GENERALLY ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
The Orthodox Church calls itself simply "the Church", similarly as Greeks in old times used the word "Christian" when speaking about the Orthodox. This is because the Eastern Orthodox Church is naturally the community, i.e. the ecciesy, which has its roots in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost at the descent of the Holy Spirit. This community remained unchanged during the whole history at many places mentioned in the New Testament. The Orthodox Church need not give the testimony to prove that it is historically genuine: it is an immediate continuation of the Church of the apostolic times.
Does the Orthodox Church today correspond to the idea that we know from the New Testament and from the treatises of the apostles about the community of apostolic era? It does but to the extent to which an adult man reminds himself from the photograph made in his childhood. Regardless the development, according to its substance and spirit, the Church in the 20th century is the same as it was from the very beginning.
The coming of Isuus Khristos, "when the time came about", was an event linked with a certain date from which we start counting our times (Mt 1, 15). The descent of the Holy Spirit, "the gift promised by the Father", was also an event connected with a particular date, a unique historical event (Sk 1, 4). For the Church it meant the descent of "the power from above" and "the Spirit of truth" (Lk 24, 49 and Jn 16, 13). Holding on to this we believe that in the acts of both the Church and the communities created later according to their faith, there dwells the mercy of the Holy Spirit. "However, when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth," such was the promise of Khristos (Jn 16, 13). After fulfilment of this promise, the apostle names "the Church of the living God" as "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (Tm 3, 15).
The cathedral in Mikhalovce.
Khristos had both divine and human nature and such is the Church too. For its human substance, the Church is exposed to various ordeals but it has consolation in the promise: "I will build my church, and the powers of death shall never conquer it" (Mt 16, 18). It means that though storms may tear the human substance of the Church, they will never destroy the Church itself. It will last until the divine order of the world brings the second coming of Isuus Khristos. Till that day the Church as a defender of the faith will live, founded on the first day of the Christian Pentecost, preserving apostolic priesthood, the Eucharist and other holy sacraments, and also the general experience of the Church - the holy Tradition.
ISUUS KHRISTOS IS THE ONLY HEAD OF THE CHURCHWe believe that the only head of the Church is Isuus Khristos. In Khristos the Church is holy because it is sanctified by the acts of redemption of Isuus Khristos who is stiff present in it. There is the Holy Spirit acting in the Church which leads it and urges us to live virtuous lives. The Orthodox Church is then internally governed by the Holy Spirit, and outwards in accordance with the teaching of Isuus Khristos and apostles, following its traditions it is governed by bishops. Bishops, from the power of the Church - church teaching and the will of believers, deliver a certain authority in governing of the Church to priests, deacons and curates.
Each of Orthodox bishops has the same spiritual authority from the apostles. Even so the bishops have different titles: Archbishop, Metropolitan, Patriarch or Pope, such title has e.g. the Patriarch of Alexandria, or at present in discord with the Orthodox Church the Pope of Rome. These titles are given to bishops by the Church to mark either bigger administrative rights or the church distinction for devoted work in the Church.
The cathedral in Presov.
The Orthodox Church in the whole world is one, for it has a uniform teaching. It is though divided according to areas, similarly as nations which form individual states. Individual administrative units of the Church are called autokephal - independent or autonomous - self governing Orthodox churches. It means that every autokephal Church has officially its own senior and does not fall under Patriarch, Metropolitan, or Archbishop who live in other countries. Nevertheless, it does not mean that in every country, where there are Orthodox believers, they have their church independence. Very often depending on the church life the missionary purpose, they fall under Patriarch or Metropolitan in other country.
THE HIGHEST BODY OF THE CHURCHThe highest body of the Orthodox Church is the general council /sobor/, i.e., the council of bishops and other deputies from all autokephal and autonomous Churches. The Orthodox Church by now recognizes seven general councils. Decisions of the general council are obligatory for each Christian only when the decision is implemented in the life of the Orthodox Church itself. This means that not the council is a superior body to the Church, but that the Church uses council as one of the means through which it expresses its teaching and solves complex issues, or possible problems in the life of the Church.
Written by M.R.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHThe Orthodox Church in Czech countries and in Slovakia belongs to the family of local self governing Orthodox churches of the world, in comparison with other local Orthodox churches it is rather small as to the number of its members. According to our information there are about a hundred thousand Orthodox believers in the Czech and the Slovak republics.
After the split of the Czech and Slovak federative republic into two independent republics, the Czech and Slovak, Orthodox church retained its canonic unity having created two administrative centres, the Metropolitan Council in Prague and the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in Slovakia with residence in Presov. The Metropolitan Council in Prague coordinates the work of two eparchies in the Czech republic, and similarly the Metropolitan Council in Presov coordinates two eparchies in Slovakia. In the Czech republic there are the Prague and the Olomouc-Brno eparchies, and in Slovakia the eparchies of Presov and of Michalovce.
The Orthodox church in Slovakia has about seventy thousand Orthodox believers. At the head of the Eparchy of Presov there is highly enlightened Nikolai, the Archbishop of Presov and of Slovakia. In active pastoric service of the Eparchy of Presov there are seventy two priests. Administration is divided into eight archdeaneries and six deaneries. It has sixty nine parishes and a hundred and twenty one filial communions. At the head of the Eparchy of Michalovce there is enlightened Jan, the Bishop of Michalovce.
|Bishop's residence in Presov
The Eparchy is divided into four archdeaneries. There are twenty four priests in active pastoric service. It has twenty one parishes and fourteen filial communions. Both Eparchies take active part in charitable activities, participate in the social service, and also in the work of schools.
Clergymen are being educated at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the University of Presov. Its six departments improve and develop the Orthodox divinity. The Faculty of Orthodox Theology has a detached branch in Olomouc, where visiting professors from the FOT give regular consultations. The head of the Olomouc branch is Prof. ThDr. Pavel Ales.
After 1989 the Orthodox Church went through a complicated period because on the basis of the Law number 211/90 Coll. all parishes lost their right to possess immovable property. As a consequence, both eparchies had to make big efforts to provide adequate rooms for dignified performance of orthodox religious services. In many parishes new temples have been built, and houses were purchased and adapted to the needs of parish offices. With the help of God we have overcome one of the most difficult periods in the life of our Church. The Trinity God blessed us with new temples, new parish offices, new buildings of eparchial councils, new buildings of both the FOT and seminary. For this gift we thank God because thus we could preserve the faith of our ancestors, the Orthodox faith, the faith of Cyril and Methodius.
|Bishop's office in Presov, the chapel.
Written by Prot. doc ThDr. I. Belejkanic Csc.
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