A Proclamation on Ecclesiology

1.) We believe and confess that the Orthodox Church is neither of man nor a product of the human mind, but is by the revelation of Jesus Christ. This revelation was preached by the Divine Apostles, confirmed by the Holy Ecumenical Councils, passed down by the wisest and greatest teachers in the world, and sealed by the blood of the martyrs.

2.) The purpose of the Church of the G.O.C. of America is the purification, enlightenment, and divinization in Christ of the entire population of the American continent. To this end she preserves unsullied the Apostolic faith and Tradition as the sole means of and sole route to perfection. This faith was revealed and entrusted to the Church by God the Word Himself; therefore, the Church neither adds nor subtracts anything from what she has received from Christ through the Prophets, Apostles, and Holy Fathers. For this reason she remains steadfast in the decisions of the Ecumenical and Pan-Orthodox councils. We accept and revere all the Holy and Ecumenical Councils, as well as the decisions of the Quintisext Council of 692, the First-Second Council of 879 held in Constantinople under St. Photius the Great, and the Tome of the Synod of Blachernae held in 1351 under St. Gregory Palamas and the holy Patriarch Kallistos I, as having ecumenical and catholic force. We also love and obey the decisions of the Holy Pan-Orthodox Councils of 1583, 1587, and 1593, which condemned the so-called "Frankish" or "New" Calendar (instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582) as a departure from the catholicity of the Church. In respect to this we accept and recognize as an ecumenical and catholic monument of the Orthodox Faith the Patriarchal Tome of 1756 regarding the Baptism of heterodox, as well as the Synodal Singilion of 1848 pronounced by the Patriarchs of the East. The mission the Church of the G.O.C. of America is identical to the mission of Christ's whole Church: i.e., by means of divine grace (in which man can participate or acquire through the Mysteries of the Church), a correct confession of the Orthodox faith, and the struggle to keep God's commandments, she seeks to save all her members and bring them to a state of spiritual perfection, which is sanctification and deifying union with God Himself.

3.) The Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. As such, she cannot recognize any heterodox church or religious community outside her as a parallel expression the Catholic faith or continuation of the Church of Christ and the Apostles. The Orthodox Church confesses one Baptism and one Eucharist, just as Christ is one hypostasis, one person. The Orthodox Church pursues her sanctifying mission of salvation through Orthodox faith, acts, and divine vision, but particularly though the highest communion between God and man in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. There can be no division or sundering of the catholicity of the Church such as the heresy of Ecumenism preaches, falsifying and adulterating the true faith and tradition. There can only be a falling away from the catholicity, for that which is whole is not subject to division. For this reason, Ecumenism is the greatest temptation today for the Orthodox, who are called to emulate Christ in the desert and reproach Satan, resisting the temptations of the "favors," the "glory" and the "kingdoms of the world" which it promises in exchange for the soul.

4.) Thus, the Church of G.O.C. of America continues the Holy Tradition of the truth of the Orthodox Catholic Church, introducing no innovation, and revering the holy struggle of our predecessors from 1924 to the present. She prays that the portion of Christian brothers who follow the New Calendar innovation will return to the Sacred Tradition of the Holy Ecumenical Councils, so that full communion will be restored among all Orthodox Christians within the bounds of the sacred canons and the common Orthodox confession. The Calendar change was instituted unilaterally in 1924, at first in the Greek Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and then slowly spread like a disease to other local Churches (but never Catholically), thus opposing the catholicity of the Church both in its method of implementation and in its goal. The unilateral introduction of the New Calendar was an uncanonical and uncatholic act of local hierarchs which violated the external manifestation of the catholicity and ecumenicity of the world-wide Orthodox Church. The Church's unity has always been expressed through the use of a single calendar, which was established at the First Ecumenical Council for that very purpose. Its pervasiveness in the liturgical life and the Eucharistic experience of the Church has steadily increased from that time forward, both through Synodal acts and through unwritten tradition. The changing of the calendar was an attempt to harmonize the external signs of Church's unity with the heterodox churches of Western Europe, at the expense of unity within the Orthodox Church herself. The calendar change was the result of a secularized mindset which suffered from an inferiority complex toward the West; and it was only forced through during a time of national disaster. The Church calendar is the external manifestation of the unity of the Orthodox Churches, and to dispose of it in favor of unity with heretical churches is to violate the catholicity of the Church.

5.) The Church of G.O.C. of America has no relations or communion with the local Churches which have accepted the calendar innovation (i.e., adopted the Gregorian calendar of the Vatican), nor with the Churches which have any communion with the pan-heresy of Ecumenism and which belong to the World Council of Churches. She will never have communion with these Churches as long as they remain in their cacodox state. The contemporary movement of Ecumenism is the result of thinking that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ has lost her catholicity due to theological and political quarrels. It seeks to reconstitute the Church's lost catholicity by uniting the split parts and restoring Eucharistic communion with heterodox groups without first reaching a common theological stance. Participation in the World Council of Churches (an organization which embodies the feeling of lost catholicity and seeks to restore it) on the part of local Orthodox Churches is a radical denial that the Orthodox Church is the totality of the Church of Christ. It presupposes the denial of the existence of authentic ecclesiastical catholicity today and it recognizes the need to reconstitute a "truly authentic" catholicity.

6.) When our Lord Jesus Christ asked his apostles and disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" the Apostle Peter confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And straightway Christ answered, saying, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed it to thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail over it" (Matt. 16, 15-19). The rock upon which Christ built His Church is precisely that confession of the truth which the heavenly Father revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Son and Word. This confession binds the Church together and makes her one body, receptive of divine illumination, able and sufficient to assemble at the Eucharistic table.

7.) The Greek Orthodox Church of the Patristic Calendar, whose jurisdiction extends throughout the United States of America and beyond, recognizes that the greatest danger to the Church and her members is secularization; which, in the mind of the Church, is a heresy threatening her very foundations. Especially today it is capable of destroying our unity and particularly our Orthodox lifestyle. Secularization is any action which pushes aside the workings of the Holy Spirit, seeking to promote lust for worldly power in the Church; whether in pastoral work, missionary work, or governmental duties of all her faithful members, both clergy and laity. Secularization is the greatest danger for the human dimension of the Church, since it slowly eats away at the Orthodox lifestyle and mindset.

8.) The Orthodox Church of the G.O.C. of America imparts the mysteries to her faithful members in accordance with age-old Orthodox tradition, inasmuch as she bears responsibility for their souls. The Orthodox Church always recognizes as valid, canonical, and efficacious only those mysteries performed within her self. Those outside the Orthodox Church (heterodox and non-Christians) who wish to become members of the Church, are accepted after rejecting every heresy (especially the one to which they belonged) and receiving baptism and chrismation, unless the Holy Canons permit some economy.

9.) In addition to her pastoral work, the Church of the G.O.C. of America preaches the Holy Gospel of Christ and seeks to evangelize or re-evangelize into the traditional Orthodox faith every human being, regardless of race, color, or religion. The Church has therefore a missionary nature, and wishes to pass on the light of Orthodoxy to those who are outside her and bring everyone into her bosom, without engaging in proselytism. She preaches to all the Word of the Gospel and calls upon all who desire salvation to join her, for the Church ever since Apostolic times been multicultural and multiracial. Our Church continues in this tradition, the tradition of Romanity, for which there is "neither Jew, nor Greek, slave, nor free" (Gal. 3:28).

Orthodox Awareness

Bartholomew Prays at Iftar

Iftar, refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is done right after sunset.

We report the following unchanged as it was published:

"The leaders of the Armenian, Roman, Jewish and Syrian communities of Turkey sat around the fasting Iftar dinner in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul." Read more...

Missions

Saint John of Kronstadt - Bunnell, Florida

St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church began as a mission parish in the year 2000, in a home chapel in Palm Coast, FL – a small town on Florida’s northeast coast located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. After two years, it became necessary to have services in area community centers, rented for Sundays and other Holy Days. Read more...

Ask A Priest

Fasting

Q. There seems to be a lot of variation in how people observe fasting, but my confessor told me to fast from oil on Wednesday and Friday. Oil is a pretty vague category, though, and I was wondering if I could get a more explicit description of what kinds of food and drink are excluded on strict fast days. Read more...