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Eastern Orthodoxy

Saint Sophia’s dome.

  Searching for where I could find the fullness of God led me to visit an orthodox church and when I entered, I knew my search was over. Before visiting this church, I only knew the baseline theological beliefs and history of the church such as the filioque clause and the Great Schism of 1054, but since the eastern church is so minuscule in America, only forming 1% of the population, I only kept it in the back of my mind when trying to find the fullness of Christ in belief and worship.  

   I visited St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church both as a World History project for Mr. Tornillo’s class but also as a goal in my personal journey. At St. Sophia’s, I felt more at home than in any protestant church I’ve ever visited in my life. I continued to go to Divine Liturgy (Sunday worship) from Sunday March 31st up until Thomas Sunday May 12th and I plan on to continue going. 


What is Eastern Orthodoxy? 

   Eastern Orthodoxy is a branch of Christianity that is not spoken of a lot, or at least not in the west. Eastern Orthodoxy originated from the eastern part of the Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire and broke away from the bishop of Rome (Catholicism) in the year 1054 due to the abuse of power and conflicting theology.  

   Similar to Catholicism, it was established by Jesus Christ and has apostolic succession, but orthodoxy is vastly different in beliefs and traditions that stem from the early church of the apostles. According to the Pew Research Center, it is the second largest branch of Christianity in the world with approximately 260 million orthodox Christians across the globe. 


What they believe 

     Eastern Orthodoxy shares a core belief with all other Christians, that is, the belief in one God within a trinity: The Father; and the begotten son of God, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the father alone. These are all one in essence, but three persons. They also believe that Jesus Christ is God who became man and who fulfilled Jewish law and all prophecies. Eastern Orthodoxy also believes he was crucified, died, and resurrected to save humanity from sin. 


What aspects resonated with me  

   The orthodox faith is very grand and vastly different from the West (Protestantism and Catholicism), the very same West all people from America have been exposed to. I resonated heavily with Eastern Orthodoxy because of its theological and ecclesiological (the study of the Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, and its discipline) views are logical and godly.  

   I can truly feel Christ’s love, presence, and power in the orthodox church, and I know that his original teachings are preserved in the orthodox church with thousands of years of church fathers saying the same message. Many things such as this made me say that this is surely the church Christ established over 2000 years ago. 


What challenges have I faced along the way 

   When I began to show my passion for orthodoxy those around me such as my parents and grandparents and even friends questioned me on the faith and whether it was correct, and since how orthodoxy is so detached from western culture and theology, it seemed almost expected.  

   I then would have to defend my beliefs. Some accepted me; some didn’t, almost alienating myself from my family’s belief due to how different orthodoxy is compared to protestant Christianity. I tried to overcome these challenges by defending my beliefs with debates, but they were never fruitful. The simple gesture is to believe or to not. 


How did I experience a sense of belonging 

   The first days of me attending the orthodox church was an experience because I was the only person of Hispanic descent there, but many people greeted me and introduced me to orthodox customs such as the greeting phrase “Christos Anesti” which means “he is risen” in Greek, which is a common greeting during Orthodox Easter, and “Alethos Anesti” which means “truly he is risen.” This helped me feel integrated into the church, its people ,and customs, and how the priest would always ask me if I had questions on the faith and how I was doing and if I felt comfortable in the church. Because of these things I felt a sense of belonging and felt very welcome.  

More on what they believe  

     The Orthodox Christians believe in the significance of church tradition and the decisions made in the first 7 ecumenical councils. They also venerate icons (holy images) as windows to the divine and use them in worship and personal devotion.  

  Salvation in Eastern Orthodoxy is seen as a process known as theosis as it isn’t a one-time thing. The sanctification of a sinner only possible through Christ is allowed to partake in the uncreated energies of God.  The Orthodox Christian faith is strongly focused on worship, liturgy and the life of the church established by Christ 









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