What is the Eastern Orthodox Church?
The Eastern Orthodox Church – or the Orthodox Church - is a religious organization founded by Jesus and his Twelve Apostles. It officially calls itself the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Orthodox Christians believe in a single God who is both three and one
(triune): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is three
distinct, divine persons (hypostases) who share one divine essence
(ousia)—uncreated, immaterial and eternal.
How Many Eastern Orthodox Christians Exist?
There are approximately 220 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church, and the third largest religious grouping overall after Protestantism.
Eastern Orthodoxy is the largest single religious faith in Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, but there are also large Orthodox communities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Albania, Estonia, Jerusalem, North America, and South America.
What are the Seven Sacraments of Christian Orthodoxy?
There are Seven Sacraments within Christian Orthodoxy:
• Holy Unction
(Anointing of the Sick)
• Holy Orders
(Ordination of individuals to the ministry)
What are the type of
Christian Orthodox religions?
Orthodox Christians belong to two main groups: Eastern
Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is comprised of
14 Patriarchal Groups in full communion (they share the essential doctrines):
- Patriarch of Constantinople. This include Finnish Orthodox, Estonian
Apostolic Orthodox, Ukranian
Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, and Korean
- Patriarch of
Alexandria (a.k.a. Greek Orthodox
Church of Alexandria)
- Patriarch of Antioch. This includes the Antiochian Orthodox
Christian ARchidiose of North America and the Antiochian Orthodox
Christian ARchidiose of the British Isles and Ireland.
- Patriarchate of Jerusalem
(Saint Catherine’s Monastary)
- Patriarchate of Moscow and
all Russia. This includes Russian
Orthodox church outside of Russia, Orthodox Church in America, Belarusian
Orthodox Church, Ukranian Orthodox Church, Estonian Orthodox Church,
Latvian Orthodox Church, Moldovan Orthodox Church, Japanese Orthodox
- Patriarchate of Pec and
the Serbian Lands (Orthodox Ohrid Archibishopric)
- Patriarchate of Romania
(Metropolis of Bessarabia)
- Patriarchate of Bulgaria
- Patriarchate of Georgia
- Cypriot Orthodox Church
- Orthodox Church of Greece
- Polish Orthodox
- Albanian Orthodox
- Czech and Slovak Orthodox
The Oriental Orthodox (Coptic Orthodox) Church is comprised of 6
Patriarchal Groups in full communion (all sharing the essential doctrines):
- Armenian Apostolic Church.
This includes - Armenian Patriarch of
Constantinople, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Catholicossate of the
Great House of Cilicia.
- Coptic Orthodox Church of
Alexandria. This includes – the
British Orthodox Church and the French Coptic Orthodox Church
- Syriac Orthodox Church of
Antioch (Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church)
- Malankara Orthodox Syrian
Church (Brahmavar Orthodox Church – aka Indian Orthodox Church)
- Ethiopian Orthodox
- Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo
What is the difference between Oriental / Coptic Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox?
The Oriental Orthodox Church and
the Eastern Orthodox Church split into two groups in 451 AD over the Fourth
Ecumenical Council - or the Council of
Chalcedon. This Council ruled that Jesus
Christ is ‘in two natures” – he is both divine and human. The Oriental Orthodox Church aligned with the
notion that Christ is one in nature after His Incarnation.
What happens at a Memorial
Service in the Orthodox Church?
memorial service is a solemn liturgical service to remember deceased Orthodox
Christians. In Greek, this service is
knonw as a mnemosynon (μνημόσυνον
) . In Slavonic the service is known as
a panikhida (панvхида
). The service is for the repose – or
the resting – of the departed.
Orthodox church reserves a special time in the church service when those who
have passed away are remembered in a memorial service. The memorial service is conducted at any or
all of the following milestones after the death - either 40 days, 6 months, 1
year, 5 years or 10 years. Generally pews are reserved on the right front
of the church for family members.
family of the deceased provides a kollyva tray for fellow church members.
Kollyva – also known as koliva or kollyba (Greek κόλλυβα,
Serbian кољиво , Bulgarian : коливо,
) is a boiled wheat with
honey or sugar and served in little packages.
Koliva (or Coliva) can be ordered
from the church sexton or a ethnic store.
The koliva is blessed during the Divine Liturgy by the priest. It is distributed by the candle tables at the
entry of the church. Usually part of
the koliva is reserved for the family of the deceased to be distributed at the
order (from the church sexton or a store or they make it) kollyva (the bulgar
wheat on a tray) which the priests blesses and crosses; kollyva is then put
into little packages and offered to the congregation after they have received
bread at the end of the service. It is distributed by the candle tables
in the narthex (at the entry door of the church). Usually part of the
kollyva is reserved for the family to be distributed at the memorial luncheon. Oftentimes, the family of the deceased
sponsors the coffee hour after the service in the church hall.
What is Clean Monday / Kathara Deftera ?
Clean Monday is the first Monday of Great Lent. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season. It is also a national holiday in Greece with many climbing high points in Athens or the countryside to fly kites. The day is honored with a special feast, glendi, of lenten foods - all prepared without meat, dairy products or first (except for fish roe, shellfish, octopus and squid).