Considered the Most Significant Ancient Christian Service
The Divine Liturgy is considered significant for its meaning. The Divine Liturgy was in practice right after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Disciples of Christ on the 50th day after His Resurrection (Acts 2:46). At the beginning of the Christian era, the Divine Liturgy consisted of free hymns and prayers for the officiating of a certain framework of the Orthodox faith. It was officiated long before the beginning of the writings of the New Testament. The Divine Liturgy was the center of the inspiration of the first Christians in their communion with God and with one another.
What We Believe
Theologically speaking, the Divine Liturgy and, by extension, the entire parish is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God here on earth. As Jesus Himself said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (Matthew 18:20) The Orthodox Christian Church is often referred to as the historical Christian Church founded by our Lord and described in the pages of the New Testament. It does not restrict membership to people of any culture, race, class or section of the world. In fact, the diversity of cultures, peoples and languages has long characterized the Church's history, since Orthodoxy embraces all people.
The word "Orthodox" is a compound word made of two Greek words: "orthos" and "doxa." "Orthos" means straight or true, a reference to the fact that the Orthodox Church has maintained and preserved the truth of the Christian faith free from error and distortion. The second word, "doxa", means glory or worship. Together, the word "Orthodox" means literally "the true faith."
For more information on Orthodoxy, you can access a plethora of resources at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website.
What to Expect
The worship service on Sunday mornings is known as the Divine Liturgy and has as its main purpose, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) which is a sacrament reserved only for those people who are baptized and confirmed members of the Orthodox Christian faith. The Divine Liturgy at Saint Katherine begins every Sunday at 10 AM. Red books containing the text, illustrations and an explanation of the entire Divine Liturgy are placed in the pews so that you may follow along. Hymns, prayers, scripture readings and the sermon begin the worship, followed by the consecration and distribution of the Holy Eucharist. Feel free to join in the singing of the responses (Kyrie Eleison) with the choir, the recitation of the Nicene Creed (the symbol of the Orthodox faith) and the Lord's Prayer.
The Divine Liturgy usually finishes around 11:15 AM. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the Priest makes a few brief announcements and invites everyone next door to the Tsakopoulos Hall to enjoy coffee and refreshments during the Coffee Hour. This is an excellent opportunity to experience the hospitality of our parish and to meet the friendly parishioners of Saint Katherine. The Priest also is present at the Coffee Hour and is available to answer any questions you may have regarding the Church services or the parish and its many programs and ministries. The service is finished with the distribution of the "antidoron", a piece of blessed bread offered to everyone, including all visitors, by the Priest. Ushers are present to guide everyone to receive their piece of antidoron.
When to Arrive
If it's your first time visiting, it's probably best to arrive about five or ten minutes before 10 AM on Sunday. There is plenty of free parking on the church grounds or along the street in front. As you enter the church, members of the Parish Council will greet you and provide you with even more information about our parish. Traditionally, people light a candle, symbolizing the belief that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, when they enter Orthodox churches. To do so, simply make your offering at the candle stand, take one of the small beeswax candles, light it to another one and place it in the sand found in the large holders in the center of the Narthex (entry). This is also an excellent opportunity to offer a small silent prayer for yourself or a loved one. Then, using one of the side doors to the main Church (Nave) you may find a place in the pews or side galleries.
What to Wear
Since Orthodox Churches are considered holy spaces where heaven (symbolized by the dome) and earth are combined into one space, everyone who comes to worship usually dresses in a dignified manner... women usually in a skirt or dress, men in a suit, jacket or during the summer, a dress shirt and slacks. Casual wear should be avoided...no jeans, shorts, t-shirts, sneakers or flip-flops.
Is it just Sundays?
Absolutely not! God is with us all week long and we aim to live our life in a manner that pleases Him. None of us is without sin, Jesus was the only sinless one and we all hope to come closer to Him and His perfection as we live our daily life. Worshiping Him on Sunday morning is part of that process and we invite you to become part of our Saint Katherine community.