Meeting of heaven and earth
This book addresses the subjects of the Divine Liturgy and worship, the ecclesiastical arts, pastoral care, the Church’s structure and the Councils.
‘The Divine Liturgy as a Meeting of Heaven and Earth’ looks at the theophanies and appearances of angels witnessed by the saints during the Divine Liturgy, which is a participation in heavenly things and a foretaste of the heavenly Liturgy.
Other chapters look at the conciliar and hierarchical structure of the Church, church buildings, icons, liturgical life and noetic worship in the heart.
‘Ecclesiastical Music: the Music of the Angels’ asserts that the aim of church music is to make us aware of God’s presence, to renew our hearts and to convey the atmosphere of the heavenly Church.
‘The Icon in Orthodox and Western Tradition’ takes a theological and cultural view of icons. The difference between Orthodox and Western iconography is due to differences in lifestyle and ethos. The grace of God acts through the holy icons depending on the state of those who venerate them.
According to Orthodox ecclesiastical experience the bishop is above all a spiritual father and physician who cures spiritual illnesses. The chapter on the pastoral ministry of St Gregory Palamas demonstrates how the Church’s teachings, particularly on hesychasm, are passed on to all members of the Church and form part of their life. Bishops are responsible for safeguarding the truth of the revelation and the unity of the Church, as well as transmitting the ecclesiastical tradition.
Another chapter stresses that it is essential for spiritual fathers to make their confession. The personal life of members of the Clergy must be marked by a constant striving for regeneration in Christ.
Many Orthodox do not recognise the Eighth Ecumenical Council, in which St Photius played a leading role. In the chapters on ‘St Photius the Great and the Eighth Ecumenical Council’ and ‘The Councils of 879-889 and 1351 as Ecumenical Councils’ the author asks why we stop counting the Ecumenical Councils after the Seventh and do not recognise the Councils of 879-889 and 1351 as the Eighth and Ninth Ecumenical Councils. Answering this question would help to clarify the prevailing confusion in theological issues and would provide the basis for discussing the return of Western Christians to the unity of the Orthodox Church.