Iconostasis

As Sue mentioned previously, for Family Formation this month we will be using an icon.  Icons come to us from the Eastern Catholic Church.  However icons are not haphazardly located in an Eastern Catholic Church but rather the placement of icons in the church relates to the hierarchical nature of the earthly and heavenly community of the Church.  Where sanctuary and nave meet, where heaven and earth come together in terms of Eastern Catholic Church structure and liturgy is the iconostasis.  The iconostasis, besides merely being a place on which one may rest icons, is the meeting point between God and humanity.  It separates the earthly community from the heavenly community, as is evidenced by the fact that the icons set on the iconostasis are representative of the heavenly community.  Each iconostasis is made up of three doors.  The most important doors are the double doors in the center of the iconostasis.  These are known as the Holy Doors.  Only an ordained priest may enter these doors.  When the Holy Doors of the iconostasis are open, one knows that heaven is open and the barrier between heaven and earth has temporarily passed away.  What is interesting to note is that the imagery on the Holy Doors bespeaks how humanity has access to  Jesus Christ.   The Holy Doors typically have an icon of the Annunciation on them.  Through the message of the angel Gabriel and Mary’s fiat, humanity was given the Word Incarnate.  The Holy Doors are open during consecration and communion so that parishioners may receive the same Word Incarnate.   Through the four evangelists, humanity received the good news through the Word of God in the words of God.  One of the few times other than at consecration and communion that the Holy Doors are opened is when the Gospel is read, also known in the Byzantine rite as the Little Entrance.  Therefore, not only are heaven and earth united in the Eucharist but also in the Liturgy of the Word.

Yours in Christ,

Matthew Brounstein

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