Wednesday 8 February 2012

Marble Altar

The last few days we focused on building the marble part of our Altar.

First of all within the wooden Altar we had built a base with bricks and cement.

The four sides of this base were covered with marble.

A small box (15 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm) was built on the top of that base.

Then we fixed on that base the marble top, a very white kind of “Thasos” marble.

We should emphasise the financial contribution, in regard to the actual marble materials as well as to the building of the base, of Dr. Seraphim and Mrs. Andri Kiriakidis. We are very grateful and thankful to them.

It should also be mentioned that all the marble pieces were prepared in Serres, Macedonia, Greece and transferred from Thessaloniki to London free of charge by the lorries of Mondial Forwarding of Mr. George Antipas.

In each Orthodox place of worship the faithful will always find, at the center of the Sanctuary, the holy altar table. It is upon this table that the Word of God rests in the text of the Holy Gospels and it is upon this table that our Lord is sacrificed offering His gifts on behalf of all and for all. It is no wonder that some Orthodox theologians would consider the Holy Altar Table to be the seat or place of Christ in the Church.

The practice of the ancient church was simply to celebrate the "breaking of bread" on a simple wooden table not unlike that used in the Last Super. In time though, the place on which the bread was broken changed from common wooden tables to the righteous tombs of those men and women of the faith who were persecuted and martyred in the name of our Lord. This practice evolved into the use of marble altar tables (reminiscent of tombs) in which the precious relics of the martyrs of the Church are housed.

Although the altar table has developed over time, the Church has remained steadfast to the practice of a priest only celebrating one Eucharistic celebration, the Divine Liturgy, from one altar table on a particular day. An early Father of the Church, Saint Ignatios (about 37-105) instructs the Christians to "hold one Eucharist; for one is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ; one is the cup of union with His Blood; then there should be one altar as there should be one bishop." A large community with a number of priests may in fact celebrate two liturgies, however, in the spirit of this tradition each liturgy would have a different chief celebrant who would serve at different altar tables.

Today, the Altar Table is covered with two cloths. The first cover next to the flesh of the table, the katasarkion, is reminiscent of the shroud placed on our Lord in the tomb upon His burial. It is placed on the table upon its consecration by the bishop and remains there permanently as the very Body of our Lord has sanctified it. The second and often richly ornate cloth placed on the table stems from a gesture of the Emperor Constantine in the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. As an offering of respect and love Constantine brought forth a beautiful cloth "gold threaded and adorned with precious stones" to cover the table which houses the relics of the martyrs and upon which is placed the precious gifts of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today, members of the body of Christ offer beautiful altar covers in like manner.

Thursday 2 February 2012

February 2012

Wednesday, 1st February: 6.00 pm Vespers & Blessing of the new month

Thursday, 2nd February: 9.30 am Matins & Divine Liturgy
..........Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple
..........12.00 noon Parish Club

Friday, 3rd February: 8.30 pm Karate presentation in our Community Hall

Sunday, 5th February: 6.00 pm Annual Dinner & Dance, organised by St. Agatha Ladies’ Sisterhood
..........Feast of St. Agatha

Tuesday, 7th February: 6.00 pm Supplicatory Canon to St. Panteleimon
..........6.30 pm Bible Study: “The Holy Island of Tenos”

Thursday, 9th February: 12.00 noon Parish Club
..........5.30 pm Vespers

Friday, 10th February: 9.30 am Matins & Divine Liturgy
..........Feast of St. Charalambos

Sunday, 12th February: 12.15 pm Oath Ceremony for the Ladies’ Committee
..........4.30 pm Afternoon Tea, organised by St. Agatha Ladies’ Sisterhood
..........A talk will be delivered by The Very Rev'd Protopresbyter Fr. Milun Kostic
..........Theme: “Serbian Orthodox Spirituality”

Tuesday, 14th February: 6.00 pm Supplicatory Canon to St. Paraskevi
..........6.30 pm Bible Study: “The virtue of discretion”

Thursday, 16th February: 12.00 noon Parish Club

Friday, 17th February: 6.00 pm Vespers & Memorial Services

Saturday, 18th February: 9.30 am Matins, Divine Liturgy & Memorial Services
..........1st Saturday of Souls

Tuesday, 21st February: 6.00 pm Supplicatory Canon to Virgin Mary
..........6.30 pm Bible Study: “The offerings of the faithful”

Thursday, 23rd February: 12.00 noon Parish Club

Friday, 24th February: 6.00 pm Vespers & Memorial Services

Saturday, 25th February: 9.30 am Matins, Divine Liturgy & Memorial Services
..........2nd Saturday of Souls

Sunday, 26th February: 6.00 pm Vespers of Forgiveness

Monday, 27th February: 12.00 noon Clear Monday Lunch
..........Clear Monday - Beginning of Great Lent

Tuesday, 28th February: 6.00 pm Great Compline
..........6.30 pm Bible Study: “The meaning of Great Lent”

Wednesday, 29th February: 9.30 am Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts