations that need to be manned 24hrs a day so that
the rest of us can live the quality of life we have been accustomed to.
The Church during the second Liturgy is just as full as it is in the
first, but full of young people and young families.
As already said, to have a second Liturgy certain requirements must be
observed. Simply, everything used during the first Liturgy cannot be
used again for the second Liturgy. There must be a second antimension, a
second paten and chalice, a second spoon and lance, a second zeon, a
second maktron and most important a second priest who did not officiate
during the first. In our parish we go all the way and place a portable
altar in front of the main altar so that we don't use the same altar
twice and also a second Gospel Book. In fact everything used for the
first Liturgy is not used again for the second Liturgy.
In my opinion a second altar is a must, but there are many that believe
that if the antimension is changed then this is enough. I think this
happens because we have lost the original meaning of the antimension and
is nowadays just thought of as a portable holy altar. In the early
Church the bishop was the normal celebrant of the Eucharist and the
priests were only his helpers similarly as deacons are today to priests.
A priest could not offer the Liturgy on his own. As the Church grew and
more churches were built, priests were appointed to serve the Liturgy on
behalf of the bishop and as his representative. But there was a danger
that deposed or heretical priests could also offer the Liturgy on their
own, so a system giving authority to the canonical priest had to be
invented. This is where the antimension came into use. It was
consecrated and signed by the Bishop during the Consecration service of
a Church and given to the priest as a letter of authority. The bishop’s
signature on the antiminsion signified the bishop’s permission to the
priest to serve the Liturgy on his behalf. This is why even today we do
not serve the Liturgy directly on the holy altar, even if it has been
consecrated, but first unfold the antimension kept on the altar and
serve the Liturgy on this. Before the Great Entrance with the Holy
Gifts, the priest kisses the icon of the Epitaphion printed on the
antimension, but also the bishop's signature, signifying his recognition
that he serves the Liturgy only as the bishop's representative, although
I wonder how many priests do this without actually knowing why. When a
Metropolitan bishop dies, the new bishop must consecrate many new
antimensia so that all the churches under his jurisdiction can obtain a
new antimension signed with the new bishop's name. The antimension also
has a practical use because it safeguards any particles of the holy body
should they fall from the paten. The particles fall directly onto the
antiminsion and are easily retrieved by the Priest. Today the meaning of
the antimension as the bishop's authority to the priest has been
forgotten and is just considered as a portable holy table where we can
take and use to serve the Liturgy in other places other than the
permanent holy altar. But with this understanding it makes the
consecration of the main altar of no consequence. Yes, we use the
antimension as a portable holy altar but it is not the holy altar, but
rather the permission to the priest to serve the Liturgy. With this
understanding a second altar or table that can be used as an altar must
be used for a second Liturgy. This is not difficult to do and most
churches that offer a second Liturgy have a sanctuary big enough to
allow a small table to be placed in front of the main holy altar and in
places where there is no room, the table can be placed on the solea in
front of the iconostasis. Of course, all this is being strict to the
rule without allowing for economia. I think at all times we should keep
in mind what St Paul says, that “we are not under the law, but under
grace” (Rom. 6: 14), and that “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth
life” (2 Cor. 3: 6).
If there is a need for a second Liturgy then I think this necessity of
offering the Liturgy to people who cannot attend the first Liturgy
outweighs the strictness of rules, especially when the bishop under
whose jurisdiction the second Liturgy is offered has given his blessing.
May God grant you a wonderful New Year 2013
With love in the Newborn Christ