Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
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Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
When various foods are blessed as part of the Divine Services (e.g. kutia at memorials, grapes or fruits, etc.), which of these are permitted to be brought into the Altar?
Handbook Category: Icons, Church Adornment and other Practical Matters (index)

In the course of our broadest liturgical life, we bless many different foods within the temple. Apart from the bread and wine which are offered in the Eucharist and become the True Body and Precious Blood of our Saviour, we also bless other breads (e.g. at regular festal Vigils), sweet broads (e.g. at Transfiguration), honey, fruit, kutia (the spiced grains prepared for memorial services), eggs at Pascha, etc. The majority of these foods are blessed within the Nave as a part of the Liturgical rites.

It is essential to remember, however, that such blessed foods are not to be brought into the Holy Altar. The only foods or drinks ever brought into the Holy Altar are:

  • Prosphora
  • Wine (whether chalice wine, or wine to be poured during the marriage service)
  • Water
  • Bread from the five loaves (and the grains) blessed during a litya at a Vigil, or at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning
  • Oil (for lamps, or for blessings)

Apart from the above, absolutely no foods of any kind are brought into the Holy Altar, even if in packaged or sealed form. For the sake of explicitness (since mistakes with respect to these, in particular, have been observed at times), the following must never be brought into the Altar, even to be set aside therein for the Priest or other clergy:

  • Paschal eggs
  • Kutya from a memorial service / pannikhida

These, as with all other blessed foods, must be set aside for the clergy outside of the Altar, for them to partake of when they have finished therein and departed into the Nave.

This is an entry from our Liturgical Handbook of the practices of the Church Abroad. Please see the full handbook for more than 100 entries on other topics.

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