Whether you are a long-time member of the church or just joining, it can be quite a challenge to know how to be Greek Orthodox. There are a number of important elements to understand, such as the history of the church, the church buildings, and the rituals. These elements are important to know because they will help you make the most of your worship experience.
A brief history of the church
During the first three centuries of the Church, persecutions and bloody conflicts raged throughout the Church. The early church was made up of five self-governing dioceses. The Gospel of Christ was first preached in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
In the fourth century, monasticism became an institution in Egypt. These monks lived a strict, austere life. During periods of scarce blood, they were often martyred. These early martyrs gave up their lives rather than denounce the Christ.
The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, which is part of the Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has two million members. It also has 444 churches throughout the United States. It is under the spiritual leadership of Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
The Byzantine rite
Despite the fact that there are a number of Eastern Catholic Churches, most people are familiar with the Byzantine rite. It is the most commonly encountered Eastern Catholicism. It is also the rite that most often leads people to become Catholics.
Byzantine rite worship is a combination of specific architecture, vestments, and frequent prostrations. The liturgy is very active and draws from classical poetry, monastic spirituality, and hymnography. The Byzantine rite is also known as “the heaven on earth” because it is characterized by a strong feeling of sacredness.
Traditionally, the narthex of Greek orthodoxy is an architectural element, and in some churches, a large porch. But in the modern era, it is also a place for catechetical materials.
The narthex is a vestibule, or antechamber, at the western entrance of early Christian churches. Traditionally, penitents, energumens, and seekers used it. The narthex was also a place to make offerings and take alms. In the past, the narthex was considered the most important part of the church building.
The narthex is often used to symbolize the salvific movement of the Church. It is where visitors are welcomed into the house of God. As in a temple, visitors must pass through the narthex before entering the main sanctuary. The narthex is also where the faithful are welcome to receive their blessings during Pascha.
During the worship service, the Orthodox faithful stand in the nave. This is done in order to elevate the mind and soul of the worshiper.
The nave is located in the middle of the cathedral. It is usually separated from the sanctuary by a solid screen called the iconostasis. These walls are usually decorated with icons and murals.
Icons are often illuminated with an oil lamp. They are usually depicted scenes from the Bible. They are viewed as windows into the kingdom of God. They are also important symbols of the Orthodox faith.
Throughout history, the sanctuary of Greek orthodoxy has been regarded as the most sacred part of a church building. Its purpose is to remind the congregation of the invisible presence of heaven and to allow the faithful to lay aside their earthly cares.
Iconic images of saints are found in the sanctuary of Greek orthodoxy. Some of the most common are those of Saints Basil and John Chrysostom. These saints are the authors of the major Orthodox liturgies.
The sanctuary of Greek orthodoxy also contains images of angels. These are used in the celestial liturgy to celebrate the triumph of Christ over death.
Traditionally, the Greek Orthodox Church believes that the Eucharist is the source of all Church doctrines. The Eucharist is a memorial of the Lord’s last supper. It is also the center of life in the Orthodox Church. In order to receive the body and blood of Christ, Orthodox Christians must prepare themselves.
The preparation for Holy Communion includes a soul through prayer and repentance. It also involves fasting on the day before the sacrament. For children, they also attend a catechism school. This school teaches the practical application of Catholic teachings.
The Trisagion service
Depending on your religious beliefs, the Trisagion service for being Greek Orthodox can take place either at the funeral home or the church. It is usually a short prayer service performed by an Orthodox priest.
The service typically takes place the night before the funeral. During this time, loved ones can talk about the deceased and give eulogies. Guests are invited to place flowers on the casket.
The service can also take place the day of the funeral, if the family wishes. The funeral service usually lasts around 90 minutes. The service includes hymns, prayers, and a sermon. It concludes with a song.