From OrthodoxWiki
Revision as of 17:40, May 2, 2006 by Andrew (talk | contribs) (add som examples)
Jump to: navigation, search

In the Church, symbolism plays a very important role for the Church is material and spiritual. The material can seen, and it is accessible, but the spiritual is indicated through symbols.

This article or section is a stub (i.e., in need of additional material). You can help OrthodoxWiki by expanding it.

In the Church

The symbolism of the Church cannot be successfully studied outside the Liturgy. Separated from the divine services, symbolism loses its meaning and becomes a series of sterile abstractions. Symbols die when they are falsely invented, or rationally explained.

Mysterious language

Symbolism expresses indirectly, through images, that which cannot be expressed directly materially or verbally. Symbolism hides truths which it reflects from those who are not initiated and makes them understandable to those who know how to approach them.

Symbol not just sign

There is a necessary spiritual distinction between symbol and sign. A sign only portrays reality. A symbol always qualifies it in a certain way, bringing forth a superior reality. To understand a sign is to translate an indication. To understand a symbol is to participate in the presence. Symbols are not mere illustrations, not are they a substitute of reality. They have the power and competence of manifesting God to men, signs into the genuine union and knowledge of things eternal and divine.


Much symbolism is connected to the icons, the cross, the vestments.

Also the Church uses bread, wine, wheat, oil, water, flowers, and fruits because their very being and existence as expressions of God, as symbols of his presence and action in the world for man, his love, mercy, goodness, life and the very presence given to man in creation and salvation. In short symbols of truth.

Incense is the symbol of the rising of prayers, of spiritual sacrifice and of the sweet-smelling fragrance of the Kingdom of God.

Light is a universal symbol for the mystical presence of God as the True, the Beautiful and the Good.

External link

The Other Symbols