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The Byzantine Orthodox Catholic Church of Antioch, The Primatial See of California

 

 We are partners of The Byzantine Orthodox Catholic Church of Antioch.

The Orthodox Faith does not begin with mankind's religious speculations, nor with the so-called "proofs" for the existence of God, nor with a human quest for the Divine. The origin of the Orthodox Christian Faith is the Self-disclosure of God. Each day, the Church's Morning Prayer affirms and reminds us of this by declaring, "God is the Lord and He has revealed Himself to us. While the inner Being of God always remains unknown and unapproachable, God has manifested Himself to us; and the Church has experienced Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Byzantine Orthodox Church is the New Testament Church led by the Holy Spirit.

The Byzantine Orthodox Church is Pentecostal and Evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is Catholic, but not Roman. It isn't non-denominational - it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost over 2000 years ago. Byzantine Orthodox Catholic Church Maintains an unbroken Tradition and Apostolic Succession from Saint Andrew the first-called Apostle.

Byzantine Orthodox are followers of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Living God, who in His great mercy came into the world and assumed our human nature by becoming a man so that He could save us from our sins by His passion, death, resurrection and glorious ascension to Heaven. We are the witnesses to God’s saving action in human history, and the bearers of the Good News of Christ to the ends of the earth.

The Byzantine Orthodox Church traces its foundation to the 12 Apostles of Christ who were the companions of Jesus as he walked on this earth some 2000 years ago. After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), the Apostles began to proclaim the Gospel, first to Jerusalem, then to the Gentiles. The first mission of the New Testament Church to the Greek-speaking Gentiles of the Levant was to Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria, where "the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:26). Antioch became the staging area for the great missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul, which resulted in the foundation of a string of Greek-speaking Christian communities in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and Greece. Similar missionary journeys were undertaken by other Apostles throughout the Hellenized Eastern Mediterranean, as well as deep into the heart of the Latin West, to Rome itself, the capital of the Empire.

As the Christian Church grew, each nation and culture who received the Gospel in turn influenced the growth of the Church. Even at a relatively early stage in the history of the Church, two major heritages developed and remain with us today: the Eastern or "Greek" tradition, and the Western or "Latin" tradition. The Church in the West had its principal center at the Imperial capital of Rome, and is known in our present-day as the Roman Catholic Church. The Church in the East grew and developed from the Churches in Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. These three Eastern centers shared a common language, Greek, and similar mode of discourse which formed the basis for the subsequent development of the Eastern Christian tradition. The Byzantine Orthodox Church shares in the inheritance of the first Greek-speaking Christian communities of the Eastern Mediterranean world, founded by the Apostles of Jesus Christ.

The Orthodox Church is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, teaching that it is the continuation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission to the apostles, and practicing what it understands to be the original faith passed down from the Apostles (Holy Tradition).

The History

The Othodox Church was formed on the day of Pentecost The word "Orthodox" is derived from two Greek words, "orthos", meaning correct, and "doxa", meaning belief. The church follows the teachings of the early fathers in an unbroken tradition. She is the original form of Christianity that emphasizes Apostolic tradition and continuity nearly a 2,000 year history. The Orthodox church is the church handed down by Christ through his Apostles.

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was ruled by five patriarchs: those of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, each having authority over bishops in a specified geographic territory. Although the five split from each other, none was a newly founded organization. Each group took (and still today takes) the view that it is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the other group left that church at the time of the schism.

The followers of Jesus were first named Christians in Antioch. These Christians were also first called Catholics in Antioch around AD 98. The word Catholic comes from a Greek word katholikos which means universal. The Orthodox are the original Christians of the Catacombs, the first Catholics, and the Church of the Apostles. The Orthodox Saints, Martyrs, Patriarchs and Bishops have forged an unbroken chain to the day of Pentecost and the Apostles.

All Christian including that of Rome, were part of the unity of Orthodoxy through the first 1,000 years of Christianity. The Church of Rome, now called the Catholic Church separated from the unity of the church by making heretical claims for the earthly powers of her Pope (Patriarch) at the beginning of the 11th century and completed the break with the Orthodox by the 13th century.

The Protestant reformation began the break from the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. As the centuries passed, many contradicting theologies were formed. The Church of "one faith" faded away. These early schisms from the Roman Church were centered around perceived earthly Papal powers and the continued changing theology of the Roman Church. Sadly, these reforms resulted in the eventual formation of thousands of Protestant denominations each with their own theology.

Out of the Five original churches that were formed by the Apostles through their travels, four remained Orthodox. These are the ancient churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Only the Church of Rome following the erroneous teachings of her Popes left the original Apostolic Church. Today there are over 250 million people who are members of the various Orthodox churches.

The Orthodox Church is universal (catholic) and diversified. From the ancient Churches of Africa and the Mid East to the more recent Churches in the Americas these Churches follow the unchanged faith passed on by Jesus through his Apostles. The church directly follows the teaching of the Apostles, the wisdom of the early fathers and the cannons of the Ecumenical Councils.

The various Orthodox Churches all have Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Laity, and an unbroken chain of Monastic life which started with the desert fathers of the third century.

We live in an era that preaches “New is Better” around every corner. We need to realize that not everything “old” should be thrown out and replaced. Religion is the foremost example of such lack of prudence.

You can always find a religious channel, if not several of them, when you turn on the TV or radio.  People yearn for a deeper meaning and ways to simplify their stressful lives.   They often turn to these mediums to find a solution to their problems.  After listening to one of these channels for a short period of time you’ll most likely hear the phrase “ancient church”, “old church” or “original church”.  Ever wondered exactly who they are referring to? Well, we want you to know that the church they are referring to is still very much alive and beating today. For Christ's Church will never die...it has always been, it is today, and it always will be.

Pentecost was the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ  They were gathered together and given the ability to each speak in a language other than his own, in order to go to different lands, spreading the message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the teachings that Christ had imparted to them.  Thus was the beginning of the evangelism of the Orthodox Church, which preceded the New Testament and the written Bible by three centuries.  The New Testament, in fact, was compiled by the Orthodox Church in the fourth century, lead by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles baptized thousands and ordained the first Bishops of the Orthodox Church.  This process of ordination and "laying on of hands" is one of seven sacraments in the Orthodox Church.  It has provided an unbroken chain of bishops and priests from the time of Christ, through his Apostles, to this very day. 

Offered on this website is valuable information about the One, True Church of Jesus Christ  You'll find sources that reveal how we should worship, as handed down by Jesus Christ through his Apostles, rather than the minds of intellectuals--centuries removed from the days of Christ

It is important for one to understand that there was only ONE Christian church throughout the first 1,000 years after Pentecost.  It was the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Church compiled the New Testament in the fourth century.  Some of the early writings were chosen to become the New Testament of the Bible.  Others were preserved as part of church “Tradition”, a significant part of the Orthodox Church.  Many others were deemed to be heretical and discarded. Many of these heretical writings, all known to the Church for centuries, are now being "discovered" and promoted as new information by those who care nothing of the truth but only about profits and ratings.

Holy tradition, which guided Christianity for the first three centuries of it's existence, together with the sacraments, the Bible and the icons make up the fullness of the Orthodox faith which cannot be found elsewhere.

Orthodox Christianity, from the very beginning saw both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as complementary to one another. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle" (II Thes. 2:15). Likewise, Orthodoxy remains on guard to the Apostle's admonishment: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8). Thus, while Orthodoxy is a Bible believing and Bible based church, its belief and interpretation of the Bible is not left to individual opinion but is tempered by the wisdom of Holy Tradition, the Church Fathers, and the Church Councils.

In conformity with the first century Church, Orthodox worship focuses on celebrating the Eucharistic Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ's Sacrifice with hymns, Psalms, prayers, and teaching. The Divine Liturgy remains the forms and prayers of the early Church, having changed little in the last fifteen centuries.

This Jurisdiction

In 1927 a Charter was created by the Russian Metropolia to establish a Church with the jurisdiction of North America. The purpose of this charter was to create an American Church, in which all of the warring Orthodox jurisdictions could find unity and brotherhood. A respected Syrian bishop from the Brooklyn mission was elected as the first Primate. Aftimios Ofiesh had proven his loyalty to "Orthodoxy over ethnicity", by refusing to take part in an attempted overthrow of the legitimate Russian jurisdiction. Also, as a Syrian it was hoped that he would have a placating effect on those ethnic bodies who resented "western orthodoxy".

Unfortunately, pride and the desire to maintain a separate ethnic identity prevented the Eastern Churches from recognizing this new American Jurisdiction. After it became obvious that the Eastern Churches would not cooperate, the Russian Metropolia was under a lot of pressure. It went through a schism and in its fractured state, withdrew its support from the American Church. A law suit enabled the eastern bodies to take possession of the young Churches Cathedrals. Left naked and standing alone, it was expected that the infant Church would die.

Not hardly! Today that rejected American Church continues to evangelize America and other countries of the world. We continue as a traditional Church, always holding to those ancient traditions of the early Apostolic Church.

Our ecclesiastical focus is on the Apostolic Canons. While we acknowledge the later canons as valid, they were adaptations of that earlier canon, as required by the Church to deal with specific circumstances. An example of this is the issue of the married Episcopate. Not only was the married Episcopate accepted in the early Church, but it was the standard. Circumstances forced the developing Church to later move toward a monastic episcopate (and to do so was within the Church's ecclesiastic rights), but as circumstances changed allowing us the opportunity to return to the Apostolic traditions, we feel the obligation to do so. According to the scripture we uphold "hold fast to those traditions we have learned, both the oral and written" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

On issues of doctrine, we are rooted in the first three ecumenical councils. In that undivided Church, the doctrines were clarified, and we accept them as such. We are traditional in that we do not accept new or re-defined doctrines. We are Orthodox. On issues of Church ecclesiology as stated previously, we refer back to the Apostolic Canons, recognizing the synods responsibility and historic pattern of the Church to adapt them to meet current circumstances (always returning to the Apostolic Tradition when circumstances allow).

After the death of Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, the American Orthodox Catholic Church under the leadership of Blessed Walter Propheta took shape in 1962. He sought to build a community of faith to serve the people of America while remaining true to his ethnic Orthodox heritage. He consecrated Saint Christopher Maria (Stanley) who later became Patriarch of the Byzantine Catholic Church from 1964 to 1967, with Patriarch, Mar +Markus I. (Miller) who was the patriarch from 1967-2013.

Our Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan +Anthony was consecrated on April 18, 2010 to the Episcopacy and was given the mandate to establish the Byzantine Orthodox Church in Nigeria, a mission he accomplished and continue to work for the unity of dispersed orthodox jurisdictions in Africa and in Partibus Infidelium of the Orthodox Church and Allied Jurisdictions. Today this Jurisdiction has remained universal reaching out to both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics.

 

This Jurisdiction is Oriental Orthodox by faith in the Christology definition, we use Byzantine in Liturgy for rituals, we are in dialogue with the Syriac Patriarchate of Antioch and hence recognized the Universal Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch as our Patriarch. http://www.byzantineorthodoxchurch.org/primate.html

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