Learning more about the Orthodox faith

I would like to attend a service at a new Greek Orthodox church near my house.
What do I need to know? Can I dress casual? Am I allowed to take communion?
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Than you in advance.

Dear 7 Sorrows,

Do you mean the Orthodox Church, or the Greek Catholic Church in communion with Rome?

Greek Orthodox not in communion with Rome.

First–I am not Orthodox, so I’m probably not the best person to answer your question! But I love going to our local Greek Orthodox Church for their Spring Festival and while there I’ve talked some with the priest.

Orthodox do seem a bit more “formal” than we Catholics are, so personally I don’t think I’d attend an Orthodox service in, say, a pair of jeans! Also I don’t think that Catholics and our Orthodox brothers and sisters share an open communion, so I personally would not try to receive the Orthodox Eucharist. I have to admit that while I’ve had the great pleasure of being escorted into an Orthodox church and had a lot of questions answered by a very kind Greek Orthodox priest, I have yet to attend an actual service there–I can say that any of us would be more than welcome there! :slight_smile: It is definitely on my to-do list–the Orthodox churches are just gorgeous, and I love the icons. (The priest guessed from my questions that I was Catholic, lol.)

Okay, I will now bow out and allow a genuine Orthodox believer to offer his/her advice, which will certainly be much better than mine! :smiley:

Got it. :slight_smile:

The following link seems sensible and informative to me:


I hope this is helpful. :slight_smile:

If your a man, dress decently. No shorts or jeans. You are required to grow a beard before you attend (joking). If your female, where a full length dress or skirt and wear a head scarf.

Why couldn’t you get communion at an Orthodox church when their view of the Eucharist is exactly the same as Catholics? We only aren’t united because of ridiculousness when you research the schism. Courriers not delivering apologies in time etc. Filioque. The Greek east and Latin west always had differences even before they split officially in 1054 but were still in communion. Personally I don’t think Jesus is coming back until the two are reunited. The Pope can just be the Bishop or Patriarche of Rome but be the first among equals, which is how it was before the schism.

You are welcome to visit. Many people don’t arrive until the beginning of Divine Liturgy but you will have a much better experience if you are there for Matins which precedes the Divine Liturgy. Even better if you can attend Vespers the evening before (not all churches have Vespers though :()
Dress modestly. You don’t need to wear a head scarf. If you went to a Russian church you would fit in better with a head scarf.
You cannot receive Holy Communion.Don’t even try.
You can receive blessed bread at the end of the liturgy. It is called “Antidoron” which means “instead of the gift”.

12 Things I Wish I’d Known…
First Visit to an Orthodox Church

Before the concept of unity is attempted we must understand each other. There have been many screaming matches and tossing of arguments. You have to think like an Orthodox and they have to come to think like a Catholic. Catholics always shove the Code of Canon law on the table, the Orthodox speak of the Church Fathers and the Deposit of Faith as handed down by the Apostles and our shared saints and martyrs. We ignore each other. By the good grace of God I have attended Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgies. The priests there did much to remind me of my Catholic faith. Something I had sought to learn at Catholic parishes but is not taught there anymore. So I exist in between the two, somehow, in an Eastern Catholic church :rolleyes:

To the OP, simply attend. Here is a short essay on how to utilize your five senses in worship:

It may take a year of attending for it all to sink in. Once it does, it will do your soul much good.

There is more to it than just claiming the pope was first among equals. That aside, that very title can mean more that one thing and I’ll gladly reject it if anyone claims the pope was only first in honor.

There are more to these ‘differences’ than you not and it will be a great disservice to the ecumenical movement if these difference aren’t address.

Thanks to all of you for your helpful replies.
I did some further checking on the Greek Orthodox church website and found more information about the history, worship, liturgy, etc. of the Orthodox church and a link to the Orthodox Church in America.
So I understand I definitely cannot take communion, but can eat the blessed bread at the end of the service.
I was very concerned about how to dress. I am a woman and didn’t know if a dress was required or head covering.
Do the Orthodox believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist like the Catholics do?

I did read about the Matins service before the Divine Liturgy begins and that they stand
throughout the service. Are there chairs to sit on if you get tired. I am 65 and not sure I can stand for an hour or more.

You’re not required to wear a headcovering…the Russian Orthodox church tends to be more conservative there but both the OCA and the Antiochian churches I’ve attended had very few women with scarves on.

Yes they believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Most Orthodox churches in the US have pews or chairs.

From a Catholic perspective, Catholics may only receive the Eucharist from an Orthodox priest in rare, life-threatening situations.

Does any Orthodox know if the same applies to Orthodox receiving the Eucharist from a Catholic priest?

The circumstances in which canon law permits Catholics to receive communion from an Orthodox priest are limited, but I would not characterize those circumstances as being limited to “rare, life-threatening situations.” The relevant canon actually states:

“Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.”

Orthodox priests don’t admit non-Orthodox to communion.

Generally, that is the case. However, it’s not a universally true statement. Depending on the particular Church, the locale, and even the individual priest, there are instances in which Catholics are permitted by Orthodox priests to receive Communion.

You would need grave circumstances like perhaps a ship sinking or something.

That is not necessarily correct.

Indeed, there are areas of the world where Orthodox priests do admit others to communion due to war or other events in such areas, also not all Orthodox Churches are as absolute on the matter. Russian Orthodox clergy (whom I am most familiar) with would be most unlikely to as would some other communions but matters do vary somewhat in reality and are not always quite as strict for a variety of reasons.

No you don’t. That has already been addressed. And the Orthodox are permitted to receive at a Catholic Church. The only hitch for a Catholic really is receiving permission from the Orthodox priest.

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