Chapter I. Fellowship and Co-operation
Chapter II. The Interior of an Orthodox Church
Chapter III. Services in the Orthodox Church
Chapter IV. The Holy Communion
Chapter V. Baptism and Confirmation
Chapter VI. Holy Matrimony
Chapter VII. Confession and Absolution
Chapter VIII. Unction of the Sick
Chapter IX. Burial of the Dead
THERE ARE few more important and significant groups of Christians than those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They number millions; they possess an ancient and vigorous tradition; their outlook is neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant. They belong to the East--which, for good or ill, is impinging on us of the West with ever more and more insistence in its claims upon our attention. As the abiding bulwark against atheism--materialistic, practical, or political--and as the inspiration of the lives of saints of the past and the present, the Eastern Orthodox Church presents a rare and peculiar mandate to the sympathies of Americans. The difficulty is that we do not understand, and fail to appreciate with proper sympathy, the ethos of Eastern Christianity.
This book, then, is peculiarly useful--careful, accurate, succinct, and to the point. It is badly needed at this juncture. There is nothing like it to explain precisely what is done in Orthodox worship. Ignorance concerning such homely matters as the way people pray, believe, and act, is responsible for vast areas of prejudice and indifference. This is particularly the case with reference to American Christians and the Eastern Churches. It is a peculiar pleasure to commend Dr. Spoer's book to the intelligent appreciation of an increasingly interested group of readers in America.
This little book is designed to meet, in a simple way, the many requests which have been made for a popular presentation of the Services of the Orthodox Church for the use of the clergy and laity who come into contact with our Orthodox brethren. Few among us have not had the advantage of such contact, more or less frequent. To those also who have little opportunity for personal observation it should be interesting, as well as useful, to have some definite understanding of the religious teaching which is expressed in the Rites and Ceremonies of the Orthodox Church. To render this understanding mutual I have pointed out some of the resemblances between the customs and usages of that Church and of our own which are of special interest.
The need of some such book was prominently brought before me in the course of my work as Superintendent of the Foreign-born Americans Division of the diocese of Michigan as well as, in practical form, in the course of my present work in the diocese of New York.
I have had the privilege of many years' residence in oriental lands in which the Orthodox Church is the Church of the country, and the languages of the various countries in question are those used in worship. It must be borne in mind that those of the Orthodox Church belong to the following racial stocks: Greek, Russian, Syrian, Serbian, Rumanian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Georgian, and Albanian. This being the case, we naturally find among them differences in religious usages attributable to differences of national origin, just as we find differences in the Prayer Books used in various branches of the Anglican Church, not only in expression, but also in the addition or suppression of certain prayers, and even of minor rites and ceremonies, in keeping with local requirements.
The passages quoted are translated from the Greek Evchologion with constant reference to the Arabic and Russian versions of the same.
It is earnestly hoped that this book will further mutual love and service between our Episcopal parishes and adjacent Orthodox parishes throughout the country, and thus lead to the fulfilment, by our Church, of the God-given responsibility of ministering to isolated members of the Orthodox Church in her emergencies, and in keeping them steadfast in the Faith.
H. Henry Spoer.
Feast of St. Chad, Bishop of Lichfield.