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Author Topic: What's happened to the kiss?  (Read 1279 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 07, 2014, 12:20:08 PM »

With this question I'm sure I'll be showing my ignorance, just hoping for context. Here goes:

I understood (from some source or other) that the Orthodox kiss one another during Liturgy. This is something I was glad to hear, since my Anabaptist upbringing emphasized this teaching of St. Paul's, and at church we always greeted each other with a kiss.

However, nobody at the Orthodox church here does it.

So I'll speculate: Did I misunderstand? Or is this an antique custom? Or is it not done in America? Or is it not done just at my church?
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2014, 12:57:22 PM »

It's not done at my church.  It also isn't done at the Greek Orthodox churches I've attended.
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2014, 01:12:44 PM »

I've only ever attended Ukrainian, Russian, and Antiochian liturgies. Out of all of them, none of them did the kiss of peace besides the Antiochian.
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2014, 01:16:57 PM »

How disappointing.

Does anyone know what I'd find if I were to visit a church in Greece? (Humor an inquirer's curiosity. Smiley )
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2014, 01:18:19 PM »

I've only ever attended Ukrainian, Russian, and Antiochian liturgies. Out of all of them, none of them did the kiss of peace besides the Antiochian.

When there are two priests in the altar I've seen them give the kiss around the time of "Let us love one another," etc.  

We kiss everyone else in the church on Forgiveness Sunday.  

And some of our people greet friends with a triple kiss, especially in feasts, in church, at coffee hour, etc.  
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2014, 01:34:24 PM »


... around the time of "Let us love one another," etc. ...

I'll confess that the fact this is actually in the liturgy but ignored has bothered me.
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2014, 01:41:30 PM »

I've only ever attended Ukrainian, Russian, and Antiochian liturgies. Out of all of them, none of them did the kiss of peace besides the Antiochian.

When there are two priests in the altar I've seen them give the kiss around the time of "Let us love one another," etc.  

We kiss everyone else in the church on Forgiveness Sunday.  

And some of our people greet friends with a triple kiss, especially in feasts, in church, at coffee hour, etc.  
There's a lot of kissing before and after DL and during lunch between Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Bulgarians (and everyone else) at my church with one kiss, one kiss on each cheek, or a triple kiss, depending on the nationality.  We're a cheerful, friendly bunch.   Grin
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2014, 02:07:56 PM »

The history behind the kiss of peace is interesting.  I won't go into detail because I would need to dig out a few books, but basically it is a part of all traditional liturgical rites and was considered an important, if not essential, part of the Liturgy and of the liturgical preparation for receiving Communion.  Technically, that hasn't changed.   

I'm not sure exactly what form it took in the beginning, but presumably it included an actual kiss, perhaps two or three if such customs go way back, and some sort of embrace.  One would exchange the kiss with everyone in the church (contemporary examples of this practice can be seen in the rite of forgiveness before Lent and the exchange of the Paschal kiss).  Not only does that take a considerable amount of time, but it was conducive to certain abuses.  For example, adolescents hitting on each other, some getting a "longer" or more earnest kiss than others, people using it as a "break" from the service and running off into town for no good reason, etc.  If I'm not mistaken, Fr Taft discusses this in his book Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It, but I seem to have misplaced my copy.  As I remember, he includes a quote from a sermon of St John Chrysostom where he just rips into everyone and all but condemns them for doing this sort of stuff during the Liturgy.   

So the kiss began to be restricted, and this occurred in various ways in different places.  One common method was to restrict the kiss to certain "classes".  The priests would exchange the kiss among themselves, and the deacons among themselves, and the men among themselves, the women among themselves, and so on.  Eventually, this became restricted even further until we get to the received practice in the traditional Roman and Byzantine rites: the kiss is exchanged only among the clergy.  Remnants of the past can be seen in various rituals or textual hints, but you have to know what you're looking for: chances are the average worshiper would have a completely different understanding of what those meant, and "greet one another with a holy kiss" wouldn't be one of them. 

Another method of curbing abuses was to change the manner of the kiss so that it wasn't really an actual kiss, but a stylised kiss.  This is the practice which has been received by all the Oriental Orthodox traditions, which retain the kiss of peace in the Liturgy to this day.  So, for example, Copts and Syrians (and Churches of these traditions) clasp hands: the giver holds his hands in a "praying hands" fashion but leaves them a little open, while the receiver holds his hands in the same way, and each clasps the right hand of the other.  This may be preceded and/or followed by each person touching their own lips as a way of giving and receiving the kiss.  Armenians, on the other hand, replicate the double kiss with an exchange of greetings, but there's no actual kiss.  It looks a little like two people are slightly bowing to each other's shoulders.  While Copts simply exchange the peace among their neighbours when the command is given, the Syrians and Armenians receive it from the altar: the priest prays to receive the peace from God, offers the liturgical greeting of peace, passes the peace to the deacon, who then may exchange it with the other deacons before bringing it to the people, who will pass it among each other and on towards the back of the church.   
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2014, 03:21:58 PM »

In the West the "pax-brede" (osculatorium pacis) was introduced in the XIIIth century to convey the kiss of peace. Apparently, the Dominicans still retain this practice.
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2014, 03:35:28 PM »

Mor Ephrem, thanks for that detailed account.
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2014, 03:52:43 PM »

In the West the "pax-brede" (osculatorium pacis) was introduced in the XIIIth century to convey the kiss of peace. Apparently, the Dominicans still retain this practice.

Glad to see you back, cousin...I appreciate this sort of tag-teaming.  Smiley

Mor Ephrem, thanks for that detailed account.

No problem. 
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2014, 05:10:13 PM »

My OCA parish in Calgary does the kiss of peace- we all exchanged it, not just clergy.  As choir director it was my job to start up the Creed and get everyone to pay attention again and stop chatting  Wink  Here at SVS, it's just the clergy.
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2014, 06:05:11 PM »

We kiss a lot at my parish. I just saw someone from church at the grocery store this afternoon and we kissed. Both cheeks. That is how we roll.
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2014, 06:48:03 PM »


I love everyone, without needing to kiss them!  Wink

The clergy kiss, but, the laity do not kiss during Liturgy.....unless it is Pascha....then pucker up! 

...and of course we greet our close acquaintances with a kiss on the cheek at church.
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2014, 01:38:57 AM »

The kiss was stopped becuse it caused too many fights to break out.
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2014, 05:26:14 AM »

We do it at my mission, but it's effectively more the hug of peace.
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2014, 04:04:36 PM »

It is part of the liturgy at the Greek Orthodox Church I go to. Just before reciting the Creed. It's printed in the book.

It seems they skipped it a few times - maybe the presanctified, because it caught me by surprise on Palm Sunday.

What USUALLY happens is that people who know each other will kiss. If you happen to be near people who don't know you, they MAY kiss you, or more likely will shake your hand and greet you. There are varying levels of expression, and I just go with whatever is offered.

I don't think a man has ever offered to kiss me during liturgy. The man/woman interactions are slightly restrained in our church.

Oh, the kiss is usually one cheek, then the other, both kissing each other's cheeks at the same time. Women sometimes press cheeks instead of kissing.

I don't know what the priest and ones on the solea do, since I've never watched them.

The only male that has greeted me with a kiss ever has been the priest, and it's only a rare greeting outside of the church that he does that - not every time. He seems to do the same with everyone else, both male and female.

Now, outside the Church, leaving or entering, or at the coffee hour, or other greetings outside of Church, most women kiss me most of the time, usually both cheeks, but sometimes just one. The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL. They are very affectionate. Smiley

Like I said, I just follow along.

I did not see this at all at the Antiochian Church I went to, but I quickly came to the Greek, so they may do it there.  
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2014, 04:38:23 PM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue
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« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2014, 05:18:05 PM »

How disappointing.

Does anyone know what I'd find if I were to visit a church in Greece? (Humor an inquirer's curiosity. Smiley )

In Greece men greeting with a kiss is common at family get togethers, and among close friends. Course they do that in other parts of europe too.
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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2014, 05:24:44 PM »

No kiss at the Greek Liturgy I attended today.
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« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2014, 06:12:31 PM »

No kiss at the Greek Liturgy I attended today.

It is almost never done in the US.
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« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2014, 09:47:21 PM »

No kiss at the Greek Liturgy I attended today.

It is almost never done in the US.

I wonder how unusual our church may be. Every time I get to know someone new, I get the story of how they are related to everyone else in the Church though. I know there are some people who came from outside, but I'm starting to think ours is just a multigenerational family church. Which is ok with me.

It got me to thinking today though about how they never leave the Church. I guess since they all speak Greek more so than English, and they have been there all their lives, and Orthodox Churches can't be found on every corner, they just stay in. So different from the Protestant Churches I'm used to. I've belonged to a good number, and attended MANY more.

I think the language is actually to their benefit, to keep them in. However, it may serve to keep some outsiders from entering.
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2014, 09:49:40 PM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue

LOL ... the idea of Jesus deferring to the yiayias is funny ... but you MAY be right! Knowing how they are!

I love those women. Smiley

But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.
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« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2014, 10:04:21 PM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue

LOL ... the idea of Jesus deferring to the yiayias is funny ... but you MAY be right! Knowing how they are!

I love those women. Smiley

But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.

Mor's post was lighthearted, but loaded with truth. Never underestimate the importance of the approval of the yiayies or babushki!  Cheesy
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« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2014, 11:50:44 PM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue

LOL ... the idea of Jesus deferring to the yiayias is funny ... but you MAY be right! Knowing how they are!

I love those women. Smiley

But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.

Mor's post was lighthearted, but loaded with truth. Never underestimate the importance of the approval of the yiayies or babushki!  Cheesy

I can believe it.

A few of them were actually kind of difficult to win over. I didn't post about it, because most were so nice. But it seems all good now - even the gruffest of them have accepted me it seems.

And I don't mean this in a bad way, but I get the impression that they have a very great deal of influence in fact. In certain things, the priest defers to them.

But I'm guessing folks around here probably know about that kind of thing already. It's probably not restricted to our church. Wink
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« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2014, 11:55:14 PM »




But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.

Mor's post was lighthearted, but loaded with truth. Never underestimate the importance of the approval of the yiayies or babushki!  Cheesy


Hmmmm .... I just thought of something. They DID start asking when I was going to be Chrismated around the time Father said we'd talk dates as soon as the classes started back up.

I wonder if they had more to do with his willingness to go ahead than I realized???  Grin

I had expected to wait a year, and truthfully, I've only been in THIS church for around 4-5 months.

Either way, I am very much looking forward to participating in the Sacramental life of the Church. I think I need it.
Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2014, 11:57:11 PM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue

LOL ... the idea of Jesus deferring to the yiayias is funny ... but you MAY be right! Knowing how they are!

I love those women. Smiley

But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.

Mor's post was lighthearted, but loaded with truth. Never underestimate the importance of the approval of the yiayies or babushki!  Cheesy

I can believe it.

A few of them were actually kind of difficult to win over. I didn't post about it, because most were so nice. But it seems all good now - even the gruffest of them have accepted me it seems.

And I don't mean this in a bad way, but I get the impression that they have a very great deal of influence in fact. In certain things, the priest defers to them.

But I'm guessing folks around here probably know about that kind of thing already. It's probably not restricted to our church. Wink

It isn't. These wise, pious and indomitable ladies are the backbone of many a parish.  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2014, 12:11:02 AM »

The yiayias have decided that I'm a "good girl" I was told today, LOL.

At this point, receiving you into the Church is basically a sacramental formality.  If they accept you, there's a good chance even Jesus thinks you're Orthodox.   Tongue

LOL ... the idea of Jesus deferring to the yiayias is funny ... but you MAY be right! Knowing how they are!

I love those women. Smiley

But yes, a couple of weeks ago I started getting asked quite a bit more when I was going to be Chrismated. Seems like everyone decided at once.

Mor's post was lighthearted, but loaded with truth. Never underestimate the importance of the approval of the yiayies or babushki!  Cheesy

I can believe it.

A few of them were actually kind of difficult to win over. I didn't post about it, because most were so nice. But it seems all good now - even the gruffest of them have accepted me it seems.

And I don't mean this in a bad way, but I get the impression that they have a very great deal of influence in fact. In certain things, the priest defers to them.

But I'm guessing folks around here probably know about that kind of thing already. It's probably not restricted to our church. Wink

It isn't. These wise, pious and indomitable ladies are the backbone of many a parish.  Smiley

I can see I was right and it's not just our church. You sound like you know them. They are all of these things ... Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2014, 07:01:19 AM »

I've only ever attended Ukrainian, Russian, and Antiochian liturgies. Out of all of them, none of them did the kiss of peace besides the Antiochian.

That was a directive from his late eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and ,IMHO, a poor decision to require it as that greeting is shared only between clergy.  However, at hierarchical liturgies in the AANA, it is retained for the clergy but never done by the laity.
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« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2014, 06:51:48 AM »

In the liturgical context I've seen it only in Coptic and Armenian churches, never in any EO church (Polish, Serbian, Ukraine, Moldova, Romanian etc.) beside Pascha and Sunday of Forgiveness. However, kisses in church context are done here in Poland plenty of time, as a festal greeting after (or even during it) a service if you see somebody that you know, also it's sometimes done with the priest after the confession (with words 'Forgive me the sinner"). So it hasn't completely disappeared.

However, I wouldn't mind if it was reintroduced before the creed, when now only the clergy does it.
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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2014, 07:46:16 PM »

I've only ever attended Ukrainian, Russian, and Antiochian liturgies. Out of all of them, none of them did the kiss of peace besides the Antiochian.

That was a directive from his late eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and ,IMHO, a poor decision to require it as that greeting is shared only between clergy.  However, at hierarchical liturgies in the AANA, it is retained for the clergy but never done by the laity.

I've never seen the kiss of peace exchanged in any Antiochian church save one, and in that church it was exchanged in the same way as Copts and Syrians do.  In every other instance, the priest simply greeted the people with "Christ is in our midst" and the people responded and that was it.  But I don't see a problem with Metropolitan Philip having recovered it and required it (if he indeed did so).  Actually, I believe it to be a good and traditional thing. 
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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2014, 08:01:41 PM »

Armenians do the Kiss of Peace at every liturgy.

I've attended probably a couple hundred EO liturgies over the years, probably more, mostly MP and OCA, but a few Greek, Antiochian, and other traditions, and I've experienced the Kiss of Peace exactly once. It was at a big OCA function. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I'm pretty sure whoever gave it to me gave me a handshake and a "Peace be with you" or some such thing. And here I thought I knew what I was doing...
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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2014, 09:34:18 PM »

We kiss at our parish. Russians tend to be more through in my experience; three or four kisses instead of two. There is a lot of "air kissing" during the kiss of peace. The heavier the accent, the more boisterous the kisses! Smiley
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