“As the Prophets have seen, as the Apostles have taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers have set forth in dogmas, as the whole world has understood, as Grace has shone forth, as the truth was demonstrated, as falsehood was banished, as wisdom was emboldened, as Christ has awarded; thus do we believe, thus we speak, thus we preach Christ our true God and His Saints, honoring them in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in temples, and in icons, worshipping and respecting the One as God and Master, and honoring the others, and apportioning relative worship to them, because of our common Master for they are His genuine servants,
This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Orthodox, this faith hath established the whole world.”
(Synodikon of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council, Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthros)
Orthodoxy, which comes from the Greek word, “Ορθοδοξία,” is derived as follows:
Ορθός, meaning ‘right’ or ‘correct’
Δόξα / Δοξασία, meaning ‘glory’ / ‘belief’
Therefore, when we refer to Orthodoxy, we refer to the study of the true belief.
By declaring ourselves as Orthodox, we declare that we are Christians who believe in Jesus Christ as God and in the Church He established. We are members of the, “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” (from the Nicene Creed) the Body of Christ.
The Orthodox Church, unlike the other churches or religious denominations, is the One, True, Church, which was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ and taught by the Apostles themselves. It began at the first Pentecost, when Jesus sent down the Holy Spirit upon his disciples (found in Acts, Chapter 2), and created the Orthodox Church.
Even the clergy of the Orthodox Church can be traced back to the Apostles themselves, and to Christ, in an unbroken line. All other Christian denominations broke away from the Orthodox Church at some point in time.
The Orthodox Church maintains the traditions and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning, without change. While we do live in an ever changing world, the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Faith, is unchanging. For as it is written, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). As such, we too must remain steadfast, holding true to the teachings of the Church.
The Symbol of Faith
The Nicene Creed is our confession of Faith, drawn up by the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325 AD, and the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 381 AD. It is often referred to as the “Symbol of Faith”, as it is not an analytical statement but rather something greater than itself and to which it bears witness. It is the expression of our fundamental beliefs as Orthodox Christians. Like the Orthodox Church, it too has remained unchanged.
I believe in one God, Father, Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all Ages. Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten not made, One in essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became Man. And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And rose on the third day according to the Scriptures. And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; Who spoke by the Prophets.
In One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge One Baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the age to come. Amen.
The ‘Holy Sacraments’, or ‘Holy Mysteries’, are the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives and creation. Through them, we commune with the Holy Spirit, and in turn receive God. They are essential to salvation and eternal life.
There are seven Holy Sacraments, all of which were given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. However, not all of them are necessary for everyone; not everyone is called to marriage or the priesthood. We must, however, observe the other five Sacraments.
The Ten Commandments
After Moses had led God’s people out of the land of Egypt, he received the Ten Commandments. The people were camped in the Sinai Desert before the mountain. Moses then ascended the mountain of God and the Lord spoke to him and a covenant between God and the people was created. On the third day, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, that the people should observe them.
The Ten Commandments form the ethical code by which mankind is guided. Even to this day, they are still required of us. It does not stop there. Just following the Ten Commandments does not mean that we will inherit salvation and eternal life. We must go beyond these, just as Jesus says to the rich man in the New Testament (Matthew 19:16-30), who had followed the Ten Commandments all his life and asks what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him that if he wishes to be perfect, to sell all that he has and give to the poor, and to come and follow Him. The rich man was saddened by this, as he had many riches, and the disciples were astonished, questioning who could be saved, to which Jesus responds, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
For this young man, riches were his first love and not God. For each and every one of us, anything that comes before God is a problem. In the rich young man’s life his money came before God and it is this reason that God told him to go and sell all that he had. For us, it might be something else that we put before God. It might be our mother, our father, or even a particular possession or possessions that we hold in high value, even our career or business or field of study – forgetting God in the process.
Later in the New Testament, Jesus reveals to us the greatest commandment.
“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’
Jesus said to him, ”You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
These two do not replace the previous commandments, nor are they separate from them but rather, they summarise them. When we love God completely, how can we sin, when we know that it is against God’s will? The second which states, ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ means that we must love our neighbour, as being created in God’s image and likeness just as we are, which is where we find our true self.
In today’s society, we can see that very few of these commandments are observed. When we have been given so much from God, the least that we can do is to observe His commandments. Just as a child loves his father and does what is asked of him, so too must we love our Father, and do what is asked of us.
- “You shall have no other gods before me.”
- “You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers of the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me; but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
- “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: neither you, nor your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, nor your stranger who sojourns with you. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them, and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day and hallowed it.”
- “Honor your father and mother that it may be well with you, and your days may be long upon the good land the Lord your God is giving you.”
- “You shall not murder.”
- “You shall not commit adultery.”
- “You shall not steal.”
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
- “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his house, and neither shall you covet his field, nor his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, any of his cattle, or whatever belongs to your neighbor.”
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.