Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Des Plaines, IL USA
Behavior in church

First, it is necessary to come to a temple decently dressed. This does not mean putting on your finest or most fashionable clothes. Clothes should be neat and tidy. It is not permissible to wear clothing meant for sports, working or the beach.

Clothing should also be modest. A good rule of thumb is that we should be attired such that we can make a full prostration without embarrassment. For men a suit is not required. Shirts should be long sleeve (without any blatant slogans, figures or depictions of pop culture), trousers should be decent (not jeans), and footwear should be ordinary, not athletic style shoes. Shorts are only to be worn by boys less than seven years of age.

For women dresses and blouse should not be sleeveless or too revealing in the front or back. Skirts should be of an appropriate length (not above the knees) and without slits. Footwear should be suitable.

Women should be cautious concerning cosmetics. It is not correct to wear lipstick that will leave stains on icons, the cross or the hand of the priest. This is especially the case when communicating of the Sacred Mysteries and kissing the Holy Chalice. According to Scripture (1 Cor. 11) women should cover their heads in Church. This is an attribute of humility and modest. Unfortunately it is not always observed now. By the same rule, men should not wear hats in church.

One should come to church for the beginning of the Divine services and should not leave early without extreme necessity. During the Divine services one should not move around the temple as this is distracting to others. It is not proper to hold conversations during the service, nor is it proper to greet each other with handshakes and the kissing of womens hands is completely impermissible. To welcome friends in the temple it is appropriate to acknowledge them with a modest inclination of the head silently.

How to make the sign of the cross

When entering into the temple (preferably prior to the beginning of the Divine service) one should make the sign of the cross, ending with a small bow, three times. At each bow it is customary to say the small prayer, “My God, have mercy on me a sinner.” When leaving the temple one should face the Alter and again cross oneself three times with bows.

According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers, the sign of the Cross should be made in the following manner: the thumb and first two fingers (index and middle) of the right hand are joined at their tips and the other two fingers are folded across the palm. We then touch the brow, the belly, then the right and left shoulders, and make a slight bow. By making the sign of the Cross in this manner we are asking the Lord to educate our mind, to strengthen our body and bless the work of our hands. Of those who make sign themselves incorrectly or bow before finishing the Cross, Saint John Chrysostom says: “The demons rejoice at these mad gestures.” On the other hand, the sign of the Cross made properly with faith and reverence, terrifies the demons, calms sinful passions, and calls down divine grace.


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