The Church Fathers saw Orthodoxy as a Way of Life, rather than a religion. Although the Church has many of the same attributes as religion, this does not mean she is herself a religious institution. Rather, she is a Hospital for the Soul, wherein we can receive the healing that makes it possible to commune with our Creator. It is within this hospital, the Church, that we are made holy (whole), making this communion possible. The Eucharist, which is the chief vehicle by which we can receive the grace that opens the doors for communion with God, brings about spiritual transformation, and is the chief sign of our unity in Christ.
Although there is uniformity in doctrine and practice within the Orthodox Church, the unity within the Church does in no way exclude those who are outside the Church, for all are God’s children, and the doors of the Church are open wide, even to those who are blind to this truth. The Church does not judge those who remain outside her walls, but loves them, and prays for them. She is not an exclusive institution, but rather the living embodiment of Christ. Her claim to divine origin, and absolute truth, in no way suggests a denial of the basic dignity of all humanity as being the children of God.
The Church’s claim to divine origin is nowhere more clearly seen, than her celebration of the Eucharist, for this is the moment when heaven comes down to earth, and her faithful are united one to another, in the Christ Who gives Himself so freely and completely. In this way the Eucharist is the vehicle to unity in Christ, and a sign of a unity that transforms time and space. Yet without unity of faith, where each believer has received as their own, the teachings of the Church in all her integrity and authenticity, communion would simply be a common participation in a symbolic act, rather than the participation in the Divine. Our reception of the very Body and Blood of Christ, is that point in eternity that brings about transformation and holiness.
These teachings are in direct opposition to the theories and philosophies of today, for they would deny the existence of Absolute Truth. The Church’s strict adherence to the beliefs, teachings, and practices that have been handed down from Apostolic times are the basis for our unity, for we have bound ourselves to the unchanging Apostolic Church, and forever united ourselves to Christ.
With love in Christ,