Orthodox Church Etiquette
There are several rules of the Orthodox Church etiquette.
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.
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:
- 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”.
- 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 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:
- You should ask for a blessing for everything.
- It is forbidden to leave the monastery without receiving a blessing.
- Any harmful habits, including smoking, alcohol consumption, etc., should be left outside the monastery.
- It is appropriate to conduct conversations that relate exclusively to the spiritual life, forgetting about worldly affairs.
- Eating is allowed only at a general meal. You should be meekly content with the available clothing, food, and sleep conditions.
- 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.
- Humor, laughter, and free speech should be avoided.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Being late for prayer is unacceptable. The exception is employment in the performance of duties.
- 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.