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TABERNACLES

Tabernacles

 

 

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Holy Mysteries (reserved sacrament) are kept in a tabernacle or ark on the altar at all times. The tabernacle is normally wrought of gold, silver, or wood and elaborately decorated. It is often shaped like a miniature church building, and usually has a cross on the top of it. It may be opened using small doors, or a drawer that pulls out. Some churches keep the tabernacle under a glass dome to protect it (and the Holy Mysteries) from dust and changes in humidity. When Orthodox Christians receive Holy Communion, they always receive in both species: the Body and the Blood of Christ. This includes Communion taken to the sick. Therefore, both are reserved in the tabernacle. Every year on Holy Thursday, the reserved Mysteries are renewed. The priest will cut an extra Lamb (host) for that liturgy and after the consecration, just before the clergy receive communion, the priest will take the extra Lamb and carefully pour a little of the Blood of Christ over it. This Lamb will then be cut into very small portions, allowed to dry thoroughly, and be placed in the tabernacle. The deacon (or priest, if there is no deacon) will consume whatever remains of the previous year's reserved sacrament when he performs the ablutions. A small receptacle called a pyx is used for taking communion to the sick. While designs may differ, this often consists of a metal case with a chain attached so it can be hung around the neck. Inside the case are several compartments. One compartment contains a small box with a tightly-fitting lid into which some of the reserved Holy Mysteries will be placed.

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