On all days of the holy fast of Lent, except on the Sabbath, the Lords day and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified is to be said.
Ancient Epitome of Canon LII.
Throughout the whole of Lent except upon the Lords day, the Sabbath, and upon the day of the Annunciation, the presanctified gifts shall be offered.
We do not call the service of the Presanctified the unbloody sacrifice, but the offering of the previously offered, and of the perfected sacrifice, and of the completed priestly act.
The Greeks therefore confess that the bread once offered and consecrated, is not to be consecrated anew on another day; but a new offering is made of what was before consecrated and presanctified: just as in the Latin Church the consecrated or presanctified bread of Maundy Thursday is offered on Good Friday.
The Patriarch Michael of Constantinople is quoted by Leo Allatius as saying that “none of the mystic consecratory prayers are said over the presanctified gifts, but the priest only recites the prayer that he may be a worthy communicant.”
Some among the later Greeks have been of opinion that the unconsecrated wine was consecrated by the commixture with the consecrated bread, and (without any words of consecration) was transmuted into the sacred blood, 374 and with this seems to agree the already quoted Michael, Patriarch of Constantinople, who is cited by Leo Allatius in his treatise on the rite of the presanctified. “The presanctified is put into the mystic chalice, and so the wine which was then in it, is changed into the holy blood of the Lord.” And with this agrees Simeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica, in his answer to Gabriel of Pentapolis, when he writes: “In the mass of the Presanctified no consecration of what is in the chalice is made by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and of his sign, but by the participation and union of the life-giving bread, which is truly the body of Christ.”
From this opinion, which was held by some of the Greeks, it gradually became the practice at Constantinople not to dip the bread in the Sacred Blood, as Michael the patriarch of this very church testifies. But in the ordinary Euchologion of the Greeks it is expressly set forth that the presanctified bread before it is reserved, should be dipped in the sacred blood, and for this a rite is provided.
Leo Allatiuss Dissertatio de Missa Præsanctificatorum should be read; an outline of the service as found in the Euchologion, and as reprinted by Renaudotius is as follows.
First of all vespers is said. After some lessons and prayers, including the “Great Ectenia” and that for the Catechumens, these are dismissed.
After the Catechumens have departed there follows the Ectenia of the Faithful. After which, “Now the heavenly Powers invisibly minister with us; for, behold, the King of Glory is borne in. Behold the mystic sacrifice having been perfected is borne aloft by angels.
“Let us draw near with faith and love, that we may become partakers of life eternal. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
“Deacon. Let us accomplish our evening prayer to the Lord.
“For the precious and presanctified gifts that are offered, let us pray to the Lord. “That our man-loving God, etc.” as in the p. 390 ordinary liturgy past the Lords prayer, and down to the Sancta Sanctis, which reads as follows:
Priest. Holy things presanctified for holy persons.
Choir. One holy, one Lord Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God the Father—Amen.
Then the Communion Hymn and the Communion, and the rest as in the ordinary liturgy, except “this whole evening,” is said for “this whole day,” and another prayer is provided in the room of that beginning “Lord, who blessest them, etc.” 375
It is curious to note that on Good Friday, the only day on which the Mass of the Presanctified is celebrated in the West, its use has died out in the East, and now it is used “on the Wednesdays and Fridays of the first six weeks of the Great Quadragesima, on the Thursday of the fifth week, and on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Passion Week. It may also be said, excepting on Saturdays and Sundays, and on the Festival of the Annunciation, on other days during the Fast, to wit, on those of festivals and their Vigils, and on the Commemoration of the Dedication of the Church.”
Symeon, who was bishop of Thessalonica, and flourished in the early part of the XVth Century, complains of the general neglect of the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday in his time, and says that his church was the only one in the Exarchate that then retained it. He ascribes the disuse to the example of the Church of Jerusalem. See the matter treated at length in his Quæstiones, lv.–lix. Mignes Pat. Græc.
Cf. J. M. Neale Essays on Liturgiology, p. 109.
Gerbert makes it quite evident that from about 850 until 1200, that is from Amalarius until Durand, the same view was held in the West. Vide Gerbertus. Vetus Liturgia Allomanica, p. 855 et. seqq.390:375
The English reader is referred to G. V. Shann, Euchology, and The Book of Needs, for excellent translations of the Greek offices; J. M. Neales Introduction to the History of the Holy Orthodox Eastern Church will, of course, be consulted.