Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy is the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-Rite Catholic eucharistic service. It consists of three interrelated parts: Prayers of Preparation; the Liturgy of the Catechumens, so called because in ancient times catechumens were allowed to attend, also called the Liturgy of the Word; and the Liturgy of the Faithful, so called because in ancient times only faithful members in good standing were allowed to participate. In modern times, this restriction applies only to communication — reception of the sacrament of holy communion.

There are three Divine Liturgies that are in common use in the Eastern Orthodox Church: the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used on most Sundays and holy days of the year; the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, used during the Great Lent and on Christmas, Theophany, and St. Basil's Day; and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, served on weekdays of Great Lent. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is a shortened form of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. Both are based on the earlier Divine Liturgy of St. James the Apostle, which is traditionally attributed to the first bishop of Jerusalem. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is essentially the office of vespers with a communion service added, the Holy Gifts having been consecrated and set aside the previous Sunday. It is traditionally attributed to St. Gregory the Dialogist. The Latin Rite of Roman Catholicism has an analogue in the form of the Mass of the Presanctified, traditionally celebrated on Good Friday.


The format of Divine Liturgy is fixed, although the specific readings and hymns vary with season and feast.