Monday, May 4, 2009

The Bishop as the Image of Christ

St Ignatius of Antioch writes: "It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself" (Epistle to the Ephesians, 6.)

Photograph: His Grace, Bishop George of Mayfield, with Fr Michael Protopopov in Moscow, February 2009.

9 comments:

aaronandbrighid said...

I think this photo should be printed on the cover of some Zizioulas book.

Felix Culpa said...

Well, you seem to be in the unique position of being able to make this happen!

Felix Culpa said...

Although I'd be tempted (with all due respect) to apply to Zizoulas a sentence that appears just before the one I quoted:

"Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him."

Anonymous said...

I assume the Bishop is standing in front of an icon and doesn't have a halo himself?

Sean

Felix Culpa said...

Spoiler alert!

Death Bredon said...

Is it just me, or do these Bishops present the literal image Greco-Roman Emperors or high-level potentates (despota) more than Christ? I mean that my imagination has acrobatic gymnastic to see the kenotic Christ here.

Felix Culpa said...

Looked at purely in terms of outward insignia and vestiture, sure, you have a point. But I can't imagine anything good coming of any attempt to strip such things away.

aaronandbrighid said...

Here is one place where Met. John might actually be helpful. I don't know his opinion on vestments specifically, but I could well imagine him saying that the Bishop when vested for the Divine Liturgy is the image of Christ in the eschaton or parousia, i.e., the King of Glory. It may be difficult for us fallen men to recognise Him as the 'kenotic' Christ of the Gospels, but St John the Theologian, to take just one example, had no such difficulty when Christ, whom he had known as a lowly carpenter, appeared to him on Patmos shining like the sun.

Felix Culpa said...

Thanks for that helpful comment. I knew there must be a way to approach the question theologically, but it simply wasn't coming to me.

To address the question more broadly, I think it also appropriate to point out just how thoroughly imbued Christian liturgy has been with Roman court ritual since at least the fourth century. While it's true that there has been a special appropriation of imperial regalia by the bishops after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, this should perhaps best be seen as part of a process that goes back to deepest Christian antiquity.