What Is Orthodox Christianity?

By Fr. Theophan Mackey
Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church

What is Orthodox Christianity?

As I am out and about in Los Alamos, wearing my long black robe (it’s called a cassock, by the way) and cross, I get this question quite often. “What are you?”

I am an Orthodox Priest. A trained and ordained pastor, chosen by a bishop to serve the people of, Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church, my parish, and the people of Northern New Mexico.

Orthodox means “right worship” or “right belief.” In essence our beliefs have not deviated from those of the earliest Christian communities, and we have our roots in their communities. Our services have developed over centuries, but the prayers used in our core worship services were written over 1,500 years ago. Needless to say, we are traditional in many ways.

Tradition has become a negative term in recent times, but it need not be so. Of course, any tradition, done half-heartedly or without proper understanding can become stagnant; ritual for its own sake is empty. But our traditions are living traditions. They are the stories, the actions, the rituals, which we use to define and identify ourselves.

The Orthodox Church has been around much longer than any Christian “denomination.” To be Orthodox is an identity, not a membership in an organization. And that identity is intimate with the identity of Jesus Christ. He is the center of our worship, but also our lives inside and outside of the church.

Even though I am likely to make a comparison between a familiar western expression of Christianity and Orthodoxy when trying to explain it, Eastern Orthodoxy is very different, it has a different flavor and a different ethos from anything in the west. One can look up doctrinal differences, historical and geographical variations, and even watch Youtube videos of Orthodox worship, but the only way to understand the difference is to experience it.

Everyone is welcome at Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church at 1319 Trinity Dr. We have evening services on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at 5:30, and Sunday morning liturgy at 10. Please come and share God’s love with us.