Etiquette Among the Orthodox

Greetings All,

I’m writing because really don’t have any practical experience interacting with Orthodox Christians, and I need some help. I’m a youth minister, and in the processes of looking for a retreat center for a retreat I have coming up this Fall I have run across a very promising location. It’s run by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.

I’m interested in finding out any of the do’s and don’ts, especially in regards to their chapel, which is beautiful and one of the distinct perks of the place in my mind. I have some limited experience with Eastern Catholics and I’ve picked up some of the etiquette along the way. For instance I learned that at the Ukrainian Catholic Church here in town, it is not customary to genuflect. Does this transfer over to Greek Orthodox?

Basically I want to be able to communicate to my teens how to be respectful the traditions of our Orthodox brothers and sisters, who at a true Church, while still also being mindful of the separated status between us. For instance I’m pretty sure that unless it’s an emergency that communion is a no go for us. However I know that Christ is also present when we go into their chapel. Adoration will be part of our retreat, and I’m pretty sure that this is not an Eastern tradition. Should we bring out own host? And if so, would it be proper to house it in their tabernacle for the duration of our stay? The people running the camp seem very Catholic friendly, I just want to make sure that we have good etiquette and are respectful of their traditions and ours.

Any insight into how to properly behave would be greatly appreciated, especially coming from any Eastern Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. Thanks!

I don’t know if perpetual reservation would be practiced in this particular chapel, since it is used neither by a parish community (to my knowledge) nor a monastery.

OTOH, if it is used for regular Sunday liturgy for a stable community (pardon the expression), then they would be more likely to reserve the Gifts.

One makes a metanoia–sign of the Cross followed by a profound bow–when entering and leaving the church, or passing before the Royal Doors.

However, I also very seriously doubt if non-Orthodox prayers or services would be allowed in this chapel.

I forgot–you also make a metanoia before you kiss an icon.

Hi csoup223. I’m a Roman Catholic, so I should probably let Eastern Orthodox posters field your questions. However, I would like to echo what bpbasilphx said: I would be surprized if they allow any non-Orthodox services to be conducted in their chapel. (Just think how likely/unlikely it would be for, say, an Anglican group to get permission to conduct a service in a Catholic church.) So I would recommend inquiring about that before you make your plans.

By the way, I’m a New Englander too. :slight_smile: I would put that in my profile but I don’t have a place for it.

Ok, so I actually got to visit the place yesterday. It turns out they are quite flexible. They don’t reserve the Eucharist in the chapel, but they do allow Catholic Masses to be said. In fact when I got there they had the chapel set up for local Catholic high school who was going to be on retreat. They also said there wouldn’t be any problem with doing Eucharistic Adoration either. I am very excited.

I wonder, will the Mass be said on a separate altar from the one in the chapel?

Yes, I believe so. The altar they set up was not inside the doors, which I suppose means it wasn’t in the sanctuary. However in the past we had been using a protestant retreat center, so this chapel is a step in the right direction.

It should be interesting to see how the children react to the icons and everything else in the church.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit