What is Orthodoxy?

Orthodox Christians believe that their faith, spiritual practices, and Church were founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and defined in the seven ecumenical councils. 

The Orthodox Church

Orthodoxy is a faith that is deeply aware of its history and understands itself as the one true faith. This faith finds expression in a rich liturgical life, which infuses daily life with spiritual meaning and connects Christians around the world and throughout history through prayer.

The Orthodox Church is not merely an earthly organization; rather, it is the mystical body of Christ. The Orthodox Church is a family of self-governing churches, organized by territory, with an Ecumenical Patriarch as the first among equal bishops, but, ultimately, with Christ as the head of the Church. Each self-governing church is led by a patriarch, metropolitan, or archbishop. Parish churches are organized under the umbrella of each self-governing church, each with a priest to conduct liturgies and pastor the parish.

The Parish

Orthodox parishes are like families, in that they pay bills, maintain the household, and meet around the table to discuss family concerns; however, these things do not exhaust the profound significance of the Orthodox Church when it meets to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, the heartbeat and soul of Orthodoxy.

When Orthodox Christians meet together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and partake in Holy Communion, they are transformed into the Body of Christ through mystical activity of the Holy Spirit, and physically make present the Lord Jesus Christ in the world. This transformation is not just symbolic but in keeping with what the Fathers of the Church have passed down: Christ is really made present in Holy Communion, which is physically and spiritually received by those who participate. Together, by partaking of the Body of Christ, they are transformed into the Body of Christ in the world.

The weekly renewal of the Body of Christ in the Divine Liturgy is supported by spiritual practices such as prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, to name only a few. These practices maintain a strong connection between the Body of Christ in the world and Christ himself in heaven. That is to say, the daily practices of Orthodox Christians keep them in tune with Christ so that the Body is doing what the Head wants it to do. In this way, the Orthodox Church is the ever-renewed presence of Christ in the world, making the Lord present and lifting the world up to God the Father through prayer.

This weekly rhythm of the Orthodox Church enables Christians to participate in the very life and activity of the Trinity, unified with Christ who redeems and transforms creation through the Spirit and by the will of God the Father. Even though as human beings we often act selfishly, harming ourselves, others, and God’s creation, the life of the Church rescues us from our self-imposed isolation and makes it possible for us to be part of a community that strives to bring others into Christ and into the life of the Trinity.

Orthodox Christians look forward to the resurrection after death, when we will be created anew. The Church enables us to experience a taste of the new Creation in the present and to contradict the power of sin and death in the world in ourselves and for those outside of the Church.

“Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch