Everything you wanted to know about Orthodoxy but were afraid to ask

The Great Church of Jesus Christ

 

 

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Orthodoxy 101

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX FAITH

Volumes have been written on the inexhaustible treasures of our Greek Orthodox heritage. Everything we do is based upon the premise that the Orthodox Faith is founded upon the teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, now and always.


A few of the fundamental tenets upon which our Holy Orthodox Church functions are as follows:

1. The Orthodox Church has two great sources of authority:

Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition

Holy Scripture is comprised of the writings of both the New and the Old Testaments. The New Testament reveals the human and divine nature of Jesus Christ, and His sacred teachings that we are charged to follow. The Old Testament is a history of the Hebrew people. It contains, among other sacred writings, the prophecies and the writings of the Prophets that foretold the coming of the Messiah. It therefore serves as an introduction to the revelation and the saving message of the New Testament.

Holy Tradition, of which Holy Scripture is a part, includes the writings, teachings, acts of the apostles, saints, martyrs, and fathers of the Church, and her liturgical and sacramental traditions throughout the ages, the oral tradition of the early Church and the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. All of this collective wisdom and experience through the centuries are combined to form this second great source of sacred authority.

2. The Creed

The Creed contains the Church's basic summary of doctrinal truths to which we adhere as Orthodox Christians. It consists of the twelve articles of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, or the "Pistevo," which is recited at each Divine Liturgy.

3. The Sacraments

The Sacraments are seven in number. They are the visible means by which the invisible Grace of the Holy Spirit is imparted to us. Four Sacraments are obligatory:

  1. Baptism
  2. Chrismation (anointment with holy oil)
  3. Confession, and
  4. Holy Communion.

Three are optional:

  1. Matrimony
  2. Holy Orders (Ordination)
  3. Unction (anointment of the sick).

4. The Church Calendar

The Church Calendar begins on September 1st and ends on August 31st. Each day is sacred for the Orthodox Christian. The Church venerates at least one saint or sacred event in the life of the Church every day of the year. There are, however, several major feast days observed annually, and of these Easter, or Pascha, is the most important.

5. The Divine Liturgy

The central worship service of the Church is the Divine Liturgy which is celebrated each Sunday morning and on all holy days. The Liturgy is also the means by which we achieve union with Jesus Christ and unity with each other through the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

6. Ecumenism

While the Orthodox Church considers herself the Mother Church of Christendom, she cooperates with other churches in programs of educational, philanthropic and social endeavors insofar as this is consistent with her theology. Orthodoxy has become a major force in the universal ecumenical movement of which she was a prime mover through the encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1920.

7. The Major Feastdays

Nativity of the Theotokos.....................September 8 
Exaltation of the Holy Cross..................September 14
Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple...November 21 
Christmas (Nativity of Jesus Christ)..........December 25 
Epiphany (Baptism of Christ)..................January 6 
Presentation of Christ in the Temple..........February 2 
Annunciation (Evangelismos)...................March 25 
EASTER (Pascha)..............................(Varies from year to year) 
Ascension....................................(40 Days after Easter) 
Pentecost....................................(50 Days after Easter) 
Transfiguration of Christ.....................August 6 
Dormition of the Theotokos (Kimissis).........August 15