Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. The synoptic gospels recount. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, as an ordinance in others. Baptism is called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants, it has given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations. The usual form of baptism among the earliest Christians involved the candidate's immersion, either or partially. John the Baptist's use of a deep river for his baptising suggests immersion: The fact that he chose a permanent and deep river suggests that more than a token quantity of water was needed, both the preposition'in' and the basic meaning of the verb'baptize' indicate immersion. In v. 16, Matthew will speak of Jesus'coming up out of the water'. Phillip and the Eunuch went down and came up out of water. Baptism is likened unto a burial in Romans 6:3. "Dip" is translated from baptō. The traditional depiction in Christian art of John the Baptist pouring water over Jesus' head may therefore be based on Christian practice.
Pictorial and archaeological evidence of Christian baptism from the 3rd century onward indicates that a normal form was to have the candidate stand in water while water was poured over the upper body. Other common forms of baptism now in use include pouring water three times on the forehead, a method called affusion. Martyrdom was identified early in Church history as "baptism by blood", enabling the salvation of martyrs who had not been baptized by water; the Catholic Church identified a baptism of desire, by which those preparing for baptism who die before receiving the sacrament are considered saved. As evidenced in the common Christian practice of infant baptism, Christians universally regarded baptism as in some sense necessary for salvation, until Huldrych Zwingli denied its necessity in the 16th century. Quakers and the Salvation Army do not practice baptism with water. Among denominations that practice baptism by water, differences occur in the manner and mode of baptizing and in the understanding of the significance of the rite.
Most Christians baptize "in the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit", but some baptize in Jesus' name only. Much more than half of all Christians baptize infants; the term "baptism" has been used metaphorically to refer to any ceremony, trial, or experience by which a person is initiated, purified, or given a name. The English word baptism is derived indirectly through Latin from the neuter Greek concept noun baptisma, a neologism in the New Testament derived from the masculine Greek noun baptismos, a term for ritual washing in Greek language texts of Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period, such as the Septuagint. Both of these nouns are derived from the verb baptizō, used in Jewish texts for ritual washing, in the New Testament both for ritual washing and for the new rite of baptisma; the Greek verb baptō, "dip", from which the verb baptizo is derived, is in turn hypothetically traced to a reconstructed Indo-European root *gʷabh-, "dip". The Greek words are used in a great variety of meanings.
Baptism has similarities to Tvilah, a Jewish purification ritual of immersing in water, required for, among other things, conversion to Judaism, but which differs in being repeatable, while baptism is to be performed only once. John the Baptist, considered a forerunner to Christianity, used baptism as the central sacrament of his messianic movement; the apostle Paul distinguished between the baptism of John, baptism in the name of Jesus, it is questionable whether Christian baptism was in some way linked with that of John. Christians consider Jesus to have instituted the sacrament of baptism; the earliest Christian baptisms were normally by immersion, complete or partial. Though other modes may have been used. Though some form of immersion was the most common method of baptism, many of the writings from the ancient church appeared to view the mode of baptism as inconsequential; the Didache 7.1–3 allowed for affusion practices in situations where immersion was not practical. Tertullian allowed for varying approaches to baptism if those practices did not conform to biblical or traditional mandates.
Cyprian explicitly stated that the amount of water was inconsequential and defended immersion and aspersion practices. As a result, there was no uniform or consistent mode of baptism in the ancient church prior to the fourth century. By the third and fourth centuries, baptism involved catechetical instruction as well as chrismation, laying on of hands, recitation of a creed. In the early middle ages infant baptism became common and the rite was simplified. In Western Europe Affusion became the normal mode of baptism between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, though immersion was still practiced into the sixteenth. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther retained baptism as a sacrament, but Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli considered baptism and the Lord's supper to be symbolic. Anabaptists denied the val
Liturgy of Preparation
The Liturgy of Preparation Prothesis or Proskomedia, is the name given in the Eastern Orthodox Church to the act of preparing the bread and wine for the Eucharist. The Liturgy of Preparation is done before the public part of the Divine Liturgy begins, symbolizes the "hidden years" of Christ's earthly life. Only specific elements may be offered at the Divine Liturgy: The bread used for the Liturgy is referred to as prosphora. A prosphoron is a round loaf of leavened bread baked in two layers to represent the two natures of Christ, it has a square seal on the top side which has inscribed on it a cross and the Greek letters IC XC and NIKA. The portion of the loaf, cut out along this seal is the Lamb, from which all are communicated, therefore must be proportionately large for the number of communicants. Prosphora must be made using only the finest wheat flour, water and yeast, it should be freshly baked and without blemish. The Greeks use one large loaf for the Liturgy of Preparation, with a large round seal on it inscribed not only with the square seal mentioned above, but markings indicating where the portions for the Theotokos, the Ranks, the Living and Dead are removed.
Those churches which follow Slavic usage use five small loaves, recalling the five loaves from which Christ fed the multitude. All are stamped with a small square seal, though special seals for the Theotokos are sometimes used. In all traditions, only the Lamb is consecrated, other portions which are removed from the prosphora are memorials, but are never to be used for Communion; the Wine used must be red grape wine, it must be fermented. Orthodox tend to favor altar wine, somewhat sweet, though this is not a requirement; these elements are referred to collectively as the "Gifts", both before and after the Consecration. The Priest's Service Book states that, before celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the priest must be reconciled to all men, keep his heart from evil thoughts, be fasting since midnight; the same rules apply to the deacon. The beginning of the Liturgy of Preparation should be timed so that it is concluded before the Reader finishes reading the Third Hour and Sixth Hour; the priests and deacons celebrating the liturgy stand together in front of the holy doors of the iconostasis, venerate the icons, say special entrance prayers before they enter into the altar.
At the end of these prayers, they bow to the throne of the bishop who oversees the church, or, if it is a monastery, the abbot, acknowledging the authority of their spiritual superiors, without whose permission they may not celebrate the divine services. They venerate the holy table and put on their vestments. Before putting on each vestment the priest says a prayer drawn from the Psalms, bless the vestment, kiss the cross, sewn onto it; the deacon brings his vestments to the priest to bless and kisses the priest's hand and withdraws to vest, saying the same prayers for the sticharia as the priest and kissing the cross on each vestment. Each subdeacon and server vesting bring his sticharion to the priest for him to bless, kisses the cross on it before vesting. If a bishop is present, the clergy bring their vestments for him to bless before putting them on. After vesting, the priest and deacon wash their hands, saying the Prayer of the Washing of Hands They go to the Prothesis where the Gifts are to be prepared.
If there are several priests concelebrating only one—traditionally, the most junior— celebrates the Proskomedia. Others may assist in taking out particles for the dead. In the Greek traditions all particles are taken from one large prosphoron, stamped with a seal that serves as a template, but in the Slavic traditions there are several prosphora, from which particles are taken as described below; the priest takes a prosphoron and blesses it three times, making the sign of the cross over it with the liturgical spear. Cutting on all four sides of the square seal on the prosphoron, he removes a cube, taking from both layers of the loaf, places it in the center of the diskos, he cuts the underside of the Lamb, making a cross turns the Lamb right side up and pierces it with the spear, saying the words from the Gospel.. The deacon mingles a little water with the wine, poured in the chalice and presents it to the priest for him to bless; the deacon pours the wine and water into the chalice, as the priest says, "Blessed be the union of Thy holy things and and unto the ages of ages.
Amen." Next the priest takes up the second prosphoron, blesses it with the spear, cuts a large, triangular particle from it, which he places on the diskos next to the Lamb in commemoration of the Theotokos. This loaf is sometimes sealed with her monogram. Next, the priest takes up the prosphoron of the Nine Ranks. From this loaf are taken smaller triangular particles in commemoration of the various ranks of saints. There are some differences between the Greek and the Slavic texts as to which particular saints are named, but the intent is that all of the saints are included. Saint John the Forerunner and the Patron Saint of the church or monastery are always named; the number nine was chosen because, the traditional number of the ranks of angels. These nine particles are placed to the left of the Lamb (i.e. to the prie
A chalice or goblet is a footed cup intended to hold a drink. In religious practice, a chalice is used for drinking during a ceremony or may carry a certain symbolic meaning; the ancient Roman calix was a drinking vessel consisting of a bowl fixed atop a stand, was in common use at banquets. In Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and some other Christian denominations, a chalice is a standing cup used to hold sacramental wine during the Eucharist. Chalices are made of precious metal, they are sometimes richly enamelled and jewelled; the gold goblet was symbolic for tradition. Chalices have been used since the early church; because of Jesus' command to his disciples to "Do this in remembrance of me.", Paul's account of the Eucharistic rite in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, the celebration of the Eucharist became central to Christian liturgy. The vessels used in this important act of worship were decorated and treated with great respect. A number of early examples of chalices have two handles.
Over time, the size of the bowl diminished and the base became larger for better stability. Over time, official church regulations dictated the construction and treatment of chalices; some religious traditions still require that the chalice, at least on the inside of the cup, to be gold-plated. In Western Christianity, chalices will have a pommel or node where the stem meets the cup to make the elevation easier. In Roman Catholicism, chalices tend to be tulip-shaped, the cups are quite narrow. Roman Catholic priests will receive chalices from members of their families when first ordained. In Eastern Christianity, chalices will have icons enameled or engraved on them, as well as a cross. In Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism, all communicants receive both the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. To accomplish this, a portion of the Lamb is placed in the chalice, the faithful receive Communion on a spoon. For this reason, eastern chalices tend to have larger, rounded cups. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the faithful will kiss the "foot" of the chalice after receiving Holy Communion.
In other traditions, they will kiss the cup. Although Orthodox monks are not permitted to hold personal possessions, the canons permit a hieromonk to keep a chalice and other vessels necessary to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. In the early and medieval church, when a deacon was ordained, he would be handed a chalice during the service as a sign of his ministry. Early written accounts of the ordination of deaconesses reflect this practice. In the West the deacon carries the chalice to the altar at the offertory. Only wine, water and a portion of the Host are permitted to be placed in the chalice, it may not be used for any profane purpose; the chalice is considered to be one of the most sacred vessels in Christian liturgical worship, it is blessed before use. In the Roman Catholic Church, some Anglo-Catholic churches, it was the custom for a chalice to be consecrated by being anointed with chrism, this consecration could only be performed by a bishop or abbot. Among the Eastern Churches there are varying practices regarding blessing.
In some traditions the act of celebrating the Sacred Mysteries is the only blessing necessary. In some Eastern traditions this blessing may be done only by a bishop, in some it may be done by a priest. In any case, in both the East and the West, once a chalice has been blessed, it may only be touched by an ordained member of the higher clergy. In the Russian Orthodox Church a subdeacon is permitted to touch the holy vessels, but only if they are wrapped in cloth. In Christian tradition the Holy Chalice is the vessel which Jesus used at the Last Supper to serve the wine. New Testament texts make no mention of the cup except within the context of the Last Supper and give no significance whatsoever to the object itself. Herbert Thurston in the Catholic Encyclopedia 1908 concluded that "No reliable tradition has been preserved to us regarding the vessel used by Christ at the Last Supper. In the sixth and seventh centuries pilgrims to Jerusalem were led to believe that the actual chalice was still venerated in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, having within it the sponge, presented to Our Saviour on Calvary."
Several surviving standing cups of precious materials are identified in local traditions as the Chalice. An different and pervasive tradition concerns the cup of the Last Supper. In this muddled though better-known version, the vessel is known as the Holy Grail. In this legend, Jesus used the cup at the Last Supper to institute the Mass. Other stories claim that Joseph of Arimathea used the cup to collect and store the blood of Christ at the Crucifixion. At the opening of Unitarian Universalist worship services, many congregations light a flame inside a chalice. A flaming chalice is the most used symbol of Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism, the official logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association and other Unitarian and UU churches and societies; the design was originated by the artist Hans Deutsch, who took his inspiration from the chalices of oil burned on ancient Greek and Roman altars. It became an underground symbol in occupied Europe during World War II for assistance to h
The Eucharist is a Christian rite, considered a sacrament in most churches, as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper; the elements of the Eucharist, sacramental bread and sacramental wine, are consecrated on an altar and consumed thereafter. Communicants, those who consume the elements, may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist". Christians recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about how and when Christ is present. While all agree that there is no perceptible change in the elements, Roman Catholics believe that their substances become the body and blood of Christ. Lutherans believe the true body and blood of Christ are present "in, under" the forms of the bread and wine. Reformed Christians believe in a real spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Others, such as the Plymouth Brethren and the Christadelphians, take the act to be only a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper and a memorial. In spite of differences among Christians about various aspects of the Eucharist, there is, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated"; the Greek noun εὐχαριστία, meaning "thanksgiving", appears fifteen times in the New Testament but is not used as an official name for the rite. Do this in remembrance of me"; the term "Eucharist" is that by which the rite is referred to by the Didache, Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr. Today, "the Eucharist" is the name still used by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans. Other Protestant or Evangelical denominations use this term, preferring either "Communion", "the Lord's Supper", "Memorial", "Remembrance", or "the Breaking of Bread".
Latter-day Saints call it "Sacrament". The Lord's Supper, in Greek Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, was in use in the early 50s of the 1st century, as witnessed by the First Epistle to the Corinthians: When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk; those who use the term "Eucharist" use the expression "the Lord's Supper", but it is the predominant term among Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, who avoid using the term "Communion". They refer to the observance as an "ordinance"; those Protestant churches avoid the term "sacrament".'Holy Communion' are used by some groups originating in the Protestant Reformation to mean the entire Eucharistic rite. Others, such as the Catholic Church, do not use this term for the rite, but instead mean by it the act of partaking of the consecrated elements; the term "Communion" is derived from Latin communio, which translates Greek κοινωνία in 1 Corinthians 10:16: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The phrase appears in various related forms five times in the New Testament in contexts which, according to some, may refer to the celebration of the Eucharist, in either closer or symbolically more distant reference to the Last Supper, it is the term used by the Plymouth Brethren. The "Blessed Sacrament" and the "Blessed Sacrament of the Altar" are common terms used by Catholics and some Anglicans for the consecrated elements when reserved in a tabernacle. "Sacrament of the Altar" is in common use among Lutherans. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the term "The Sacrament" is used of the rite. Mass is used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, by many Anglicans, in some other forms of Western Christianity. At least in the Catholic Church, the Mass is a longer rite which always consists of two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in that order; the Liturgy of the Word consists of readings from scripture (the
The Lamb is the square portion of bread cut from the prosphora in the Liturgy of Preparation at the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. The Lamb is placed in the center of the diskos; the prosphoron from which the Lamb is cut is a loaf of leavened bread, formed in two layers to symbolize the hypostatic union of the human and divine natures of Christ. It must be made only from the finest flour, yeast and water, is stamped on top with a seal forming a Greek cross and the Greek letters IC, XC, NIKA, indicating that through the Cross and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has gained the victory over sin and death; the portion of the loaf demarcated by the seal will be cut out as the Lamb. When the priest cuts the Lamb from the prosphoron, he uses a liturgical knife called a "spear", with a blade shaped like a spearpoint to recall the spear used at the crucifixion to pierce Jesus' side; as he cuts along the four edges of the seal, the priest says the words from Isaiah 53:7-8, which St. Philip interprets as referring to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
The priest repeats a phrase from the prophecy as he cuts along each of the four sides of the seal: on the right side: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter." On the left side: "And as a spotless lamb before His shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." At the top: "In his humiliation his judgement was taken away." At the bottom: "And who shall declare His generation?" as he removes the Lamb from the prosphoron: "For His life is taken up from the earth." He places the Lamb face down on the seal, cuts it cross-wise all the way through, leaving it connected as one piece by the seal. This will facilitate the fraction after the anaphora; as he makes these cuts, he says, "Sacrificed is the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, for the life of the world, the salvation thereof." He stands the Lamb upright again, pierces it with the tip of the spear on its right below the seal, saying, "One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, straightway there came forth blood and water.
And he that saw it bare witness, his witness is true." There are other particles cut from prosphora as part of the Liturgy of Preparation. These commemorate the Theotokos, nine ranks of saints, the living, the departed; these smaller particles are arranged around the Lamb on the diskos. A metal frame, the asterisk or star-cover, is placed over the diskos to support the small veil with which it is covered; this veil remains in place. The priest will cense the aër and place it over both the diskos and chalice, where it will remain until just prior to the Great Entrance, when the bread and wine are carried to the Holy Table for the consecration. At the anaphora only the Lamb is consecrated; when it comes time for Communion, the priest will divide the Lamb into four portions, breaking it along the cuts in the underside made during the Liturgy of Preparation. The deacon will say, "Break, the Holy Bread." And, as he breaks it, the priest says, "distributed is the Lamb of God. He puts the four portions of the Lamb on the rim of the diskos in the form of a cross.
They remain in this arrangement only briefly. The upper portion is placed whole in the Chalice to signify the oneness of Christ; the deacon says, "Fill, the Holy Cup." As he places the particle in the Chalice, the priest says, "The fullness of the Holy Spirit." The lower portion, is cut into smaller particles. The portions on the left and right are cut into much smaller particles; these are used to communicate the faithful. During Great Lent, it is not permitted to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on weekdays. For that reason, on Wednesdays and Fridays during Great Lent, on Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week, the faithful receive Holy Communion from Lambs which were consecrated on the previous Sunday and reserved for a service called the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. Prosphora Body of Christ Host Zeroa Photo of the Lamb on the Diskos
A prosphoron is a small loaf of leavened bread used in Orthodox Christian and Greek Catholic liturgies. The plural form is prosphora; the term meant any offering made to a temple, but in Orthodox Christianity it has come to mean the bread offered at the Divine Liturgy. Prosphoro is made from only four ingredients, wheat flour, yeast and water. Salt is still not used in the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. Any member of the church, in good standing and whose conscience is clean may bake prosphora. In a parish church the women will take turns baking the prosphora, it is common but not necessary to go to confession before baking prosphora, it is done in the morning while fasting. Sometimes, special kitchen implements are used for making the prosphora which are used for no other purpose. There may be special prayers said before commencing, the baker tries to maintain a religious state of mind throughout saying the Jesus Prayer. Enough prosphora for a number of services are baked at the same time.
A prosphoron is made up of two separate round pieces of leavened dough which are placed one on top of another and baked together to form a single loaf. This double-loaf represents the two natures of Christ: divine. Before baking, each prosphoron is stamped with a special seal called sphragis or Panagiari bearing, among other things, the image of a cross with the Greek letters IC XC NIKA around the arms of the cross; this impression serves as a guide for the priest who will be cutting it. In the Slavic practice five smaller prosphora are used. In the Greek practice one larger prosphoron is used. In the part of the Divine Liturgy known as the Liturgy of Preparation, a cube is cut from the center of the prosphoron, is referred to as the Lamb, it is this Lamb, consecrated to become the Body of Christ and from it both the clergy and the faithful will receive Holy Communion, while the remainder of the prosphora is cut up for the antidoron, the blessed bread, distributed at the end of the Liturgy. The motto "the loaf of Nature's kitchen table," a common metaphor for returning thanks and agape back to nature, is derived from prosphora.
Prosphora can vary in size and imprinted design in different liturgical traditions. The Slavic traditions use five small prosphora with a simpler stamp, while the Greek-Byzantine tradition uses one large prosphoron with a more complex stamp, indicating the place from which the Lamb is to be taken and the places from which particles are removed for each of the remaining commemorations. In addition to the Lamb, particles are removed from the prosphoron to commemorate the following: The Theotokos Nine ranks of Angels and Saints The living The departedThe Slavic tradition uses a separate prosphoron for each of these, sometimes with a different seal for each prosphoron—or at least a distinctive one for the Panagia; the laity may present smaller prosphora together with a list of the faithful living and departed whom they wish to have commemorated during the Liturgy. From each of these smaller prosphora the priest will remove a triangular piece as well as several smaller particles while he prays for each of the persons listed.
The Prosphoron from which a particle is removed in honor of the Theotokos is called Panagia and is solemnly blessed in her honour during the Divine Liturgy. This prosphoron is stamped with an icon of the Theotokos. Before cutting this prosphoron, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over it three times with the litugical spear, saying: In honour and commemoration of our most blessed Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, he removes a large, triangular particle and places it to the side of the Lamb, as he says: "At Thy right hand stood the queen, arrayed in vesture wrought of gold and diverse colours." The remainder of the prosphoron is blessed over the holy table, before the blessing of the antidoron, with the phrase "Great is the name of the Holy Trinity." Today, this practice is performed only in some monasteries. After the Liturgy, a triangular portion is cut from the prosphoron by the refectorian; the Panagia is cut in half and laid crust downwards on a dish in a small table in the refectory.
After the meal, the refectorian takes off his epanokamelavkion and kamilavkion, saying, "Bless me, holy Fathers, pardon me a sinner," to which the brotherhood replies, "May God pardon and have mercy on you." Taking the Panagia in his fingertips, he lifts it up while saying, "Great is the Name," and the community continues with "of the Holy Trinity." The rite continues with "All-holy Mother of God, help us" with the reply "At her prayers, O God, have mercy and save us." Two hymns are sung while the refectorian, accompanied by a cleric with a hand censer, offers the Panagia to those assembled. Each takes a piece between his finger and thumb, passes it through the incense, eats it. There are loaves which are baked for blessing and distribution to the faithful outside of the Divine Liturgy; these are gener
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia; the church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v