(Part II in a series of posts encouraging reverence of the Holy things)
When the priest stands at the royal doors and blesses the altar at the end of the Little Entrance (the one where he or the deacon carries the Gospel book), he says “Blessed is the entrance into your holy of holies…”. He is identifying this space in the parish temple with the most sacred section of the Old Testament temple, the Holy of Holies. This is where the arc of the covenant was kept and where God spoke with his people. Since God had not yet taken on a body, or any lasting physical form, the arc of the covenant was the closest God’s people had to a physical space where God was present in a unique way, and could be engaged with in a specific location. In the arc were kept three physical items that God has used to manifest his presence and will. In our temple’s Holy Place and on the Holy Table, we keep the mysteries that “fulfilled” these Old Testaments manifestations. The 10 Commandments written on stone have been fulfilled by the written Word of God that is the Gospel book. The bread from heaven that was the manna has been fulfilled by the Eucharist in the tabernacle that is the Bread of Life, Christ himself, come down from heaven to dwell with us, as one of us. The Rod of Aaron that blossomed life from a dead piece of wood has been fulfilled by the hand cross, a representation of the cross of Christ that brought life through death.