Among the symbolic items used in theworship, prosphora takes a special place. It is associated with the body of the Lord and is a communion to the sacrament of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which He brought for the salvation of people. Having a huge cult value, the prosphora, however, became ritual bread long before the crucifixion. The history of rites with its use goes back centuries.
Meaning of the word
First of all, let's find out more exactly what a prosphore is-what is thisis this? The word itself has ancient Greek roots and is translated as "offering." Its second name is bread for the liturgy, liturgical. The main purpose is used during the Eucharist for consecration and eating with wine as a particle of the body and blood of Christ. It is also widely used for the rite of the Proskomidy prosphora. What does it mean: during the special liturgy, the birth and death of Christ are recalled, all Christians, living and dead, are commemorated. In the basis of the rite, in addition to the words of Jesus uttered at the Last Supper, a miracle is necessary, when He fed several hungry people with a few loaves. But long before the birth of Christ in the Old Testament texts mentioned sacrificial prosphora. What it should have been for bread, is indicated directly: kvass, that is, yeast. This is written in the "Book of Leviticus." In the Mosaic tabernacles (marching church), too, sacred bread was used, only fresh, cooked in a special way. Its two parts signify the human, the earthly principle and the higher, the heavenly.
In the time of the first Christians, believers brought inchurches or house of worship food, olive oil, wax for candles, which were necessary for liturgies and other rituals or simply ministries. Obligatory was and prosphora. That it was not ordinary bread, but a special, symbolic, confirm such facts as, for example, the description of common meals - agapov. At the dawn of Christianity, in the era of slavery, it was accepted by all members of local churches to gather for joint eating of food. At one table were free citizens and slaves. Agapas played the role of the Last Supper, during the Eucharist, the feasts were strictly religious. At the same time, they stressed that in the face of Christ all are equal, regardless of social status. The assembled people kissed the world, prayed, sent messages to other such churches and communities. Later, when such "parties" began to be made separately from the Liturgy, the prosphora was called not food in general, but only the bread needed for the Eucharist.
Taste of bread
How are prosphors prepared? The recipe may be different, but the technology is the same for everyone. It is necessary to take exactly wheat flour, salt, water, alum or yeast. No fat additives - milk, whey, oil - do not require prosphora. And the taste of it should just be slightly salty. On the top crust of bread special symbolic images on a religious theme are put. There are prosphors from two parts - halves, as described above. Their sacred meaning indicates the connection between the world of man and the Lord. Flour, bread and salt are associated with the Holy Trinity, and alums - with the life of the spirit. Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki also holds such an analogy: flour and leaven (opara) is the soul, water is its baptism, and salt is the great word of God. Jesus called his disciples "salt." And the baking process is compared with the union of the Lord with us, people, "human nature". Because the bread is blossom, moldy for the role of prosphora is not good.
Recipe and recommendations
How can you bake prosphora? The recipe used in the old days contains such instructions: kneading the dough is done with the addition of holy water, baking is accompanied by prayers, singing of psalms, the work is performed by pious women specially invited for this. They are called prosponsaries. The process is as follows. For one batch of baking, you need 1200 gr. Flour. Carefully reseed it to be lush, filled with air. In the basin, where you are going to knead the dough, pour in a little consecrated water. Then pour out about 400 g of flour and pour it over with boiling water. For what it's done: firstly, that the wheat gives the test the sweetness in it, because sugar is not put in such bread. Secondly, that the prosphora for a long time did not grow moldy. The mixture must be mixed and allowed to cool slightly. Further in the same holy water, salt is dissolved (several tablespoons), it is poured into flour flour, 25 g of yeast is added, they are dissolved and mixed well. Now put the pelvis on and leave the spoon for half an hour to rise. Pour the remaining flour, knead again and let the dough come up again. After the specified time, if the mass has risen well, a perfect prosphora should turn out from it. What to do with it - read on.
Dough lay on the desktop, well sprinkledhis flour. Roll out a layer 3 cm thick. Cut from it with special mugs larger and smaller diameter mugs. Correct them with your hands, so that every future prosphora turns out to be accurate. What to do now, or rather, with them? Cover with a wet waffle towel, on top - dry, and again for half an hour leave for "rest". Then overlay the seals on smaller mugs, connect them to large ones, after dampening slightly the surface with water. So that during the baking in the dough no voids are formed, every holy prosphora must be pierced through and through. Then put them on a baking powder and put in a preheated oven. How to bake prosphora? They should brown, but not burn. Time is from 15 to 20 minutes. Cook the pastry on the table, cover with dry, damp and dry towels and something warm. In this form, the prophora should be cooled. They are put in special baskets and used for their intended purpose. Store in the refrigerator.
A Living Prayer Word
As already noted, the whole process of working with the testaccompanied by prayer. Prospera is holy bread, and with God all matters are controversial. The first prayer, traditional for every cause: "Lord, help!" It precedes the beginning of the work. During the batch it is necessary to read the fifth prayers, addresses to the holy Spiridon, Nicodemus and Prokhor, as well as to the Lord. When the prosphora pierce, the action is accompanied by the traditional: "In the name of the Father, the Son ..." While the pastry is going on, it should be read: "The Virgin of the Virgin ..." The work ends with a thanksgiving to God. There is also a prayer for the adoption of prosphora.
On the top of holy bread is applied a specialdrawing - "seal". How does she look? The outline of the cross - four-pointed, equilateral - is drawn. Above the crosspiece are carved the initials of Christ - IC XC, and under it - the word "victory" in the ancient Greek: nick. Naturally, it's too long to do it by hand, especially if you need a large number of products to bake. A good help will serve you a seal for prosphora. You can buy this in church benches. The impressions made by her are clearly visible on the test. And when the prosphora is already baked, the picture looks beautiful on the toasty crust.
Lamb of sacrifice
It should be noted that during the servicebread is not used entirely, but its particles. The "spear" (in memory of how the Christ's heart was pierced by the cross on this cross) is divided into pieces, which mark the Lamb of God, the sacrifice made by Jesus for the sake of people. Usually 5 breads are baked for Proskomedia. One is used as a Lamb, and during the Liturgy they are communicated to believers. The rest are shared by the priest in memory of the Mother of God. Particles of these prosphoras eat, recalling her, about holy martyrs, about the compilers of the liturgy. But this amount is focused on the official part of the ministry. For the needs of the church, the parish is baked as much prosphora as the parishioners give a note "Health" and "For rest".
Proper use of sacred bread
As a rule, parishioners try to bring homefrom the church pieces of prosphora, so that everyone in the family could receive communion. But its use is regulated by several rules. First, they eat such bread before the main food, not mixing them in any way. Secondly, you must pray before you put a piece in your mouth. So, after returning from the liturgy, lay a clean tablecloth on the table. Put the prosphora on the plate. In glasses or cups, pour a little of holy water - about 3 gulps. Then the elder in the family should read the same prayer, which is intended to receive the bread of the saint. It begins like this: "My God, your holy gift, your holy water is an obstacle to my sins, enlightening my mind, strengthening the strength of spirit and flesh ..." Having read these sacred words, every household has to bring a plate. He should be careful not to drop a tiny bit on the floor, put a particle in his mouth, slowly chew, and wash it with consecrated water. To think at this moment, of course, is desirable not about worldly vanity, but about the Lord, Jesus, the holy Church, feeling itself its member. For prosphora is the bread of heaven, it must be accepted humbly and in fear of God. Even Georgy Zadonsky preached that eating her and drinking with holy water has good deeds, protects a person from bad thoughts and deeds, from temptations of impure and other filth.
Here is such an interesting story in the prosphora - Orthodox and Catholic.