Author Topic: When entering a Church  (Read 4963 times)

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Offline Jonny

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When entering a Church
« on: January 05, 2009, 08:57:36 PM »
Hi all.

This is my first post so I'll just say a bit about myself.

I am, at the moment, a Roman Catholic and have been for the last three years after leaving the Anglican Church. However over time as I've read and prayed I've become increasingly unhappy with parts of Catholicism. To name a few the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception (and the whole Catholic take on original sin) and the Liturgy. My primary reason for looking into Orthodoxy is the Liturgy. I hear and see so much in the Catholic Church about how liturgy has to change with the times and how Church worship and prayer must become modern and I don't buy it. The Church our Lord Jesus established is timeless and the Liturgy is how we become truly immersed in that timeless aspect of the Church and therefore it should evolve fluidly and slowly, not over night and not with councils.

Anyway, that's enough of an introduction from me.

My question is:

When you walk into a Church it is expected that you should kiss the Icons. In which order should the Icons be kissed and is there a normal way of going about doing the kissing (i.e. number of signs of the cross and number of bows etc) or is it down to personal devotion?

Offline John of the North

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2009, 09:04:29 PM »
When you walk into a Church it is expected that you should kiss the Icons. In which order should the Icons be kissed and is there a normal way of going about doing the kissing (i.e. number of signs of the cross and number of bows etc) or is it down to personal devotion?

Depends how the church is set up. I will give you too examples.

Entering my local Antiochian parish, there is the patron saint icon on your immediate left, by the votive candle stand. Directly in front of you on a stand is the feast day icon. Typically as I am the first to arrive after the priest, I will venerate the feast day first then patron saint and then the icons closer to the iconostas (the Theotokos and Our Lord).

My home parish has the icon stand up front of the center aisle with the patron saint icon, the feast day, and then the cross. Typically I venerate left to right....

As to how I venerate, it's personal devotion....first I make the sign of the cross twice, venerate, then the sign once more...
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline John of the North

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2009, 09:04:48 PM »
By the way, welcome to the forum!
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline SolEX01

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2009, 09:06:48 PM »
When you walk into a Church it is expected that you should kiss the Icons. In which order should the Icons be kissed and is there a normal way of going about doing the kissing (i.e. number of signs of the cross and number of bows etc) or is it down to personal devotion?

Welcome to the forum, Jonny.   :)
Simply observe how others kiss and venerate the icons and follow what they do.  There is no formula.

Offline Jonny

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2009, 09:10:24 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Jonny.   :)
Simply observe how others kiss and venerate the icons and follow what they do.  There is no formula.

This seems to be the only way to learn anything about Orthodox worship and practices. For all you can read it never makes sense until you watch someone doing it.

Thanks for all your answers. So just to ask one more question. Does it matter if I venerate the Lord first or Mary first after the patron saint/feast day?

Offline John of the North

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2009, 09:13:54 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Jonny.   :)
Simply observe how others kiss and venerate the icons and follow what they do.  There is no formula.

This seems to be the only way to learn anything about Orthodox worship and practices. For all you can read it never makes sense until you watch someone doing it.

Thanks for all your answers. So just to ask one more question. Does it matter if I venerate the Lord first or Mary first after the patron saint/feast day?

It's personal preference. Honestly. The Lord will not strike you down. :)
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline Jonny

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2009, 09:16:08 PM »
It's personal preference. Honestly. The Lord will not strike you down. :)

In which case I shall simply go which ever way takes my fancy at the time.  ;D

Offline EofK

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2009, 11:45:50 AM »
My parish has the feast day icon on a stand in front of the iconostasis with an icon of Christ behind it and to its right and one of the Theotokos and Christ behind and to the left.  We typically go to the feast day icon, then to Christ, then to the Theotokos but some people start with the Theotokos, then go to the feast day icon, then to Christ.  Honestly, I don't think to order matters a great deal, or at least not as much as the actual veneration.  Additionally, some people will make the sign of the cross and then kiss the icons, some will only bow, some do both, some will stop and pray to the side of the icon.  It's a mixed bag at our parish since we have so many different ethnicities:  Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Korean, etc.  I've taken to doing a sort of nod and curtsey to venerate when I'm holding my squirmy toddler.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams

Offline Thomas

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2009, 04:18:23 PM »
If you are new, on your first visit do what you are comfortable with, then  watch and observe what others in the parish  are doing.  You will usually find the pattern or tradition of the parish.  In your next visit do as they do and you will fit right in.

Welcome to the convert issues forum!

Thomas
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« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 09:52:33 AM by Thomas »
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Offline Jonny

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2009, 09:29:57 PM »
Thanks everyone.

I went along to Compline and Mattins today (Christmas eve in my parish) and I watched a few people and then just followed suit. It involved three bow's with the sign of the cross before each one, then a kiss then one sign of the cross and bow. It felt amazing to venerate the icons in a Church. I've said Catholic Lauds, Vespers and Compline in front of my own 8 icons but it is no where near the same experience as doing it in a Church!

The tradition is alien to me and still feels strange after five visits. I wouldn't use the usual terms of 'coming home' or 'it just feels right' but I know its the truth and I'm sure I'll break through the cultural barrier eventually!

Offline scamandrius

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2009, 09:50:59 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Jonny!

In my parish, we have our Icon of the Mother of God in the Narthex which I venerate before proceeding in.  The only other icons are those on the iconostasis which most of our faithful do not venerate.

I don't know what others do, but since I'm usually there much earlier before services and the Liturgy begin, but as I enter the nave, I generally make three bows (metanoias) and say the following prayer from Psalm 5:  "I will come into the mulitiude of Thy mercy and in Thy fear I will worship towards Thy Holy Temple.  Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies.  Make my way straight before me that I may glorify Thee..." as the One True God, worshipped in three persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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Offline thetraditionalfrog

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 03:23:13 PM »
At my parish the practice is when entering to move off slightly from the doors (in the back of the church) and make the sign of the cross thrice with bows or if Lent prostrations (silently praying "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner", &c.). You then proceed to a table where the candles, extra headcoverings, bulletin/newsletters and donation box are kept. After purchasing candles one venerates an icon of the Theotokos then proceeds up to the front of the church where there are three icons in front of the Royal Doors. The main and centered one is usually a festal icon or one of the Saint(s) commorated. The other two being Christ and the Theotokos. You approach the main icon cross and bow twice, venerate the icon, light and place the candle, then cross and bow. The process is then repeated before the icon of Christ. Between the icon of Christ and the Theotokos I stop, cross myself and bow before the Royal Doors. Finally the cross and bow process is repeated before the icon of the Theotokos. After that the practice in my parish to turn and bow before the congregation before one takes ones place for the service. Before leaving the church the process is the same except candles are not lit and you don't do a "congregational" bow. You again cross and bow thrice with prayers before going out the doors to return home or to the parish hall for brunch/refreshments.

I know this may sound confusing to some but it actually goes quite quickly after you become acclimated to it.

The best advise I can give is to follow the customs as they are done in your parish or the parish you are visiting (if you can ascertain what it is). If your parish has mixed or unclear customs you should seek the guidance of your parish priest, deacon or spiritual father and adhere to that.
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Offline stewie

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2009, 02:47:30 PM »
I don't know if other parishes are more formal than mine, but there is no right or wrong way to venerate.  I see everyone do their own thing.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2009, 04:01:13 PM »
I don't know if other parishes are more formal than mine, but there is no right or wrong way to venerate.  I see everyone do their own thing.
Just be aware that "everyone doing his own thing" does not mean that we are permitted to venerate the icons flippantly.  As with all things done in church, we must venerate icons with reverence and decorum.
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Offline HandmaidenofGod

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2009, 06:02:53 PM »
This seems to be the only way to learn anything about Orthodox worship and practices. For all you can read it never makes sense until you watch someone doing it.

Thank you! You hit the nail on the head!!

Someone give this man a t-shirt or something!  :D ;D

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to get that message across to people on message boards! (This one and other ones included!)

« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 06:03:15 PM by HandmaidenofGod »
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Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2009, 04:34:44 AM »
I was taught to enter a church in this way.

Pause at the doors and say these short words of prayer:

"O God be merciful to me, a sinner."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"O Lord who created me, have mercy on me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"I have sinned without number, O Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.

You have to be careful though not to block the doorway if other people are wanting to come into church.  So you can do this either just outside the church in front of the doors or just inside the church when you have stepped through the doors.

Does anybody else do it this way?


Offline Fr. George

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2009, 09:19:22 AM »
I was taught to enter a church in this way.

Pause at the doors and say these short words of prayer:

"O God be merciful to me, a sinner."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"O Lord who created me, have mercy on me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"I have sinned without number, O Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.

You have to be careful though not to block the doorway if other people are wanting to come into church.  So you can do this either just outside the church in front of the doors or just inside the church when you have stepped through the doors.

Does anybody else do it this way?

I've heard of doing it that way, Father.
I have also been taught a version of the Priest's entrance prayer into the sanctuary as a good prayer for entering the Church: "I shall enter your Holy House and worship One Divinity, worshipped in 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to the ages of ages.  Amen."
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2009, 10:04:04 AM »
I was taught to enter a church in this way.

Pause at the doors and say these short words of prayer:

"O God be merciful to me, a sinner."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"O Lord who created me, have mercy on me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.


"I have sinned without number, O Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.

You have to be careful though not to block the doorway if other people are wanting to come into church.  So you can do this either just outside the church in front of the doors or just inside the church when you have stepped through the doors.

Does anybody else do it this way?

I've heard of doing it that way, Father.
I have also been taught a version of the Priest's entrance prayer into the sanctuary as a good prayer for entering the Church: "I shall enter your Holy House and worship One Divinity, worshipped in 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to the ages of ages.  Amen."

For many years it was just us oldies who did it this way and the youngsters just hurried on in to buy some candles and go and venerate icons.  So it was nice when the new immigrants started arrving from Russia in the mid-1990s and they knew to do it that way too.  Some of them kiss the side of the church door after saying the three prayers with the bows, so it is good to see the old customs making a comeback.   :)

Offline Fr. George

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2009, 10:36:49 AM »
For many years it was just us oldies who did it this way and the youngsters just hurried on in to buy some candles and go and venerate icons.  So it was nice when the new immigrants started arrving from Russia in the mid-1990s and they knew to do it that way too.  Some of them kiss the side of the church door after saying the three prayers with the bows, so it is good to see the old customs making a comeback.   :)

I'm glad to hear it.
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline admiralnick

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2009, 11:29:21 AM »
Another factor to consider is where the icon is located in the church. If it is in the naive or the narthex. Most Greek Churches will have it in the narthex, where as Carpatho-Russians and certain others will sometimes have the icon in the naive on the tetrapod, or maybe even both. There is another thread on here if you do a search discussing the differences from a while ago.

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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2009, 02:56:57 PM »
So these prayers are to be made outside of the church building?  I always have said them as I entered the nave, not the church itself.

Offline Elisha

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2009, 03:56:11 PM »
Interesting about the prayers....I never learned this...just a crossing oneself 3x upon entering.

Offline Quinault

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2009, 04:08:59 PM »
I haven't been able to say the prayers as I enter the church yet since my kids are so small and I have to sit them down and get them ready to enter the nave. But I always try and make the sign of the cross upon entering.  And I am trying to teach my kids to do it too. Eventually I would like to work in the prayers. I hadn't thought of saying them outside the doors. I might try that instead of as I enter.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2009, 04:09:43 PM by Quinault »

Offline Elpidophoros

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2009, 04:36:34 PM »
I was taught to enter a church in this way.
Pause at the doors and say these short words of prayer:
"O God be merciful to me, a sinner."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.
"O Lord who created me, have mercy on me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.
"I have sinned without number, O Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me."
Sign of the Cross and a waist bow.
You have to be careful though not to block the doorway if other people are wanting to come into church.  So you can do this either just outside the church in front of the doors or just inside the church when you have stepped through the doors.
Does anybody else do it this way?

In fact we do it when we entered the narthex before the door of nave(or in whatever point of narthex(as you said"not to block the doorway if other people are wanting to come into church.").
And our version is little longer,be used for both  entrance  and departure:

O God be merciful to me, a sinner.(metanoia)
O Lord who created me, have mercy on me.(metanoia)
I have sinned without number, O Lord, have mercy on me and forgive me.(metanoia)
It is truly meet and right to bless thee, the Ever-Blessed and Most Pure Virgin and Mother of our God. More honourable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, thou who in virginity didst bear God the Word, thee, true Theotokos we magnify. (metanoia)
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, (metanoia)
now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. (metanoia)
Lord, have mercy.Lord, have mercy.Lord, have mercy.Evlogison.(metanoia)
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, by the prayers of Thy most pure Mother ,the power of precious and lifegiving Cross ,the protection of my holy guardian angel, and intercessions of all the Saints, have mercy on me and save me sinner,for Thou art good、philanthrope and merciful God.(metanoia)



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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2009, 04:43:14 PM »
^^

That's what's printed in the Erie Old Rite Prayerbook, as well.

I usually do what Fr. Ambrose was taught, only just inside the doors of the church but right outside the narthex.  We have a kind of vestibule immediately inside the doors of the church building.  You either can turn left and go through the doors to the church hall or go straight and go through the doors into the narthex proper of the church.
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Offline Elpidophoros

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2009, 04:47:21 PM »
Hi all.

This is my first post so I'll just say a bit about myself.

I am, at the moment, a Roman Catholic and have been for the last three years after leaving the Anglican Church. However over time as I've read and prayed I've become increasingly unhappy with parts of Catholicism. To name a few the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception (and the whole Catholic take on original sin) and the Liturgy. My primary reason for looking into Orthodoxy is the Liturgy. I hear and see so much in the Catholic Church about how liturgy has to change with the times and how Church worship and prayer must become modern and I don't buy it. The Church our Lord Jesus established is timeless and the Liturgy is how we become truly immersed in that timeless aspect of the Church and therefore it should evolve fluidly and slowly, not over night and not with councils.

Anyway, that's enough of an introduction from me.

My question is:

When you walk into a Church it is expected that you should kiss the Icons. In which order should the Icons be kissed and is there a normal way of going about doing the kissing (i.e. number of signs of the cross and number of bows etc) or is it down to personal devotion?

My suggestion is: untill you were accepted by the orthodox church through a pre-catechetical service,and received the instruction from your priest,don't do anything like venerate the ikons、 relics; receive antidoron,anointment and artos of vigil etc...etc....you just stay in the back of narthex,watch and listen without any special movement....

Offline Elpidophoros

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2009, 05:00:46 PM »
^^
That's what's printed in the Erie Old Rite Prayerbook, as well.
Our practice is different from the old rite.They always make a great metanoia after the "axion estin" even on sundays. And they prostrate for "shine shine new Jerusalem" on the very day of Pascha!
We do not make great metanoia on Saturdays and Sundays.
And the old rite say: Kyrie eleison,Kyrie eleison,Kyrie evlogison!But we always say Kyrie eleison thrice before the evlogia.(just like we say alleluia thrice before the "Doxa soi o Theos".

Offline Schultz

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2009, 05:07:51 PM »
^^
That's what's printed in the Erie Old Rite Prayerbook, as well.
Our practice is different from the old rite.They always make a great metanoia after the "axion estin" even on sundays. And they prostrate for "shine shine new Jerusalem" on the very day of Pascha!
We do not make great metanoia on Saturdays and Sundays.
And the old rite say: Kyrie eleison,Kyrie eleison,Kyrie evlogison!But we always say Kyrie eleison thrice before the evlogia.(just like we say alleluia thrice before the "Doxa soi o Theos".


True on all points. 

I was referring, rather, to the length of the entry prayers as opposed to the particularities that distinguish the Old Rite from Nikonian/Greek practice (eg only two "eleisons" and the great metanoias).
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Offline Elisha

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2009, 05:40:21 PM »
^^
That's what's printed in the Erie Old Rite Prayerbook, as well.
Our practice is different from the old rite.They always make a great metanoia after the "axion estin" even on sundays. And they prostrate for "shine shine new Jerusalem" on the very day of Pascha!
We do not make great metanoia on Saturdays and Sundays.
And the old rite say: Kyrie eleison,Kyrie eleison,Kyrie evlogison!But we always say Kyrie eleison thrice before the evlogia.(just like we say alleluia thrice before the "Doxa soi o Theos".

Elpidophoros,
So what IS your practice?  What does "OX" mean in your profile?  Thanks.

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2009, 06:01:45 PM »
Elpidophoros,
So what IS your practice?  What does "OX" mean in your profile?  Thanks.

What is Your jurisdiction and where are You from?
EP,China

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2009, 07:08:49 PM »
So these prayers are to be made outside of the church building?  I always have said them as I entered the nave, not the church itself.

They say in Orthodoxy that there are ten different ways of following a rubric, and ten different ways of following each ten different ways!   :laugh:

Just do whatever the Serbs around you are doing.

Offline Elisha

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2009, 08:06:26 PM »
Elpidophoros,
So what IS your practice?  What does "OX" mean in your profile?  Thanks.

What is Your jurisdiction and where are You from?
EP,China

"OX" is the initials for "Oρθοδοχος Χριστιανος" (Orthodox Christian)

thanks.

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2009, 08:35:13 PM »
Excellent answers have been provided. All what I can say, welcome to the forum, Jonny. Great to learn about your interest in Orthodoxy.

Offline Altar Server

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #33 on: July 08, 2009, 02:27:22 PM »
Is it proper to make a full prostration when entering a orthodox church ?
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Offline mike

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2009, 02:31:35 PM »
I wouldn't do it on Sunday and on the period from Pascha to Pentecost, but in other days - yes.
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Offline SDMPNS

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2009, 02:49:48 PM »
I attend a Greek Orthodox parish in this small southern town and people sadly enough do not venerate the Ikons on the Iconostatis..maybe it is because we have pews..we have recently gotten some Ukrainians and they say the prayers outside of the Church,kiss the door but have been stopped from venerating the Iconostatis..
sad..I was raised in the OCA and Im used to venerating practically every Ikon in the building!
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« Last Edit: July 08, 2009, 02:50:10 PM by SDMPNS »

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: When entering a Church
« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2009, 04:45:41 PM »
I wouldn't do it on Sunday and on the period from Pascha to Pentecost, but in other days - yes.

Yeah, I wouldn't walk in the church and make a prostration on a Sunday.  No prostrations on Sundays.