If you are considering making your first visit to Nativity,
some of the traditions here may be new to you. Below is a
short guide to some of these traditions and practices.
When you first arrive, people may be lighting candles.
Parishioners may pray and then light votive candles or
candles to be placed in holders beneath the icons at the
front of the church. The candles represent the light of
Christ and the flame of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3).
At the front of the church is the Iconostasis
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.
In the Byzantine liturgical system, each week is assigned to
one of the eight tones. See the link at bottom for a full
Catholics of any Rite and Orthodox may receive Holy
Communion. At the end of the Liturgy, the congregation
(including baptized non-Catholic believers) may come forward
to receive Antidoron
, a piece of blessed bread
offered in token of Christian fellowship. They may also kiss
the cross held by the priest.
How to Greet the Bishop
How do you address him? "Glory to Jesus Christ!" or "Slava Isusu Christu!"
If Bishop offers you his hand, you take it and bow to kiss his hand, as a mark of respect for the priesthood of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Bishop. It's not absolutely necessary that you put your lips to his hand, but the gesture remains the same.
When the Bishop blesses, you make the sign of the cross....when he's coming in, or during Liturgy or at ANY time.
For Further Information