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elizkolo
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« on: June 06, 2012, 08:28:26 PM »

I am preparing for baptism in the Coptic Orthodox Church. I am in a bit of an odd situation, in that the priest I am meeting with is not the priest I have chosen to be my confession and spiritual father. My confession father lives on the other side of the country. I live in Perth, Australia, where there are two priests, and one priest-monk. However, on the east coast there are literally dozens of priests. I do communicate with my confession father regularly, although he is not the priest who will be baptising me.

So to my question... I am an American cradle Roman Catholic, so the kissing of the hand (and cross) really doesn't feel right to me. I have embraced the church, its dogmas and doctrines, and I have even embraced the culture both in and outside of church. My partner is Egyptian, which has really helped things. I understand the reasons for hand-kissing and kissing the cross in their hand, but I have a real problem with priests who literally shove it in my face. When I met my confession father for the first time, I tried to kiss his hand but he pulled his hand back and gave me a reassuring bear-hug. That was the only time I have ever tried to kiss a priest's hand. He either shook hands with or hugged much of the congregation, but did allow some of the Egyptians to kiss his hand.

The priest I am dealing with to prepare for baptism told me last night that I have to kiss his hand and the cross, so that I don't make everyone else feel uncomfortable. I really do respect him, but I can assure you that it will make me feel far more awkward to kiss his hand than it will make other people feel to see me not kiss it. I normally will extend my cupped palm, and most priests seem comfortable to touch their hand (holding the cross) to my hand.

I didn't think that this was going to be such a big deal, or prevent me from being baptised. I understand the need to hold tightly to certain traditions, but when you have an Orthodox church in a western country, surely the form of greeting deserves a bit of compromise. The priest put his hand in my face after our meeting last night, in my own home. I just said "Abouna, please." He just shook his head and left. I'm actually quite surprised at this. Does someone have any information that may be able to assist me?
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2012, 08:34:06 PM »

I also want to add that there are people in the parish who do not kiss the priests' hands. In conversation with one of them, he said he will kiss the hand of a humble priest who does not extend his hand. If a priests puts his hand to his face, he will refuse to kiss it. It seems to be an unending paradox, where some people only wish to kiss the hand of humble priests who do not with their hand to be kissed. In the same vein, people will refuse to kiss the hand of priests who expect (or demand) that their hand be kissed.
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2012, 09:34:22 PM »

Kissing the priests hand is not personal (towards that particular priest).

You are kissing what he represents.

Be the priest a sinner, egotistical, or pius makes no diffrence, cause its what he represents that you are praising.

Dont know if the below applys to you but FWIW:
ask yourself why you have a problem kissing a priests hand? is it ego? do you think he is not worthy? u think u r better then him?
We should always assume WE are the worst sinner and everyone we meet are the saints. We should feel we are not even worthy to kiss there hand.
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 10:28:23 PM »

For the record, my fiancé isn't comfortable with kissing the priest's hand or icons.  It's not because she lacks respect, but she's a bit of a germophobe. Our priest has said that there is no requirement stating she must kiss anything. 

Didn't St. Paul say something about placing stumbling blocks in our brother's way?
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 11:42:56 PM »

My dear brother/sister in Christ,

How great is the blessing our Lord bestows upon us when he has given us priests that serve us with such dedication and love! how great is the honor of His servant the priest! how great is the honor of his blessed hands, that break the Living Bread  the indescribable Glory before whom the mighty angels tremble in the offering of the sacrifice that is once offered for the Life of the World, how great is the honor of his blessed hands that hold the Chalice of Life as his blessed mouth utters God's Holy Name in adoration and thanksgiving, for the Most Precious Blood shed for the Life of the World. what office either on earth or in heaven surpasses such honor, such grace? if given the choice of kissing any other holy place or relic, and the hand of a priest, I would chose the hand of the priest.

the Shepherd , the priest tends to the flock's needs individually and as a group. sometimes a certain sheep needs a certain lesson on humility. and the priest might allow even his feet to be kissed as in the tradition and cultural custom where I come from, we kiss the feet of our elderly be it parents or grand parents neighbors etc, you make the effort to kiss their feet and they will prevent it. but for little children until they get used to it, they are reminded to bow down and kiss the feet of their grandparents, to stand up when someone older than you enters the room you are in, it teaches them humility. the other person will allow it for children and blesses them each time they do it, for adults its more like a mini struggle as one attempts to bow and the other attempts to prevent it.

the priest's hand is a cross, and his cross is the sign of his peace, he comes in the name of the Lord, better say your hosanna as you receive him with love , joy  and humility as you would receive the messenger of the King in whose Banner and Name he comes to you. rejoice in the hour of your visitation by the messenger of the Good News! Rejoice because the one who offers you blessing from his hands holds in those hands the key of the Everlasting Kingdom! receive his Peace as he raises his hands for you to do your kiss of peace in the manner proper for the priest of the Lord. rejoice and say " Barakani Abba ens'a barakatike/ Bless me father so I may be blessed by your blessing/ or more literally Bless me Father so I may partake of or have your Blessing'' and in your heart be in the awe of his office and say to the Lord, as to your honorable most reverend priest O Lord, I am not worthy even to untie his sandals. Matthew 10:41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.

John 13:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”



hear what Isaiah says..Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

The Cross he offers you is the Banner of Truth,freedom, peace, Life, victory and Love. kiss it and declare your allegiance to the Kingdom, and rejection of the world and its carnality. isn't it beautiful that we greet one another bless one another, pray for one another, help in other ways one another all from the vantage point of and through  the Holy and Glorious Cross?

As a personal advise, I would say, relationships especially spiritual ones teach us to overcome our character, to be more than we were before, to learn to love, to be humble, to be generous, to be kind, to be patient, to be tolerant etc.. and in all of them humility and love  are the key so you may do all that you do with joy!

P.S. please do disregard that bit of advise from that man who told you that he accepts the blessing of the hand kissing from whom he deems worthy and rejects from those he deems unworthy because he judges them as humble or proud, I would say by those very words he judges himself as proud and arrogant! he would do well to worry about the state of his own ego.

With Love in Christ,
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 11:51:49 PM »

We should venerate the hands of every priest and bishop of our church, as it is through their hands that the priesthood of Christ acts and the mysteries of the Church are performed. It is out of reverence to Christ Himself that we do this, not to any particular priest.

Whether the priest is personally "worthy" or not isn't even in question. As a matter of fact, I don't know about the Coptic ordination, but in the Byzantine rite, when we ordain a deacon, priest or bishop the newly-ordained is vested as the people proclaim "Axios!" ("Worthy!"). Until the man is dethroned or defrocked, he is worthy of his office...and then of course he will face the judgment like the rest of us, and may or may not attain his own salvation. However, such judgments are Christ's to make, and not ours.

By venerating the cross, we worship Christ's passion...by venerating the hand of the priest/bishop, we venerate the priesthood of Christ Himself, to which the man belongs. Simple as that.
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2012, 12:28:31 AM »

At the end of Orthros, when we venerate the Bible, our former priest used to hold the back of the book with one hand and leave his other on the side of the book, so we could kiss his hand after we kissed the cover of the book. Our new priest started last week, and he doesn't do that- he puts both hands behind the book, so you can only kiss the front cover. I have to say I was surprised, but if that's the way he wants to do it, I'll accept it.
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 12:21:12 PM »

At the end of Orthros, when we venerate the Bible, our former priest used to hold the back of the book with one hand and leave his other on the side of the book, so we could kiss his hand after we kissed the cover of the book. Our new priest started last week, and he doesn't do that- he puts both hands behind the book, so you can only kiss the front cover. I have to say I was surprised, but if that's the way he wants to do it, I'll accept it.

Well, the Gospel book represents Christ and is, like the communion, in a way above the priest. Like you don't kiss the priest's hand when the bishop is present, you don't kiss the priest's hand when venerating the Gospel or receiving communion.
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 08:17:36 PM »

At the end of Orthros, when we venerate the Bible, our former priest used to hold the back of the book with one hand and leave his other on the side of the book, so we could kiss his hand after we kissed the cover of the book. Our new priest started last week, and he doesn't do that- he puts both hands behind the book, so you can only kiss the front cover. I have to say I was surprised, but if that's the way he wants to do it, I'll accept it.

Well, the Gospel book represents Christ and is, like the communion, in a way above the priest. Like you don't kiss the priest's hand when the bishop is present, you don't kiss the priest's hand when venerating the Gospel or receiving communion.

Generally, the Greeks just kiss everything, no matter who or what is present.
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 08:20:23 PM »

For the record, my fiancé isn't comfortable with kissing the priest's hand or icons.  It's not because she lacks respect, but she's a bit of a germophobe. Our priest has said that there is no requirement stating she must kiss anything. 

Didn't St. Paul say something about placing stumbling blocks in our brother's way?

I appreciate your last sentence.

However, I must say that I know a woman who, while supposedly confessing Orthodoxy, has not approached the chalice in many years because of "germophobia".
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2012, 08:52:21 PM »

I'll tell you it's still awkward to have people kiss my hand, especially those way older than me.  But I force myself to think: it's not about me, it's about their interaction with the grace of the HS & Christ's blessing.

When i was a seminarian I hated when my friends who became priests would never give us blessings but bear hugs.  I would always say:  it's not about you dude, it has nothing to do with your humility or pride. It has everything to do with you being a vehicle of the HS.  Suck it up & do your job. 

I try to follow my own advice as much as possible. 
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2012, 09:37:34 PM »

For the record, my fiancé isn't comfortable with kissing the priest's hand or icons.  It's not because she lacks respect, but she's a bit of a germophobe. Our priest has said that there is no requirement stating she must kiss anything. 

Didn't St. Paul say something about placing stumbling blocks in our brother's way?

I appreciate your last sentence.

However, I must say that I know a woman who, while supposedly confessing Orthodoxy, has not approached the chalice in many years because of "germophobia".

Our priest says there are "options" for how she can receive communion.  We haven't discussed them, though, but I think I know what they are.
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2013, 12:30:11 PM »

I'll tell you it's still awkward to have people kiss my hand, especially those way older than me.  But I force myself to think: it's not about me, it's about their interaction with the grace of the HS & Christ's blessing.

When i was a seminarian I hated when my friends who became priests would never give us blessings but bear hugs.  I would always say:  it's not about you dude, it has nothing to do with your humility or pride. It has everything to do with you being a vehicle of the HS.  Suck it up & do your job. 

I try to follow my own advice as much as possible. 

In the spirit of thread resurrection, I figured I'd share my 2 cents with a story.

The priest whom I serve with and confess to, I knew him before he was a priest.  He was someone I looked up to, and was very pleasant to talk to, always filled with wisdom, advice, and really awesome theological knowledge (a graduate from St. Vladimir's).

Well, one day, he was teaching the youth group, of which I was attending, about traditions in the Church.  He talked about one of the traditions.  Sometimes, he likes to exaggerate in a joking way.  He said that when you greet a priest or a bishop, you don't just kiss their hand. "NO!!! HOLD THEIR HAND TIGHTLY, SO THAT THEY DON'T RETRACT IT, EVEN IF IT MEANS BREAKING THEIR ARM.  Our dear Abouna is a very humble man, who only tries to give people the Cross to kiss, but I hold his hand tightly."  He never knew one day he would also become an Abouna.

So, every time my confessor priest tries to retract his hand, I remind him of that day he taught us to hold priest's hands even if it means breaking their arm.  He would reply, "My son, there is an exception, and that exception is me."

But that taught me something.  I should seek the priest's hand like a blessing.  The priest's hand is blessed with the Holy Myron Oil, which is believed to be mixed every time since the day of the Apostles, which was claimed to have been used in the burial of Christ.  Can you imagine the woman in the gospel who would at least touch a thread from the garment of Christ?  How much more the hands of a priest blessed with a minute amount of the mixture of Christ's burial fragrances?

This mentality of discomfort of course is understandable, but it is also your first challenge to figure out what exactly is the root of discomfort, and to fight it.  Take it as a spiritual challenge, and not to judge the character of the priest you are to kiss the hands of.  For you don't know if you're any better than they are to judge them as "arrogant".  Whether they try to retract their hands or not, I hold their hands tightly, so that I can take the blessing of Christ's fragrances, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

I hope after all these months, that you are doing well in the Coptic Church.  I wonder if it's possible you're reading this if we can get an update.  God bless you Elizkolo.
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2013, 09:03:54 PM »

You're not kissing the hand of your priest, you are kissing the hand of God.
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2013, 01:10:51 AM »

I'll tell you it's still awkward to have people kiss my hand, especially those way older than me.  But I force myself to think: it's not about me, it's about their interaction with the grace of the HS & Christ's blessing.

When i was a seminarian I hated when my friends who became priests would never give us blessings but bear hugs.  I would always say:  it's not about you dude, it has nothing to do with your humility or pride. It has everything to do with you being a vehicle of the HS.  Suck it up & do your job. 

I try to follow my own advice as much as possible. 

I agree. I hate it when priests take their hands away before you can kiss them. I don't understand it.
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2013, 01:14:52 AM »

At the end of Orthros, when we venerate the Bible, our former priest used to hold the back of the book with one hand and leave his other on the side of the book, so we could kiss his hand after we kissed the cover of the book. Our new priest started last week, and he doesn't do that- he puts both hands behind the book, so you can only kiss the front cover. I have to say I was surprised, but if that's the way he wants to do it, I'll accept it.

Well, the Gospel book represents Christ and is, like the communion, in a way above the priest. Like you don't kiss the priest's hand when the bishop is present, you don't kiss the priest's hand when venerating the Gospel or receiving communion.

Generally, the Greeks just kiss everything, no matter who or what is present.
Cheesy

TBH the kissing everything thing has taken me a long time to get used to. I still feel a little awkward kissing the icons to venerate them, and I had never kissed the Priest's hand before yesterday when I attended liturgy and we were invited to kiss the Bible. I usually just watch but since I am wanting to participate in every aspect I decided to participate. Perhaps it's just that I am usually not a fan of physical contact but kissing someone's hand feels very intimate (not in a sexual way of course), I guess because I am just so painfully white. Now I am not sure if I should greet my Priest by kissing his hand when I haven't done so in the years I've known him prior?

Quote
The priest's hand is blessed with the Holy Myron Oil, which is believed to be mixed every time since the day of the Apostles, which was claimed to have been used in the burial of Christ.  Can you imagine the woman in the gospel who would at least touch a thread from the garment of Christ?  How much more the hands of a priest blessed with a minute amount of the mixture of Christ's burial fragrances?
That decides it! What a great point.
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2013, 01:16:49 AM »

I'll tell you it's still awkward to have people kiss my hand, especially those way older than me.  But I force myself to think: it's not about me, it's about their interaction with the grace of the HS & Christ's blessing.

When i was a seminarian I hated when my friends who became priests would never give us blessings but bear hugs.  I would always say:  it's not about you dude, it has nothing to do with your humility or pride. It has everything to do with you being a vehicle of the HS.  Suck it up & do your job. 

I try to follow my own advice as much as possible. 

I agree. I hate it when priests take their hands away before you can kiss them. I don't understand it.
This happened to me yesterday; a Priest I didn't know came into the church bookshop and everyone kissed his hand so I waited to do the same then after I reached out my hand to grasp his, he retracted it then I retracted mine then he realized and put his out again. It was so awkward  Undecided
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2013, 11:25:11 AM »

takes practice.
once you get good at it, you will have trouble not kissing the hand.
asians and north africans often kiss their parents' hands; people in my church kiss babies' hands, it just takes practice; soon you will not stick out.
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2013, 12:06:40 PM »

In the Indian Churches that I have seen, most people do not venerate people or objects by kissing, but by touching their foreheads to them. Both kissing and touching foreheads to the object of veneration are seen as completely acceptable. Perhaps that might be more palatable to you?

Just a thought.
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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2013, 03:57:15 PM »

good idea.
and i will remember that for when i go to an indian orthodox church.
sorry, didn't do it yet; so many churches, so little time!
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each church has it's own custom, based on culture.
in our church, if we kiss the cross or the gospel, we often put our forehead to it afterwards.
in the eritrean church, kissing the gospel is done 3 times: (lips-forehead)x3.
i didn't yet manage to do all 3 in the usual 1.5 seconds, though!
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