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Author Topic: Icon Etiquette  (Read 2175 times) Average Rating: 0
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ignatios
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« on: June 27, 2008, 10:23:21 AM »

I was in a bookstore the other day that carries a lot of icons.  I actually knocked one over, and the bookstore clerk, although very friendly, came over quickly and picked up the icon, said a prayer, made the sign of the cross, and put it back on the shelf.  I realized that I hadn't learned how to treat icons in my catechumen class.  So how are we supposed to treat the Holy images?  My guess would be, don't drop them, don't get stuff on them, don't treat them like any old wall decoration, but always treat them with respect as honor to whom they depict.  Lord have mercy.

Any suggestions?
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EofK
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2008, 11:31:52 AM »

If I didn't already offer greetings, welcome to the forum!  One thing I didn't know when I started out was that once an icon is blessed and offered back to you, it's customary to cross yourself and venerate the icon.  I also try to keep our icon corner dusted off (try being the operative word) and our two cats are absolutely forbidden to sit on the table there.  I'm not sure if that part is regular custom, but it didn't seem right to have a furry cat rear sitting near icons.  My feeling is that if I wouldn't want a guest in our home to sit with a cat in their face, it's probably not proper for the icon corner either.  That and they want to try to bat at the votive lamp or eat the palms.



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« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 11:34:39 AM by EofK » Logged

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Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2008, 11:43:28 AM »

Even icons that have not been blessed  represent the Holy One(Christ) or the blessed (saints) or festal event depicted and thus should be treated with respect and honor at all times. Once blessed it becomes a sacramental item that should not be thrown away [blessed icons often are placed in coffins with Orthodox Christians,  they may be charred for the use within the Church---i.e. charred icons made into charcoal are used to provide the heat for the making of chrism by the Ecumenical Patriarch, etc]. In the past I have been advised that the cleansing of Icons that have become dusty should be done with rosewater and a clean cloth set apart only for that duty.  Icons are supposed to be placed in positions of honor in the room and house.  Generally they should not be placed on the floor or taken into a bathroom, and never thrown in the trash.

There is always the controversy about what you do with  Icons Prints or Bulletin Covers with icon prints, if they have not been blessed.  I have been told by a monastic spiritual father to use them as printed icons and mount them for blessing or seperate them and store them until they could be burned and the ashes placed in the graden where no one will tred on them.

I am sure others here can also address proper  honor given to icons as well.

Thomas
« Last Edit: August 27, 2008, 08:47:48 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2008, 01:30:48 PM »

Crossing and kissing an icon is the proper way to handle an icon that has been dropped or knocked over.  I've always thought of it as my way of saying "I'm sorry" to the Saint (or Christ) depicted.
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2008, 03:00:18 PM »

These items are paper and wood. Although they may represent a Saint or a Holy One, they are nevertheless wood. Why treat such items as if they were idols?

I simply do not understand, but am trying to.
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2008, 03:27:09 PM »

These items are paper and wood. Although they may represent a Saint or a Holy One, they are nevertheless wood. Why treat such items as if they were idols?

I simply do not understand, but am trying to.

I wonder if this attitude of respect for sacred objects isn't a beautiful  eastern custom, also present in Judaism? I've seen Jewish folks kissing their prayer books after praying, or kissing them if they fall on the floor. I've also seen Orthodox Christians at my parish kissing prayer books that have fallen to the floor. I think it's a very nice, respectful custom, albeit possibly strange to westerners? 
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2008, 03:32:29 PM »

These items are paper and wood. Although they may represent a Saint or a Holy One, they are nevertheless wood. Why treat such items as if they were idols?

I simply do not understand, but am trying to.

Why do you stand with your hand on your heart when the US Flag is raised? Isn't it "just cloth"?
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2008, 03:33:14 PM »

I wonder if this attitude of respect for sacred objects isn't a beautiful  eastern custom, also present in Judaism? I've seen Jewish folks kissing their prayer books after praying, or kissing them if they fall on the floor. I've also seen Orthodox Christians at my parish kissing prayer books that have fallen to the floor. I think it's a very nice, respectful custom, albeit possibly strange to westerners? 

This cradle Roman Catholic always grew up kissing a fallen Bible and I've known Protestants of all stripes who do the same.
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2008, 03:34:13 PM »

I think it is also just a very popular custom in Mediterranean culture.  To show respect, give thanks, etc, is often done through a kiss.  I know my Nonna, whenever she receives a gift, she always kisses it as a sign of thanks to the person she is receiving it from.  
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2008, 03:46:44 PM »

Sadly, in the culture in which I was raised, to kiss even a fallen Bible would have been considered bizarre.  Cry
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2008, 03:50:38 PM »

Sadly, in the culture in which I was raised, to kiss even a fallen Bible would have been considered bizarre.  Cry

Really? 

I remember when I was in cadets (yes, I was as nerdy then as I am now  Tongue ), if you dropped your cap and the badge touched the ground you were supposed to kiss it before you put it back on.  Which seems to be a common practice throughout the military and police.
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2008, 09:53:34 PM »

I used to attend Overeaters Anonymous meetings in a  church, and in the room where we were meeting, Bibles were being used to prop up furniture where the legs were uneven.  I couldn't believe it when I saw it.  That would have been frowned on in any church I'd ever attended.  My priest would have had a fit if he'd seen it. 
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2008, 02:20:27 AM »

These items are paper and wood. Although they may represent a Saint or a Holy One, they are nevertheless wood. Why treat such items as if they were idols?

I simply do not understand, but am trying to.

As a catachumen myself who is also dealing w/ this I understand your feelings...very well.  The explanation that has helped me is to compare icons to the American flag.  When I was a kid, I was always told that if the flag ever touched the ground it had to be burned.  Folks have tried to pass laws making it illegal to desecrate the flag.  As one final example, a few years ago here in the Anchorage museum a radical guy had a showing of some stuff (can't remember what it was..anti-war paraphenalia I think) in a room but in order to get into his room you had to walk on an American flag he had draped on the floor.  Most people found it disgusting and wouldn't enter his display.  One can say that the flag is only cloth made in a factory what's the big deal?  The big deal is that it represents something important to us.  Something we believe in.  To treat that symbol ie icon w/ disrespect is to disrespect what is America. 

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2008, 08:16:47 AM »

Thank you all. The flag analogy is very helpful and gives me more to think about.

Again, thank you.
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Hank
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