the tangibility of Orthodox worship

Our worship has been crafted by the Holy Spirit to touch all who come- including those with developmental disabilities whose intellectual capabilities are limited to concrete thinking (and have trouble with abstract reasoning) as well as those who lack certain senses.

Alongside the rich theology of our liturgy there are concrete actions, music, fragrance, icons, and more. There are words relating to everyday life and words that carry one through the Incarnate Christ into the iconostasisineffable heavenlies. The Holy Spirit can address the heart through all, or some, or even just one of these modes. The symbols of Orthodox worship- lighting candles, making the sign of the cross, kissing icons, prostration, and the like are enacted by all. (Picture from )

There is no need for separate services. The “spiritual sensuality” of our Divine Liturgy offers mentally retarded persons much to respond to: there is repetition, concreteness, physical contact; the staples of their unique pedagogy (method of learning) inhabits the services.

Search the resources and read Fr. Stephen Plumlee’s The Handicapped and Orthodox Worship. (In the full list of Orthodox Christian Writings, under “The Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries” in the PARISH DEVELOPMENT section. 

See also Kathy Lisner Grant’s view at


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