What is Holy Consecration?
The Holy Consecration of a Church is a sacred event that will happen only once in the history of our Church community, Transfiguration. The Consecration is a holy service where the Church is set apart to be “in the world, but not of the world,” dedicated to God. The Service of the Holy Consecration involves ceremonies that have been performed for thousands of years and date back to the Holy Tabernacle of Moses and then the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The hymns teach us its meaning.
Be renewed, be renewed, O New Jerusalem, because your light has shown, and the glory of the Lord has come upon you. This house has been founded by the Father, this house has been made firm by the Son, this house has been renewed by, the Holy Spirit, which illumines and supports, and hallows our souls.
In early times, while the temple was consecrated, Solomon offered to the Lord sacrifices of animals and holocausts. When you were pleased in us O Saviour, to forgo the formalities and let the truth be known, the whole world offers to You the bloodless sacrifices [on Your altar], to Your glory, because You are the Lord of all things and make everything holy through Your Holy Spirit.
What is salvation for an Orthodox Christian? For an Orthodox Christian salvation is union with Christ, through His Holy Spirit. This union with Christ is called the “Life in Christ”. The center of this “Life in Christ” is the Holy Altar, as well as the services which are related to it, i.e. the Seven Sacraments. Because the Holy Altar is so important in the life of an Orthodox Christian, the service of Consecration centers around the Holy Altar Table. In simple terms the Consecration Service is the Baptism and Chrismation of the Church.
What happens at a Consecration Service?
Before the Consecration Service begins, all Articles on the Altar Table are removed, and the Altar is left uncovered with nothing on it. When His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah enters the Church he will bring with him the relics of three Saints. These relics will be placed on a Paten (Diskarion), which will remain on the Altar Table overnight, together with a Vigil Light.
The Consecration of the Church begins on the Eve of the celebration with a short Prayer Service honoring the memory of Martyrs. These Vespers will be on Friday evening, August 5, 2016.
On the morning of Saturday, August 6, 2016, our community’s feastday of our Savior’s Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, we will be able to finally process around our Church building because we will have built the traditional and necessary walkway around its perimeter. It is in this way, only, that we set the Church building apart to become holy unto God. In a solemn procession that has been done for centuries, we follow His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah as he leads us with the Saints through the Holy Relics of the three martyrs gifted to us.
Secondly, the Metropolitan will command the front doors of the Church to be opened so “that the King of Glory may enter in.” The Holy Relics will be taken directly into the Holy Altar.
Thirdly, the Holy Relics will be placed and sealed in the Holy Altar Table, just as the first altars in the Early Church were the tombs of the holy martyrs. These saints will be our parish’s personal patrons and protectors, interceding on our behalf before the Lord.
Together with the Saints’ Holy Relics, the names of all those who pledged as Consecration Godparents and their loved ones will be sealed with them, to reside in this Holy Altar forever. These names will include the names of our community’s founding fathers and mothers, and any names offered in memory of a loved one.
Fourthly, the Holy Altar will be washed and the Altar and icons of the Church will be anointed with Holy Chrism, representing the Baptism and Chrismation of the Church. The Holy Altar will be dressed with new altar coverings and vessels.
At the conclusion of this service, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah will bring to all the faithful the Vigil Light, an oil lamp or kandyli which sits in front of the Holy Artophorion perpetually housing the Body and Blood of Christ. This light reminds us of the unfailing light of our Transfigured Christ in His Holy Resurrection.
After we have all offered our oil to the holy vigil lamp, we will begin the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.