Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace

Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

About Us

At the Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace our goal is to put Christ first in every area of our lives. We want to live with exceptional devotion to Christ Jesus and His Church through prayer; participation in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments); sharing a life of faith with one another; and in service to one another, the communities in which we live, and to the world.

We have a calling as a Church family: to go deeper in our faith, to grow deeper in love with Jesus and towards one another, and to be faithful witnesses for the Apostolic Faith to our friends and neighbors. We are a stable, biblical, and orthodox Church in the Italo-Greek Tradition. Guided by the Ancient Faith, we know where we have been and we know where we are going. We are a warm, caring, and loving Church family. We can help you in your marriage, your parenting, your personal life, your professional life, and your faith. Bring your family to come and meet our church family. We invite you come and visit and worship with us.

The mission of the Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace is to strengthen all God's children through classical biblical Christian values, to reach out to young people through the stability of the unchanging Christian Tradition passed down to us from the time of the Apostles, and to preserve and teach the rich treasure that is the classical Italo-Greek way of faith and life.

Our goal is to strengthen and foster a genuine and living relationship with God through Christ; to be a stable and loving Church home to all people seeking God's truth; to reach out to a hurting and broken world and provide pastoral care to those who struggle with addiction and life's hardships; to instruct people in the Orthodox Catholic Faith in such a way that it leads to stability, freedom, joy, happiness, and blessing.

The Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace is the Mother Church of the Italo-Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas and Canada, which is one of two Archdioceses comprising the ancient and venerable Italo-Greek Orthodox Church. The Italo-Greek Orthodox Church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, faithfully continuing the Italo-Greek tradition. We practice and uphold the historic Catholic Faith of the Apostles, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship, and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Orthodox Catholic Church. Our Church is a "Particular Church" within the worldwide communion of Orthodox Churches. Though we are not presently in Eucharistic communion with the other Orthodox Churches, we are fully in spiritual and doctrinal communion with them. We share the same beliefs and praxis with them. We hope that some day, we will also be in Eucharistic communion with them, though such a decision is entirely up to them. 

We know that a great many people, regardless of denomination, have experienced the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. What many people want to know is if our Church is open to and receives the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. The answer is a definitive YES! One of the concerns we have is that many people associate being a "Spirit-filled" Christian with a certain type of praise music or church service. We think this confuses the issue. In fact, we believe that this can often be a real problem. When we associate the work of the Holy Spirit with a particular "style" of worship or music, we often "compartmentalize" the work of the Spirit to a church service. We believe this is an error no matter what your worship service looks or sounds like.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on a band of Jewish believers who attended Temple worship in Jerusalem. These early disciples observed the daily Jewish hours of prayer and lived out their faith in a "liturgical" setting, not a setting today's Evangelical Christians associate with "Spirit-filled" worship. In fact, a traditional Church like ours has much more in common with the ancient Jewish Temple worship than it does with any other Christian denomination today, with the exception of the Catholic Church, which is a Sister Church to the Orthodox Church. So, rather than focusing all of our expectation of the activity and work of the Holy Spirit on a particular worship service, we teach that this should be the daily experience of the believer who is walking in obedience to Christ and faithfully proclaiming and witnessing to His Gospel. We encourage the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be cultivated in the lives of our parishioners and believe that the power of the Holy Spirit should be demonstrated in our daily lives.

While many Christian denominations and ecclesial communities are seeking to become more "relevant" and "contemporary" in doctrine and worship, why would we flaunt the fact that our Church is "Traditional"? In this age of technological wonder the very idea of "Tradition" seems suspect and yet refreshing. Society is moving at such break-neck speed that many people can hardly keep up with the constant changes and developments in societal values and morals. Such swift social change can cause us to forget ourselves and our history. As a people, we are losing our memory. Memory. This is an important word. Memory helps to anchor us. It anchors us in our past and gives us a solid grounding and foundation upon which to build our futures. Memory anchors us in the home we grew up in, with the family members we shared Sunday dinners with, with the grandparents we loved so much, with Christmas' long past, and with that first puppy we had. Memory helps us retain our identity. But many of us have no family memory that reaches back beyond our parents or grandparents. A fast moving society can easily forget its roots. Having a short memory can leave us feeling isolated, alone and rootless. But the Church has a long memory, one that goes back more than 2,000 years but which is very real for us today.

Many Christian denominations feel great pressure to keep up with the most recent trends and fads. They seem to be chasing after a society that is day-by-day forgetting more and more of itself. Christian denominations that keep riding the trends are straying farther and farther away from their Apostolic roots and from the truths of the Gospel. How can they stay connected with their beginnings when those beginnings no longer have any meaning or relevance for them? All that was given to them by the Apostles is now but a mere shadow of things long past. At what point does this "chasing after a society that will not have God" cause us to betray our own history as Christians?

These and many other considerations are causing many to return to the ancient traditions of the Church. Tradition is not trendy. Tradition cannot be fitted into slick promotional campaigns or 30-second spots filled with nice heart-tugging images. Tradition doesn't create something new, but preserves something old and original, something tried and true. In fact, that is one of the functions of Tradition, to pass on that which is solid and unchanging. Perhaps this is why many people today, both young and old, are turning to the Orthodox Church. There have been countless articles about people in their 20's returning to Churches that are not flashy or dependent upon technology or music. We saw this especially at the time when Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church reinstated the use of the Tridentine Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Young people especially were attracted to the authenticity and mystery of this traditional form of worship because it provides a sense of enduring faith, identity and stability. 

Many people appreciate the ceremonies and rituals, and the beauty that abounds in the "traditional" or "liturgical" Church. These set the Church apart from the more mundane and pedestrian, and much less sacred, worship experiences of the Evangelical and other Protestant faith communities. The Great Tradition of the Orthodox Church has the effect of re-centering our spirituality, not on our own emotional excitement, but on God. In a time when there seems to be no authority and no confident way to discern the "truth", the Great Tradition of the catholic (universal) faith can provide a place to stand firmly and without fear. For these reasons and many more, "Tradition" is making a comeback.

What are some of the practices of this Traditional faith that so many are returning to? The liturgical church year expressed in the seasons of Great Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Advent, for example; a return to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as the focal point and pinnacle of Christian worship and unity; a sense of sacredness, mystery and beauty in worship; a tradition that embraces and makes sense of suffering and hardship rather than pretending that they do not exist; a history of spirituality that goes deep, drawing on the experience of monastics, ascetics, and saints; and the faithful and unaltered transmission of the original meaning of the Bible from the community that originates it rather than contorting it to fit modern shifting ideals. All this, and so much more, is why people are returning daily to the Church.

So why is the Italo-Greek Church a Traditional Church? It's not because of the calendar we use, for a calendar is nothing more than a reckoning of days and dates. In the Orthodox Church, we do not worship days, we worship the Holy Trinity. We all know that Christ was not born in December so it doesn't matter if we celebrate His birthday on December 25th, or January 7th, or June 1st for that matter. What is important, rather, is that we do remember, honor and give thanks for the miracle of the Incarnation and the reality that Christ came to dwell among us and bring salvation to the world. It's not because we use the Byzantine Liturgy or Rite, or because our clergy can be married, or because we fast a lot. No, we are traditional because we are faithful to the whole body of Tradition that has been entrusted to us by the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. We accept "the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the authentic record of God's revelation of Himself, His saving work and activity, and moral demands - a revelation for all men and for all time." On Christian morality, we believe that "every Christian is obliged to form his conscience by the Divine Moral Law and the Mind of Christ as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and by the teachings and praxis, the entire Tradition, of the Church." We believe that the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) are "objective and effective signs of the continued and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and His covenanted means for conveying His grace." Thus, we profess our belief in seven Holy Mysteries (Sacraments): Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), Holy Eucharist, Penance, Holy Anointing (Unction), Marriage, and Holy Orders.

The Italo-Greek Church exists for those who want to return to the beginning; for those who want to practice a faith that is not superficial, but demanding. We are here for those who want to return to a sense of the sacred. We are Traditional because the Faith passed on by the Apostles is the Pearl of Great Price, and it is worth preserving and passing on. We accept as binding the Faith we have received from the Apostles and defined by the Fathers of the Church. These include the threefold male Apostolic ministry of bishop, priest and deacon; the Articles of Faith enunciated in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed; the dogmas, doctrines, and canons defined and adopted by the Apostolic Council, the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and the universally accepted Regional and Local Synods; and the writings and teachings of the Fathers of the Church. As sons and daughters first of the Church of Rome and then of the Great Church of Constantinople, our religious heritage reaches back to the earliest days of Christianity in Sicily and beyond that to our Lord's establishment of His Church by His precious Blood.

The Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace, together with all the missions and congregations of the Italo-Greek Orthodox Church everywhere,
is obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission Christ has given to His Church to "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19) Our parish fulfills that Commission by committing the resources God has given us: clergy and parishioners, finances and the physical plant, to the work and fulfillment of the Five Essential Ministries of a Servant Church: Proper Worship, Faithful Discipleship, Unconditional Love and Fellowship, Evangelism, and Missions.

We invite you to come and worship with us. Our doors are open wide and our parish family waits with open arms to welcome you and assist you in whatever way we can. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Epiphany House Blessings

His Eminence, Archbishop Stephen, will bless homes between January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany and January 19th. Individuals and families that would like to have their home blessed are asked to email the Chancery Office at igoarch@gmail.com to schedule their blessing. In your email, please indicate the time you would like to have your home blessed. Individuals and families who live near each other are asked to join together to coordinate their blessings on the same day, so as to make scheduling easier and more efficient. 

As is the custom in our Church, business owners are also invited to have their place of business blessed. 

Requests for house and business blessings will be taken up to January 5th.