Author Topic: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance  (Read 590 times)

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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« on: May 16, 2014, 01:43:05 PM »

My parish, and many others, have the tradition of laypeople holding candles during the reading of the Gospel and during the Great Entrance.

During the Gospel Reading, 2 women hold candles and stand on the left (if looking towards the Altar) and 2 men on the right.  This is traditionally the sides the men and women stand in church (although these days it is not adhered to so strictly anymore).

During the Great Entrance, men hold all 4 candles - standing on either side.

My question is...why are women not allowed to hold candles during the Great Entrance?  Is this just a dinosaur tradition from old days?  Is this just something someone at the parish thought up 50 years ago? 

On major Feast days, when there are many children around, I ask the starosta if I can pass out the candles, and I give them to the kids.  Often times, there are way more girls than boys, and sometimes, I do not have 4 boys...so, I give the candles to the girls, as well.  I figure if someone yells at me, I will try to explain they are all children and equal in the sight of God.

I have seen both men and women holding candles during the Great Entrance at other parishes.

Is there some restriction that you know of?

I'm only bringing this up because I have been asked to make a sign up sheet, for people who wish to hold candles, to sign.  Usually, the starosta merely hands the candles to whomever....but, I guess someone has complained that they never get to hold one...so, now the sign up sheet.

I'm curious if anyone has any history or reason why people even hold candles during these particular moments of the Liturgy. 

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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2014, 01:54:42 PM »

Here are some pics of the kids holding the candles.   It's usually 2 and 2, but, with the kids, I like to get them all involved...so, there's more than 4 people standing with candles.

Boys on one side, girls on the other - Gospel Reading








These are from Palm Sunday.

I was handing the candles out to the "boys"....but, the little girl ran and grabbed one herself...and I didn't have the heart to take it away from her...so, I placed her smack dab in the middle.  The bishop was serving...and he had nothing negative to say about it...



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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2014, 02:11:15 PM »
I've never heard of such a custom.  I know that the altar servers with torches (or candles) process in front of the Gospel and gifts who are male.  Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 

I
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2014, 02:13:08 PM »
If the bishop's fine with it, I don't see the problem.
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2014, 02:19:24 PM »
Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 


I have no idea.  It's been this way my entire life....but, that doesn't mean it is correct. 

If the bishop's fine with it, I don't see the problem.

I didn't specifically ask him about it....he just didn't come out and correct me.

I've never actually even given this a second thought until today....and now I am wondering why we do this.

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2014, 02:22:47 PM »
Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 


I have no idea.  It's been this way my entire life....but, that doesn't mean it is correct. 

If the bishop's fine with it, I don't see the problem.

I didn't specifically ask him about it....he just didn't come out and correct me.

I've never actually even given this a second thought until today....and now I am wondering why we do this.



Does your parish have a parish historian, maybe to see when it started?  You seem to get a lot of contact with your bishop; why not ask? :)
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2014, 02:23:55 PM »

LOL!

I just might!

However, since I've just "thought" about it....I think I will ask my priest first....and see what he says.

I hate bothering bishops with such trivialities.  Priests are busy....bishops are swamped.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2014, 02:35:32 PM »
I hate bothering bishops with such trivialities.  Priests are busy....bishops are swamped.

Bishops love trivialities.  It gives them an excuse to ignore the real work.  :P

Re: the OP, this is a practice I've only observed among Ukrainians and Rusyns.  I've never seen it in a "Russian" parish, nor among Romanians, and certainly not among all the various "Greeks".   
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2014, 02:41:37 PM »

Yes....I've also only seen it at Ukrainian churches.  However, at some, both men and women hold candles both times.
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Offline elephant

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2014, 03:19:03 PM »
Dear Liza,

When there is no altar server, say on a weekday, I've seen adult men and women hold a candle for the Gospel.  And we are among the "various Greeks".

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2014, 04:05:26 PM »
Great... more wax to clean up.  ;)
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Offline elephant

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2014, 04:09:14 PM »
Great... more wax to clean up.  ;)

They are not a patch on the Bishop who waves handfuls of candles around.

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2014, 04:12:47 PM »
I've never heard of such a custom.  I know that the altar servers with torches (or candles) process in front of the Gospel and gifts who are male. 

Same here.
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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 04:13:56 PM »
I've never heard of such a custom.  I know that the altar servers with torches (or candles) process in front of the Gospel and gifts who are male.  Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 

I

It's an East Slav thing. When i was a kid, old men would do this and the shakiest guy seemed to always get the "Trojca", the triple one and drip wax all over. When we put carpeting in (I know "outrage!""") altar boys took over, but never girls in my church, but I've seen women hold them in some places. The Gifts are not consecrated at the Great Entrance, I see no distinction re: women or girls holding candles then for perhaps  except local custom.

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 04:15:05 PM »
 It is regional custom of the Rusyns and Ukrainians and not even among all them
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2014, 04:17:28 PM »
I've never heard of such a custom.  I know that the altar servers with torches (or candles) process in front of the Gospel and gifts who are male.  Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 

I

It's an East Slav thing. When i was a kid, old men would do this and the shakiest guy seemed to always get the "Trojca", the triple one and drip wax all over. When we put carpeting in (I know "outrage!""") altar boys took over, but never girls in my church, but I've seen women hold them in some places. The Gifts are not consecrated at the Great Entrance, I see no distinction re: women or girls holding candles then for perhaps  except local custom.

That's what I thought, as well.

I'm not sure why it's only the men who hold them at that point.

I'm going to have to do some digging.  ;)
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2014, 05:06:15 PM »
I've never heard of such a custom.  I know that the altar servers with torches (or candles) process in front of the Gospel and gifts who are male.  Did this custom maybe originate from a time when your parish didn't have any altar servers? 

I

It's an East Slav thing. When i was a kid, old men would do this and the shakiest guy seemed to always get the "Trojca", the triple one and drip wax all over. When we put carpeting in (I know "outrage!""") altar boys took over, but never girls in my church, but I've seen women hold them in some places. The Gifts are not consecrated at the Great Entrance, I see no distinction re: women or girls holding candles then for perhaps  except local custom.

That's what I thought, as well.

I'm not sure why it's only the men who hold them at that point.

I'm going to have to do some digging.  ;)


To quote one of the most famous Jews from our part of the old world, Tevje: - 'TRADITION!' 

(He did have a pretty good non-denominational prayer for the Tsar if I recall as well!   ;) )

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2014, 05:12:34 PM »

Hmmmmm...... :-X
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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2014, 06:06:35 PM »

Yes....I've also only seen it at Ukrainian churches.  However, at some, both men and women hold candles both times.

Have you ever seen a person faint while holding a candle?
Once when my son served on the altar, he almost fainted.

Afterwards a yiayia took him aside, and told him to wiggle his feet while holding the candle, but then another yiayia told him not to wiggle his feet or move his body as that was a serious distraction for her. However, my son told me that all the altar boys would sway a little and that did help them. Looking closely down at the candle and then not getting enough oxygen can make one faint.

« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 06:09:14 PM by Maria »
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Holding candles during Gospel and Great Entrance
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2014, 06:17:07 PM »

:)  When I give the candles to little tykes...I always tell them if it gets too heavy or they don't feel well...to just slip it down and stand it on the floor, and just hold the top of it.

I've had little ones do that.  Amazingly they find them heavy.  :)

Yeah...the altar servers do have a hard time...it gets hot in the Altar, especially in the summer....and on long days such as Pascha, with all the lights shining on them....the candle can be their undoing.

I feel for them.
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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