Divine Liturgy Begins at Home!

...with the baking of communion breads. Here are some photos of small prosfora (pros = forward, fora = bring/brought) that the faithful offer up to God with their special prayer requests. They are taken into the altar where the priest says intercessory prayers for those specified, living or dead, on a sheet of paper, or prayer list. The ones pictures are about 2 inches in diameter.

The prosfora used for communion of the faithful are much larger, and the quantity per Divine Liturgy varies. In some traditions, eg Greek or Arabic, the communion prosfora is a large, round loaf stamped with a large seal (5" and larger seals are common). The ingredients are the same always: white, unbleached flour (in early Christianity, the most expensive flour by far); water; yeast and in some local traditions, salt. No oils!

There are various spellings for prosfora, and of course various names based on language. The term in Arabic is orban, sometimes seem as urban or kurban. An excellent starting place to learn more, including recipes and how-to's, is www.prosphora.org

NB. Because of the solemn use for which it is being made--a personal offering to God as part of a prayer request or as the people's sacrificial offering for communion in Divine Liturgy--prosfora is not to be made or treated lightly or casually. And oftentimes when it is, the results are 'coincidentally' not good: sagging breads, indistinct stamp impression, unrisen or very uneven rising, uncooked in the middle, etc. I have baked many and believe me, I have learned this the hard way!!! Prosfora baking for a parish is a humbling and also a very prayerful and joyful service.

-Thank you to one of our parish prosfora bakers, for this submission to the photo gallery

1. Prosfora dough, after it is risen once, is rolled and cut into circles, two per prosfora. One is stamped with a seal. On this Russian-style seal, the seal forms the letters IC XC, Jesus Christ's first and last initials in the Greek alphabet, and NIKA, Greek for "victory".
2. The prosfora are assembled, one stamped circle stop a plain one. Each prosfora is pierced with askewer or toothpick 5 times, representing the 5 wounds Christ received during his Passion, placed on an ungreased baking sheet or pan, and baked.
3. Baked, fresh prosfora is cooled to room temperature and ready to be offered! With the convenience of modern refrigeration, they can be packaged and frozen for use for as long as a month or thereabouts, then thawed when needed