Dionysius the Areopagite uses neo-Platonist language to explain the purpose of hierarchy. The hierarchy in Heaven, and its mirror in the Church, both exist to make our lives into images of the life of God, and to reflect the divinity of God to others.
The purpose of hierarchy is to bring all its members together, as far as at- tainable, with God, making him the Leader of all religious science and operation, by looking unflinchingly on his divine beauty, and copying it as far as possible.
Hierarchy perfects its own followers as divine images, luminous and flawless mirrors, which receive the original light and the supremely divine ray and are devoutly filled with radiance entrusted to them, and then spread this radiance generously to those after them, in accordance with God’s own regulations.
For it is not lawful for the mystic rites of sacred things, or for things reli- giously done, to do anything whatsoever beyond the sacred regulations of their own function. They must not even attempt otherwise if they desire to attain its deifying splendor, and look to it religiously, and are molded after the example of each of the holy minds.
Whoever says “hierarchy,” then, means a certain completely holy order, an image of the supremely divine freshness, ministering the mysteries of its own il- lumination in hierarchical ranks and sciences, and assimilated to its own proper Head as far as it is lawful. –Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchy, 3.1-2
Whatever my place is in the Church, do I fill it as the angels do, as if I were one part of the great mind of God? Or do I do it grudgingly?
Lord, grant your Spirit to all your bishops, priests, deacons, readers, and singers, and the entire body of your holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. May your Church on earth be a perfect image of your Church in Heaven.
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