The Catholic (Orthodox) Church was united until the year 1054 A.D. There were five ancient Sees (major cities) around which the Church grew. They were Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. Each was headed by a Bishop who was called a Patriarch. One was in the West, Rome, the rest were in the East. When the capitol of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople, the Western Patriarch became more of a symbol of authority and continuity throughout the Western parts of the world. (Europe) There developed, however, a desire on the part of the Bishop of Rome, commonly called the Pope, to make more of the Primacy which was given to him and to turn it into universal jurisdiction. This desire for power, coupled with the unilateral addition to the Nicene Creed made by the Western Church, and the insistence on all clergy being unmarried, were rejected by the other four Patriarchs. Instead of returning to the practice of the Undivided Catholic Church and Orthodox Faith, the Pope broke communion (unity) with the rest of the Church and decided to continue the schism. From then on his Church was called the Roman Catholic Church.

Several ancient rites (ways of celebrating Mass) had developed in the West: Sarum in England, Mozarabic in Spain, Gallican in France, Ambrosian in Milan, and of course, the Roman Rite. In the 800’s, Charlemagne proposed to the Pope that should he recognized him as the Holy Roman Emperor, he would do all in his power to impose the Roman Rite throughout the empire. His attempts to do so met with stiff opposition for many years. However, in 1554, the Western Council of Trent imposed the Roman Rite on the whole Western church thereby obliterating the remaining uses and customs of the undivided Church. This was done as a reaction to the Protestant Reformation. The goals of the reformers were, though not recognized as such even by themselves, a return to the ancient (Orthodox) Faith of the Undivided Catholic Church. However they failed and slits continue in the Protestant church down to the current day.

In 1870, the Western liturgical books were reviewed and, with some minor changes, were found to be acceptable to the Eastern Church. In the early 1900’s, the Patriarch of Antioch permitted the re-establishment of Western Orthodox Churches. This was followed by the Russian Patriarch, and others. In France, the ancient Gallican Rite was revived.


Our Liturgy is one of the ancient Western Rites: the Roman Rite. Though in modern English, we endeavor to use the very best translations available, keeping in mind the sacred purpose which the words are intended to convey. Many of the ancient traditions of the church year are kept. In the midst of the social upheaval of the 1960’s, the Roman Church held an “ecumenical” Council during which the ancient and venerable rite was suppressed and a new Mass introduced. The ancient ceremonial was abandoned, and the new ceremonial of this current Roman Rite has sterilized the Western Liturgy so badly that any sense of awe, mystery, continuity with the past, or the “worship of a transcendent God” is non-existent.


We have seven Sacraments (or Sacred Mysteries):  Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation -- administered as part of the complete rite of initiation by a priest with Chrism blessed by a Bishop), Holy Eucharist, Confession, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Holy Unction. Generally only Orthodox members who have kept the Communion fast, and have been to confession or are in the state of grace, may receive Communion in the Orthodox Church.


Every member of the Church is enjoined by their call to holiness to "lead a life worthy of your calling in Christ Jesus". For us that means daily prayer, as well as the Fasts, Abstinence (meatless Fridays and Wednesdays) and the use of private Confession for the purposes of forgiveness and sanctification. Daily reading of a portion of The Bible is an essential first in the spiritual journey, then other devotional materials which can be geared to the liturgical season being observed or celebrated. Living a Christian life also means tithing our time, talents and treasure to God.

The Christian Community

We are called to love one another. Scripture teaches they will know we are Christians by our love. We should all strive to be present when, on occasion we gather to relax, share a common meal, or study a text. Meeting together is vital to our life together in Christ. If we tithe as Scripture states, we will always have the substance needed by our Christian Community in our secular obligations (i.e., Utilities, Insurance, Stipends) But there’s more -- we are called to care for one another, we are then called to reach out to serve those in need. More often that takes the form of financial support since we don't want to duplicate unnecessarily the administrative costs of others.


We are called to share what we have found with others. Then only will our faith continue to grow within the lives of others. “Each one reach one” is our motto!

A Word of Encouragement

We live in a very fast moving world that is becoming more and more high tech and less human. Today people are losing their humanity as they text one another even if seated across a table! Families no longer seem to have meals together and the economic issues plague marriages and relationships. The Church has always been a place where our humanity was affirmed and spirituality challenged us to grow. The clergy at Saint Ambrose Orthodox Church encourage traditional values of the family and society. The Orthodox Church is a stable church that encourages personal spiritual growth and service to others. We recognize that there are so many hurting people outside the walls of the Church. Depression, divorce, unemployment, lack of self-esteem, problems with children, a spouse, extended family members, health, aging, death of a loved one--the list is endless! But you are not alone. In community we find strength, courage, and healing. Come join us.

Just like you can’t blame the children of divorce for a divided family, we can’t blame the many Christian groups today for the past. But Jesus wanted his Church to be one, not only spiritually, but organically as well. It has been long recognized that the only way is a return to the Faith and practice of the Undivided Church of the first thousand years: The Orthodox Church. We are that Orthodox Church, proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ since A.D. 33.

Archbishop Anthony

Copyright 2022 Saint Ambrose of Milan Orthodox Church

Saint Ambrose Header