The Divine Liturgy does not belong to the daily cycle of services, but is a manifestation of eternity, the Kingdom of God on earth. It is the service in which bread and wine are offered up to God in thanksgiving (eucharistía), and in which God in turn offers Himself back to us by turning those gifts into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Divine Liturgy is the summit of Christian worship, and our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist is the fulfilment of every other act, prayer, and intention. Everything we do, both in Church and outside, every other service and sacrament, revolves around and points to the Divine Eucharist.
The liturgical begins in the evening, and the first service of the liturgical day is therefore Vespers, which is held around sunset. Marking the beginning of the liturgical day, the Vespers service begins with the reading of Psalm 103 (104), which recalls the beginning of the world, and praises God as the creator and sustainer of all things.
In Greek, this service is known as órthros, which simply means ‘early morning’ and is the word used in the Gospel of Luke, when the myrrhbearing women arrived at the tomb ‘very early in the morning’ (24:1) only to find that the Lord had risen. The word matins likewise comes from the Latin matutinus — ‘of the morning’.