Why do we HAVE to kiss the Priest's Hand?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
Hi,

I thought it would be best to open a new topic on this.

Many people i've met so far are quite perplexed over why we Copts kiss the priest's hand. Why?

Do they do this in the Greek or Russian Orthodox Church??

I know that in the RC, they just shake hands.

Anyway, everyone tells me that it is because their hand touches the Body of Christ. But our mouths touch it also. So, what?

Are we allowed to just shake hands or kiss the cross in their hand only?

Also, I have another question:

I know a Guzzillions of Priests who refuse that anyone should kiss their hand. They remove it. They only let you kiss the cross.

So, it is not mandatory to kiss their hand. I mean, it is not a stipulation.

Why on earth do we act that their hands are holier than our mouths ???
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Comments

  • You have already answered your question.

    You do not have to kiss the priest's hand. If, as appears to be the case, you do not want to, then don't do so.

    Those who do want to, will do so.

    The priest handles the holy things on the altar, and especially the Body and Blood of our Lord, therefore His hands are holy. When the faithful kiss his hand they are taking a blessing. Yes, the holy elements are placed into the mouths of the believers, but that does not mean that the priest does not have a special grace, as has already been explained.

    I have Roman Catholic Christians worship in my own Churh sometimes and many of them kiss my hand to receive a blessing, or my cross, or both. None of those who worship with me shake hands with me during the liturgy or when seeking a blessing. Though these are only a few folk and may not be representative of those Roman Catholics you know.

    If you object to kissing a priest's hand then don't do so.

    I have to say that I never find it a source of pride that someone kisses my hand seeking a blessing. I am well aware of my faults and weaknesses. If they receive a blessing it is from God in any case, using my unworthiness, and not from me.

    Father Peter
  • I would like to add...


    what do we call the priest? Abouna (our father) so we are one family... and he is the father or the lord responsible of this family. the kissing of the hands is a sign of respect, you kiss the hand of the "highest" level of priesthood first if you greet, or during the liturgy... according to tradition, a person was to kiss the hand of his father right when he enters the house, because its the hands that toiled or worked hard to keep the family living... but if the grandfather is present you are to kiss the grandfather's hand first... than your fathers...

    another interesting thing is... grandfather was to be called master... and they are higher than the father in respect... then come to church, the bishop is called?! sayedna (our master) and the priest is called (our father) this is a tradition that was adapted to the church, and the church gave it a meaning...

    you also will see this in other "traditional" churches... in Islam... and in places that haven't changed their traditions...

    another thing you said the mouth should be holier than the hand... okay is it practical to go around kissing the lips of everyone that took communion?!

    the kissing of the hand is a great sign of respect, its been used through out history to fathers, mother, grand parents, kings, queens... and really to any person who has authority, whether that authority is from earth, or from above. then the people of the church took that and gave it a contemplation...


    neshkor Allah... akhadna el baraka!
  • CertifiedOrthodox,
    What do you think of metanias to bishops?

    In general of course...it's maybe different with you being a girl....
  • Yes, I had not thought that it might be different for a woman to kiss a priest's hand. It is not easy for me to put myself in the place of a female. How do other sisters on the forum find the practice of kissing a priest's hand.

    Certainly for me as an English person it is no longer part of our culture. Perhaps we would still kiss the hand of Her Majesty the Queen. But until quite recently one would certainly kiss the hand of a monarch if he allowed it. And I know that just a few hundred years ago devout people would kneel before their own fathers, in the street even, and ask a blessing.

    Nevertheless it is not normal for me as an English person, nor to hug and kiss a person on either cheek.

    Yet, it has been a great blessing to me to be able to seek a blessing in such a way. It is a great blessing to learn the lesson of humility, of obedience, of submission to a hierarchy. Perhaps it seems I do not agree with Ioannes on some things, but I will agree on this, the Western Churches have generally forgotten the blessing which comes from being able to say, like the Centurion in the Gospel - I am a man also under authority. I do not find it embarassing or difficult now to seek to kiss the hand of a bishop, or be embraced by one. Although I remember when I met His Holiness Patriarch Mesrob of Istanbul I was trying to bow and kiss his hand while he took me in a warm embrace.

    So as a man, an Englishman, with all of our natural and cultural reserve, I still find it entirely a blessing to kiss a priest's hand. It does not matter so much who the priest or bishop is, it does not matter so much how he lives the Christian life - in this sense - because the blessing which comes from humbling ourselves before God's priests comes from God Himself and not from the priest or bishop.

    I would also add that in my own experience in my dealings with EO priests it was normal to kiss their hands, or rather the priestly ring which they wore. And also in my limited understanding I believe that devout Roman Catholics would also kiss the episcopal ring of their bishop.

    Father Peter
  • Actually, Fr. Peter I was talking about the metania, the prostration that is done towards a Bishop out of respect.....that is so in our Coptic Church. normally, people don't argue the kissing of the hand thingy because it's a sign of respect in the world and not necessarily in the Church, but they do when it comes to the prostration of respect.
  • How common is that practice, minagir?

    I have seen some Copts prostrate themselves before my bishop, but not many, not even in Egypt.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=8833.msg110704#msg110704 date=1266349793]
    How common is that practice, minagir?

    I have seen some Copts prostrate themselves before my bishop, but not many, not even in Egypt.

    Father Peter


    it's VERY common to those who do know.....also it have to do with time and how crowded it might get when a bishop there or even how used people are for that bishop. For example, we have Bishop David who is great with the youth and hangs out with them a lot. sometimes people see him to much that they don't prostrate EVERY single time they see him.

    Simple enough, the people do metania to HH the Pope...who is a bishop.
  • this is the way one is suppose to greet the bishop... this comes from the tradition mentioned before, when one comes to kiss the hand of the parent or grandparent they bow...

    for the metanoias or matanya, where one actually prostrates and puts his forehead in the ground, that escalated from monasticism. usually in the world people will touch the floor with their hand and kiss their hand... but the right way is a full get down put your forehead on the ground, which is a form of respect, and asking for forgiveness... and humility showing that person is higher than you, that's why its very odd when an older monk does a matanya for a younger monk... and that is why the bishop never bows to a priest... even if the priest is older than him! because the bishop is in a higher rank than the priest!

    neshkor Allah... akhadna el barka
  • I've only seen priests prostrate before bishops.

    Mina, what do you mean here:
    [quote author=minagir link=topic=8833.msg110705#msg110705 date=1266350418]
    the people do metania to HH the Pope...who is a bishop.


  • there is no level higher than a Bishop, so the Pope is just a Bishop, but viewed to be the older bishop... an archbishop

    just like a priest and an arch priest, or hegemon... no difference in the level
    deacon and archdeacon, again no difference,

    but the priest or the deacon will have to take permission from the arch-priest or the archdeacon.


    akhadna el baraka... neshkor Allah
  • [quote author=TITL link=topic=8833.msg110707#msg110707 date=1266350900]
    I've only seen priests prostrate before bishops.

    Mina, what do you mean here:
    [quote author=minagir link=topic=8833.msg110705#msg110705 date=1266350418]
    the people do metania to HH the Pope...who is a bishop.



    what you do to a bishop to get his blessings you should do to another. It's all the same rank.

    [quote author=SuperMAN(BAM) link=topic=8833.msg110706#msg110706 date=1266350702]
    for the metanoias or matanya, where one actually prostrates and puts his forehead in the ground, that escalated from monasticism. usually in the world people will touch the floor with their hand and kiss their hand... but the right way is a full get down put your forehead on the ground, which is a form of respect, and asking for forgiveness... and humility showing that person is higher than you, that's why its very odd when an older monk does a matanya for a younger monk... and that is why the bishop never bows to a priest... even if the priest is older than him! because the bishop is in a higher rank than the priest!


    yeah.....but let's leave this way out for now so people don't confuse it with the metania we are talking about, that is the metania of respect rather then "worship"
  • I know for a fact that many bishops do not allow anyone to do this to them.  Like Anba Boulos and Anba Misael.  I think it is just a way to show respect to the Holy Body and Blood.
    Aydan Fal Nashkor Allah!!
  • [quote author=minagir link=topic=8833.msg110699#msg110699 date=1266347232]
    CertifiedOrthodox,
    What do you think of metanias to bishops?

    In general of course...it's maybe different with you being a girl....


    Hi Mina,

    Good question.

    I didn't know we do Matonia's to a bishop?! What for?

    ANyway, I'm asking WHY do we need to kiss a priest's hand? Given that a LOT of bishops ANd priests remove their hand from being kissed, I can assume that it is not a compulsory act.

    I mean, if this is a cultural thing as Supermanbam suggests, then it has no spiritual value?

    I'm just asking...

    Cheers,
  • Why does the fact it might be cultural mean that it has no spiritual value?

    All of the things we do are cultural. The fact is that the Coptic Orthodox Church is THE Orthodox Church in Coptic guise. The Church has to be expressed in a culture - culture means 'the way we do things'. There cannot be a Church which is non-cultural.

    What is expressed by the cultural practice of kissing a hand has very great spiritual value indeed, as has been expressed by several posters already.

    Father Peter
  • to answer your question from a female perspective, father peter, i am happy to kiss the hand of a priest, and so are all my female coptic friends. i never saw someone in church (and my current church is v big) not kiss the priest's hand, unless the priest moves it away.
    interestingly, a priest who used to move his hand away when i kissed it (a monk), now doesn't, and i wonder if maybe because he knows me so well now, he considers me more like a daughter and less like a lady he doesn't know.
    i don't mind if someone moves the hand away, i feel blessed anyway.
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=8833.msg110714#msg110714 date=1266354139]
    Why does the fact it might be cultural mean that it has no spiritual value?

    All of the things we do are cultural. The fact is that the Coptic Orthodox Church is THE Orthodox Church in Coptic guise. The Church has to be expressed in a culture - culture means 'the way we do things'. There cannot be a Church which is non-cultural.

    What is expressed by the cultural practice of kissing a hand has very great spiritual value indeed, as has been expressed by several posters already.

    Father Peter


    Great, so it is cultural with no spiritual significance.


    Excellent. So, I don't have to kiss a priest's hand and he has no right for being upset if I refuse.

    Its just I find it really annoying bishops or priests that expect me to kiss their hand.

  • Why repeat the same thing over and over.

    You must do whatever you choose.

    I have already explained that the practice has great value, I am not sure why you are saying the opposite. I am not sure why you are asking questions when you then become annoyed at the answers.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=8833.msg110719#msg110719 date=1266357845]
    Why repeat the same thing over and over.

    You must do whatever you choose.

    I have already explained that the practice has great value, I am not sure why you are saying the opposite. I am not sure why you are asking questions when you then become annoyed at the answers.

    Father Peter


    Im not annoyed. I just feel it is rude not to answer someone who responds to my post.

    Let me put it this way. If someone says to me "Goodbye" - I always have to say Goodbye. I just cannot ignore it.

    So, I just repeated myself as a sign of respect for the person that posted.

    What else am I meant to do?

    What exactly is forum etiquette when someone responds to your post?
  • It feels rather rude that you have quoted my comments and then posted the very opposite as if I said the opposite to what I actually did.

    As I have said several times, if you do not want to kiss a priest's hand then don't. But don't dismiss the tradition of the Church just because it is not something you can accept. It does have great value for most here, certainly for me.

    Father Peter
  • And yes, in the Russian Orthodox Church when we go forward for Confession we kiss the gospel and the cross then after we have received absolution the priest blesses us and we kiss his hand. He often gives your hand a squeeze and, no, we don't kiss his ring but his hand only.

    Outside Confession it's usual to do a metania and put one's hands together, palms up, to receive a blessing. Afterwards you kiss the priest/bishop's hand.

    I'm sorry to hear this practice brought into question. I kiss a Coptic priests's hand too because, as has been said, priestly hands touch the Holy Mysteries.

    Fraternal or reverential kissing in is making a comeback in England. I believe we wre known for it during Tudor times but somehow it died out. Once again CO, don't knock it, its a blessing.
  • [quote author=CertifiedOrthodox link=topic=8833.msg110712#msg110712 date=1266353889]

    I mean, if this is a cultural thing as Supermanbam suggests, then it has no spiritual value?



    if you seek many of the things that are done, are because of the culture and are adapted in churches, and start having the spiritual significance!

    for example... where in the bible, or church laws does it say you should cover your mouth while chewing the body?!

    but things happened... where the church said we need to have a corporal... escalating to what we do now! then people added the spiritual aspect of the corporal meaning its the stone and your mouth is the tomb... nothing wrong with that!

    if you look into the why we do everything the way we do... when you're not ready to start learning such things... you will go through a hard time, and its clear with the kissing the hands...

    accept the spiritual reasoning... and when you are steadfast start learning the cultural reasoning, but then learn to keep the spiritual reasoning closer to your heart! I went through a HARD time for a while... until God graced me to accept both joyfully and to comprehend how one does not go without the other!

    another note... kissing abouna's hand... why don't you look at it in more depth. abouna is our father, from whose hands God will ask for my blood, and him as a father, cares for me beyond understanding, and my salvation! so the least I can do is kiss his hand... even if you don't want to, and you don't feel that way... do you think God will see that in your heart you are so mad at this priest... but you out of humility and love... and for the sake of God, leaned over and kissed abouna's hand... do you think He wont bless you for that?! and lets say you don't want to for the sake of not wanting to... and you kissed his hand out of humility... don't you think God will reward you for that also?!

    as father peter also said... its a blessing... as saint Antony says, "seek blessings from whoever can bless you" and in kissing a priest's you get a lot of blessings!

    akhadna el baraka... neshkor Allah!
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=8833.msg110723#msg110723 date=1266358317]
    It feels rather rude that you have quoted my comments and then posted the very opposite as if I said the opposite to what I actually did.


    Let's think about this for a second. You said that kissing a priest's hand is a cultural thing. It is not a spiritual tradition, but apparently (FOR YOU!) there could be some spiritual value in doing it. There could be some spiritual value in watching the sun rise also. But at the end of the day, if its not compulsory in our Church, then we are not obliged to do it.



    As I have said several times, if you do not want to kiss a priest's hand then don't. But don't dismiss the tradition of the Church just because it is not something you can accept.

    WHere did I say I cannot accept it. I said that many people ask me why they HAVE TO kiss a priest's hand. I cannot tell them that it is because he holds the body of Christ that we kiss his hand because our mouths equally eat the Body of Christ.


    It does have great value for most here, certainly for me.

    Oh.. how interesting. What value does it have in having your hands kissed? Please tell us so we can appreciate this more, and perhaps making the effort to kiss the hands of priests.

    Please tell us.

    When someone kisses your hand, how do you like it done? What is it about having your hands kissed that makes it a "great value" for you? I'd love to know.

    Lots of love and kisses,

    CO
  • I believe the kissing of the hand is part of the process in greeting the major clergy.  The second part is bringing the forehead down to the level of the hand to show absolute respect and acceptance of the love and authority of his fatherhood over us.  It is a tremendous blessing and an exercise of humility.

    The priests will kiss the hand of the bishop as an exercise of the same stated principles.
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=8833.msg110730#msg110730 date=1266368436]
    I believe the kissing of the hand is part of the process in greeting the major clergy.  The second part is bringing the forehead down to the level of the hand to show absolute respect and acceptance of the love and authority of his fatherhood over us.  It is a tremendous blessing and an exercise of humility.

    The priests will kiss the hand of the bishop as an exercise of the same stated principles.


    I agree.

    I get this question asked by many Catholic Christians who are in our church for one reason or another. I think there are blessings, but given it is not compulsory, it will make life easier for them.

    At the same time, I'm curious as to what a priest gains by having his hand kissed, so it will be interesting to see that from Fr. Peter.

    Thanks
  • [quote author=CertifiedOrthodox link=topic=8833.msg110731#msg110731 date=1266368954]
    At the same time, I'm curious as to what a priest gains by having his hand kissed, so it will be interesting to see that from Fr. Peter.


    I think Father Peter said all what odsah have about the subject......
  • odsah?

    Mina - if you keep on speaking in tongues, everyone's gonna think you've gone charismatic on us. Don't forget your Coptic roots.
  • [quote author=CertifiedOrthodox link=topic=8833.msg110735#msg110735 date=1266369309]
    odsah?

    Mina - if you keep on speaking in tongues, everyone's gonna think you've gone charismatic on us. Don't forget your Coptic roots.


    sooo....I am just keeping my coptic roots..
  • At the same time, I'm curious as to what a priest gains by having his hand kissed

    It reminds him of his responsibility, as a father.  His duties for the caring of his flock.  He remembers to maintain his purity, so that he may be a proper example for his flock.  He remembers to maintain a proper channel for the Blessings from God the Almighty.

    Mainly, it reminds him to be humble at the faith that his children put in him.
  • Look,

    I'm dying to know what Odsah means. Why do you have to say words that only you and a few elite understand them? Remember, most of us here are still learning english.

    iLoveStMark,

    You make some good points. I guess that's what he means then!?

    I never thought of it that way. But, perhaps you are right. If that is the case, then I would really tell that to my RC friends. They really have a problem with it.

    By the way, they ended up in the CoC through X-marriage. I know a lot of them and I get these questions often actually.
  • [quote author=CertifiedOrthodox link=topic=8833.msg110741#msg110741 date=1266369886]
    Look,

    I'm dying to know what Odsah means. Why do you have to say words that only you and a few elite understand them? Remember, most of us here are still learning english.


    odsoh means "his reverence"
    odsak is "your reverence"

    I thought you are coptic?!!
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