Whether you are a Greek orthodox church visitor, or you’re going to attend Greek Orthodox church services as a regular attendee, it’s important to know the proper etiquette when attending. Below, you’ll find an overview of some of the most important aspects of Greek Orthodox church etiquette:
Arriving on time
Whether you’re attending a Greek Orthodox church for the first time, or you’re simply in town and looking to see what the fuss is about, there are a few things you should know. For starters, the liturgy is the same across all jurisdictions. In fact, the liturgy is the work of the people.
A liturgy is a service that focuses on the elements of prayer, worship, and a devotional hymn. Nearly everything is sung in melodic chant. Some Orthodox churches use organs, while others simply have a choir lead the congregation in a capella harmony.
The Orthodox church has a lot of old fashioned customs. For instance, there are several short preparatory services before the main event. The liturgy also incorporates some pious customs, such as praying for the dead.
The best way to get the most out of your time in the Orthodox church is to visit more than one parish. This will allow you to get a feel for what the worshippers are like.
Touching the hem of the priest’s vestment
During a service, many people like to touch the hem of the priest’s vestment. This is a pious custom. It imitates the woman who was healed by touching the hem of Christ’s robe. It also serves as a reminder to approach the service with fear of God.
The vestments worn by Orthodox priests are called phelonion. The phelonion is a vestment that is specified for any major liturgical function. Generally, it is worn over an anteri, which is an inner cassock.
Priests wear an epitrachelion over the phelonion. It is a white liturgical vestment with embroidered crosses on it. It is worn over the outer cassock for some services.
Unlike deacons, priests do not wear a stole. However, bishops do wear a stole when they exercise their pastoral office. These stoles usually have seven embroidered crosses on them.
Priests also wear a collar-like amice. This is a vestment that priests tie around their torso as if they were wearing a hood. This vestment is common in the Armenian Orthodox Church.
Touching the iconostasis
Having an iconostasis in an Orthodox church is an important part of the architecture. This wall is covered with icons of the saints and important events in the life of Christ. It also has a liturgical and spiritual significance. In some cases, the icons are set in canted positions, making it possible to kiss the icon or even pray to it.
This particular screen has evolved through the centuries. Some versions of the iconostasis shield the altar from view during services. Others allow it to be seen when the central doors are open.
The iconostasis is also a portable icon stand. It can be a simple image of Christ on the right or a large image of the Virgin and Child on the left.
In the early Church, partitions were created between the altar and the nave. This allowed the clergy to lead prayer. The iconostasis was also similar to the veil in the Old Testament Tabernacle.
Dismissal after sermon
During the Divine Liturgy, dismissal is the final blessing that a Christian priest says to the congregation. It is often associated with acclamation from the people. The dismissal can take two forms. In liturgical churches, dismissal may be based on Priestly Blessing in the Torah. It may also include a commemoration of the day. It may also be expressed with ritualized gestures.
In a liturgical church, dismissal may also include a minister raising his hands over the congregation. It may also include a sign of the cross. Sometimes, the final benediction will also mention the feast day. This may include a mention of the saint or the departed.
Dismissal at the end of the Divine Liturgy can take two forms. It can also be abbreviated. If the presiding clergy is absent, it may be omitted entirely. A priest may say the dismissal, acclamation, and seal the Liturgy with the words “Amen”. It is also possible to hear dismissal based on Priestly Blessing in a Torah.