The word "Orthodox" comes from two Greek words: "Orthos" which means
and "doxa", which means belief and/or worship. The combination of these
two words has come to mean the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
remained the same throughout the centuries. This Church is the only
Faith which bears the belief, teaching and worship that has been handed
down from the very Apostles themselves. The Orthodox teach that there
be only one Church, undivided both in doctrine and in practice, and
was witnessed to by the words of our Lord Himself Who said "...upon
rock shall I build my Church, and the gates of hades will not prevail
it." (Matt. 16:18) and the words of the Apostle of the Nations who
us of "One Faith, One Baptism, One Lord of All…" (Eph. 4:5). That
Church can only be found in those churches that hold to the Eastern
TRUE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
One can only be called truly Orthodox if he holds to that which was taught of old by the Holy Apostles, and the Holy Fathers of the Church, and struggles in a sincere manner to apply them to his life. When one deviates from these teachings he is considered a heretic - one who transgresses against revealed truth. One who separates himself from the life of the Church, and sets up his own altar for reasons other than heresy in his Church is in sin of schism. There have been numerous instances when three quarters of what called itself the "official" Church had abandoned the Faith, and only a stark minority of hierarchs and faithful could be considered Orthodox.
In 1923, under the direction of Patriarch Meletios of Constantinople and a special commission, the State Church of Greece uncanonically accepted the Roman Catholic calendar of Pope Gregory XIII, in order to capitulate to the demands of the worldly minded government in Greece. A number of clergy and faithful refused to accept this innovation, and walled themselves off from the "official" Church, denying it grace for creating schism in Orthodoxy, in dividing its liturgical unity. The state Church responded with a wave of persecutions, with the help of the police authorities, where Temples were burned, holy vessels overturned and broken, icons desecrated, the faithful and clergy beaten, arrested, humiliated at the hands of state officials and sometimes martyred for their steadfast refusal to alter their faith. The True Orthodox are sometimes referred to as "Old Calendarists" because they hold to the traditional Church Calendar, but the calendar is only one aspect of their witness to the wonderful saving religion of Jesus Christ, passed to them through the ages.
Which Calendar is Actually "Correct"? We do know that the Church valued the menologion (the calendar) to the point of anathematizing the calendar innovation of the Pope of Rome in the 16th Century, and was anathematized in four successive pan-Orthodox synods. We honour that steadfast tradition, by holding fast to all that has been passed to us from the ages, and rejecting all attempts at changing it and making it "in
step" with the modem age.
HOW CAN I TELL THE TRUE ORTHODOX CHURCH?
Scripture gives us the first means to find the true Church. Read 1 Timothy 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9, 2:1. The first and most important sign of true Christians is that that they zealously seek out sound doctrine, and not that the traditions and innovations of men. The second sign is that they are part of a church that has maintained an unbroken line of faith from the time of the Apostles. There is but one Church, one Faith, one Baptism, and one Lord of All, says St. Paul. The third is that they are united by a common bond of love and prayer. The fourth is that they are not in "step with the times". The Church is a revelation of the eternal Kingdom of God on earth, and therefore must not reflect modern attitudes which are transitory and change with the times; she is the church in the present age, not of it. One of the best indicators that a Church is not "in step" is that she follows the traditional Church Calendar, and refuses to join in inter-faith worship with heterodox and non-believers. The last indicator is that she is a martyred Church. Jesus Christ promised that all who believed in Him would suffer at the hands of those who hate Him. She suffers not only persecution from outside, but truly struggles against the principalities and powers of darkness through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
THE OLD CALENDAR CHURCH OF GREECE
The history of the Old Calendar Church of Greece is a radiant example of strength in persecution and uncompromising love for the Holy Orthodox Faith. The church of Greece uncanonically introduced the New, Gregorian calendar in 1924. Initially, only a small group of laymen resisted this innovation. Gradually, a number of priests began to return to the Old Calendar, especially following the miraculous apparition of the Cross above a church outside Athens which followed the traditional Church calendar during the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross according to the Julian (Old) Calendar.
The majority of clergymen at this time (1924-1935) were monks of the Holy Mountain who traveled throughout Greece, founding parishes and monasteries. Throughout this time, the State Church persecuted the Old Calendarists: services were interrupted, clergy were arrested, processions were broken up, and churches were closed. Despite these measures, by 1934 over 800 communities had been formed throughout Greece following the Old Calendar. A breakthrough occurred in 1935 when three bishops of the State Church returned to the Old Calendar, including Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, who later became known as the leader of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece.
The fiercest of the persecutions of the Old Calendarists occurred starting in 1949, when Archbishop Spyridon was elected primate of the State Church. Priests and monastics were arrested, beaten, and forcibly shaved; churches were seized, Old Calendarists were barred from theological schools.
In his Encyclical of 1950, Metropolitan Chrysostomos affirmed that the new Calendarists must be received by Chrismation, and that their Mysteries are invalid. He suffered a two year exile on account of this Encyclical which infuriated the new calendar State Church
Metropolitan Chrysostomos himself was arrested in 1951. Yet the members of the True Church remained firm in their defense of the Faith, preferring persecution to compromise. Only in 1954 did the persecutions come to an end, but by that time, Metropolitan Chrysostomos was alone and unable to consecrate a successor before his blessed repose.
In 1960, two bishops of the Russian Church Abroad consecrated to the episcopacy Archimandrite Akakios. Shortly thereafter, a third bishop of the Church Abroad, along with Bishop Akakios, consecrated further bishops. Following the repose of Archbishop Akakios, Archbishop Auxentios was elected Archbishop of the True Orthodox Church of Greece.
The Julian, or Old Style, calendar was in use when Christ, the Word of the Living God, descended form heaven and assumed a human nature - when the Timeless and Pre-Eternal God was born in time. The Julian calendar was used by all Christians, both Eastern and Western for a millennium and a half, and although the best scholars and Saints of the Orthodox East and West (e.g., St. Bede) were quite aware that the Julian year did not strictly coincide with the solar year, this fact did not particularly bother them, since the Julian year had become a liturgical instrument of a venerable stature. Matters stood thus until Pope Gregory XIII promulgated his reformed calendar in 1582. Noting that the days upon which the solstices and equinoxes fell were ten days removed from the dates on which they fell in Julius Caesar's day (this disturbed his astrologers), Gregory commanded the day after October fourth of that year to be called October 15. This was the beginning of the Gregorian (New Style) calendar now in secular use. The Orthodox church on the other hand, in three Pan orthodox Councils, decreed the preservation of the original Christian calendar as the seal of unity for a body not subject to the Pope's commands. Some local Orthodox churches have now introduced the Papal calendar, but many Orthodox Christians over the world, still keep the Julian. Britain was the last place in the West to adopt the Gregorian Calendar, Holding out until the mid-Eighteenth century.