CHURCH HISTORY - The Church has her origin with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, not with a human teacher, or group, nor a code of conduct or religious philosophy. Orthodoxy believes that the Church has her origin in the Apostolic Community called into being by Jesus Christ, and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost, which is celebrated fifty days after Easter, commemorates the "outpouring'' of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and marks the beginning of the mission of the Church to the world. The Orthodox Church believes that she has maintained a direct and unbroken continuity of love, faith, and order with the Church of Christ born in the Pentecost experience.
CULTURE and SOCIETY - It was for this well established attitude of the Church toward the intellectual inheritance from ancient Hellenism that made Byzantine writers (clergymen and lay people alike) to embellish their writings not only with references to Holy Scripture but also with passages from ancient Greek poets, philosophers, historians and religious thinkers. By doing this, Church fathers on the one hand asserted their Christian faith and commitment, but on the other hand they maintained their Greek cultural identity. Long before modern anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, Church fathers confirmed that culture is the outer garment of religion and religion is the heart of culture, that is the two are inseparable.
ECUMENICAL ISSUES - Throughout its history, the Orthodox Church has dealt with controversial issues by a process which addresses the "mind of the Church." When an issue arises for which there is no clear-cut, widely and readily acknowledged tradition, and about which there is honest divergence of opinion as to what view genuinely expresses the teaching of the Church, a process begins which may eventually lead to the formulation of an official Church teaching. A classical example from the early period of the Church is the formulation of the Church doctrines about the person of Jesus Christ, which began with the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (325) and concluded with the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787).
ETHICAL and SOCIAL ISSUES - Eastern Orthodox Christian ethics bases its ethical judgments on Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Holy Tradition consists of the "mind of the Church" and is discerned in the decisions of ecumenical and local councils, the writings of the Fathers of the Church, canon law, and the penitentials (guides for the administration of the sacrament of Penance).
Issues not directly treated in the ancient sources are dealt with by modem Orthodox ethicists by seeking to express ethical judgments that are in harmony with the "mind of the Church." Thus, their writings have a certain provisional character and are always subject to episcopal, synodical, or general ecclesial critique. There are occasionally differences of substance in the writings of modem Orthodox Christian ethicists. By and large, however, responsible Orthodox ethicists maintain a common ethical stance. Modem issues in bioethics often require of ethicists that they find parallels in the tradition and, with the help of reason, deduce new ethical applications from established doctrinal, historical, and pastoral positions.
ENVIRONMENT - The engagement of the Orthodox Church with environmental issues must be one of the most positive things that has happened in the past few decades. It is something to be eagerly welcomed, not only because of the importance of these issues, but also because what we are seeing here is, potentially at least, very much a two-way process. Increased awareness of the crises facing our world challenges us to find new ways of living out our faith, and often reminds us painfully of how far our own example falls short of the faith we profess. It can take a voice from outside to jolt us into a fuller understanding of our own tradition, and we need to be open to such voices with great humility. But at the same time, the concerns of the environmental movement provide so many opportunities for a witness to our Orthodox faith, to the message of life and hope in the Saviour who so loved the world that He became part of His own creation.
GREAT LENT and HOLY PASCHA - Pascha, which commemorates the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is the oldest, most venerable and preeminent feast of the Church. It is the great Christian festival, the very center and heart of the liturgical year.
Jesus' passion, death and resurrection constitute the essence of His redemptive work. The narrative of these salvific actions of the Incarnate Son of God formed the oldest part of the Gospel tradition. The solemn celebrations of Great Week and Pascha are centered upon these events. The divine services of the Week, crafted long ago in continuity with the experience, tradition and faith of the first Christians, help us penetrate and celebrate the mystery of our salvation.
HIGHER EDUCATION - There are several Seminaries and Theological Higher Education Facilities throughout the world which offer a full scope of Religious Studies.
MONASTICISM - Since the early years of the Christian era, Christians have been called by Christ Himself to life in the world without being of the world (John 17:13-16). They are distinct from the world, because of their special conduct and their exemplary ethical life. When, toward the middle of the second century of the Christian era, Christian life reached a low ebb, some Christians, both men and women, reacted to this by raising their own personal standards of austere Christian life. They practiced chastity, celibacy, poverty, prayer and fasting (Justin, I Apology 15:6; Athenagoras, Apology 33; and Galenus, De Sententiis Politiae Platonicae).
These people considered themselves Christians selected to live the life of angels (Matt. 22:30). They lived by began fleeing the world and going to the desert, where they established permanent habitations, whether by themselves or in small groups. They are known as the "anchorites" (from anachoresis: departure, flight); the hermits (from eremos: desert); and the monastics (from monos: alone, for a monastic "lives in themselves or in special houses as a community. At about the middle of the third century, they the presence of God alone").
MULTIMEDIA - The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is dedicated to bringing you the latest technologies for today's ministries. In the multimedia section you will find videos, music and virtual reality.
MUSIC - "Strictly speaking, Byzantine music is the medieval sacred chant of Christian Churches following the Orthodox rite. This tradition, encompassing the Greek-speaking world, developed in Byzantium from the establishment of its capital, Constantinople, in 330 until its fall in 1453. It is undeniably of composite origin, drawing on the artistic and technical productions of the classical age, on Jewish music, and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities of Alexandria, Antioch and Epheus."
SACRAMENTS - One of the best-known prayers of the Orthodox Church speaks of the spirit of God being "present in all places and filling all things." This profound affirmation is basic to Orthodoxy's understanding of God and His relationship to the world. We believe that God is truly near to us. Although He cannot be seen, God is not detached from His creation. Through the persons of The Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit, God is present and active in our lives and in the creation about us. All our life and the creation of which we are an important part, points, to and reveals God.
There are special experiences in our corporate life as Orthodox Christians when the perception of God's presence and actions is heightened and celebrated. We call these events of the Church Sacraments. Traditionally, the Sacraments have been known as Mysteries in the Orthodox Church. This description emphasizes that in these special events of the Church, God discloses Himself through the prayers and actions of His people.
SAINTS and PATRISTICS - It must be stated at the beginning that the only true "saint" or holy one (Hagios) is God Himself. The Bible states "For I am the Lord your God; you shall name yourselves holy and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy ... " (Levit. 11:44; 19:2 and 20:7). Man becomes holy and "sainted" by participation in the holiness of God.
Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit. In the Second Letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul suggests: "But we are bound to thank God always for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because from the beginning of time God chose you to find salvation in the Spirit that consecrates you, (en agiasmo Pneumatos) and in the truth that you believe. It was for this that He called you through the Gospel we brought, so that you might possess for your own the splendor of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2: 13–14).
SPIRITUALITY - The sources of Orthodox spirituality are the Holy Scriptures, sacred Tradition, the dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Synods, and the spiritual teachings of the Greek Orthodox Fathers. Orthodox spirituality is mainly expressed through prayer, daily Christian living, and worship, which ultimately lead to union with the divine uncreated Light.
THEOLOGY - Orthodoxy, a way of life, is known for its experiential approach to faith and doctrine. Rooted in the Bible, its faith and doctrine is enriched by the living commentaries of the lives of the saints of the past and the present. It is enriched by the theological speculations of the Fathers and Teachers of the Church, and by the decrees of the various councils which dealt with doctrinal aberrations (heresies).
WORSHIP - Worship is an experience which involves the entire Church. When each of us comes together for Worship, we do so as members of a Church which transcends the boundaries of society, of time and of space. Although we gather at a particular moment and at a particular place, our actions reach beyond the parish, into the very Kingdom of God. We worship in the company of both the living and the departed faithful.
Worship in the Orthodox Church is expressed in four principal ways:
Although generally referred to as canon law, such a name given to the Church's law suggests a parallel to secular law. It would be more correct to call it the tradition of the holy canons, since they are the object of its concern. This law of the Church, her canonical tradition, is an outgrowth of the holy canons; and it appears on the surface to have much in common with secular law, involving persons invested with authority (bishops), as well as the means of creating, formulating, interpreting, executing, validating, amending and revoking laws (through synods or conciliar actions).
- The Eucharist, which is the most important worship experience of Orthodoxy. Eucharist means thanksgiving and is known in the Orthodox Church as the Divine Liturgy.
- The Sacraments, which affirm God's presence and action in the important events of our Christian lives. All the major Sacraments are closely related to the Eucharist. These are: Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the sick.
- Special Services and Blessings, which also affirm God's presence and action in all the events, needs and tasks of our life.
- The Daily Offices, which are the services of public prayer which occur throughout the day. The most important are Matins, which is the morning prayer of the Church, and Vespers, which is the evening prayer of the Church.