Icons and Gestures

At the front of the church is the Iconostasis, or Icon Screen, which defines the altar area. The Royal Doors are in the center of the screen and beyond them is the Altar. The priest faces the Altar (East) along with the congregation unless his liturgical actions are specifically directed toward the people. Icons - sometimes called "windows to heaven" - are the visual gospel and represent significant people and events in Church history. The images of the icons remind us of the presence of heaven during our worship and also serve as "family pictures," instructing us about the blessed lives of the community of saints who surround and encourage us.

Incense is used often because it was a part of the worship described in both the Old and the New Testaments, and its use honors God's presence. It has a pleasing aroma and shows our prayers ascending before God (Psalm 141:2).

Sign of the Cross
We frequently make the sign of the cross. This reminds us of God's ultimate act of love for us: the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. By touching our forehead, heart, right shoulder, and left shoulder, we show the dedication of our mind, heart, and strength to God. This practice also involves us physically in the act of worship.