DRESSING UP FOR CHURCH
DRESSING UP FOR CHURCH
“…Then he (the king) said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and ...he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22: 8-14)
Christ invites all of us, “both bad and good,” to His “wedding feast.” What is that? It’s the “feast” or celebration of His new-found union with all of humanity, all of us, as a consequence of His Incarnation, or His stepping into our shoes. In His becoming Man, and taking on our flesh and blood, He offers us a more perfect, more intimate, communion with Him. In fact He invites us to partake of His flesh and blood, not only spiritually, but also physically, in Holy Communion. But for this, we must at least be dressed appropriately, in a “wedding garment.” Also physically.
Now I know that we, traditionally, tend to “spiritualize” this image. We say that it means being ready for Holy Communion “spiritually,” having said all our prayers and so on. But I’d like to note the more literal meaning of this passage. And that is, that we should “dress up” for church, for the celebration of Divine Liturgy. Because “dressing up,” literally, – and I mean, our fashion-choices on a Sunday-morning, before we go to church, – are not an unimportant expression of our attitude toward the “feast” or celebration at hand. We can, and should, “dress up” for church. For some of us, in fact, who do not have the time to read all the prayers required for preparation for Holy Communion, it may be the only thing we can do. But it is no unimportant thing. It is a small effort, to honor the “King” inviting us to His feast, and He does note and honor this effort. So let me “dress up” for church today, because Christ The King, my King, does recognize my small efforts to prepare for His feast, not only spiritual efforts, but also physical ones.
Etiquette in the Orthodox Church
Etiquette in the Orthodox Church
There is a certain standard of behavior that needs to be followed while inside an Orthodox Church. Even if you’ve been attending the church for some time, it’s easy to forget some of these basic rules of etiquette. Here’s an overview of some of the things you need to remember while attending an Orthodox Church service.
Get There on Time
It’s important to get to church on time. Even though plenty of people are late for church, this is usually something that bothers the priest, even if he doesn’t say anything. If you are late for the service, just be sure to follow the right protocol for entering the church so that your entrance doesn’t cause a disruption.
Before You Enter the Church
When you arrive at church, the first thing you will do is walk through the doors and address anyone who greets you. Some churches may have official greeters standing at the door. After you walk in, it’s customary to take a candle and place a donation in the tray next to them. Then, you’ll light your candle, do your cross, and venerate any icons that are nearby.
Venerating the Icons
After lighting the candle, you’ll then venerate any icons that are set up nearby. The candles in the Narthex commonly set up these icons. The proper way to kiss the icon is to make the sign of the cross three times and then kiss the hands. It is improper to kiss the icon on the face. If you’re wearing lipstick, be sure to wipe it off before you venerate the icon so that you don’t get it on the image.
Entering the Church
Once the Divine Liturgy has begun, there are rules for the correct way to enter the church. Don’t enter the church if the epistle or gospel readings are taking place. It is also impolite to enter while the priest is giving a sermon or when the congregation is reciting the creed. Finally, you definitely shouldn’t enter while the consecration prayers are being said. If you do arrive while any of these are taking place, you should wait until he’s done before you take your seat.
What to Wear
In recent years, Orthodox Churches have gotten a little more casual than they used to be. The general rule is to wear clothes that are classy and not too provocative. Business casual or a suit and tie for the men are both acceptable. For women, wearing a dress or skirt that falls around the knee is preferred. Even though pantsuits are acceptable, they are still frowned on. When in doubt, dress in your best clothes. Also, be aware that men should remove their hats while in church.
Don’t Cross Your Legs
Did you know that it is considered improper to cross your legs in an Orthodox Church? This is one of those rules that a lot of people don’t seem to adhere to. In the eyes of the church, this represents a form of arrogance that stands in the way of our relationship to God. Since a lot of people aren’t aware of this thinking, people tend to cross their legs without realizing that it is considered improper.
By following some of these basic rules of etiquette, you’ll get more out of the experience at church. Most of these rules are in place to help create an optimal place of worship.
This post was written by GreekBoston.com
Help for the Journey
Fasting in the Orthodox Church
General Guidelines for Fasting: The guiding rule of the Fathers - never eat to the point of feeling full but rise from the table knowing that more could be taken and one is ready for prayer.
Fasting is never required when there are health issues that require the eating of certain foods.
Parents decide what age to begin a child fasting from foods. It is recommended when the child reaches ‘the age of reason’ around age 8. More importantly is teaching the fasting from behaviors not pleasing to God.
Foods allowed during Lent - this is considered Strict Fast A vegetarian diet including but not limited to bread, grains, vegetables, soup, tofu, fruits, nuts, beans, shellfish, octopus, squid, juice, coffee, tea or water.
Foods not allowed during Great Lent: All meat, poultry, fish, olive oil (vegetable oil is allowed), dairy products, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and alcoholic beverages. Wine is permitted on certain days (see calendar). Fish & olive oil are allowed on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) and Palm Sunday, April 24, 2016.
Days on which the number of meals is limited: It is customary to limit the number of strict fast meals on Clean Monday (the first day of Lent, March 14, 2016), and on any day that you are preparing to receive Communion at a Presanctified liturgy.
Preparing for Presanctified Liturgies in the late afternoon: There are three ways to prepare depending upon your personal abilities. • If you are able - keep complete fast the entire day and have a meal after the Liturgy • Or have a fast worthy breakfast, no lunch followed by a meal after the Liturgy • Or have a fast worthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and a meal after the Liturgy.
Fasting Recommendation Level I is recommended for those who never or rarely keep the fast throughout the year on Wednesdays and Fridays. • Start by not eating any meat the first week of Lent and during Holy Week. • Do not eat meat every Wednesday and Friday during Lent. • Attempt to continue the Wednesday, Friday fast throughout the rest of the year and graduate next year to Level II.
Level II is recommended for those who keep the fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year but rarely follow a strict fast including dairy products and fish. • 40 days no meat, plus all of Holy Week • Dairy products & fish are allowed but not on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Level III is the ideal for those who fast throughout the year. • 40 days of Lent and Holy Week are kept as a strict fast.
You may create your own guidelines that may be a combination of the above recommendations, please consult your priest if you have questions.
Copyright 1997-2013 Rev. Andrew J. Barakos & Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Ltd. All rights reserved. Studies or articles may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from Rev. Barakos | Church Office: (480) 991-3009 | Church Fax: (480) 991-3717
Preparing for Confession
Sometimes we are asked, "Where do I begin?" , when one has not been to confession for a long time, or perhaps, has never been to confession in their life. What follows is an expansive list of questions to ask yourself as you prepare for confession.
Self-examination and prayer prepare us as we stand before the Lord, with our Father Confessor as our witness, and say, "Please forgive me for I have sinned."
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO PREPARE FOR CONFESSION