Sunday, November 18, 2007

Body Language Juxtaposition

I find it so interesting to note that the Orthodox use the same gesture to ask for a blessing as Protestants use to receive Holy Communion.

And similarly, the body language that Orthodox use as they approach the priest to receive Holy Communion is the same body language as is used in western churches to indicate that they would like only a blessing.

Isn't that curious?


Dixie said...

Wow, that is weird. I never noticed that before. It took me a LOOOOONG time to get comfortable going to Communion with my arms crossed Eastern style. And I have to admit I have never asked for a I haven't tried that one yet. I know it is quite common elsewhere to ask for a blessing of the priest but I watch in our parish and have never seen it. Is it less common with the Greeks?

-C said...

I'm not sure if it's less common with the Greeks or not. DearHusband's customs tend toward a more Greek tradition, and I know that he tries to always ask the blessing of a priest in this way before talking with him (doesn't always work this way). I think it depends upon the parish, really. In our parish, I notice that some of the more ethnic Russian folks ask the blessing of the priest when they see him - while others greet him with a hug or a handshake.

This fall one evening just before Vespers, the priest from a local Romanian Orthodox church came to our church to borrow my church's baptism font. I had met him only a few weeks before and so when I approached to greet him, I made the sign of the cross and put my hands out for a blessing, and he was wont to do the 3 kisses on either cheek thing. So for a second it was sort of funny as I was kissing his hand he was kissing my cheek. A momentary mishmash of hand and face and lips, complete with bonking of noses, after which we both laughed.

orrologion said...

I read an ancient canon for the reception of communion in the hand that states we are make a cross of our hands, as shown, and to make a cross over our breast as also shown when approaching communion.

One doesn't see this as clearly with Greek and Antiochian priests, but when a priest or bishop bless he places his fingers in the shape of the Name of Jesus Christ, as seen in shorthand on icons: ICXC. So, when receiving a blessing we are receiving and kissing (venerating) the Name of Jesus Christ, which is distinct from yet closely to communion.

-C said...

Christopher -
Yes, I know this tradition of priests blessing while making the name of Jesus with the hand. I noticed it first on some icons we have, and then made the connection when actually watching hands at liturgy.

As a Lutheran, I was told that when receiving in the hand, we are "making a cradle" to receive Christ.

Thanks for your visit - I have lurked at your blog for a very long time.

orrologion said...

Well, consider yourself "un-lurked".

I've also liked the chutzpah of Orthodox in the Russian tradition who demand a blessing by walking up to a priest/bishop and making their 'cradle'. I like it. Reminds me of Abraham interceding on behald of Sodom. There is also a story of a modern Greek Elder who was similarly 'forward' with the patron saint (St. David f ______) of his poor monastery.

-C said...

At first it made me a little uncomfortable, this "chutzpah" as you describe it. That's just what it is. Perhaps deep down inside I fear that I won't receive the blessing I "demand." But the more I think about it, the more I think it is a good thing to do. I confess that I am far more likely to ask the blessing of my priest when communicating with him via email than I am in person.
My husband is far more comfortable with it, though. I remember once several years ago when his then-priest called our house and he answered the phone. "Evlogeite, Father!" was the first thing he said, and I wasn't sure what that was about.

I'm not familiar with the story of the modern Greek elder you describe ...