SAINT SPYRIDON HELLENIC ORTHODOX CHURCH,
Palos Heights, IL
For any questions, please feel free to contact the parish priest.
The traditions and customs of our Orthodox Church serve as guidelines in our way of life. Addressing members of the Body of Christ, these guidelines are designed to promote harmony and order among us while leading us all to communion with God and life eternal. Please read the following information prayerfully and with an understanding for the Church’s obligation and pastoral duty to shepherd with love and compassion for all the faithful.
Guidelines for Holy Communion
In order to partake of Holy Communion, one must be a baptized/chrismated Orthodox Christian, and must have properly prepared according to the instructions of his/her Father Confessor. While we are called to receive Holy Communion at every celebration of the Divine Liturgy, we approach only after proper preparation of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as instructed in the sacrament of Holy Confession. When preparing to receive Holy Communion, read the communion prayer contained in the Divine Liturgy book. Orthodox Christians, who have married outside the Church or are cohabitating out of wedlock, are not allowed to receive Communion. Likewise, if one has been divorced but has not received the ecclesiastical decree of divorce may not receive Communion. For both these matters, however, one should discuss the situation with the parish priest. When approaching Holy Communion, do so reverently, tell the priest your baptismal name, and for women, please clear your lipstick before coming to communion.
Members in Good Standing
Very often when it comes to guidelines for sacraments, we hear the word “Member of Good Standing.” In order to be designated as “Members of Good Standing”, there are three components that are in consideration:
1) Sacramental – A baptized/chrismated Orthodox Christian is in “good standing” only if he/she is actively involved in the sacraments of the Church. If an Orthodox Christian is married, he/she has to be married in the Orthodox Church. If he/she is cohabitating out of wedlock, or if he/she is divorced and has not obtained an ecclesiastical divorce decree, then he/she is not in “good standing”. Furthermore, in “good standing” means that an Orthodox Christian regularly partakes of Holy Confession and Holy Communion according to the instructions of his/her Father Confessor.
2) Canonical – An Orthodox Christian who is in “good standing” abides by all the canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the traditions of our Holy Orthodox Church, according to instructions and interpretation of the local Hierarch, the Holy Synod of our Archdiocese, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
3) Financial – An Orthodox Christian who is in “good standing” fulfills his stewardship obligation of “time, talent, & treasure”, according to the guidelines of the stewardship committee and the parish priest. Even though there is no set minimum, the general guideline is that our financial contribution should be at least $250/single and $400/family annually. If someone cannot afford these minimum guidelines, he/she may see the parish priest in regards to this matter. Our stewardship obligation also involves our active participation in all the volunteer and fundraising endeavors that support our parish.
Guidelines for Baptisms:
The sponsor (Godparent) of a baptized Orthodox Christian must be a “member in good standing”. The sponsor has to be at least twelve years old, and it is the recommendation of the Church that the sponsor be from outside the baptized person’s family. A sponsor who is parishioner at a parish other than the one in which the baptism is taking place, has to acquire a letter from his/her parish priest that states that he/she is a “member in good standing”. Orthodox Christians are not allowed to be sponsors for baptisms performed outside the Orthodox Church. Baptisms are allowed at any time except the period of December 26th- January 6th.
Guidelines for Weddings:
Interfaith marriages are allowed between and Orthodox Christian in good standing and a non-Orthodox who are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. The sponsor/koumbaro for a wedding must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing. If the sponsor is from a different parish, he/she must acquire a letter from his/her parish priest stating that he/she is a “member in good standing”. Others who are not Orthodox, or Orthodox not in good standing, cannot fulfill the role of sponsor. If the bride and groom were born outside of Metropolis of Chicago and have moved to this area after their 16th birthday, they must have a certificate from their local Hierarch that they are free to marry.
Couples marrying in the Orthodox Church must also commit themselves to baptizing and raising their children in the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christians who choose to baptize their future children in their partner’s church call into question their desire to live an Orthodox lifestyle. Such a decision also affects the Orthodox partner’s standing with his or her church.
Orthodox Christians are not allowed to actively participate in any sacraments that are performed in non-Orthodox Churches. They cannot take communion and they cannot be sponsors for those sacraments.
Orthodox Weddings can only take place within the church edifice. Musical instruments, with the exception of the organ, are not to be used at any time.
Orthodox Weddings are celebrated on any Saturday or Sunday, except those which fall during Great Lent, Pascha, Pentecost, the first two weeks of August, the last two weeks of the Nativity Fast, and feasts days of our Lord.
Guidelines for Divorce
The Orthodox Church does not permit divorces. However, out of compassion and recognition of human weakness, divorce is granted under special circumstances. An Ecclesiastical divorce may be attained after the Civil Decree of Divorce has been issued. After every effort for reconciliation has been exhausted then the divorced couple may apply for the Ecclesiastical divorce.
Guidelines for Visitations
Visitations requests for your parish priest are always welcome. No special reason is necessary. However, if you wish to have a house blessing or an efhelaion (holy unction) celebrated in your home, your parish priest will always be available.
In the case of an ailing family member or acquaintance, it is our Christian duty to arrange for visitation by the parish priest. Visitation of the parish priest should not be reserved only for one’s deathbed. If possible, please call the parish priest while the ailing person is still able to offer his/her confession and conscientiously partake of Holy Communion.
Guidelines for Funerals & Memorials
Orthodox Funerals are celebrated only for Orthodox Christians in good standing. The funeral service may not be offered for those who commit suicide unless there is certified evidence that they were not in control of their actions. The funeral service will not be offered for those who chose to be cremated.
Memorial Services are offered only for Orthodox Christians who were properly buried within the Orthodox Church. The memorial service may be offered at the conclusion of any of regular worship service including the Sunday Divine Liturgy. Memorial services are not offered on the feast days of the Lord and the Theotokos, and the period between Palm Sunday and the Sunday of Thomas. In order to offer a memorial service, one needs to contact the parish office and submit the date and the names of the ones to be commemorated. The offering for the memorial service is the ‘kolyva’, the prosforon, olive oil, and communion wine (preferably Commandaria). If one cannot make provide the ‘kolyva’ or the prosforon, the parish office can arrange to have them made for the service. The family may also participate in hosting the fellowship hour after the service. On the day of the memorial, the family and guests may sit on the front pews on the side of the memorial table. When memorials are offered on the solea, we do not go up to place candles in the memorial tray, especially when the priest faces the congregation.
If you want the parish priest to come to the cemetery or the makaria, please notify him a few days prior to the memorial.