HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
REMOVING SHOES IN CHURCH
In the west, it is not the custom for Christians to remove their shoes in churches (though some Roman Catholics go barefoot at certain shrines and have historically gone barefoot as a penance). Some of the non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches, the Ethiopians and Coptic Orthodox remove their shoes in their churches, as do we.
According to God’s Law, shoes should be removed when standing on Holy round. Therefore, since God is present in the Tabernacle, shoes must be removed, especially when receiving the Holy Eucharist.
Likewise, the clergy must remove shoes to enter the Altar area and standing at the Holy Table. Any Bishop, Priest, Deacon, or server ignoring this, God’s Law, should be removed from the area. For those that were unaware, it is customary in many US and Oriental Orthodox Temples (churches) to remove shoes on entering a Church.
In the Book of Exodus (3:1-6) – Moses’s encounter with God at the burning bush begins when he was told “Take off thy shoes from off thy feet for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” What many don’t know is that Joshua was also told likewise at his holy encounter: “Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said… ”What saith my lord unto his servant? And He replied unto Joshua, Loose thy shoes from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:14&15).
Orthodox Churches are also known as Temples. Our Temple is a place where we pray together in the very presence of God Himself – Holy Ground. To receive Holy Communion is to encounter God just as Moses encountered God at the burning bush so, yes, if you desire to receive God in the form of the Blessed Sacrament at our Monastery then “Loose thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is Holy Ground. There are Little or NO exceptions, save for age or infirmity.
According to the Canons of the Celtic Orthodox Church and Coptic Orthodox Churches it is still customary to remove shoes for prayers in Church.