|About Orthodoxy (top)
Are Orthodox Christians saved?
I was originally saved over 2000 years ago, when God the Son took on human flesh and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of mankind; defeating the power of sin by suffering on the cross and destroying death by his miraculous resurrection.
I am being saved daily, through my intentional decisions to follow Jesus’ example within each situation that I find myself. Viewing paradise, not as just a someday destination, but as the everyday experience of self denial-of being filled through the Eucharist, obedience, and love for others-with Christ
I will, Lord have mercy, be saved, at the Great and Final Judgment, when I give an account for a lifetime of actions; when it becomes clear, whether or not I cooperated with the grace so generously bestowed upon me.
Who of us, having been blessed beyond all comprehension, should feel the need to ensure that, regardless of our choices, a reward will be ours-free and clear? Who of us dares to sit idle, with our assurances, interpreting the conditions of the bridegrooms invitation, while our lamps for illumining the darkness, run out of oil?
My individual salvation is being worked out with fear and trembling, through the unique responsibilities God deems best to set before me. Based upon the model of the publican who beat his breast and begged for leniency, I am careful not to assume I have a handle on the spiritual state of others. I would do best, rather, to stay focused on my own flagrant short-comings, reverencing both friends and enemies, all of whom were created in God’s image as living icons of Christ Jesus.
I share my faith, yes, but not out of obligation. A soul that has found its meaning cannot help but be a witness to such joy. My ongoing testimony is presented through acts of service, in accordance with Christ’s commandment to love God by loving your neighbor. I pray ceaselessly for the courage to fight the good fight, staying faithful until my very last breath upon this earth.
– Molly Sabourin
Why do Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter later than Catholics and Protestants?
Actually, we don't... always. In fact, during this 21st century, Orthodox Christians will celebrate on the same day as western Christians 25 times.
But, there are two main reasons why Orthodox Pascha may not fall on the same date as western Easter.
The most common reason for a difference is that the Orthodox follow an ancient (325AD) rule that, since Pascha (which is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Passover) is prefigured by the Jewish Passover, it should always fall after Passover, not before or during it. For example, in 2022 (the year this was written), Passover began on western Good Friday, April 15th. Western Easter was celebrated on April 17th, and Orthodox Christians celebrated one week later, on April 24th. When the Jewish Passover falls before western Easter, the Orthodox celebrate on the same day.
The second reason is that the date of Pascha in the Orthodox Church is calculated based on the Julian calendar, which was in use when the rule, "the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox" was formulated. In 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII promulgated the Gregorian calendar, western Christianity shifted to the vernal equinox of that calendar, the Orthodox did not. Thus, if a full moon falls after the Gregorian equinox but before the Julian equinox, western Christians "count" that, Orthodox Christians wait for the next full moon. This results in our Pascha being four or five weeks later than western Easter.
In any case, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and (most) Protestant Christians are all celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.
One final note. We know that the vernal equinox on the Julian calendar is not the same as the astronomical equinox (the moment in spring when the Sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length), and that the Gregorian calendar is much more accurate in this regard. We are simply loyal to the ancient rule specifying the use of the Julian calendar.
If I decided to become Orthodox, how would I go about it?
While reading about the Orthodox Christian tradition is certainly important, it is crucial to step—literally—into an Orthodox Christian parish church near you to witness/experience the Church’s worship and fellowship. Doing so will make much of what you have read “come alive,” in the sense of seeing how that about which you have read is actually “lived.” Think of it in the following way. A person can read a dozen books on swimming, but that which he or she has read will not “come alive” until he or she actually gets into a pool. Similarly, a person can read a dozen books on Orthodox Christianity, but that which he or she has read will not “come alive” until he or she actually encounters the Church as the worshipping People of God.
So it would be wise to visit a parish near you, perhaps for the celebration of Vespers on a Saturday evening or the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy. You may wish to call the parish priest in advance to introduce yourself and explain that you will be joining him and the faithful of his parish for the first time, although this is not absolutely essential. In any event, feel free to introduce yourself to and speak with the priest and his parishioners. Your first—and subsequent visits—will help you to discern that to which the Lord is calling you. As Philip said to Nathaniel, “Come and see” [John 1:46].
Assuming that, after subsequent visits, you grow into the conviction that Orthodox Christianity is the fullness of Truth as revealed by Jesus Christ and discern your desire to embrace faith in Our Lord in its fullness, make your desire known to the parish priest, who will initiate the period of instruction and spiritual formation that eventually would lead to your reception into the Church. This could take some time—perhaps a year or more, depending on a variety of circumstances—and should not be “rushed.” Just as we pray that God’s will, not our own, be done, so too we pray that we might embrace the faith in God’s time, not our own. Conversion involves a change or transformation in vision, direction and heart, one rooted in repentance and the acknowledgement of Our Lord as the One Who is “truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who came into the world to save sinners.”
This period of instruction, discernment and spiritual formation also affords you with the opportunity to develop and strengthen your relationship with the parish’s clergy and faithful—those with whom you will worship “in Spirit and truth” and with whom you will share in fellowship as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. Naturally, it is crucial to “know” what the Church teaches and acquire an “Orthodox mindset” on the intellectual level, so to speak, but it is equally crucial to grow in identifying with the People of God, the worshipping community, through fellowship. One who would claim that he or she “wishes to embrace the faith but doesn’t want to get involved with other people and their lives” falls short in his or her understanding of the Church as the People of God and, as such, has yet to make that internal conversion that must take place before one is received into the Church. As Saint Paul reminds us, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” [Romans 12:5; see also Ephesians 4:25]. In other words, one cannot embrace Orthodox Christianity without embracing Orthodox Christians.
It also must be noted that embracing the faith involves a “running to” Christ and His Church as the “Ark of Salvation,” rather than a “running away” from something—other than sin. Those who will guide you through your period of instruction and formation surely will help you in this regard.
In time, you will be welcomed sacramentally into the Church and continue your ongoing path to the Kingdom of God.
What is Orthodox Christianity?
The term "Orthodox" can be understood as "correct (or right) believing" or as "correct (or right) glorifying". It denotes those who correctly understand and worship God. "Orthodox" was not originally the name of our church, which was referred to as "the disciples", "the church", "those who believed", followers of "the way", and finally "Christians". "Orthodox" became used to distinguish those who followed the faith of the Apostles from the many other splinter groups which deviated from their teachings - groups such as the gnostics, Manicheans and others. In order to make this distinction clear, the Church became the Orthodox Church and Christians became Orthodox Christians. In sum, Orthodox Christianity is the ancient Christian Church which has always followed and still follows today the faith of Christ and the Holy Apostles
When was the Orthodox Church founded, and who founded it?
The Orthodox Church belongs to Jesus Christ and was founded by Him. As such, it is eternal, however it was founded it time after the death and resurrection of Christ. Orthodox Christians consider the "birthday" of their church to be the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the Resurrection, when God sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in Jerusalem. Thus, Jesus Christ is the head of our Church, which is guided by the Holy Spirit; We have no Pope or President, but are, as were the Apostles, a conciliar church.
Do Orthodox Christians believe in literal interpretation of the Scriptures?
We believe that literal interpretation is one approach to interpreting the Scriptures.
For example, when the Scriptures testify that Christ walked on water, we believe that this is literally the case. However, we also believe that there was an important symbolic aspect to this act, to demonstrate that Christ rules over death, of which water is a symbol in the Scriptures, so that we will understand that, when He dies on the Cross, He does so voluntarily. Thus, we support both literal and symbolic interpretations of Scripture when they are appropriate.
In some cases, the literal interpretation of the scripture is less relevant than the symbolic. An example of this is Christ's parable of the sower. In this parable, the literal understanding of what the sower is doing serves primarily to lead us to the greater spiritual understanding; Christ Himself affirms this in His explanation of the parable to His disciples.
We can present many examples from the Gospel where the literal meaning differs from the text's intention. For example, the water he promised to the thirsty by which those who believe became springs of rivers; the bread that comes down from heaven; the temple which is destroyed and rebuilt after three days; the way; the gate; the stone rejected by the builders and fit as the capstone; the two people in one
bed; the mill stone; the woman grinding with one taken and the one left behind; the body; the eagles; and the fig tree which becomes tender and puts forth buds. All these and similar examples should serve to remind us of the necessity of looking at the Scriptures in more than simply a literal way. We regard it as especially important that Christ Himself used these symbolic references to Himself.
Another very telling passage regards Christ's conversation with Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus after His Resurrection, which states, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (v27)" As the New Testament was not yet written, Christ was speaking of the Old Testament, and the "things concerning Himself" would have been symbolic, typological, or allegorical in nature. The Orthodox Church does not accept every interpretation of scripture, but we obviously accept the authority of Christ Himself.
Another way we look at Scripture is typologically, that is, we see passages in Scripture as referring to things to come. This is particularly true in our understanding of the Old Testament, where Job, Isaiah's suffering servant, and others are seen as types of Christ. This type of interpretation is found in the New Testament itself.
We do not, however, accept every interpretation of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are to be understood as a whole. Interpretations which claim one part of Scripture to be at odds with others must be examined critically, not quoted out of context.
|About our parish (top)
Are your services in English?
Yes. The Orthodox Church has always pressed to have the scriptures and services in the language of the people in the area. In fact, many written languages were developed for people who did not have one by Orthodox monks and missionaries. Our own Sts. Cyril and Methody developed the first written language for the Slavic people, working to translate the scriptures and the services and preaching to them in their native tongue. St. Innocent of Alaska and St. Nicholas of Japan are among other examples.
Many Orthodox parishes in this country were founded by immigrants, who did not at first speak English. Naturally, their services were in the languages they new. As they acclimated to their new home, English became the norm.
Today at Sts. Cyril and Methody, all services are in English. We do however, have a few things which are chanted in English and another language. This is especially done at Pascha; It is not intended to serve in another language, but to remind us that all the peoples of the world are called by Christ and are equal in His sight. Examples of this are: Our traditional Pascha greeting, "Christ is Risen!" and its response, "Indeed He is Risen!", and the gospel at the Vespers of Pascha, which is read in English and repeated in other languages.
Does your parish do anything to help those in need?
We have programs of our own, participate in others in the St. Louis area, and support still others through monetary and in kind donations:
- At our parish we:
- Have a charity basket for food, hygiene, and baby care items.
- Have a twice monthly second collection for charity, and another to support monasteries.
- Maintain a sharing box outside our church for anyone in need.
- Maintain a pantry in our church hall for additonal help.
- In the local area we:
- Support St. Louis FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) center in St. Louis by:
- Providing food, clothing and other items as well as working at the pantry.
- Providing and working at periodic Sunday Suppers for those in need.
- Supporting and participating in a re-entry support program for released prisoners of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM).
- Donating funds directly and sponsoring fund raising events.
- Beyond the local area, we support a number of organizations, including:
- International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
- Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).
- Eastern Orthodox Youth Camp (EOYC).
- Seminaries, monasteries, and various groups carrying out spiritual and corporeal acts of mercy.