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Orthodox Ecclesiology

The Church of the Saints or
Those Who are Called To Be Saints

 

St John of Damascus

St John of Damascus

In the Orthodox perspective of the Church there is no separation between the clergy and the laity. The clergy serves the laity, and both participate and grow in the fullness of Christ's Body. The apostolic patristic order of ministry was established for the people so that all the people of God may receive the new gift, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. There are many ways in which this relationship between clergy and people in the one body of Christ is realized and revealed in the Orthodox Church. Both the liturgy and the offices have distinctive parts for the clergy and the laity, but this also is the case in the dimension of the Church's witness, teaching, and general mission to the world. The monastic order, with its single devotion to prayer and to Christian perfection, is one of the most eloquent links between the manifestation of this inner unity of clergy and the people in the Body of Christ. There are also other orders, such as the confessors and martyrs, or those who spend their lives serving the needs of the poor and the sick.

The Orthodox Church, as the Church of the saints, is, in fact, the Church of the people of God. Here there is no tension between the shepherds and the flock. Those who minister, and those who are ministered to, pursue the same aim: participation in the grace of Christ and the Holy Trinity. The call to holiness binds them all into one Church. Whatever one's position in the Church on earth — clerical, ascetical, or lay — it is the one Body of Christ and the one grace of the Holy Trinity that remain the central focus. Each person is appreciated fully as a person in his relation to this one Body and to the one common life and witness. Everyone is called to be a saint and, as such, to serve the mystery of Christ. Therefore, everyone, whatever his place or capacity, will be equally asked to give an account of his response to this calling on the day of judgment. Hence, all Orthodox Christians pray together for Christian ends to their lives, and a good apology before the judgment seat of Christ. The Church is holy, or called to be holy, and this is an essential characteristic of Orthodox ecclesiology.

Home | Preliminary Remarks | Introduction | Church of the Triune God | Church of Christ | Church of the Trinity and the Church of Christ
Church of the Fathers | Church of the Saints or Those Who are Called To Be Saints | Conclusion