Welcome to Orthodoxy – Outline

Welcome to the Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity
by Frederica Mathewes-Green, Paraclete Press, 2015

Introduction: How to Learn About Orthodoxy          xi
A challenging faith     xii
We learned by experience:
Examine liturgical elements     xiii
New theological ideas, old ideas absent     xiv
Not a perfect institution, but a Way to know Christ     xviii

Part One: Inside the Temple Exploring the empty church

1  “Enter His Gates”        3  In the narthex, the church’s lobby or foyerAn arriving worshipper takes a candle and venerates an icon     4
Introduction to icons     4-7
Making the sign of the Cross     8-10
CS Lewis: Worshippers don’t monitor others’ behavior     9

2  “The House of God”    11   In the nave, the congregation’s worship space
Traditional church architecture, the basilica, adding a central dome     12-14
(aside: why so many ethnic varieties of Orthodox?     14-15)
The cross-in-square design     15-16
Icons cover everything     16
The iconostasis     16
No pews (no organ either)     17-18
The analogion with “today’s special” icon     18-19
The parish’s patron, St. Felicity of Carthage     19-20

3  “So Great a Cloud”      21  Still in the nave
Love of the Theotokos, the ever-virgin Mary     21-25
Whose interpretation of Scripture do you choose?     26-30
Worship language is exuberant     30-31
(aside: the early Christians’ Jewish Scriptures, the Septuagint     32)
Praying to saints, who are praying for us     33-37

4  “Upon This Rock”       38  A quick history lesson
The five great cities of the early church, the Pentarchy     39
Increasing disagreement on the role of the pope     39-46
Rome fell, but eastern Christianity was thriving     41-42
The filioque controversy     42-43
Conciliarity      43-35
Exoskeleton or endoskeleton?     45-46

5  “A Sacrifice of Praise” 47  Still in the nave
The baptismal font     47
High percentages of converts     47-48
The holy water dispenser     48
House blessings     49
12 icons for the Feasts of the year     49
Worship books; all prayers are hymns     50-51
Beauty in worship; fancy but not fussy     51-52
Old Testament precedent for beauty in worship    52-54
Early structure of worship: prayers and sacrifices     54
The St. John Chrysostom Divine Liturgy     55
The Western Rite     55
Beauty opens the heart to God     55-56
Chanters’ stand, troparia and kontakia     56-68
Paragraph-hymns and Byzantine tones     58-60
What do you mean, “It doesn’t change”?     61
Traditions (like Christmas traditions) that give life     61-2
Russian icons and music: one “worked,” the other didn’t     63-64
A central core that doesn’t change     64
Distinctives of American Orthodoxy     64-65
Similarity of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox     66
Orthodoxy “doesn’t change” because it “works”     67

6  “Partakers of the Divine Nature”     68     Theosis
The Transfiguration of Christ     68-69
“He was made man so that we might be made god”     68
As iron in a furnace takes on the properties of fire     70
Theosis in the Scriptures     70-72
We are “partakers”; assimilation     72
Direct experience of God     73-74
How it looks in practice (“He is at peace in himself…”)     75, 82
Skepticism, miracles     78-79
Not characteristics the world admires     80-81
The Uncreated Light     83

7  “Christ and Him Crucified”   85      Still in the nave
Images of the Crucifixion: suffering or victorious?     85
Freed from sin and death, or from the debt of sin? (Anselm and others)     86-89
Analogy: police officer who rescues kidnapped teens     89-90
Honoring Christ’s sacrifice, we look away     90-92
Liturgical chandelier; light as fire, love can burn     93-95
The dome, bishop’s chair, bier, epitaphion, the Lamentations     95-97

8  “Image of the Invisible God” 98      Still in the nave
Iconoclast controversy; St. John of Damascus, 7th Ecumenical Council     79-104
The iconostasis: Royal Doors, icon of Christ Pantocrator     104-105
(aside: women’s roles in the Orthodox Church     106-107)
Icons of the Theotokos, St. John the Forerunner, St. Felicity     106-109
How the saint looked when the light of Christ shone through them     109
Angel doors, lampada, candle stands, bema and solea     110-111

9  “Your Body Is a Temple”      112    Looking into the altar
Icons in the apse: Communion of the apostles, Virgin of the Sign     112-114
The altar table     114-115
Relics     115
God permeates the material world     115-116
Divine energies, energeia     117-119
The goodness of the human body     119
Flesh and spirit     119
“Passions,” asceticism     120
Use of matter for healing     122
Elisha’s grave     123
Relics, continued     123-124

10  “Into the Sanctuary”  125    Still in the altar
Gospel book, antimens, tabernacle     125-128
Hand-held blessing crosses of different designs     128-129
(aside: less of a barrier between clergy and laity     129-130)
Menorah, processional cross, candles, and fans, censer     130-131
Prothesis table and liturgical implements, cross with corpus of Christ     132-133

Part Two: Inside the Liturgy          Participating in worship

11  “Reconciling the World”      137    Vespers
(Saturday, December 8)
Entering the church for Vespers     137
“Immaculate Conception” and “Original Sin”     138-139
The Orthodox view: Ancestral Sin     140
How do we inherit fallen human nature?     142-143
Sin is all-pervading, yet we don’t “just accept it”     142-143
Not payable by a third party; not a mere penalty (parking ticket)     143
Sin as sickness: Infection, not infraction     143
Christ begins our healing when he enters the human race     143-146
Three directions: humans and God, God and the evil one, Father and Son     146

12  “Not Counting Their Trespasses”  147    Still exploring salvation
Christ heals us, rescues us—and also makes a sacrifice to the Father     147-148
Scriptures about blood and sacrifice in the Epistle to the Hebrews     148
An offering, not a payment     148
God doesn’t need our offering; we need to make it     150-151
The police officer again: an offering to honor the Chief?     152-153
The “Ransom” or “Rescue” theory     153-155
St. Gregory of Nazianzus: “Reverenced with silence”     156

13  “The Lord Is King”    157  Vespers begins
Confession     158-159
New and Old Calendar, finding the date of Pascha     159-161
Metania and prostration     161-162
Opening hymns, prayers, psalms     164-165
Ongoing repentance     165-167
(aside: terms for the presbytera     168)
Procession, stichera, hymns for St Anna and the Theotokos     168-173

14  “Lord, Have Mercy”  174  Still in Vespers
The ancient hymn “Joyous Light”     174
Antiphonal and responsorial singing     175-176
“Lord have mercy” in a very wide range of languages     176-177
“Looking confidently” rather than “Assurance of salvation”     178-181
Asking for mercy; repenting with joy (charmolypi)     179-181
God forgives for his own reasons, not because he was paid     181
Our debt not payable by a third party (restaurant manager)     182
Forgiveness must be free or it is not forgiveness     182
Should we forgive each other freely, or require payment?     182-183
The demands of honor     183-184
St. Isaac, “Do not call God just”     184
Fatherly love does not count the cost; the Prodigal     185-186
Sin: deliberate action, or a general condition (air pollution)?     187-190
Spills a bowl of gravy     187
Involuntary and unknown sin     188-189
Christ takes away, not just the penalty for sin, but sin itself     189
“Whether I desire it or not, save me”     189-90

15  “Awake, Sleeper”      191  Still in Vespers
The problem of evil—not as tormenting in the East     191
The evil one and suffering     192-193
Keeping in touch with reality—Christ’s victory     193-194
“Heart” and “Mind” in Scripture; reason and emotion not opposites     195-196
The nous, the receptive mind     196
Two gears, forward (dianoia) and reverse (nous)    196-197
St. Paul’s use of “nous”     198
My experience; the “little radio”     198-199
Experience of God can be authentic, not merely emotional     199-200
Why don’t we hear God’s voice? The nous is broken     200-203
Sin starts with a thought, James 1:14-15     201
“Thinking” is often aimless and reactive     201-207
Cultivating watchfulness    200-207
St. Paul’s scriptures about watchful prayer     201
Hesychasm     203-204
Drawing the mind into the heart (kardia)     204-205
The Desert Fathers, the Jesus Prayer     205-206
St. Macarius, “The heart is a small vessel”     206-207
The Prodigal needed time to heal     207
Song of Simeon, Trisagion prayers, closing troparia     208-211
Being precise: Hades and Hell, Paradise and Heaven     209
The limits of reason (Hopko, Bradshaw, St Maximos, Aquinas)    211-215
We can only use one gear at a time     214

16  “Time for the Lord to Act”  216    The Divine Liturgy
(Sunday, February 17)
Call to battle, the evil one     216-217
Kairos and chronos     217
Matins     217-219
Opening prayers, antiphons, “Only Begotten”     219-221
“Unchanging”: Accumulating, not increasing in detail or updating     221-222
Little Entrance, Troparia and Kontakia, Trisagion hymn     223-225
Epistle and Gospel readings     225-227
(aside: “hilastheti” mercy versus “propitiate”/”expiate”     227-228)

17  “Choose This Day”    229  Still in the Liturgy
Homily, Catechumens, Cherubic Hymn     229-231
Koliva and grieving     230-231
(aside: ordination to the priesthood     232-233)
Censing the altar and iconostasis     233
(aside: Forgiveness Vespers     234)
Forgiveness, non-judgement, Prayer of St Ephraim     235-237
The Great Entrance     238-239
“Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” versus challenge and growth     240-242
(“God hates sin like the parents of a leukemia victim hate cancer”     240)
Danger of self-directed spirituality; delusion     241-242
We keep returning to slavery     242
The paradox of free will—Augustine and Pelagius     242-243
We are God’s synergoi     243-245
Bradshaw: the word “synergy” differentiates East from West     244
Cassian’s “Conferences,” Paphnutius and the “middle in between”     245-246
Isaac of Syria—the mother who calls her toddler     246
Another view of “Rescue” salvation: the fireman rescues a child     246-247
Reluctance to be rescued, Romans 7     247-248
St. Paisios: the “power” that stops us from resisting sin is love     248
Sheep and goats—like judging a livestock show     248
St. Herman of Alaska: “Do you love God?”     248-249

18  “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”      250    Still in the Liturgy
Kiss of Peace     250-251
The Nicene Creed and the Arian controversy     251-253
Anaphora and Eucharistic prayers, the Epiclesis     253-255
Receiving communion; antidoron     257-258
(aside: How do you get a patron saint?     257)
Closed communion protects both the people and the Holy Gifts     258-262
“I will not speak of your mystery to your enemies”     262
“Mysteries” and sacraments     263
Memorial prayers, “time is the tricky factor here”     264-266
Part Three: Inside the Community  Gatherings and prayers

19  “When You Fast”      271  Coffee hour during Lent
(Sunday, March 30)
Fasting primarily means keeping a vegan diet     271-275
Local variations; “When in Rome”   272
Fasting strengthens all aspects of self-control     272-273
Oikonomia (economy) and health needs     274
Orthodox harmony across centuries and cultures; expecting to agree     276-277
Authority: central ruler or community memory? 277-278
Role of the laity in preserving the faith; “they changed the locks”    278
Spiritual father-child relationship; managing long-term temptation     280-281
Surprising monastics     281-282

20  “Each Person Is Tempted”   283     Guidance for habitual temptation
(Sunday, April 12)
Late-night phone call, managing long-term temptation     283-287
St. Conon, “I thought you wanted the crown”     285-286

21  “Make Disciples … Baptizing Them”     288    Baptism & Chrismation
(Saturday, April 26)
Overview of St Lazarus services, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week     288-290
Glimpse of Pascha, with the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom     290-294
Six candidates for chrismation     294-297
Opening prayers and exorcism     297-299
Baptism in the “horse trough” font     299-300
Absolution for a “life confession”     301
Chrismation; the making of Holy Myron     302-303
(aside: Apostolic Succession     302-303)
“Arise, O God, judge the earth”     305

22  “A Great Mystery”     307  Wedding / Crowning
(Sunday, June 1)
Initial questions, Litany     308-309
Betrothal, exchange of rings     309-310
First and Second prayer of marriage     311-313
Crowning     312-313
Eternal union     313-315
Epistle, “refers to Christ and the Church”     315-316
Gospel, homily, Common Cup     316-317
Dance of Isaiah     317
Removal of Crowns     318

23  “Built His House upon a Rock”     319    Houseblessing
(Sunday, July 6)
The icon corner; how icons are arranged    320-323
(aside: why use formal rather than spontaneous prayers?     323-325)
In the icon corner: books, candle sandbox, incense, prayer rope     325-327
Orienting the home     327
Psalm 90/91, prayers; first procession, with holy water     327-328
Second procession, with blessed oil, third procession, with censing     328
Blessing before and after a meal     329

24  “Those Who Have Fallen Asleep” 330   Funeral
(Monday, August 4)
Story of St. Tasia     330-331
Trisagion prayers for the departed, in Kate’s home     331
Washing, clothing, and anointing the body     332-333
Dormition of the Theotokos, Paraklesis service     334-335
Coffin brought into the church, Trisagion prayers repeated     334-335
Vigil through the night, reading Psalms     335
(Next: Mercy Meal and Liturgy for the Feast of the Transfiguration     335-336)
Funeral hymns     336-339
Epistle, Gospel     339-340
The Last Kiss     341
Graveside service with Trisagion prayers     341-342
Conclusion: “Go and Do Likewise”       343  Next
You can benefits from taking up any of these aspects of Orthodox practice     344
Three reasons to keep it intact:
Choosing what you like won’t change you     344
Early-church authenticity is lost when it’s curated      344-345
Dynamism of the whole     345