The PROSKOMIDE, or OFFICE of the OBLATION
The Priest, fully vested proceeds to the Table of Preparation called "Prothesis" of "Proskomide." The Prothesis Table is always located inside the Sanctuary and usually on the wall to the left of the Altar Table. The Proskomide is the preparation of the Holy Gifts, the Bread and Wine for theDivine Liturgy. (The Prothesis depicts the birthplace of our Lord Jesus.)
The Priest, using a Lance (signifying the lance used by the guard to pierce our Lord's side when on the Cross), cuts the center square of the Prosporon (bread) or Oblation Loaf, and recites the Prophet Isaiah's words:
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, He opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied Him. Who shall declare His generation? For His life is raised from the earth." (Isaiah, Chapter 53, Verses 7-8)
The Priest elevates the "Prosforon" or Oblation Loaf to commence the "Proskomidi". In his right hand he holds the Lance.
Placing the square, face down on the Diskarion (Platen, Dish), the Priest carves crosswise without cutting the segments through and says:
Sacrificed is the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, Who takes away the sin of the world for the life of the world and for its salvation.
(John, Chapter 1, Verse 29; I John, Chapter 2, Verse 2)
As a reminder of how a soldier pierced His side, the Priest thrusts the lance into the face of the square of bread reciting:
And one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who saw it (Saint John) bore witness and his witness is true. (John, Chapter 19, Verses 34-35)
Saying this, the Priest pours into the Holy Chalice wine and water, since the Bible states that blood and water ran down His side when He was pierced by the spear of a soldier. The Priest blesses the Chalice and recites:
Blessed is the union of the Holy, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages.
A triangular form of bread, is then carved from the left side to the square, and placed on the left of the Amnos or Host on the Diskarion (Paten). This is in honor and memory of the blessed Mother of God, and ever-Virgin Mary. The prophetic words recited are:
On Thy right hand stood the Queen, arrayed in gold in wrought with many colors. (Psalm 45, Verse 9)
From the right to the opening of the center of the Bread, nine pieces are removed and placed on the right of the Host on the Diskarion. Those are in honor and memory of:
1) The Archangels and Bodiless Powers,
2) Saint John the Baptist and the Prophets,
3) The Apostles,
4) The Holy Fathers and Prelates,
5) The Holy Martyrs,
6) The Holy, God-bearing Fathers and Mothers,
7) The wonder-working and unmercenary Doctors (Anargyroi),
8) Saints Joachim and Anna,
9) Saint John the Chrysostom or Saint Basil the Great, depending on whose Liturgy is being celebrated on the particular day.
Taking the Asteris, shaped in a cross (The Asterisk symbolizes the star), which will protect the pieces of bread from the veil used to cover the Diskarion, the Priest places it on the Diskarion saying:
And the star came and stood over the place where the young child was. (Matthew, Chapter 2, Verse 9)
Placing the veil (Kalymma) over the Diskarion on top of the Asterisk, the Priest says:
The Lord hath reigned, He hath clothed Himself with majesty; the Lord hath clothed Himself with might, and hath girded Himself. (Psalm 93, Verse 1)
Placing the second veil over the Chalice, he says:
Thy virtue hath covered the Heavens, O Christ, and the earth is full of Thy praise."
After this, the Priest takes the large veil called "Aera" and places it over both the Diskarion and Chalice and recites:
Shelter us in the shelter of Thy wings; drive away from us every enemy and foe; make our life peaceful; O Lord, have mercy on us and on Thy world, and save our souls, for Thou art good and lovest mankind.
The Priest continues with the Prayer:
Blessed is our God, Who has thus willed, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages.
For this Holy Oblation let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.
Prayer of the Prothesis:
O God our God, Who has sent the Heavenly Bread, the Food of the whole world, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, as our Savior, Redeemer and Benefactor to bless and sanctify us, bless Thou this offering and accept it on Thy Heavenly Altar. Remember those who have offered it, and those for whom it is offered, as Thou art good and the lover of all, and keep us uncondemned in the celebration of Thy Divine Mysteries; for sanctified and glorified is Thy most honorable and majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen.
Closing Prayer of the Prothesis:
Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our Hope, Glory to Thee. May He, Who was born in a cave and lay in a manger for our salvation, Christ our true God, through the intercessions of His all-immaculate and all-blameless Mother and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for as much as He is good and loveth mankind." "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
The Prothesis or preparation, although not seen by the Faithful, is the first part of the Divine Liturgy. The visible part of the Liturgy commences with the "Liturgy of the Catechumens."
Proskomide - video of this entire service from Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral