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St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Tour of the Church and Explanation of the Icons

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

GETTING TO KNOW THE ORTHODOX AND THE ANCIENT FAITH
Thank you for your interest in the Orthodox Church ….. Ours is the ancient faith of the apostles and is practiced as it was revealed to the Apostles by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ …..
A growing number of people — from many different backgrounds — are discovering the rich traditions and beauty of the Orthodox Church. These rich traditions are founded in the simple yet powerful Faith which traces its teachings right back to that which was given by Christ to the Apostles. The vision of God and His Kingdom, the positive nature of a constant movement toward God and holiness, the awesome beauty and fullness expressed of her worship, the purity of her Christian Faith and her continuity with the past are just some of the many treasures the Orthodox Church has to offer.
So who are the Orthodox Christians? How is the Orthodox Church different from the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches? While this Pamphlet is too short to address doctrinal differences, we hope the following overview will provide you with a first step in understanding who we are and how we are different. We pray you will begin to appreciate the beauty of Orthodoxy and want to continue to learn of the Faith.
Who are the Orthodox Christians in America?
The Orthodox Church in this country owes its origin to the devotion of immigrants from the Middle East (Syria and Lebanon), Greece, Russia, and the Balkans who came to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Like the first Apostles who preached the Faith, these immigrants brought a precious heritage to this country in Orthodoxy.
Today, the Orthodox Church is not simply a church of immigrants from the Middle East, Greece, Russia, or the Balkans. Rather, the majority of Orthodox Christians in the United States are Americans born and raised in this country. Our Orthodox Church can therefore no longer be viewed as an immigrant Church.
How is the Orthodox Church different from the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches?
The Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches trace their roots to the Western Christian tradition. The Orthodox Church has inherited, embodies and expresses the rich spiritual treasures of Eastern Christianity. You might then ask yourself, what is the difference between Western and Eastern Christian traditions?
The spirit of Christianity, which was nurtured in the East, has a particular favor. This is seen in the Divine Liturgy for example when the Liturgy brings the Heavenly Worship as described in the Book of Revelations to Earth. It was distinct, though not necessarily opposed, to that which developed in the Western portion of the Roman Empire and the subsequent Medieval Kingdoms in Europe. Christianity, as it developed in the West, grew in lands that knew the legal and moral philosophy of Ancient Rome. This is to be contrasted with Eastern Christianity, which developed in lands that knew the Semitic and Greek cultures. This cultural difference resulted in a different perspective and different attitudes.
For example, the West was concerned with the Passion of Christ and the sin of man while the East emphasized the Resurrection of Christ and the deification of man. The Christian West leaned toward a legalistic view of religion while the Christian East advocates a more spiritual theology which focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and God, and our relationship with Him.
For the first thousand years of her history the Church was one — east and west — Five historic Patriarchal centers Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem; Antioch, and Alexandria formed a cohesive whole and were in full communion with each other. The two great traditions (Rome of the western Tradition and the other four Patriarchal centers of the Eastern Tradition) were in communion for a thousand years until the Great Schism divided the Church. The Great Schism separated the Roman Catholic Faith as it is known today from the Orthodox Faith of the Churches of the East.
Come Spend a Month of Sundays experiencing the beauty of Orthodox Worship. Our Divine Liturgy begins each week at 10:00 am …. Join us for Fellowship afterwards.

Quote of the Holy Fathers

A brother went to see Abba Silvanus on the mountain of Sinai. When he saw the brothers working hard he said to the old man, “Do not labor for the food which perishes (John 6:27). Mary has chosen the better part (Luke 10:42).” The old man said to his disciple, “Zacharias, give the brother a book and put him in a cell without anything else.” So when the ninth hour came the visitor watched the door expecting someone would be sent to call him to the meal. When no one called him, he got up, went to find the old man and said to him, “Have the brothers not eaten today?” The old man replied that they had. Then he said, “Why did you not call me?” The old man said to him, “Because you are a spiritual man and do not need that kind of food. We, being carnal, want to eat, and that is why we work. But you have chosen the good portion and read the whole day long and you do not want to eat carnal food.” When he heard these words the brother made a prostration saying, “Forgive me, Abba.” The old man said to him, “Mary needs Martha. It is really thanks to Martha that Mary is praised.”
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It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.
St. John of Damascus (8th century)
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It is necessary to establish a pattern of going to church as often as possible, usually to Matins, Liturgy and Vespers. Have a longing for this, and go there at the first opportunity and if you can, stay without leaving. Our church is heaven on earth. Hasten to church with the faith that it is a place where God dwells, where He Himself promised to quickly hear prayers. Standing in church, be as if you are standing before God in fear and reverence, which you express through patience, prostrations, and attention to the services without wandering thoughts.
Saint Theophan the Recluse (19th century)
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The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.
Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (4th century)