The Orthodox Church
What is the Orthodox Church
Adapted from a Wikipedia article
The Orthodox Church is the ancient Christian Church tracing its roots back to Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Church embodies and expresses the rich spiritual treasures of Eastern Christianity. Historically, the Gospel of Christ was first preached and the first Christian Communities were established in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. On Pentecost Day, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ the Apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel to all nations. It was in these eastern regions of the old Roman Empire that the Christian Faith matured in its struggle against paganism and heresy. It was there that the great Fathers of the Church lived and taught the Faith. It was also in the East that the fundamental teaching of the faith were proclaimed at the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
Christians of the Eastern European Churches call themselves Orthodox. This description has two meaning which are closely related. The first definition means true teaching or true faith. The Orthodox Church believes that she has maintained and handed down the Christian Faith, free from error and distortion from the days of the apostles. The second definition, which is actually more preferred, means “true praise”. To bless, praise and glorify God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the fundamental purpose of the Church.
We believe in One God, a God that has always existed and who created all things. We worship One God in the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit: one in essence and undivided. The mystery of the trinity is revealed to us by God throughout Holy Scripture. God is referred to in the plural as in the case of creation in Genesis 12:6; the angels who appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18:1-6; the Thrice Holy hymn sung by the angels in Isaiah 6:1-4; the commission of Jesus to the Apostles to baptise all people in the Trinity, Matthew 28:19, and at Jesus’ Baptism in Matthew 3:3-17. These references along with countless others all suggest one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly God. He is both Savior and the Lord’s Anointed One, who was born of the Virgin Mary, taking on human flesh and yet remaining as God. He became man in every respect except sin, giving His life for us as a sacrifice, so that we could be reunited with God.
The Church, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, is the holy vessel in which humanity is saved. Living life eternally with God in His Heavenly Kingdom. The Church is One, because our Lord founded one Church; it is Holy, because its mission is the salvation of her members through the Holy Sacraments; it is Catholic, meaning it is available to all people; it is Apostolic, because she was “built upon the foundation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ himself, being the Cornerstone.
The Head of the Church is our Lord Jesus Christ
The Orthodox Church centres on the eternal truths of Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We recognize the Mysteries or Sacraments as instruments, leading towards our salvation: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Ordination, Marriage and Holy Unction.
Living and expressing the unchanging beliefs of the Orthodox Church takes place in its worship and rich liturgical tradition. The basic foundation for worship includes, scripture readings, hymns and prayers. The ultimate expression of worship is the Divine Liturgy. Its focus is on the Holy Eucharist based on the instructions and actions of Jesus at the Last (Mystical) Supper. The word liturgy, means “work of the people”, and it is divine because it comes from the Lord Himself.
The Liturgy is the spiritual fountain which nourishes us in our daily struggle to live the fullness of a true Christian life. Active and regular participation in the Liturgy is necessary to keep us on the correct path to salvation.