As the Liturgy of the Word comes to a close and the Liturgy of the Faithful begins, the celebrant unfolds the Antimens on the Altar. The Antimens – literally “instead of the table” – signifies the organic link of each parish community to its bishop. It bears the signature of the bishop and is given to the priest and the parish as authorization to perform the sacrament of the Eucharist.
The bishop is the foundation and guardian of unity within the Church. He unites us not only to the other parishes under him but to all Orthodox Christian communities stretching back to the Church’s apostolic foundations.