I was raised on Catholic teachings and prayers (Holy Rosary and such), but I am wondering, how does the Orthodox church differ from Catholicism (besides the pope)?
Wow, that's a bigger question than you may realize right now.
While one could list any number of specific doctrinal differences, on a deeper level it's a difference of approach and mindset. In Orthodox Christianity, the revelation of God is not treated as if it's something to be "philosophized" about, with some notion that it can be improved upon. Thus, you will not find "new teachings" appearing every so many centuries in Orthodoxy - which I'd submit is what you find in Catholicism; whether it be things like Purgatory, Indulgences, Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, etc. etc. these are all teachings lacking clear (or in some cases, any whatsoever) support in early Christendom.
Also, on a very foundational level, Orthodox Christianity understands the Gospel differently. The Gospel or "good news" pertains to salvation obviously. But we have to ask, what is that "good news"?
In Orthodox Christianity, it is the good news that God overlooks our sins and will save us from the devil, sin, and death. That's the basic answer. In Catholicism (and Protestantism), the message is that we are more or less being saved from
God - God's offended honour has been placated sufficiently. Thus while we and the devil are viewed as being our enemies in Orthodoxy, ultimatly (if you follow the logic), God is portrayed as our enemy in western flavours of Christianity.
The following website has a whole series of articles that I think you'll find very helpful - here is the link
. The articles cover everything from doctrinal issues, through to historical issues that pertain to the Church and the civilizations it has formed. I recommend this site, only because the authors whose material is on there are well respected and I believe have something very clear to offer inquirers.
What needs to be done for me to have a successful conversion? My family and I are not Greek, nor Russian, nor any other of the nationalities that generally have this religion. Will this hinder me acceptance? (My family comes from ONLY the British Isles).
It depends on the parish. That shouldn't
be the answer that I have to give you, but unfortunately some
(though not all by any means) "ethnic" parishes are not always overly welcoming of those outside of their little "community" - like in many religions, you'll find people of differing levels of commitment - and this includes some for whom their religion is really more a cultural matter, than necessarily something adhered to out of strong personal conviction. Or, people simply do not understand their religion as they should. Thus, you may find that some
ethnic parishes will more or less treat their Church like it's a community centre for "Greeks" or something like this.
I'd say, before coming to any foregone conclusions, you go to a parish during the Divine Liturgy on Sunday and check it out. In particuar, have a chat with the Priest. This should give you a good indication of how things are at that Church.
I have heard there are many different groups of Orthodoxy with varying rules, but i am not sure which to choose. I live in Portland, Maine, if that helps any.
As long as they're "canonical", it really doesn't matter, save for where you feel comfortable.
I'm not an American, so I don't know where exactly you are in Maine, and would have a hard time finding parishes in your area. However
, here are some resources for finding Orthodox parishes of varying "juristictions". Just follow the links and take a look.Orthodox Church in America (OCA)Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR)Antiochene Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AOAA)Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA)American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD)Jerusalem Patriarchate in North & South America
I'm sure I left something out, but that should be a good start.