Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
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Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
Which items may be kept on the table of oblation? And who may tend to these items?
Handbook Category: Icons, Church Adornment and other Practical Matters (index)

Like the Holy Table, the table of oblation is not meant to be a general table upon which are kept sundry items of use in the Altar, but only those sacred objects specifically intended for it. While the rules are slightly different for the table of oblation, since it is not consecrated in the same way as the Holy Table, it must nevertheless be kept in equally pristine condition, free from clutter, and used only for its designated purposes.

When it is being used as part of a Divine Service (e.g. for the Proskomedia of the Divine Liturgy), then obviously the vessels and other objects necessary for that service are placed upon the table of oblation. Ideally, outside of the services the surface of the table of oblation is cleared and all the vessels and other items put away in a safe place (oftentimes within the table, if its is of a type to have interior shelves; if not, then in a safe or other storage area of the Altar), leaving the surface of the table of oblation empty except for a single lamp. However, in some parishes storage space within the Altar is at a minimum, and in such cases the following items may be left atop the table of oblation (all kept beneath a cloth cover that is spread over the table as a whole):

  • The chalice, diskos, star, spear, spoon and fabric coverings of the eucharistic vessels, as well as any wooden cutting-plate reserved specifically for the cutting of the sanctified Lamb during the Liturgy.
  • Additional small spears used for commemorations.
  • The metal plates and cups used for zapivka.
  • The neatly-folded red communion cloths.

Additionally, the following may be kept upon the table of oblation if (and only if) there is no other adequate space to store them in the Altar:

  • The vessel containing the chrism, oil, scissors and other items used for Holy Baptism.

The following, however, must not be kept on the table of oblation:

  • Vestments (though these may be placed temporarily on the table of oblation prior to being anointed with holy water when a new set of vestments is blessed.
  • Commemoration books or lists, which may be lain upon the table of oblation during a Divine Service when they are actively being used, but are not to be stored there.
  • Service books. Unlike the Holy Table, upon which a service book must never be lain, a Priest may set a service book upon the table of oblation during, for example, the Proskomedia or other rite served there. However, it must not be a storage place for books.
  • Cleaning brushes or other utensils.

The table of oblation, while not consecrated in the same way as the Holy Table, is nevertheless still consecrated with the temple. It, and the objects upon it, are therefore to be touched only by Priests and Deacons; though Subdeacons may also do so, with a blessing from the Priest.

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