For my very first post I’ll introduce what Eastern Orthodoxy is.

Firstly, the official name of the Church is: “the Orthodox Catholic Church”. This is not the same as Roman Catholic Church, commonly known as just the “Catholic Church.”

Both however have the same history. The Orthodox Church broke off from the Catholic Church in an event known as “The Great Schism.”

Secondly, the Orthodox Church is compromised of the churches of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexendria and Jerusalem. All churches are headed by a Patriarch, a bishop who is the head of their church.

One of the primary reasons the Orthodox and Catholics split apart was the disagreement over the status of the Patriarches.

The Pope (Bishop of Rome) believed that he since he was the figurehead of the Church, he had a supreme papal authority. The Orthodox churches disagreed; instead we believe the Pope was the first among equals of the Patriarches. Or in other words, a primacy in honor not authority.

Thirdly, we reject that we are born with original sin. While Adam and Eve committed the first sin, we are nor guilty for their immoral actions. But we do suffer the consequence of what they had done; they left humankind with a fallen nature.

With Christ, we can overcome the temptations of sin we are susceptible to from our nature and find not just salvation with the Lord, but enter a divine union with Him. A process known as theosis or “defication” in Western Christianity.

Fourthly, we use a different calender known as the Julian Calender than the Gregorgian calendar used by Western Christian denominations. The calender cycle begins on September 1st and the dates of religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas are more often than not, fall on different dates.

And lastly, the Orthodox Church believes in the 7 Sacrements, or Divine Mysteries. These are:

  • Baptism
  • Chrismation (Confirmation)
  • Holy Communion
  • Confession
  • Matrimony
  • Unction (Anoiting the Sick)
  • Holy Orders

Not only do the Sacraments disclose and reveal God to us, but also they serve to make us receptive to God. All the Sacraments affect our personal relationship to God and to one another. The Holy Spirit works through the Sacraments. He leads us to Christ who unites us with the Father. By participating in the Sacraments, we grow closer to God and to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This process of deification, or theosis, as it is known by Orthodoxy, takes place not in isolation from others, but within the context of a believing community. Although the Sacraments are addressed to each of us by name, they are experiences which involve the entire Church.

Rev. Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, GOArch

Hope you enjoyed my kick off to this blog found this post resourceful. Future posts will discuss philosophical and theological topics in great depth.