FAQ

Why is the Cross shaped differently?

The cross has three crossbeams, two horizontal and the third one is a bit slanted.

  1. The short, extra top bar represents the sign nailed to Christ’s Cross, "The King of Jews."

  2. The middle bar was where Christ's hands were nailed.

  3. The bottom bar of the cross is like the scale of justice and its points show the way to the Hell and Heaven.

The lower, slanted, bar is the foot-rest of the crucifix. All crucifixes would have had these, as no one could be suspended from a cross by nails alone.

The foot-rest of Christ’s Cross is slanted because it is believed that in the final moments before Jesus gave up His spirit, His flesh spasmed and the foot-rest was kicked out of place.

The symbolism of the foot-rest points up, toward Heaven, on Christ’s right hand-side, and downward, to Hades, on Christ’s left.

When to cross yourself in Church?

A person looking around during a Liturgy may notice that different people cross themselves at different times.

To a certain extent, when to cross oneself is a matter of personal piety and not of dogma.

However, there are times in the service when crossing oneself (thumb and first two fingers touching each other, third and fourth fingers folded into the palm of the right hand: touching head first, to stomach, right shoulder to left) is called for:

  • To cross: when you hear:

    • one of the variations of the phrase

      • “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”

      • Отцю і Сину і Святому Духові

      • Ottsyu i Synu i Svyatomu Dukhovi

    • before venerating an icon, Gospel, or Cross;

    • when blessed with an icon, Cross, Gospel, or Chalice;

    • entering and exiting the church; and

    • when passing before the Altar.

  • Not to Cross: (only bowing of the head):

    • when blessed with hand as in “Peace be unto all!”, Мир усім!, (Myr usim!),

    • or censed.

    • In receiving a blessing from a bishop or priest one does not make the sign of the Cross beforehand.

When to Stand vs Sit?

There are times when one should definitely stand:

  • The beginning of the service: “Blessed is the Kingdom...”,

  • All Litanies—The Entrances: with the Gospel and later,

  • the Chalice,

  • Gospel Reading,

  • The Creed,

  • The Anaphora beginning with “Let us stand aright” through the Hymn to the Theotokos,

  • the Lord's Prayer,

  • The distribution of Holy Communion, i.e. the Body and Blood of Christ in our midst, through the end of the dismissal

When in doubt, stand in prayer—yet remaining sensitive to not drawing attention to oneself, or blocking other's participation in the service.

Why is Christmas (Nativity) celebrated later than in other Christian churches?

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar.

The calendar in use at the time of the founding of the church.

Is Pascha the same as Easter?

The term Pascha (Pasxha) comes from the Hebrew pesah, a yearling lamb that was sacrificed at the Jews’ spring festival.

The feast itself came to be called Pascha (or Passover; see Exodus 12.5f.).

We should try to use the term Pascha instead of “Easter.”

Easter was a spring festival in honor of Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and sunrise.

Orthodox Christians should use the terms Pascha and Resurrection instead.

Why is Pascha (Easter) celebrated on a different day each year?

Pascha (Pasxha), Easter is actually determined by the Jewish calendar. This is because in the Bible, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after the Jewish festival of Passover, and followers wanted it to be celebrated as such.

However, this is slightly tricky because the Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, whereas Christian culture is based on the sun.

A solar year is just over 365 days and a lunar year is about 354 days, so collaborating the two can be complicated.

Passover also changes every year, because it's calculated by the first full moon following the vernal equinox — a day in spring when night and day are exactly the same length.