This is the one hierarchy, and as an image of this hierarchy we have the ecclesiastical hierarchy which is on earth. The angels are the Spiritual mirrors of the Divine abyss. They always look at Him, i. e., they are the immediate recipients of His power of being. They always are longing to become equal with Him and to return to Him.
And they are with respect to us the first revealers. Now if we understand it in this way, we can understand again what it means that they are the essences in which the Divine ground expresses itself first. There are three times three orders of angels – which is of course a Scholastic play – making it possible to give a kind of analogy to the earthly hierarchies. The earthly hierarchies are powers of Spiritual being. Here you can learn something about medieval realism. The earthly hierarchies are: 1) The three sacraments: baptism the Lord’s Supper, confirmation 2) The three degrees of the clergy: deacons, priests, and bishops.
3) The three degrees of non-priests: the imperfect, who are not even members of the congregation; the laymen; and the monks, who have a special function.
These nine earthly hierarchies mediate the return of the soul to God. They all are equally necessary and all are equally powers of being. You will immediately ask, as children of nominalism, “what does that mean, that here the sacraments are equal, as hierarchies, with people; namely, the clergy, laymen, etc.” This you can understand only if you understand that the people are not people here but bearers of sacramental power, bearers of power of being. And so are the sacraments. That is the point .of identity which makes it possible that he calls all nine of them hierarchies. But in order to understand this, you must know what arch , power of being, means. They all are sacred powers of being, some of them embodied in persons, some in sacraments, some in persons in the congregation with the function only of being believers in the congregation, with no special function. ” This brings the earthly world into a hierarchical system because earthly things – especially in the Sacraments – are used to express themselves – sounds, colors, forms, stone, etc. All reality belongs to the ecclesiastical reality, because the ecclesiastical reality is the hierarchical reality as expressed in the different degrees of being and knowledge of God. In the mystery of the Church, all things are interpreted in terms of their symbolic power to express the abyss of Divinity. They express it and they guideback to it. The ecclesiastical mysteries penetrate into the interior Divinity, into the Divine Ground of all things. And so a system of symbols in which everything is included potentially, is established. This is the principle of Byzantine culture, namely to transform reality into something which points to the eternal – not changing reality, as it is in the Western world, but interpreted reality, penetrating into its depths.
Therefore the understanding of the Eastern hierarchical thinking is much more an understanding of the vertical line, going into the depths of theology, while the Kingdom-of- God theology, for instance in Protestantism, is a horizontal theology, and we can say, looking at the situation in East and West, that the East is missing, (with respect to) transforming reality, and therefore became first the victim to the Islamic attack, and then a victim to the pseudo-Islamic Marxian attack, because it was not able itself to work in the horizontal line, transforming reality.