“The golden altar typifies an institution in the Church which is admitted to most intimate association with God. Methodius says of this altar: “Moreover, it has been handed down that the unbloody altar of God signifies the assembly of the chaste: thus virginity appears to be something great and glorious.”
John, in the Spirit, on the Lord’s Day:
V1. “And when the Lamb opened the seventh seal, silence reigned in heaven for about half an hour.”
Who is this ‘Lamb’?
“He is the Root of David, the Head of the Church, the Master and Central Figure of History, the Ruler over the kings of the earth, the King of Kings and the Victor over all evil powers, and Who has been shaping the destiny of the world in His own Mysterious Manner since His Sacrificial Death on the Cross.” Rev Herman Bernard Kramer: Author of ‘The Book of Destiny’ from which this page was drawn. Father Kramer has dedicated his book to ‘The Little Lamb’
AND SO FOLLOWS MORE FROM THE BOOK OF DESTINY – THE APOCALYPSE
“And when the Lamb opened the seventh seal, silence reigned in heaven for about half an hour”
During this half hour the progress of history is halted. John the Apostle waits. It is the time before the Four Winds. This pause betokens evolutions of wide importance. No one offers John an explanation while he reviews and records the vision, for the significance is to remain veiled in mystery. The silence calls for obedience to await in awe the time set by Providence to reveal His decrees. The pause presages both good and evil.
V2. “Then I beheld the seven angels that stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer in his hand, and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.
The text does not reveal who these angels might be. Some interpreters aver them to be great saints who shall appear at critical times in the history of the Church and defend her against the forces of evil. In prophetical language, the prophets call themselves ‘trumpets’ (Jer. VI 17) when they announce the coming of judgments, wars and enemies.
During the half hour’s silence another scene comes into the field of vision: A golden altar towards which an angel stepped with a golden censor.
This revealed the preparedness of the Church for the judgments that shall follow the trumpet blasts of the seven angels. Under this figure another institution in the Church is shown. It will have a vast influence in shaping her destiny. This angel may be the protector of this institution. In the ancient Covenant, there were several altars in the Tabernacle and Temple. At the entrance stood the altar of holocausts. In the Tabernacle, this altar and the altar of incense were made of the precious setim wood. In Solomon’s Temple it was made of cedar. The second Temple was built behind the altar of holocausts, upon which were offered the sacrifices of the highest order, and which was overlaid with brass.
The altar of incense was overlaid with pure gold. There may have been a practical reason for the brass covering of the former, but the gold covering of the latter was surely not meaningless.
The altar of incense stood next to the Ark of the Covenant separated from the Holy of Holies by only a curtain (Ex. XXX. 1-9)
The incense was to be burned upon it in the morning and evening, “an everlasting incense.” And the fire upon this altar, as also upon the altar of holocausts, was never to be extinguished, though the sacrifices were not continuous.
The use of the golden altar in the old law according to St. Paul’s interpretation (Heb. IX. 1-10) would intimate something more than was known in ancient times. St. Paul claims for it a close association with the presence of God. In the Holy of Holies was the throne of God and the golden altar of incense was nearest to this throne (Ex. XL. 5)
Only the High Priests had access to this place. Particular manifestations of God’s will were made known here from time to time. Here Zachary received the message of the Archangel Gabriel. (Luke I. III).
The Golden Altar then typifies an institution in the Church which is admitted to most intimate association with God. Methodius says of this altar: “Moreover, it has been handed down that the unbloody altar of God signifies the assembly of the chaste. Thus virginity appears to be something great and glorious. (Banquet of the ten virgins VI)
The golden altar typifies a grand institution in the Church. THE RELIGIOUS ORDERS, especially the Contemplative life, the life of prayer, self denial and self sacrifice.
They appeared in the century between the end of the persecutions and the beginning of the barbarian invasions. The Father of Monastic Life was St. Anthony who died in 356 AD. St. Pachomius was the first to draw up a monastic rule. St. Ammonius established monasteries in the Nitrian Desert. The monastic life spread to Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Persia and Asia Minor. In Asia Minor, St. Basil’s rule became the basis for all other monastic institutions. He may be the angel before the golden altar.
In the same century, all the deserts from Lybia to the Caspian Sea were peopled by monks. St. Pachomius founded eight monasteries in Egypt.
The golden altar, the fire upon it, the incense and the golden censor are all symbols of the religious life, the life of prayer. The gold is the symbol of unselfish and complete immolation to God. It is free from earthly alloy, free from the hope of earthly rewards or glory. The fire is the symbol of both love or hatred. Here it is pure love for God in which the incense, the whole of the religious life with all of its prayers and good works is consumed as a perfect offering to God. These prayers and good works ascent to God like the perfumed smoke of the incense. Not any part of their life is rubbish, for all is entirely consecrated by obedience. They pray for all the world and by their life of self denial make the prayers of the faithful acceptable to God.” The Book of Destiny Fr. Bernard Kramer 1953