Consecration of a Greek Orthodox Church According to Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Detailed Account and Explanation of the Ritual
|Christo, Gus George
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The consecration of the worship space and the people who gather there for worship is a time honored custom. It has its roots in Old Testament scripture and its fruition in the New. The foundation is the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His perfect and complete Resurrection from the dead and enthronement at the right hand of God the Father.
God became accessible to the Israelites through the temple ritual. The Temple, especially the Holy of Holies, became the site where God concretely interacted with His people. The people of God found it necessary to dedicate such space through an elaborate ritual which set apart this space for worship and ultimate communion with God. Likewise, the Christians, as Israel fulfilled, consecrate their entire beings to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They see themselves as liturgical creatures who commune in the very life of the Holy Trinity via the Flesh and Blood of the Son of God. For this to take place, they congregate on hallowed ground, where heaven and earth unite, and they participate in the Mysteries of the everlasting Kingdom, which were inaugurated and consummated by the Son in His risen and glorified Humanity.
This study reveals how the intimate link between the prototypical martyrdom of Christ, and its cosmic saving effects, and the death of the holy martyrs mandates that holy relics of martyrs be interred in the altar table, which is the focal point of the local Church. The subsequent baptism and chrismation of the altar table solidify the identification of the heavenly realm upon the hallowed ground. The spiritual wedding of the Christians as brides of Christ the Bridegroom becomes accessible through the Sacraments that emanate from the celestial altar. The local Church is the revelation of the eschaton in time and space.
An appendix containing the rite of consecration as celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Church follows the study. Also included is an index listing the citations of consecration, dedicating and anointing in the holy scriptures.
“I wholeheartedly thank Rev. Dr. Gus George Christo for making available to a wider audience this beautiful consecration service of the Orthodox Faith. Fr. Christo realized the exigency of having this rite explained and brought to the forefront … The reader of this little treasure will be able to echo the words prayed during the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy service: “Lord, bless those who praise You and sanctify those who trust in You…Protect the whole Body of your church. Sanctify those who love the beauty of Your house. Glorify them in return by Your divine power …”. Amen.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Georgia J. Mandakas (M.T.S., 1985), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
“Reverend Christo’s book on the history and the rite of the Orthodox Church’s rite of consecration proved to be a timely and well-written book on the important church service that often is not well-recognized or fully appreciated. In explaining the theology, but especially in revealing how this service is done, he goes to great lengths to show how the Holy Spirit sanctifies and makes prevalent God’s real action and work among the faithful by being invisibly, yet wonderfully present throughout the history of Christendom. He is exhaustive in the historical context of its development, yet makes it really present through the introduction of his parish’s consecration and the relics interred. This will be a welcome edition to this study for students of the topic, yet easy enough for all interests. Congratulations to Fr. Christo for making this accessible to all.” – Fr. John Stavropoulos, Pastor of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, North Carolina
“This book, written in a clear and pleasant style, is neatly divided into two basic divisions: The first part analyzes the two-day ritual of consecration. The author, with meticulous attention to detail, goes over each segment of the ritual, carefully noting the deeper meanings attached to each gesture and action. The second part is a text of the consecration service, which permits one to read and meditate upon the actual words used in the ceremony. The footnotes are plentiful and quite descriptive. They allow even someone unfamiliar with liturgical ritual to understand precisely what is being inferred. It is also evident that the author compiled the index, detailing scriptural reference consecration, with painstaking care.” – Fr. Dennis Listermann-Vierling, Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church, Florida
Table of Contents
Preface by Georgia J. Mandakas
1. The Centrality of Relics in the Church
2. The Service of the Preparation of the Holy Relics
3. The service of Consecration
4. The Conclusion of the Service and the Benediction
Appendix - A
Appendix – B
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