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Offline wolf

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Is an altar necessary?
« on: June 24, 2011, 07:31:11 AM »
In Roman Catholicism, an altar or altar stone is necessary in order to celebrate the Eucharist. Is this the case in Orthodoxy? As I understand it, the very early Christians did not have altars, sanctuaries, iconostasis, or church buildings - so I am guessing that these things are not strictly necessary but came about later as the Church reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist celebration. Would that be a correct evaluation?

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2011, 07:34:58 AM »
Antimension is necessary. It can be placed on any table.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2011, 08:13:21 AM »
Quote
As I understand it, the very early Christians did not have altars, sanctuaries, iconostasis, or church buildings -


The Eucharist was originally served on the graves of Christian martyrs, due to their regard for the holiness of their relics. The Antimension/Antimins has a saint's relic sewn into it (and is signed by the bishop under whose obedience the priest is), in reference to this practice. Similarly, a consecrated altar in an Orthodox church also contains relics embedded in it. But, it is not absolutely necessary for the altar to be consecrated in order to conduct a proper liturgy. However, without an antimension, a liturgy cannot proceed.
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Offline Monk Vasyl

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2011, 09:24:22 AM »
I remember reading about the Catacomb Saints of Russia, and they would secretly celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the body of one of their fellow inmates.  But then these were extraordinary situations.
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Offline Irish_Melkite

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2011, 11:53:28 AM »
Antimension is necessary. It can be placed on any table.

Absolutely.  If the bishop or his representative place a parish/church/chapel/monastery under Interdict, the antimension is removed and therefore, services cannot be held in that place. 

Offline Dart

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 06:15:21 PM »
Antimensions did not exist until the 12th century and were originally used as a substitute for a consecrated altar. Today they are used even if there is a consecrated altar. Secondly, the posts above all refer to a priest requiring an Antimension but no one has mentioned if a Bishop is required to utilize one also.

Jesus, as far as I understand, did not conduct the first Eucharist on an altar or even on a Antimension. The Apostles and early christian church is unlikely to have done so either. As for the catacomb Church, this is mostly legend as the early Church generally met in houses. The stench from an active catacomb would be unbearable.

The artwork in the catacombs which is often used as evidence of a church there is generally crude and hastily drawn. This is understandable considering the stench at the time would not encourage an artist or graffiti writer to linger.

Offline LBK

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2011, 07:46:42 PM »
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Jesus, as far as I understand, did not conduct the first Eucharist on an altar or even on a Antimension.

Utterly irrelevant, when God Himself conducted that Eucharist!
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Offline Melodist

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2011, 09:06:23 PM »
Jesus, as far as I understand, did not conduct the first Eucharist on an altar or even on a Antimension.

The Eucharist is Christ's Body and Blood offered up on the cross, made present everywhere every time the Eucharist is celebrated. The cross is the altar on which Christ made His offering. How does Christ make present at the last supper the reality of events yet to come? I don't know, but He does and He says that's what He is doing when He does it.

Heb 7:26-27
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

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For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
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Offline Melodist

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2011, 09:18:06 PM »
Also a side note, the word "antimension" means "instead of the table". It is representative of the local bishop's altar.
And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2011, 09:45:35 PM »
In Roman Catholicism, an altar or altar stone is necessary in order to celebrate the Eucharist. Is this the case in Orthodoxy? As I understand it, the very early Christians did not have altars, sanctuaries, iconostasis, or church buildings - so I am guessing that these things are not strictly necessary but came about later as the Church reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist celebration. Would that be a correct evaluation?

In the case of Orthodoxy, as mentioned above, an Antimension (Antimitsion, whatever) is required, and a table.  Yes, while the Antimension cloth was not present in the, say, 4th century Church, we do believe that the Holy Spirit guides the tradition of the Church, and we remain faithful to that tradition as handed down by the successors of the Apostles, the clergy, and the pious faithful.  As far as I know, even hierarchs are required to use the Antimension during Divine Liturgy; I have never seen an exception written in an Archieratikon (the "Arch-hieratical Guide" or "Archpriest's book"), and have never witnessed a hierarchical Liturgy celebrated without it.
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Offline Gisasargavak

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2011, 10:52:23 PM »
A couple years back our church's roof needed repairs and it was too unsafe to celebrate Liturgy there. So instead, they set up a makeshift altar in the fellowship hall. As I recall they used a consecrated stone so that they could celebrate the Eucharist there, instead of on the altar. It makes sense as the other Oriental Orthodox apparently use wood and not simply a cloth.

Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2011, 10:56:32 PM »
The reason that relics are used in the altar consecration and in the antimension is because of the Early Christians in the catacombs.  Decomposing boides held the worst stench until around a year after burial (I can't explain why here), and some of the early Christians had to go into the catacombs (where often their church was set up) to avoid being persecuted.  

Relics are sealed inside the altar table as well as the antimension.    I once heard a priest explain that an antimension is like a "portable altar of sorts".  A priest carries  the antimension with him when holding a liturgy (having Eucharist) on the road, when visiting the sick, and where the altar is not available.

The question is a bit confusing, do you mean the transmutation of the Eucharist or the "celebrating" of the Eucharist?
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2011, 11:14:12 PM »
A couple years back our church's roof needed repairs and it was too unsafe to celebrate Liturgy there. So instead, they set up a makeshift altar in the fellowship hall. As I recall they used a consecrated stone so that they could celebrate the Eucharist there, instead of on the altar. It makes sense as the other Oriental Orthodox apparently use wood and not simply a cloth.

The stone is called a "vem kar."  I know very little about it, but I found this:


Quote
4. The Prothesis (Arachaturootioon)

After the above prayer the curtain of the altar closes and the celebrant starts to prepare the Prothesis on the altar. But before we proceed to explain the mystery of Prothesis, let us investigate the meaning of the altar. The Armenian word for the altar is khoran, which means the tent or tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, symbolizing the presence of God. (Ex. 25:8-9). Altar is derived from the Latin words Altus, high, and Ara, elevation. It is the place where the holy sacrifice was offered (Ex. 25). It must be consecrated before its use as a sacramental table and must be built of stone. (Deut. 27: 5-7). (Also, for references to tabernacles, see Ex. 25:9, 40:34; Num. 9:18; II Ch. 8: 13). If it is impossible to build a solid stone altar, a consecrated stone must be placed at the forward edge of the table in the center where the chalice rests. During the early centuries wooden altars, were common, but after 517 A. I), they were prohibited in the West. In the Armenian Church, Catholicos Hovham of Otsoon (717-728) explicitly forbade the use of altars other than those made of stone.

If there are no altar facilities, according to the requirements of the Armenian Apostolic Church, a Vem Kar (a consecrated piece of stone) may be used, just large enough that the chalice may rest upon it.


http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/sacraments_p3.html

Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2011, 11:20:50 PM »
At both Summer and Winter Orthodox camps, the facilities are owned and operated by the 7th day Adventists, and the Mennonites.  They don't use altars.  The priests just put the antimension on a fold-out table in the front of their chapel, and celebrate liturgy.

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2011, 12:25:51 AM »
A couple years back our church's roof needed repairs and it was too unsafe to celebrate Liturgy there. So instead, they set up a makeshift altar in the fellowship hall. As I recall they used a consecrated stone so that they could celebrate the Eucharist there, instead of on the altar. It makes sense as the other Oriental Orthodox apparently use wood and not simply a cloth.

The stone is called a "vem kar."  I know very little about it, but I found this:


Quote
4. The Prothesis (Arachaturootioon)

After the above prayer the curtain of the altar closes and the celebrant starts to prepare the Prothesis on the altar. But before we proceed to explain the mystery of Prothesis, let us investigate the meaning of the altar. The Armenian word for the altar is khoran, which means the tent or tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, symbolizing the presence of God. (Ex. 25:8-9). Altar is derived from the Latin words Altus, high, and Ara, elevation. It is the place where the holy sacrifice was offered (Ex. 25). It must be consecrated before its use as a sacramental table and must be built of stone. (Deut. 27: 5-7). (Also, for references to tabernacles, see Ex. 25:9, 40:34; Num. 9:18; II Ch. 8: 13). If it is impossible to build a solid stone altar, a consecrated stone must be placed at the forward edge of the table in the center where the chalice rests. During the early centuries wooden altars, were common, but after 517 A. I), they were prohibited in the West. In the Armenian Church, Catholicos Hovham of Otsoon (717-728) explicitly forbade the use of altars other than those made of stone.

If there are no altar facilities, according to the requirements of the Armenian Apostolic Church, a Vem Kar (a consecrated piece of stone) may be used, just large enough that the chalice may rest upon it.


http://www.hyeetch.nareg.com.au/religion/sacraments_p3.html

That's right, it's called a "vem kar" moratsa! Thanks Salpy. :)

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2011, 01:14:26 AM »
As I understand it, the very early Christians did not have altars, sanctuaries, iconostasis, or church buildings...

They also didn't have Gospels or New Testaments, so depending on the reasoning behind your question, sometimes reductionism can be problematic.

One can probably make an archeological case for a formal altar in the first century. I'm not an expert, but I have seen some excavated first century "house churches" with a distinct table in the center of the room which I believe would qualify as an altar. I'd wait for Isa to show up and post a thousand pictures.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2011, 10:35:22 AM »

As I understand it, the very early Christians did not have altars, sanctuaries, iconostasis, or church buildings...
Are you sure about the altar? St. Paul says of the early Christians:
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
(Hebrews 13:9-10)
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2011, 10:44:15 AM »
Kind of sounds to me like early believers considered the grave of the martyr to be an altar made holy by the Saint's life.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2011, 06:48:39 PM »
Kind of sounds to me like early believers considered the grave of the martyr to be an altar made holy by the Saint's life.

Precisely! Well done.  :)
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Offline blackincense

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2011, 04:13:54 AM »
A good question .

I know that an antimension (spelling?) is necessary. This is cloth that contains the relic of a saint.  Having said that, I recall a story about St. (Bishop) Nikolai Velimirovic when he was in a Nazi concentration camp.  He wanted to serve Liturgy.  but there was no bread, no wine, no antimension.  Someone found a piece of bread and someone bribed a guard for a cup of red wine.  But they still had no antimension.  That same day, an Orthodox Christian died in the barracks.  So St. Nikolai had some other prisoners bring the body of the man to him...he served the entire liturgy over the body of this Orthodox martyr.  He laid a bedsheet over the man (as a antimension cloth) and he told the faithful who came for communion with this moldy bread and bad wine " This martyr, in his faith, tells us that all things are possible through Christ, who strengthens me..."  And he served the communion.

In my mind, this is true faith, true communion.  "Antimension" or no, St Nikolai proved that "economia" is true ---our Lord is ever merciful, ever kind, and everywhere and fills all things.  In a way, although I am a spoiled brat with all the comforts of the west, I wish I had been there to receive that Communion!!! How blessed is that???
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 04:15:56 AM by blackincense »

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2011, 04:33:10 AM »
A good question .

I know that an antimension (spelling?) is necessary. This is cloth that contains the relic of a saint.  Having said that, I recall a story about St. (Bishop) Nikolai Velimirovic when he was in a Nazi concentration camp.  He wanted to serve Liturgy.  but there was no bread, no wine, no antimension.  Someone found a piece of bread and someone bribed a guard for a cup of red wine.  But they still had no antimension.  That same day, an Orthodox Christian died in the barracks.  So St. Nikolai had some other prisoners bring the body of the man to him...he served the entire liturgy over the body of this Orthodox martyr.  He laid a bedsheet over the man (as a antimension cloth) and he told the faithful who came for communion with this moldy bread and bad wine " This martyr, in his faith, tells us that all things are possible through Christ, who strengthens me..."  And he served the communion.

In my mind, this is true faith, true communion.  "Antimension" or no, St Nikolai proved that "economia" is true ---our Lord is ever merciful, ever kind, and everywhere and fills all things.  In a way, although I am a spoiled brat with all the comforts of the west, I wish I had been there to receive that Communion!!! How blessed is that???

That's amazing.
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Offline wolf

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2011, 07:20:08 AM »
yeshuaisiam
Quote
The question is a bit confusing, do you mean the transmutation of the Eucharist or the "celebrating" of the Eucharist?

I mean "does the transmutation of the bread and wine into the body and blood need to be performed on an altar (or antimension)?"


Alveus Lacuna
Quote
They also didn't have Gospels or New Testaments, so depending on the reasoning behind your question, sometimes reductionism can be problematic.

One can probably make an archeological case for a formal altar in the first century. I'm not an expert, but I have seen some excavated first century "house churches" with a distinct table in the center of the room which I believe would qualify as an altar. I'd wait for Isa to show up and post a thousand pictures.

What I meant was that for something that seems to be so necessary to the celebration of the central mystery in Christianity (an altar) it would be very strange if it was not present in the first century. However, Jesus did promise to send the holy spirit. It would be very interesting to see any pictures anyone has.

Ozgeorge
Quote
Are you sure about the altar? St. Paul says of the early Christians:
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
(Hebrews 13:9-10)

Could the altar St. Paul talks about in Hebrews be the "heavenly altar" - where Christ makes his sacrifice, rather than a physical one? Now that the eternal sacrifice has been made the sacrifice at the second temple has been made null and void. They (who serve at the tabernacle) have no right to eat this new sacrifice because they are not Christians.
After all, we have no need of a temple or a physical altar or tabernacle anymore, apart from in as much as they participate in the heavenly altar and tabernacle. Or am I misunderstanding?

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2011, 09:48:39 AM »
Quote
Are you sure about the altar? St. Paul says of the early Christians:
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
(Hebrews 13:9-10)

Could the altar St. Paul talks about in Hebrews be the "heavenly altar" - where Christ makes his sacrifice, rather than a physical one? Now that the eternal sacrifice has been made the sacrifice at the second temple has been made null and void. They (who serve at the tabernacle) have no right to eat this new sacrifice because they are not Christians.
After all, we have no need of a temple or a physical altar or tabernacle anymore, apart from in as much as they participate in the heavenly altar and tabernacle. Or am I misunderstanding?
I don't think so. I think St. Paul is talking about the Eucharist. We eat this sacrifice and those who are unbaptised can't eat it. It would be strange for St. Paul to be speaking about a metaphorical "eating" since the same Apostle elsewhere clearly refers to the eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper, and also warns that those who do so without proper respect for the Sanctity of the Eucharist are not only guilty of sacrilege, but also risk physical illness as a result of coming into contact with the Divine Gifts unprepared (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). There can be no doubt that the sanctity of objects has been recognised in Christianity right from the beginning. In Acts we read that even handkerchiefs and aprons which had been in contact with the Apostles carried the sanctifying grace of healing (Acts 19:12).
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2011, 10:21:39 AM »
Quote
Are you sure about the altar? St. Paul says of the early Christians:
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
(Hebrews 13:9-10)

Could the altar St. Paul talks about in Hebrews be the "heavenly altar" - where Christ makes his sacrifice, rather than a physical one? Now that the eternal sacrifice has been made the sacrifice at the second temple has been made null and void. They (who serve at the tabernacle) have no right to eat this new sacrifice because they are not Christians.
After all, we have no need of a temple or a physical altar or tabernacle anymore, apart from in as much as they participate in the heavenly altar and tabernacle. Or am I misunderstanding?
I don't think so. I think St. Paul is talking about the Eucharist. We eat this sacrifice and those who are unbaptised can't eat it. It would be strange for St. Paul to be speaking about a metaphorical "eating" since the same Apostle elsewhere clearly refers to the eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper, and also warns that those who do so without proper respect for the Sanctity of the Eucharist are not only guilty of sacrilege, but also risk physical illness as a result of coming into contact with the Divine Gifts unprepared (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). There can be no doubt that the sanctity of objects has been recognised in Christianity right from the beginning. In Acts we read that even handkerchiefs and aprons which had been in contact with the Apostles carried the sanctifying grace of healing (Acts 19:12).
And does not the antimens, which has the relics of the saints in it, resemble a handkerchief or aprons?

Note also the saints under the altar in Rev. 6:9.  Earthly worship reflects heavenly things.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 10:50:52 AM by ialmisry »
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Offline wolf

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2011, 12:53:03 PM »
ozgeorge
Quote
I don't think so. I think St. Paul is talking about the Eucharist. We eat this sacrifice and those who are unbaptised can't eat it. It would be strange for St. Paul to be speaking about a metaphorical "eating" since the same Apostle elsewhere clearly refers to the eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper, and also warns that those who do so without proper respect for the Sanctity of the Eucharist are not only guilty of sacrilege, but also risk physical illness as a result of coming into contact with the Divine Gifts unprepared (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). There can be no doubt that the sanctity of objects has been recognised in Christianity right from the beginning. In Acts we read that even handkerchiefs and aprons which had been in contact with the Apostles carried the sanctifying grace of healing (Acts 19:12).

ialmisry
Quote
And does not the antimens, which has the relics of the saints in it, resemble a handkerchief or aprons?

Note also the saints under the altar in Rev. 6:9.  Earthly worship reflects heavenly things.

I don't have a problem with the sanctity of objects, or that worship should be beautiful and otherworldly, and should reflect the heavenly reality of the Divine Liturgy, just that the Antimension, Altar ect. seem to have come later in Church history, and yet they seem to be necessary. But, if the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church then it would seem to make sense. I don't think we can ever know for sure if the Apostles actually used such things.This:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01362a.htm

seems to think that the early Christian altars were tables, which would make sense, considering there would probably be no fixed place of worship.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2011, 01:04:27 PM »
seems to think that the early Christian altars were tables, which would make sense, considering there would probably be no fixed place of worship.
??? But the modern Orthodox Christian Altars are tables. They always have been. "Antimension" means "instead of the table", and the Altar in an Orthodox Church is properly called the "Holy Table" ("Αγια Τράπεζα").  The Greek word for "altar" ("θυσιαστήριο") is never used to describe the Holy Table.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2011, 01:31:28 PM »
ozgeorge
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I don't think so. I think St. Paul is talking about the Eucharist. We eat this sacrifice and those who are unbaptised can't eat it. It would be strange for St. Paul to be speaking about a metaphorical "eating" since the same Apostle elsewhere clearly refers to the eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper, and also warns that those who do so without proper respect for the Sanctity of the Eucharist are not only guilty of sacrilege, but also risk physical illness as a result of coming into contact with the Divine Gifts unprepared (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). There can be no doubt that the sanctity of objects has been recognised in Christianity right from the beginning. In Acts we read that even handkerchiefs and aprons which had been in contact with the Apostles carried the sanctifying grace of healing (Acts 19:12).

ialmisry
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And does not the antimens, which has the relics of the saints in it, resemble a handkerchief or aprons?

Note also the saints under the altar in Rev. 6:9.  Earthly worship reflects heavenly things.

I don't have a problem with the sanctity of objects, or that worship should be beautiful and otherworldly, and should reflect the heavenly reality of the Divine Liturgy, just that the Antimension, Altar ect. seem to have come later in Church history, and yet they seem to be necessary. But, if the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church then it would seem to make sense. I don't think we can ever know for sure if the Apostles actually used such things.This:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01362a.htm

seems to think that the early Christian altars were tables, which would make sense, considering there would probably be no fixed place of worship.
As Ozgeorge already pointed out, a Orthodox Christian altar is a table, and refering to as such. In fact altar-table as a term is common enough.

Odd that you post that link: did you read it?
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The Christian altar consists of an elevated surface, tabular in form, on which the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. The earliest Scripture reference to the altar is in St. Paul (1 Corinthians 10:21); the Apostle contrasts the "table of the Lord" (trapeza Kyriou) on which the Eucharist is offered, with the "table of devils", or pagan altars. Trapeza continued to be the favourite term for altar among the Greek Fathers and in Greek liturgies, either used alone or with the addition of such reverential qualifying terms as iera, mystike, The Epistle to the Hebrews (13:10) refers to the Christian altar as thysiasterion, the word by which the Septuagint alludes to Noah's altar. This term occurs in several of the Epistles of St. Ignatius (Ad Eph. v; Magnes. iv, 7; Philad. 4)
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For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop — I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature— how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity! Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses Matthew 18:19 such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole Church! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, God resists the proud. Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God.
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Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him all reverence, having respect to the power of God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly, from the manifest youthful appearance [of their bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey [your bishop], in honour of Him who has willed us [so to do], since he that does not so deceives not [by such conduct] the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.
It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment.
Seeing, then, all things have an end, these two things are simultaneously set before us— death and life; and every one shall go unto his own place. For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it, [so is it also here.] The unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion, His life is not in us.
Since therefore I have, in the persons before mentioned, beheld the whole multitude of you in faith and love, I exhort you to study to do all things with a divine harmony, while your bishop presides in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the assembly of the apostles, along with your deacons, who are most dear to me, and are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed. Do all then, imitating the same divine conduct, pay respect to one another, and let no one look upon his neighbour after the flesh, but continually love each other in Jesus Christ. Let nothing exist among you that may divide you; but be united with your bishop, and those that preside over you, as a type and evidence of your immortality.
As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do anything without the bishop and presbyters. Neither endeavour that anything appear reasonable and proper to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is more excellent. Therefore run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.
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Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth ] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God.
Since Patriarch St. Ignatius was consecrated by the Apostles themselves, and he is writing (well within a century of the Church's founding at Pentecost) to those evangelized by the Apostles, and refering to what they already known, we know for a fact that they had altars, at which the bishops presided over offering the Eucharist.

Antimens really only became necessary once bishops, with the growth of the Church, ceased to be the ordinary minister of the Divine Liturgy.  But even here, we know that was already started by the time of St. Ignatius:
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See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
smyrneans 8.
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth

Offline wolf

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Re: Is an altar necessary?
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2011, 06:41:05 AM »
OzGeorge
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But the modern Orthodox Christian Altars are tables. They always have been. "Antimension" means "instead of the table", and the Altar in an Orthodox Church is properly called the "Holy Table" ("Αγια Τράπεζα").  The Greek word for "altar" ("θυσιαστήριο") is never used to describe the Holy Table.

Well, that makes a lot more sense. I was imagining that there was some change from using a table to using something more like an altar, a big stone block.

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Odd that you post that link: did you read it?

Not all of it, but I was getting confused by the difference between an altar/table.

Thanks