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stavros_388
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« on: December 07, 2010, 10:22:23 PM »

At one church I attend, everybody does this. I don't really like to. I'm not really sure why, but I just don't.

Why is it done in the first place?
Is it okay not to?
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2010, 10:29:11 PM »

At one church I attend, everybody does this. I don't really like to. I'm not really sure why, but I just don't.

Why is it done in the first place?
Is it okay not to?
Because he  Used His Hand in consecration Of the Holy Mysteries,[ Holy Communion] and it shows respect to Him Also as a priest of Christ...
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2010, 10:36:27 PM »

Exactly what stashko has said.

The priest is the administer of the mysteries of the Church, namely the Holy Eucharist, which his hands touch and consecrate into the body and blood of Christ. Kissing the hand of a priest recognizes this fact, and shows respect for the office.

For this reason, I believe it was St. John Chrysostom who said that if we were to meet a priest walking with an angel, that we should greet the priest first and kiss his hand, and only after that should we greet the angel.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2010, 10:42:33 PM »

It is also the hand that blesses you.  You don't simply kiss the Bishop's (or priest's) hand, but ask for his blessing.  When he gives it to you, you then kiss his hand. 
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2010, 10:46:48 PM »

Is it "okay" not to?   Again, if you ask his blessing (cupping right hand over left palms up crossed over one another) and he does not give it to you, then I suppose that there would be no reason to grab his hand and kiss it.   When priests greet one another, especially liturgically but also at other times, they kiss each others hands out of respect for the priestly hand of blessing.   
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2010, 11:42:45 PM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2010, 11:45:23 PM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2010, 11:45:48 PM »

It would be unthinkable in my parish not to kiss the hand of a priest.  
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2010, 11:47:24 PM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin

Really?  I have never seen this and I have been around a lot of Russian clergy.  I see priests kissing each other, but never a layman kissing a priest on the cheek.  I dunno, maybe it just isn't the practice here.  Interesting. 
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2010, 11:54:15 PM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin

Really?  I have never seen this and I have been around a lot of Russian clergy.  I see priests kissing each other, but never a layman kissing a priest on the cheek.  I dunno, maybe it just isn't the practice here.  Interesting. 

In practice, we rarely actually kiss on the cheek, but the motion is done nonetheless. After the priest gives the blessing and places his hand in ours, we kiss his hand and then pass our heads back-and-forth on each side, then again on the original. I was always under the impression that this was the regular Slavic practice, as I've observed it at every Slavic tradition parish I've been to, as well as many videos I've seen of interactions with Slavic clergy all around the world.

I agree. Quite interesting.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2010, 12:19:24 AM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin

Really?  I have never seen this and I have been around a lot of Russian clergy.  I see priests kissing each other, but never a layman kissing a priest on the cheek.  I dunno, maybe it just isn't the practice here.  Interesting. 
in my OCA Church, we only ever kiss the priest on the cheek when we are receiving the Paschal egg on Pascha night.
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2010, 12:30:30 AM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin

Really?  I have never seen this and I have been around a lot of Russian clergy.  I see priests kissing each other, but never a layman kissing a priest on the cheek.  I dunno, maybe it just isn't the practice here.  Interesting. 
in my OCA Church, we only ever kiss the priest on the cheek when we are receiving the Paschal egg on Pascha night.


Oh yes, I forgot about that!  Yes, this is my experience as well.  Thank you, Trevor!
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2010, 12:47:34 AM »

What about this whole kissing the hand and then each side of the cheek, is that a Greek thing?

It is. In Slavic churches, we come back around for a third!  Grin

Really?  I have never seen this and I have been around a lot of Russian clergy.  I see priests kissing each other, but never a layman kissing a priest on the cheek.  I dunno, maybe it just isn't the practice here.  Interesting. 
in my OCA Church, we only ever kiss the priest on the cheek when we are receiving the Paschal egg on Pascha night.


Oh yes, I forgot about that!  Yes, this is my experience as well.  Thank you, Trevor!
my pleasure  Grin   
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2010, 12:52:14 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2010, 01:12:45 AM »

At one church I attend, everybody does this. I don't really like to. I'm not really sure why, but I just don't.

Why is it done in the first place?
Is it okay not to?

Stavros,  perhaps you will find this article interesting and helpful.  It specifically addresses your questions and concerns.  Smiley

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/clergy_etiquette.aspx
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2010, 01:19:32 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.

That's interesting. So this isn't a part of Romanian piety at all? It just seems strange as it appears to be an otherwise universal custom. Sometimes I have seen people simply shaking hands with an Antiochian priest, but I don't believe in that situation anyone is asking for a blessing.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2010, 01:31:04 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.

That's interesting. So this isn't a part of Romanian piety at all? It just seems strange as it appears to be an otherwise universal custom. Sometimes I have seen people simply shaking hands with an Antiochian priest, but I don't believe in that situation anyone is asking for a blessing.
I'm only talking about my region; it is done in many other places, but in those few tens or so of villages and towns I would call "home" it is not done, although it used to be done back in the thirties, forties at least sporadically, as I learned from grandparents. So, now, I do it if I'm in a church where everybody else does it, if not, I stick to my home custom.
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2010, 01:46:01 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.

 The Romanians I knew were reluctant to kiss the priest's hand only because of a trust issue (I was told priest's aren't completely trusted in Romania).  Once trust was established though, there was no hesitation what-so-ever.  Augustin, would you agree that priest's aren't completely trusted by Romanians?  If so, do you see it as a by product of Ceauşescu and the Departamentul Securităţii Statului?
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« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2010, 02:05:26 AM »

I would say many Romanians  have a healthy dose of skepticism towards clergy, which well predates Communism. Read Ion Creanga or Damian Stanoiu's funny but haedly flattering portraits of clergymen.
Some clergymen's collaboration with the secret services only further solidified this attitude, of course.
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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2010, 02:09:51 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.

When I was in a local Romanian parish recently, I asked for the blessing and the priest put his hand in mine, then realised what I was doing and pulled his hand away very quickly, placing his hand on top of my head before saying "God bless you!"
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2010, 09:22:47 AM »

I never kissed a priest's hand back home, neither did I see anybody do it or "ask for a blessing". I don't think our priests would have ever let us do it.

When I was in a local Romanian parish recently, I asked for the blessing and the priest put his hand in mine, then realised what I was doing and pulled his hand away very quickly, placing his hand on top of my head before saying "God bless you!"
I've read of this.  priests (that I know of) do this out of humility.  they will pray for you, but they don't see themselves worthy for someone to kiss their hand.   Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2010, 09:27:22 AM »

Some clergymen's collaboration with the secret services only further solidified this attitude, of course.
and we see this in most of Eastern Europe.  in Father Arseney 1893-1973 (a personal favorite of mine, he speaks about a deacon who preforms "underground" services with him, and finds out he is speaking to the secret services about it all.
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« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2010, 11:12:51 AM »


I wish that all the clergy agreed on this.  It's quite awkward for us laypeople to read their minds.

I've actually emailed priests that I knew I would be seeing beforehand, in order to find out their preference.  However, if one finds oneself in the presence of many priests at once, and approaches the first, asks a blessing...kisses hand....happens upon another one a moment later, repeats process...and the priest yanks his hand away quickly prior to receiving kiss....when one approaches the third....one wonders if maybe one should simply shake hands. 

Do you know?

You don't want to make the priest feel awkward...and yet, you don't want to do too "little" and insult him....so, it's really confusing.



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« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2010, 11:25:06 AM »

I've read about and seen many Coptic, Ethiopian, and Jacobite priests using a little blessing cross instead of their hand to give a blessing.
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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2010, 11:57:23 AM »


I wish that all the clergy agreed on this.  It's quite awkward for us laypeople to read their minds.

I've actually emailed priests that I knew I would be seeing beforehand, in order to find out their preference.  However, if one finds oneself in the presence of many priests at once, and approaches the first, asks a blessing...kisses hand....happens upon another one a moment later, repeats process...and the priest yanks his hand away quickly prior to receiving kiss....when one approaches the third....one wonders if maybe one should simply shake hands. 

Do you know?

You don't want to make the priest feel awkward...and yet, you don't want to do too "little" and insult him....so, it's really confusing.

I tend to wing it. Even with one priest...sometimes I may ask for blessing, other times just shake hands, other times a kiss of peace works. Generally, I always ask for blessing after confession (in Greek/Antiochian tradition, they usually offer their epitrachelion and hand to kiss) and also when I meet them before service etc. At conferences/retreats, I will ask for a blessing from priests I am close to before we leave.

I do admit though, this isn't really a clear cut system. Certain jurisdictions I am told are pretty hardcore on clergy etiquette, but my experience with those jurisdictions has certainly been different.
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« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2010, 01:31:32 PM »

My first priest (at a Greek church) would let people kiss his hand, but he was not offended if some one did not kiss his hand. My priest now (at an Antiochian church) is more of the shaking hands kind of guy, though I have seen a few people kiss his hand.
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« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2010, 02:57:30 PM »

Is it okay not to?

Sure.  
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« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2010, 02:57:30 PM »

This is why Orthodoxy needs a secret handshake.  Wink
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« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2010, 09:40:57 PM »

In my experiences with Finnish and northwestern Romanian Orthodoxy, priests are trying to put a stop to this custom.

When I first came to Romania long ago, I met a priest and tried to kiss his hand after a blessing, which caused him to go on at some length about how that was a Slavic custom that he didn't want to see spread in his native land. I get the impression that a lot of priests here are exasperated with village superstition that views clergy as godlike beings with special powers instead of humble sinners who can impart the mysteries only by the grace of God. At the church next door to me, the priest can't walk anywhere during services without a bunch of old women standing in a circle around him and stroking his vestments like he's a cat -- it really does disrupt services. So perhaps they go the other way and try to deny any overt forms of old-time respect and deference.

At the Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki, priests will jerk their hand away and give you a very gruff look that basically says "Don't try that again!"
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« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2010, 03:42:19 PM »

At the church next door to me, the priest can't walk anywhere during services without a bunch of old women standing in a circle around him and stroking his vestments like he's a cat -- it really does disrupt services.

Thank you, the image made me laugh, although I do appreciate it does nothing for the flow of the liturgy.

I only ask a blessing of my parish priest, spiritual father, confessor and two others. Partly because I’ve never mastered the art of kissing without actually kissing and partly because (as others have said) I don’t know how they’ll react. Instead I place my right hand between my collar-bone and my heart and give them a little bow.  Occasionally I’ve met priests (all hieromonks now that I think of it) who were determined to give a blessing and if my hands were anywhere accessible they were making the sign of the cross and there was no getting out of the kissing bit.

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« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2010, 04:13:29 PM »

I get the impression that a lot of priests here are exasperated with village superstition that views clergy as godlike beings with special powers instead of humble sinners who can impart the mysteries only by the grace of God. At the church next door to me, the priest can't walk anywhere during services without a bunch of old women standing in a circle around him and stroking his vestments like he's a cat -- it really does disrupt services.

Your description made me think of the attached picture. (Click on it to make it larger)
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« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2010, 05:47:01 PM »

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« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2010, 06:00:05 PM »

During Orthros, when we venerate the gospel book, we kiss the priest's hand while he holding the gospel book. Some kiss both, though most kiss his right hand. During the Liturgy, when someone hands an item to the Priest, they kiss his hand. When we receive the antidoron, we kiss the priest's hand. However, some folks do not kiss the priest's hand, and he doesn't appear to be offended.
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« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2010, 09:42:31 PM »

This is why Orthodoxy needs a secret handshake.  Wink

Do you mean no one taught you the secret handshake?    Smiley
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« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2010, 04:26:28 AM »

" If  one were to meet  an  Orthodox  Priest walking with an Angel,  then one should greet the Priest first and kiss his hand,  since  that hand  has touched the Body and Blood of our Lord."

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« Reply #35 on: December 10, 2010, 04:29:42 AM »

" If  one were to meet  an  Orthodox  Priest walking with an Angel,  then one should greet the Priest first and kiss his hand,  since  that hand  has touched the Body and Blood of our Lord."

St. John Chrysostom
 
 
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I reckon that settles it.  If it's good enough for St. John the Golden Mouth...
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