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Author Topic: Tips for serving at the altar  (Read 7597 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: June 04, 2011, 09:58:37 AM »

As a fellow altar server, I can tell you the most important thing: pray before the service.  

I even composed my own little prayer which you may use"
Lord, Let my ministry as altar server be blessed with a love for all parishioners
That I may see Christ within each of them,
and that I may be granted humility in this holy service."

you will really learn humility while serving.  Don't be surprised when you drop things, light small fires, or forget to do something.  Father may shoot you a dirty look, but remember this happens to everyone!

Also, I have written down=, in a liturgy book, when to do what in the altar as suggested by people on OC.net, and that is a wonderful resource to have with you.

Also, start to notice what the choir chants or priest chants before something happens, these are your ques.  for example:  At vespers, when the choir chants "amen", I know to open the door.  Soon after that, when the priest recites the petitions and comes to the Theotokos, I know to put incense in the censer and bring it to him.  When he puts on his philonion (cape), I know to help him open the royal doors, get the censer and make the entrance.  

Right now, It will be hard for you, but soon you will be a pro!  Just don't be afraid to rely on your fellow altar servers for direction, as the priest may be really "into" the service.

Good luck, and May the Lord have Mercy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trevor, take it from a old time PK and relative and good friend of more than a few priests. Make sure your notes from online are consistent with what your priest wants you to do as practice varies among priests to some extent. If one of the altar boys in our church started serving in a manner that the pastor did not teach him and was referencing notes that he wrote down from internet forums, he would soon be called on the carpet. Please, it would be disrespectful to your priest if you were to innovate when serving without his permission.
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« Reply #46 on: June 04, 2011, 10:01:41 AM »

"1. Do not catch any thing or any other person on fire."

Has this ever happened at anyone's parish?

Our Bishop had a Deacon once who drove him to parishes and was notorious for having a 'wide swing.' A few of the overly zealous altar boys would constantly put new whole pieces of charcoal in the censor during the Liturgy, whether needed or not and the beautiful new rug...well you can figure out the rest. A whole lot of foot stomping went on after one particularly wild swing!
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« Reply #47 on: June 04, 2011, 11:24:04 AM »

Not only do Priests do some things differently, they can also make mistakes. Don't get frozen if they do.

Last week at the end of the Great Entrance, our Priest forgot to turn and bless us to return back to the Alter. We were left outside just standing there. When it became clear he had goofed, I merely whispered to the others "Okay, let's go" and we went back in.

You just need to pay attention and use common sense. Just because the traffic light is green doesnt mean someone isnt going to go speeding through the intersection...Stay alert.

 
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« Reply #48 on: June 04, 2011, 03:32:17 PM »

Each and every Parish has different practises. When I used to be an altar server it was weird to serve in a Parish that was not my own.
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« Reply #49 on: June 04, 2011, 03:51:51 PM »

it's not a matter of who has burnt the rug with charcaol, it's a matter of who hasn't Smiley
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« Reply #50 on: June 04, 2011, 09:31:03 PM »

That practice is still followed. I served in the altar at a ROCOR church for the past 2 years, and this still happens.
Don't know where that comes from.
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« Reply #51 on: June 04, 2011, 09:34:51 PM »

"1. Do not catch any thing or any other person on fire."

Has this ever happened at anyone's parish?

Our Bishop had a Deacon once who drove him to parishes and was notorious for having a 'wide swing.' A few of the overly zealous altar boys would constantly put new whole pieces of charcoal in the censor during the Liturgy, whether needed or not and the beautiful new rug...well you can figure out the rest. A whole lot of foot stomping went on after one particularly wild swing!

Rugs are for sissies.
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« Reply #52 on: June 04, 2011, 09:38:48 PM »

Each and every Parish has different practises. When I used to be an altar server it was weird to serve in a Parish that was not my own.
I've experienced that too- over my 9 years of altar setvice.
Why do you say "I used to be an altar server"? You don't serve anymore?
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« Reply #53 on: June 05, 2011, 03:35:34 AM »

I know that I have been promising this in various places for a while now but my servers' guide will appear soon. It originally started out as an in-house guide for my parish but a friend encouraged me to make it more general for publication. However, in time, it became apparent that the work involved in including all of the legitimate variations would be more than my time and knowledge would allow, and that, actually, the excess of notes and explanation that this would entail would turn it into a study book and not something that could be used practically by being glanced at during the Liturgy and then slipped back into a cassock pocket, which was the whole idea. Also, some of the things peculiar to my parish because of our building layout would have had to be removed, reducing its helpfulness to our servers, which was the initial purpose of the project in the first place.

Therefore, I hope to have it finished within the next couple of weeks (among other things) and shall link to a draft from here for welcome comment.

Perhaps others mat find it useful, with slight adaptation, for use in their own parishes.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 04:00:44 AM by Subdeacon Michael » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: June 05, 2011, 09:14:46 AM »

Why do you say "I used to be an altar server"? You don't serve anymore?

I stopped a few years ago.
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« Reply #55 on: June 05, 2011, 12:44:35 PM »

Well if it makes you feel any better, I'll share some of the things I've witnessed.  

1.  Young alter boy leaned forward with a long candle and set a subdeacons vestments on fire.  A deacon had to swat him on the back several times real hard to smother it.

2. A priest fell down two stairs during DL.

3. Break dancing altar boys (80's) in the back "area" of the altar (separate).  Priest walks in to a real fat altar boy doing a back spin and when the altar boy noticed he fell smacking the ground hard.  The Priest looked stern then started laughing.

4. Flying charcoal out of the censor landing on several different items.  (Priest used the censor "scoop" technique).

5. DL books labeled with "triggers" to do something.  "censor" etc.   But one kid labeled his "cool".   "Bring out the Holy H20".

6. Young Altar boy starts crying tired at 1:00 during Pascha.

7. Sadly I've seen a communion chalice spilled on the altar (very briefly like 1/4 got out), however, it was interesting to see how it was recovered.  It sort of "floated" on the antimension.  (kind of like water on wax effect).   It was "very very carefully" poured back into the chalice.  I suppose the antimension was VERY finely woven.    Priest was SWEATING bullets during and happy afterwards.

8. Younger altar boys putting about 40 pieces of real FAT incense on 1 coal.  It was VERY strong and smoked up the entire church.

9. I once lost a shoe going down the stairs in a procession.  LOL  Thank goodness I wasn't wearing my typical Sunday socks (the ones that were "holey", okay, all my socks were holey).  I finished the procession then had to go fetch my shoe to a laughing first 4-5 rows of congregation.

10. I've seen 3 year old baby boy go CHARING at full fledge speed right through the royal doors, and had nearly all the altar boys chasing him with a panicking mother waiting outside the iconostasis.   3 year old boys are indeed fast.  LOL.  I think he was having the time of his life because he really liked being chased by so many.

My advice, just pay attention.   Stay focused on prayer & your duties.  If you mess up, you mess up and you learn from your mistakes.  Remember that nobody is really judging you so long as you are trying to do the right thing.  Don't feel embarrassed to ask direct questions to people who understand your language and speak your own.  Ask your priest for direction and how things should be done.

Oh and especially remember, when you are holding something important or heavy, your nose WILL always itch.   Don't think about it.... no really... don't think about it... Hopefully the itch will go away... LOL , or not.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 12:46:53 PM by yeshuaisiam » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: June 05, 2011, 01:39:55 PM »

If the bishop is serving don't forget to let him put the incense in the censor before the epistle reading.
Oh, another good tip, if you are giving the priest the hot water don't put a lot in the thing you put the water in (I speak English as a first language yet I don't know all of the terms for church stuff in english, mostly in Ukrainian lol).
What ends up happening if you put too much hot water in it is
a) priest/deacon may spill it on the antimens, which can smear the bishop's signature and writing.  These aren't easy to replace, remember they have a martyr's bone sewed into them, the bishop needs to sign a new one and no one wants to have to tell the bishop they damaged his antimens
ok, we'll leave it at a
what else,
don't show up at communion expecting to serve...
ok, really I see people show up like at the epistle, at the anaphora, etc.. come on, if you're late and you see 12 altar servers on the altar already, four subdeacons and six deacons you really should just hang out in the pew.  My theory is if you can't get there on time don't serve.  The priest/deacon and subdeacon got there early, so should the altar servers.  As an aside the only one that is allowed to be late is the Bishop, just like at work, the boss can be late but you can't be Smiley
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« Reply #57 on: June 05, 2011, 02:34:17 PM »

If the bishop is serving don't forget to let him put the incense in the censor before the epistle reading.

This is only something practiced in those churches with Slavic influence. I remember a bishop of Greek background, having the incense brought to him and, saying to the altar server "I am not the altar boy, you are, prepare the censer and give it to the deacon."
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« Reply #58 on: June 05, 2011, 03:09:25 PM »

I am not an altar server, for obvious reasons.  Smiley 

However, I do know about spilling lit charcoal on carpet.  And my suggestion is that if you try to stomp it out, don't be stupid like I was one time, and do that with your bare foot!   Grin

The best thing I find for putting out spilled charcoal is water, and I keep a special bottle of (regular) water near my icon corner for this purpose.  I've seen people try to stomp it out after an "incense-ident", and all this seems to accomplish is spreading the sparks around and making the burn damage worse.
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« Reply #59 on: June 05, 2011, 04:09:23 PM »

Well if it makes you feel any better, I'll share some of the things I've witnessed.  

1.  Young alter boy leaned forward with a long candle and set a subdeacons vestments on fire.  A deacon had to swat him on the back several times real hard to smother it.

2. A priest fell down two stairs during DL.

3. Break dancing altar boys (80's) in the back "area" of the altar (separate).  Priest walks in to a real fat altar boy doing a back spin and when the altar boy noticed he fell smacking the ground hard.  The Priest looked stern then started laughing.

4. Flying charcoal out of the censor landing on several different items.  (Priest used the censor "scoop" technique).

5. DL books labeled with "triggers" to do something.  "censor" etc.   But one kid labeled his "cool".   "Bring out the Holy H20".

6. Young Altar boy starts crying tired at 1:00 during Pascha.

7. Sadly I've seen a communion chalice spilled on the altar (very briefly like 1/4 got out), however, it was interesting to see how it was recovered.  It sort of "floated" on the antimension.  (kind of like water on wax effect).   It was "very very carefully" poured back into the chalice.  I suppose the antimension was VERY finely woven.    Priest was SWEATING bullets during and happy afterwards.

8. Younger altar boys putting about 40 pieces of real FAT incense on 1 coal.  It was VERY strong and smoked up the entire church.

9. I once lost a shoe going down the stairs in a procession.  LOL  Thank goodness I wasn't wearing my typical Sunday socks (the ones that were "holey", okay, all my socks were holey).  I finished the procession then had to go fetch my shoe to a laughing first 4-5 rows of congregation.

10. I've seen 3 year old baby boy go CHARING at full fledge speed right through the royal doors, and had nearly all the altar boys chasing him with a panicking mother waiting outside the iconostasis.   3 year old boys are indeed fast.  LOL.  I think he was having the time of his life because he really liked being chased by so many.

My advice, just pay attention.   Stay focused on prayer & your duties.  If you mess up, you mess up and you learn from your mistakes.  Remember that nobody is really judging you so long as you are trying to do the right thing.  Don't feel embarrassed to ask direct questions to people who understand your language and speak your own.  Ask your priest for direction and how things should be done.

Oh and especially remember, when you are holding something important or heavy, your nose WILL always itch.   Don't think about it.... no really... don't think about it... Hopefully the itch will go away... LOL , or not.

Great memories! They triggered many of my own and of my own boys growing up! Wax balls on the sacristy ceiling were always a favorite in our church as the ceiling was really high! I also remember my youngest son being about nine, outfitted in a spanking new dalmatic with about 20 other similarly attired boys following the procession with Holy Water in hand, tripping on the stairs, ripping the new dalmatic from stem to stern and pouring the water on the boys and the priest in front of him A truly auspicious debut!
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« Reply #60 on: June 05, 2011, 04:09:58 PM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

M

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« Reply #61 on: June 06, 2011, 11:54:20 AM »

If the bishop is serving don't forget to let him put the incense in the censor before the epistle reading.
Oh, another good tip, if you are giving the priest the hot water don't put a lot in the thing you put the water in (I speak English as a first language yet I don't know all of the terms for church stuff in english, mostly in Ukrainian lol).
What ends up happening if you put too much hot water in it is
a) priest/deacon may spill it on the antimens, which can smear the bishop's signature and writing.  These aren't easy to replace, remember they have a martyr's bone sewed into them, the bishop needs to sign a new one and no one wants to have to tell the bishop they damaged his antimens
ok, we'll leave it at a
what else,
don't show up at communion expecting to serve...
ok, really I see people show up like at the epistle, at the anaphora, etc.. come on, if you're late and you see 12 altar servers on the altar already, four subdeacons and six deacons you really should just hang out in the pew.  My theory is if you can't get there on time don't serve.  The priest/deacon and subdeacon got there early, so should the altar servers.  As an aside the only one that is allowed to be late is the Bishop, just like at work, the boss can be late but you can't be Smiley

Yes, the hand off of the Hot Water to the Deacon...... Danger..Danger... We don't let the kids do that. And we had a freshly minted new Deacon serve his first DL yesterday. When I handed him the Hot Water, I looked him in the eye and whispered..."Very Slowly"
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« Reply #62 on: June 06, 2011, 11:56:28 AM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

M



Pick up bare handed?..... Muy muy Macho. Bravo.

I live for the day some 2 year old spits up and we have to eat it...  I love Rocor.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 11:57:49 AM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #63 on: June 06, 2011, 01:25:36 PM »

If the bishop is serving don't forget to let him put the incense in the censor before the epistle reading.
Oh, another good tip, if you are giving the priest the hot water don't put a lot in the thing you put the water in (I speak English as a first language yet I don't know all of the terms for church stuff in english, mostly in Ukrainian lol).
What ends up happening if you put too much hot water in it is
a) priest/deacon may spill it on the antimens, which can smear the bishop's signature and writing.  These aren't easy to replace, remember they have a martyr's bone sewed into them, the bishop needs to sign a new one and no one wants to have to tell the bishop they damaged his antimens
ok, we'll leave it at a
what else,
don't show up at communion expecting to serve...
ok, really I see people show up like at the epistle, at the anaphora, etc.. come on, if you're late and you see 12 altar servers on the altar already, four subdeacons and six deacons you really should just hang out in the pew.  My theory is if you can't get there on time don't serve.  The priest/deacon and subdeacon got there early, so should the altar servers.  As an aside the only one that is allowed to be late is the Bishop, just like at work, the boss can be late but you can't be Smiley

Yes, the hand off of the Hot Water to the Deacon...... Danger..Danger... We don't let the kids do that. And we had a freshly minted new Deacon serve his first DL yesterday. When I handed him the Hot Water, I looked him in the eye and whispered..."Very Slowly"

ah, yes, the hot water.  I have met a few other teenage altar-servers who have dropped the whole little cup of water (no sense in writing the Slavonic when no one knows what it means except our clergy) on the floor, and even on the altar.  The worst part is, when you poor it even five seconds too early, the tray gets SUPER hot, and it's hard not to set it down.  I feel bad for Father, who has to pick it up with his bare hands.  I've seen a priest's hands shake as he holds it, and let out a sigh of relief when he hands it back to me.
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« Reply #64 on: June 06, 2011, 01:26:05 PM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

M



Pick up bare handed?..... Muy muy Macho. Bravo.

I live for the day some 2 year old spits up and we have to eat it...  I love Rocor.

 Cheesy
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« Reply #65 on: June 06, 2011, 02:04:18 PM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

Seconded
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« Reply #66 on: June 06, 2011, 02:49:06 PM »

"1. Do not catch any thing or any other person on fire."

Has this ever happened at anyone's parish?

One week after we had new carpeting installed a huge chunk of charcoal went flying out of the censor and burned a hole through the carpet as the recently ordained Deacon was censing the altar. Fortunately, he had the good sense not to immediately reach for it with his bare hands!  Shocked 

As our priest explained later, "Anyone who thinks the carpet is not going to be scorched by charcoal is kidding themselves." laugh
Iget it. Was the deacon censing normally (not wild) when this happened?
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« Reply #67 on: June 06, 2011, 04:03:56 PM »

I've seen a deacon who insists on consuming the gifts post liturgy with hot water, "more hot water please.."  Yes, no sense writing it all in Slavonic or Ukrainian when only us few and brave would understand. 
Memories from Greek Catholic altar-serving include;
waiting for the pre-cut prosphora to defrost in the microwave Smiley
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« Reply #68 on: June 06, 2011, 04:09:58 PM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

M



Pick up bare handed?..... Muy muy Macho. Bravo.
Usually there is a pair of metal tongs next to the cesor for such things.
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« Reply #69 on: June 06, 2011, 08:41:29 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...
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« Reply #70 on: June 06, 2011, 10:28:16 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

I enjoy hot wax on my hands. Picking at it is pleasant for some odd reason.
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« Reply #71 on: June 06, 2011, 10:31:41 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

I enjoy hot wax on my hands. Picking at it is pleasant for some odd reason.

Is that only if you commune?
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« Reply #72 on: June 06, 2011, 10:33:12 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

I enjoy hot wax on my hands. Picking at it is pleasant for some odd reason.

Really?  At my Church you kiss the priest's hand throughout the day, before and after communion.  Interesting how practices differ.

**best to ask your priest about this one**
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« Reply #73 on: June 06, 2011, 10:36:40 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

I enjoy hot wax on my hands. Picking at it is pleasant for some odd reason.

Is that only if you commune?

No. You don't kiss his hand after that point in the DL when he hands you something.

 
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« Reply #74 on: June 06, 2011, 10:41:47 PM »

Thank you again, everyone!

UPDATE:

I managed to scorch the left side of my face with hot candle wax, which also splashed all over my hair and immediately clumped up just before the small entrance. Don't think anyone noticed, thankfully. Fun times.

I've also realised I have to move in for the kiss of the priest's hand a lot quicker than I do. I miss the opportunity half the time.

Finally, I have e-mailed istok with some enquiries re the exorassa they have available, but they've not responded and I am becoming impatient. I really struggle with the whole patience thing ...

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

I enjoy hot wax on my hands. Picking at it is pleasant for some odd reason.

Is that only if you commune?

No. You don't kiss his hand after that point in the DL when he hands you something.

Interesting. If anything, I would expect there would be even more reason to kiss his hand after he had touched the Precious Body.
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« Reply #75 on: June 06, 2011, 10:44:21 PM »

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

This is far from universal. What I find funny about this tradition is the inconsistency that it produces. Dare not kiss any icons after communion but you better kiss the chalice.
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« Reply #76 on: June 06, 2011, 10:44:45 PM »

I was taught that you don't ask the priest's blessing for the rest of the day if you commune.

I guess it's the same thing as kissing his hand while serving after communing. I've never paid attention to whether we do it or not, and I've never handed anything off to him liturgically after communing at the Liturgy, so, I've never had the chance to make a decision to that effect, although I would've probably opted to kiss his hand rather than not.

I'll definitely pay attention this weekend and see what the practice is at my parish. Grin
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« Reply #77 on: June 06, 2011, 11:17:21 PM »

Brief point; After communion you no longer kiss the Priests hand when he hands something to you.

Never heard of this one before.  I've heard of 'don't kiss things straight after you commune', but this one is new (and, pertinently, prolly not practised in GOA).
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« Reply #78 on: June 07, 2011, 10:19:27 AM »

I have come into contact with both usages about kissing things after Communion. I keep reading explanations that it is more proper not to kiss icons, priest's hand, etc., after communing. But then the people who didn't take Holy Communion will start making those same omissions (I've discovered), and I'm afraid it undermines more than it builds up. The priest in each place will give instruction about this.

In the majority practice of Orthodoxy, a reader does not wear an exorasson, only a priest or deacon. But in Greek and Arab practice, it is entirely proper. I mention this because if a Greek or Arab Orthodox reader visits a Russian church, there could be raised eyebrows. Which could also be a teachable moment, about different and valid practices in the equal sister churches of Orthodoxy. I don't know what Serbs do about cassocks.



 

 
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« Reply #79 on: June 07, 2011, 04:31:32 PM »

I have come into contact with both usages about kissing things after Communion. I keep reading explanations that it is more proper not to kiss icons, priest's hand, etc., after communing. But then the people who didn't take Holy Communion will start making those same omissions (I've discovered), and I'm afraid it undermines more than it builds up. The priest in each place will give instruction about this.

The custom at my parish is that those who have communicated do not kiss anything until they have taken the zapivka.  Then they may kiss the priest's hand or venerate icons as usual.  In the case of altar servers, the busyness of serving may mean that they do not get the opportunity to take the zapivka until nearer the end of the Liturgy, uin which case those who pass the priest the censer and so forth do not kiss his hand when doing so until they have purified their mouths.

On the guide for altar servers, here is my little effort.

M
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« Reply #80 on: July 10, 2011, 09:01:49 AM »

Some stupid questions for you guys:

1. When censing, am I expected to swing the censer so as to cause the bells to chime or be more gentle? I have in mind the censing of the gifts during the Great Entrance and also when the priest returns the Holy Gifts to the table of preparation after communion.

2. Am I expected to kiss the priest's hand when handing him the zeon/hot water?

3. Am I expected to kiss the deacon's hand when handing him the censer?

4. Any tips for orthros/matins? It is still quite bewildering to me, by comparison with the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #81 on: July 10, 2011, 09:09:18 AM »

Some stupid questions for you guys:

1. When censing, am I expected to swing the censer so as to cause the bells to chime or be more gentle? I have in mind the censing of the gifts during the Great Entrance and also when the priest returns the Holy Gifts to the table of preparation after communion.

2. Am I expected to kiss the priest's hand when handing him the zeon/hot water?

3. Am I expected to kiss the deacon's hand when handing him the censer?

4. Any tips for orthros/matins? It is still quite bewildering to me, by comparison with the Divine Liturgy.

1. Technically only the Deacon (maybe also the Subdeacon) swings the censor though this is not always followed. An altar server would just hold it still while walking.

2. I haven't seen this done in my parish. I think it's a bit hazardous to kiss his hand while he's holding something hot.

3. Never kiss the Deacons hand.

4. I really can't help you there. Smiley
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« Reply #82 on: July 10, 2011, 09:19:23 AM »

Some stupid questions for you guys:

1. When censing, am I expected to swing the censer so as to cause the bells to chime or be more gentle? I have in mind the censing of the gifts during the Great Entrance and also when the priest returns the Holy Gifts to the table of preparation after communion.

Your questions are not stupid in the slightest. We all have to learn somehow. Asking is sensible and shows much greater care for these things than simply guessing and getting it wrong.

Lay people generally do not cense. In addition to that, at the Great Entrance, the censer is carried in the procession by the Gifts are only censed before and after the Entrance (see the relevant note in my above link). The exception is at the Liturgy of the Pre-Hallowed Gifts, when the deacon censes during the procession.

I have noticed a greater variety on these points in Greek and Antiochian churches.

Quote
2. Am I expected to kiss the priest's hand when handing him the zeon/hot water?

No. It is generally understood ad an exception to the rule for the same reasons that you have asked the question: it is just too dangerous.

Quote
3. Am I expected to kiss the deacon's hand when handing him the censer?

No. Deacons' hands are only kissed under the same circumstances as lay people's hands, so at the Forgiveness service, and such like. They are not kissed liturgically in the same way as priests' hands are.

Quote
4. Any tips for orthros/matins? It is still quite bewildering to me, by comparison with the Divine Liturgy.

I would suggest Fr Gregory Woolfenden's book recently published in English by Jordanville. It will help you with these things. I have found it very useful indeed.
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« Reply #83 on: July 10, 2011, 05:16:59 PM »

If the bishop is serving don't forget to let him put the incense in the censor before the epistle reading.
Oh, another good tip, if you are giving the priest the hot water don't put a lot in the thing you put the water in (I speak English as a first language yet I don't know all of the terms for church stuff in english, mostly in Ukrainian lol).
What ends up happening if you put too much hot water in it is
a) priest/deacon may spill it on the antimens, which can smear the bishop's signature and writing.  These aren't easy to replace, remember they have a martyr's bone sewed into them, the bishop needs to sign a new one and no one wants to have to tell the bishop they damaged his antimens
ok, we'll leave it at a
what else,
don't show up at communion expecting to serve...
ok, really I see people show up like at the epistle, at the anaphora, etc.. come on, if you're late and you see 12 altar servers on the altar already, four subdeacons and six deacons you really should just hang out in the pew.  My theory is if you can't get there on time don't serve.  The priest/deacon and subdeacon got there early, so should the altar servers.  As an aside the only one that is allowed to be late is the Bishop, just like at work, the boss can be late but you can't be Smiley
Yeah! Definitely come on time! During the Great Litany may be OK, depending on the priest , but don't push it. They're generally stricter about the time in Cathedrals.
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« Reply #84 on: July 10, 2011, 05:18:23 PM »

No, no, no.  Smiley

The best thing to do when charcoal is dropped is to simply pick it up and put it back into the censer with minimal fuss.  I have been doing this since I was 11 years old and never suffered any burns beyond minor discomfort.  It's all about knowing how to hold it.  Treading on it just grinds hot charcoal into the carpet, causing more damage than necessary.

M


I also dropped charcoal once. It hurt, but I managed to put it into the ashcan without much damage
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« Reply #85 on: July 10, 2011, 05:25:59 PM »

A far as I know, greek and arab readers do NOT wear both eiso- and exo-rassa, only one or the other. Deacons wear both when not serving
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« Reply #86 on: July 10, 2011, 05:41:55 PM »

1. When censing, am I expected to swing the censer so as to cause the bells to chime or be more gentle? I have in mind the censing of the gifts during the Great Entrance and also when the priest returns the Holy Gifts to the table of preparation after communion.

2. Am I expected to kiss the priest's hand when handing him the zeon/hot water?

3. Am I expected to kiss the deacon's hand when handing him the censer?

4. Any tips for orthros/matins? It is still quite bewildering to me, by comparison with the Divine Liturgy.

Following the GOA Aus tradition for these (Russian tradition will mostly have the opposite answers):
1. Great Entrance: Not just swing, but 'shake' at the end, just like you see clergy do.  Practise, it gets easier Smiley and often different people develop different ways of holding it so that they have more control.  Find someone who makes the censer sound like you want it to sound and get them to show you.
After the consecration, though (and going back to the prothesis), try and swing basically noiselessly.  This is the same as censing during the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, and for the same reason - to highlight that the gifts are consecrated.

2. When handing - Yes, but.  It depends on how confident you feel about water spillage.  Some will avoid it because, well, it's hot water and could easily spill.  When receiving it back, though, always yes.

3. Probably - a deacon's hand is kissed any other time, after all (in GOA-Aus tradition).  This is probably something you could ask the deacon (or priest or seminarian) about what they prefer.

4. Matins...there's not much to do, which means that you'll probably be told what needs to be done well in advance.  The things you need to watch out for are the Gospel reading, when you need a candle; Psalm 50, when said candle is brought out to be next to the priest (while the gospel is being venerated); and the censing of the church at the Magnificat ('More honourable than the Cherubim').  And, at some point the priest may want to finish the prothesis, so be on hand near the end to get the censer (and, if there's no deacon, to cense at the appropriate times).

Hope this helps!  Remember, not only is there important difference between Russian and Greek traditions, there is also some difference between parishes - for a lot of things, the right people to ask are right in front of you on Sunday morning. Smiley
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« Reply #87 on: July 10, 2011, 05:47:33 PM »

I laughed at the stories about picking up the charcoal. I've done it many times whenI I was serving. After a few times, you learn how to pick it up and put it back in the censer quick without feeling anything.

As for the rest of your questions:

I used to gently let the censor swinging, not nearly enough to get the bells to ring, but just enough so the moving air helped the charcoal burn more thus burning more incense.

I wouldn't kiss the priest's hand when he takes the zeon. Too risky.

As for the kissing the deacon's hand, yes and no. The Russian tradition doesn't, but the Greek typically does. When I first served with a  deacon, I didn't and my priest told me. He said it was both out of respect for the deacon and also because the deacon handles the Body. From that point on, I've always kissed a deacon's hand. You're probably not wrong or right either way. If your priest thinks you should, he'll tell you (or you can just do it unless the deacon tells you not to).

It's been a while since I've served for Orthros. The only time I recall doing anything besides handing off the censor is going out for the Gospel and during the 9th Ode when the priest would cense the entire Church. Mostly, you can stand near the priest in case he needs anything. At least that's what I used to do before I started chanting during Orthros.
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« Reply #88 on: July 10, 2011, 08:42:12 PM »

Thank you, all, you are most kind.

It's hard to disentangle the conflicting approaches in the Greek and Russian traditions at times.
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« Reply #89 on: July 10, 2011, 08:52:16 PM »

Quote
After a few times, you learn how to pick it up and put it back in the censer quick without feeling anything.


I'm no advocate for female clergy, and the notion of "altargirls" leaves me cold, to put it mildly. But, in my observation, women seem to have "asbestos hands". Might be worth you finding out how they do it.
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