Propriety in an Eastern Orthodox church while photographing the interior

Greetings to all.

As some of you may know, I’m running a blog site that is dedicated to photographing churches as I travel about. Recently, I happened to notice, while passing through Gillette Wyoming, that a church location that I’d photographed some time ago seemed to have been abandoned by its congregation. I soon learned that it had relocated, and frankly I’m glad as their old church didn’t look like much.

This would be the Holy Resurrection Antiochian Orthodox in Gillette, and I learned that it had moved into what had been the Episcopal Church, which must have also relocated. In looking into it, I emailed the Pastor, to confirm the relocation, which he did.

He also invited me, next time I’m there, to stop by and photograph the interior, which has been extensively redone by the Parishioners. I may avail myself of that opportunity. Here’s my question, therefore.

I know what to do in a Catholic Church, but I’m unaware if there’s anything I must keep in mind upon entering an Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Church. Is there anything I should keep in mind so as to not offend propriety?

I would contact the parish priest and ask when it would be appropriate to photograph the parish interior.

God Bless,
BVMFatima

Basically in an Eastern church, just make a profound bow from the waist every time you would genuflect in a Latin church (when passing in front of the tabernacle, though you probably won’t be able to see it). Ooh and don’t look or holy water fonts, they don’t have them! :thumbsup:

:rotfl: indeed

Ooh another thing, though he probably won’t expect it dice you’re not Orthodox (and perhaps being Antiochian he wouldn’t anyway) it’s nice to approach the priest with your hands cupped in front of you. He’ll bless you with his right hand and then place his hand in yours. You should kiss the back of his hand-it’s self explanatory when you’re doing it-Like I said, in sure he wouldn’t expect it of you, but why miss out on a blessing!? :smiley:

I often attend services at a local Antiochian Orthodpx church, and have visited the Greek church and Russian church, so I’ve learned how to avoid looking like a complete fool. :wink:

Apparently I’ve gotten pretty good as I’ve had I tell people that I’m really Catholic and not an Orthodox catechumen! But I’ve learned that while there are general “norms” no parish does things exactly the same. The Easterns are unlike us in that way…

Good luck and enjoy! Eastern churches are truly beautiful!

Interesting, all I have simply done was shake the hand of a Roman Rite priest after Mass :shrug:

Basic etiquette pretty much the same as any church. Don’t do anything disruptive (like yelling in church). Orthodox teaching is that anything beyond that really isn’t the business of anyone else (Judge not, type of thing).

I suppose the only other piece of etiquette is that you don’t go behind the iconostasis (altar area) without the blessing of the priest, which you are very unlikely to receive (although I suppose it isn’t outside the realm of possibility).

In this case they just might since it’s a static photoshoot. But even if so, I would expect the priest to be the photographer’s personal escort. :wink:

I know! It’s difficult to understand why a priest wouldn’t want you to kiss his hand…I think it’s lead to a lack of reverence for the Eucharist -since that’s the reason why we kiss a priests hand, because his hands have touched Jesus-and even some bishops these days don’t encourage it! But I try not to press the issue or make a priest feel uncomfortable. I hear it’s common for some Latinos and Filipinos to kiss their (Latin) priests hand…interesting discussion!

He’s the one that made the invitation, but I’d certainly call or write him beforehand. Thanks.

So don’t genuflect?

Wow, thanks. I wouldn’t have ever guessed these things on my own.

Well you won’t be hissed at if you do :smiley:
But genuflecting is foreign to Eastern worship. The proper way of showing reverence is to bow from the waist instead. As they say, “when in Rome…” The same goes for things like standing. Traditionally, Eastern churches don’t have pews so worshippers stand throughout the service. Being a bit more…“modern” (and apparently, originally Episcopalian) I’d say that this one will. But during the consecration, the people stand aright and when receiving communion they also stand. This is because standing is the posture of reverence in the East, whereas we (Latins) kneel during these times. Don’t worry about being “quizzed” on your etiquette-at least not by Antiochians- reverence is more your hearts intention than your body’s posture. :thumbsup:

I read recently that Pope John Paul II was very uncomfortable with hand kissing. He allowed people to do it, but he discouraged the practice.

You’re not Orthodox, so you wouldn’t be expected to know that when we open the door and enter, we make the sign of the cross with a deep bow or full prostration and then we venerate the icons before taking a place to stand through out Liturgy - women traditionally on the left & men on the right.

Two quick suggestions to keep in mind - make sure the priest knows exactly when you’re coming & don’t take photos during a Liturgy Service without a specific blessing/permission, you’ll probably be expected to photograph before or after.

Also, in case you see the priest in conversation with one person next to the iconostasis- that’s actually Confession. Keep your distance & don’t try to join the conversation :wink: as that could be awkward.

It’s true, we don’t have Holy Water at Church to bless ourselves with, instead, we keep Holy Water at home to drink.

As I’d clear it with the Priest first, I’d hope to not make that embarrassing mistake, but thank you. I’d feel awful about that.

On Orthodox confession, how often are the Orthodox obligated to go to Confession?

We’re not obliged, we go as often as our priest tells us to, or as often as we feel we need to.

People have pretty much told you everything. I volunteer at the parish festivals in town, so I’m used to seeing non-Orthodox coming into our temples. A lot of the time they genuflect, because 1) many don’t realize we’re not Roman Catholic and 2) it’s the only religious sign of respect they know. That’s how we see it, so if you did it, we wouldn’t be offended, we just look at it as you trying to convey respect, which is always nice.

Here’s how we do; Go through the front doors, cross yourself (with a slight bow after “amen”). Go through the second doors and cross yourself the same way (all crossings end with a slight bow). We usually are saying prayers about entering the House of Our God or something similar. Then you go up and cross yourself and kiss the Icons arranged at the front, usually three, but you won’t be expected to do that. Sometimes the Icons are in the narthex instead. Again, don’t worry about it.

You probably won’t be allowed in the altar, the area behind the Iconastasis,but you will be allowed up on the dias before it probably, and if there’s a choir loft in the back, there as well. If you cross in front of the Royal Doors in the Iconostasis (the central, double door) cross yourself because you’re in the path of the Tabernacle (which is on the altar table). Don’t sit in the really ornate chair, that’s just for the bishop. Don’t worry about getting the blessing from the priest (the hand cupping) unless you really want to, in which case I’ll point out your right hand should be on top of your left. Don’t wear a hat inside.

We know non-Orthodox don’t know our customs, and we don’t expect them to. Don’t worry about it, just enjoy the temple; they’re always beautiful.

Orthodox Christians don’t have a concept of “obligation” as is found in the Catholic Church.

The frequency with which an Orthodox Christian receives the Mysteries of the Church: Confession & Holy Communion, the Medicine of Immortality, is something determined together their spiritual father. We are not alone on our spiritual journey, our spiritual father acts as our guide and spiritual doctor helping to diagnose and treat our various spiritual diseases. We are all unique individuals with various ailments & levels of sickness, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all spiritual regimented treatment.

Orthodox Christians don’t have a concept of “obligation” as is found in the Catholic Church.

The frequency with which an Orthodox Christian receives the Mysteries of the Church: Confession & Holy Communion, the Medicine of Immortality, is something determined together their spiritual father. We are not alone on our spiritual journey, our spiritual father acts as our guide and spiritual doctor helping to diagnose and treat our various spiritual diseases. We are all unique individuals with various ailments & levels of sickness, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all spiritual regimented treatment.

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