Why have we stopped using the doors and curtain during Liturgy?


Dear Fr. Chris, why have we stopped using the doors and curtain during Liturgy? I thought that was only for Pascha-tide?

The short answer is, this is at the direction of our Bishop, His Grace, IRINEJ. 

The usage of the Royal Doors and curtain during the liturgy is a relatively recent functional development in the history of liturgical practice.  Originally, when the phrase: “The Doors, The Doors, in wisdom let us attend,” was intoned, the door keepers would lock the exterior doors to the Church, so no one could get in to interrupt the Liturgy.  Eventually, with the development of larger and larger iconostasis, the Royal Doors would be closed at this time.  However, we can see the ancient practice in the instructions for the hierarchical liturgy, which calls for the doors to remain open throughout the service.  It is this practice that is commonly used throughout the Byzantine tradition, and that His Grace is re-instating in our Eastern Diocese.

The curtain itself is in fact a very late addition to liturgical decoration in the Church.  It served a functional purpose to prevent drafts in the altar area.  Eventually, a theological meaning was imparted to when it would be opened and closed.  Today, this serves only to separate the laity from the action of the Liturgy—which is only possible through their participation.  A bishop or priest cannot call down the Holy Spirit during the Liturgy without the people to say “Amen.”