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Discover Orthodox Christianity

Discovering Orthodox Christianity

Discover the timeless wisdom of our Holy Tradition, made accessible and interesting by some of the best Orthodox Christian writers of today. This series of articles on some of the basic doctrines of the Orthodox Christian Faith is brought to you by and Conciliar Media, a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese. They are also available from Conciliar as a series of attractive and informative booklets and brochures.


What Does "Orthodox" Mean? The Doctrine, Worship and Values of the Church 

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

"The word 'orthodox' means 'right belief' or 'right praise.' The 'Orthodox Church' is also known as the 'Eastern Orthodox Church.'"

First Visit to an Orthodox Church: Twelve Things I Wish I'd Known

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

OCF Executive Director Fr. Kevin Scherer Presents at Greek Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Clergy Laity Congress

image Antiochian Archdiocese pastor and Orthodox Christian Fellowship Executive Director Fr. Kevin Scherer presented workshops on youth ministry at July's Greek Archdiocese national gathering, and the good work of OCF was specifically noted by Archbishop DEMETRIOS in his keynote address.

OCF released the following summary of the news. We encourage everyone in the Antiochian Archdiocese to support this great labor of our Church in America, under the leadership of all our canonical bishops via SCOBA. Learn more about OCF's college ministry on their recently redesigned website!

The Fall Gathering of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest to be held October 16-19, Indianapolis, IN

The Fall Gathering of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest will focus on ministering to our teens and college students. His Eminence Metropolitan ISAIAH, SCOBA Overseer of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and Fr. Kevin Scherer, Executive Director of OCF, will be present for the dedication of the new OCF offices in Indianapolis.

For more information please see the attached flyer. Server Change

Update, August 12: For the most part our server switch has gone off well, thank God. We're still working on a couple of issues related to the Department of Sacred Music, and the creation of new content. Thank you for your patience.

Original Post, August 5: This website will be moving to a new server and host beginning on August 6. Our team at the Department of Internet Ministry apologize in advance for any inconvenience. We expect the change to be invisible to site visitors. However, we ask that anyone who posts content to this website refrain from doing so on Wednesday, August 6 after 2pm Eastern time. All should be well by Thursday morning. We'll be bringing additional information about new features and projects over the weeks to come.

Douglas Cramer


Theosis: Partaking of the Divine Nature

imageby Mark Shuttleworth

Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John and was transformed before their eyes. He appeared to them in His glorified humanity and was illumined with the light of divinity. ... Here we have the whole Bible summed up in this one event. The Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, point to Christ, the eternal Son come in the flesh. Read more.

This meditation on theosis is appropriate reading for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration, and a sample of the articles available at Discovering Orthodox Christianity, from and Conciliar Press.

July 30, 2008 + The Fast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos

clip_image002By Fr. Gabriel Barrow

From The Word, June 1977

For the first fourteen days of August during each year, the Holy Orthodox Church enters into a strict fast period in honor of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. The eminent Orthodox theologian, Father Sergei Bulgakov, beautifully expresses the high regard which the Orthodox Christians have for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, for her special role in the salvation of mankind, when he affirms, “The warm veneration of the Theotokos is the soul of Orthodox Piety.” St. John of Damascus, one of the great Orthodox fathers, pointed out that when the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Mother of God and gave birth to Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind, she became the mother of mankind. We call the Virgin Mary “Theotokos”, from the Greek, which means “The Birth-Giver or the Bearer of God.” This is the highest title that can be bestowed upon any member of the human race.

The Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, was “blessed amongst women,” and she was chosen “to bear the Savior of our souls.” We, therefore, as Orthodox Christians, consider her to be the Queen of all the saints and the angels.

Knowing that she holds such a high place in the Kingdom of Heaven and that she is eternally present at the throne of God interceding for mankind, we, as good Orthodox Christians, must pray for her love, guidance, and protection. We must never forget to ask for her intercessions in times of sickness and danger, and we must constantly thank her for her care and her prayers in our behalf.

July 23, 2008 + Teaching the Truth

clip_image002By Fr. Ted Bobosh

From The Word, September 1998

One great challenge for us Orthodox in doing Christian education is coming to terms with our concept of truth.  Christianity claims to offer truth to the world.  In Christian education, we strive to instruct all disciples in the truth.  The real question (which, ironically, Pontius Pilate asked) is “What is truth?” (John 18:38)  He neither waited for Christ’s answer, nor, by allowing the crucifixion, showed himself much concerned with the truth anyway.

So, what is the truth?  We often equate truth with facts, and consequently in Christian education we aim to teach facts about Christ, the bible, the liturgy or church history, etc., to our people.  While facts are part of the truth, they do not contain the fullness of the truth.  I believe it was Justin the Martyr who said, “What ever is true is Christian.”  Every fact that is true (whether religious, political, scientific, historic, or even “secular”) in some way is part of God’s truth and reveals God to us.  Thus, any truth is significant to Christianity.  This is based upon the belief that there is such a thing as truth and that truth comes from God and reveals God to us.  So, part of education is teaching facts and part of Christian education is using all the facts we know in creation to come to some understanding of truth and therefore of God.  There is in our thinking no such thing as godless truth or secular truth.  If something is true, it is revelation about creation and for us also about the Creator.

The 49th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention, July 19-26, 2009

image St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church of Van Nuys, California will be hosting the 49th Antiochian Archdiocese Convention at the J.W. Desert Springs Marriott Resort and Spa from July 19 – 26, 2009. There is a guaranteed room rate of $165.00 per night (plus 9.16% room tax). Already, rooms are going fast! If you have not yet made your hotel reservation we encourage you to do so, as soon as possible. You may reserve your rooms online by going to the convention website at and clicking on the Online Hotel Reservation image.  No phone reservations can be made until August 2008. If you have any questions please email

Lynette's Hope: Facing Cancer with Faith

image Come Receive the Light, OCN's national Orthodox Christian radio program, interviews Fr. Luke Veronis, author of the new book from Conciliar Press, Lynette's Hope. Fr. Luke shares the story and journal entries of Lynette Hoppe, an Orthodox Christian who served as a missionary in Albania, even as she faced terminal cancer with courage and faith. Click here to listen!

Also, click here for Fr. Luke's article about Lynette in AGAIN, and here to order a copy.

Frederica Mathewes-Green Discusses Men and Orthodoxy

image Why is Orthodoxy the noted exception when it comes to the declining interest in religion by men? Noted author and speaker Frederica Mathewes-Green tells us in a 45 minute talk available for free listening online via Ancient Faith Radio, part of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Conciliar Media Ministries.

Update for All Email Users

Update, July 21 2008: This post is being brought to the top of the news section again for the benefit of any email users still experiencing problems.

Support for all people with email addresses transitioned on May 9 from the Department of Communications and Information Technology to NST, an excellent technology services provider selected to manage hosting of email accounts and the website.

Everyone who wants to continue using an email address who did not respond to NST's Friday, May 9 email that day will now need to contact NST's support phone line at 877-678-8080 ext. 3, in order to reset their account. This is necessary if you have an email address set up in your email client, or if your emails are forwarded to another email address.

If you need any additional assistance, you can also contact Fr. George Kevorkian at the Archdiocese offices at 201-871-1355.

Bishop THOMAS visits Holy Trinity Mission in Lynchburg, VA

His Grace, Bishop THOMAS made his visitation to Holy Trinity Mission on our Patronal Feast of the Sunday of the Most Holy Trinity, June 22, 2008. At Vespers on Saturday and at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, His Grace charged our mission to reach out more effectively to our community, especially by developing a ministry of inquiry and hospitality to the downtown area. In response, we have secured a prime location to meet at 715 Main Street downtown, and will soon begin holding services and informational events there for the community, and hopefully soon developing an outreach to Liberty University with the help of Fr. Peter Gillquist. Our children presented His Grace with a "Dangerous Book for Bishops" (patterned on the popular "Dangerous Book for Boys") with their photos and icons of their patron Saints, and drawings of the many ministries of the Bishop as Shepherd, Administrator, etc. We thank God for His Grace's vision and love and for giving us a much-needed exhortation to service.

July 16, 2008 + St. Elias: Open To God's Voice

By Fr. James C. Meena

From The Word, June 1983

On July 20th, in the calendar of the Church, we celebrate the Feast of St. Elias the Tishbite, the Great Prophet. For us of the Orthodox Faith and particularly those of us who are from the Arab countries, St. Elias has particular renown. You will notice, especially with those coming from the old country in the last ten, fifteen or twenty years, the two most popular names amongst Orthodox Christians are George and Elias. All of the young men that are named Elie, for example, are named after this particular Prophet and Saint.

When we read in the first book of Kings of the life of this great Prophet we find that not too much is written. He is involved in perhaps seven or eight pages of the Old Testament but the events of those pages are profound. I think that at least one of the lessons to be learned from the Life of St. Elias is that need for us to be open at all times to God’s message and His inspiration. Our Elias was a man of Tishbe, a small village in Gilead. There was nothing so exceptional about him except that he was open to God’s will and when God called upon Him to express His intentions to the King and the people of Israel, because Elias was open to Him, He heard that message and was able to transmit it clearly and freely.

Now there are many prophets that come forth. Some are true and some are false prophets. We are called upon to recognize them for what they are by virtue of our faith and the spiritual intuition that is within us. Those who speak with the voice of God differ from those who speak with the voices of someone else.

Summer Reading from The Word

image The Word is on their annual July and August hiatus, but while we eagerly await the September issue we can still be fed by this beloved ministry of our Archdiocese, founded in Arabic in 1905 by St. Raphael of Brooklyn and in 1957 made an English language publication by Metropolitan Antony Bashir. At The Best of The Word, you'll find thought-provoking articles that share the blessed work being done in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and the wisdom of her workers. So whether you missed reading an issue (maybe even a few?) in print, or want to discover The Word for the first time, enjoy The Best of The Word.

Some recommendations to get you started: Kevin Allen's Church Growth, Orthodox Style; Gregory Cook's Words We Live By: ORTHODOX and American Ideals In Foundational Texts; Fr. Thomas Gallaway's The Sacred Nature of Sex; Harvey H.H. Homsey's Stewardship: Why My Family Tithes; and Fr. Joseph Purpura's Are We Doing Enough For Our Teens?

Orthodox Education Day at St. Vladimir's Seminary is October 4

icon130-2CRESTWOOD, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary has chosen “Holy Icons, Sacred Arts” as this year’s theme for Orthodox Education Day (OED), an annual campus celebration of liturgy, fellowship, ethnic food, and instruction in the faith.

Keynote speaker will be Dr Vasileios Marinis, the Kallinikeion assistant professor of Byzantine Art in the Department of Art and the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College. Dr Marinis received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds degrees from the University of Athens, University of Paris I-Sorbonne, and Yale University. His research focuses on architecture and ritual in the Byzantine world and on Byzantine women, and his OED remarks will concentrate on iconography.

More information regarding the day’s schedule, icon exhibits, and icon workshops will be forthcoming. Presently, St Vladimir’s is inviting local parishes to participate in OED by sponsoring an ethnic food booth. To sponsor a booth, or for further information, please contact Special Events Coordinator Tanya Penkrat at 914-961-8313, or

About the Icon: Theotokos with Child Emmanuel, painted by Tamara Elchaninov, will be among the many types of icons displayed at St Vladimir’s Seminary campus October 4, 2008, as part of the Orthodox Education Day theme “Holy Icons, Sacred Arts.”

A New Heaven and a New Earth

imageThe Handmaiden: A Journal for Women Serving God Within the Orthodox Christian Faith is published quarterly by Conciliar Media Ministries of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Readers can sample the latest issue, "Good Stewards of the Earth," with the article A New Heaven and a New Earth: Church and Environment - Theological and Spiritual Insights, by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis.

"This world is a never-ending movement toward the kingdom. Indeed, it is profoundly and intimately related to the heavenly kingdom. This means that what we do on earth matters for what we believe about heaven. ... We have learned not to treat people like things because they are created 'in the image of God.' We must now learn not to treat even things like mere things because they, too, contain the very trace of God."

July 9, 2008 + Share Your Faith with Confidence

By Archpriest Joseph Sakkab

From The Word, June 1998

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This great royal commission, from the Lord of Hosts, has been valid until the present, and shall be so until his second advent, which is imminent. It is the sacred obligation of every loyal member of the body of Christ to be obedient, and to preach the Good News of salvation. Fulfilling the Great Commission is the greatest of all achievements, the highest call ever given to mankind! What a privilege it is to respond to the call together! Surely the Church is not left alone to do her task, but with the encouraging promise that her Savior would be with her to the end of the age.

However, as a faithful Christian, before you go out and share your faith with others, you need to be strong in the faith yourself, you need to be extremely confident in the message that you are sharing; otherwise the slightest bit of opposition could make a doubter out of you. Today, probably more than ever, the Church is facing a lot of opposition; tragically, the Church is not only being attacked from those outside the faith, but from inside. They alter and change the words in the Bible to make it compatible with their deviant immoral lifestyles, and they attack the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them ..." (2 Peter 2:1).

St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, Intercede with Christ God for Us!

image His Grace Bishop THOMAS shares with us this article about St. Raphael originally published in the New York Times in 1895, on the occasion of the "Damascus Preacher" arriving in the city. Thank you Bishop THOMAS, and thank you Vera Acker, secretary of St. Philip's Church in Souderton, PA, for transcribing this piece of history.

Click here to learn more about St. Raphael Hawaweeny of Brooklyn.

From The New York Times, September 15, 1895:


Christian Church to be Filled by a Damascus Preacher.

Thank You from Bishop MARK

His Grace Bishop MARK sends his appreciation for the outpouring of prayer and support during his father's illness and repose.

Understanding Homosexuality: An Orthodox Christian Perspective

By Fr. George Morelli

An Orthodox Theology of Sexuality

For Orthodox Christians, no discussion of sex whether it is autoerotic, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or the current polyamorous sex, can be divorced from an Orthodox theology of sexuality. All sexuality and sexual behavior is based on divine love; a love that is beyond any human feeling, empathy, or ethical standard, and even approaches the essence of God Himself. St John tells us "... for love is of God ... God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).

Fr. Patrick Reardon Reflects on Genesis in New Book from Conciliar

imageFr. Patrick, one of the most thoughtful and prolific of today's Orthodox Christian writers, is the author of an important new book from Conciliar Media titled Creation and the Patriarchal Histories: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Genesis.

Click here for an excerpt titled Excursus: Esau, the Modern Man.

Click here to order your copy.

UPDATE: And, click here to listen to Ancient Faith Radio's interview with Fr. Patrick about the book!

Pastoral Ponderings: Saints Peter and Paul

By Fr. Patrick Reardon

Psalm 90 (Hebrew 91) has always ranked among the more favorite and popular psalms of the Christian people, one of the very few, in fact, about which everyone in antiquity agreed that it should be prayed each day of the week. For all that, Christians have shown themselves less sure about exactly when, during the course of the day, this psalm should best be prayed.

Discussing Death on Come Receive the Light

image This week Orthodox Christian Network's Come Receive the Light national Orthodox radio program features Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, teacher of dogmatic theology at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theology Seminary, speaking about the mystery of death. Dr. Bouteneff teaches, "We do indeed teach and believe in a bodily resurrection. I don't think we have a very clear sign of what that will look like. But we do know that is something we will know and recognize as our own body."

Learn more about this and the other blessed offerings of OCN at their newly designed website,

Bishop THOMAS Visits the Church of the Holy Spirit in Huntington, WV

imageOn the weekend of June 14-15, Bishop THOMAS visited the Church of Holy Spirit in Huntington, West Virginia, to celebrate the parish’s patron feast of Pentecost. The weekend began with the celebration of the Soul Saturday Divine Liturgy. Following the service, Sayedna met with parishioners over brunch. During the evening, following Great Vespers, the Parish Council hosted the bishop at Rocco’s Ristorante.

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