St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
What Do I Do in Church?

This will be an occasional series on Church Etiquette which will seek to answer questions about how to behave in Church.

What do I do when I come into the Church?

When we come into the Church the first thing is to orient our minds and our hearts towards God; this is the place where we come to encounter Him and to offer our worship to Him.  The Church is not a social club where one comes to meet with friends and so we should refrain from having personal conversations in the Church (they can wait until later, outside or in the social hall).  When you come into the Church you should approach the icons each in order (Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, St Seraphim and then the others according to your own desire) Cross yourself and bow from the waist twice, kiss the icon and cross yourself with a bow the third time.  It is certainly appropriate to make prostrations (kneel and touch your head to the floor) at this point, however, on Sundays we do not make prostrations for this is the day of Resurrection – each Sunday is a “little Pascha” – but on other days this is appropriate.  After this find a place in the Nave to stand and quietly move your heart to prayer.  One should not wander aimlessly in the Church, but every movement should be with purpose.

What about candles?

If you wish to light candles to represent your prayers or as a special offering for a particular purpose, then light the candle when you first venerate the icons.  Anyone may light a candle and you may pray in this manner for any person or any need that you wish.  The table that is before the Cross is a place dedicated to prayers for those who have departed this life and you should light candles to pray for the rest of your departed family, friends and loved ones.

What about Prosphora (the small loaves of bread)?

A prosphora can be sent into the altar along with a list of Orthodox Christians, both living and departed, for whom you wish the priest to pray in the Divine Liturgy.  The names will be read and a particle taken out of the prosphora for each person and placed on the “paten” along with the bread which has been prepared to become the Body of Christ.  After the Liturgy, all the particles are joined with Christ in the Chalice.  The prosphora along with your commemoration list (pomyanik) will be returned to you after the liturgy.  You may eat this bread as a blessing either right away or take a little bit each day to break the fast.