Why Western Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church”.

The approved and accepted definition of Western Orthodoxy is, “Western Orthodoxy, Western Rite Orthodoxy or Orthodox Western Rite are terms used to describe Orthodox congregations and groups which follow the customs of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but which use Western attire and traditional Western liturgies (such as the Liturgies of St. Tikhon, St. Gregory or the Sarum Rite) rather than Eastern liturgies such as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.”

There are some who mistake Western Orthodoxy for a form of Old Catholicism. “Western Orthodox” and “Old Catholic” are two entirely separate animals which is why, after learning this, from time to time an Old Catholic priest will convert to Western Orthodoxy. Nevertheless there are some clergy who call themselves “Western Orthodox” but in practice identify with the “Old Catholic Church”.

Our jurisdiction is Western Orthodox and as stated above follow the approved and accepted definition of Western Orthodoxy as being, “following the customs of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but use the Western Liturgy of St. Tikhon rather than Eastern Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom”. We follow the traditions of God, not of men.

Colossians 2:8 – “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:15Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

In accordance with Apostolic faith delivered to us by tradition from the Fathers, I have delivered the tradition, without inventing anything extraneous to it. What I have learned, that I inscribed, comfortably with the Holy Scriptures.” – St. Athanasios the Great

Holy Orthodoxy is the Christian Faith, following the teachings of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

We listen to and adhere to Holy Scripture which is at the heart of the Church and we turn with great devotion to the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and founded the Church through His apostles and disciples for the salvation of men. The teachings of the apostles and the Church spread far in the years which followed.

To the group of Churches founded by the apostles themselves belong the five Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome. The Church of Constantinople was founded by St. Andrew, the Church of Alexandria by St. Mark, the Church of Antioch by St. Paul, the Church of Jerusalem by St. Peter and St. James, and the Church of Rome by St. Peter and St. Paul. Those founded in later years through the missionary activity of the first Churches were the Churches of Sinai, Russia, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania and many more.

All of these Churches are independent in their administration, yet they are in full communion with one another, with the exception of the Church of Rome, which separated in the year 1054.

Except for Rome, in faith, doctrine, apostolic tradition, sacraments, liturgies and services they are exactly alike, regardless of the language used, we exist in fellowship and together constitute the Orthodox Church.

The Faith and doctrines of the Church can be found in the Holy Scriptures, the writings of the Church Fathers and the canons and decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, the Savior, and the Son begotten of the same substance of the Father before all ages. He is also truly man, like us in all respects except sin. We believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, this being confirmed by the Second Ecumenical Council in the words used in the Symbol of Faith: “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Give of life, Who proceedeth from the Father…”

The Orthodox worship God in Trinity, and honor the saints. Of the saints, the Theotokos – the Mother of God, holds a special place because of the supreme grace and call she received from God..

We recognize the seven sacraments and consider them to be guided by the Holy Spirit: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Ordination, Marriage and Holy Unction.

Holy Baptism and Holy Chrismation (Confirmation) are the means of entrance for the Christian into the Church. For without dying to the old man and putting on the new in Holy Baptism, we cannot receive the inheritance of the Kingdom. With Holy Chrismation, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit becoming partakers of the fullness of Christ. In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we partake of the true Body and precious Blood of Christ, in the form of bread and wine, for the remission of sins and for life eternal. As it is written: “Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, he have not life in you.” In Holy Confession we receive forgiveness of the sins we commit after Holy Baptism if we truly repent of them. These sacraments are essential for the life of all Christians.

In regards to Holy Ordination: by the laying-on of hands of a canonical Bishop, divine grace descends upon him who is being ordained. This basic sacrament has provided uninterrupted succession to the Orthodox Bishops from the holy apostles and the establishment of the Church on the day of Pentecost. Divine grace sanctifies the union of two people in Holy Matrimony as Christ blessed the wedding at Cana by His presence and performance of His first public miracle. Infirmities of the body and soul are healed through the sacrament of Holy Unction.

These, briefly, are some characteristics of the beliefs of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church. The Church is one because our Lord Jesus Christ founded only one Church. It is holy through the sanctification of its Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, and the operation of the Holy Spirit. It is catholic in that it is universal, and knows no limitations of place or time. It is apostolic because it was founded by the holy apostles. This is the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church – the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we all love!

In conclusion, as Western Orthodox we observe the traditions and customs of the Orthodox Church with the exception of using Western Liturgy, vestments and attire.

Additional source: The Western Rite is a minority liturgical tradition within the Orthodox Church. Western Rite Orthodox Christians hold the full Orthodox faith in common with their brethren of the Byzantine Rite but celebrate Western forms of liturgy. Source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Western_Rite