My apologies - this one is going to run a little long(ish). The central prayer of the Divine Liturgy of the Faithful is called the anaphora (from the Greek for “offering up”), and it’s actually a bunch of prayers in a very specific sequence that we follow through as priest and congregation in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. James. It’s been this way since roughly 400AD and includes 11 parts as follows:
1. The opening dialogue between the priest and the congregation, beginning “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you” (I’m turned to face y’all at this point, blessing out from the Royal Doors).
2. The preface, which is invariable in the Eastern liturgies, sets forth the governing idea of the anaphora – thanksgiving. “It is meet and right ….”
3. The pre-Sanctus is the transition from the preface to the Sanctus.
4. Sanctus (Latin for “Holy”) refers to the thrice-Holy hymn of victory: “Holy! Holy! Holy! ….” (this comes from the Prophet Isaiah 6: 1-5)
5. The post-Sanctus continues the thanksgiving of the preface, but with particular focus on the Incarnation: “With these blessed powers….”
6. The institution narrative recounts Christ’s institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper: “… who, when he had come and fulfilled all the dispensation for us, in the night in which he was given up….” The narrative includes his words over the bread and wine – “This is my body…” and “This is my blood….”
7. The anamnesis is the recalling before God of the saving acts of Christ: “Remembering this saving commandment and all those things which came to pass for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious Coming again.”
8. The offering of the sacrifice to God: “Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all.”
9. The epiclesis is the calling down of the Holy Spirit on the Gifts to transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ - How this takes place is a Mystery of God, and we do not try to explain it scientifically or give the process a specific name like transubstantiation.
10. The intercessions begin with the commemoration of the saints, including the singing of the Megalynarion (that’s the one that begins, “it is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos” unless another, festal version is prescribed for that day), followed by intercessions for the living and those who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
11. The doxology is the concluding praise of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that precedes the Amen of the people.
And then we’re ready for Holy Communion… but there are several more elements of the Divine Liturgy to get through before we actually partake.