Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Kiss of Peace ~ Everyone's doing it!

kiss of peace
The Kiss of Peace
photo by Bowie Snodgrass, used under the creative commons license
check out more photos at:
So last Saturday marks the 108th Worship Experience (as I heard one protestant church call it, which totally turned me off because it took the focus off of God and on to myself)....Let me rephrase that - So last Saturday marks the 108th Divine Service I attended in an Orthodox Church. Now, that sounds better! One of the first things I thought of is how people will venerate the icons while the prayers are being said. I have said this before but that doesn't sit well with my Western mindset.  The grandmother (sans the toddler) arrived just as Fr Gary was announcing "Blessed is the Kingdom." She waited till he sensed all the Icons and stood in front of the doors, leading in the petitions. Then she went, with two candles in hand, made her rounds to the Icons. I noticed she was completely engrossed in the veneration, and, yet, she kept herself aware of what Fr. Gary was doing, pausing her veneration and candle lighting, when appropriate. I admit I was jealous of her ability to not be self-conscience in her Worship.  I also admire how she kept herself aware of what was going on so as to not be a distraction but yet gave herself completely to veneration. Someday, I hope, I too, can be that focused.

Earlier in the week, Tiffany had sent me a text, asking me if it were true that Hostess Twinkies were coming back. I said yes but it wouldn't result in a job for me. I must have remarked about Twinkies - although delicious, weren't good for you anyway, because she sent me a text back which said, O Most holy Theotokos, save our waistline. So you know when we got to that part in Vespers, that is what came to mind. I haven't decided if it were the devil trying to distract me or some less devious power trying to help me laugh a little.In any case, I made sure to thank Tiffany after Vespers.

Fr. Gary was away last week in Indianapolis. He said in his homily how even though we are all One Church, different parishes do things a bit different. Local customs, if you will. One such custom was during the kiss of peace in the Indianapolis parish, the entire congregation and not just the clergy, exchanged the kiss of peace. He said, it seemed like Liturgy stopped for a while so that all could greet each other. This used to happen to me when I was in a Lutheran parish (for ten years.) The Pastor would have a bit of difficulty reigning everyone back in.  I think I like the way the Roman Catholics do it. They shake hands with their immediate pew mates and say, Peace be with You and it's not much of a distraction and the liturgy resumes.  Of course, I would conform to the local customs of any parish I was in. How about you guys? Do you all exchange the Kiss of peace?

As I was leaving, Jim Martin joked that there was a pool to see when I'd turn Orthodox. He said his vote was never so could I please hurry up and die so he could collect his money. Don't worry, he smiled when he said it and Jim and I go back a long way so I was in no way offended! One thing is for sure, I hope and pray that Jim never wins that pool!


  1. The dear grandmother you are referring to is Marianna! I just had a "doh" moment and realized who you were talking about. Such a lovely lady!

  2. I know! She is great! ....and here name day is today I think

  3. The frist time I experienced the Kiss Of Peace in an Eastern Church was in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Woodland Park, NJ. I have to say that, while I had my reservations about the action in Western Churches, it was really refreshing in the East. Since then I have been part of it in Greek Orthodox churches and Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches in Canada. It is done in a way that truly reflects the Eastern spirit of community and it's not prolonged. It also emphasizes the meaning of the request: "Let us love one another so that with one mind we may profess : the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...". Anything that could emphasize that request is a good thing. The greeting exchange, "Christ is among us...He is and ever shall be" also helps those greeting each other to focus in the very reason for greeting each other, for what unites us. That makes me reflect on developing the ability to light candles and still not loose sight of what is happening during the Liturgy. Too bad our daily lives can't be spent that way: mundane actions while always conscious of His presence.

  4. anonymous,
    I have yet to experience an Eastern Orthodox Kiss of peace. I do like what it represents!