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Author Topic: Talking to the Lapsed Orthodox  (Read 1170 times) Average Rating: 0
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aserb
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« on: January 15, 2007, 10:17:19 AM »

HI all. I hope that I put this in the right place. Let me share an incident that happened at church the other day and ask for your input. From time to time I run into lapsed Orthodox. Some have left for evangelical or other Protestant churches. Some just left the faith period.

Yesterday at church I took my daughter to the bathroom right before the homily. I ran into an older gentleman in the fellowship hall who asked me if I was a local. No I replied I live ten minutes away in the adjacent town - - - Long story short I said that I did not recognize him. Was he Orthodox?, A visitor? "I do not go to church anywhere." was the reply. "I was the choir director of this church in the 1970's, I was raised Orthodox." The reason for his leaving I found out was that he had a falling out with the priest, since deceased. (By the way this isn't the first time that I've heard this line from lapsed Orthodox.) He was attending church because his son requested it. His son has returned to Orthodoxy after a long absence. I told him my story which was similar, in that I too have returned to Orthodoxy after a long absence. And, in the kindest way possible told him that I hold my faith as more important than the actions of any priest or layperson in this church and that I planned to die as an active member of the Orthodox CHurch. Inside I was partially confused and partially angry, but a part of me wanted to woo him back to the fold. He is an old man and death is now closer to him than 30 years ago.

Sorry for the rambling.

ANy thoughts?
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Simayan
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 11:44:53 AM »

Well, I know sometimes my priest does things that irk me, but I don't hold it against him. I also know there are people in church who dislike me because I dress more formally than the parish council members. Now, if I was very superficial, I would have left the first week. However, I am not concerned with the priest or the parish, because I'll just pray at home if it becomes unbearable.

It is the Faith that matters, not the arrogant people within.

I still don't see why that man didn't go back to church after the priest died, though.
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"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor mourning nor crying nor suffering, for the old order of things has passed away."
aserb
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 12:07:54 PM »

Simayan:

My take is that the priest and the former choir director both had egos the size of Montana or Alaska and one had to give.

I like your post though. Dress in church is another pet pieve of mine. Put it to them this way.  If the governor of your state/priemer of your province invites you to dinner are you going to show up in a track suit or shorts and t-shirt.  NO. You'd put on your best suit and tie. How much more should you dress for the Eucharist!

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FrChris
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 03:04:42 PM »

Y'know, the scenario you describe is one that gives me nightmares.

Very often, people come to me for advice, and I have to be very, very careful when giving this advice that I don't bruise the person's feelings (or at least, not any more than they need to be bruised, especially when the situation they need advice for is something that resulted directly from an injudicious use of their own egos...)

But, I've said this before and I'll say it again: people respond to love. I'm not talking about some fake love where you sound like some kind of bizarre counselor where everything is OK, but instead placing your own ego aside, and concentrating on the other person...well, my experience is that people respond to that. They'll open up to you gradually, and then you don't argue them to Church...you've loved them to it!
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"As the sparrow flees from a hawk, so the man seeking humility flees from an argument". St John Climacus
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2007, 03:18:57 PM »

Father Chris you are so right. Yet, how, in the short time span do you do that. This guy whined on about how he was wronged by the priest and this was a hurt from 30 years ago.

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FrChris
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2007, 03:31:42 PM »

Yet, how, in the short time span do you do that. This guy whined on about how he was wronged by the priest and this was a hurt from 30 years ago.

This amount of anger and hurt is not something that can be gotten through in the short time allotted. The important thing at this first meeting is to let him know that you care about him. Also, please remember that you will not be leading him to truth...it's the Spirit who will, if the man in question responds to the Spirit's bidding. Your main task is to show that this man is valued, accepted, and loved as a person.

Just because this person didn't immediately change his 30 year ways in one meeting, in front of you, does not mean that all hope is lost. The important thing is that you've shown that love can be found in the Church. Under the prompting of the Spirit, who will lead him and all of us into Truth, let us pray that the person starts to show up more regularly. When you see him, if he wants to talk to you, say a few words to him so he knows he's not alone.

When the fullness of time occurs, this man will open up to you, and it will be a rebirth. In the meantime, don't be too hard on yourself by blaming yourself for allegedly not being able to get this man to completely erase from his memory 30 years of anger. You don't know what the Spirit can do with small openings like this one--and trust in Him.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 03:33:13 PM by FrChris » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2007, 04:08:52 PM »

Thanks Fr. Chris!  Smiley
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