Holy Ascension
Orthodox Christian Church
Norman, Oklahoma

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

It is important to become familiar with common Orthodox Christian traditions and customs as we grow spiritually as individuals and as a community. They are treasures gifted to us by the saints and all our brothers and sisters in Christ from generations past. Learning about and embracing Orthodox practices will aid us here and now in our own piety and the developing of an Orthodox lifestyle. It will be of additional benefit when attending other Orthodox churches.

Christ is the Light of the World
And, you are the light of the world

Lighting candles is an important tradition in Orthodox worship. We light them as we offer prayers to God. We are reminded that Christ is the light of the world and that we are called to be light in the darkness. Typically, candles are lighted when entering the church, as we stand and pray before the holy icons. It is customary and responsible to make a financial offering to Christ and his Church when lighting the candles, and to help with the purchase of new candles. There are times when it is inappropriate to light our candles in order not to disturb the service. It is not proper to light candles during the reading of the Epistle and Gospel, the Little and Great Entrances, the homily or the Anaphora (prayers of consecration of the holy Mysteries). When visiting the church, when no service is being celebrated, candles are often lighted when offering private prayers.

Reverence, Silence & Respect
“Be still and know that I am God”

In the spiritual life, stillness with in is essential. Silence is important, as we step away from worldly pursuits, leaving the noise and business outside, and enter into the presence of God.

It is a wonderful thing to come to Church and see our brothers and sisters in Christ, our friends. Wait until the coffee hour to share your greetings. Talk to God while in Church and your friends in the hall afterward. If it necessary to speak in Church, keep it to a minimum, and do so very quietly. Silence all cell phones. We should demonstrate respect for the holy Temple and instruct our children how to behave in the House of God.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the practice of our religion is a deep sense of holiness. When we walk into an Orthodox Church there should be an immediate sense that we have entered a “holy space” sanctified by prayer, and a sense of the awesomeness of the presence of God our Creator. Here, in this wonderful Temple of God, there should be quiet and peace. Our worship and respectful quiet begins in the Narthex. All worldly conversation ceases and we stand before God, the saints and all the heavenly host. Reverence for God and respect for others should be of primary concern to us. The Scriptures teach that before Him tremble the cherubim at beholding His magnificence! We likewise should preserve a sense of this holiness and enter into the adoration of the Most High God.

Entering the church

“It is time for the Lord to act.” This liturgical phrase signals our transition from the temporal into the eternal. Leaving the world outside, we abandon time (chronos) and enter into God’s time (kairos). Being creatures that live in this world, we are bound by chronology; the cycles of time and the clock serve as guides for daily life. As Orthodox Christians, we anticipate being lifted “out of time” to be ushered into the heavenly dimension. We also embrace the earthly seasons of the church year and the daily cycle of prayer that are rooted in the created order.

The Lord’s Day worship begins on Saturday evening with Great Vespers and includes Sunday morning Orthros and the Divine Liturgy. Although timeless, practically speaking, worship services have a specific point in time when they are scheduled to begin. Therefore, the proper time to arrive at church is well before the service is scheduled to begin, in order to pray and complete our preparations for worship. Enter the Church by the side aisles. The center aisle is used to approach the Chalice for Holy Communion, in certain other liturgical services, and to reverence the holy cross at the conclusion of services.

As is our custom always enter prayerfully and, when the time is proper, light candles and venerate the holy icons. In the event that arriving late is completely unavoidable, try to enter quietly and unobtrusively, observing what is happening. Remain in the Narthex if the Epistle or Gospel is being read, the priest is praying an ectenia (litany prayer), during the Little and Great Entrances, or during the homily. Never enter during the Anaphora (the prayers of consecration of the holy Mysteries). If in doubt, quietly check with an usher for assistance. If you arrive late for the Divine Liturgy, you should not approach the chalice to receive the holy Eucharist.

May God bless our worship as the eternal breaks in upon the temporal.

In and Out

Once we have entered the Church it is proper and respectful to remain until the service has ended. Parents should be responsible for their children. Teach them the respect and reverence due to Almighty God in His Church. No one should leave to get a drink, especially before receiving Holy Communion. Children should be taken to the restroom prior to be beginning of the service.

Veneration of Icons

By our use, display and veneration of the holy icons, we join with countless millions of Christians, throughout the centuries, in affirming the Incarnation. It would be our teaching that the material Creation is good and has been sanctified by God by His taking on human flesh and dwelling among us. Christ Himself is the Icon of the Father: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Whether a particular icon depicts our Lord, a saint or an event, it is Jesus Christ who is shown forth in it, because he is the express image of the Father. In a real sense, all icons are icons of Christ, because He is revealed in His saints and in the events depicted. So, when we venerate (kiss) an icon we honor Christ Incarnate and those in whom Christ dwells. Icons are material aids to worship and prayer; they are “windows into heaven.” They are focal points of the eternal available to us in time and space.

At Church, it is proper to venerate the holy icons at the entrance. In most churches you will find icons on stands in various places throughout the Nave, on the walls and on the Iconostasis. Veneration, lighting candles and prayer before the icons are core Orthodox traditions. When venerating an icon, pay attention where you kiss. It is not fitting to kiss the image on the face. Kiss the hand, or foot or clothing of the person depicted. Always remember to blot lipstick before venerating an icon, the Gospel Book, hand cross or the priest’s hand.

Icons belong in the home of every Orthodox Christian. We should all have an icon corner, a home altar, where we join our family in daily prayer.

Stand or Sit

The traditional posture for prayer among Orthodox Christians is to stand. In traditional Orthodox countries, you will notice that there are no pews. Benches or chairs, on the sides, are reserved for the elderly or infirm. Many Orthodox in America have been influenced by western worship customs. Here you will find many Orthodox churches with pews. The confusion seems to be when to sit and when to stand. The answer is quite simple: it is always acceptable and even preferable to stand for the entire service. If you prefer to stand, it is best to stand toward the back or sides so as not to block the view of someone who may be seated. Remember to always stand during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, during the distribution of Holy Communion (until everyone has received), when the priest gives a blessing and at the Dismissal. When in doubt, stand. It is never wrong to stand in the Church.

How to Pray the Services of the Church

Over the centuries Orthodox Christians have learned to pray the services of the Church. Traditionally the services of the Church are sung/chanted by the clergy and the psalti (chanters) and/or choir. The majority of the prayers and responses are intoned following time-honored, traditional forms. The historic hymns faithfully proclaim the teachings of the Faith. They are offered to God and shared with the worshippers for edification. It is incredibly important that we listen, joining in the prayers and hymns silently. The responses to petitions and the chanting of the hymns are the ministry of chanters and choir for benefit of others. Congregational singing is not historic Orthodox tradition; this recent innovation can be very distracting to other worshippers, and may very well deprive the singer of a great blessing. It is Orthodox tradition to pray by standing before God, “drinking in” the prayers and hymns with attentiveness. This stillness enables a holy focus, as the mind and heart are open to the Divine. It is a blessing to be able to pray without verbalizing, to simply be in silent prayer in the presence of God.

Prayers for Others at Divine Liturgy

Christians have always prayed for the living and the dead at the Divine Liturgy. When people we know and love are ill, in times of trouble or celebrating special evens in their lives, we offer prayers for their health and salvation. We also offer prayers of thanksgiving for others and ourselves. In addition, we remember our friends and loved ones who have reposed in the Lord especially at the time of their death, at important times like the fortieth (40th) day of their repose and on the anniversaries of their birth and death.

It is customary for those who have baked and prepared the Holy Bread for the Divine Liturgy to include names for remembrance and at that service, including their own names. Those names should be attached to container in which the Prosphora is delivered. It is also Orthodox practice for any and all worshippers to request special prayers, for the living and the dead, at the time of preparation of the holy gifts (the Proskomedia service prior to Orthros and the Divine Liturgy). At that time the priest remembers and names the Orthodox person to be prayed for and places a small particle of bread on the discos. All names should be legibly written and given to the priest, traditionally accompanied by a financial offering, prior to the Service of Preparation. Saturday night at Vespers would be the most helpful time to present the names to the priest or, if necessary, at least 45 minutes before Orthros on Sunday morning. In any event the names should always be provided well in advance of the Service of Preparation. When presenting your written list of name, please indicate which persons are Orthodox Christians and which are Non-Orthodox. The prayer list and your requests should be updated weekly. In order to maintain an “active prayer list” for the concerns of members of this community, the list will be purged monthly unless renewed requests are made

The Sign of the Cross

Among the Orthodox, there are many varying practices about when to make the sign of the cross. On any given Sunday morning you can and will observe many different customs. To a great extent, when to cross oneself is a matter of personal piety, not a matter of dogma. There are a few times when making the sign of the cross is very common and a few others when it is not customary.

Most Orthodox Christians cross themselves:
+ at one of the variations of the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”
+ at the beginning and end of a liturgical service
+ in private prayers
+ before venerating an icon, the Gospel Book or the cross
+ passing in front of the holy table
+ or, entering and leaving the Church

Do not cross yourself: at the chalice, before or after Communion (the chalice might be struck by accident). It is also usual Orthodox practice not to make the sign of the cross when the bishop or priest blesses in the service saying, “Peace be to all” (instead, bow slightly and receive the blessing)
+ when privately receiving a blessing from a bishop or priest (kiss his right hand and forego the sign of the cross)
+ when the priest, bishop or deacon censes the temple, icons and congregation.

The Holy Altar

Orthodox Church buildings have consistently reflected traditional form and function since ancient times. Originally mirroring the Old Testament Temple model, the Church is divided into several courts or spaces peculiar to their function. In an Orthodox Church, the Holy Table is situated at the east end of the building behind the Iconostasis. This corresponds to the Holy of Holies. While great respect must be shown anywhere in the Church, the altar (the space behind the icon screen) is very special. It is here that the Holy Spirit descends making the offering of bread and wine in to the Body and Blood of Christ.

Certain rules must apply. No one has the right to go behind the Iconostasis! Only those who receive the specific blessing of the bishop or the priest may enter. Only those who have a particular reason to be there, a specific task or function, should ask for a blessing. If you need to speak to the priest who is in the altar, remain at the door of the iconostasis. A blessing must be received each and every time, even if a person may think he has a reason to go into the altar or is trying to be helpful. No one should ever simply wander into the altar. Never enter the altar without permission, without a blessing!

In Orthodox worship certain things are consecrated for use in the Divine Services, they are not to be touched except by the clergy:
+ the altar/holy table
+ the prosthesis/proskomedia (preparation) table
+ the discos and the chalice.

Proper Attire

The Church is God’s house. It is a Temple for worship. The Church is also our home but it is not a casual place. Do you remember a time and place when people put on “their Sunday best”? Times have changed and we have become a very casual society. This attitude has unfortunately influenced how we dress to worship God. In all areas of our lives, we should strive to offer our best to Christ. Our way of dressing should be no exception. We should offer Christ our “Sunday best” not just our every day or common wear.

Often if we are going out to a formal social occasion, we take special care to dress appropriately. For a job interview or an important business meeting, most of us would try to appear at our best. If we were invited to meet the President of the United States or a celebrity we would likely “dress up” for the occasion. Should we offer Christ the King anything less? We do not have to wear fancy, designer or expensive clothing; this is not a beauty contest, a competition or a fashion show.

Please remember, shorts are never appropriate Church wear, except for very young children. Our clothes should be clean, modest and befitting a Christian; it is part of our offering to God.

In some churches it is customary to remove shoes before entering, recalling God’s direction to Moses “ … take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you are is holy ground”.


Men: A coat and tie are not mandatory. Slacks and collared shirt are fine. We should not wear shorts or tee shirts. No one needs to be distracted by a tee shirt slogans or writing.
Women: Dresses should be modest. No tank tops or tube tops. No short skirts or blouses cut low in the back or front. Not long ago pants of any kind would have been considered inappropriate; today dress pants are generally accepted but not everywhere. You may be denied entrance into some churches unless in a dress or skirt. Again, shorts and tee shirts are never proper attire for Church services.

Head Coverings

It is Orthodox custom that men remove their hats upon entering the Church. For women, however, the opposite is traditional. Throughout the history of the Church, women have typically worn a head covering. In 21st Century America, you will often hear objections raised to this pious custom as being antiquated or even sexist. On the contrary, this tradition is not intended as an insult to women but as a great compliment. The scriptures refer to a woman’s hair as her “crowning glory”. One reason cited for covering the head is as an act of humility. Throughout the centuries, modest Christian women chose not to allow their beauty, their glory, to distract others from the glory of God and the beauty of His house.

Touching the Priest’s Vestments

In many parishes the faithful touch the priest’s vestments during the Great Entrance. This tradition is associated with the account of the woman who received healing by touching the hem of Christ’s garment. It has become a pious custom by which our prayers are “attached” and carried into the altar at the Entrance of the Holy Gifts. Special care should be given not to tug on the vestments or trip the priest when reaching out. It is never appropriate to touch the sacred vessels (chalice and discos) in this procession. Exercise caution. Accidents can happen.

Receiving Holy Communion

If properly prepared to receive the Holy Mysteries, by prayer, fasting and confession quietly and reverently approach the chalice with arms to your side or crossed on your chest. When making the sign of the cross, do not be too close to the chalice; big arm movements can have disastrous results. When you are ready to receive the Holy Mysteries, clearly tell the priest your Christian name, every time. Make sure that your head is over the red communion cloth. Tilt your head back and open your mouth widely. It is permissible to close your mouth as the spoon is withdrawn. In some churches it is customary to carefully kiss the chalice after receiving the Holy Gifts. Carefully step back from the chalice, return to your place, offer your personal prayers of thanksgiving and remain standing until everyone has received. Be a good example and instruct your children.

Holy Bread

Antidoron (from Greek, meaning "instead of the gifts"; in Arabic, qurban) is the remaining bread from a loaf of prosphora, after the Lamb has been removed for the Holy Eucharist. In Byzantine practice, it is blessed during the megalynarion to the Theotokos immediately after the epiclesis in the Divine Liturgy, and is given by the priest to the faithful after the service. Historically, it was distributed only to those who had not received 'the Gifts', Holy Communion so that they would receive a Blessing in place of Holy Communion, but this practice has changed over time and those present may receive antidoron as a blessing. Antidoron is not Holy Communion.

It is a way of participating in the worship for those who may not be prepared to receive the Holy Mysteries.

In some practice, antidoron may be distributed to non-Orthodox Christians who attend an Orthodox liturgy, but in other places, it is reserved only for the faithful. Portions that are uneaten are disposed of either by burning or by being placed outside where they are consumed by the elements or by animals.

Remember, antidoron is not the Body of Christ but it is blessed and deserves our great respect. It should be received into our cupped hands and consumed reverently, carefully and completely. Make sure that crumbs do not fall to the floor. If crumbs do fall, pick them up and consume them. Never divide your blessed bread, giving a portion of it to another; this will only compound the problem. Set an example and teach your children.

Many parishes offer antidoron at two different times: immediately following Communion and at the veneration of the hand cross at the end of the service. It would be a much better practice and more appropriate to offer it only at the veneration of the cross. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, it is our custom to venerate the hand cross and take antidoron from the hand of the bishop or priest. Do not reach into the container and take blessed bread yourself. Kiss the cross; cup your hands to receive the blessed bread, kiss the priest’s right hand as he places it into your hands and blesses you.

Leaving Before Dismissal

Leaving before the dismissal, besides being rude and deprives others of a blessing. Worship is the breaking into time and space by the eternal. Worship services have a beginning and an end. To leave immediately after Communion is to treat the Church like a fast food restaurant. After receiving the Holy Mysteries return quietly to your place and remain standing (if possible) until the last person has been communed.

The Prayers of Thanksgiving

The word Eucharist, referring to the holy Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, means “thanksgiving”. At the close of the Liturgy, the Church has provided for Christians an opportunity to further offer thanks to God for the immeasurable blessing just bestowed. It is the custom in this parish for the Sub-deacons to pray these prayers aloud, while the priest consumes the remainder of the Precious Gifts. Following the Prayers of Thanksgiving, worshippers are encouraged to venerate the cross, receive blessed bread and quietly leave the nave. In parishes where the prayers are not read aloud, it is proper to thank God by remaining in your place and praying the Thanksgiving Prayers privately.

When in worship, we step outside of our hurried, fast-paced world and enter into the Kingdom. We should not be in such a hurry to leave, depriving ourselves of blessings by not being still and participating in the beauty of holiness. Remain and pray until the last person has venerated the Cross. Then, quietly go in peace.

Children in Church

In baptism, we become Christians. The youngest baptized infant is just as much a Christian as a Patriarch. The place of every Christian is in Church, worshipping God with the community of the faithful. Orthodox custom has always been to include children in the worship services of the Church. Children receive Holy Communion and other Mysteries of the Church in the same way as adults. Some Orthodox parishes have begun to follow the practices of relegating children to a program, class or nursery during services. Our children will never learn to be in Church if they are not in Church. Talk to your children about their manners. Teach them about respect for others and reverence for God in His Holy Temple.

Snacks in Church are very inappropriate; an occasional exception may be made for the very young. After the age or three (3) or four (4), children should be able to make it through the Liturgy without food. By age seven (7), children should be making Confession and beginning to apply the fasting discipline before Communion.

Having toys in Church is never a good idea. Children will never learn to enter into the worship of the community if the focus is on dolls, action figures, robots, blocks, electronic games or coloring books.

If children become unruly and cause a disturbance, try to correct the problem before resorting to taking them out of Church. If we remove children from the Church for bad behavior, all we teach them is that they can leave if they behave badly. Set an example for your children and teach them how to behave in God’s house.

Fellowship in the Parish Hall

Following the Divine Liturgy, it is our practice to share food together as a family. For “coffee hour” in the Parish Hall, patiently wait for the clergy to bless the food for coffee hour. Proper respect and customary etiquette should always be observed. The bishop, if present, the clergy and visiting guests should be served first. Parents: it is helpful for children to be seated and parents attend to their needs. Please remember that the Church, including the Narthex and the social hall, are all parts of God’s house - it is our home as well. Please pick up bulletins from the chairs and floor, return books to the rack, replace and straighten chairs, wipe up spills and place trash in receptacles. Let us treat the church with loving respect.

Kiss (Don’t Shake) the Bishop’s or Priest’s Hand

The respect we show to the office of bishop and priest is respect given to God. When a bishop or priest enters the room, all should stand and talking should cease. When greeting the bishop or priest, it is proper to approach, make metania, and with your open right hand over your left ask for a blessing saying, “Master bless or Father bless”. You will receive a blessing from him. He will place his hand in your hands; you should then kiss his right hand. When we kiss the hand of bishop or priest, we show respect for their office by which they bless and sanctify in God’s name. We kiss the hands that offer the holy gifts on our behalf. In the same way, when we leave their presence, we should once again ask their blessing. This is the appropriate and traditional way.

When the priest or bishop blesses, he forms his fingers to represent the Christogram "ICXC" a traditional abbreviation of the Greek words for "Jesus Christ" (i.e., the first and last letters of each of the words "IHCOYC XRICTOC"). In fact, Saint John Chrysostom once said that if one were to meet an Orthodox priest walking along with an angel, that he should greet the priest first and kiss his hand, since that hand has touched the Body and Blood of our Lord.

The Wives of Clergy

The wife of a priest or deacon should always be formally addressed with a title. The various titles used by the national Churches are listed below. The Greek titles, since they have English correspondents, are perhaps the easiest to use in the West. The traditional titles or forms of address for a priest’s wife are:
Greek: Presvytera or Presbytera
Arabic: Khouria (from the word khoury, meaning "priest")
Albanian: Prifteresha
Carpatho-Russian: Pani (literally "lady," comparable to Pan for priests, meaning "lord")
Finnish: Ruustinna (from the word rovasti (protoiereos) 
Karelia: Maatuska 
Romanian: Preoteasa 
Russian: Matushka (pronounced MAH'-too-shkah, literally means "mama," i.e., the intimate form of "mother" 
Serbian: Popadija (from the word pop, meaning married priest) and Protinica (pronounced proh-tee-NEE'-tsah) for a protopresbyter's or archpriest’s wife 
Ukrainian: Panimatka or Panimatushka (pani, "lady" + matushka, "little mama"); Dobrodijka (pronounced doh-BROH-deey-kah, literally means "a woman who does good"); Popadya ("priest's wife")

Diakonissa is a Greek title of honor that is used to refer to a deacon's wife. Diakonissa was also the term used in the ancient Church for the order of deaconess, a non-clerical order which saw to the care of women in the community. In Arabic, a deacon's wife is called Shamassy (derived from Shamas, Arabic for "deacon").
Romanian uses a derivative from the Greek term, Diaconiţă Serbian is Djakonitsa (pronounced jack-on-eet'-sa). Other Slavic traditions generally use the same word for a deacon's wife that is used for a priest's wife: Matushka (Russian), Panimatushka (Ukrainian), etc.

Patron Saints and Name Day

A Christian is known to God by name. In Baptism (or Chrismation) Orthodox Christians are “given” a Christian name – the name of a saint. Traditionally, godparents give a child his or her name. The name should be blessed by the priest. For adults, a name may be chosen based upon a sense of spiritual attraction to a specific saint. The name should be chosen in consultation with and blessed by the priest. A very special relationship, a bond, is created between the person and the saint for whom he or she is named. Prayers to the saint should become an important of life, asking for intercession before the throne of Christ. The date of commemoration on the Church’s calendar for one’s patron saint is a day of special celebration. If possible, attending worship on that day is very appropriate.

Special Services
Baptisms, Chrismations, Weddings, Memorials, House Blessings, etc.

The Mysteries and occasional services of the Church are central to our common life. All Mysteries are family occasions and all members of the community should be formally invited and all should plan to attend. In the Orthodox Church there are no private “sacraments”.

Baptism/Chrismation:  Setting a date with the priest is essential. For children, Godparents should be chosen prayerfully and with the blessing (permission) of the priest. Godparents must be practicing Orthodox Christians in good standing. There must be at least one Godparent of the same gender as the child. Being a Godparent is very serious with the sponsor assuming the obligation to bring up the child in the Holy Orthodox Christian Faith in the Church, even if the child’s parents fail in this duty. Sponsors of adults to be Baptized or Chrismated must be blessed (approved) by the priest and are forever obligated to maintain a relationship with the person admitted to the Church. Again, at least one sponsor must be of the same gender. Godparents and sponsors are to pray always for their spiritual children.

Marriage: Being married in the Church is not a right and not to be presumed. At least one person in the propose union must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing; it is far preferable that both be. If one person is not Orthodox, he or she must be a baptized Christian. Any children born of the union are to be baptized and nurtured in life of the Orthodox Church. The marriage of an Orthodox Christian must be blessed (approved) by that person’s pastor. Premarital counseling is mandatory. The priest is not obligated to celebrate the Mystery and must refuse if he believes the couple should not be wed. Orthodox Christians may not be married outside of the Orthodox Church. The couple to be married must have at least one Orthodox Christian sponsor; two, one of each gender, is traditional and preferred. A permanent spiritual relationship is created between the couple and sponsors with the attending obligation of emotional and prayerful support.

Memorials:  Formal prayers for the dead are traditional offered on Saturdays prior to Great Vespers (the first service of Sunday). Unfortunately, due to the bad practice of poor attendance at Vespers, this service is often served toward the end of the Sunday Divine Liturgy. Memorial Services with Kollyva Offerings.

According to the Apostolic Constitutions, memorial services may be held on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th day, and on the completion of a year from the day of death. These prescribed times are still observed in many Orthodox churches, with the most common being on the fortieth (40th) day. For the memorial service, kollyva, a ritual food of boiled wheat and often prosphora (one of the loaves of bread prepared for the Divine Liturgy) are prepared and shared by the faithful.

House blessings: It is customary to have any new home to be blessed by the priest. During the season of Theophany the priest may be ask to celebrate a house blessing. In preparation, an icon, a bowl of water, a candle and lists of names of the living and the dead should be placed on a table in a central location or at the family icon corner.

It is traditional to present the celebrant with an honorarium at the time of any additional service.

A Few Things to Avoid

+ It is always considered to be disrespectful and irreverent to cross legs and arms in church.
+ Whistling is an old taboo and should not be done in church.
+ The church’s altar is a table, the holy table. Because of this, all tables are to be respected. It is inappropriate to sit on any table.
+ Please remove lipstick before venerating icons or the cross, and before kissing the priest’s hand.

Being An Orthodox Christian

The maintaining and practicing of Orthodox customs and traditions may, at times, seem antiquated and out of place in 21st Century America. Their importance cannot be overemphasized, however. As Christians we are in the world but not of the world. We are, as the scriptures, say, “a peculiar people”. We are a holy people and a royal priesthood. We are pilgrims in this world. We live on earth but were made for heaven.

Orthodoxy is a lifestyle - a lifestyle that is, by definition, out of step and in conflict with the broken and fallen world. Traditional Orthodox piety and traditions shape and mold us; their commonality ties us to all those who have gone before us. They are aids to the formation of an Orthodox mind. They are gifts from the past, alive in the present. They create a living trust that helps us to transcend time and space. These holy traditions help us to remember that all members of the Body of Christ, past and present, are inextricably bound up together. The Church is One. Our holy Orthodox traditions and customs are blessed treasures to be honored, respected and lived.