Hi, Solejaena —
Thanks for your questions.
Orthodox Christians are essentially
Catholics in Schism. They substantially believe all
the same things as Catholics do. I say substantially because,
like our Eastern Catholic brothers, they have a different
way of expressing the same truths. The substance
of all the doctrines is there, but the West and East
describe things differently because they start out
asking different questions.
Eastern Orthodox Christians share Apostolic Succession and have the same seven valid Sacraments.
The major point which keeps us apart is a disagreement
over the jurisdiction of the Pope. While the Orthodox,
recognize a certain primacy of the Bishop of Rome,
they deny his jurisdiction in certain matters pertaining
to the administration of the local churches or dioceses.
Their ecclesiology <the theology as applied to the nature and structure of the Christian Church> is more localized. Each Bishop
is said to be a successor of Peter. But again, to
really understand this, you have to understand how
Eastern Europeans and Eastern Mediterranean's think;
something that can't be briefly answered.
The Orthodox went into Schism in 1054 A.D. It was as
much the fault of the Papal legate as it was the
Patriarch of Constantinople. After a series of misunderstandings
the Papal legate, who had been sent to reconcile
things, had a hissy fit and marched into the Church
of Haggia Sophia and excommunicated the Patriarch
of Constantinople in the middle of the Liturgy. Interestingly
enough, the Pope who had sent him, with both the
authority to reconcile and excommunicate, had died
by the time the legate acted. The news didn't arrive
before this pinhead showed the diplomatic agility
of a pregnant pole vaulter. One could argue that
the guy didn't have the authority to act anymore.
Nevertheless, we've been paying the price for close
to 1,000 years.
- Is it OK to receive Holy Communion in the hand and
not by the mouth?
In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, it is equally
acceptable to receive in the hand or on the tongue.
The important thing is that one should be reverent
when they receive Our Blessed Lord.
I have a preference to receive on the tongue, but
I'd never claim that doing so is any holier.