God in the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox belief of God is based upon how He has revealed Himself to His people through the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition. Orthodox theology never speculates in its beliefs (e.g.., the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the person of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Jesus Christ, sacramental theology, etc.), but is very comfortable in saying, when things are inexplicable or impossible to comprehend by the human mind, that it is a "mystery." What we do know of God-that is, what He has revealed to us-is that He is: eternal, holy, perfect, all-loving, present everywhere, the Creator, the Source and Giver of life, the Source of virtues, a Trinity, just and therefore Judge, etc.,
Our Lord also said that we can overcome the devil only through prayer and fasting. When His disciples reported to Him that they had been unable to cast out a demon, Our Lord explained to them that this kind [the devil and his foul spirits] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. If we are given but two weapons--prayer and fasting-- in our battle against the demonic powers, we should not cast one of these weapons aside and ignore it What soldier who knows only two weapons work against a particular enemy would throw one away?
The Orthodox speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: three divine persons sharing the same essence and a perpetual movement of love which makes the Holy Trinity act harmoniously as one. The Orthodox have always maintained a theological balance between the oneness of God and the threeness of God. For example, in the Old Testament we read "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4); and, in the New Testament we read "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came into the world by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary; thus, the Church gave Him the title "Theanthropos" i.e., the God-man. The Orthodox Church clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was fully divine and fully human.
The purpose of Jesus Christ's coming to earth was to reconcile mankind to God. In order to do this, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, had to become fully human. He had to experience all the pain, temptations and sufferings that all human beings face. Finally, having preached, taught, healed and performed many miracles, He had to experience the last pain that all people must undergo: death. Thus, He allowed Himself to be crucified. As a human being, He died; but, being God, He rose from the dead, proving that all who believe and follow Him will do likewise. This is why Jesus Christ is called "Savior," for He saves us from death.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity who proceeds from the Father. Like the Son, there was no time that the Holy Spirit did not exist. He was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2). He was present, "in the form of a dove" at the baptism of Jesus; and, He is the person of the Trinity that Jesus promised He would send upon the Church as its Comforter and guide after His ascension (John 14 and John 15:26).
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church (Acts 2:1-4; the Orthodox Church celebrates this great event on Pentecost); and the Church in turn bestows the Holy Spirit to each of its members through the sacrament of Chrismation. In fact, the Holy Spirit is present in all the sacraments of the Church.
The Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary is the woman God chose to bear His Son in this world. The Orthodox believe in the ever-virginity of Mary. Since God chose her to manifest His presence among men, she is called, " All Holy" and the bridge between God and man. For this reason, she is highly praised and venerated in the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox always pray to the Virgin Mary, beseeching her to intercede for us to God. The Orthodox do not worship the Virgin Mary-worship is do to God alone. The Orthodox make a distinction between worship and intercessory prayer. Just as we ask other people to pray for us, we ask the Virgin Mary, for she has found favor in God's eyes and has a very unique relationship with God, to pray (intercede) for us. It should be noted that the Virgin Mary and all the saints are ceaselessly praying for all of us.
©SAINT SAVA SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CHOIR ( TORONTO MISSISSAUGA )
Design and concept by Djordjo B. Vasic, 2004