Learn About Orthodoxy
There is much to learn about Orthodoxy. Following are some links to help you get started.
The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
The Divine Liturgy
Questions and Answers about Orthodoxy
Recommended Orthodox Books
Married clergy is one point of difference between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox Church allows priests to marry, as long as they do so before their ordination.
Priest, (from Greek presbyteros, “elder”), an officer or minister who is intermediate between a bishop and a deacon.
A priesthood developed gradually in the early Christian church as first bishops and then elders, or “presbyters,” began to exercise certain priestly functions, mainly in connection with celebration of the Eucharist. By the end of the 2nd century, the church’s bishops were called priests (Latin: sacerdos). Although the priestly office was vested primarily in the bishop, a presbyter shared in his priestly functions and, in his absence, could exercise certain of them as his delegate. With the spread of Christianity and the establishment of parish churches, the presbyter, or parish priest, adopted more of the bishop’s functions and became the principal celebrant of the Eucharist. In this capacity, as well as by hearing confession and granting absolution, the priest eventually assumed the role of the church’s chief representative of God to the people. The development of eucharistic theology resulted in a further emphasis of the priest’s spiritual powers and qualities.
The Orthodox Cross
The smaller upper beam represents Pontius Pilate’s inscription written in Latin, Greek and Hebrew: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (John 19:19). In Latin, the inscription reads, “Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,” which is simply reduced to “INRI” on most replicas. This is replaced with the Christian inscription: "King of Glory" - below the knees of the angels. On the title-board is inscribed the initials 'IC XC', being the first and last letters of Christ's name in Greek. In addition, just above Christ's arms we see the inscription: 'NIKA', which in Greek means: "He conquers" or "He is victorious." Frequently we see these last two inscriptions together: 'IC XC NIKA', meaning "Jesus Christ is victorious" (over death and sin).
The middle bar is that on which the Lord's hands were nailed. On the top corners, the depiction of the sun (left) and the moon (right) are sometimes added which represent "The sun hid its light, and the moon turned to blood." (Joel 2:31)
The lower beam represents the footrest upon which our Lord’s feet were nailed. Several traditions exist which explain the slanting. In the sixth century, the slanted beam symbolized the agony and struggle of our Lord during His suffering on the cross. The Gospel of St. Matthew reads, “Once again Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and then gave up His spirit. Suddenly the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, boulders split, tombs opened” (Matthew 27:50-52). At the traumatic climax when He gave up His spirit, the horizontal beam jerked from its horizontal position to the slanting position.
Orthodox Christians don’t worship religious icons. Moreover, they don’t worship the saints. What they do is honor and venerate them, as well as ask for their prayers. All love directed at the saints is ultimately love aimed at God. Dictionaries define an icon as an 'image'. In the Orthodox Church an icon is a sacred image, often referred to as a "window into heaven". As an anonymous book, published by the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Apostles of Peter and Paul explains, icons are "a window through which we look with our physical eyes at the kingdom of heaven and the realm of spiritual experience." More than art, icons have an important spiritual role.
Differences Between Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches
Visiting an Orthodox Church
At Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Byesville, Ohio we welcome newcomers with open arms! We love seeing new faces in church and encourage you to participate or simply observe. We will invite you to join us for coffee hour after liturgy so we can get to know you. Our services are in English and we have liturgical books that you can use to make it easy to follow along. We also offer a library of books free to borrow and a Sunday school program and youth group for children of all ages. Feel free to stop in any Sunday for Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. (our Reader's service begins around 9:30 a.m.).
"Orthodoxy seems startlingly different at first, but as the weeks go by it gets to be less so. It will begin to feel more and more like home, and it will draw you into the Kingdom of God. I hope that your first visit to an Orthodox church will be enjoyable, and that it won’t be your last." Frederica Mathewes-Green