This monumental five-volume series is a detailed and systematic exposition of the history, canonical structure, doctrine, social and moral teaching, liturgical services, and spiritual life of the Orthodox Church. The purpose of this series is to present Orthodox Christianity as an integrated theological and liturgical system, in which all elements are interconnected. This has been the law of the Church from ancient times: lex orandi, lex credenti, "the law of prayer is the law of faith."
Volume One focused on the history and canonical structure of the Orthodox Church, Volume Two on the fundamental teachings of the Church, grounded in Scripture and Tradition, and Volume Three on the unique aspects of Orthodox art as expressed in its architecture, icons, and liturgical music. In Volume Four the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church—the history, structure, and meaning of the daily, weekly, yearly, and festal services—was explored in all its richness. Volume Five is dedicated to the mysteries (or sacraments) of the Orthodox Church—baptism, chrismation, the Eucharist, confession, ordination, unction, and marriage—in addition to the services of monastic tonsure, Christian burial, the blessing of water, and the consecration of a church building, which were also regarded as mysteries by some of the fathers of the Church. The volume also explores non-sacramental church services or rites that fall outside the daily, weekly, and annual liturgical cycle, such as molebens and akathists, and various blessings for people, objects, and occasions.
METROPOLITAN HILARION ALFEYEV has authored numerous works on theology and church history, and is an internationally recognized composer of liturgical music. In the words of Patriarch Alexei II of blessed memory, "His many years of service to the mother church, his rich creative activity, and his broad perspective enable him to present the tradition of the Orthodox Church in all its diversity."