Hand Kissing

Fr. Tim Finigan has a post about greeting the bishop and should one kiss his hand or not. It got me thinking about the orthodox practice in this area and I would like to share some of my thoughts.
The custom is to refer to a bishop in the Orthodox Church as Your Grace, if an Archbishop Your Eminence, Patriarch, Your Beatitude. In the case of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople then he is referred to as His All Holiness. Okay so that is a mouthful but that is tradition for you. When speaking with the bishop you should refer to him by his title, i.e. Your Grace. When you approach the bishop you should make a small metanyia and bless yourself then hold your hands together to receive his blessing and then his hand to kiss. We are not kissing the hand of a man here but reverencing his office as successors to the apostles. Thanks to Fr. Tim for giving me the correct words.
In Orthodox and Catholic theology we understand the office of bishop of that as being passed down from the apostolic ministry itself. Bishops today are inheritors of that ministry of the Apostles that walked with Jesus. We call this Apostolic Succession as there is an unbroken line from the Apostles to the bishop standing in front of you.
The faithful should approach a priest in the same manner. Small metanyia, bless yourself, then hold your hands out to receive his blessing and his hand to kiss. Same reason we are not kissing the hand of a man but we reverence the office of priest. Whatever you feel about the person this is the custom.
I remember when I was in Guatemala at the orphanage and preparing for vespers. The children would all line up in front of me to receive my blessing and kiss my hand. I had been a priest about a year and half at this point and my hand was kissed more that week than it was before or after. Like some traditions this one has fallen into disuse.
When I was first ordained and the faithful would kiss my hand it was a very strange thing for me to get used to. I remember one of the priests at the seminary sharing a similar story and he said that it would insult the person if you pulled your hand away. They are reverencing the office and saying thank you for the blessing you just gave them.
Just some random thoughts.

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