Table of Contents
Contemplations on the hymn, Piwik (the Bread), which is chanted after Psalm 150 during communion in annual days.
The Bread of life….
The Bread of life,
Who came down,
For us from heaven,
Gave life to the world.
As the Israelites were hungry in the barren wilderness, O Lord, we were hungry in this barren world. We hungered for light, when all we saw was darkness in the world; we hungered for righteousness, when all we saw was evil in the world; we hungered for justice, when all we saw was injustice in the world; we hungered for wisdom, when all we saw was foolishness in the world; we hungered for life, when all we saw was death in the world; we hungered after You, for we had no one to care for us, to feed us, to shelter us in the world.
As You gave the Israelites the manna from heaven to eat daily, You came from heaven and gave us Yourself to eat in the form of Bread. It is no longer just mere bread, but You have sanctified it to be Your own Body, which You offered as a sacrifice on the Cross to save us and give us eternal life. It is the Bread of life. It is the Bread of God, who came down from heaven. Its nourishment is not temporary and physical as the manna given to the Israelites, who later died; but its nourishment fills every part of the body, its nourishment is life for the whole world (Jn. 6:33).
May we be worthy of approaching the holy table, O Lord, and partaking of the communion of the Holy Mysteries. May the Bread that we offered cleanse us from our sins and give us life. Let us approach and eat the Bread of life who came down from heaven, for when we eat it, we shall never be hungry again (Jn. 6:35).
And you too, Mary…. You gave birth to Him….
And you too, Mary,
Have born in your womb,
The rational manna,
Who came from the Father.
You gave birth to Him without blemish,
He gave us His Body
And His precious Blood,
And made us live forever.
She lived her life without blemish, and she was made worthy of carrying the Lord and Saviour, the Only-Begotten of the Father, in her womb. She lived her life without blemish, and the Son chose to take His flesh from her unblemished body. She lived her life without blemish, and gave birth to the Incarnate Logos without blemish. She lived her life without blemish, and the Bread that the Lord gives us to eat came from your womb. She is the Virgin Mary, who because of her holy life, was chosen to carry the Bread that was broken for many, the Bread that feeds the hungry, the Bread that gives us eternal life.
Look upon me, O Lord, and examine me. Cleanse me from my sins, and may I be worthy to partake of Your holy Body and Your precious Blood, and carry the jewels of life within me, as the Ever-Virgin Mary has carried You in her womb. Look upon me, O Lord, and examine me. Raise my poor soul to pray and watch for Your second coming, that I may remain without blemish, as the Ever-Virgin Mary lived a life of holiness, without blemish, serving You and waiting for Your first coming.
Around You stand…. And daily we behold You….
Around You stand,
And the seraphim,
They cannot look at You.
And daily we behold You,
Upon the altar,
And partake of Your Body,
And Your precious Blood.
Isaiah the prophet saw a glorious vision of the Lord sitting on the throne, the hem of His robe filling the whole temple. The Seraphim of six wings were around Him, covering their faces, for the glory of the Lord is too great to behold. The glory of the Lord is too great to behold! It is a glory that makes these powerful beings, whose voices can shake the thresholds of the temple, fall and cover their eyes with their wings… a glory far greater than these spiritual beings’ own light… a glory that they proclaim fills the whole heaven and the earth… a glory that, as they admit to each other, is truly holy, holy, holy (Is. 6:2-4).
Ezekiel the prophet also saw a glorious vision of God sitting on a throne of sapphire that is carried above the heads of the cherubim. Even the powerful cherubim, whose wings sound so great and strong as the voice of God Almighty when He speaks, hide under the throne! Those many-eyed cherubim, who can look at every corner of the earth, have the throne above their heads, to cover their eyes from the glory of the God of Israel above them.
Great is your glory, O God, that even the highest creatures who are closest to You, the cherubim and the seraphim, cannot look at You. Yet, my Lord, You emptied Yourself and took the form of a slave, and was born in human likeness (Phil. 2:7). You, Emmanuel, who sits on the throne of Your glory, before whom the heavenly orders fall and worship, are with us today on the altar. You, O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the whole world, offered Your Body and Blood. You, the God of Israel, whom the cherubim and the seraphim cannot look at, came to us; we see Your glory, of which we are made worthy to partake of, and so You will dwell within us!
Through Your love for us, You accepted to come down and sanctify the Bread and the Wine that we offered, to change them to Your holy Body and precious Blood that You offered to the Father. Through Your love for us, You came down, and through Your Body and Blood, grace raises us up to Your holiness and Your majesty. The heavenly orders cannot see You daily, but You come to us so that we may see You daily, have fellowship with Your glory, and become united to Your divinity.
I have come to You, my Lord, desiring You, and wishing to taste the sweetness of Your love. You granted me, a sinner, not just to behold You, but to openly eat Your Body… may I truly be united to You secretly. You granted me, a sinner, not just to taste You, but to openly drink Your precious Blood… may I truly mingle with Your purity secretly.
Therefore we…. Through the intercessions, Of the Theotokos….
Exalt you befittingly,
For they spoke of you,
With great honor,
O Holy City,
Of the great King.
We entreat and pray,
That we may win mercy,
Through your intercessions,
With the Lover of Mankind.
Through the intercessions,
Of the Theotokos Saint Mary,
O Lord, grant us,
The forgiveness of our sins.
Who did the prophets speak of whenever they referred to Christ? When they spoke of His birth, did they not speak of your virginity, O Theotokos? When they spoke of Him as a King, did they not speak of the Holy City that He reigned over? When they spoke of His glorious appearances with the heavenly beings, did they not speak of the royal throne that was carried by the cherubim? When they spoke of the Bridegroom, did they not speak of the bridal chamber? When they spoke of the Lord of Powers entering the city, did they not speak of the gate to the East that He chose to go through?
The prophets have in every way praised you, O Virgin Mary, and along with them we chant these prophetic sayings in our hymns to honor and praise you. For you deserve all honor, more than anyone on earth, since the Logos of the Father came and was incarnate of you. He is the Bread of life who gives food to everyone who hungers after Him, and you, O Virgin, once fed the hungry child, who is the Lord of Hosts. As our Saviour, He walked among us, and by His appearance He saved us, for He is a caring Lover of Mankind; yet as His mother you cared for Him, and as His mother you are truly our most trusted advocate. We ask you, O Mother of the True Light, to intercede for us before the Lover of Mankind, who came and saved our souls, so that He may forgive us our sins.
Through the intercessions, Of the holy archangels….
Through the intercessions,
Of the holy archangels Michael and Gabriel,
O Lord, grant us,
The forgiveness of our sins.
O Lord, who appeared to Abraham and Sarah by the oaks of Mamre with the archangels Michael and Gabriel, how greatly marvelled I am at your wondrous works for my salvation!
When You came with the two archangels, Abraham ran towards You, bowed down, washed Your feet with water, baked bread, and took a tender and good calf to prepare it as a meal for You to eat, while You and the archangels rested under the tree. Yet what great mysteries are there in these very actions of Abraham, for these actions foretell what all humanity, including Abraham, would see when You came to save us!
Indeed, I see how You, O Lord, hastened to come to our salvation, as Abraham ran to You and the archangels. I see how You, O Lord, came down to me, because You loved me, and went down all the way to the ground to wash my feet, as Abraham washed Your feet. I see how You, O Lord, gave me Yourself as Bread that shall give me eternal life, as Abraham baked and offered you the temporal bread. I see how You, O Lord, gave me Your whole self, that by eating Your flesh and drinking Your blood I may abide in You, and You in me (Jn. 6:56) – now that is a meal far greater than the tender and good calf that Abraham prepared for You! I see how You, O Lord, rested under a tree with the two archangels, yet this was a mere sign of Your true rest when You finally saved us and destroyed death while hanging on the true tree… while crucified on the cross. You rested under a tree, O Lord, and we rest with You under the cross. All these actions of Abraham were a sign for him and us of Your eternal wisdom and grace, my Lord and my God.
No wonder, then, Abraham rejoiced when he saw Your day, O Lord! Abraham saw it and was glad! (Jn. 8:56). May our hearts rejoice at Your salvation, O Lord!
And you, O archangels Michael and Gabriel, who were witnesses of the works and faith of our father Abraham, who were witnesses of the mighty works of salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, hear me! Intercede for us all before the Lord, that He may forgive us our sins. Be with us and protect us, just as You have forewarned Lot before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.
O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Father, who remembered us in our lowly state, give us the true bread from heaven. O Lord, Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, the true Bread of life coming from heaven, do not drive us away from You, for we have come to You so that You may feed us, give us eternal life, and raise us up on the last day. O Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, whose grace has purified and changed our offered gifts to the holy Body and precious Blood of our Lord, let Your grace descend upon us as well, that we may be worthy to partake of the holy, precious Body, and the true Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of our God, Emmanuel. Amen.