Category:Working Within the Orthodox Tradition

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The Chapel of the Holy Icon of Theotokos of Smolensk in the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk, Russia

The Orthodox Tradition is one of the three major forms of the religion of Christianity, the other two forms being Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

The Orthodox Churches developed within the Byzantine or Roman empire, from the earliest church established by Saint Paul and the Apostles. Adherents practice what they understand to be the original ancient traditions, believing in growth without change. As with membership in some other Christian houses of worship, affiliation requires an initiatic rite of passage such as baptism or conversion.

The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian tradition in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents, mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine, all of which are majority Eastern Orthodox. Its adherents believe it to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles over 2,000 years ago.

Saint Michael's Monastery in Kyiv, the headquarters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine; photo by Hans Birger Nilsen
Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, in Etchmiadzin, Armenia; photo by Areg Amirkhanian
Holy Trinity Cathedral, also known in Amharic as Kidist Selassie, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; it is the seat of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and was built in 1942 to commemorate the Ethiopian victory over Italian occupation; the tombs of Emperor Haile Selassie, his consort the Empress Menen Asfaw, several Patriarchs of the church, and the famous British suffragette and anti-fascist activist Sylvia Pankhurst are situated within its walls
The Cathedral of Saint Andrew the Apostle, also known as the Pitsunda Cathedral or Bichvinta Cathedral, in Pitsunda, Abkhazia; built in the 10th century CE, it was the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Catholicate of Abkhazia until the 16th century when Abkhazia came under Ottoman Muslim rule; it was reconsecrated in 1869 when Abkhazia was a part of Russian Empire; due to the Republic of Abkhazia's secession from Georgia, it is currently the seat of the schismatic Abkhazian Orthodox Church; although this usage is disputed by the Georgian Orthodox Church, which holds that Abkhazia is not an independent nation
Russian Orthodox Church in Rostow, Russia
The "Little" Metropolis Cathedral in Athens Greece, at the spiritual center of the Greek Orthodox Church
Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, California; photo by Sterba
Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, Erie, Pennsylvania
Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church, also known as the Egyptian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria
Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk, Belarus, the mother church of the Belarusian Orthodox Church; photo by Insider
Orthodox Church in Vilnius, Lithuania; photo by J. Stacevičius
Czech Orthodox Church of Saint Gorazd in Olomouc, Czech Republic; photo by Michal Maňas
Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Anaheim, California; photo by R. Mariano
Saint Nicolas Polish Orthodox Church in Bialowieza, Poland; photo by Wojsy
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia; photo by Alvesgaspar
The Hagia Irene in the Topkapi Palace courtyard complex in Istanbul, Turkey; built in the 6th century CE, it is the only Byzantine church in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque, but it is now a museum, not a place of worship
Church of Saint Seraphim of Sarov in Khabarovsk, Russia; photo by 74Katerina
The Gergeti Holy Trinity (Tsminda Sameba) Georgian Orthodox Church in Kazbegi, Georgia; photo by Nicolai Bangsgaard

Contents

Denominations

The division or schism of Catholic Christianity into two groups can be traced back to the First Council of Nicea, a ecumenical convention of bishops who gathered in 325 CE, when Christianity was made legal in the Roman Empire. This meeting resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine regarding the nature of Jesus Christ in his relationship to God the Father and separated the calendrical celebration of Easter from the Jewish calendar for Passover; furthermore, the Pope of Rome was granted supreme governance of the Church.

In the 9th century CE, the Roman Pope refused to recognize the election of Photius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Photius in turn challenged the right of the papacy to rule in the matter. Further disputes arose with respect to doctrinal matters regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit and the use of leavened or unleavened bread in the Eucharist, while political tensions continued to center on Roman Catholic papal claims to universal jurisdiction in all matters concerning the organization of the Church.

In 1053, Leo of Ohrid, a Byzantine Archbishop and advocate of Constantinople, sent a letter intended for all bishops of the Latin rite, including the Pope, outlining his belief that many Western practices were heresy, at which time all Latin churches in Constantinople were closed by order of Cerularius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Dissension increased, and on July 16, 1054 the leaders of the Patriarchate of Constantinople were excommunicated from the Church of Rome. The Great Schism of 1054 CE, also known as the East-West Schism, was the defining moment that created the break in fellowship between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

A further schism arose between the churches known as "Eastern Orthodox" and those known as "Oriental Orthodox," who developed along entirely different doctrinal lines concerning the divine or human nature of Jesus Christ. The Oriental Orthodox churches are a group of Eastern Christian churches adhering to Miaphysite Christology, which holds that Jesus, the "Incarnate Word," is both fully divine and fully human, in one nature. Oriental Orthodoxy has approximately 60 million adherents worldwide in Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Western Asia, and India.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches are comprised of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. They consider themselves to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ and their bishops, equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, to be the successors of Christ's apostles. Three rites are practiced by these churches: the Western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syriac Rite practiced by the Syriac Church and the Malankara Church of India, and the Alexandrian Rite practiced by the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox churches. Their doctrines recognize the validity of only the first three Ecumenical Councils.

Since the 11th century many rulers, popes, and patriarchs have made attempts to foster reconciliation and heal the rift between the opposing parties. In 1894 the Roman Catholic Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical called "Orientalium dignitas" establishing the rights of a group of Eastern churches, including those in "the whole of the Ottoman Empire" as it stood at that time, the Melkite churches of Greece, and the Russian Byzantine churches in the United States, to "full communion, relationship, and agreement" with Roman Catholicism, because they "share certain essential principles of Christian theology." Views vary among denominations on the meaning of "full communion," but typically it enables congregants to share celebrations, including receiving the Eucharist, or taking communion, with members of the agreeing church, without complete hierarchical acknowledgement. Despite such ecclesiastical treaties, events since the Great Schism, including the Protestant Reformation, have worked to widen the separation, and many new schisms have also arisen within the formerly unified Orthodox Churches, especially along nationalistic lines.

Orthodox bishops trace their lineage back to the Apostles of Jesus through the process of Apostolic Succession. However, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Orthodox Catholic churches do mot necessarily agree on all doctrinal or theological points, lists of canonical saints, feast dates, or forms of the holy rites, and they may not all be in mutual recognition with one another. Each self-governing or autocephalous body, often encompassing a nation or language-group, is organized under its own clerical leadership, and is shepherded by a synod of bishops whose duty, among other things, is to preserve and teach the Apostolic and patristic traditions and related church practices.

There is no central governmental authority within the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Byzantine Catholic churches similar to the Pope within the Roman Catholic Church, however the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is recognized as primus inter pares ("first among equals") by most Eastern Orthodox bishops, while the Moscow Patriarchate is recognized by many, but not all, in Eastern Europe, and, since 1894, a few have recognized the patriarch of Rome as their father, while still preserving Orthodox traditions of worship. In short, the Orthodox Tradition is composed of several self-governing ecclesiastical bodies which are geographically and nationally distinct, with some theological differences.

Autocephalous denominations found within this tradition include the following:

Abkhazian Orthodox Church

The Abkhazian Orthodox Church came into existence in 2009 when, as a side-effect of political conflicts in Georgia, the Sukhumi-Abkhazian Eparchy declared a schism from the Georgian Orthodox Church and announced that it was "re-establishing the Catholicate of Abkhazia disbanded in 1795."

American Orthodox Catholic Church

The American Orthodox Catholic Church, also known as The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America or The American Orthodox Patriarchate, was created in 1927 as the first attempted autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian jurisdiction for North America, although it was originally intended to function as a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (today known the Orthodox Church in America). By 1940, succession claims led to its reformation as The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, centered in the state of Massachusetts.

Armenian Apostolic Church

According to tradition, the Armenian Apostolic Church, also known as the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Armenian Church, or Armenian Gregorian Church, originated in the missions of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus of Edessa in the 1st century CE. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion under the rule of King Tiridates III in the early 4th century, and Saint Gregory the Illuminator (257–331 CE) was the first official primate of the church. The Armenian Apostolic Church is allied with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Assyrian Church of the East

The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, follows the traditional Christology and ecclesiology of the historical Church of the East, and belongs to the eastern branch of Syriac Christianity.

Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1922 in an attempt to create a national Church in the territory of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Following the German occupation of Byelorussia in 1942, the Church's leaders became Nazi collaborationists. When the Soviet Red Army retook the region in 1944, Church leaders largely escaped to Germany. In 1948, bishops and members met in Konstanz, Germany, and reorganized their activities abroad. The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is currently based in Brooklyn, New York,and operates within the Belarusian diaspora. It has 10 parishes: three in the United States, three in Australia, one in Canada, one in the United Kingdom and, since 2010, one in Belarus. Its activities in Belarus are strongly opposed by the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Belarusian Orthodox Church

The Belarusian Orthodox Church is the official name of the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus. It represents the union of Russian Orthodox eparchies in the territory of Belarus and is the largest religious organization in the country, uniting the predominant majority of its Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Belarusian Orthodox Church strongly opposes the largely diasporic Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, based in Bulgaria and part of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, has over 2,600 parishes and is the oldest Slavic Orthodox church, tracing its history to the 1st century CE.

Byzantine Catholic Church

The Byzantine Catholic Church, the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, and others of similar name and character are primarily 19th century offshoots of several Orthodox churches that took part in the first reunification beteen the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church since the Great Schism in 1054. While performing the Byzantine Rite, and recognizing Orthodox saints and feast days, these churches have been in full communion with the Pope of Rome since 1894. Because of this, their sacraments may not be recognized by all other Orthodox churches.

Coptic Orthodox Church

The Coptic Orthodox Church, also known as the Egyptian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt, with members in Africa and the Middle East. The head of the church and the See of Alexandria is the Pope of Alexandria on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark, Father of Fathers, Shepherd of Shepherds, Ecumenical Judge, and Thirteenth Among the Apostles. The seat of the church is Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. The church follows the Coptic Rite for its liturgy, prayer, and devotional patrimony; it has approximately 25 million members worldwide and is Egypt's largest Christian denomination.

Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia was founded in 870 CE, with 172 parishes and dual headquarters located in Prague, Czech Republic, and Prešov, Slovakia; is a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

"Tewahedo" means "being made one" a principle derived from the Oriental Orthodox belief that Jesus is of one unified nature, with divine and human aspects. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church occupies a unique space that blends Oriental Orthodoxy with cultural, ritual, dietary, and doctrinal aspects of Karaite Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Conservative Judaism. In 1959, the church was granted autocephaly by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Ethiopian Orthodox churches are found throughout Africa, Canada, and the United States.

Georgian Orthodox Church

The Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia, also known as the Georgian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of Georgia, is Georgia's dominant religious institution and dates back to the Christianization of Iberia and Colchis by Andrew the Apostle in the 1st century CE and Saint Nino in the 4th century CE. It is governed by a holy synod of bishops, under the Patriarch of All Georgia.

Greek Orthodox Church

The Greek Orthodox Church is descended from churches founded in the Balkans and the Middle East during the 1st century CE and is headquartered at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens and Petraki Monastery in Athens, Greece with approximately 10 million members, most of Greek descent, located all around the world.

Latvian Orthodox Church

The Latvian Orthodox Church is an Eastern Orthodox church granted autonomy from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1921 and became a part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1936. The church abruptly lost its autonomous status in 1941 during the occupation of Latvia by Soviet forces, regaining it in 1992 but maintaining canonical ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Macedonian Orthodox Church

The Macedonian Orthodox Church, also known as the Archdiocese of Ohrid, with over 500 parishes in 12 dioceses, is an Eastern Orthodox church founded in 1959 and headquartered in North Macedonia.

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church or the Malankara Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church headquartered in the Devalokam neighborhood near Kottayam, India, and serves India's Saint Thomas Christian population. These communities originated in the missions of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century, circa 52 CE. They employ the Malankara Rite, an Indian form of the West Syriac liturgical rite.

Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church

The Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church is an offshoot of earlier Syrian Orthodox churches that trace their origins to the teachings of Saint Peter in the first century CE in Antioch, a city formerly in Syria and now in Turkey. After the Great Schism of 1054 CE, they practiced the Byzantine Rite, but in 1894 they accepted the offer of reunification made by the Roman Pope Leo XIII. They still perform the Byzantine Rite, and recognize and feast days, but because they accept Roman recognition, their sacraments may not be recognized by all other Orthodox churches.

Montenegrin Orthodox Church

The Montenegrin Orthodox Church is headquartered in Cetinje, Montenegro, was formed in 1993, and is a successor to an older Church that closed when the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro unified in 1918.

Orthodox-Catholic Church of America

The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, founded in 1892 in the United States, is an independent and self-governing denomination combining the liturgies of Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Western Catholicism, and serving Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Africa, Australia, and the United States.

Polish Orthodox Church

The Polish Orthodox Church, established in 1924 after Poland regained independence following the First World War, is an Eastern Orthodox church comprised of 8 dioceses and 278 parishes headquartered in Warsaw, Poland.

Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church, also known as the Moscow Patriarchate, was founded in 988 CE and is comprised of 194 dioceses inside Russia and based in Danilov Monastery, Moscow, Russia. A separate grouping is known as the Russian Orthodox Churches Outside of Russia.

Serbian Orthodox Church

The Serbian Orthodox Church is an Eastern Orthodox church founded in 1219 CE, has 3,100 parishes, and is headquartered at the Building of the Patriarchate in Belgrade, Serbia.

Slavic Orthodox Church

The Slavic Orthodox Church, an Eastern Orthodox church whose establishment facilitated the conversion of the Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainian people, was founded in 870 CE and today has approximately 220 million members located in Southeast Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Asia, the Near East, Cyprus, and Georgia.

Syriac Orthodox Church

Syriac Orthodox Church, officially known as the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, is led by the bishop of Antioch, who possess apostolic succession through Saint Peter.

Turkish Orthodox Church

The Turkish Orthodox Church, also referred to the Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate, was founded in Kayseri, Turkey, in 1922 by Pavlos Karahisarithis of the Karamanlis, a Turkish-speaking Greek Orthodox people native to the Karaman and Cappadocia regions of Anatolia. It is headquartered at Meryem Ana Church in Istanbul, ,and has an estimated 47,000 followers. In the United States the Turkish Orthodox Church was established in 1966 when Christopher M. Cragg, an African-American physician, formed a group of 20 predominantly African-American churches linked to the Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate; this denomination disbanded in the early 1980s.

Ukrainian Orthodox Churches

Due to historical political conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, there are now several Ukrainian denominations. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada are under the wing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and no longer allied with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Orthodox Church Calendar

The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, while all other Christian churches follow the Gregorian calendar, creating a difference in their observance of liturgical events including shared holidays. As a result, Orthodox Easter falls between April 4 and May 8 (and always after Passover), while western Christian churches celebrate Easter anywhere between March 22 and April 25 (which may precede Passover). Several Eastern Orthodox national churches maintain the Julian calendar date of January 7 for their observance of Christmas, most notably the Russian, Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Orthodox Christian Beliefs

The goal of Orthodox Christians from baptism onward is to continually draw themselves nearer to God throughout their lives. This process is called theosis, or deification, and is a spiritual pilgrimage in which each person strives to both become more holy and more "Christ Like" within Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christians believe scripture was revealed by the Holy Spirit to its inspired human authors. The scriptures are not, however, the source of the traditions associated with the Church but rather the opposite; the biblical text came out of that tradition. It is also not the only important book of the Church. There are literally hundreds of early patristic writings that form part of Church tradition.

The Biblical text used by the Orthodox includes the Greek Septuagint and the New Testament. It includes the seven Deuterocanonical Books which are generally rejected by Protestants and a small number of other books that are in neither Western canon. Orthodox Christians use the term "Anagignoskomena" (a Greek word that means "readable", "worthy of reading") for the ten books that they accept but that are not in the Protestant 39-book Old Testament canon. They regard them as venerable, but on a lesser level than the 39 books of the Hebrew canon. They do, however, use them in the Divine Liturgy.

Icons

Icons are small gilded paintings of saints, apostles, and the Holy Family. The tradition of painting and gilding these sacred images may date back as far as the 3rd to 5th centuries CE, but most were destroyed during the Byzantine Iconoclasm of 726–842 CE, when image veneration was deprecated in the church. Since the 10th century CE, icons have been a distinguishing feature of Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, where they adorn the walls and may even often cover the inside structure completely. An iconostasis or interior partition-wall of icons separates the nave from the sanctuary in many Orthodox churches. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only men can enter the altar portion behind the iconostasis.

Modern Orthodox homes often have an area set aside for family prayer, colloquially called the icon corner, on which icons of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints are placed, typically on an Eastern-facing wall.

Petitioning The Holy Trinity

For more information, see The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is a Christian conception of the triplicity of the Godhead, referred to as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is Jehovah God of the Jews; the Son is Jesus Christ, the Messiah or Redeeming Saviour; and the Holy Ghost is the Shekinah of the Jews, symbolized in Christianity as a snow white Dove or as Light. Many Christian root doctors call upon the direct aid of Jesus Christ, or the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost when working on behalf of clients. (Read More ...)

Petitioning Angels and Archangels

For more information, see Angels and Archangels

Both Christian and Jewish root doctors may call upon the direct aid of Archangels, Angels, and personal Guardian Angels for the help and protection of clients. (Read More ...)

Petitioning The Virgin Mary

For more information, see The Virgin Mary

The Blessed Mother Mary has been venerated in many different forms throughout the world. Mary is honored, praised and beloved as the pure Mother of Christ. She has appeared to the faithful and pure of heart in visions and apparitions, and many locations where she has been witnessed have become holy sites of healing and worship. Mary is the loving Mother of the Christ Child, and her intercession can be sought for any trouble one may have. (Read More ...)

Petitioning Orthodox Church Saints

For more information, see Orthodox Church Saints

Within the Orthodox Church, a saint may be designated as a patron or patroness of particular causes or professions, or be invoked against specific illnesses or disasters. A wide array of saints are known for their patronage of various facets of life, including returning lost lovers, finding lost objects, easing the burdens of the mentally ill, aiding in real estate and house-selling matters, bringing luck and money in a hurry, and ensuring a peaceful home and family life. (Read More ...)

Working with Orthodox Folk Saints

For more information, see Orthodox Folk Saints

Folks saints are spirits who have not been canonized as saintly by the Orthodox Church, but whose existence, legends, and assistance are well known to spiritual workers who come from Orthodox traditions. Popular Orthodox folk saints include The Three Magi. (Read More ...)

Folk Magic Within the Orthodox Tradition

Some notable aspects of the spiritual folk magic found among Orthodox practitioners are the 40-day blessing of newborns and a belief in, and remediations against, the evil eye

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Pages in category "Working Within the Orthodox Tradition"

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