by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Before I left the Holy Monastery I found an opportunity in a discussion to ask him [Elder Sophrony] about the Divine Liturgy, and he presented me with the basic teaching about it.
– “The Priesthood is not given to man as a reward for virtues, but as a gift for the edification of the Church. Someone becomes a Priest in order to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and to sanctify the people. Also, the Priesthood has a social significance, since he will deal with the construction of the church and the suffering of the Christians. So he also needs these qualifications, besides the spirituality.”
– “The Divine Liturgy occurred one time forever. It has eternality. Every time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, we rise up to its height. If we live some aspects of the Divine Liturgy, then we will understand its greatness, as happened with St. Seraphim of Sarov who saw angels coming to the church during the Small Entrance. We follow the Divine Liturgy, because we do not live it, or until we live it.”
– “The Divine Liturgy teaches us to live with the heart. By celebrating the Divine Liturgy we keep the command of Christ: ‘Drink this in remembrance of Me’ (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). That’s why we say: ‘Remembering this saving command….’ This is not a psychological fact, but spiritual. Thus, every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we are obedient to the word of Christ, and we penetrate the Divine Mystagogy in the Liturgy of Christ.
What God did once, remains now forever. This happens with the Divine Liturgy. One time Christ celebrated it in the Upper Room with the Mystical Supper, and this remains forever. The Christian, depending on the sacrifice he makes and his infiltration of Grace with this ‘spirit’ of the Divine Liturgy, receives Grace from God, and is purified of the passions. The Divine Liturgy in its perfection is the supplication and prayer for the entire world. This is the so-called royal officiation-priesthood. Thus, man reaches the end of the age. He does not wait for the day of the Lord, but this day of the Lord comes to him. So by Grace he becomes timeless.”
From I Knew A Man In Christ: The Life and Times of Elder Sophrony, the Hesychast and Theologian (Οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῶ: Βίος καὶ πολιτεία τοῦ Γέροντος Σωφρονίου τοῦ ἡσυχαστοῦ καὶ θεολόγου) by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou.
Translation by John Sanidopoulos.