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Author Topic: A few questions on the liturgy  (Read 1921 times) Average Rating: 0
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Protestant seeker
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« on: March 03, 2003, 04:00:44 PM »

  O.k. I have a few questions on some things/practices in the liturgy. I feel like they are dumb questions, but bear and mind my Evangelical upbringing.

1) Why does the congregation turn and follow either a priest who walks around the inside of the church and censes during Vespers or the priest who walks around the congregation (during the Great Entrance?) with the bread and wine before it is consecrated?

2) What is the religious significance of kissing things (icons, the cross at the blessing) for the Orthodox? Is it part of Eastern culture or part of the faith? I was just curious because Catholics aren't so "kissy" so to speak.
I don't think this is a bad thing or wrong by any means, just curious about it.

3) What is the significance of bowing to one other or to the icons in Orthodox? Again, is this part of the faith, or part of Eastern culture.

 Also, thanks for all the previous answers to my questions. Things with my wife are going better, though she is still somewhat reluctant about the Orthodox Church. Luckily, the people in our parish are very friendly and warm towards us. That helps a lot, especially for her. We are both still learning about Orthodoxy though.

God bless,

P.S.

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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2003, 07:10:03 PM »

1. I haven't seen that exact practice before, but usually when the priest or deacon censes the church, the people do move out of the way until he is finished, then return to where they were standing.  Seems more to be practicality than anything else.

As for your other two questions, I am going to quote a brief portion of an article by Frederica Matthews-Green that might answer your questions.  At some point I need to email Frederica and see if she will grant us permission to host her articles on this site as she had on other Orthodox sites.  Here is the quote:

Quote
I was thinking that, as far as I've been able to observe, [protestant denomination mentioned in article] never kiss, at least not in church. Orthodox eagerness to do so probably looks obsessive--even like idolatry. For, I must admit, we kiss a lot. We kiss icons, crosses, and Gospel Books, kiss the edge of the priest's garment and kiss his hand, kiss the chalice, and kiss each other. (Only practical concerns, I'm sure, deter us from kissing the censer.)

It reminds me of being a little girl of three or four, barefoot in my white nightgown, going around at my parents' party to kiss all the guests goodnight. I could hear someone chortling, "She's a regular kissing bug!" There is exuberance and generosity in the way we Orthodox scatter kisses around, cherishing the things and people that bear God to us.

St. John Chrysostom makes the charming assertion that, because we receive the holy Eucharist through our lips, our lips are most blessed, and we honor them by giving kisses. I first encountered this form of devotion a few years back at the Walters Museum in Baltimore. A selection of ancient Greek icons was on display, well-mounted and covered with protective glass. On looking closer I could see that the glass sheets over the icons were covered with many overlapping marks of kisses and lipstick.

How can we honor wood and paint this way? My Mennonite friend Nancy scoffs: "If Jesus is right there with you in worship, why do you need icons to remind you?" My husband laughs, "Because we need icons to remind us!" We are like the lover in the old hit song, who complains that his girl went "leaving just your picture behind/and I've kissed it a thousand times." It's not the paper photo that he's in love with, but the person it represents. But because it does represent his love, he cherishes and honors the photo, wearing it out with kisses. The holy, invisible Lord surrounds us and we grasp for his elusive presence, kneeling down awestruck with our foreheads to the floor, tasting heaven on the Eucharistic spoon, laying kisses on His image and each other and most anything else we can get hold of.

An outsider might expect Eastern Orthodoxy to be stuffy, esoteric, and rigidly ritualistic. But once inside, it turns out to be a box full of Kissing Bugs. We feel such gratitude to God for saving us, such awe at His majesty, such joy in the fellowship of the Saints, that we respond from the heart. It is not superstition requiring us to relinquish formal, ritual kisses. We find ourselves in our true home in the Church, astonished and overjoyed to be welcomed at this glorious feast. Like a child in a nightgown, secure in her Father's house, we go scattering our kisses with simplicity and love.

The full article may be found here and other like articles can be found on the Frederica Matthews-Green Homepage.  I hope this helps!
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TonyS
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2003, 02:04:25 PM »


1) Why does the congregation turn and follow either a priest who walks around the inside of the church and censes during Vespers or the priest who walks around the congregation (during the Great Entrance?) with the bread and wine before it is consecrated?

2) What is the religious significance of kissing things (icons, the cross at the blessing) for the Orthodox? Is it part of Eastern culture or part of the faith? I was just curious because Catholics aren't so "kissy" so to speak.
I don't think this is a bad thing or wrong by any means, just curious about it.

3) What is the significance of bowing to one other or to the icons in Orthodox? Again, is this part of the faith, or part of Eastern culture.


Dear-to-Christ Protestant seeker,

I will offer some thoughts on your points above:

1:  When you say follow I don't think you mean walk around with, right?  Well, the censing is a reverance, so unless you are doing something else or it is impossible you probably would not want to have your back to what is being reverenced.  I heard or read somewhere that the proper gesture was to bow toward the object/person being reverenced as does the one doing the censing, this however is not seen much in practice in this country.  Also, the turning seems to be much more a Russian than Greek or any other ethnic custom.  As for the entrance, it seems to be attention to what is going on, why would you want to look away?

2:  Kissing is a way of showing love.  As Orthodoxy spread from the Mediterranean basin it wook with it some gestures, such as kissing.  And while you are right that modern RCs tend to not be so kissy I used to be in an RC parish that had a devotion to St. Anthony and they exposed a relic for veneration once a week and at the end of the devotion everyone lined up to go kiss the reliquiary.  So it is still kissy in some places for some things.

3:  Bowing comes, as I understand it, from Byzantine court gestures as the genuflection from Roman.  It is a sign of respect and deference.  

I don't know if any of this helps or if it is oversimplified or redundant.  

Tony
« Last Edit: March 04, 2003, 02:07:32 PM by TonyS » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2003, 02:09:52 PM »

Btw Tony, what is a genuflection per se (as opposed to a bow)?  Being Orthodox, I've only been to half a dozen or so Catholic services in my life.
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2003, 04:49:19 PM »

Btw Tony, what is a genuflection per se (as opposed to a bow)?  Being Orthodox, I've only been to half a dozen or so Catholic services in my life.

Oh!  Oh!  I know the answer to this one!  A (single) genuflexion is a kneeling on only one knee.  A double-genuflexion would be kneeling on both knees.  But this is done before entering or leaving a pew.   Wink  (No pun intended)

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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2003, 05:55:33 PM »

Yes - absolutely correct - but  we only go down on both knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament when It is exposed for our Adoration.

We genuflect with the right knee to the ground  when we enter or leave the Church or indeed pass in front of the Tabernacle.

And I'll leave the other bits and bobs about it in case I cause more confusion Cheesy Cheesy

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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2003, 01:31:37 AM »

Quote
Genuflecting sounds weird (but then again, I've never been Catholic  Grin)

Genuflecting actually comes from the practice that was common during the era of Roman Empire. Upon the battlefield, a soldier could kneel down on both knees, head faced towards the ground to surrender. However this was a double edged sword, as the attacker could either spare the man's life, or he could decapitate him.

Either way, it was a sign of submission to your superior, whether it be on the battlefield or in the emperor's palace.

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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2003, 03:10:35 AM »

Oh do'h, i didn't mean to edit your mesage, i hit the wrong button...
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2003, 08:03:44 AM »

Oh do'h, i didn't mean to edit your mesage, i hit the wrong button...
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No wonder everything except one last post momentarily disappeared on this thread!  Boy, I love our Administrators, but they are dangerous when they hit the wrong button... Shocked
« Last Edit: March 05, 2003, 11:26:20 PM by Amator Dei » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2003, 11:24:14 PM »

Oh do'h, i didn't mean to edit your mesage, i hit the wrong button...
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Bobbyt

No wonder everything except one last post momentarily disappeared on this thread!  Boy, I love our Administrators, but they are dangerous when they hit the wrong botton... Shocked

Here let me fix that for you...
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