It is You Who offer and You Who are offered.
This morning I concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church for the first time since my priestly ordination, having been away from Toronto - and thus away from the parish - for nearly two months. Today was the Feast of the Transfiguration according to the Old Calendar, so I also had the opportunity to offer the traditional Blessing of First Fruits at the end of the liturgy. I noticed again this morning, as I had before my ordination but even more so in the weeks since, that some of the most striking words in the liturgy come in the "private" prayers meant to be recited sotto voce by the priest. What caught me with particular force today was this prayer read quietly by the priest during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn, a prayer entirely suitable for the "great and awesome" task to which the priest is called:
No one who is bound to carnal desires or pleasures is worthy to approach You or to draw near to You, or to minister to You, O King of Glory. For to serve You is great and awesome, even to the heavenly powers. And yet, because of Your love for mankind — a love which cannot be expressed or measured — You became man, unchanged and unchanging. You were appointed our High Priest, and, as Master of all, handed down to us the priestly ministry of this liturgical and unbloody sacrifice. You alone, O Lord, our God, have dominion over heaven and earth. You are borne on the throne of the cherubim: You are Lord of the seraphim and King of Israel; You alone are holy and rest in the holies. I implore You, therefore, Who alone are good and ready to listen: look upon me, Your sinful and useless servant; cleanse my heart and soul of the evil that lies on my conscience. By the power of Your Holy Spirit enable me, who am clothed with the grace of the priesthood, to stand before this, Your holy table, and offer the sacrifice of Your holy and most pure Body and precious Blood. Bending my neck, I approach and I petition You: turn not Your face from me nor reject me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant. For it is You Who offer and You Who are offered, it is You Who receive and You Who are given, O Christ our God, and we give glory to You, together with Your eternal Father and Your most holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.Good wishes to all. AMDG.