photo by Daniel Kedinger, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielkedinger/
I arrived just before Father Gary was to open the royal doors and begin with "Blessed is the Kingdom...." As is my practice, I venerated the Icon in the Narthex but because Fr Gary was about to start, I didn't want to be caught in the front of the church when the doors opened so I just sat down in the back, waiting for Vespers to begin.
QUESTION: Is it rude of me not to venerate the Icons?
I did notice that one lady came in late and stood in the middle section and waited for Fr Gary to finish incensing the icon in the middle and then she made her rounds around the church venerating the icons while Fr Gary was behind the royal doors and the choir was singing a Psalm. I guess I just feel like I am drawing attention to myself by doing that during the service. Perhaps I am still too Western in my thinking, like this is a "show" I am interrupting.
I also noticed that a lady and two children came in (also late) and after they venerated the icons they lit candles and placed them in the candle stand. I imagine this is cool for kids to do and one of the physical actions of worship that can really help a child to participate.
QUESTION: What is the purpose of lighting the candles?
I would like to know what they represent and is there a difference in understanding between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church regarding candles. Also, is lighting candles only for the initiated or can non-Orthodox light candles as well?
One of the things I love about Orthodox Worship is the incense. To me, the smell takes me to a different world and helps me realize I am in church. It is one of my favorite parts of Vespers to watch Fr Gary incense the icons, then to see him walk to the back of the church and incense the icons there as well. Then he always ends by coming back to the front and incensing the people as well. As Fr Gary is facing them, sending incense their way, the people bow.
QUESTION: Why do people bow when the Priest is incensing them?
I have heard it said that incense represents the prayers of the faithful. (from the book of Revelation). Does it represent anything else. And why exactly are the icons incensed?
I have been going to Vespers for over a year and I have thought about these things but never really taken the time to ask. I suppose when I become a catechumen, that would be a good time to get these questions answered but, I figured with all the knowledgeable people who read this blog, I could get a head start.
Today we remembered St. John Chrysostom. He is the Bishop whose liturgy is celebrated almost every Sunday in the East. Very impressive man. I could use his prayers.
photo by flickr user, bobosh_t, used under the creative commons license.
check out more photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/