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For New Visitors

The Orthodox Church embodies Christianity in its fullest sense, having preserved the faith “handed once to the saints” (Jude 3), passed on in Holy Tradition to the Apostles by Jesus Christ, and then handed down from one generation to the next, without addition or subtraction. The word Orthodox literally means “True Belief,” and this name was established among the early Christian Church as a sign that it was the true and historic Church of Christ. One of the best ways to learn and develop a better understanding of the Orthodox Church is to come visit and experience life in an Orthodox Church firsthand! You will find that our parish is a welcoming community of people who come from diverse backgrounds, so there’s no need to feel out of place. 

In the Orthodox Church, there are a lot of customs and traditions that are important parts of our worship. Some are cultural; some are pious customs. Some are essential; some are not.

 

When does Church start on Sundays?

 

As is common in Orthodox Churches, there are 2 consecutive services happening every Sunday morning: Orthros (or Matins) and Divine Liturgy. At The Church of the Redeemer, Orthros starts at 9AM and the Divine Liturgy starts immediatly after that (approximately around 10AM) when the priest announces "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spitrit."

Orthros: While most of the parishioners usually arrive towards the end of Orthros with the intention of attending the Divine Liturgy, Orthros is a beautiful service in the Orthrodox Church that entails a variety of psalms, hymns and a Gospel reading specific to each Sunday. Orthros is mostly conducted in Arabic language (with some English) following byzantine style chanting by a group of the parish chanters.

Divine Liturgy: If you arrive while Orthros is going on, you will notice at some point the chandeliers are lit up, bells start ringing and the chanting of the Great Doxolgy begins with the chanters saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will among men." Towards the end of this chant is when Orthros ends and the Divine Liturgy begins. The Divine Liturgy is mostly in English (with some Arabic). A choir from the choir loft will take over for the rest of the service. 


Standing and Sitting

 

Depending on the background of an Orthodox Church, the tradition may differ as to whether you can sit down during the service. In most cases people stand for most of the services and in many churches there will be very few seats anyway. At The Church of the Redeemer, there are pews so sitting is very customary but there are times during the Divine Liturgy when everyone stands. If you follow the text in the books in the pews, you will find notes on when to remain standing and when sitting is acceptable. For example, everyone stands during: the Gospel reading, the Little and Great Entrances, the Anaphora, the distribution of Holy Communion, whenever the priest gives a blessing, and the Dismissal. This may seem complicated at first, but it becomes second nature with time. And noone is going to be offended if you don't follow the same patern of standing and sitting. There is a great sense of tolerance as to how people express their piety and less concern about watching or being wacthed by others.

 

Making the Sign of the Cross

 

Orthodox Christians make the sign of the cross with their right hands from right to left. We hold our hands with the thumb and first two fingertips pressed together, and last two fingers pressed down to the palm. The sign of the cross reinforces our faith in the Trinity (symbolized by our first three fingers pressed together) and our belief in the two natures of Christ as both God and man (symbolized by the last 2 fingers pressed to the palm). 

You can and should do your cross any time you wish, but particularly there are certain times during the Liturgy when we all do our cross:

  • When entering the Nave (sanctuary).
  • Whenever we hear the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Whenever we hear the name of the Virgin Mary.
  • Whenever we hear the name of our patron saint.
  • When we enter the altar area.
  • Whenever we cross in front of the altar.
  • Whenever we venerate a cross or an icon 

 

Communion

 

The Orthodox believe that Holy Communion (Eucharist) is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. Receiving communion is an assertion of faith in the Orthodox Church doctrine. As a result, Holy Communion is reserved for Orthodox Christians who are baptized and chrismated believers. In addition to their faith in the teachings of The Church, those who partake in Holy Communion prepare themselves by fasting from midnight, confessing their sins and being at peace with other communicants. Non-Orthodox visitors are welcome to receive the Blessed Bread which is distributed at the end of the Divine Liturgy when getting a blessing from the priest. 

 

Confession

 

If you wish to have confession, plan to be there at Orthros and inform Fr. Samer. You then stay in the pews towards the front left side of the church until being called by Fr. Samer to approach and have confession. Confession happens during Orthros so please plan to be there early.

 

The Cry Room

 

The Cry Room is located in the back of the church to your right as you enter through the main doors. The cry room is available for the convenience of parents if the infants or toddlers become restless during the Divine Liturgy.  Let us keep in mind that the cry room is also the Church and conversation, if possible, should not take place in order to maintain proper atmosphere conducive to prayer and worship.  Thank you for your cooperation.