The Heavenly Banquet:
Understanding the Divine Liturgy

by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis

The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy 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 richness and the depth of the subjects treated herein make The Heavenly Banquet a treasure.

“As we move to the study of the Divine Liturgy in our Wednesday night classes, this will be a good book to use to follow along with the study and continue to gain an appreciate for the Divine Liturgy that we celebrate each week.”

— Fr. Philip Rogers
Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church, Lafayette, LA
From “The Messenger

“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.”

— VIRGINIA BARNES, Youth Choir Director
Saint Mark Greek Orthodox Church
Boca Raton, Florida

"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

“I like it. The author sticks to the basics and leaves the allegorical and mystical interpretations to Church Fathers and scholars who have already written about it.  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]

“My review and analysis on a recent publication titled The Heavenly Banquet written by Father Emmanuel Hatzidakis (a former assistant priest of St. Demetrios Church) is that the book is well written for all who want to understand the Divine Liturgy - in full detail with its divine purpose. The book consists of 420 pages that carefully detail the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, including a complete text of the Holy Liturgy and a quick reference point and review. … 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
Recommended Reading: A book review

“I really am impressed with The Heavenly Banquet… I would like to order 12 more.”

— W.C., Oklahoma

"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

"I got "The Heavenly Banquet" by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis for Christmas. It is an excellent, pastoral and thorough explanation of the Divine Liturgy. It's full of mini-case studies, notes and references for further study, and other resources. I definitely recommend it."

— Reader Kevin Andrew

Download the Foreword to The Heavenly Banquet
by Archbishop NATHANIEL (OCA)

  • For all inquiring worshippers
  • Perfect for individual or group study
  • Written in simple, understandable language
  • A meaningful gift


The Heavenly Banquet 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

Quality book details

  • Red and black ink throughout
  • Hardbound (only)
  • Large 7.25" x11" format
  • Quality paper
  • 420 pages, only 1" thick

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).


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

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.

ISBN 978-0-9778970-1-8

What people are saying:

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!" The Lord Bless!

† 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
Dean Emeritus, St. Vladimir's Seminary (from Ancient Faith Radio podcast)

Fr. Hopko's Ancient Faith Radio podcast excerpt. [Full podcast HERE (THB at minutes 10:00-13:00)]

It is a very handsome edition, appealing and impressive to the eye. I am certain the reader will be edified by your work... Congratulations!"

Fr. Alkiviadis Calivas

This superb book introduces one to the inexhaustible riches of the Divine Liturgy. Its 420 pages (large format) includes the actual text of the liturgy. Its purpose is to help us participate in the greatest of all Banquets joyfully and meaningfully: 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: a detailed commentary on the liturgy, drawing heavily on patristic and contemporary resources. The multi-layered text is fundamentally simple enough to be readily accessible to any reasonably good reader, but in the extensive footnotes delves deeply enough to offer fresh insights to almost anyone, no matter how erudite. There's also enough controversial material to stimulate (hopefully productive!) thought — from its misbegotten apologia for "modern" English to its truly interesting (and well documented) considerations of such questions as congregational participation, the silent reading of the eucharistic prayers, the kiss of peace, frequency of communion, etc. Structured to contemporary Greek practice, the variations from Slavonic practice are more likely to be illuminating than disturbing. Sturdily bound as a permanent reference work. An extensive bibliography, Scriptural reference table and index enhance its utility.

The Saint John of Kronstadt Press

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. Bear in mind that if you convince your readers to take the words seriously, you are creating a NEW liturgical community... 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

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

Dn. Matthew

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)

The book is excellent! It is becoming very popular in our parish and even beyond. We use it extensively in our Adult Class studies. It proved to be very effective and spiritually fruitful. We found it very concise, well written, and, last but not least, it is written strictly within the Eucharistic Ecclesiology perspective, which is very much relevant to building up the genuine Eucharistic community, the thing which we are trying to accomplish in our parish. Thank you so much for the great job the author, the publisher and the distributor have done. It is very much timely enterprise conducive to Eucharistic Revival and for the Unity of the Orthodoxy in the North America."

Rev. Vitaly Dudkin

The Heavenly Banquet is such a beautiful book that we would like to order 7 more for resale in our monastery bookstore!"

Mother Olga

Your Divine Liturgy book... is an excellent resource for anyone. I even use it as an apologetic source. There are so many wonderful articles regarding Mary, the Saints, and the Eucharist. I just wanted to write to tell you it is a excellent book. I highly recommend to anyone. 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

Your new book looks marvelous!"

Sister Ioanna

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

Dn. Nicholas Jannakos

I thoroughly enjoyed reading [your book] (from cover to cover) and will share it with others in our community. Thank you for putting it together, the web references are fantastic... Reading your explanations was the perfect next step in my learning process.

Mary Pruitt

Father Emmanuel, Christ is Risen! I studied with great interest the text of the Explanation of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. My warm congratulations... 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