Benedict Seraphim is continuing his series on his journey to Orthodoxy. another great post on what Orthodoxy is all about:
As a Protestant, when I encountered Orthodoxy, I did what any good Protestant does: I read about it and studied it. This is how a Protestant enacts his faith: through intellectual study. After all, in the churches in which I was raised, when we wanted to find answers for our questions, we studied the Bible. The Bible was, for us a textbook of sorts, a treasure trove of information from God’s mind to ours, which we were to mine for information on what to believe, on what ethical principles to hold–but rarely, if ever, on how to live the sort of life Christ lives. So, for the first two years of my investigations of Orthodoxy, I read and studied. Oh, sure, I went to a handful of Divine Liturgies, and I adopted an Orthodox prayerbook and Psalter. But nearly all my engagement with Orthodoxy was in the head. Even when I first decided to worship regularly at All Saints, I spent the next six months studying and writing essays related to the questions in my mind regarding the Orthodox Faith. None of those essays dealt with worship or the Orthodox way of living.
But when encountering philosophia and its distinction from philosophy, and especially noting how some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Justin the Philosopher, characterized Christianity as “true philosophia,” that really opened up to me that Orthodoxy is not just a set of doctrines, as was my Protestant experience, but a way of life. A way of life characterized by the ascetical struggle of the libertarian, gnomic will toward the establishment of virtue in the soul, always and ever energized by divine grace in such a struggle.
These were the keys that opened up for me what Orthodoxy was all about. It wasn’t just a neater, more “high liturgy” way of doing Sunday worship. It wasn’t just a greater devotion and connection to the historic Church. It wasn’t “Catholicism without the Pope.” It was, rather, a very real and peculiar way of living, a way of living that has been held and maintained in unbroken continuity and consistency with the Church of the Apostles. It was, in fact, not just a different way of living. It was, to be brutally blunt: life itself.
From that life sprang genuine, cosmic worship. From that life sprang an organic connection to the historic Church. From that life sprang Truth, and thus true doctrine, dogma and discipline. From that life sprang a particular way of living. But beneath it all was life: the life of Christ as given to his Church by way of his hypostatic union with his Body. The sacraments are not “genuine” simply because one can trace a tactile succession of the episcopate. The Orthodox Mysteries are “genuine” because they spring from the life of Christ himself, the life he gives to his Body the Church, and which the Church, then, may, as a living organism, give to the various members which that Body is.