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The significance of the Altar Doors and Iconostasis in the Othodox Church

Ever noticed the altar doors being left open in your Orthodox Church for the whole liturgical service? Do you remember the times when the doors used to only be opened at certain times during the liturgy? Have you noticed this change and is this change important? The answer may surprise you!

If you are familiar with the service and have some basic understanding of the Orthodox liturgy, then you will know that the altar doors do not stay open all the time. In fact they are closed for most of the time. There are good reasons for this. It is all explained in the following article from pravoslavie.ru

Mainly, the closed doors represent the idea that the heavenly realm is not yet fully open to us while still here on earth in this fallen state and is something we need to lament over. We are constantly reminded of this throughout the service.

The catholics have long renounced the separation of the altar and the rest of the church. Mystically this means that there is no real separation anymore between the earthly church and the heavenly realm. And it is no wonder. For too long has the chiliastic idea of “heaven on earth” taken over in the west.

There are many Orthodox churches today that are just going along with this modernistic idea and adopt the very same layout. But for the more traditional Churches, where there is still an Iconostasis and altar doors and curtains, is it of no significance that the altar doors are now being left fully open during the whole service?

St Basil the Great also extended the use of the Iconostasis in order to prevent people staring at the clergy who were in deep prayer, often sweating. And for acolytes and others in the Sanctuary from distraction by eye roaming at the people, especially attractive ladies.

Next time you go to your Church maybe you may ask yourselves … why the change?


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