The Divine Liturgy is a form of communal prayer and worship that is prayed with the purpose of allowing people to come into communion with God. The word “liturgy” is derived from two Greek words: leitos meaning public, and -ergos meaning working. Therefore, the Divine Liturgy is a public worship service that invites the participation of all congregants who attend. It is comprised of a sequence of rites and rituals including prayers, supplications, chants, and scriptural readings. At the height of the Divine Liturgy is the consecration of bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The faithful partake of the Holy Communion to unite with Jesus Christ and with one another.
In a spiritual manner, praying the Divine Liturgy connects the earthly beings with the heavenly beings, and allows us to experience heaven on earth. Furthermore, the liturgy helps us to connect with God on a deeper, more personal level and to feel His love and presence through praises and prayers.
The Coptic Orthodox Church uses three different liturgies written by St. Cyril, St. Basil, and St. Gregory, respectively. The difference between the three is found either in the prayers found in the liturgy, or in the purpose for which it is prayed. Each liturgy, however, has the same breakdown:
- Offering of the Lamb
- Liturgy of the Word
- Liturgy of the Faithful
- Distribution of the Holy Mysteries
Divine Liturgy of St. Cyril
The Divine Liturgy of St. Cyril is the oldest liturgy that is used in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The foundation of this liturgy was written by St. Mark the Evangelist and Apostle, who founded the Coptic Orthodox Church. Despite being written primarily by St. Mark, the liturgy is attributed to St. Cyril, who built on the foundation that St. Mark wrote. The Divine Liturgy of St. Cyril is used primarily during the Great Lent and the during the feasts of St. Mark and St. Cyril.
Divine Liturgy of St. Basil
The Liturgy of St. Basil is written from the perspective of God the Father and is the most commonly prayed liturgy in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Any liturgy that takes place outside of fasting or feast periods is likely to be that of St. Basil.
Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory
The Liturgy of St. Gregory is written from the perspective of God the Son. It is prayed during major feasts and during the feast of St. Gregory.