Monthly Archives: April 2008

Orthodoxy [2]


The Sacraments:
The Sacraments are seven in number. They are the visible means by which the invisible Grace of the Holy Spirit is imparted to us. Four Sacraments are obligatory:
Chrismation (anointment with Holy Oil)
Holy Communion

Three are optional:
Holy Orders (Ordination)
Unction (anointment of the sick)

The Church Calendar:
The Church Calendar begins on September 1st and ends on August 31st. Each day is sacred for the Orthodox Christian. The Church venerates at least one saint or sacred even in the life of the Church every day of the year. There are, however, several major feast days observed annually, and of these Easter, or Pascha, is the most important.

Major Feast Days:
Nativity of the Theotokos – September 8th
Exaltation of the Holy Cross – September 14th
Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple – November 21st
Christmas – December 25th
Epiphany (Baptism of Christ) – January 6th
Presentation of Christ in the Temple – February 2nd
Annunciation (Evangelismos) – March 25th
Easter (Pascha) – Varies
Ascension – 40 days after Easter
Pentecost – 50 days after Easter
Transfiguration of Christ – August 6th
Dormition of the Theotokos – August 15th

The Divine Liturgy:
The central worship service of the Church is the Divine Liturgy, which is celebrated each Sunday morning and on all holy days. The Liturgy is also the means by which we achieve union with Jesus Christ and unity with each other through the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Ritual and Liturgy:

The ritual that developed at the patriarchate of Constantinople—known as the Byzantine rite—gradually replaced other local rites in the Orthodox East, and after the 13th century became, with local variations and translations, the standard of Orthodox worship. It is sometimes called the Greek rite, because the original language was Greek, but the liturgy has been adapted into Slavonic, Arabic, Estonian, and many other languages. The liturgy is not usually celebrated daily as in the West, and it is always sung. Leavened bread is used in the Eucharist, and communion is given to laymen in both kinds (i.e., both bread and wine). Infants receive communion and confirmation. The other sacraments are similar to those of the Latin rite, except in details; e.g., confirmation is conferred by priests. The frequency of confession varies in the different self-governing churches. The church buildings are generally square, with a solid sanctuary screen covered with icons. Parish priests may marry prior to ordination; monks and bishops may not marry.