I'm Blake, I'm 19, and I decided to join your forum after following a link I found on a blog.
I'd like to share a fairly brief post on how I came to this point, and hopefully get to know some of you all!
I first began in a Pentecostal church where a lot of my family participates. That's where the journey really began, you could say. It was there that I started to take the Gospel more seriously, repent from my former lifestyle and seek to walk more in the image of Christ. I had a zeal for learning more and more, but I guess you could say I learned more than I would've expected.
Simply put, my interpretation of Acts 2 didn't add up to theirs. As I grew, I began to feel like emotionalism and the 'self' was exalted above God and the Gospel. The supposed 'manifestations of the Spirit' were anything but edifying and orderly, and I knew that it was my time to go. I'd like to add here that this isn't a bash on the Pentecostals, as I don't doubt that they're on fire for God -- it's the manner of worship which told me it was time to leave.
I found myself in a Church of Christ, one of these "Established in 33 AD, Jerusalem" kind of places. I learned more there than I'd ever learned anywhere in such a small amount of time. It was a welcome break from what I had been used to - the worship was composed of hymns only, it was much more orderly, I felt welcomed and came to knew everyone on some level which was to be expected, as it was a small congregation. This is where I really took 2 Tim 2:15 and Peter 2:2 to heart, and studied, studied, studied.
Funny, because again, I bit off more than I could chew.
What began to turn me away from this place was the tracts they provided. Though at that time I was pretty anti-Catholic[which has changed], I couldn't support their 'truths' about them, such as it being created by Boniface III -- weren't there two Boniface's before him? The sermons of this church was 90% of the time defending itself and claiming itself to have the very same manner of teaching and doctrine as the Ancient Christian Church.
But that just wouldn't work for me. There's no way Christ's Church was anything like a modern Bible study. And come on, matzo's for the Eucharist?
I began studying Catholicism shortly after I stopped attending services at the CoC. I won't post the things I don't see eye to eye with, but they were things which disheartened me. I began thinking, maybe Christ's Church isn't here. No one truly has the roots anymore.
At that time, I knew practically nothing of Orthodoxy.
I began asking about it, studying it, listening to the hymns, generally seeking without bias. While in the Church of Christ I felt I was on a spiritual mountaintop, but I learned that I was in a low valley. And this taught me that I can't expect to learn with bias in my heart.
So I didn't say "They call Priest's Father, HOW RIDICULOUS AND UNSCRIPTURAL" "Look at those Icons, BLASPHEMOUS IDOLATERS!" Instead, I began to ask "Why is it this way? Is it really that Ancient?"
Knowing that I was born loving candles, incense, wondering about my stance on the Saints and other factors, I dove deeper.
And in a rather large nutshell, every little question had an answer. Even things which I hadn't mentioned to Father Mark, he had an answer for, and was willing to provide. That phone call was a real blessing to me.
--- Up to this point is an excerpt from a post at another forum I frequent. That was some time ago.
I finally went to my first liturgy on the feast day of the protection of the Mother of God, and it absolutely stuck with me. I'd been told plenty of times to really "marinate in the faith" and "taste and see", not relying only on what I'd been reading, but to experience the services. They couldn't have been more right. After that I basically became hooked. I've read Mountain of Silence and Gifts of the Desert by Kyriacos Markides, and I'm reading through The Law of God by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy now. Father Mark recieved me as a catechumen on the feast day of Saint John Chrysostom, and my first catechesis is this Sunday.
Please pray for me.
I look forward to getting to know you all, learning, and sharing.