Although Youtube will not allow me to embed this, I have wanted to share a particular clip of consecration and con-celebration in the Byzantine rite. The video is of a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy celebrated by Kyrill in the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow, one of the most liturgically competent places in the world, a Slavic version of Rome under Enrico Dante: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RGK3Qf0M4A
A few things worth knowing:
- The liturgy is not sung in Russian, but in Church Slavonic, a language which predates modern Russian, but which the Church of Russia retained after it ceased to be the tongue of most people. A native Russian speaker tells me it is mostly intelligible to Russians, much like how Latin is intelligible to French and Italian speakers.
- The clip begins with the "Holy, Holy, Holy" or Sanctus as we know it. The first words the celebrant sings aloud (at 0:09) are "Take, eat, this is my Body which is broken for you, for the forgiveness of sins" followed by "Drink of this all of you, for this is My Blood in the new Covenant, which is poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sins." As stated elsewhere, the Byzantine rite treats this moment as a pretext or introduction to the anaphora rather than as the actual moment of consecration.
- The two deacons "offer" the bread and wine to God in a sacrificial manner as the celebrant sings "We offer You Your own from What is Your own, from all and for the sake of all" at 1:09.
- None of the clergy are using service booklets, they have the necessary parts committed to memory.
- The consecration begins at 2:55 when the celebrant says "Send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here offered." The deacon points with his orarion (stole) to the bread saying "Bless the Holy Bread, Master" and the celebrant continues "and make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ." The deacon points to the chalice and makes the same remark again and the celebrant again continues "and make that which is in this chalice the precious Blood of Your Christ." He then blesses both elements saying "changing them by Your Holy Spirit." The deacons reply "Amen! Amen! Amen!" The clergy prostrate before the Body and Blood of Christ. The celebrant, as a bishop, is then re-vested in preparation for Holy Communion by removing his omorphion (pallium), a symbol of his authority. The Embodied Icon: Liturgical Vestments and Sacramental Power in Byzantium page 20 describes the omorphion as a symbol of the bishop representing Christ. After the consecration the vestment comes off as the Presence of Christ completes the fullness of revelation and reduces the celebrating bishop to the status of a mere priest.
- The consecration is done quietly with regard to the congregation in attendance. Other than "Take, eat" and a few other bits they must unite themselves in prayer and pay attention to the work of the clergy in the Holy Place (sanctuary) to know what is transpiring when.
- The con-celebration is tasteful. Only the celebrant says the principle parts. A reasonable number of clergy surround the altar, no more. A clear power structure is apparent in who does what. They are not taking turns talking to one another. I wonder if con-celebration was once done this way in the Roman rite (as Innocent III attests to doing with the cardinal-priests of Rome on special feasts) rather than the modern way so common in the Mass of Paul VI. I remember a friend commenting that the Dominicans at Blackfriars in Oxford had con-celebration down to such timing that they sounded like robots: "Take me to your leader. This is my body."