The Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church

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AO1: Choose two different denominations. Select and explain the main features of each place of worship. Compare and contrast the way in which the features of the churches are used in worship.

The Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church holds a great belief in the “word-picture” of the church having believers in heaven as well as on earth, spanning time as well as space. The worship is incredibly spiritual and mysterious and a huge amount of incense and candles contribute to this by setting a frightfully heavenly aurora. Much belief relies on traditional methods of the church and what ideas have been passed down through generations and are drawn also from the Holy Scriptures. Both of these can be seen through the way the actual church as building is designed and decorated.

     The ceiling is a great dome, which is there to represent heaven. Usually pictures of Jesus and his mother are found upon it. The floor symbolises earth and the nave is in the shape of a square which, is to show Gods orderly world and each of its corners that are in remembrance of the four evangelists. The real thing that strikes you when you first enter a Greek Orthodox Church is the huge wooden or stone screen, separating the nave and sanctuary usually about five panels high. It is the iconostasis and is covered in beautiful, colourful icons and in the centre of it are the royal doors. These are only passed through by the elected priest (chosen as Gods representative) and ordained clergy who prepare the Divine Liturgy upon the high altar to be taken out for the communion ceremony. The royal doors usually carry icons of the evangelists and Annunciation. There are side doors to the iconostasis which are used by the deacons and servers and they sometimes show the archangels Michael and Gabriel upon them. On one side of the royal doors is usually a big icon of Christ and on the opposite side lies an icon of the Mother of God, Mary. The other panels show icons of saints form the Old and New Testament. The icon acts as a window onto eternity and is intended as a medium of prayer for it isn’t worshipped but venerated. This means that it is treated with reverence because it points to the holy person or event depicted. These are in turn images of God’s power and many Orthodox homes have as icon corner, where lamps or candles are lit and where the family goes for prayer. Other worshippers when in church devote themselves to that saint or event alone for the duration of the service. The separation of the interior of the church is alike the divide between heaven and earth in the way that once you are past the royal doors you are within Gods presence.

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     Readings and sermons are preached from the pulpit for the voice is projected across the congregation, which is usually standing due to the idea of no seats or pews in the Orthodox Church. The high altar is Gods throne and the climax of orthodox worship is the Eucharist where the high altar is used for the preparation of the bread and the wine that is taken to the communion table through the royal doors during the uniting of heaven and earth.

The thurible’s are used for the burning of incense and the lighting of candles is supposed to ...

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