Vespers & Matins
The Holy Testament
IN the night in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ entered willingly into His Passion, having loved His own unto the end, He bequeathed to His Church through the blessed Apostles an everlasting Testament:
TAKE EAT, THIS IS MY BODY. TAKE DRINK, THIS IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD, GIVEN AND SHED FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. THIS DO FOR A COMMEMORATION OF ME.~drawn from Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul.
This eternal and most Holy Testament which is now celebrated by the Church unto the end of the age is the mystery of faith, for with these words of the Testament, the august sacrifice and fruit of our redemption wrought at Calvary is made present for us each Lord’s Day upon the Altar. Indeed, St. Paul instructs us that “as often as we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim the Lord’s Death until He comes.”
The Catechism further confesses with the catholic Church throughout the ages that the bread and wine at the consecration are the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the veil of earthly things for He Himself has spoken thus. Therefore, the commemoration which our Lord commands us to make is not mere symbolism but a true and ever present reality of spiritual and heavenly gifts within this material world. Just as under the Old Covenant, God established a memorial for the redemption of His People, He has now granted unto us this most solemn and sacred gift. Cf. Psalm 111
The Holy Communion is the highest act of adoration of the Divine Service of the Church as we, with repentant and contrite hearts, take by faith those precious words in which Christ gives to us the gift of our redemption in the bread and wine. This is what the ancient Fathers of the Church and the Lutheran confessions speak of as the “Eucharistic sacrifice” along with “the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and all good works of the saints.” Ap. AC XXIV
Because of this profound mystery of the Incarnate Word’s bodily presence among us, our Confessions rightly acknowledge our celebration of the Mass as being “held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence” and that “nearly all the usual ceremonies are preserved…the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments etc.” for these ceremonies confess and further instruct us in what we believe to be true according to the very Word of God. Cf. Ap. AC XXIV
Each Lord’s Day, the weekly commemoration of the Pascha of the Lord we “go unto the Altar of God” as we “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,” celebrating in His name, at His command, and with His own Word the most Holy Testament.