Orthodox typically light candles when coming into the Church. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12). Each time we light a candle, we are called to remember that it is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is the True Light. In lighting our candles, it is customary to make an offering, as everything we have is from God, and the first step is to give back to Him for all of His many blessings.
Arriving on Time
The time to arrive at church is always before the service begins. It allows time for lighting candles venerating icons and will enable you to warm your heart for prayer. Quieting your heart is a necessary condition for prayer. When entering the church, one should cross themselves before venerating each icon. Arriving on time shows that we have set aside time for God and the most foundational part of our week. Should you arrive late, we ask that to enter the church quietly and observe what is happening. If the Epistle or Gospel is being read, or the Little or Great Entrance is taking place, please wait until it is finished and allow an usher to escort you to your seat.
When entering the church, it is traditional to venerate the icons. When venerating an icon, we make the sign of the cross and then kiss the icon.
Time with God
Church services are opportunities to spend time with God and work on our relationship with Him. They help us grow closer to Christ through prayer, listening and chanting to the hymns, meditating on the icons, and or meditating on the saints depicted around us. If the service is the Divine Liturgy, it is an "eternal event"—not just a service that is reenacted repeatedly, but participation in the enteral Divine Liturgy and is the moment that we leave earth and have our first foretaste of heaven. Being respectful in church is a sign of our love and respect for God and out of respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ who have come to worship. That means we should limit our talking and participate in reverent activities such as praying the Jesus Prayer, chanting or listening to the hymns, and listening to the Gospel and Epistle readings.
Crossing One's Legs
Out of reverence for the space in which we dwell, Orthodox Christians typically sit or stand at attention or prayerfully. Crossing one's legs is synonymous with casual behavior — too relaxed for entering into the presence of our Lord — and should be avoided.
Fasting Before Communion
According to the long-standing Orthodox practice, all who approach Holy Communion should typically fast from Midnight the evening before Divine Liturgy, unless they have medical conditions that prevent them from fasting. Don't hesitate to contact our priests for questions or more information.
How to Greet a Priest
The proper way to greet a priest or bishop is to ask for his blessing and kiss his right hand. Then, approach the priest or bishop with your right hand over your left hand and say, "Father (or "Master," in the case of the bishop), bless." He will make the cross - saying "The blessing of the Lord be upon you" - and place his right hand over yours. When you kiss their hands, you show respect for their office. They are the ones who "bless and sanctify" you and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf.
While there is no formal dress code for attending Holy Apostles, entering the Holy Orthodox Church is still a sacred experience that our preparation and attire should reflect. The church is the House of God, and it's not just any ordinary place but a holy space where we come to meet Christ. When we enter, we do so humbly, with a sense of unworthiness. We dress as modestly and respectfully as we can because we are in the presence of God Himself. If invited by any earthly king or queen, we would dress in our finest clothes. Therefore, we should dress similarly when accepting an invitation from the Lord of Heaven. The way Orthodox Christians dress, both in and outside the temple, reflects their way of life and dedication to and fear of God. We always dress modestly, not in a flashy or provocative way that brings attention to ourselves. Below are some general guidelines for dress.
Women should wear modest dresses and or skirts and shirts with sleeves.
Men should also dress modestly in business or business casual attire.
Worship for Children
At Holy Apostles, children worship along with their families and are always welcome. If children choose to explore during Liturgy and want to kiss and touch icons, that is fine. If needed, we offer a "Mother's Room" off the Narthex with windows into the church, where parents can tend to small or unsettled youngsters. There are also changing tables in all restrooms. After Holy Communion, children are invited to participate in our Sundy School Ministry during the school year September through May.
Handling the Blessed Bread
After taking Holy Communion and at the end of the Liturgy, it is traditional to eat a piece of holy bread or antidoron (instead of the gift or blessed bread). While antidoron is not Holy Communion, it is blessed bread and, as such, should be eaten carefully.
Leaving Before the Dismissal
Leaving church before the Dismissal Prayer deprives us of a blessing. Worship has a beginning, "Blessed is the Kingdom...", and an end, "Let us depart in peace...". We live in a fast-paced and ever-changing world. We seem to be hurrying from place to place. But in God's presence, we need to make every attempt to fight this pressure to move on to the next thing. It is the Lord's Day, after all, and not ours. We deprive ourselves of blessings by not being still and participating in God's holiness.
If you are new to Orthodoxy, please consider reading the article "12 Things I Wish I'd Know" on vising an Orthodox Church by Orthodox writer and Presbytera Frederica Mathews-Green.
Saints, Feasts, and Readings for 06/01/2023