Lighting Candles & Entering the Church
Lighting candles is an important expression in Orthodox worship services. We light them as we prayerfully enter the Church. When lighting a candle, the worshiper prays that his or her life will shine forth full of faith. Lighting a candle symbolically honors Christ and affirms one as His follower. The burning candle symbolizes the warmth and sincerity of our prayers. It is also a common practice to light a candle for someone in need, to honor a saint, or to commemorate a deceased loved one. When we enter. Paul, we should light a candle and then reverence the icons by making the sign of the Cross and kissing the icon (this is a sign of spiritual love and respect, not the worship of an object). After paying reverence to the icon and lighting our candle in the Narthex, parishioners should immediately and quietly enter the Nave of the church, in order to actively participate in the worship of the Lord our God.
We do not enter or leave the Church when:
- The Priest is facing the congregation.
- The Priest censes the congregation.
- During a Procession, the Small Entrance, when the Priest carries the Holy Gospel;
- Or during the Great Entrance, when the Priest carries the Holy Gifts.
- During the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel.
- During the Sermon.
Handling the Blessed Bread
Upon receiving Holy Communion and/or at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, it is customary for all those who participated in the prayer of the Church to come forward to receive a piece of “blessed bread” as a sign of thanksgiving. While the bread that is distributed is not consecrated, it is blessed and as such, it should be consumed carefully and respectfully. Everyone that attends Divine Liturgy, Orthodox and non-‐Orthodox alike, may receive the blessed bread as an expression of love and Christian fellowship.