Our Orthodox Faith
Our Orthodox Faith
The Orthodox Church is the modern outgrowth of the early churches founded by the original Apostles of Christ in places like Jerusalem, Antioch and Greece. It has had a continuous, unbroken existence in these places since the First Century A.D. For the first thousand years of Christianity, Eastern and Western Christians were united in one Church. Cultural and political differences led to increasing conflicts between East and West, especially over the issues of Church governance and the procession of the Holy Spirit. A major split between the two halves of Christianity occurred in 1054 A.D. (“The Great Schism”), eventually creating the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Five centuries later, the Protestant Reformation emerged from an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Orthodox Christianity constitutes the second largest Christian faith community in the world, with over 250 million adherents, located largely in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Brought to America by missionaries, emigrants and political refugees, Orthodoxy has roughly three million members here, making it as large as the Episcopalian Church. We invite you to “come and see” – to learn more about the ancient and unchanging faith that is the principal glory and joy of our community! Who knows? You could find that this community is your community!
- You may call our church at (585) 244-1976 to schedule a meeting with our parish priest, or for a tour of the church.
- Please consider joining us on Sunday mornings for Divine Liturgy, starting at 10:00 AM.
- During our annual Greek Fest (late August each year), church tours are offered several times a day.
- A series of four inquirer’s classes are held each year following the Greek Fest – check our Calendar for upcoming dates. Anyone interested in exploring Orthodox Christianity are invited to attend.
- The iconography of our church can provide much useful information about Orthodox theology, worship and practice.
We recommend the following books, if you would like more in-depth information about the Orthodox Church. These can be purchased on-line or in our parish BookStore on Sunday mornings.
- The Orthodox Church by Kallistos Ware
- The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware
- Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective by Daniel B. Clendenin
- Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition by James R. Payton Jr.
The Orthodox Church is the direct descendent of the early churches founded by the original apostles of Christ in places like Jerusalem, Antioch and Greece. The Orthodox Church has had a continuous, unbroken existence in these places since the First Century A.D. Thus, for example , today’s Greek Orthodox Church can trace its history back to the early Christian Churches founded by St. Paul in such cities as Thessalonica, Philippi, and Corinth.
Operating under councils of bishops organized along national or ethnic lines, Orthodox churches are often identified by their national origins, such as Greek, Russian, or Antiochian (Syrian-Lebanese). All such churches are in communion with one another, and consider themselves to be part of the one true Church.
For the first thousand years of Christianity, Eastern and Western Christians were united in one Church that believed in Holy Scripture, the Nicene Creed and the teachings of the first seven Ecumenical Councils. These teachings include:
- Belief in the Holy Trinity
- The divine and human natures of Christ
- His virgin birth
- His Resurrection
- His Ascension
- The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
- The future Second Coming of Christ
- The final judgment and life in the world to come.
Orthodox worship is highly liturgical, and involves many different kinds of prayer services, the most important of which is the Divine Liturgy. At the Liturgy, the sacrament of Communion is celebrated, in which the Body and Blood of Christ are believed to be truly present. Orthodox worship places great emphasis upon all of the senses. It involves
- Sight, with the visual beauty of icons and vestments
- Smell, by the use of incense
- Sound, through the use of elaborate forms of chanted hymns and choral music
- Taste, in the sacrament of Holy Communion
- Touch, by the sign of the cross, lighting candles, and reverencing icons.
It should be stressed that we do not worship the Virgin Mary, the saints, or the icons that depict them. We do, however, greatly venerate these people because they are models of the Christ-like, Christ-filled life. When we pray to them, it is only to ask them to pray to God for us, just as one might ask a friend – for we believe the saints are alive today in the presence of the Lord and are eager to serve us in this way.
The clergy of the Orthodox Church is divided into three ranks: deacons, priests, and bishops. Our priests and deacons may be married, if the marriage occurs before ordination. While they may be widowed, bishops are always celibate.
Orthodoxy has endeavored to maintain the worship, faith and practices of the Church as they were received and taught by the original Apostles of Christ. This is called Holy Tradition, which is contained and communicated through:
- The Holy Bible
- The Divine Liturgy
- The writings of early Church theologians
- The statements of faith from the first seven Ecumenical Councils, the last of which occurred in 787 A.D.
- Text containing codes of conduct, process and procedure found in the early canons of the Church.
All Orthodox Christians are called to engage in weekly corporate worship, daily prayer, frequent fasts, and good works. The quiet contemplation of the healing presence of Christ, using the Jesus Prayer and such aids to prayer as prayer ropes, breathing techniques and sitting postures – known as hesychasm – is a distinctively Orthodox approach to spiritual growth.
Fathers of the 1st Council; The Holy Hieromartyr Eutychius, Bishop of Melitene; Nikitas, Bishop of Chalcedon; Eutechios, Bishop of Mytilene; Helikonis the Martyr; Heladios the Hieromartyr of the East; Zacharias the New Martyr