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Basic Beliefs of the Orthodox Faith

 

Many wonder what one must believe or adhere to in order to become Orthodox.  The basic fundamentals are found in the now little-used service from the Book of Needs, known as the "Service for Reception into God's Holy Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church", as well as the "Reception of Orthodox-Catholic Faithful Transferring from another Parish" (the latter is virtually never used any more, but is informative as an official text of the Church).   

The service for reception into the Church goes as follows, and, again, although now rarely used, does give those looking into Orthodoxy the basic parameters of Faith that is expected from them:  

Do you adhere to the Orthodox-Catholic Christian Faith given by Jesus Christ and passed down by the Apostles in God’s Holy Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Response:  I do

The Priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the person(s) with his right hand saying:  

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Then the priest lays his hand upon his head and says the prayer: “in Your Name, O Lord God of truth” then thereafter, he asks:

Do you renounce al heretical errors against the Gospel and cast them off as contrary to God and His Truth? 

Response:    I renounce them and cast them off

Do you desire to be joined unto and live in the full Communion of God’s Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Response:  I desire it and with fullness of heart embrace it

Do you believe in one God, glorified and worshipped in the Holy Trinity:  the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and do you worship Him alone as your King and your God? 

Response:   I believe in one God, glorified and worshipped in the Holy Trinity:  the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and I worship Him as King and God

And the person being received makes a bow and then recites the Symbol of the Faith, saying:

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose Kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets. In One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the Life of the age to come. Amen

After the person being received recites the Symbol of the Faith (the Creed in original form), the Bishop/Priest questions as follows: Tell us of the other dogmas of our Orthodox Church, its tradition and ordinances; how do you hold concerning them?

And the one being received replies: I believe and confess that the sole Foundation, Head, and Great High Priest and Chief Shepherd of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church is our Lord Jesus Christ: and that Bishops and Priests (Presbyters), as pastors and teachers are appointed by him to lead the Church: and that the Guide and Pilot of this Church is the Holy Spirit.

Priest:   Do you believe and confess that the power hath been given by our Savior Christ unto the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church, to bind and to loose: and that whatsoever, by virtue of that power, is bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven?

Response:  I do

Do you confess that this Church is the Bride of Christ and the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth, as Scripture affirms, and that therein is true salvation?

Response:  I do

Do you likewise accept Holy Scripture, and dedicate yourself to examine it, and understand it in accordance with the teaching that the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, our Mother, hath held from the beginning, and doth hold? Response:  I do

Do you accept and confess the teachings and discipline handed down to the Church from the Lord through the Apostles, the Holy Fathers, the Holy Ecumenical and Provincials Councils, and all the deposit of Faith given to and through the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of God? 

Response:  I do

Do you believe and confess the Seven Mysteries (Sacraments) of the New Testament, namely: Baptism, Chrismation, the Eucharist, Confession, the Priesthood, Marriage, and Anointing with Oil, instituted by the Lord Christ in His Church for the reception of saving grace, to the end that, through their operation and reception, we may receive blessings from on high?

Response:  I do

Do you believe and confess that, in the Divine Liturgy, under the mystical forms of Bread and Wine, the faithful partake of the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto the remission of their sins, and unto life eternal? Response:  I do

Do you believe and confess that it is proper to revere and call upon the Saints who reign on high with Christ, according to the understanding of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of God; and that their prayers and intercessions avail with the beneficent God unto our salvation: Likewise that it is well-pleasing in the sight of God that we should treat with respect and reverence their relics, glorified through incorruption, as the precious memorials of their virtues reminding us to take up those same virtues? Response:  I do

Do you acknowledge that the icons of our Savior Christ, and of the Ever-virgin Mother of God, and of the other Saints are worthy to be kept and honored; not unto idolatry, but that, through contemplation thereof, we may be incited unto Godliness, and unto emulation of the deeds of the holy persons represented by those icons?

Response:  I do

Do you confess that the prayers of the faithful, which are offered up to God for the salvation of those who have departed this life in the faith, are favorably received, through the mercy of God?

 Response:  I do

Let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

O LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, who alone are holy, and rest in the Saints; who because of Your great and immeasurable love toward mankind, do always offer unto those who have sinned many pathways to repentance, and show unto those who have wandered from the truth the right way unto knowledge of You, the only true God, who are glorified and adored in the Trinity, that not one of them should perish, but that all may be saved, and come to the understanding of the truth: We thank You, we glorify and magnify You, for You have kindled in the heart of this, Your reason-endowed creature, [NAME], the light of knowledge of Your truth, and have granted him (her) to have recourse unto Your Holy Apostolic Orthodox Catholic Church. Illumine his (her) heart, O Master, we humbly ask You, with the perfect light of the grace of Your Holy Spirit unto the enlightening of his (her) mind in the truth of Your Holy Gospel. Grant that he (she) may sincerely, irrevocably and without hypocrisy unite himself (herself) to Your Holy Catholic Church, and truly accept and confess the Orthodox Catholic faith. Number him (her) with Your chosen flock, and unite him (her) to Your Holy Church. Make him (her) a vessel of honor, and the temple of Your Holy Spirit; that, being ever nourished and guided by the Same, he (she) may keep Your saving commandments; and that doing Your gracious, acceptable and perfect will, he (she) may be granted to receive Your heavenly good things, together with all those who are well-pleasing to You: For You are the God of mercy and compassion and love toward mankind, and will that all men should be saved, and to You we send up glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

 

RECEPTION OF ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC FAITHFUL TRANSFERRING FROM ANOTHER PARISH

(or joining the parish for the first time)

This reception is to take place immediately before the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Orthodox Catholic faithful should first present a letter of transfer from the former parish Priest, along with transcripts of Baptismal and Marital records if possible. Those to be received shall prepare themselves to receive Holy Communion.

The priest reads the full names of those to be received into the fellowship of the parish, stating the parish from which they are transferring, and asking them to approach the front of the temple (to stand before the ambon), with these words:

Let those who are communicants of other Orthodox Catholic parishes of the Church of Christ, and who desire to enter into the fellowship of this parish, present themselves to be received.

Then the Priest addresses them as follows:

Beloved in Christ, you have already confessed Christ’s Faith and are communicants of His holy Church.

Do you now re-affirm that same Faith, and pledge to persevere in it as (a) parishioner(s) of this church?

Answer: I do.

Do you promise to make frequent use of the means of grace afforded by this holy Church particularly in the reception of the Holy Mysteries?

Answer: I do.

Do you intend to share fully in the Divine Services, devotions, and good works of the Faithful of this parish?

Answer: I do.

Do you promise to abide by all the rules and statutes of this parish and to uphold it by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?

Answer: I do.

Then the Priest says:

The servant(s) of God, [NAME, NAME], is (are) received and admitted into the communion of this holy parish and to participation in all that pertains to it: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

O Merciful God and Father of all, who calls all men to build of themselves a spiritual house and to offer You spiritual sacrifices, look now with Your mercy on this (these) Your servant(s) whom we receive in Your holy Name to a share in all spiritual blessings of this parish. Enable them, and all who labor in this church and parish, to live together in harmony and in holiness; to assist one another by word and example in the performance of their duties to You and their fellow man, and to preserve their loyalty and fidelity to You and to Your holy Church. Grant them a spirit of gentleness and patience, steadfastness of faith, and perseverance in all good works. Make them, to the praise of Your Christ, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Your possession. May those whom You have purchased with the precious Blood of Your Christ be sanctified through their fellowship with one another. Shepherd them under Your right hand, and cover them under Your wings, and grant to them to fight the good fight, to finish their course, and to keep the faith, immutably, unblamably, and irreprovably, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom to You and to the Holy Spirit, be glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Then the Priest asks those newly-received to turn and face the remaining Faithful and, asking the latter to stand, he addresses them, saying:

Brothers and Sisters, these persons [NAMES] whom we this day receive into the communion of this holy parish, is (are) commended to your love, care and prayers. Do all in your power to increase his (her, their) faith, to confirm his (her, their) hope, to perfect him (her, them) in love, maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The newly-received parishioner(s) then take their places among the Faithful, and the Priest proceeds with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, during which the new members partake of the Holy Mysteries.

 

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