The Link between the Temples of the Old and New Testaments
Orthodox temples have kept to the same form and function since ancient times. Using the Old Testament Temple model, Orthodox churches are divided into several courts or spaces peculiar to their function. The Holy Table, upon which is celebrated the Eucharist, is situated at the east end of the building behind the Iconostasis (icon screen). This is a continuation of and corresponds to the Holy of Holies in the ancient Israelite temple in Jerusalem.
The whole area behind the iconostasis is called the altar, and is considered the most sacred part of the temple. The Eucharistic table is commonly known as the Holy Table. While great respect must be shown throughout the Church, the altar is very special. It is here that the Holy Spirit descends upon the offering of bread and wine , changing them into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Only those who receive the specific blessing of the bishop or the priest may enter, since no one has the right to go behind the iconostasis. The Church allows only those who have a particular reason, specific task, or function, to enter. A blessing must be received each and every time, even if a person serves regularly behind the iconostasis. No one should ever simply wander into the altar without a blessing.
The Holy Table, the Proskomedia Table (Table of Preparation), and the discos and chalice, should never be touched by anyone other than a bishop, priest or deacon. The sacredness of these items, set apart for divine worship, is such because they have all been blessed and consecrated by the Church for the worship of God.
We approach our God with fear and awe, bowing down in worship before His Throne in wonder. We worship the Holy Trinity with the same reverence as did the ancients. The very God Who created us, and Who condescended to join His Divinity with our humanity, is worshiped in temples just as beautiful as that which He commanded to be built in the Holy City, because He has invited us into communion with Him. The worship we offer on this earth is an image of that which is taking place before the Throne in Heaven.
With love in Christ,
Tuesday June 13, 2017 / May 31, 2017
2nd Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Food with Oil
Apostle Hermes of the Seventy (1st c.).
Martyr Hermias at Comana (160).
New Hieromartyr Archpriest Philosoph Ornatsky with his sons Boris and Nicholas, in St. Petersburg (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Hierotheus, bishop of Nikolsk (1928), and his friend Hieroschemamonk Seraphim (Nikolsky) (1923).
Martyr Philosophus at Alexandria (252).
Martyr Marus the Magician who was converted on witnessing the martyrdom of Hermias.
Five Martyrs of Ascalon (Greek).
Martyrs Eusebius and Charalampus (Greek).
St. Eustathius, patriarch of Constantinople (1025).
Finding of the relics of New Martyr Nicholas the Deacon of Lesbos.
Translation of the relics (1591) of St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow (1569), to Solovki.
St. Philotheus, metropolitan of Tobolsk (1727).
The Scripture Readings
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
David Celebrates the Same Truth
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Abraham Justified Before Circumcision
9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while stilluncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.