Orthodoxy in Greek means true faith and true celebration (of God) and is referred to all the Christian communities and individuals who have preserved their faith according to the Ecumenical Synods, unlike those who departed from the original faith. The correct term for the Church in its liturgical and canonical texts is the Orthodox Catholic (universal) Church.
It may easily be said that Orthodoxy is the soul of the Serbian people, their faith and the meaning of their existence. Orthodoxy is the preserved warm faith in a God-Man Christ, a contact with Him through the Church He Himself founded, which is a living manifestation of His presence in the history of mankind. Orthodoxy is not just one of the forms of a purely human organisation lead by men in robes – patriarchs, bishops and monks who serve the Church; Orthodoxy is not just the priests, but all those who truly believe in Christ and who were baptised to become members of the Church He founded, all those who live on Earth and those who have died in faith and pious reverence. Orthodoxy is a mysterious God-Man organism, mysterious Body of Christ, with Christ, the Son of God as its head.
Orthodoxy is featured by the spirit of the times long passed, but also by a silent joy of deep faith in the Resurrection of Christ, His Second Coming, when all the believers in Christ will ,with Him, enter the eternal love of God.
In Serbian churches, those present at a service, stand still facing the altar, the east – where the Christ’s Coming in Glory is expected from. A priest takes out a chalice from the altar and the members of the congregation receive the Eucharist – Christ’s body and blood. The Orthodox believers kiss icons in the church, thus kissing those who are presented on the icons, but are also present in mystery. Saints are present as well, on frescoes that decorate the walls of Orthodox churches. Contact, through prayer, with the remains of the saints fills in the souls, sometimes leading to a miraculous healing, and the Orthodox chanting takes the thoughts and feelings to God.
The Church follows with prayers and rituals all the stages of life – from birth to death. The Serbian Orthodox share the same experience with the other Orthodox Christians, but there are also some particular distinctions: in the use of Serbian language and in some particular traditions and ritual details adjusted to the Serbian popular experience.
Today, the Orthodox Church has almost 300 million believers, living in faith and unblemished devotion to Seven Ecumenical Synods.
The Orthodox Church is not a centralised organisation with one supreme pontiff. It is a family of independent Churches with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is the first among equals, among the other orthodox patriarchs.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is autocephalic, meaning that it is an independent member of a family of Orthodox Churches and has a rank of Patriarchate. It covers the regions of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. As the number of Serbs who live abroad has increased, there are parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church on all the continents.
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art
truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst
come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am
chief. Moreover, I believe that this is truly Thy most
pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious
Blood. Wherefore, I pray Thee: Have mercy on me
and forgive me my transgressions, voluntary and
involuntary, whether in word or deed, in knowledge
or in ignorance. And vouchsafe me to partake
without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries
unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.
Of thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, receive me
today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the
Mystery to Thine enemies, nor will I give Thee a
kiss as did Judas, but like the Thief do I confess
Thee: Remember me, O Lord in Thy kingdom.
Let not the communion of Thy Holy Mysteries be
unto me for judgment or condemnation, O Lord, but
for healing of soul and body.
The Communion of the Clergy from the Divine Liturgy
of St John Chrysostom