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Author Topic: Altar Etiquette  (Read 542 times) Average Rating: 0
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kijabeboy03
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« on: December 26, 2012, 12:34:37 PM »

Is it normal for everyone in a Coptic Orthodox church to go into the altar after the anointing (?) of the image of Christ during Holy Week? (After the service where everyone's given some of the spices?)
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 01:04:52 PM »

Almost every Coptic Church has "communion rooms" next to the altar area behind the Iconostasis. Men on one side. Women on the other. These areas are not part of the altar itself, technically speaking. Most likely this is what you witnessed.
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kijabeboy03
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 10:22:38 PM »

Yeah, not what I was asking about :-). Thanks though! It was a friend who saw this, and when questioned he made it clear that he wasn't talking about the communion rooms, but the sanctuary itself. He was at the service, and when it ended the bishop at the cathedral he was visiting invited everyone - Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike - into the sanctuary to show them whatever had been going on during the service.

Almost every Coptic Church has "communion rooms" next to the altar area behind the Iconostasis. Men on one side. Women on the other. These areas are not part of the altar itself, technically speaking. Most likely this is what you witnessed.
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 10:48:22 PM »

Yeah, not what I was asking about :-). Thanks though! It was a friend who saw this, and when questioned he made it clear that he wasn't talking about the communion rooms, but the sanctuary itself. He was at the service, and when it ended the bishop at the cathedral he was visiting invited everyone - Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike - into the sanctuary to show them whatever had been going on during the service.

Almost every Coptic Church has "communion rooms" next to the altar area behind the Iconostasis. Men on one side. Women on the other. These areas are not part of the altar itself, technically speaking. Most likely this is what you witnessed.

No. Not normal. No one should ever enter the sanctuary unless the Liturgy (or another necessity, such as cleaning or painting icons) calls for it. Chanters and readers should not enter the Sanctuary to Commune, but do today since they think they are deacons. This abuse reached the point of all "deacons", even if they did not arrive early enough to dress, entering the Sanctuary to Commune. H.H. Pope Shenouda III wrote against this in one of the Q&A books saying that they should not enter if not dressed. If a chanter or reader is assigned by the priest to serve as an acolyte, assisting at the altar, then they enter that day. If they are assigned to go in for the Gospel procession with tapers, then they go in then, because the Liturgy demands it. Even a priest or bishop should not enter just because they want to when they are not serving. If a layperson has business there, such as cleaning, painting an icon, maintenance and construction, and if they have the blessing of the priest or bishop, then of course they can go in, since it is not because they want to, but to serve. No one should ever enter except to serve.
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kijabeboy03
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 04:22:37 PM »

I didn't think the norms could be that radically different within the Coptic Orthodox Church. This particular bishop's serving in a missionary area, so I suppose he thought the setting justified the altar tutorial (?).

Yeah, not what I was asking about :-). Thanks though! It was a friend who saw this, and when questioned he made it clear that he wasn't talking about the communion rooms, but the sanctuary itself. He was at the service, and when it ended the bishop at the cathedral he was visiting invited everyone - Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike - into the sanctuary to show them whatever had been going on during the service.

Almost every Coptic Church has "communion rooms" next to the altar area behind the Iconostasis. Men on one side. Women on the other. These areas are not part of the altar itself, technically speaking. Most likely this is what you witnessed.

No. Not normal. No one should ever enter the sanctuary unless the Liturgy (or another necessity, such as cleaning or painting icons) calls for it. Chanters and readers should not enter the Sanctuary to Commune, but do today since they think they are deacons. This abuse reached the point of all "deacons", even if they did not arrive early enough to dress, entering the Sanctuary to Commune. H.H. Pope Shenouda III wrote against this in one of the Q&A books saying that they should not enter if not dressed. If a chanter or reader is assigned by the priest to serve as an acolyte, assisting at the altar, then they enter that day. If they are assigned to go in for the Gospel procession with tapers, then they go in then, because the Liturgy demands it. Even a priest or bishop should not enter just because they want to when they are not serving. If a layperson has business there, such as cleaning, painting an icon, maintenance and construction, and if they have the blessing of the priest or bishop, then of course they can go in, since it is not because they want to, but to serve. No one should ever enter except to serve.
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 06:50:18 PM »

if the altar has not been consecrated, anyone can go in.
in my 'home' church, i went into the 'altar' area while the building was being renovated; before it was used for any liturgies.
so if it was a new building, people would go into the 'altar' before it was used for Holy Communion.

also if the church is renting a building, only the little box (i forget the name) for the Body and Blood of Jesus is consecrated, and this rests on a normal unconsecrated table in an unconsecrated building.
so people can go in to the area where the unconsecrated table is afterwards, after the little box is removed and the things used in the liturgy (cloths, plate and cup etc.) are put away.
maybe this is what happened?

even so, it would be a bit unusual as people would instinctively feel like not going there (unless they are deacons). but it would not be wrong.
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kijabeboy03
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 06:55:20 PM »

If this particular cathedral - where I've attended services off and on since 2002 - isn't consecrated, then I'd be rather surprised. I can't definitively say that it has been, however, so I suppose there's a slim chance that hasn't been.

if the altar has not been consecrated, anyone can go in.
in my 'home' church, i went into the 'altar' area while the building was being renovated; before it was used for any liturgies.
so if it was a new building, people would go into the 'altar' before it was used for Holy Communion.

also if the church is renting a building, only the little box (i forget the name) for the Body and Blood of Jesus is consecrated, and this rests on a normal unconsecrated table in an unconsecrated building.
so people can go in to the area where the unconsecrated table is afterwards, after the little box is removed and the things used in the liturgy (cloths, plate and cup etc.) are put away.
maybe this is what happened?

even so, it would be a bit unusual as people would instinctively feel like not going there (unless they are deacons). but it would not be wrong.
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 07:39:56 PM »

Is it normal for everyone in a Coptic Orthodox church to go into the altar after the anointing (?) of the image of Christ during Holy Week? (After the service where everyone's given some of the spices?)



Going in the back of the Iconostasis is usually reserved for the priesthood/clergy. (Shroud room, Relic antiquary etc.)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 07:40:23 PM by WPM » Logged
kijabeboy03
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2012, 07:42:01 PM »

"Shroud room"? The sacristy you mean? I hadn't heard of that being clergy-only, but to each their own I suppose - most sacristies I've been in weren't considered part of the sanctuary.

Is it normal for everyone in a Coptic Orthodox church to go into the altar after the anointing (?) of the image of Christ during Holy Week? (After the service where everyone's given some of the spices?)



Going in the back of the Iconostasis is usually reserved for the priesthood/clergy. (Shroud room, Relic antiquary etc.)
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
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