|The blessing of the Bishop is required for us to serve Liturgy|
Father, you mentioned that the only way we can serve Liturgy here at St. Nicholas is with the blessing of the Bishop. Why, and what does that mean?
It is true that we can serve the Divine Liturgy here at St. Nicholas only with the blessing of our Diocesan Bishop. In fact, we cannot celebrate the Liturgy without a blessing to do so. This is because, as St. Polycarp of Smyrna reminds us, where the Bishop is, there is the Church gathered.
As the Bishop cannot be in multiple places at once, it is economical for Him to bless a community to serve the Liturgy at a place “instead of His Table”. Thus, He distributes a signed icon cloth, called the antimension, which literally means “instead of His Table” in Greek. This gives our community permission to serve the Liturgy. He also has the authority to remove this permission to serve.
Our Church is a Hierarchical Church. This means that we can see the ultimate authority of the Church in its Head, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This authority is then shared with the Hierarchs (Bishops), the clergy beneath them, and ultimately the laity. The order of the Church enables the continuation of the Gift of the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The reason for this direct connection with the Bishop is a tangible connection with Christ Himself. Our Bishop can trace the laying on of hands (ordination) all the way back to the Holy Apostle Mark, and thus to Christ Himself. This beautiful connection shows the continued Life present in the Church—the Life Eternal in the Joy of God the Father, promised by Christ, and enabled by the Holy Spirit.