SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
The Church of Christ is a community… The Church is a body with many parts or members… The Church is a body which was established and is maintained by God for the purpose of the Salvation of Souls. For the body to exist and live effectively and efficiently, certain rules must be created and enforced. From time to time it is necessary for our Holy Orthodox Christian Church to inform you, our beloved, on important issues that affect your spiritual lives. With love and understanding, we wish to advise you on certain rules of our Church so that any misunderstandings may be avoided. As your priests, we request your cooperation. Furthermore, we are ready and willing, with the sole guidance of Christ, to work with you, talk to you and advise you, in matters concerning your spiritual life. We are always here for you!
It should be understood that parish membership is not based solely on the fulfillment of one’s financial commitment to the parish. One must be a baptized/chrismated Orthodox Christian who is in good spiritual standing (see sections below on Holy Communion, Baptism, Weddings, and Divorce for further explanation on this). Although we welcome with open arms those who are not Orthodox, it should be understood that only Orthodox individuals can be members and therefore receive the sacraments, become sponsors at baptisms and weddings, and vote in parish elections and general assemblies.
- No person is allowed to receive Holy Communion in any Orthodox Church unless they are of the Orthodox faith.
- No Orthodox Christian may receive Holy Communion in a non-Orthodox Church (i.e. Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, etc.)
- Couples who are not married in the Orthodox Church cannot participate in the sacrament unless their priest, hearing their confession, deems it necessary for them to receive Holy Communion. Those co-habitating out of wedlock may not receive Holy Communion.
- The Church does not permit divorce, but because of love and compassion, the Church tolerates it. Therefore, those who have obtained a civil divorce but have not been released from the Church through Spiritual Court, may not receive Holy Communion, nor be a sponsor at a Baptism or a Wedding.
- The sponsor (Godparent) of a child being baptized in the Orthodox Church, must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing, and must be involved in the life of the Church; if married, must be married in the Church and if divorced, must have release from the Church through the Spiritual Court.
- The sponsors must be over 12 years of age.
- If the sponsor is from another Orthodox church, they must have an accompanying letter from their parish priest stating that they are in good standing and that there are no impediments concerning their spiritual status as Orthodox Christians.
- Orthodox Christians may not become sponsors at Baptisms and Confirmations in non-Orthodox Churches (i.e. Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, etc.)
- The best man/woman or koumbaro(a) must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and be involved in the life of the church. Non-Orthodox cannot assume this responsibility.
- If the koumbaro/koumbara is from another Orthodox Church, they must have an accompanying letter from their parish priest stating that they are in good standing with the Church.
- If the bride or groom were born in Greece and have come to the United States after their 16th birthday, they must have a certificate from their Metropolis in Greece assuring that they have not been married prior to this marriage. The same is required for those who have come to the Metropolis of Chicago from another Orthodox Metropolis.
- If an Orthodox Christian is asked to participate in a non-Orthodox wedding he/she may not receive Holy Communion at that service. (i.e. Roman Catholic).
- If you are aware of anyone who has not been married in the Church, please let us know so that we may be able to contact that person and make the necessary arrangements for the marriage to be performed with the blessings of our Church.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN THE CHURCH
“In her love and understanding, our Holy Orthodox Church has allowed for the use of the organ for the processional and recessional at weddings, as this is part of the American wedding traditions. No other instruments – trumpet, violin, etc., are to be used for weddings or any other Orthodox Sacrament or Service.” (From Diocese of Chicago Encyclical of August 1, 1990.)
It is necessary for Orthodox Christians to participate in the entire life of Christ’s Holy Church, therefore:
- It should be understood that funerals can only be performed for those who are baptized Orthodox Christians.
- The funeral service cannot be performed in Church for those who have committed suicide, unless they were under doctor’s care and the doctor certifies that they were not responsible for their action.
- Under no circumstances does our church allow a person to be cremated. A religious service cannot be performed.
- Baptized Orthodox, who are married outside the Church, are divorced, but have not been released by the Church through Spiritual Court… cannot be brought to the Church for the funeral service unless a priest had previously heard their confession and was aware of their intentions.
- A Church divorce may be granted after a civil decree has been given, but only after every effort to reconcile the couple has been made.
- The Church does not permit divorce but because of love and compassion for the people involved, divorce is at times tolerated. The Church grants divorce through the Spiritual Court that reviews the case after a petition is made.
- It is necessary for all to satisfy their financial stewardship to the Church. We ask that everyone give what they can with prayer as their consideration of their time, talent and treasure. If someone cannot satisfy a financial stewardship, let it be known that the Church will not turn them away. Please see the clergy regarding this matter.
HOSPITAL/SHUT-IN MINISTRY AND HOME VISITATION
- The Hospital/Shut-In Ministry is very important and necessary.
- Be good ministers yourselves. Please call your priests if you know of anyone who is sick at home or in the hospital.
- There are times that you wish to have your home blessed or to have the Sacrament of Efheleon performed in your home. Please call us. We will be more than happy to serve you.
These are some of the guidelines and rules that pertain to our lives as Orthodox Christians. May we remind you that these above rules are not solely for “our parish.” They are rules which affect all the Greek Orthodox Churches and all Greek Orthodox Christians must comply with them. They must be followed so as to alleviate misunderstandings. Remember, misunderstandings hurt us the priests also, but we cannot be expected to violate Church rules and Canons. Please try to understand us. Cooperate with us. If you know of someone who falls under the aforementioned categories, please let us know. We will do everything in our power to be useful and reinstate them in the Church. We, the priests, are here to serve you. Your cooperation in following these regulations will help us greatly in offering you assistance in all your spiritual needs.