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The Beauty of the Church: Its Place and Purpose

by His Grace Bishop Anthony, The Word, June 2015

When you have your wedding photo framed and hung in your home, you probably put that picture in the most expensive and stylish frame you can afford. You do not think of the cost, so much as the memory of the event it preserves and the feelings experienced. In this way, and with all family pictures, something more than paper and ink and color are present for us. It is the sacrament of the moment that counts. Material things become the conveyor or vehicle for an invisible and spiritual reality that is far more precious to us than the expense demanded to express it. Yet, if these special times in our lives are not adorned with the beauty and expense of frames and colors, we might cheapen them, and turn something that was wonderful into a common, forgettable and ordinary thing. The beauty of the material attracts us to the lasting value of the experience which that package re-presents.

March 28, 2012 + Turn On the Stove

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, January 1983

One of the things that housewives experience, to their utter frustration, is to make preparations for the biggest meal of the day, take the food out of the freezer and refrigerator, clean the vegetables, get everything ready and put it into the necessary pots and pans, place it on the stove and then remember an errand that needed to be run. Leaving the food to prepare itself on the stove top or in the oven, they run their errand and return to discover that, after taking all the pains of preparation, they forgot to turn on the stove. The food did not cook, so the family had to wait for supper. This has happened at my house and it has probably happened at yours. So I would like to discuss with you the need to turn on our stoves.

I recently had a very pleasant experience in demonstrating to the younger classes of our Church School the meaning of the preparation for the Divine Liturgy. One of the things I said to these children is that these gifts which are brought to the Church, bread and wine, which are prepared on the Altar of Oblation, are still very common gifts, things of the earth. They are changed into spiritual things by the energy of our prayers, yours and mine, and by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. But, unless we exert the energy to turn on the flame of the Holy Spirit, then that which we are cooking up just stays uncooked.

August 17, 2011 + Candles and Lights

by Fr. Theodore Ziton
from The Word, April 1968

The candle is one of the oldest and the most widely used sacramentals in the Church. It is one of the richest religious symbols or instruments used to express spiritual ideas. It is seen glowing throughout the entire Church and is used in every Sacrament except that of Confession.

Two things are needed for the illumination of the Church. They are oil and wax. The oil which comes from the fruit of the olive tree is symbolic of the grace of God. It is an indication that the Lord sheds His grace upon men, while men on their sides are ready to offer Him in sacrifice deeds of mercy. Pure wax which is collected by bees from the flowers of the field, is used as a token that the prayers of men offered from a pure heart are acceptable to God. And, too, the pure wax, produced by virgin worker bees, is a beautiful figure of the pure body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.

Thus, we see that the Church used and uses visible things of God’s creation to lead man to the invisible majesty of God’s Kingdom.

The candle is lit to illumine God’s home, the Church, but it is also a confession that He is the Light of the World, and that we attest to that light by our belief through prayers to Him. The lighted candle reminds us, too, of Christ’s gospel, the Holy Bible, which dispels the darkness of sin and ignorance; the lighted candle also stands for the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. For the individual Christian the candle’s flame means the faith that makes us “children of the light.”

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