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Author Topic: Veneration of the Iconostasis  (Read 2564 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: October 11, 2008, 03:38:09 AM »

Is it ever appropriate to approach the iconostasis upon entering a church and venerate any of the images written on it?  I never see anyone do this, but it is my understanding that most Orthodox feel free to move around the sanctuary and spend time in front of different icons to reflect and offer prayers.  So is this particular action in any way taboo?
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2008, 03:59:19 AM »

Of course it is...unless maybe the service is going on and clergy are moving in and out (like during an entrance - wait until it is done).  It is appropriate to venerate any icon (well, maybe not those on the ceiling - a bit impractical) - the ones on the iconostasis just happen to be on a wall by the altar.
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2008, 04:33:34 AM »

In my parish there are some steps up to the doors. And no one but the clergy go anywhere near the doors.
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2008, 08:07:57 AM »

I don't see why one can't or shouldn't, as long as (a) you're not disrupting the service, and (b) you're not "grandstanding."
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2008, 08:51:58 AM »

I once read in a Traditionalist publication that the icons on the Icon Screen are only to be venerated by the clergy.  My parish priest at the time, a respectable man of God, whom I'm sure the traditionalists would characterize as a modernist, told me they were for all the faithful to venerate.  I, therefore, am not sure what is proper practice.  However, I'll say it seems to me, many, in various parishes I've attended, do venerate the Icons on the Icon Screen.
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2008, 09:43:06 AM »

I agree with the other posters that the iconostasis may be venerated while no service is being served. It is common to see a rail level with the lower border of the icons on which is a small icon of the same saint or feast as the one on the iconostasis. It is a little easier, and more discreet, to venerate these icons, than the large ones on the iconostasis. Occasionally, such icons have a relic of the depicted saint incorporated in them, so all the more reason to venerate.

If one is to venerate the iconostasis, be careful not to stand on, or walk across, the ambon, as this area is for clergy only. It is best to step down from the solea, loop around the ambon, then go back up to the solea to venerate the icons on the other side.

As for only clergy being allowed to venerate the iconostasis: It is customary for any authorised layman (be he altarboy, church warden, etc) to kiss the icon on the deacon's door before opening it to enter the altar area. The only icons which are venerated only by clergy are the small ones of Christ and the Mother of God hung on either side of the Royal Doors, which are venerated at "O come let us worship and fall down before Christ" during the Liturgy. This stands to reason, as only clergy are permitted to stand in this area.

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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2008, 09:46:33 AM »

In the Russian tradition, the icons of the Pantocrator and Theotokos on the iconostasis are called the bishop's icons and should be venerated by only him while the much smaller ones on the opening of the royal gates are for the priest and deacon to venerate.
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2008, 11:06:04 AM »

Replies #5 & 6,  I appreciate this information and I take them as clarifications of what I had recalled from prior readings.  As one of those "of the lower orders," an ecclesiarch, who enters the Sanctuary, I am one who kisses the Deacon's Doors, but didn't even think of stating that in my own Reply # 4.  I'm sure you're both right.

This discussion is a good example of the value of this forum.  On that note, this is the only media (at least which I check regularly) which communicated the Interfax report of the Assembly of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches which is occurring this weekend at The Phanar, though, yesterday, the GOAA website finally posted a reference to it.
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2009, 09:32:42 AM »

In the Russian tradition, the icons of the Pantocrator and Theotokos on the iconostasis are called the bishop's icons and should be venerated by only him while the much smaller ones on the opening of the royal gates are for the priest and deacon to venerate.

huh? Almost all churches in Finland (built by Russians of old) have places for candles in front of the Pantocrator and the Theotokos icons. I'm quite sure that the intention is that anyone can venerate these icons and light candles in front of them.
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2009, 09:43:12 AM »

huh? Almost all churches in Finland (built by Russians of old) have places for candles in front of the Pantocrator and the Theotokos icons. I'm quite sure that the intention is that anyone can venerate these icons and light candles in front of them.
Absolutely. This is, and has been the practice in my parish.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2009, 03:06:10 PM »

I've heard both arguments, i.e. that the icons on the iconostasis are for the clergy only vs. clergy and the people.  Again, I think it is best to follow the advice that most have given here that if you do wish to venerate the icons that you should do so BEFORE any service, whether Vespers, Orthros, Liturgy, etc. begins.  As a chanter, it is annoying and distracting when the faithful come to the service 15-20 minutes late, light the candles and venerate the icons.  Of course, you don't want to tell people that they CAN'T venerate icons, but you would hope that they have some respect for order.

Personally, I am responsible for setting up the oil lamps in front of the icons.  I use this time as a moment of prayer in front of all the icons, asking for intercession, forgiveness, etc.  I set up the lamp and venerate each one but do it 20 minutes prior to services beginning.

Another thing that gets me is how many people "incorrectly" venerate the icons, by kissing the faces of those depicted.  This is probably a topic for  another thread, but I was instructed that the faithful should only kiss the hands or the hair (like on the Holy Napkin or John the Baptist's Head), never the face.
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2009, 04:13:00 PM »

but I was instructed that the faithful should only kiss the hands or the hair (like on the Holy Napkin or John the Baptist's Head), never the face.

I was instructed that chin not hair.
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2009, 04:37:03 PM »

I've heard both arguments, i.e. that the icons on the iconostasis are for the clergy only vs. clergy and the people.  Again, I think it is best to follow the advice that most have given here that if you do wish to venerate the icons that you should do so BEFORE any service, whether Vespers, Orthros, Liturgy, etc. begins.  As a chanter, it is annoying and distracting when the faithful come to the service 15-20 minutes late, light the candles and venerate the icons.  Of course, you don't want to tell people that they CAN'T venerate icons, but you would hope that they have some respect for order.
A good thwack in the back of the head with the censer should fix this problem.  Of course, the deacon needs to make sure it's merely an "unfortunate accident". Tongue
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2009, 05:02:32 PM »

I've heard both arguments, i.e. that the icons on the iconostasis are for the clergy only vs. clergy and the people.  Again, I think it is best to follow the advice that most have given here that if you do wish to venerate the icons that you should do so BEFORE any service, whether Vespers, Orthros, Liturgy, etc. begins.  As a chanter, it is annoying and distracting when the faithful come to the service 15-20 minutes late, light the candles and venerate the icons.  Of course, you don't want to tell people that they CAN'T venerate icons, but you would hope that they have some respect for order.
A good thwack in the back of the head with the censer should fix this problem.  Of course, the deacon needs to make sure it's merely an "unfortunate accident". Tongue

If our deacon got there on time, maybe it would work!
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2009, 02:09:33 PM »

Laity do not go onto the amvon - Traditional practice.  But nowadays everything goes if I Want to... Undecided
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2010, 10:43:17 PM »

Laity do not go onto the amvon - Traditional practice.  But nowadays everything goes if I Want to... Undecided

Exactly!
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2010, 10:52:01 PM »

In my parish there are some steps up to the doors. And no one but the clergy go anywhere near the doors.

ditto.
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2010, 11:17:17 PM »

At my parish I've never seen anyone but clergy venerate the iconostasis: the deacon during his vesting prayers and the priest during the secret prayers in matins. (Also people using the deacons' doors often kiss the Archangels, but not always.)

Correction, once a very pious Ethiopian Orthodox woman, who visited often until they built their own parish, venerated the Theotokos in the middle of a service. Otherwise it doesn't happen.
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« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2010, 01:34:15 AM »

Laity do not go onto the amvon - Traditional practice.  But nowadays everything goes if I Want to... Undecided

Does amvon here refer only to the steps in front of the royal doors, or to the raised platform all the way across the iconostasis? One of my tasks in my parish is now to light the vigil lamps/candles before services on Saturday night... but then I'm part of those innovative Antiochians, after all  Wink
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2010, 11:45:01 AM »

yes.  I've seen this particularily in Romanian Churches.
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2010, 02:49:53 AM »

One of my tasks in my parish is now to light the vigil lamps/candles before services on Saturday night... but then I'm part of those innovative Antiochians, after all  Wink

Nothing at all wrong with a layman lighting the lamps before the start of a service and blowing them out at the end - including the one which hangs over the Royal Doors. Guess what, you have to stand on the ambon for that!  laugh

There's a difference between standing on the raised section (ambon, solea) during a service, and being there before or afterwards for the purpose of attending to the lamps, placing vases of flowers in front of the iconostasis, cleaning the floor/carpet, and other acceptable reasons.
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2010, 03:00:49 AM »

I once had to stand on the Ambon and touch the main icon of Christ after the Deacon asked me to catch a lizard that had taken refuge under the icons in the iconostasis. LOL we decided to let it stay.
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2010, 06:52:59 AM »

I once had to stand on the Ambon and touch the main icon of Christ after the Deacon asked me to catch a lizard that had taken refuge under the icons in the iconostasis.

You were, of course, first tonsured to the ancient and venerable ecclesiastical office of σαύρα συλλέκτης - at least one would hope so : D
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« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2010, 07:24:16 AM »


Is it ever appropriate to approach the iconostasis upon entering a church and venerate any of the images written on it?


I am able to speak out of my Serbian knowledge.

1.   Do not go up on the amvon (the area immediately in front of the iconostas) when any service is taking place.

2.  You may go up and venerate the icons on the iconostasis with a kiss when no service is taking place (if you wish.)  Be ultra respectful and modest in your movements.

3.   If you are going to communion (and at the time when the doors and curtain are closed for the time of the priest's communion) you may go and kiss the holy icons on the iconostasis, asking forgiveness of Christ, His holy Mother and the local Saints.  Having done that you can approach people in the church from whom you have a particular reason to ask forgiveness and make an earth bow in front of them  (a waist bow for those of us who are too physically creaky to reach the ground!)

You don't see this last practice very much in the Diaspora (more's the pity); people are too self-conscious to do it.


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« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2010, 11:00:11 AM »

In my parish, people go to the iconostasis to venerate icons and place candles before the service, and during the early part of Orthros. Later in the service, this tends to finish up.
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