The House of God
The Architectural Structure of an Orthodox Temple
- The Narthex
The Narthex is first architectural portion of the church edifice that one enters. It is a place within the church for personal prayers. It serves as a transitional space where worshipers lay down their worldly desires and cares. Candles are lit symbolizing the light of Christ. The Narthex is a place in which a renewing of the mind takes place. It is a place where worshipers prepare themselves to experience the Divine and Immutable God. The things of the material world and burdens of life are set aside and one bares their soul to the Almighty. The Narthex is also traditionally the place where those who are catechumens and have not been baptized would stand.
- The Nave
This is the portion of the church where the general congregation worships. This is a place of corporate prayer. We enter worship and pray as one body, celebrating the Divine Liturgy in unison. The entire congregation participates in the Liturgy, which is directed not to man, but as praises to God.
- The Iconostasis and Sanctuary
The Iconostasis is the wall of icons separating the Nave from the sanctuary in a church. The Iconostasis is always on the eastern wall, opposite of the Narthex. The placement of the icons and the order of veneration is very important in our faith. To the right of the royal doors is the icon of Christ, the Son of the Living God. Directly to the right of the icon of Christ, is St. John the Baptist. To the left of the royal doors is the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary. Directly to the left of The Theotokos is the icon of the saint or biblical event that the particular church is named after.
The sanctuary is the Holy of Holies, the place in which the altar is placed. Just as the in days of the Old Covenant, the priest stands before the holy place and celebrates the Liturgy, facing God at times, and leading the congregation in worship. He represents the congregation to God, and God to the congregation. It is a humbling and awesome responsibility that requires immense reverence for God.
This is where the bread and the wine are consecrated and made the precious blood and body of Christ our God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Only ordained clergy may stand directly before the Altar. The Altar sits right behind the Royal doors, which only a ordained clergy may pass through.