This past Wednesday I attended the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is held during Great Lent so that Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodox Christian have a second opportunity to partake in the Eucharist other than Sunday’s Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is a service that is unique to the Eastern Rite Catholic (in communion with Rome) and Orthodox Churches. The name of the liturgy is curious but there is a reason for the name. As the name suggests the Eucharistic gifts are presanctified during the Divine Liturgy of the previous Sunday. The reason for this is that the Divine Liturgy where the Eucharist is sanctified is not allowed to be celebrated during the weekdays of Great Lent because the celebration is joyous and is not in keeping with solemn Lenten tradition.
This special liturgy is only celebrated during Great Lent and Holy Week. During Great Lent the liturgy is celebrated on Wednesday and Friday evenings as a solemn evening vespers where the Eucharistic Gifts are administered. It is a beautiful service of constant prayer and many opportunities for the great prostration towards Christ, the Eucharist, and saints. What I love most about this liturgy is that every prayer is chanted and the liturgy opens with chanting of the Psalms in a back and forth manner between the congregants on either side of the chapel or church. It is an amazing experience that stays with you for the entirety of Great Lent.