Monday, July 10, 2006

The Ancient Church Online

Almost two thousand years ago, Christ founded His Church upon the Apostles whom He had chosen. The Church of Jesus Christ became known as the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" and the "Orthodox Church," the Church of right faith and right worship.

Within a few centuries of the Church's existence, five major centers of Christianity, called Patriarchates, emerged: Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria (Egypt), and Rome. The Patriarchs (Bishops) of these major churches served as the chief shepherds of the Christian Church throughout the world.

(Sadly, about one thousand years ago the Patriarchate of Rome separated itself from the Orthodox Church to form what is now called the "Roman Catholic Church.")

We can open our Bibles and read about the ancient churches of Jerusalem and Antioch in St. Luke's Acts of the Apostles and about the church of Rome in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. Likewise, a good book on the early history of the Church can teach us about the other ancient churches of Constantinople and Alexandria. These churches were established a long time ago, but they are not just part of the past. They have been around all along and are still present and active in the world today.

I know from personal experience that someone can grow up in America, influenced by Roman Catholicism and the many Protestant denominations that developed as a reaction against Roman Catholicism, and be almost completely unaware that the original ancient Church has kept the Faith since the time of Christ and the Apostles. The One Church founded by Jesus Christ is right here.

The ancient Patriarchates of the Orthodox Christian Church, and the modern jurisdictions that the Church has added through the centuries, have their own websites. Visit online the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.

Note that some of the Patriarchates may be called "Greek Orthodox." "Greek Orthodox" or "Eastern Orthodox," are terms used to separate the Orthodox Christian Church from the Roman Catholic Church, which is sometimes known as the "Latin Church" or "Western Church." During the terrible Crusades, the Crusaders of the Roman Catholic Church invaded Orthodox Christian territories and established their own Latin Patriarchates.

If you want to find out more about the Orthodox Christian Church in America, you can visit the websites of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, part of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Several other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions exist in America, but we are all united in faith as the one and only Orthodox Christian Church, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

Copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees. (Image designed by Dana S. Kees using a Public Domain NASA satellite image.)