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Benediction and Dismissal

After giv­ing thanks to God for his gift of Holy Com­mu­nion, the peo­ple are com­mand­ed by the cel­e­brant of the litur­gy to depart in peace. They respond to this com­mand with the words: In the Name of the Lord.

A final prayer is read in the cen­ter of the Church, or at the icon of Christ, called the ambo prayer, in which the priest asks God’s bless­ing and peace upon all of his peo­ple, the Church and the world. In this prayer the believ­ers also affirm with the Apos­tle James that “every good gift and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of Lights” (Jas 1:1 7). Fol­low­ing this prayer which gives God “glo­ry, thanks­giv­ing, and wor­ship,” the peo­ple sing three times: Blessed be the Name of the Lord hence­forth and forever­more.

At this point the pas­tor of the com­mu­ni­ty nor­mal­ly makes his announce­ments, greets his peo­ple and gives them his own per­son­al bless­ing. The final bene­dic­tion of the Divine Litur­gy is then pro­nounced fol­low­ing the excla­ma­tion of glo­ry to Christ as “our God and our Hope.”

The final litur­gi­cal bless­ing is the bless­ing of Christ. It always begins on the Lord’s Day with ref­er­ence to his res­ur­rec­tion from the dead. On oth­er days oth­er ref­er­ences may be made to some sav­ing aspect of the Lord’s per­son and work. In this final bene­dic­tion the mer­cy and sal­va­tion of Christ, the Lover of Men, is called down upon his peo­ple through the inter­ces­sions of the Theotokos and Ever-vir­gin Mary, and by the prayers of the saints of the day, the saint whose litur­gy is served, the saints of the par­tic­u­lar church, as well as all oth­er saints espe­cial­ly ven­er­at­ed by the local com­mu­ni­ty, such, for exam­ple, as St. Her­man of Alas­ka in the Amer­i­can Church.

After the final bene­dic­tion, the peo­ple ven­er­ate the Cross held by the cel­e­brant, and receive pieces of the bread from which the eucharis­tic offer­ing was tak­en at the begin­ning of the litur­gy. This bread is called the anti­doron which means lit­er­al­ly “in place of the gifts”, since it used to be giv­en only to those who did not actu­al­ly receive Holy Com­mu­nion at the litur­gy. Today usu­al­ly all of the peo­ple take pieces of this bread for them­selves, as well as for oth­ers absent from church.

The act of dis­missal in the Divine Litur­gy is as much a litur­gi­cal and sacra­men­tal action as was the orig­i­nal act of gath­er­ing. It is the final crit­i­cal step of the entire move­ment of the litur­gy. In their dis­missal from the litur­gi­cal gath­er­ing, the Peo­ple of God are com­mand­ed to go forth in peace into the world to bear wit­ness to the King­dom of God of which they were par­tak­ers in the Litur­gy of the Church. They are com­mand­ed to take every­thing that they have seen and heard and expe­ri­enced with­in the Church and to make it alive in their own per­sons with­in the life of this world. Only in this way can the pres­ence and pow­er of the King­dom of God which is “not of this world” extend out of the Church and into the lives of men.

Those who have seen the True Light, who have received the Heav­en­ly Spir­it, who have found the True Faith at the litur­gy of the Church; those who have par­tak­en of the holy, divine, immor­tal and life-cre­at­ing mys­ter­ies of Christ, become com­pe­tent to make the very same procla­ma­tion and tes­ti­mo­ny that was made by the apos­tles and by all true Chris­tians in every age and gen­er­a­tion. It is for this rea­son that the Church of God and its Divine Litur­gy exist.