Orthodox Church Etiquette

There are several rules of the Orthodox Church etiquette.

Monastery

Orthodox people treat the monasteries, which number about 500 in the Russian Orthodox Church today, with respect and love. Each of them not only has residents but also workers and pilgrims who visit them to strengthen the faith. Visitors to the monasteries can also take part in restoration or landscaping work.

Monasteries are characterized by more strict discipline than parishes. There is a loyal attitude to the mistakes of the guests. But it is recommended to come to the religious community of monks, having previously read the local rules.

Administrative structure

The priestly Archimandrite ruling bishop stands at the head of the monastery. In the case of the Stauropegic monastery, it is headed by the Patriarch.

The administration of the religious community is carried out by the parson, who can act as a hieromonk, hegumen, or archimandrite. The abbess manages the women’s monastery.

Monasticism is a spiritual path that has been polished over the centuries. Today, there is a strict organization of monastic life, according to which each resident or guest of the monastery must bear specific responsibilities. The first parson or his deputy (dean) is responsible for the divine service and monitoring the implementation of the statutory requirements. As a rule, he is engaged in the accommodation of pilgrims who have come to the monastery.

The confessor occupies an important position in the monastery. He is engaged in the spiritual care of the monastic community. It can be not only an old man, both in age and in spirituality.

Among the experienced monks are selected:

  • The sacristan, responsible for the beauty of the monastery and all that is in it.
  • The monk, responsible for the accommodation of guests.
  • Oikonomos, engaged in the economic part of monastic life and the work of pilgrims who have arrived at the monastery.
  • The treasurer, responsible for donations.
  • Obedientiary which is responsible for food.

The nuns are engaged in these activities in women’s religious communities. The exception is the position of the confessor. He is chosen by the bishop from among the monks.

Standards for Addressing

There are certain standards for addressing monks, which vary depending on the religious community:

  1. In the women’s monastery, the distinctive feature of the abbess from the nun is the pectoral cross made of gold, which she wears. The abbess has the right to give a blessing. In a women’s monastery, the following addresses are appropriate:
  • The abbess – “mother abbess” or “mother (name)”.
  • The nuns – “mother (name)”. It is permissible to address “mother” in some cases.
  • Novitiates – “sister”. If the novitiate is at an advanced age, she can be addressed as “mother”.
  1. In a men’s monastery:
  • It is used to address a parson, indicating his position, or pronouncing the name. The address “father” is allowed, but it is used infrequently. If we are talking about a formal setting, it should be used “The Most Reverend” when addressing an archimandrite or hegumen, and “The Reverend” when addressing a hieromonk. When speaking of the parson in the third person, it should be used “Father Parson” or “Father (name)”.
  • When talking to the dean, his position should be named, after which the name should be indicated. The address “father” is acceptable. Speaking of him in the third person, you should say “father dean” or ” father (name)”.
  • Turning to the confessor, you should say the word “father” and call his name, or “father”. In the third person, the confessor is referred to as “confessor” or “father (name)”.
  • The sacristan, Oikonomos, Obedientiary, the treasurer, who has a priestly rank, is addressed as “father”, after which a blessing is asked. If they are not ordained but have taken the tonsure, should be used the address “father (indicating the position)”. When addressing a hieromonk, hegumen, or archimandrite, it is permissible to say “father (name)” or “father”.
  • When addressing a monk who has taken vows, it should be used “father”, or “brother” – to a young novice, or “father” – to an elderly novice.

Monastic Rules

Monastic life is characterized by well-established rules. Laypeople will need time to get used to them. Below are the basic rules that every pilgrim should follow during a visit to the monastery:

  1. You should ask for a blessing for everything.
  2. It is forbidden to leave the monastery without receiving a blessing.
  3. Any harmful habits, including smoking, alcohol consumption, etc., should be left outside the monastery.
  4. It is appropriate to conduct conversations that relate exclusively to the spiritual life, forgetting about worldly affairs.
  5. Eating is allowed only at a general meal. You should be meekly content with the available clothing, food, and sleep conditions.
  6. It is forbidden to enter a cell that is not your own unless the parson has sent you there. The entrance to the cell is accompanied by a prayer, which should be read aloud. After its completion, you should wait for the word “Amen” from the cell, only after which you are allowed to enter it.
  7. Humor, laughter, and free speech should be avoided.
  8. While working on the territory of the monastery, it is necessary to treat with mercy the infirm working in the neighborhood, and with condescension to perceive his mistakes.
  9. The meeting is accompanied by bowing and the utterance of the words: “Save yourself, sister (brother)”, the answer to which is the phrase: “Save, Lord.” The handshake is excluded at the meeting.
  10. The rule of seniority is observed during meals. You should answer “Amen” in response to the prayer that the person serving the food reads. Silence should prevail during the recitation of the prayer.
  11. Being late for prayer is unacceptable. The exception is employment in the performance of duties.
  12. It is necessary to humbly treat insults possible during the general performance of duties. This helps to gain experience of spiritual life and love for the community.

Apostle Andrew the First-Called

Galilee is the birthplace of St. Andrew the Apostle. It is located in the north of the Holy Land. Good-natured and hospitable people lived here. They managed to get along with the Greeks, who represented a large part of the population of Galilee.

At the time when John the Baptist was preaching on the banks of the Jordan, Andrew the First-Called and John the Apostle went after him. He tried to answer the questions with his teaching. Many people believed that John the Baptist was the long-awaited Messiah. But he said that he was sent by the Messiah to these lands to prepare the way for Him. During this period, Jesus came to John the Baptist to perform the baptism. He pointed to God and told the disciples that the Lamb of God stood before them, ready to accept all the humans’ sins. Andrew and John went after Jesus after these words. When he saw them, he asked them what they wanted from him. The answer was a question about the place of residence of Jesus. He invited them to follow him to see where he lived. It was from that moment that Andrew and John became disciples of God. Andrew the Apostle shared with his brother Simon Peter the news that he had found the Messiah. He also loved his teaching.

But the consecration of the brothers to the apostolic rank was not instantaneous. They left God for a while. Brothers Andrew and Simon Peter, as well as Brothers John and Jacob, returned to their families and engaged in the usual occupation of fishing. Jesus passed by the Lake of Galilee a few months later. He saw the brothers fishing and invited them to follow him. The men followed God’s advice. They left worldly affairs forever and became His devoted disciples.

Andrew went after God before the others. He was called the First-Called for this reason. The Apostle accompanied Jesus throughout the entire service. He, along with other disciples of God, could meet with Him after the resurrection and was also on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus blessed him and went to Heaven.

The apostles cast lots to determine where they would go to preach the Gospel. The lot decided that the Andrew the Apostle was to go to the countries located along the Black Sea coast, as well as to the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula and Scythia. It was here that the Russian Federation was formed years later. According to the legend, Andrew the First-Called preached on the Chersonesus Peninsula. After that, he went up the Dnieper in a northerly direction and reached the lands where Kyiv was later formed. He told the disciples to believe that the grace of God would shine on those mountains, and soon a beautiful city would be formed there, which would be baptized by God, and many churches would be built on its territory. Then the mountains of Kyiv were blessed by the apostle. He placed a cross on one of them. This was a harbinger of the fact that the future inhabitants of Kyivan Rus’ will accept the faith.

The city of Patras became a stopover for St. Andrew the First-Called in Greece. It was located near the Gulf of Patras. The apostle managed to heal many locals by laying hands on them. The noble Maximilla was among those who were healed. She believed in God and became a disciple of the First-Called. Other residents of the city also became deeply religious. This was the reason for the bitterness of the local ruler Egeat to Andrew the First-Called. He ordered his crucifixion. However, this decision did not frighten Andrew at all. He gave an inspired sermon in which he taught the people about the power of the spirit and the importance of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Egeat was skeptical about the sermon of the First-Called. He gave the order to crucify him, accompanied by prolonged torment. It was tied to an X-shaped cross. His feet and hands were not nailed to the cross to prevent a quick death. Despite the indignation of the locals, the terrible sentence of the ruler was carried out.

All the time that the First-Called was hanging on the cross, he did not stop reading prayers. The cross was illuminated by the heavenly light at the moment when the soul of the First-Called left his body. It was in this radiance that it passed into the Kingdom of God, where it found Eternal life. Andrew left his life in torment 62 years after the Birth of Christ.

The Russian Church has also considered the successor of St. Andrew the First-Called for the reason that it adopted the Byzantine faith. This was the reason for the veneration of the apostle in Russia during the period preceding the revolution. A special order was established by Peter I in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle. The dignitaries of the state received it as a reward. Since the reign of Peter I, the Russian navy has chosen the St. Andrew’s flag as its banner. It is a white background with a blue X-shaped cross on it.

Pilgrimage

In the past, pilgrims were people who went to the Holy Land to worship at Christian shrines. This name came from the palm branch, which the pilgrims took with them on their journey. Traveling to other holy places also began to be considered a pilgrimage over time. Its traditions were born in the XI century. The most popular pilgrimage routes were Mount Athos, the Holy Land, and national shrines at that time.

The establishment of Soviet Power led to the almost complete cessation of pilgrimage, along with other external forms of religious activity. However, it was revived in the early 90s. Churches and monasteries were opened at this time. Many Orthodox believers traveled to them. The last ten years have been marked by the development of organized and diverse forms of pilgrimage.

What is the significance of this process today for the individual Orthodox believer and the entire Church? The spirituality and prayerful experience that each person acquires during communion with the shrines visited are at the heart of the pilgrimage today, as they were many years ago. But this is only one of the components of the pilgrimage.

Spiritual enlightenment of a person is also the main aspect of travel, which is of a pilgrimage nature. During such visits, travelers will have access to historical information, as well as information about the spiritual traditions of churches and monasteries, distinctive features of worship, saints, and ascetics of piety who dedicated their lives to the shrines that are part of the pilgrimage route.

Each pilgrim can talk to the inhabitants of the monasteries to find a confessor. Pilgrimage is also important for education. Temples and monasteries have been places of spiritual activity and cultural centers since ancient times. Icons, books, handicrafts, and works of applied art have been collected in them for centuries. The buildings that housed monasteries and temples were important architectural monuments of their era. This is especially true for buildings built before the 18th century. It is noteworthy that many monasteries managed to maintain the status of cultural centers even during the Soviet period. Museums were open in them at that time. So, the pilgrimage contributes not only to spiritual uplift, but also provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the architectural features, history, icon painting, and craft traditions.

Charity is a key part of pilgrimage programs. Funds for the needs of a particular church or monastery are collected both by its service and by the believers who come to them. Pilgrims can also help temples and monasteries with things and food. Donations help many monasteries not only to continue their existence but also to improve.

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