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Author Topic: Embarrassing!  (Read 5137 times) Average Rating: 0
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Bridget
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« on: May 03, 2008, 12:48:38 AM »

Ok- I committed my first major embarrassing (Orthodox) social mess up tonight.  I went to an Orthodox event and successfully hid at our parish's table most of the evening. However, on the way out our priest's wife grabbed me and introduced me to one of the Bishops before I even had a moment to process! I had no idea what to do, and although I had a sense I was missing something I had no idea how to fix it. So, I walked away feeling awkward.

Anyway, I didn't get very far because my priest came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders to stop me. Then he said, "Ok. We need to teach you how to get a blessing!" He explained it, and I felt very embarrassed. I'm glad to know,but now I'm just left feeling a bit awkward and horrified. To make this worse there was a bit of a crowd around. 

I know noone holds this against me. Everyone said it wasn't my fault, but still. Just thought I'd share in case anyone else has stories to tell or advice to give for future situations!

Bridget
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2008, 12:54:20 AM »

Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen! Welcome to the forum!

I usually greet the Hierarch with his appropriate title (e.g. Your Grace, Your Emimence, etc.) and either kiss his hand (if he offers) or kiss him on both cheeks (if he offers).  This works for GOA; I haven't met Hierarchs from other jurisdictions.

Nothing to be embarrassed about;  Grin
« Last Edit: May 03, 2008, 12:54:53 AM by SolEX01 » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2008, 01:15:08 AM »

Howdy Bridget!

There is no shame in ignorance!

We may be embarrassed the first time, but we know how we should act next time.  If anything, I would think that the presbytera received a reprimand to carry home to the priest for not teaching you about church etiquette.   Shocked

I was just chrismated a few weeks ago and the first thing that I did was to submit a letter of introduction to the newsletter which I concluded with:

"I apologize beforehand for the faltering steps and blunders that I am bound to make as a babe in the faith. Help me to grow in my faith!"

We learn from our mistakes!
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2008, 10:03:39 AM »

The Bishops that I've met (granted, there have only been 2) were really pretty easy going, and more likely to view the whole incident with the type of humor a parent has for a toddler just learning to do something. But, I am sure that not every Bishop is of this nature.
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2008, 10:15:18 AM »

You've got nothing to worry about!
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2008, 10:42:09 AM »


Bridget, 
Let me share a blunder with you of mine when I first became Orthodox. A sweet couple I know took me to our local monastery.  Upon meeting the abbot I remembered that they had told me to bow and kiss his hand but for some dumb reason I got flustered and in the midst of it all I made the sign of the cross!  Anyway my face turned red and I felt like a total idiot.  However, I had nothing to worry about because he was very gracious and made me very comfortable with conversation.  Anyway, my point is that even though you felt very uncomfortable, most likely the Bishop was happy to meet a new member of the church...and was not preoccupied with formalities.   Besides, at least your faux pas was an omission while mine was an addition.

Hope this helps,  Juliana Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2008, 11:16:10 AM »

Thanks everyone. Yeah I know it wasn't really a big deal, but I couldn't help feeling a bit stupid and conspicuous. Plus, he did offer me his blessing and I did not respond properly. Whoops.

Bridget
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008, 11:35:14 AM »

We all have those moments. Heh.

My priest is very easy going, and never brought up to my the "kissing their hand" part (he dislikes it when people kiss his hand, so I was never introduced to it).

So, I went to an Orthodox event, and started shaking priests' hand whenever they approached me. Another convert shuffled me off to a corner and explained everything, and then it wasn't so awkward.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2008, 11:35:26 AM by Simayan » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2008, 12:18:51 AM »

Thanks everyone. Yeah I know it wasn't really a big deal, but I couldn't help feeling a bit stupid and conspicuous. Plus, he did offer me his blessing and I did not respond properly. Whoops.

Bridget

I have a feeling that most of the Antiochian bishops are used to those who are new to Orthodoxy not knowing how to receive a blessing. If you forget which title to use (your grace, your eminence...etc) you can always fall back on the endearing Arabic title of Sayidna (SAY-ID-NA). Half the time my bishop doesn't even offer his blessing...he just reaches out and hugs his spiritual children so I always have to be ready for either one. In any case, try not to worry, no one will remember your little faux pas the next time the bishop comes for a visit.  Smiley Wink
« Last Edit: May 04, 2008, 12:21:13 AM by Tamara » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2008, 12:31:24 AM »

If you forget which title to use (your grace, your eminence...etc) you can always fall back on the endearing Arabic title of Sayidna (SAY-ID-NA).
In the Russian tradition, the term "Vladyka" (vlah-DEE-ka) works just as well.
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2008, 12:46:59 AM »

I have a feeling that most of the Antiochian bishops are used to those who are new to Orthodoxy not knowing how to receive a blessing. If you forget which title to use (your grace, your eminence...etc) you can always fall back on the endearing Arabic title of Sayidna (SAY-ID-NA). Half the time my bishop doesn't even offer his blessing...he just reaches out and hugs his spiritual children so I always have to be ready for either one. In any case, try not to worry, no one will remember your little faux pas the next time the bishop comes for a visit.  Smiley Wink

You're probably right. Although, I *think* this was an OCA Bishop... Not that they aren't used to clueless converts! Anyway, that's good advice, thank you.
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2008, 12:54:39 AM »

You're probably right. Although, I *think* this was an OCA Bishop... Not that they aren't used to clueless converts! Anyway, that's good advice, thank you.

If he is an OCA bishop then use the title Peter suggested...Vladyka

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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2008, 01:08:50 AM »

Yes, I understood that. Thanks Smiley Of course, I have every intention of hiding for a while longer if I can possibly get away with it.  Still, it's good to be prepared!
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2008, 01:16:36 AM »

Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen! Welcome to the forum!

I usually greet the Hierarch with his appropriate title (e.g. Your Grace, Your Emimence, etc.) and either kiss his hand (if he offers) or kiss him on both cheeks (if he offers).  This works for GOA; I haven't met Hierarchs from other jurisdictions.

Nothing to be embarrassed about;  Grin
IIRC, the generally accepted practice in the OCA is to place your right hand on top of your left, palms facing up, about waist level, and petition your bishop with "Vladyka bless."  He'll generally make the sign of the cross over you and place his right hand in yours, in which case you'll bow before the bishop and kiss his hand, and the blessing will be complete.  Of course, if you don't know this protocol, most any bishop will understand and just laugh WITH you, so there's no reason to be embarrassed.  Bishops are people, too, and having to bless a lot of people they don't know probably makes them a bit nervous, as well.
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2008, 08:50:55 PM »

I was so taken aback by meeting a real Orthodox Priest for the first time that I bowed down in front of him.  I got a gentle lecture on protocol after that.  Most of the Priests that I have met were humble fellows that do not take offence if a barbarian like me forgets to get a blessing, or tries to worship them (they get a bit more uptight about the latter).  I'm sure that Bishops are the same way.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2008, 10:44:08 PM »

Ok- I committed my first major embarrassing (Orthodox) social mess up tonight.  I went to an Orthodox event and successfully hid at our parish's table most of the evening. However, on the way out our priest's wife grabbed me and introduced me to one of the Bishops before I even had a moment to process! I had no idea what to do, and although I had a sense I was missing something I had no idea how to fix it. So, I walked away feeling awkward.

Anyway, I didn't get very far because my priest came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders to stop me. Then he said, "Ok. We need to teach you how to get a blessing!" He explained it, and I felt very embarrassed. I'm glad to know,but now I'm just left feeling a bit awkward and horrified. To make this worse there was a bit of a crowd around. 

I know noone holds this against me. Everyone said it wasn't my fault, but still. Just thought I'd share in case anyone else has stories to tell or advice to give for future situations!

Bridget

Bidget don't get disheartened. A little anecdote which through my sweet brothers ignorance showed the pride of a bishop. We were mourning the passing of my grandfather and the bishop of our city came and was after the service we went to the church hall and the our parish priest introduced us to the bishop and the bishop flung his hand to our faces and my older brother and mother both kissed his hand (my dad after some explanation by me understood why we do this but before was adamantly against it) then the bishop turned to my twin brother with his hand at the height of his face and he did not know what to do and just shook his hand the bishop looked horrified! we all got over it and explained to him after the proper etiquette and he then understood.
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« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2008, 02:21:28 AM »

You have nothing to worry about!
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2008, 08:13:59 AM »

...try greeting the Metropolitan Archbishop at the age of 5 and trying to say "Slava Isusu Christu" with out messing up!  Me and my brother did mess it up and the Metropolitan and all the Baba's had a good laugh!

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« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2008, 08:57:29 AM »

" Greeting Clergy in Person. When we address Deacons or Priests, we should use the title "Father." Bishops we should address as "Your Grace." Though all Bishops (including Patriarchs) are equal in the Orthodox Church, they do have different administrative duties and honors that accrue to their rank in this sense. Thus, "Your Eminence" is the proper title for Bishops with suffragans or assistant Bishops, Metropolitans, and most Archbishops (among the exceptions to this rule is the Archbishop of Athens, who is addressed as "Your Beatitude"). "Your Beatitude" is the proper title for Patriarchs (except for the Œcumenical Patriarch in Constantinople, who is addressed as "Your All—Holiness"). When we approach an Orthodox Presbyter or Bishop (but not a Deacon), we make a bow by reaching down and touching the floor with our right hand, place our right hand over the left (palms upward), and say: "Bless, Father" (or "Bless, Your Grace," or "Bless, Your Eminence," etc.). The Priest or Bishop then answers, "May the Lord bless you," blesses us with the Sign of the Cross, and places his right hand in our hands. We kiss then his hand. "

Orthodox Tradition, Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 10-11.

All converts go through this awkward period because often Orthopraxis is taught after, not before conversion, in many parishes.  I know many cradle orthodox in the US who are just as insecure as you are, most Bishops understand this and will help you through the process (of course they may talk to the priest to assure he is teaching you right).  As a result there are often Church newsletter articles about "clergy etiquette" either just before or after the Bishop's visit.

Thomas
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« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2008, 10:12:43 AM »

it's not just converts who find it awkward.  In personal interactions with clergy, I am ALWAYS at fault for being far too casual.  I have a real problem with making outward shows of reverence to anyone, especially in a social setting.  Maybe it's because at a very young age I became aware that priests are just as fallible as you or I.  I have no problem with shows of reverence during a religious ceremony, but I am uncomfortable with gestures like hand kissing, etc, out of that context. 
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« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2008, 10:46:18 AM »

I knew if I posted this that plenty of other people would have stories! Yesterday, the priests wife came behind me in the communion line and grabbed my arms and crossed them over my chest for me. I had seen that done, but keep forgetting about it (the total of 3 times I've gone to communion so far), so it was nice of her. She said, "We are teaching you!" I thanked her afterward for teaching me something new.  I'm definitely going to be happy when I'm past the "awkward" stage!

Bridget
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2008, 11:00:43 AM »

As others have pointed out, you've nothing to really be embarassed about but it's totally understandable!  When you don't know, you just don't know.  As a convert, don't be afraid to ask questions, even to the bishop himself!

Nothing was more embarassing for me than when I was confirmed (in the Latin rite) when I was teenager.  Everything was going fine until it was my turn to get "slapped by the bishop", as we called it.  Upon our introduction to the bishop, we were to announce our new confirmation name and receive then the receive the sacrament.  When it was my turn, I blanked.  I stood there like I was blind, deaf and mute!  Thankfully, our pastor, God rest is soul, remembered the name I had chosen (Alexander) and, with smile, told the bishop who didn't bat an eyelash and carried on.  I felt like such a fool and still chalk that up to one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2008, 11:02:31 AM »

In the Russian tradition, the term "Vladyka" (vlah-DEE-ka) works just as well.

It's actually vlah-DYYY-ka (Y like i in ship, not like ee in sheep). Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2008, 11:05:27 AM »

Howdy Bridget!

I have one for you!

I became a choir member about the same time that I started taking catechumen classes.

I had always been on the choir end of the Divine Liturgy -- anticipating and worrying about the precision of execution (sight reading a lot of music with the words written in phonetic Greek.)

Then one Sunday the youth choir did the Divine Liturgy and I was able to just take it all in for the first time.  I was so struck that I started doing some full prostrations.  After church the priest took me aside and said "We don't do full prostrations on Sunday... as a matter of fact -- we don't do any sort of prostrations on Sunday because on Sundays we celebrate the resurrection!

Talk about embarrassed!  At least I was sitting in the back of the church that day.
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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2008, 12:30:44 PM »

It's actually vlah-DYYY-ka (Y like i in ship, not like ee in sheep). Smiley
Thanks for the correction, George.  I've only ever heard this word spoken through an American accent.
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« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2008, 03:15:15 PM »

It's actually vlah-DYYY-ka (Y like i in ship, not like ee in sheep). Smiley

You can here Vladyko/a pronounced the way Yuri describes it here
http://dl.biblion.realin.ru/audio/7_Bozhestvennaya_Liturgiya._Hor_KDAiS._2SD/Disk_1/02_Velikaya_ekteniya.mp3

This is the Velikaya Ektenyia/Ектенїѧ Великаѧ , first litany during the Divine Liturgy, The Great Litany, just in case you wondered.  But the first thing you'll hear is, "Blagoslovi Vladyko.... Master give the Blessing, or Master Bless in English is how you'd hear it translated.  Then the priest says, "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father...... "  Then the Deacon "In peace let us pray to the Lord" But anyway, you can hear how to pronounce Vladkyo here and that's the point.  If you want to say Vladyka just add the a and subtract the o.
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« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2008, 01:40:50 AM »

Ah, Bridget. . . I feel your pain! Luckily, our Archbishop is very laid back, and I watched with keen interest as the people in front of me received their blessings. I don't think I said a word, though, since I was a recent convert the last time he visited our parish, and I was worried I would say the wrong thing.

As far as embarrassing stories go. . . When I first started attending St. Thomas and really accepting Orthodoxy, I would go forward for the blessing at the end of service. I saw other people kiss Fr. Andrew's hand, and I wanted to do the same. Now, Fr. Andrew wears a large ring that is four-sided, and has a cross-shaped hole on each side. Well, the first time I kissed his hand, I kissed the ring, and he didn't say anything. Then the next time I went through the  line I kissed the ring again, and he stopped the line to explain to me that the ring had nothing special about it, that it was just a gift from his wife. I was really, really embarrassed to say the least.

I guess it isn't worth mentioning the times I accidentally gave myself a fat lip my misjudging the distance to Father's hand and hitting his knuckle instead. . . or the times I've hit the communion spoon with my teeth. It seems to me that no one pays attention to my faux pas. . . except myself. Cheesy
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« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2008, 02:18:47 AM »

I had a similar incident. I was at St. Anthony's monastery in Arizona. I was going to ask Gerondas Paisios some questions after he heard confessions. I was a new catechumen. So, I ask him the questions then I ask him to pray for me he said, 'I will' then stood up, so I stood up. I just stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, he then said, 'receive a blessing'. He had his hand out! I was so embarrassed!!! I think it's good though, keeps you humble!
I should mention that at least in the Athonite tradition you don't put your hands out, you just do a metanoia (touch the ground with your right hand while bowing) then kiss the Priest's hand.

Which reminds me, when I got home from my week long stay at St Anthony's I went to my home parish and asked a blessing from my priest, I did a metanoia then went to kiss his hand without holding mine out and he just looked at me kind of puzzled so I quickly put my hands out and received his blessing. I was again embarrassed!!!

Also, I would like to add, one should ALWAYS greet a Priest or Bishop by asking for a blessing, It should be done not because of the person, but out of honour for the office.

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« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2008, 03:53:12 AM »

You can here Vladyko/a pronounced the way Yuri describes it here
http://dl.biblion.realin.ru/audio/7_Bozhestvennaya_Liturgiya._Hor_KDAiS._2SD/Disk_1/02_Velikaya_ekteniya.mp3

This is the Velikaya Ektenyia/Ектенїѧ Великаѧ , first litany during the Divine Liturgy, The Great Litany, just in case you wondered.  But the first thing you'll hear is, "Blagoslovi Vladyko.... Master give the Blessing, or Master Bless in English is how you'd hear it translated.  Then the priest says, "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father...... "  Then the Deacon "In peace let us pray to the Lord" But anyway, you can hear how to pronounce Vladkyo here and that's the point.  If you want to say Vladyka just add the a and subtract the o.

And of course Rusyns say it yet another way.

vla-DUH-koh (vocative case, e.g., "na mnohaja lita, Vladyko!", "Blahoslovi, Vladyko!", "Vladyko, can I get you something to drink?")
vla-DUH-ka (nominative case, e.g., "Vladyka is praying", or "Vladyka sja molit 'Carju nebesnyj'")
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« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2008, 04:33:23 AM »

Thanks for the correction, George.  I've only ever heard this word spoken through an American accent.

Be careful of Pan Heorhij, as you'll have a Ukrainian accent if you follow his pronunciation advice.   Cheesy 

Here's how I'd pronounce the word владыка just to be on the safe side: DES-po-ta
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« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2008, 10:11:13 AM »

he stopped the line to explain to me that the ring had nothing special about it, that it was just a gift from his wife. I was really, really embarrassed to say the least

The exact same thing happened to me!  I guess he figured out we didn't know what the ring was about.  Tongue

More embarassing stories:  The first time our Archbishop came to our parish after I had been baptized, I wore this red velvety skirt with several tiers of material in it.  I walked all the way into the church, through a hallway full of people, and up to the choir loft before I realized the seam had separated about bum-level on my skirt, so I was flashing my underpants to everyone.  Luckily I had another dress in my car that I hadn't worn yet so I slipped into it in the bathroom.  That's the last skirt I ever bought from Walmart, too.   Wink
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« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2008, 11:28:48 AM »

I'm sure all converts have made mistakes at one point or another. Really, it's only to be expected and it keeps us humble! For that matter, I've seen people from Orthodox countries committing faux pas as well. It's unavoidable in a religion like Orthodoxy with such an emphasis on ritual.

But I'm a bit puzzled about the ring thing...I thought Orthodox priests didn't  wear rings at all-ours certainly don't (not even a wedding band). I would find that somewhat odd and distracting.
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« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2008, 11:16:54 PM »

Hm. . . I don't know anything about rings. Fr. Andrew wears his wedding ring on his left hand (he and his wife decided to leave them on the left hand when they converted). And of course, he wears the ring I described on his right hand. I can't say I've ever been distracted by them.  Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2008, 03:20:52 PM »

I started attending an Orthodox church shortly after Christmas, about the middle of January. So the next Nativity season, I remember going to receive a blessing after liturgy. Having been baptized on December 18 of that year, I hadn't had too many opportunities to learn the exchanges. So when my priest gave me the blessing with the phrase, "Christ is born," I with gusto replied with what I believed would probably be the correct response: "Indeed He is born." Yep, wasn't it. He was patient, though, and I eventually learned what to say.

I think all of us converts probably have such stories. It's not easy being a four-year-old, but I think it's worse to be a four-year-old adult.
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« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2008, 03:25:55 PM »

I think all of us converts probably have such stories. It's not easy being a four-year-old, but I think it's worse to be a four-year-old adult.

It really makes Christ's words ring true: "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."  I think the humiliation we go through as new converts, or even those cradle Orthodox who just found out something, goes a long way into killing off our pride.  It's not comfortable, but it's good.
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« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2008, 03:35:24 PM »

Bridget,

Since you are new to the Church and I am guessing that is how the Khouria introduced you to Bishop, you should not feel embarrassed. Most Bishops in this country are use to being introduced to non-Orthodox who just shake their hand and give them a friendly greeting.

What is embarrassing is the number of people who have grown up in the Church and have been taught the right way to greet a Bishop and still don't get it.
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