The Orthodox tradition is very physical. We do not practice the faith only in the mind (what we believe) but with the whole body. We bow after the Little Entrance as we sing “Come let us worship and fall down before Christ.”1 We cross ourselves in a very particular way to indicate deep theological truths by the position of our hand. We use wheat and wine in our Eucharistic celebration. We are anointed with holy oil at our Chrismation, on feast days, and at Ordination and Holy Unction. We use icons during prayer and allow them to communicate spiritual truths. We even honor the bodies of the departed and consider them to be sacred. Thus, we constantly make use of the physical world as an aid to our practice of the faith.
By our participation in the services and by making use of sacramental objects, we experience the reality of the events we are commemorating. All Orthodox Christians die with Christ in baptism, are raised with him out of the waters, receive the power of the Holy Spirit in Chrismation, receive His body in the Eucharist, are healed in unction, receive the cleansing of our souls in confession, and are buried in the ground until the last day. By God’s grace, and with our participation, we will be raised to be with Christ eternally!
Vespers and Divine Liturgy: Service Book for the Faithful, eds. Jonathan Lincoln and Heiromonk Heran (South Canaan: St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press 2021), 45. ↩