We are borne by visible beauty to an invisible comeliness

LET my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 140(141):2.

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The holy table of an Orthodox Church

The holy table of an Orthodox Church: Visible beauties reflecting invisible comeliness.

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WHEREFORE, the Divine Institution of sacred Rites — having deemed it worthy of the supermundane imitation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, and having depicted the aforesaid immaterial Hierarchies in material figures and bodily compositions, in order that we might be borne, as far as our capacity permits, from the most sacred pictures to the instructions and similitudes without symbol and without type — transmitted to us our most Holy Hierarchy.

For it is not possible for our mind to be raised to that immaterial representation and contemplation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, without using the material guidance suitable to itself, accounting the visible beauties as reflections of the invisible comeliness;

and the sweet odours of the senses as emblems of the spiritual distribution;

and the material lights, as a likeness of the gift of the immaterial enlightenment;

and the detailed sacred instructions, [as a likeness] of the feast of contemplation within the mind;

and the ranks of the orders here, of the harmonious and regulated habit, with regard to Divine things;

and the reception of the most Divine Eucharist, of the partaking of Jesus.

St Denys, late 5th or early 6th century, “On The Heavenly Hierarchies” (CCEL).

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GREAT is the power of your Angels, O Christ, for being bodiless they hasten throughout the world, guarding the Churches with the strength that comes from you, Master, and they make entreaty for the whole inhabited world.

You Powers, Virtues, Angels, Archangels, Seraphim and Thrones, Principalities, Dominions and Cherubim of the ineffable glory and truly perfect wisdom, intercede now for the whole inhabited world.

Glory… Both now…

As through you we have obtained great benefits, O Immaculate, with the Angels we honour your Offspring, who in his supreme compassion vouchsafed to be born from your womb and to refashion the human race.

We offer you an evening hymn, O Christ, with incense and spiritual songs; have mercy, Saviour, on our souls.

Vespers on Sunday Evening. Translation from Anastasis.

See also my page The Angel Guardian.

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