Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Theodore of Mopsuestia (4th Century) on the Duties of Deacons

When they bring out the Eucharistic bread they place it on the holy altar, for the complete representation of the passion, so that we may think of him on the altar, as if he were placed in the sepulchre, after having received his passion. This is the reason why those deacons who spread linens on the altar represent the figure of the linen clothes of the burial of our Lord. Sometime after these have been spread, they stand up on both sides, and agitate all the air above the holy body with fans, thus keeping it from any defiling object. They make manifest by this ritual the greatness of the body which is lying there, as it is the habit, when the dead body of high personages of this world is carried on a bier, that some men should fan the air above that. It is, therefore, with justice the same thing is done here with the body which lies on the altar, and which is holy, awe-inspiring and removed from all corruption; body which will very shortly rise to an immortal nature.

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