Support Your Cathedral

Standing vs. Sitting

Inside CathedralThe traditional posture for prayer and worship in the Orthodox Church has been to stand. In the Orthodox “old countries,” there are usually no pews in the churches. Chairs or benches on the side walls are usually reserved for the elderly and infirm. In North America, we have tended to build our churches with pews, and since we have them, we need to figure out when we may sit and when we should stand. It is fully acceptable (even preferable) to stand for the entire service. If you prefer this, it would be better to find a place closer to the back or side of the church so as not to stand out or block someone’s view.

When should you definitely stand? Always during the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal. In many parishes, the Divine Liturgy books in the pew have suggested times when sitting is acceptable. Follow those instructions (it’s probably safer than to follow what the people are doing in the first couple of rows). It is never wrong to stand in church.

(Note: Many parishes also follow the practice of kneeling on Sundays during the Cherubic Hymn, consecration, and the “Our Father.” Strictly speaking, this is not correct, because every Sunday is a “little Pascha” in which the Resurrection is remembered —- hence, no kneeling. The “kneeling prayers” said five weeks after Pascha, are said after the Sunday Liturgy, “reinstating” kneeling for Vespers. Matins, and weekday Liturgies only. If the tradition of the parish you are visiting is to kneel, and everyone kneels, it’s better to do so than to stick out like a sore thumb. If there is a mixture of standing and kneeling, then stand.)