Dear Friends --
As I learned when I was very young -- just from observing people around me in the pewless churches I attended -- and as I was instructed when I first entered the monastery, the people in the nave move away from the walls while the deacon (or priest) performs a 'great censing'.
It should be obvious to all that our liturgical rubrics do not assume that there is any such thing as pews or aisles in God's temples. Local customs accommodating such things, especially in North America, are concessions to heterodox practice in church design, and ought to be abolished along with the pews which provoke them.
Without turning away from the altar, the people closest to the walls make a slight bow as the deacon passes by them. He's not actually censing *them* and shouldn't (if he is) -- that's done from the ambon -- but emphasizing and acknowledging the boundaries of 'sacred space' in a ritual mostly described by liturgical scholars as 'lustration'.
A local priest, in a metaphor I appreciate, describes the rotation of people to follow the deacon's progress around the nave in terms of sunflowers, whose large but unthinking heads twist with the sun's apparent movement in the sky and then must right themselves in the darkness of night.
Altogether, it can be said that the people in the nave should not turn around to follow the deacon or priest as he censes the perimeter of the nave.
Peace and blessings to all.
----- Original Message -----
Date: Friday, January 25, 2008 1:41 pm
Subject: [ustav] Censing
> I belong to an OCA parish. During the censing of the entire
> nave and
> narthex when the priest censes the icons on the walls, what is the
> correct posture for the laity? We have some folks who turn to face
> the priest and as he censes each wall turning to face him with each
> new wall, while others simply stand still and continue to look
> straight ahead. What is liturgically correct?
> I'm not asking to fill myself with pride about being 'correct', I
> simply want to be educated in the correct form.
> Thank you.!
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