Frequently Asked Questions
What is Western Rite Orthodoxy? Is it 'real' Orthodoxy?
Yes, absolutely! Until the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Churches, all of the West, and all of England, were considered Orthodox. The Church was united, and there was no question of an easterner considering the practice of the English Church to be anything other than a legitimate expression of the one Faith.
Western Rite Orthodoxy is a term used to describe congregations within the Orthodox Church that use liturgies of pre-schism Western origin. We use a native Orthodox tradition that fits within our own liturgical heritage, rather than adopting Eastern liturgies such as the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
We hold the complete fullness of the Orthodox Faith in common with our brothers and sisters in the east.
Will the Service be in Latin and how will I know what's going on?
Some of our services are in Latin, but it is intended to be a deeply spiritual experience for all present, so don’t worry too much about not being able to follow along word for word. It is a more deeply sensory experience than what you might be used to in other churches which we would encourage you to immerse yourself in. We do have orders of service for those who would like them, which explain what is going on and will allow you to follow along.
What’s the dress code?
We don’t really have a dress code. Generally we would encourage you to dress modestly. Associated with modesty, there are some customs that we would encourage you to observe: for ladies, please wear a hat or scarf to cover your head, and wear clothing which covers your shoulders and knees; gentlemen, please don't wear a hat, and wear clothing that covers your shoulders and legs.
Why don’t the congregation say anything?
The Mass of the Orthodox Church is a holy act performed at the altar by the priest, which the people participate in through their own devotions and prayers, rather than through saying set things in unison. We join our prayers together with the saints and angels who we believe join us in their participation. It is an active time for everyone, but it’s not necessarily choreographed.
Interestingly when the old Mass was stopped at the reformation, one of the main complaints from the congregations was having to all mindlessly say the responses together, rather than being left alone to do as they please!
Why does the priest face away from the people?
In Orthodoxy this is a deeply symbolic act. The priest faces away from the people toward God, leading the people in the sacrifice of the mass and toward Christ, a bit like leading from the front.
Can I take Communion?
Yes, absolutely, if you are an Orthodox Christian, and have attended Confession.
Am I going to be put on the spot or asked to do anything I don’t know how to do?
No. You might see some people crossing themselves, or doing some other things like that, but it’s not compulsory, and nobody’s going to think anything of it if you don’t do anything. We’re happy for you to simply sit and share the experience.