fr michael j buben
The Ikonostasis: Its meaning in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Eastern Orthodox Churches everywhere
by Fr. Michael Buben
from The Word, February 1958
Every Orthodox Christian upon entering his Holy Temple for worship sees first a partition dividing the Sanctuary (altar) from the central Body of the building. What is the story for this partition called Ikonostasis?
The Ikonostasis, its present form and ritualistic purpose is a development in the Church, which traces its foundation to the beginning of Old Testament History. During the Theocratic reign of the Hebrews, God Himself, through the lineage of Abraham (Exodus 25, 1-4: Chronicles 28, 19) and Abraham’s descendants, gave instructions and laws by which mankind could receive redemption from the downfall. We read the following instructions given by God to Moses -
“And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made. And thou shalt hang it on four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy” (Exodus 26, 31-33).
We learn that the ARK was to be placed behind the vail with an altar on which were to be placed two golden Cherubims who were to guard the Ark of the Testament with their wings. The curtain (vail) was to divide the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies! (Sanctum a Sancto Sanctorom.)
A Story from Holy Orthodox Tradition
by Fr. Michael J. Buben
from The Word, March 1960
According to the witness of Holy Scripture, the old Simeon was a man “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” (Luke 2, 25). From God, Simeon had been foretold about the coming of the True Messiah. Ancient historians teach us the following about Saint Simeon.
The great and divinely inspired work of translating the Old Testament Books from the Hebrew to the Greek language was begun by Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt (Seventy-two (sometimes referred to as 70) Hebrew elders from the twelve tribes of Israel were selected for the work of translation. Each Hebrew elder was a teacher of Mosaic Law, a Scriptural Scholar, and proficient in both the Greek and Hebrew languages. These divinely inspired men brought forth the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Among these scholars who translated the Books of the Old Testament into Greek on the island of Pharos, near the city of Alexandria was the elder Simeon.
While translating the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Simeon came to the words; “Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son” (Isaiah 7, 14). Reading them, he became confused, thinking that it was impossible for a Virgin without husband to give birth. Simeon took a knife and was ready to erase the word — Virgin — and substitute the word — wife. At this time an angel of God appeared, held Simeon’s hand and said: