LATRIA AND PROSKYNESIS
Latria (Λατρεία) and Proskynesis (Προσκύνησις) are two ancient theological terms used to differentiate the type of attention Christians offer to the Holy Trinity in comparison with other sacred persons, articles or places.
LATRIA: Better translated as Adoration, is the act of worship a Christian offers to the Persons of the Holy Trinity alone, that is YHWH, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in one Divine Nature and one by one in their hypostases. This type of adoration implies a total surrendering of the human being and nature, mind, body and spirit to the Person and Will of God without any reservations.
PROSKYNESIS: It is the Veneration that Christians offer to St Mary, the Mother of our Lord, the saints, religious images, the Bible, relics, etc. This veneration consists only in respect of heart and mind, towards these subjects, and actions that would reflect that respect, like genuflections, kissing the object or placing them in honour, etc.
It must be clarified that, while from outside some acts of respect, like kissing or genuflections may seems as “worship”, they are not necessarily so in every case. A Christian may bow down to Heaven to pray to God, or may bow down to the Image of Christ, but both physical acts do not reflect the same intention. One is adoration, the other one is veneration. Physical movements do not determine the nature of the action, but also the intention of the person who acts.
“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before YHWH our Maker.”
“With these words David restrained his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and went on his way. After that, David got up, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed face down in reverence”