Thursday, June 9, 2011

Church architecture and catholic unity

The renowned iconographer Leonid Ouspensky points out a noteworthy and apparently important aspect of Orthodox church design and its chief aim:
"In an Orthodox church, all efforts are aimed not at creating a place that calls for 'solitary meditation, a turning inward, a prolonged private conversation with one's own secrets' —but at including man in the catholic unity of the Church so that in its entirety, earthly and heavenly, it may acknowledge and praise God "with one mouth and one heart." - from Theology of the Icon, Volume II
So we see here Ouspensky notes that the main focus of Orthodox church architectural design is for the purposes of the Liturgy, the common worship of the people. (Perhaps from this stems the typical absence of the confessionals and the private devotional chapels featured within the church structures of Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions?) This focus on the common experience, or better put, the catholic unity, is something I have noticed in the worship of the Divine Liturgy.

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