My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
CHURCH DISCIPLINE AND ETIQUETTE IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
The place of worship is a consecrated and dedicated holy place or space. Soon after the church building is erected, the Hierarch (Bishop or Metropolitan) is invited to consecrate it. It takes place during the Divine Liturgy and it is a much longer divine service. The interior of the church, beginning with the altar table is blessed and anointed by the bishop. Holy relics of Saints are place in the crypt (opening on top and in the center of the altar table) and stay there for as long as the church is standing. From the day of the consecration the church cannot be used for any other purpose, other than for worship and conducting the various sacraments and other divine services. It is a holy place of prayer and contemplation.
It is therefore important that when attending the divine services we all assume the responsibility of maintaining a proper decorum and reverence in the church. The very first thing to always keep in mind is that we are to arrive on-time. In order to fully participate in our divine worship we should be in church from the very beginning of the Divine Liturgy. In other words when the celebrant priest chants, "Blessed be the Kingdom of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..." This applies to all our holy services and sacraments.
Remember! The church is the Temple or House of God. Reverence and good manners are required at all times. No unnecessary and irrelevant conversations should take place in the Narthex (Vestibule) or in the Nave (main) church. In addition, there are certain times during the Divine Services when no one should be moving about, be entering or exiting the church or be seated at a pew. Wherever a person happens to be at these moments, he or she should stop and stand reverently until the proper time to be seated. These times are:
- During the Great Doxology at the end of Orthros (Matins), while the priest is censing
- During the Small Entrance - The procession of the holy Gospel
- When the priest censes or blesses the church or faithful
- During the holy Readings (Epistle [sit] and Gospel [stand]
- During the Great Entrance - The procession of the Holy Gifts
- During the recitation of the Creed (Symbol of faith) and Lord's Prayer
- During the Consecration of the Holy Gifts
- During Holy Communion
- During any special divine services (Memorials, Artoklasia [Blessing of the Five Loaves of Bread], special Doxologies, etc.)
Please Note: Those about to receive Holy Communion are to come up orderly, to allow children and young mothers with babies to receive first, to open your mouth wide-open and then close your lips on the communion spoon (lavida), to wipe your lips and to always give your baptismal/chrismation name. If you are the last in line to remain in-place and wait for the priest to raise the chalice and bless everyone before you leave to return to your place. You must never turn your back to the Holy Eucharist.
Please cooperate with us. We are here to serve you. Your understanding and cooperation in maintaining Church order will help us greatly in offering you assistance for all of your spiritual needs.
When an Orthodox Christian enters the Narthex of the church, he/she makes the sign of the Cross, makes an offering for a candle/s, venerates all the holy icons, and lights the candle/s while saying a prayer i.e., to Christ, 'Lord have mercy', to the Theotokos, 'Holy Mother of God intercede for me', to the Saint, 'holy Father or holy Mother pray for me'. Candles are lit as an expression of our belief that Jesus Christ is the "Light of the world."
A candle may be lit for the health and well-being of someone or in memory of a departed loved one.
Venerating the holy Icons
"The Saints, during their earthly life, are filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. After their departure the same grace remains in their souls as in their bodies. The very same grace is present and active in their sacred images and holy icons (Saint John of Damascus). It is the practice of the Church to venerate, not to worship, holy icons. When venerating a holy icon we must always make the sign of the Cross, venerating by "kissing" the holy icon. Please consider our fellow worshippers and refrain from wearing lipstick when venerating a holy icon or when one receives the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God