Christianity: Eastern Orthodox

Experiences and Emotion

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,

Embodied Experience

Eastern traditions place enormous emphasis on one’s spiritual experience, especially the experience of mystery and awe. Eastern liturgical practice helps in fostering a total experience that appeals to one’s emotions, intellect and senses, emphasising the mysterious nature of religious experience. Such experiences are heavily fostered through material objects that appeal to the senses. For example, incense is used regularly, services are often sung and churches are highly adorned and embellished with paintings and icons. Rituals that highlight the experiential element of Eastern include the sacraments (aptly named ‘mysteria’), gestures, veneration of saints and Theotokos, as well as worship of God.

Relationship with God

Generally, rituals are usually understood as a way to experience a closer relationship with God. One example is through participating in the sacraments and experiencing God’s grace as a result. Some describe feeling the presence of God during certain moments or rituals, such as when in prayer.

Becoming Eastern Orthodox

The Sacrament of Baptism is considered to be the main requirement to become Christian. Prior to baptism, some Eastern churches may require or encourage the individual to participate in classes (known as a catechumen) related to the church and its teachings. The Eastern tradition also has general requirements which all Eastern members are expected to try and uphold. These requirements include faith in and acceptance of Jesus Christ and participating in the sacraments.

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