The Heavenly Banquet—Understanding the Divine Liturgy

Christ with The Heavenly Banquet

The Heavenly Banquet:
Understanding the Divine Liturgy

by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis

The Heavenly Banquet is the most comprehensive Divine Liturgy commentary available in the English language. With over 300 bibliographical sources, an abundance of biblical citations, and quotations from Church Fathers and modern authors, The Heavenly Banquet is a treasure.

The Heavenly Banquet addresses head-on not only liturgical matters, but also social, moral and doctrinal issues, always in a clear, practical, informational, and uplifting way.

In depth, yet easy to follow, written in simple, understandable language, this book will aid Catechists and instructors who can draw from its abundant material for presentation and discussion. This work will be of great benefit to any Orthodox Christian who wants to obtain a better understanding of the Divine Liturgy.

The Heavenly Banquet
  • 3rd Edition
  • 420 pages | Large 7.25″ x11″ format
  • Red and black text | hardbound

Book Features

  • 80 Special Topic Studies (40 “Mini Studies” & 40 “A Word About…” studies)
  • A self-contained extensive Introduction
  • The complete Divine Liturgy text, indexed for quick reference
  • Thorough, detailed Index of words and names
  • Color-coded Index of all Biblical citations
  • Parallel Biblical accounts of the institution of the Eucharist
  • The complete Anaphora from the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
  • 1281 footnotes
  • 305 bibliographical sources

Book Reviews

  • The Word Magazine (Antiochian Archdiocese)
    April, 2010. By Fr. Steven Salaris.
  • Book Review by Fr. Doug Papulis and Fr. Michael Arbanas,
    St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Book Review of The Heavenly Banquet in Catholic Library World magazine, Summer 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 4).


Download a series of six PowerPoint lessons based on The Heavenly Banquet by Fr. George Shalhoub. Download them here.


Read the Foreword to The Heavenly Banquet by Archbishop NATHANIEL. Download it here.

Testimonials & Endorsements

Congratulations and many thanks for publishing the book. It is impressive as well as useful… Certainly the Lord was with you as you worked to make sure that no one can any longer say, “I don’t get anything from the Liturgy!”

† NATHANIEL, Archbishop (OCA)

Father Emmanuel’s work should be admired for its breadth and depth, as well as the assistance it will bring to all those who seek to enhance their participation in the Holy Eucharist. We thank him with our paternal blessings on this endeavor, with our prayers for its good use among the faithful.”

† IAKOVOS, Metropolitan of Chicago

…an absolutely spectacular book … an extraordinary book … totally awesome…”

† Fr. Thomas Hopko

Fr. Hopko’s review of The Heavenly Banquet:

I am certain the reader will be edified by your work… Congratulations!”

Fr. Alkiviadis Calivas

[The Heavenly Banquet] is quenching a thirst that people have had for a long time.”

Dn. Matthew

Your Divine Liturgy book… is an excellent resource for anyone. I even use it as an apologetic source. Also it has a beautiful cover. It is now my official coffee table book. When guests come over, it is a great way to lead someone into a conversation of the Orthodox Church.”

Chris Carpunky

Reading your explanations was the perfect next step in my learning process.

M. Pruitt

For the month of September, the focus has been the Trisagion Hymn. The book, The Heavenly Banquet; Understanding the Divine Liturgy by Father Emmanuel Hatzidakis, is the wonderful source that we are basing our lessons on.”

V. Barnes, Youth Choir Director

Think Church is Boring? Read this. I can’t read a paragraph without thinking of “Church” and “going to Church on Sunday” and what it means to the people around me, and to Americans in general, Christian or otherwise. The lengthy footnotes stunningly incorporate quotes, references, and commentary from the entirety of Christian history.”

Erik Ritland, Blogger

It is organized well, as the basic commentary is the main text, while the author gives a little more detail in footnotes and some other studies marked in a different color. He usually leaves his own opinions in the footnotes and other studies marked in a different color, so readers can choose how much detail to take in when reading each chapter.”

Gamliel [blog post]

It is very easy to read and gives the reader written commentary of the various lines of words – along with texts in gray boxes denoting parts of the Liturgy – which are said silently or are omitted.”

Thomas N. Andrews

This book is absolutely fantastic. In addition to the astonishing level of detail, the binding, layout, and formatting are impeccable. Thank you so much for this gift to the Church.”

Michael, Dayton, Ohio

It is an excellent, pastoral and thorough explanation of the Divine Liturgy.

Reader Kevin Andrew

A+++ Awesome. Life changing book.”

Ricardo J.

This superb book introduces one to the inexhaustible riches of the Divine Liturgy. All you will ever want to know about the liturgy—and more—is offered to you in this one volume.”

Light and Life Publishing

A gem for all Orthodox Christians.”

The Saint John of Kronstadt Press

After “drinking” watered down religion theology for several years from other religions, I find this book a gem filled with rich liturgy, truth, and biblical treasures.”

SubDn. Lucas

It is an incredible work of diligence and detail! I love it and the format is perfect for both easy reference and for a detailed study of the Liturgy in a formal setting. i.e. Study groups and group discussions.

Fr. Alexander Resnikoff

After reviewing it extensively, I must offer you my sincere congratulations and deep thanks for providing this valuable volume to the Orthodox faithful in America. I presented the book to my St. Lydia Women’s Study Ministry and they have chosen to use it during our study of the Divine Liturgy this year.

Fr. John Touloumes

The Heavenly Banquet” exceeded my expectations, a beautiful book.

D. Pappas, Albuquerque, NM

Your book is a powerhouse of reference, biographies as well as tremendous sources. This is the work of 5 PhD degrees.

Fr. George Shalhoub, Livonia, MI

This book will truly be a blessing to many. If I were financially able, I would supply this book for every family. I would also encourage young and old to read the book, and would urge parents to have it handy and to actually review the Divine Liturgy with their children of every age – pointing them to the mystery and blessing of our Lord’s presence!”

Edward Wolfe (former Lutheran Pastor)

How does one describe a magnificent banquet?… You’ve actually used the text of the Liturgy (as it should be) for explanation, not merely the actions. I am INSPIRED by your book…”

Fr. Jim Doyle

I can’t tell you how much we have all enjoyed your book and how it has been the underpinning of a growth in the minds of our parishioners towards renewing their faith and increasing their knowledge and understanding of our services. Many, many thanks!”

Fr. Patrick Gariano

We use [The Heavenly Banquet] extensively in our Adult Class studies. It proved to be very effective and spiritually fruitful. We found it very concise, well written… It is very much timely enterprise conducive to Eucharistic Revival and for the Unity of the Orthodoxy in the North America.”

Rev. Vitaly Dudkin

A new, monumental, brilliant book for personal study, reference, and adult education.”

Dn. Nicholas Jannakos

This work you labored testifies that you worked with great zeal and love… There are a plethora of references, extensive analysis, scientific documentation, but also beautiful introductions… You cast light on many issues…”

Fr. Panagiotis Christodoulou

* Not an “Orthodox” looking icon some may say? In fact, the Mystical Supper icon on the cover of The Heavenly Banquet was painted on Mt. Athos in 1938 by the famous Danieline house of iconography.

The Heavenly Banquet

The Heavenly Banquet: An Overview

The Divine Liturgy is a great mystery, but this does not justify the ignorance of the people concerning what is taking place in it, what is its purpose, what are the benefits derived from it, what should our participation be, etc. In the pages of THB one will find both concise and expanded answers to these and other important questions, the end result of which is a fuller, more rewarding and more meaningful participation in the Divine Liturgy.

By reading the Introduction alone, one is introduced into the inexhaustible riches of the Divine Liturgy. But THB goes on, in its more than 300 dense pages that follow, to provide answers to a multiplicity of questions. Why do we pray for our armed forces? The question leads to a brief examination of the issue of war. The petition, For favorable weather leads to an exploration of the issue of God’s involvement in the world. Praying for the dead leads to a study on the souls, remembering the bishop leads to a brief study of the bishop’s role in the Church, calling God Father leads to an excursion on the first person of the Holy Trinity, and praying for healing leads to a study on miracles. Many other issues are addressed in a similar fashion, including suffering, grace, intercession and veneration of saints, inspiration, judgment, open communion, significance of dogma, and so on.

The commentary examines in depth certain crucial issues, such as:

  • Why do we pay such a great honor to the species of bread and wine carried in procession before their consecration (Great Entrance)?
  • Why do we use bread and wine?
  • Was the Mystical Supper a Passover meal?
  • Is the Eucharist a sacrifice?
  • What is the significance of “remembering” the Lord’s command “Do this”?
  • What do we offer to God?
  • What exactly is taking place when we gather together to offer and partake of Christ in the Eucharist?
  • What is the ultimate purpose for offering God the Divine Liturgy?

The commentary returns to a few points with persistence. Active and joyful participation by the people stands out — participation through a fuller comprehension, by joining in the singing, by praying and, especially, through participation in the holy sacraments. The commentary insists that the so-called secret prayers be read out loud. Another important point stressed by the book is a joyful participation in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

THB opens new vistas, offering an eschatological perspective of the Eucharistic Mystery, and a renewed call for regular participation of the Eucharist. It contains extensive sections on how to prepare for Holy Communion, on how frequently to approach, it provides guidance on Communion fasting, and an explanation of the great mystery and what it does to those who partake of it.

The commentary does not balk at addressing difficult and controversial issues:

  • Is there grace outside the Church?
  • What is ecumenism?
  • Should we have “open communion” with non-Orthodox Christians?
  • Why do we insist on dogma?
  • What is the relationship of faith and science?
  • What is the role of the Theotokos in the Church?
  • How do the Saints intercede for our salvation?

Follow THB and the Divine Liturgy won’t be boring to you ever again. THB will help you pray with understanding, with meaning, with fervor, with spiritual joy.