“We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth... We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.”
This is how the envoys of the Russian Prince Vladimir reported their experience of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Having been sent out by the pagan prince on a mission to search the world for the true religion, the envoys traveled to Constantinople in 987 and attended the liturgy at the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). Within a year of their report, Prince Vladimir and his people were baptized into Christ by Orthodox missionaries and Russia became Orthodox.
Aware that people are a union of both body and soul, the sacred Liturgy of the Church engages all of our senses, drawing us heavenward in prayer and worship: the lilt of liturgical chant, the beauty of the holy icons, the smell of sweet incense and candles—all lift us beyond the mundane and carry us into the very presence of our Christ. Through Divine Liturgy, then, we become partakers of salvation.
And like the Russian envoys of old, we know not whether we are in heaven or on earth.