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Author Topic: Wiping the lips with red-cloth!!!  (Read 2090 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 26, 2012, 06:24:21 PM »

It has been my understanding that wiping the lips with the red-cloth is a common practice in the Orthodox Church. Correct me, if it is otherwise.


As an Orthodox Christian and a Subdeacon, I have been helping our priest during the Holy Communion by holding the red-cloth and then wipe the believers' lips. Well, no one ever rejected the idea in our church or even complained about it. However, today during Holy Communion someone gave me a bad look with an anger as if I insulted that person or some how did not understand the practice of wiping the lips with the red-cloth.

This is from the church bulletin:

"Make the sign of the Cross. Hold the red cloth directly under your chin. Say
your Baptismal name. Open your mouth wide to receive Holy Communion. Wipe your lips with
the red cloth and hand it to the person behind you. Make the sign of the Cross."

Have you ever experienced the same reaction from a parishioner?

In Christ,
SBDK







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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 06:35:10 PM »

I don't wipe peoples lips after they receive, but I know some do.  Generally when I receive communion I don't have my lips wiped, but I have on a few occasions and it always catches me off guard.  It is a weird feeling.  I'm sure I've made weird faces before when it has happened.  Maybe you are too rough?  Who knows.  I wouldn't worry about it. 
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 06:43:30 PM »

I wipe my own lips with the cloth, but not with a full wiping motion, just a touch to the lips.
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 06:47:09 PM »

What do you mean by rough?

This is the first time in 20 years that I have experienced this reaction during Holy Communion. It is a strange feeling. I am the sponsor for that person in Baptism and we have a good friendly relationship.



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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 06:48:30 PM »

I wipe my own lips with the cloth, but not with a full wiping motion, just a touch to the lips.

Exactly, this is what I do.
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 06:53:40 PM »

I wipe my own lips with the cloth, but not with a full wiping motion, just a touch to the lips.

Exactly, this is what I do.

Me to, only lightly touch my lips.
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 07:01:43 PM »

What do you mean by rough?

This is the first time in 20 years that I have experienced this reaction during Holy Communion. It is a strange feeling. I am the sponsor for that person in Baptism and we have a good friendly relationship.

None of us can tell you what the person was thinking.  Since you have a good relationship with this person, it would probably be better to ask the person directly instead of going over in your head all the reasons why the person might have made a face that you perceived as angry.
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 07:28:11 PM »

I am the sponsor for that person in Baptism and we have a good friendly relationship.




Maybe you accidently pushed the person with your hand rather than a wiping motion?  Or maybe you're misinterpreting their expression?  Since you're their sponsor, I'd just ask them what went wrong?
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 08:18:14 PM »

It is hard to say what went wrong. In fact, many people received Holy Communion and I did wipe their lips. It went smooth...

 
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 11:08:27 PM »

As an altar server I never wipe their mouths unless it is a baby. Usually they have a hold of it anyway and there usually are two of us holding the cloth. I would think that if an altarboy or subdeacon were to move his hands to wipe the person's mouth, he could accidentally bump the chalice. For that reason I try not to move around too much and bring the cloth as close to underneath their chin as possible (also so they don't hit the chalice).

Priority #1 is making sure the gifts don't drop beyond the cloth.
Priority #2 is making sure you, a baby or someone else doesn't knock the chalice (and risk spilling more than just a drop on someone's lips).

After those two then you could be concerned about whether or not they wipe their mouths. I just don't worry about such things since they usually kiss the cloth (and then sometimes the Priest's hand and/or the chalice).
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2012, 12:34:11 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I've never seen or heard this practice before, very interesting. From my experience, the Deacon uses this cloth almost only symbolically to catch any drops which may fall, but I've never seen them wipe anything or anyone with it before.  It is used to cover the chalice during the Liturgy during the Offering portion, and then the Deacons hold the Chalice with it between their hands as a mediator, but again, I've never seen them wipe anything with it.  We wipe our own mouths with our own handkerchiefs and then we are given holy water in a small cup to rinse Smiley


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 01:56:57 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I've never seen or heard this practice before, very interesting. From my experience, the Deacon uses this cloth almost only symbolically to catch any drops which may fall, but I've never seen them wipe anything or anyone with it before.  It is used to cover the chalice during the Liturgy during the Offering portion, and then the Deacons hold the Chalice with it between their hands as a mediator, but again, I've never seen them wipe anything with it.  We wipe our own mouths with our own handkerchiefs and then we are given holy water in a small cup to rinse Smiley


stay blessed,
habte selassie
AISI, our practice is primarily to keep us from depositing traces of the Holy Body and Blood on anything we might venerate after receiving Communion. This is particularly important in the Slavic tradition, where it's traditional to kiss the chalice immediately after receiving--to my knowledge, Greek Orthodox don't do this.
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2012, 06:10:46 AM »

This is the practice to which I'm accustomed in Greek practice, to preclude transmitting Holy Communion elsewhere with any possible remnants from our lips---not that everyone does it.  (As Peter notes, in Greek practice, the faithful do not kiss the chalice.)
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 06:21:04 AM »


We have two altar servers holding the cloth, in order to catch anything that might spill, get dropped or knocked off.

The only lips that get wiped are those that need wiping.  Usually this is babies, elderly who don't quit open their mouths wide, or someone who for some reason encountered an issue.  Sometimes it's the person's fault, sometimes, the priest's. 

It happens.

We don't wipe "each" time, only when there IS something that needs wiping.  The priest will see, and immediately tell the servers to wipe, otherwise, the person will do so themselves.

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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 12:56:23 PM »


We have two altar servers holding the cloth, in order to catch anything that might spill, get dropped or knocked off.

The only lips that get wiped are those that need wiping.  Usually this is babies, elderly who don't quit open their mouths wide, or someone who for some reason encountered an issue.  Sometimes it's the person's fault, sometimes, the priest's. 

It happens.

We don't wipe "each" time, only when there IS something that needs wiping.  The priest will see, and immediately tell the servers to wipe, otherwise, the person will do so themselves.



We typically kiss the cloth and either the chalice or the Priests' hand. So typically everyone's lips are "wiped" due to kissing the cloth.

The reason for the practice of wiping is to wipe any of the blood from their lips rather than necessarily wiping the body off.

I think the difference also comes in how one receives communion. I've seen some people open their mouths and have the Priest drop it in, in which case they don't need to wipe their lips. However in that case also sometimes it won't come off the spoon and the Priest isn't about to smack the spoon on your teeth.
There are also people who close their lips around the spoon to make sure none of the body or blood falls out. In this case the Priest removes the spoon and some of the blood may remain on the communicants lips, and in that case they should wipe their lips.

For little babies, their instinct is to close their mouth around the spoon (unfortunately they sometimes also close their teeth, which is a problem) and since they also have problems drooling and eating, their lips have to be wiped to prevent anything from dripping off and onto the floor or their clothes.

I will say that it is a bit frustrating when a parent pulls their child away as soon as he/she communes, especially if the child has some of the body or blood on their lips or chin. But what can you do?
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2012, 01:24:42 PM »


Our priest is very humble, and discourages anyone from kissing his hand.  If sees your lips puckering up and heading towards his hand, he swiftly grabs his pectoral cross and interjects with it....thereby, having you kiss his cross instead.

We have been told to simply keep our mouths open. It works fairly well. 

The only time I have seen something get spilled is with the really elderly, who seem to totter, and while they intend to close their lips around the spoon, they sometimes end up sputtering, and thereby, the cloth and a good wipe is necessitated.

If the parent pulls the child away, you call them back.  My priest has no issue in calling someone back.

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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2012, 03:02:51 PM »


Our priest is very humble, and discourages anyone from kissing his hand.  If sees your lips puckering up and heading towards his hand, he swiftly grabs his pectoral cross and interjects with it....thereby, having you kiss his cross instead.

Liza, I know this is could derail the thread - if so, I hope the mods create a new one if necessary.

I find your priest's behaviour unsettling. I don't kiss my priest's hand because I think he's a fabulous guy (I have other ways of doing that  Cheesy), or because he demands my obeisance. I kiss his hand out of respect for the office he holds - it's his hand that blesses me, it's his hand that prepares and offers me the Holy Gifts.

Does this mean the Theotokos, all the saints, and even Christ Himself are less humble than your priest since they don't withdraw the hand when it is to be kissed?  Huh

Undoubtedly your priest means well - I'm certainly not trying to suggest anything else. But my kissing the priest's hand is itself a sort of blessing for me - and I would feel deprived of a blessing. Does the priest have the right to withhold a blessing simply because he doesn't feel he's worthy of offering one? Undoubtedly he offers other blessings - so why hold back on this one?

I'm not trying to pick on any one priest - is there any way we can discuss this issue without making it seem that way? (I've heard of other priests like yours, Liza.)
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2012, 03:14:44 PM »

ha ha, withdrawing the hand is common among coptic priests too.
we don't get too upset about it, the usual coptic response to the withdrawal of the hand is for us to kiss our own hand that has touched the priest's hand. i suppose that would look weird if u were not used to it.
i think some priests just get freaked out by all the hand kissing, and i suppose it takes all sorts of people to lead the people. i think it's more complex than a humility thing.

as for wiping the mouth, we don't do this. we don't like to get any of the Holy Blood on any cloth. (we then have to wash it in plain water and then the priest drinks it or we can burn it).
with little kids, their mum / dad licks their lips for them if there is any leftover Blood. i didn't see any old and wobbly people spilling the Holy Communion, so i don't know what happens in that case.
with the chalice, it gets 'washed' out several times with water, that is then drank by the priest and any subdeacons serving at the altar.
the paten (for the Holy Body) gets washed out too, and the water drank similarly.
then everything gets wiped with clean cloths and put away.

we drink water immediately after communing, and then at the end of the service get the antidoran ('baraka') so any dribbles of anything holy get removed that way.

interesting how we all have different customs and nice that we all treat the holy things with the same respect.
 Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2012, 04:34:31 PM »


Our priest is very humble, and discourages anyone from kissing his hand.  If sees your lips puckering up and heading towards his hand, he swiftly grabs his pectoral cross and interjects with it....thereby, having you kiss his cross instead.

Liza, I know this is could derail the thread - if so, I hope the mods create a new one if necessary.

I find your priest's behaviour unsettling. I don't kiss my priest's hand because I think he's a fabulous guy (I have other ways of doing that  Cheesy), or because he demands my obeisance. I kiss his hand out of respect for the office he holds - it's his hand that blesses me, it's his hand that prepares and offers me the Holy Gifts.

Does this mean the Theotokos, all the saints, and even Christ Himself are less humble than your priest since they don't withdraw the hand when it is to be kissed?  Huh

Undoubtedly your priest means well - I'm certainly not trying to suggest anything else. But my kissing the priest's hand is itself a sort of blessing for me - and I would feel deprived of a blessing. Does the priest have the right to withhold a blessing simply because he doesn't feel he's worthy of offering one? Undoubtedly he offers other blessings - so why hold back on this one?

I'm not trying to pick on any one priest - is there any way we can discuss this issue without making it seem that way? (I've heard of other priests like yours, Liza.)

Yes, I know.  ...but, he's truly a very meek and humble individual.  I am certain he realizes the "why" behind the hand kissing, however, it makes him uncomfortable.  I have no issue with that.

Honestly, if we all did it, he might get over his discomfort.....but, in my parish it is a rare thing to have anyone come up to him and ask his blessing.  I don't know why, but, they just don't do it.  My parish has it's fair share of proud people.

He's also the kind of priest who never wishes to draw attention to himself, or to get special treatment because he is a priest.  He says he is just "plain Joe" and nothing special.

After seeing some priests who demand respect and special treatment.....his behavior is actually rather refreshing....and a good example to the rest of us.



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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2012, 01:59:11 AM »

I found this video on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wglKTD6Y_c
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« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2012, 04:34:38 AM »

Quote
...partake thereof, giving heed lest you lose any of it; for what you lose is a loss to you as it were from one of your own members.  For tell me, if anyone gave you gold dust, would you not with all precaution keep it fast, being on your guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss?  How much more cautiously, then, will you observe that not a crumb falls from you, of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?

St Cyril's words still apply today, and it is for this reason that I was instructed always to wipe the lips of communicants with the houseling cloth.  Most people seem to have been instructed to stand still and let the deacon/subdeacon wipe their lips but others follow different practices.  At my own parish, most people will simply let me wipe their lips but I know the people whose lips have to be dabbed rather than wiped because of their lipstick, I know the people who prefer me to hold the cloth still in my hand while they move their face from side to side, and so forth.  We are teaching our parents to bring their babies on their backs for communion.  This means that their feet are not free to kick the chalice, they find it more difficult to turn their heads away, and the houseling cloth can be draped over them like a blanket, which seems to pacify them as well as absorbing any spillage.  In all cases, the lips are wiped.

Also important is that the priest's hand is not kissed.  Until people have received the zapivka and cleansed their mouths, they should not kiss anything other than the chalice, (which is done in some Slavic traditions as reverence for the side of Christ from which has flowed the precious Blood that they have received).  Even if servers have received communion and have to quickly to back into the altar before they have a chance to cleanse their mouths, they do not kiss the priest's hand when passing him the censer until they have had a chance to receive the wine and bread.  My bishop will actively withdraw his hand when people try to kiss it at communion.

This is as I have been taught and have experienced.

Others' experience may be different.
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« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2012, 09:52:02 AM »

I wipe my own lips with the cloth, but not with a full wiping motion, just a touch to the lips.

Exactly, this is what I do.

Me to, only lightly touch my lips.

That's what I do and was taught....
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« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2012, 11:12:31 AM »

At my own parish, most people will simply let me wipe their lips but I know the people whose lips have to be dabbed rather than wiped because of their lipstick, I know the people who prefer me to hold the cloth still in my hand while they move their face from side to side, and so forth. 

Lipstick?!?  Is outrage!!!  Wink

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« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2012, 04:26:43 PM »

we are taught to never wear lipstick for Holy Communion.
so my friends wear 'no smudge' expensive lipstick that doesn't come off easily and i (relative of mr. h. herman!) don't put any on until after (eg. if it's Pascha so wearing lipstick is cuturally mandatory)!
 Wink
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« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2012, 04:32:02 PM »


I'm guilty of that, too.  Sometimes a girl wants to look her best.

I have found however, that once lipstick is applied, you can dab off the access and then pat with some loose powder and you are set for the day.
Won't come off!

You can kiss every icon in the church and not leave behind the slightest evidence of having been there.

 Kiss
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« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2012, 04:36:42 PM »

hmm, must buy some loose powder...
won't the loose powder be more obvious on the red cloth though?
(have lots to learn about make up, stopped wearing it regularly when i was about 19...)
 Wink
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« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2012, 04:40:01 PM »


No.  There's not enough of it to actually be visible....and the powder gets absorbed by the lipstick and doesn't come off.

If you have a powder puff (compact powder) just use that.  First, give a Kleenex a good kiss, to get rid of extra lipstick and than just pat your lips with the powder puff, ever so gently....and you're set.

Been doing so for years. 

It lightens the color, but, I like it lighter anyway.

Give it a try!
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« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2012, 04:50:33 PM »

i own very little make up.
when it's a big festival, i wear mascara and lipstick!
(it will be easier for me to cut down when i retire to the inner wilderness)
 Wink
maybe i will just keep on applying the lipstick after the Holy Communion, or maybe i can get someone else's rubbed on me with the red cloth!
but thanks for the tips, sister  Smiley

edit: i already get enough perfume on me from kissing all the ladies on their cheeks after liturgy, and my hair smells of incense, so maybe i'll get 'free' lipstick as well!
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« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2012, 04:52:26 PM »

The red-cloth was wholly unknown in our region. They used white, home-loomed, embroidered towels instead. Linen or hemp.
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« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2012, 05:01:23 PM »

The red-cloth was wholly unknown in our region. They used white, home-loomed, embroidered towels instead. Linen or hemp.

Same thing with us - my wife used to embroider them for the church - now we use red.
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« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2012, 05:06:36 PM »

The red-cloth was wholly unknown in our region. They used white, home-loomed, embroidered towels instead. Linen or hemp.

Same thing with us - my wife used to embroider them for the church - now we use red.
Yeah, I get the impression that the red-cloth is a newer thing. In RM it definitely spread from cathedrals/monasteries towards parishes, without being a universal item to this day. Especially in Transylvania.
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« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2012, 12:33:24 PM »

maybe they all used to be white, they got stained with all the listick!

 Grin
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« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2012, 01:14:25 PM »

I've seen people wipe their own lips on the red cloth, but never have their lips wiped for them.
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Subdeacon Michael
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« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2012, 06:11:15 PM »

I've seen people wipe their own lips on the red cloth, but never have their lips wiped for them.

There must just be different local traditions. I have never seen what you describe in the Russian church. However, it does explain one occasion in an Intiochian church when, having received Communion, I stood still so the subdeacon could wipe my lips but nothing happened. Smiley

As for lipstick, I agree but it isn't my place to say anything. I just perform my role as best I can in the circumstances.
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'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt
Nephi
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« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2012, 10:15:09 PM »

There must just be different local traditions. I have never seen what you describe in the Russian church. However, it does explain one occasion in an Intiochian church when, having received Communion, I stood still so the subdeacon could wipe my lips but nothing happened. Smiley

Well I'm glad for this thread then, otherwise I may have been in for quite a shock during a future visit to a church that does it!  Cheesy
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