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Offline Aindriú

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Orthodox Altars
« on: November 03, 2010, 05:32:55 PM »
I'm curious as to the traditions With Orthodox altars.

-Do Orthodox altars typically have relics placed in them?

-Are they typical of a particular shape? (I think I've only ever seen square, as opposed to the western rectangle)

-Do the Orthodox make use of a tabernacle? Or is this impractical due to the presentation of the Eucharist?

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2010, 05:42:27 PM »
I'm curious as to the traditions With Orthodox altars.

-Do Orthodox altars typically have relics placed in them?

Yes, but the antimens can also have relics.

Quote
-Are they typical of a particular shape? (I think I've only ever seen square, as opposed to the western rectangle)

Square basically.

Quote
-Do the Orthodox make use of a tabernacle?

A Eucharist consecrated on Great and Holy Thursday is held there for the sick and viacum.

Quote
Or is this impractical due to the presentation of the Eucharist?

The Eucharist isn't set out for exposition usually.  As for storage, only a few drops are put on the Eucharist (like for presanctified) and dried out before being put in the Tabernacle.

We cross ourselves in front of a Church for the same reasons, the Tabernacle.
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Offline mike

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2010, 05:43:28 PM »
Yes, in most cases.

Besides of WRO most altars are square.

There is one used for keeping the Eucharist for the ill prepared on Holy Thursday:

« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 05:43:46 PM by Michał Kalina »

Offline Alpo

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2010, 05:49:57 PM »
Besides of WRO most altars are square.

And I recall reading that also some WRO use square altars since it's the more ancient form of altar. Can't point out the source though. Probably some of those pre-Schism-oriented folks.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 05:51:57 PM by Alpo »

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2010, 06:00:03 PM »
I remember that back home, perhaps under RC influence, the altar was rather rectangular than perfectly square.

Offline Papist

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2010, 06:59:12 PM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?
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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2010, 07:12:31 PM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
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Offline Papist

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2010, 07:14:44 PM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.
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Offline Dart

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 07:16:46 PM »
Our parish's altar is large and rectangular. The church was designed and built as an Orthodox church so believe it is within the Orthodox Tradition to have rectangular shaped altars aswell as square.

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 07:24:00 PM »
Our parish's altar is large and rectangular. The church was designed and built as an Orthodox church so believe it is within the Orthodox Tradition to have rectangular shaped altars aswell as square.

Ours was a Greek Catholic Church which returned to Orthodoxy in the late 1930's under the omophorion of +Metropolitan Orestes. The altar was rectangular and offered in 1916 by the members of fraternal lodge of the parish founders who dedicated it to the 'glory of God and the memory of our pious forebearers.' The Orthodox bishops have since placed relics within it and, of course, they are present in the current Metropolitan's antimensia. Newly constructed churches in our Diocese since the 1960's all have square wooden altars.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 07:24:54 PM by podkarpatska »

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 07:25:18 PM »
I saw a video clip talking about the Holy Table in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, and it said it was in the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant. Elsewhere I read that this is not a requirement, but I think it's neat.

Offline Dart

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 08:30:30 PM »
My research came up with the altar representing a tomb and thus is normally rectangular in shape along the dimension of a person being inside and generally made of stone and marble. A square altar would make for a short heavy saint inside.

Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 10:38:31 AM »
yes, they are square.  they are not a big block, though.  interestingly enough, they are put together back there, and there is a servise for it.  in my Church, there is a relic of St. Tikhon of Moscow.  if you have a relic, it will either be out for veneration or on the altar. 


Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2010, 10:53:39 AM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.

I would not say it's "wrong," per se, but it seems to me it would be outside our traditional understanding. We certainly venerate the Holy Gifts, both in anticipation of their consecration and before communing and afterward when they are presented after distribution. We don't really have a tradition of praying to Jesus IN something. I mean, God is everywhere present and filling all things. There is a lot of preparation to receive Holy Communion, and the belief that the Holy Gifts are the very Body and Blood of Christ is absolute. But I do not think the Holy Altar is reverenced only because of the Holy Gifts or the relics or the angels always in attendance, but the totality of all these things that make the church a holy place.

I don't know if this answers your question or not. Some Orthodox would see some things regarding Roman Catholic practices surrounding the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Holy Mass to be not only foreign to our understanding (understand by this--not necessarily heretical, it's just that we do not have the means to understand this according to what we have been given to understand), but also antithetical to the true teaching on the Holy Gifts. I don't necessarily follow that line. I don't have a problem with it if it is done in the right way, whatever that is. I suppose one main beef with the Roman Catholic practice is, perhaps, that the Holy Gifts' end purpose is to be received by the faithful. We venerate them, of course, but their purpose is to be eaten, so that we may be sanctified by God, Whom we receive.
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2010, 11:07:20 AM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.

I would not say it's "wrong," per se, but it seems to me it would be outside our traditional understanding. We certainly venerate the Holy Gifts, both in anticipation of their consecration and before communing and afterward when they are presented after distribution. We don't really have a tradition of praying to Jesus IN something. I mean, God is everywhere present and filling all things. There is a lot of preparation to receive Holy Communion, and the belief that the Holy Gifts are the very Body and Blood of Christ is absolute. But I do not think the Holy Altar is reverenced only because of the Holy Gifts or the relics or the angels always in attendance, but the totality of all these things that make the church a holy place.

I don't know if this answers your question or not. Some Orthodox would see some things regarding Roman Catholic practices surrounding the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Holy Mass to be not only foreign to our understanding (understand by this--not necessarily heretical, it's just that we do not have the means to understand this according to what we have been given to understand), but also antithetical to the true teaching on the Holy Gifts. I don't necessarily follow that line. I don't have a problem with it if it is done in the right way, whatever that is. I suppose one main beef with the Roman Catholic practice is, perhaps, that the Holy Gifts' end purpose is to be received by the faithful. We venerate them, of course, but their purpose is to be eaten, so that we may be sanctified by God, Whom we receive.

I am not Catholic, but I think that you have pointed out that difference here on this question is perhaps more nuanced than most take it to be, from both sides involved. My expereince is that most Catholic priests or teachers would explain such veneration in the way more understandable to our perspective rather than as a simple, devotional act directed to the Eucharist Itself.

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2010, 11:51:53 AM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.

It wouldn't occur to an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to the Eucharist, so the question of right or wrong wouldn't come up.  If an EO was going to pray to Jesus, the natural inclination would be to do so before an icon.  Again, that has to do with Iconoclasm in the East and lack of denial of the Real presence in the East.

EO would be perplexed perhaps to the idea of exposing the Eucharist, given the emphasis in the liturgics about veiling the sacred from profane eyes.  When the Eucharist is processed in the Great Entrance during the Presanctified Divine Liturgy, the Eucharist and priest are veiled and the congregation facing down prostrate in worship.

This is being discussed at all only of late because of the rising popularity of Euchraistic adoration in Traditionalist circules of the Vatican (and much for the same reason, the slide in belief in the Real Presence in the "spirit of Vatican II" crowd), to the point that some now consider it a core part of the faith.  I've read some comments on it among Orthodox writers of previous generations which basically say "that's not our cup of tea."e.g. Bulgakov
http://books.google.com/books?id=HAaNyj20KDYC&pg=PA146&dq=Bulgakov+The+Orthodox+Church+sobriety&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false
I saw far more condemnation of Eucharistic adoration among the Lutherans, who labeled it a "perversion of the Lord's Supper."

We do have Eucharistic miracles, but they are not showcased. There are stories, for instance the Marytrdom of St. Joseph of Damascus, who  in 1860 was martyred by rushing into the Church when Druze were massacring Christians, and taking the reserved Eucharist and swallowing it so that the Druze would not desecrate Him.  But there isn't (nor really needed) a specific cult of the Eucharist outside of communion.
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Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2011, 10:27:40 AM »
If this is relevant, I served in the main altar of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral (LA, ROCOR) that had 3 altar spaces, with 3 iconostasi. The deacon censed all 3 altar tables during Lord I Cried. Is that correct?

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 11:46:13 AM »
If this is relevant, I served in the main altar of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral (LA, ROCOR) that had 3 altar spaces, with 3 iconostasi. The deacon censed all 3 altar tables during Lord I Cried. Is that correct?

The only rubric for the censings you will see is "done in the usual manner". There are many books out there that try to describe what the usual manner is.
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Offline HandmaidenofGod

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2011, 12:11:25 PM »
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.

Of the sequence prayers that are to be said in preparation for Holy Communion (most are usually said at home in one's private prayer corner) the below prayer is said just before receiving communion. Some parishes (such as mine) have the prayer read aloud before the faithful. Some parishes include the prayer in the Liturgy books and rely on the faithful to say it on their own before going up to the chalice.

The reason I am sharing it with you is because I believe it beautifully encapsulates the beliefs of the Orthodox Church regarding the Eucharist. We could sit here and quote Church Fathers and the like all day, but I believe this is simpler, and more eloquently put. :)

Quote
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. Moreover, I believe that this is truly Thy most pure Body, and this is truly Thine Own precious Blood; wherefore, I pray Thee: Have mercy on me and forgive me my transgressions, voluntary and involunatry, whether in word or deed, in knowledge or in ignorance. And vouchsafe me to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, unto the remission of sins and life everlasting. Amen.

Behold, I approach the Divine Communion.

O Creator, let me not be burnt by communicating.

For Thou art Fire, consuming the unworthy.

But rather, purify me of all impurity.

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, receive me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the Mystery to Thine enemies; nor will I give Thee a kiss, as did Judas, but like the thief do I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in They kingdom.

Source: Jordanville Prayer Book, Fourth Edition, p. 372-373
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2011, 01:10:24 PM »
I remember that back home, perhaps under RC influence, the altar was rather rectangular than perfectly square.
I think the OO often have rectangular altars too, so it's not an "innovation".  ;)
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2011, 05:18:22 AM »
I remember that back home, perhaps under RC influence, the altar was rather rectangular than perfectly square.
I think the OO often have rectangular altars too, so it's not an "innovation".  ;)

The OO are free of innovations?

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2011, 11:48:20 AM »
Nice thread! Good questions, neat answers!

I'm curious as to the traditions With Orthodox altars.

-Do Orthodox altars typically have relics placed in them?

It is traditional, yes. When a church is consecrated, particularly the Holy Table itself, relics are placed inside. Many parishes in the US, though, don't have permanent altars (such as my parish, which is currently in a rented space) and therefore our altars do not have relics in them. An antimension (Gk., literally "instead of the table"), which is a cloth originally used to serve Liturgies on the go (i.e., for military chaplains) are now standard for serving liturgies, and always have a relic sewn into them. They are also signed by the diocesean hierarch. Though, I've heard some churches with a consecrated altar use another type of cloth that doesn't necessarily have relics. Forget what those are called, but all antimensia have relics.

Placing relics in Holy Tables and antimensia goes back to the practice of the early Church that served the Liturgy on the tombs of the martyrs, a reminder that Christ is "trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life."

-Are they typical of a particular shape? (I think I've only ever seen square, as opposed to the western rectangle)

Square is the most traditional, I believe. As one poster said, it's in remembrance of the Ark of the Covenant, on which the sacrifice of blood was sprinkled once a year for the sins of the people (Yom Kippur), now it is the place of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist. Ideally, the Holy Table is the exact dimensions of the Ark, which are given in the Pentateuch (in cubits, IIRC). Of course, this was also mentioned earlier.

I had never heard that western altars are so shaped in order to resemble a tomb. Just...never thought about it. Quite interesting!

-Do the Orthodox make use of a tabernacle? Or is this impractical due to the presentation of the Eucharist?

Yes, there should be a tabernacle on every Orthodox Holy Table that contains the Reserve Sacrament. It is replaced every Holy Thursday at the Liturgy of the Mystical Supper (which is why the Communion of the Clergy seems to be so long during that Liturgy, the priest is preparing the reserve Eucharist!) The remaining Reserve Sacrament is added to the chalice for the Communion of the Faithful and consumed. Also, Reserve Sacrament can be set aside at any Liturgy, doesn't have to be on Holy Thursday. This is particularly the case if a parish runs out before the next Holy Thursday comes around! Though, that is the traditional time it is done.

The Tabernacle sits on the Holy Table, and is almost always under glass. Many times it looks like a small church, as the picture given by another poster above indicates.
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Offline Marc1152

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2011, 12:01:10 PM »
Do Eastern Orthodox Christians ever pray to Jesus in the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is in the Tabernacle?

Not particularly, though some WRO do.  There wasn't the same problem with heresies denying the Real Presence in the East as their were in the West. In some ways the Western Eucharist contraveries present an analogy to the Iconoclastic contraversies in the East.  The Iconoclasts in fact denied icons because they said that the Eucharist was alone worthy of veneration, being identical with His prototype.  The prominence of icons coupled with this has mitiaged against any special devotion like Eucharistic adoration.
Would it be considered wrong for an Eastern Orthodox Christian to pray to Jesus in the Eucharist? I am not trying to argue or challenge. I am genuinely intersted how EOs related to the Eucharistic presence of Christ.

I would venture to say that it is incorrect to engage in RCC style Eucharistic veneration. It is almost like it dawned on someone that since Christ is present...then..therefore.. why not save it and worship it.. 

It's a novel internal logic that miss uses the Eucharist for a purpose it was not intended for. The Eucharist is meant to be consumed.   
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Offline kazakage

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Re: Orthodox Altars
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2011, 08:52:35 AM »
I remember that back home, perhaps under RC influence, the altar was rather rectangular than perfectly square.
I think the OO often have rectangular altars too, so it's not an "innovation".  ;)

The OO are free of innovations?

Neither square nor rectangular ;D syrian church in kerala, india..