The following questions are often asked by visitors, inquirers of the Orthodox faith, and new Holy Apostles Family members navigating their way into the rich and full life that Orthodoxy offers! If your question is not answered below, please contact us using the "Ask" button below, where you will be prompted to fill out a form.
Q. What is Orthodoxy and the Orthodox Church?
A. The Orthodox Church is a body of autocephalous churches with a shared history, faith, liturgical and sacramental life. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ. The church's doctrines and teachings are expressed through Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition—chiefly as it is contained in the laws and canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Our faith has a deeply positive view of the human person and body. It is known for its sacramental approach to the world and vibrant and ever continual worship that intertwines with its deep current of mysticism. The Greek Orthodox Church traces its historical roots back to the earliest Christian communities of modern-day Greece and Asia Minor. In the Orthodox faith, we consider ourselves in direct continuity with the Apostles of Christ and the saints of all ages. Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church is a parish of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. We are under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Q. What Do Orthodox Christians Believe
A. Please visit our section for Inquirers on various Orthodox beliefs.
Q. Is Your Church Open to Anyone, or do I have to be Orthodox?
A. Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church is a house of prayer for all people, and we welcome anyone interested in worshiping the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—One God—with us. If you are an Inquirer to the Orthodox Faith or are interested in becoming a catechumen, please visit our "I am New Here" page.
Q. Can I Light a Candle?
A. Yes! Everyone is welcome to light a candle and offer a prayer in the Narthex (entry area). Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). Therefore, each time we light a candle, we are called to remember that it is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is the True Light. In lighting our candles, it is customary to make an offering, as everything we have is from God, and the first step is to give back to Him for all of His many blessings.
Q. Is there a Dress Code?
A. While there is no formal dress code for attending Holy Apostles, entering the Holy Orthodox Church is still a sacred experience that our preparation and attire should reflect. In accordance with Orthodox tradition, women typically wear dresses or skirts, and men usually wear business or business casual attire. Please visit our section on Etiquette for more information.
Q. I am visiting an Orthodox Church for the first time. What should I expect?
A. It depends upon your religious background. Suppose you are Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Episcopalian. In that case, you may see and hear some familiar liturgics, as these churches draw their worship from the ancient liturgies celebrated in the Orthodox Church. As an Orthodox Church, we believe that the Divine Liturgy is a glimpse "into heaven" and that we are not "re-enacting" but continually participating in the heavenly Divine Liturgy. Each Liturgy is the sacramental re-living of Christ's life. Our services are predominantly conducted in English, and you will notice entrances with the Gospel, Chalice, and Paten, the sign of the cross by both clergy and laity, and the censing of God's Temple. The Eucharist is always offered during the Divine Liturgy. All divine services are chanted/sung in their entirety, just as the Early Church celebrated before God. You may also notice Holy Images, called icons, which cover the interior, reminding us of the presence of all God's holy people from all time and serve as "windows into heaven" to help aid our prayer and worship. Finally, the worship is "antiphonal," shared between the clergy, chanters, choir, and people, as one whole out of many parts of the body, with Christ at the head. Even the word "liturgy" has its origins in the Greek word leitourgia, which means "work of the people."
Q. How Should One Behave at Church?
A. When visiting any place of worship, the best form of Etiquette is to stand, sit, or kneel when the faithful do. Otherwise, you are not expected to do anything else except to pray and experience the Apostolic Church to its fullest. Please visit our Church Etiquette Page for more information. Also, for a copy of the Divine Liturgy, please click here.
Q. Do you offer Childcare?
A. At Holy Apostles, children worship along with their families and are always welcome. If needed, we offer a "Mother's Room" off the Narthex with windows into the church, where parents can tend to small or unsettled youngsters. There are also changing tables in all restrooms. At the conclusion of Holy Communion, children are invited to participate in our Church School ministry during the school year, September through May.
Q. Who can receive Holy Communion?
A. While we extend every hospitality possible to visitors and non-members, the Orthodox Christian Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist as the divine mystery of Christ's real presence, so it is reserved for those members of the Orthodox Church who have prepared themselves to receive the Body & Blood of our Lord. Therefore, only baptized Orthodox Christians in good standing may receive communion. Non-Orthodox are invited to participate in the church's worship and are welcome to attend all parts of the service. In addition, there are many other blessings to be received. If you are unsure if you should be taking Holy Communion, please contact one of our priests. If you are not Orthodox, you are welcome to the blessed bread given out at the end of the service!
Q. How is Communion offered to the faithful in the Orthodox Church?
A. The priests and deacon offer it to God's servants by a spoon from the Chalice in which both the Body and Blood of Christ are put.
Q. What is the bread offered at the very end to everyone?
A. It is called antidoron, the "instead of the gift of blessed bread." It is offered to all, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, as a sign of hope that someday we may again celebrate together in unity at the Common Table of the Lord.
Q. Do you have to be Greek to attend?
A. Holy Apostles is a church that welcomes people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and races. Though the Greek language and heritage are integral elements of our tradition, we are a diverse parish that includes first-generation immigrants, second and third-generation Greek-Americans, and many converts who are not of Greek descent who have discovered rich and beautiful offerings of the Orthodox faith.
Q. Is your church politically aligned?
A. The Church is of Heaven and not of this world; therefore, we do not align ourselves with any worldly political parties. We understand the Church as a living being whose continued development maintains an essential and unbroken continuity with its historical past as handed down from the Apostles and given to them by Jesus Christ.
Q. What about the architecture of an Orthodox church building?
A. There are three divisions to a traditional Christian church: the Narthex, nave, and sanctuary. The Narthex is the entrance hall, where the faithful greet God by making the sign of the cross, kissing the holy icons, and lighting a candle symbolizing prayer, sacrifice, and the Light of Christ. The nave is where the faithful gather to worship God. Nave comes from a Greek word, naos, meaning "ship." It signifies the fact that salvation is a life-long process of becoming God-like. It is a journey towards God. The sanctuary is the abode of God, the Holy of Holies. The clergy offers the Bloodless Sacrifice, the Holy Eucharist, or Communion. It signifies Paradise or Heaven. It is demarcated from the nave by the iconostasis, or icon screen, which does not separate the faithful from God, but rather, announces in holy images the presence of God. Notice that the sanctuary is higher and faces East, the direction from which the Star of Bethlehem came announcing the Advent of the Messiah and from which the Lord will appear in Glory at the Second Coming.
Q. What services are celebrated on a typical Sunday?
A. Two separate services occur on Sundays, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy. Orthros, or Matins, is a service of preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ during the Liturgy. It's a time when the clergy and people set up the Lord's House. At Holy Apostles, Orthros begins at 8:15 on Sundays and runs until approximately 9:30 am when the Great Doxology's singing marks the transition to the Liturgy. During Orthros, the chanters sing many short Byzantine hymns origin honoring the Mother of God (Theotokos), the saints of the day, and celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. During Orthros, they conduct a preparatory service called the Prothesis. During this service, they prepare the bread and wine to be offered later as the Body and Blood of Christ. The faithful begin to gather during Orthros in anticipation of greeting the Lord in the Holy Liturgy.
Q. So, what about the Divine Liturgy?
A. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom begins when the deacon, who stands with the people before God, chants "Bless Master" (Evlogison, Despota!) and the priest raises the Holy Gospel and chants "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Next, three Litanies, or prayers for the world's needs, chanted by the deacon, interspersed with short hymns to the Theotokos and Christ. The Little Entrance follows this with the Holy Gospel, the reading of the Epistle by the chanters or laity, and the reading of the Gospel by the priest or deacon. Then follows the Great Entrance, with the bread and wine, which announces the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful (or of the Sacrifice). Following the Kiss of Peace and the Creed, the Anaphora, the most sacred prayers of the Liturgy, are offered by the priest and deacon to call down the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine, to make them into the Body and Blood of Christ. The prayers of the Anaphora also remember and offer thanks (Eucharist means "Thanksgiving" in Greek) for Creation, the Crucifixion, Resurrection of Christ, and his Second Coming in Glory as repeat His words at the last supper. After this, the faithful partake of the Holy Communion, and the Liturgy concludes with prayers of thanksgiving and remembrance. At Holy Apostles, the sermon is offered last so that children can participate in the entire Divine Liturgy before attending Sunday School.
Q. What else can occur at the end of the Liturgy?
A. Sometimes, a Memorial for the Departed is chanted before the icon of Christ. Also, around Pentacost there are kneeling prayers offered.
Q. What is Great Vespers?
A. It is an evening service held in preparation for the next day's Divine Liturgy. Its theme is completely resurrectional and sets the stage for the theme of the coming Liturgy. It is also celebrated on Great Feasts' eves and certain holy days.
Q. Are there other services?
A. There are dozens of types of services offered throughout the year, especially during Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha (Easter). Please visit our Services page to learn more about the various services and sacraments offered
Q. What if I have questions after the service?
A. If your questions are of a general nature, please use the "Ask" button below, and your question will be routed to the appropriate person(s). Should you wish to speak to a priest, please call or email one of our priests. If your question after the service is of an urgent, spiritual nature and you must see a priest, please find an usher and relay your request.
Q. I like it at Holy Apostles—how can I become a family member?
A. Please speak with our clergy or a member of the Parish Council or Welcome Ministry about becoming a member of the parish, or click on the "Ask" button below and fill out the form! Holy Apostle is a stewardship-based parish. You can learn more about Orthodox Christian Stewardship and how to join the Holy Apostles family by visiting our Stewardship page.