Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Is there a difference in how we greet a Bishop and take his blessing, and how we greet a Priest?
Category: General Comportment in the Altar

When we approach a Priest to greet him and take his blessing, we hold our right hand over our left, palms upwards, then kiss his hand after he has used it to bless us with the sign of the Cross.

We approach a Bishop in the same manner; but after he has blessed us we kiss his hand, then his right shoulder, then his hand once again.

The practice of a three-fold embrace after the blessing (i.e. kissing the hand, then the right shoulder, left shoulder and right again) is often misappropriated in liturgical settings. This fraternal greeting is appropriate only between those serving in the same office of the Church: e.g. between one Deacon and another Deacon, one Priest and another Priest, or one Bishop and another Bishop (for example, it is thus that the Priests greet one another during the Divine Liturgy, exclaiming ‘Christ is in our midst…’). It is not, however, customary practice for a Deacon to greet a Priest in this way, or a Priest to so greet a Bishop, etc. (A common exception to this is made during Paschaltide, when all faithful — whatever rank or office — greet each other in this threefold manner during the 40 days as part of the Paschal proclamation that in the Resurrection we are all made brethren in the Body of the Risen Christ.)

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