Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Bulgarian Orthodox, Who Are They?

"and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew28 19-20

In the world of Christian Orthodoxy, the orthodox are world wide; they are communities who hold fast to the values and norms practiced by the earliest Christians prior to the split of the Greco-Roman church in the earlier centuries, about 900 years ago. They call it Schism. Schisms are not limited to the Christian world; they exist in most if not all the major religions of the world. While the two world wide faith communities, Roman and Orthodox, point to differences in their interpretations, and valuations of varying points, they are indeed more alike than they are different. And while differing with one another, they are not denying the other. Both are monotheistic; both believe in the Trinitarian father, son and holy spirit. They are Christians. Their patrimony is also alike, owing its start in Judaism.

And yet within the world of Orthodoxy itself, there comes some difference. Some causes are given as nationalistic, some as emphasis and some as interpretations of the ancient texts themselves. Recall that the Orthodox tradition has endured a long history of Divine Rulers, kings and emperors who ruled as the head of most these churches; thus they are not without their individual peculiarities as is the Roman Catholic world with its great See of Peter in Rome.

Examining for example the Bulgarian Orthodox Christian church, is to view a bit of their cultural traditions as well. And what, if any, are their policies? Then there is, here in the United States, a consortium of Orthodoxy, The Orthodox Church in America in which the Bulgarians take part. Writing for the curious and for the faithful, Father Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, New York has compiled a series of books for educational purposes to give strong instruction in the continued meaning and witness of the orthodox tradition. He titles it simply as The Orthodox Faith. Readers may learn that the church is focused on teaching so that believers will go forth and teach, making disciples of the way. And yet not all within the world orthodox fold accept this group, the Orthodox Church of America.

I first came upon this constellation of orthodoxy while learning about the Inuit Indians of Alaska and was interested to learn that some Orthodox Monasteries are located there. So this truly is a part of the story of what makes the United States of America. Please challenge yourself to learn a bit more about the "hidden" America.

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